THE PENTATEUCH PART II: EXODUS
Lesson 18: Exodus chapters 37:17- 40:38
The Sanctuary is Built and
God Takes Possession of the Tabernacle
In Your loving kindness to the children of Israel, You promised to tabernacle in their midst in a structure made by human hands, but for Your New Covenant children, Lord, You created a tabernacle for Your Spirit to dwell in the reborn lives of New Covenant believers who, through Christian baptism, form the corporate covenant of the Body of Christ. Please send Your Holy Spirit, Lord, to guide us on our final journey through the Book of Exodus as we study about the creation of the Old Covenant Sanctuary and significance of Old Covenant Law and Liturgy that was a tutor and a guide to prepare the faithful to recognize the Advent of the Messiah and the inauguration of a new covenant. It is the New Covenant in Christ that has the promise of the eternal salvation "a gift of grace that was not available to the members of the Sinai Covenant but which lived as a hope in the heart of every Old Covenant believer. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
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While they were in
the desert our ancestors possessed the Tent of Testimony that had been
constructed according to the instructions God gave Moses, telling him to work
to the design he had been shown. It was handed down from one ancestor of ours
to another until Joshua brought it into the country that had belonged to the
nations which were driven out by God before us. Here it stayed until the time
St. Paul writing to
Jewish converts to Christianity about Old Covenant sacraments and holy days: Never
let anyone criticize you for what you eat or drink, or about observance of
annual festivals, New Moons or Sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what
was coming: the reality is the Body of Christ.
The inspired writer
of the Letter to the Hebrews referring to the Jerusalem Temple that was still
standing at the time of his message: ...it is a symbol for this present
time. None of the gifts and sacrifices offered under these regulations can
possible bring any worshipper to perfection in his conscience; they are rules
about outward life, connected with food and drink and washing at various times,
which are in force only until the time comes to set things right. But now
Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come.
He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, not made by human
hands, that is, not of this created order; and he has entered the Sanctuary
once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but
his own blood, having won an eternal redemption.
The Tabernacle became the focus of worship for Israel. It was where Yahweh made His home among His people in a special way in the Holy of Holies, enthroned between the cherubim on the Mercy-seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 40:34-35; Num 7:89; 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2). Later, the Jerusalem Temple replaced the Tabernacle as the one place on earth where God dwelt in the midst of His covenant people (Dt 12:11-12; 1 Kng 6:1-38; 7:13-8:11, 21; 2 Chr 3:1-2). In the Aramaic Targums this special presence of God is called the shekinah (sah-kee-nah), an expression that is not found in the books of the Old Testament (Davis, Exodus, page 255), but which defines the presence of the glory of God in a certain place.
The Tabernacle was also a prophetic prefigurement of the redemptive work of the Redeemer-Messiah. The earthly Tabernacle, a pattern of the heavenly Sanctuary (Ex 25:8-9), was designed to point to the future ministry of God the Son in God's plan of salvation. While it was true that in some unexplainable way the glory of the Presence of Yahweh dwelled in the man-made Tabernacle, God cannot fully dwell in a temple made with human hands (Acts 7:48; 17:24). It was the tabernacle of the Virgin Mary's womb, fashioned by the hand of God, that would one day make it possible for the Son of God to dwell among men: The Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14).(1)
Please read Exodus 37:17-24: Construction of the Golden
37:17He also made the lamp-stand of pure gold, making the lamp-stand, base and stem, of beaten gold, its cups, calyxes and buds being of a piece with it. 18Six branches sprang from its sides: three of the lamp-stand's branches from one side, three of the lamp's branches from the other. 19The first branch carried three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with its calyx and bud; the second branch, too, carried three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with its calyx and bud, and similarly all six branches springing from the lamp-stand. 20The lamp-stand itself carried four cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with its calyx and bud: 21one calyx under the first two branches springing from the lamp-stand, one calyx under the next pair of branches and one calyx under the last pair of branches "thus for all six branches springing from the lamp-stand. 22The calyxes and the branches were of a piece with the lamp-stand, and the whole was made from a single piece of pure gold, beaten out. 23He also made its seven lamps, its snuffers and trays of pure gold. 24He made the lamp-stand and all its accessories from a talent of pure gold.
