Study Notes

Exodus 25:1-40

Moses has gone up to the mountaintop to spend 40 days and 40 nights with the Lord. A cloud surrounds the top of the mountain, concealing the glory of the Lord from the people. All they can see is what appears to be a consuming fire.

25:1-7 Raise A Contribution

God tells Moses to first raise a contribution to construct the tabernacle. Notice that He says that it was to be

Exod. 25:2 ... from every man whose heart moves him...

There was to be no requisite or mandatory amount demanded from each person. They were to give as they were moved in their hearts. This is exactly the way things are to work in the church today as well. Remember that 2Corinthians tells us,

2Cor. 9:7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

What we're going to see is that the heart-felt offerings of the people was more than enough. in chapter 36 we read,

Exod. 36:3-7 And they received from Moses all the contributions which the sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the sanctuary. And they still continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, and they said to Moses, "The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the LORD commanded us to perform." So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, "Let neither man nor woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary." Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it.

God's sanctuary was to be constructed out of the willing hearts of the people.

Where did the Israelites get all of these things? God had told Moses,

Exod. 11:2 "Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold."

So on the night of the Exodus, we read...

Exod. 12:35-36 Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

The wealth was supernaturally provided by God, and then naturally given back as an offering. That is they way that our finances should be dealt with as well.

25:8-9 Construct A Sanctuary

God is going to show Moses the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture. What was He showing Moses? The writer of Hebrews said that the priests...

Hebr. 8:5 ... serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, "SEE," He says, "THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN."

Moses had a vision of the heavenly things, and the tabernacle would be made after their pattern. As we studied the book of Revelation, we saw the actual heavenly things and discussed their parallels to the earthly tabernacle. As we go through these things tonight: the ark, the mercy seat, the table, and the lampstand, we'll do the opposite - discussing their heavenly counterparts.

25:10-16 The Ark

This is the first mention of the ark of the covenant in the Bible. The ark was basically a wooden box covered with gold. God gives specific measurements for it. Since a cubit was the measurement from a man's elbow to his fingertip (about 18 inches), the ark was about three and a half feet long by two and a half feet wide by two and a half feet high.

The ark was to have poles to carry it. It was to be carried with the poles by the Levite priests. But in the books of first and second Samuel, the ark goes through a series of adventures and ends up at Baale-judah. David arises with a huge number of people to bring the ark back to Jerusalem.

2Sam. 6:3-7 And they placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart. So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark. But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.

David had the ark carried on a cart rather than having the Levite priests carry it. The result was disastrous. The object lesson is of course to always revere that which God proclaims holy. And the more obvious lesson is, "Hey, use those poles!"

25:17-20 The Mercy Seat

The mercy seat was basically the lid of the ark, but it had symbolism and beauty. Being solid gold, it was also pretty heavy.


There was to be a cherub on either end of it. Cherubs are interesting creatures - the highest angelic beings created. In Revelation 4 they are described as being like a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle, full of eyes around and within. The prophet Ezekiel gives us even greater and more specific visual descriptions of the cherubim:

Ezek. 1:5-11 And within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form. Each of them had four faces and four wings. And their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf's hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides were human hands. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, their wings touched one another; their faces did not turn when they moved, each went straight forward. As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man, all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each had two touching another being, and two covering their bodies.

They are fascinating creatures, and they are not infrequently mentioned in the Scriptures. God appointed cherubim to guard the way to the tree of life. As you read further into Ezekiel, they have even weirder and more confusing details with wheels inside of wheels. Satan himself was also once one of the cherubim. So these are far from the idea of little fat babies with wings that paganism introduced into our thinking.

This mercy seat is a model of God's throne in heaven. The cherubim are constantly facing the throne of God in worship.

Ezek. 10:1 Then I looked, and behold, in the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim something like a sapphire stone, in appearance resembling a throne, appeared above them.

Rev. 4:6-9 and before the throne there was, as it were, a sea of glass like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. And the first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, who was and who is and who is to come." And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever...

So the mercy seat is a model of the throne of God - surrounded by worshipping cherubim.

Sprinkled Blood

The high priest will be commanded in in Leviticus 16 to

Lev. 16:14-16 "...take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side ; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil, and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel, and because of their transgressions, in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities.

The blood of the sacrifice would besprinkled on the mercy seat. The purpose was to make atonement for the impurities of the Israelites.

25:21-22 The Testimony

The testimony was the two tablets of the 10 Commandments:

Exod. 31:18 And when He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.

The testimony was to be placed in the ark when God gave them to Moses. Aaron's rod will end up in there, as well as a jar containing an omerful of manna. The writer of Hebrews said,

Hebr. 9:4-5 ...the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant. And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

From Between The Cherubim

God said He would meet with Moses from between the two cherubim. Just as He is on His throne between the true cherubim, so He would appear between the models of them. This will become one of His names:

2Sam. 6:2 ...the LORD of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim.

God is above the mercy seat. When He looks down, He sees the law, the 10 Commandments, that the Israelites are guilty of breaking. But then He sees the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat, making atonement for those sins.

