1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. 3 And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, 4 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, 5 tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, 6 oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7 onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.
-”From every man who’s heart moves him” sounds very similar to how in churches we may ask for donations “as one feels lead”. The question I have is what is going on here. In a church, we would explain that the Holy Spirit tells people when and how much to give in order to meet God’s needs for the church. But here, thousands of years before Pentecost, God is telling Moses to have people give as their “heart moves” them. Is this simply their choice and God happens to know how much people will give and it will be enough for His purposes? Despite what many believe, The Holy Spirit, just like Jesus, has always existed and is at work here. Numerous times in the old testament we read of the Spirit falling on someone. We will read many instances as we move forward of the Spirit enabling people with abilities and Holiness. But that doesn’t at all mean that the Holy Spirit is exactly the same in the Old as in New testament times. Proof of this is Joel 2:28-29, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit”. This means today, anyone is capable of being gifted in the same way only a select few people were gifted in old testament times. Nowadays, potentially, you the reader can be used and have all the same powers as Moses and Aaron or the prophets did. But before Christ, the Holy Spirit seemed to do work in more specific instances with only biblical characters. All this being said, there is no reason not to assume the Holy Spirit didn’t move all the Israelites to give and this really is the same thing as we say in churches. The Holy Spirit moves are heart to do good works for His purposes.
8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.
-Does God need a house? Why does He have the Israelites build Him a dwelling among them? Like with everything else, its purpose is to teach the Israelites about Him and His nature. The exact specifications given are all symboling to God’s nature and His relationship with the Israelites and mankind. We will go in greater detail when we are given the specifications next chapter.
The Ark of the Covenant
10 “They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you. 17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. 21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. 22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.
-It is very easy to get carried away with interpretations so I’d like to stick to more general symbolic meanings rather than quibble over specifics. For example, why was the ark exactly two cubits and a half wide and half a cubit high? I can take a guess that it is probably exactly enough size for everything to fit inside, but I don’t have a scriptural basis for this. I can take a guess that Acacia wood was chosen because it is strong and is not effected by woodworm or dry but scripture doesn’t explain it. So I can only assume specifics like this are either unimportant or hidden in plain site and we are not meant to know yet. But in general, we have a box of gold, signifying Holiness, that contains the law inside of it. Serving as the lid of the box is the “mercy seat” with two cherubim. Remember that the garden of Eden was guarded by a cherubim and their role in the bible seams to be as guards. The two “guards” are guarding the Holiness of what is contained in this box. The reason for the law being inside and being guarded in this way guarded by two cherubim signifies the perfection of the law. A “mercy seat” is needed because only by God’s mercy can He come before us, not based on anything we can do. God comes to man by His choice, nothing else. God is resting on His own mercy for us when He appears to us and that is why it has this name and it has this purpose. The purpose of the poles was so that we don’t touch it because we are not worthy. It has do move somehow so how can it be moved without being touched. It adds meaning to the phrase “I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole”. This symbolism was so important that God literally killed any man who touched it for any reason. To allow someone not to die would be dismissing the very reason for it’s existence.
The Table for Bread
23 “You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 24 You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. 25 And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. 26 And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. 27 Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. 28 You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. 29 And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. 30 And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly.
-Again it is made from acacia wood overladed with gold including rings of gold so it can be carried with poles without touching. The King James versions calls this bread “shewbread” that sits on the table and the idea is to always have an offering before God at all times. This symbolizes that God wishes us always to be offering ourselves to Him at all times. More on the “Presence” bread is explained in Leviticus 24.
The Golden Lampstand
31 “You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand shall be made of hammered work: its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. 32 And there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 33 three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand itself there shall be four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, 35 and a calyx of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lampstand. 36 Their calyxes and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it a single piece of hammered work of pure gold. 37 You shall make seven lamps for it. And the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it. 38 Its tongs and their trays shall be of pure gold. 39 It shall be made, with all these utensils, out of a talent of pure gold. 40 And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.
-In case you are as inept at following written directions as me and figuring out what they mean, the golden lampstand being described is a menorah, like during Hanukkah. http://iranpoliticsclub.net/history/religion-david1/images/Menorah%20Ancient.jpg . The holiday, Hanukkah, is not a biblical holiday like the other holidays given directly by God but the symbol of a menorah is. The menorah was the light of the temple just as Jesus is the light of the world. The ark, the bread of Presence, and the golden lampstand all represent Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and God is able to come to us upon the mercy seat which is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus is the golden lampstand because He is the light of the world to all nations.