This section corresponds to the instructions Moses received in Exodus 25:23-30. Scripture suggests that Bezalel, God's spirit filled master craftsman, may have personally made all the sacred pieces for the Tabernacle (Ex 37:1, 10, 17, 25; 38:1, 8), but it is also possible that he made some items and may have overseen the creation of others (Ex 38:9, 22).
Question: The lamp was to never be extinguished so long as God's Presence was in the Tabernacle. Where is the lamp that symbolizes the presence of God in the New Covenant Sanctuary?
Answer: It is located near the Tabernacle that holds the consecrated host; it is to be kept continually burning so long as the consecrated host is in the Tabernacle, signifying that Christ dwells in the midst of His people.
Please read Exodus 37:25-29: Construction of the Altar of
37:25He made the altar of incense of acacia wood, one cubit long and one cubit wide "it was square "and two cubits high, its horns were of a piece with it. 26He overlaid its top, its sides all round and its horns with pure gold and made a moulding to go all round. 27He made two gold rings for it below the moulding on its two opposite sides, to take the shafts used for carrying it. 28He made the shafts of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. 29He also made the holy anointing oil and the fragrant incense, blending it as a perfumer would.
Question: During worship services in the desert Tabernacle and the Jerusalem Temple, incense consecrated the holy space and represented the prayers of the faithful rising to heaven (Ex 30:7-8; 40:26-27). Incense is also the visual sign of the prayers of the faithful in the heavenly Sanctuary (Rev. 5:8). How is incense used in worship in the celebration of the Mass?
Answer: The use of incense is optional in any form of Mass. It can be used to consecrate the congregation during the entrance procession, to incense the altar at the beginning of Mass, at the procession and proclamation of the Gospel, at the preparation of the congregation's gifts (at which time the altar, priest, and people are also incensed), and at the showing of the Eucharistic bread and Chalice after the consecration.
Please read Exodus 38: 1-8: Construction of the Altar of
Burnt Offerings and the Bronze Basin
38:1He made the altar of burnt offerings of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; it was square and three cubits high. 2At its four corners he made horns, the horns being of a piece with it, and overlaid it with bronze. 3He made all the altar accessories: the ash pans, shovels, sprinkling basins, hooks and fire pans; he made all the altar accessories of bronze. 4He also made a grating for the altar of bronze network, below its ledge, underneath, coming halfway up. 5He cast four rings for the four corners of the bronze grating to take the shafts. 6He made the shafts of acacia wood and overlaid them with bronze. 7He passed the shafts through the rings on the sides of the altar of carrying it. He made the altar hallow, out of boards. 8He made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
Question: Where is the altar of sacrifice in New Covenant worship? What does it represent (name three)?
Answer: In the celebration of the Mass and in the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Rites it is the altar upon which the sacrifice of Christ, 2000 years ago, is made present in sacred time and sacred space. It stands in the midst of the congregation and represents not only the altar of sacrifice but the table of the Last Supper and the empty tomb.
Question: From what was the bronze container for the holy water constructed?
Answer: ...from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
Mirrors at this time were usually hand-held mirrors made of highly polished copper or bronze and fitted with wood or ivory handles.(2)
the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. They were probably the women who volunteered to weave the panels for the courtyard, to weave the linen for the curtains to cover the courtyard entrance to the Tabernacle and the entrance to the Holy of Holies (Ex 35:25), and to weave the tunics of the priests. It is unclear if the reference to the "Tent of Meeting" means the temporary tent or the completed Tabernacle.(3)
The priests were to ritually bathe (by immersion) each morning before putting on their liturgical tunic and they were to wash their hands and feet before entering the Tabernacle. Converts to the Sinai Covenant were to be ritually immersed when they took their covenantal vows (men were also to be circumcised) and immersion was also part of ritual purification for a woman after her menstrual cycle, after childbirth, and before her wedding. The Old Covenant people also ritually bathed/immersed as a sign of repentance of their sins as St. John the Baptist, an Old Covenant priest, baptized the faithful at the Jordan River (Mk 1:4-6).
Question: Where is ritual washing present in New Covenant worship?
