The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Exodus 25

Exo 25:3

Vv 3-8: Were these "spoils" from Egypt? And so the tabernacle of Israel was built with materials from the Gentiles.

Exo 25:5

SEA COWS: Heb "tachashim". Translated, variously, "sea cows" (NIV; WEB); "dugongs" (mg); "porpoises" (NASB); "seals" (JPS); or "badgers" (KJV; Roth). The general scholarly consensus on the word is that it is Egyptian in origin. The Arabic word "duhas" refers to a dolphin. They are common in the Red Sea; their skins are used for clothing by the Bedouin. The word has also been connected to an Egyptian word for "leather" (BDB). This is followed by NRSV and NET ("fine leather").

Exo 25:6

OLIVE OIL FOR THE LIGHT: It was not every oil that might be used in the Lord's service; neither the petroleum which exudes so plentifully from the earth, nor the produce of fishes, nor that extracted from nuts would be accepted; one oil only was selected, and that the best olive oil. Pretended grace from natural goodness, fancied grace from priestly hands, or imaginary grace from outward ceremonies will never serve the true saint of God; he knows that the Lord would not be pleased with rivers of such oil. He goes to the olive-press of Gethsemane, and draws his supplies from him who was crushed therein. The oil of gospel grace is pure and free from lees and dregs, and hence the light which is fed thereon is clear and bright. Our churches are the Saviour's golden candelabra, and if they are to be lights in this dark world, they must have much holy oil" (CHS).

Exo 25:8

AND I WILL DWELL AMONG THEM: The antitype, Christ, "tabernacled among men" (Joh 1:14), to reveal God's glory.

The instructions (which follow) start with the central piece in the tabernacle and work their way outward. This order focuses on the purpose for which the tabernacle was made -- it was derived from God, and starts with His presence in the midst of Israel, and then radiates outward.

"Reading through the instructions for making the tabernacle it is interesting to note that God begins giving his instructions at the centre of the tabernacle and gradually works outwards.

"At the very centre is the Ark and the atonement cover -- the place that God would meet with his people. In the same way that the Ark, the most precious piece of furniture, was at the centre of the tabernacle, so we need to keep our God at the very centre of our lives and let his influence spread outwards from us.

"The table is the next to be described. It was used to hold the bread of the presence. It held twelve loaves of bread - one for each tribe. Jesus said, 'I am the bread of life' (John 6:35). He came for us so that if we believe in him we would never be hungry. God has provided Jesus as our bread. And just as there was one loaf of bread for each tribe, so there is enough bread for each of us.

"Jesus also said, 'I am the light of the world' (John 8:12). In the same way as the lampstand gave light to those near God in the tabernacle, so Jesus is our light to show us the way to God.

Access to God, the bread of life and the light of the world are all thing that God supplies for us -- things we need to have life. But there is one item of furniture missing -- the altar of incense which represents our prayers to our God. It is missing here because we are being taught that God provides for us to come to him, but prayer is what we give to God.

"What amazing grace he gives us in opening the way for us to come to him" (RP).

Exo 25:10

What happened to ark? 2Ma 2:4,5 says Jeremiah hid it in a cave on Mt Nebo. In Christ's time the most holy place was empty.

Exo 25:16

The ark contained 3 items: (1) golden pot of manna (Exo 16:33,34) (Christ as bread of life: Joh 6); (2) Aaron's rod that budded (Num 17) (sym divine selection, authority, resurrection); and (3) tables of covenant (here; Exo 40:20) (divine law). See Heb 9:4n.

Exo 25:17

ATONEMENT COVER OF PURE GOLD: Sym faith (Rom 3:25n). Christ the "covering" for sins (Rom 4:7; Gal 3:26-28). A man of faith, shaped by trials, beaten into shape by God.

Exo 25:18

CHERUBIM OF GOLD: Their faces looked upon the blood-sprinkled mercy seat (cp 1Pe 1:12). Ref multitudinous Christ (cp Eze 1:10 with Rev 4:7; 5:9,10), when in glory united with Christ. In them God's glory shines forth (Psa 80:1; Rom 5:2).

Exo 25:20

Their faces looked upon the blood-sprinkled mercy seat (cp 1Pe 1:12). Lesson: we must look toward Christ.

Exo 25:22

Ark of testimony: also called: "ark of covenant" (Num 10:33); "ark of God" (1Sa 3:3); "ark of Lord God" (1Ki 2:26); "ark of Lord of all earth" (Jos 3:13); "the holy ark" (2Ch 35:3); "the ark of thy strength" (Psa 132:8).

THERE... I WILL MEET WITH YOU: Did Moses go into the Most Holy? Prob yes (Num 17:4).

BETWEEN THE TWO CHERUBIM: Cp cherubim of Gen 3:24.

Exo 25:23

The table for the shewbread, or "bread of the Presence" (Lev 24:5-9; 21:6). Typ our memorial table (Act 2:42).

Exo 25:25

A RIM: A horizontal strip running around all 4 sides. This held the silver trumpets with which to assemble the people (Num 10:2-10).

Exo 25:29

FOR THE POURING OUT: The table held cups for wine, as well as plates for bread (Lev 24; Num 28:7).

Exo 25:30

BREAD OF THE PRESENCE: "Bread of the faces". Called also "perpetual bread" (Num 4:7).

Exo 25:31

See Lesson, Lampstand.

HAMMER IT OUT... OF ONE PIECE WITH IT: Not joined together at seams, or melted, but rather one continuous undivided unity, shaped by affliction. "Hammered" or "beaten" (AV): Christ (Isa 53:5,10), his saints (Lev 2:1,14; 24:2; Exo 29:40; 37:7; Gal 2:20; Phi 3:10). "Of one piece", ie "One Body"!

Exo 25:32

BRANCHES... ALMOND (v 33): Repr an almond tree! The tree of life (Gen 3:24; Num 17:8). The 7 ecclesias are a tree of life, because they offer Christ to world (Pro 15:4; 11:30; Psa 1:3; Rev 22:1,2; cp sym: Rev 1:13). Also, a symbolic representation of the burning bush!

Exo 25:34

ON THE LAMPSTAND: That is, on the one central branch.

Exo 25:40

The earthly: a shadow of the heavenly. The natural: a shadow of the spiritual. "According to the true tabernacle": Heb 8:5; 9:23,24. "An artist, in drawing a pattern for some fabric or utensil, will supply a style of ornamentation that is harmonious throughout, whether simple or elaborate; and so an architect, working out a plan for a building, will observe the same style of architecture down to the minutest details, where an uncultured mind would either omit all correspondence or introduce incongruous features. It is certainly an added beauty to the work of God among men that its opening personal incidents should bear a general resemblance to its final developments on a larger scale -- and so be a sort of prophecy -- which enabled Paul to say 'which things are an allegory'. Whatever we may think of it, there the fact undoubtedly is; and it would be a pity to make the mistake of those who stoutly shut their eyes and maintain there are no types and shadows connected either with the history or the institutions of Israel under Moses" (LM 105).

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