25:23-30 The Table

The bread of the presence was consecrated bread. It was twelve loaves baked fresh each week. The old bread would be removed, and new hot bread put in its place continually. That is why it is also called "the continual bread."

Num. 4:7 "Over the table of the bread of the Presence they shall also spread a cloth of blue and put on it the dishes and the pans and the sacrificial bowls and the jars for the libation, and the continual bread shall be on it.

The more familiar term, however, is showbread. The table is often called, "The Table of Showbread." The showbread was to be eaten by the priests before the Lord. Instructions for making it and other specifics will be given in Leviticus 24:

Lev. 24:5-9 "Then you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it; two-tenths {of an ephah} shall be {in} each cake. And you shall set them {in} two rows, six {to} a row, on the pure {gold} table before the LORD. And you shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be a memorial portion for the bread, {even} an offering by fire to the LORD. Every sabbath day he shall set it in order before the LORD continually; it is an everlasting covenant for the sons of Israel. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the LORD'S offerings by fire, his portion forever."

Remember in 1Samuel 21, David pulled a no-no in regards to the Law with this bread. He came to Ahimelech the priest, and asking for five loaves of bread for his men to eat. They weren't priests, but ate it anyway. Jesus later explained that it wasn't the huge sin that we might think:

Mark 2:24-27 And the Pharisees were saying to Him, "See here, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" And He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and became hungry, he and his companions: how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar {the} high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for {anyone} to eat except the priests, and he gave {it} also to those who were with him?" And He was saying to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

Now, as with all the tabernacle furniture, the table was a picture of something in the heavenlies. Is there a table in heaven? Jesus said to the apostles,

Luke 22:28-30 "And you are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

There is a table in heaven - quite possibly where we will eat the marriage supper of the Lamb.

25:31-39 The Lampstand

A lampstand resembling a vine or a tree with three branches out one side, three out the other side. A total of seven lights. It was the only source of light in the tabernacle, using the clear oil of beaten olives as fuel.

This too is a model of something in heaven. When John was caught up to heaven in the book of Revelation, we read,

Rev. 4:5 ...And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God

Now we get into what I believe is some of the most complex, circular typology that I have found in the Scriptures. Stay with me if you can, but if you don't, I understand - I don't think I've got a handle on it quite yet either.

Okay, the lampstand in the tabernacle represents the lampstand in heaven. But the lampstand in heaven is actually the seven Spirits of God. In Isaiah 11:2, we read:

Isa. 11:2 And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

The seven spirits of God is actually the seven-fold description of the Holy Spirit. So the lampstand is a picture of the Holy Spirit. Now we turn to Zechariah 4.

Zech. 4:1-6 Then the angel who was speaking with me returned, and roused me as a man who is awakened from his sleep. And he said to me, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side." Then I answered and said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, "What are these, my lord?" So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." Then he answered and said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts.

In the vision, the oil from the lampstand was coming directly from the olive trees. The priests weren't having to work to keep the flames burning. The Holy Spirit was the source.

So far, it doesn't seem that complicated. But then we remember that Jesus said to His disciples,

Matt. 5:14 "You are the light of the world...

So we are the light-bearers. In Revelation 1, we read that...

Rev. 1:20 "...the seven lampstands are the seven churches."

And the Holy Spirit is described in chapter 4 as seven lamps of fire. Here is the lampstand, the church, and the fire burning is the Holy Spirit. We see this manifested physically in Acts 2:

Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

So we as the church hold up the flame to light the world, the Holy Spirit providing the fuel and the flame.

And, lest you feel that you understood that completely, remember that the lampstand was one vine with six branches extended. Jesus said,

John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches...

How does that figure into the equation? I have no clue. But I know that you'll have a fruitful time studying that puzzle!

25:40 Catch The Vision

Moses has been shown a vision or a model of heaven. It is going to be his responsibility to see that it is done according to the vision.

I find that in the Bible, whether it is Noah, Abraham, Moses, or Paul, one man is often given a vision by God. Then the Lord calls others alongside that man to help it become a reality. This is the pattern of God.

Recently, I was having a conversation with a woman whose church had spent tens of thousands of dollars on a building project, only to have it abandoned when the former pastor was removed or retired, and then the church board changed as well. Then they had visions to expand the existing building. Another change in leadership. Now they're planning to buy adjacent property to make a soccer field instead.

Where is the vision? The continuity? The leading of God? God doesn't change His mind like man does. Balaam said in Numbers 23,

Num. 23:19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?"

Is God behind the soccer field? Was He leading the building expansion? How about the extra building that lies unfinished? These things are not the vision of God given to man, but the desires of men. God's pattern is using a man to oversee a movement. When we get caught up in boards, committees, and hirelings, there is no vision. No wonder the proverb says,

Prov. 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained...

That is something that I as a pastor have to ask constantly: "Is this helping to complete the vision that God has given me? And our church leadership has to always analyze: "Is this helping to bring to fruition the vision that God has given us?"

So Moses is the man. He's caught the vision, he's seen the pattern. We're going to see for the next few chapters the rest of that pattern or vision.

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