Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Test Your Tabernacle Knowledge!

I've been studying the instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle lately. And it's been awesome! Too often it's easy to get bogged down in passages such as these (Ex. 25-31). We tend to consider them "boring," "irrelevant" or "too old-testamenty." Well let me tell you, there is nothing boring about this stuff. Consider the following. Did you know these things?

1. Exodus 25-31 is a speech from God. The phrase "And the Lord said to Moses" is repeated seven times. The seventh time is a reiteration of the sabbath commandment. Hmm, interesting. Seven separate speech acts by God for the creation of a thing. What previous biblical event does this remind us of?

2. The Spirit of God is only mentioned a couple of times in the Pentateuch (gen-deut). Two of the most notable are in Genesis 1:2 and Exodus 31:3 when the Spirit of God is given to Bezalel to empower him for making the tabernacle. Is this a significant connection?

3. When God had finished his creation of the world, he looked at it, saw that it was good, and blessed it. In Ex. 39, when the tabernacle is finished, Moses looks at it, sees that it is according the the Lord's instructions, and blesses the people.

4. The entrance to the garden of Eden was on the east side. The tabernacle was always to be set up facing east. Coincidence?

These features of the "boring" tabernacle story, tell us what the tabernacle is, a sort of "new creation." Because of man's sin, and his banishment from the garden of Eden, he no longer has access to the presence of God. But now God, who has just redeemed his people from slavery, is taking it upon himself to give the instructions for a "new creation," a place in the midst of the people where God will dwell. The tabernacle is a sort of "portable paradise" which will move with the people throughout their travels in the dessert.

Of course, when God moves into the tabernacle in Ex. 40, the glory of the Lord is overwhelming, such that Moses can not bear to be in his presence. A dilemma. So it's no surprise that Leviticus opens with seven chapters detailing the sacrificial system that will make it possible for a sinful people to dwell with God.

Bonus: If Ex. 25-31 present the instructions for the tabernacle as a "new creation" echoing Genesis 1-2, what does this tell us about golden calf incident in Ex. 32-34?

1 comment:

Ken said...

Jeff --

I thank God for your ongoing insights into the older testament. You keep us thinking.