The use of water in ritual purification dates back to the earliest years of Christianity.(4)
Please read Exodus 38:9-20: Construction of the Outer
38:9He made the court. On the south side, on the south, the curtaining of the court was of finely woven linen a hundred cubits long. 10Its twenty poles and their sockets being of bronze, and their hooks and rods of silver; 11and on the north side, a hundred cubits of curtaining, its twenty poles and their twenty sockets being of bronze, and their hooks and rods of silver. 12On the west side there were fifty cubits of curtaining, with its ten poles and their ten sockets, the poles' hooks and rods being of silver; 13and on the east side on the east, there were fifty cubits. 14On the one side there were fifteen cubits of curtaining, with its three poles and their three sockets, 15and on the other side "either side of the gateway to the court "there were fifteen cubits of curtaining with its three poles and their three sockets. 16All the curtaining round the court was of finely woven linen, 17the sockets for the poles were of bronze, the poles' hooks and the rods of silver, their capitals were overlaid with silver and all the poles of the court had silver rods. 18The screen for the gateway to the court was of finely woven linen embroidered with violet-purple, red-purple and crimson, twenty cubits long and five cubits high (all the way 0along) like the curtaining of the court, 19its four poles and their four sockets being of bronze, their hooks of silver, their capitals overlaid with silver, and their rods of silver. 20All the pegs round the Dwelling and the court were of bronze.
These instructions repeat the commands given to Moses in Exodus 27:9-19.
Question: Is there an "outer court" in Catholic churches where the faithful can gather? Are the rules for access to the Sanctuary the same as in Old Covenant times?
Answer: A space outside the Sanctuary but within the church building like a narthex is similar to an outer court. But unlike Old Covenant worship, even those who are not members of the covenant can be invited into the church narthex and Sanctuary. However, like Old Covenant prohibitions, only covenant members can receive the sacred meal of the communion sacrifice.
For catechism references pertaining to the instruction that those receiving the Eucharist must be in a state of grace and in fully communion with the Catholic Church see CCC 1385, 1395.
Question: In what direction was the Sanctuary and its Tabernacle oriented? What is the significance?
Answer: The entire Sanctuary was oriented east to west "with the entrance to the Sanctuary in the east and the Holy of Holies at the back of the Tabernacle in the west. In this way the people and priests moved from east to west in approaching the Presence of God and when they left the Sanctuary they moved away from God's dwelling Presence toward the east. Ever since the fall of man in Genesis chapter 3, movement to the east has signified moving away from God while movement to the west signified moving toward that which is holy.
St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome and all early Christian churches were oriented in this same way with the entrance in the east and the holy altar in the western most part of the church building.
Question: How will this symbolism take on a deeper meaning when God's anointed representative leads the Israelites cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land and when the anointed Redeemer-Messiah crosses the Jordan River back into Judah after His baptism? Look up the Hebrew names of these two men in a Bible Dictionary; what is significant about their names? See Josh 3:14-17; 4:19; Jn 1:28-29.
Answer: This symbolism will take on a deeper significance when "Joshua" (Yahshua/ Yehoshua meaning "Yahweh saves" or "Yahweh is salvation") leads the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land in the Book of Joshua. He will lead the people across the river from the east bank opposite the city of Jericho, moving to the west. Joshua will be moving from east to west just as Jesus (Yahshua/ Yehoshua), who bears the same name as the hero who led Israel into the Promised Land, will cross the Jordan River after His baptism by St. John the Baptist (who was baptizing on the "far side" the eastern side of the Jordan River) when He begins His mission to lead God's people into the Promised Land of heaven.
Please read Exodus 38:21-23: The Craftsmen
38:21These are the accounts for the Dwelling "the Dwelling of the Testimony "drawn up by order of Moses, the work of Levites, produced by Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest. 22Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made everything that Yahweh ordered Moses to make, 23his assistant being Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, embroiderer and needleworker in violet-purple, red-purple and crimson materials and fine linen.
The Levites (Moses' and Aaron's tribe), under the direction of Ithamar, were responsible for producing an inventory of the costly metals used in the construction of the Tabernacle.
Answer: Ithamar was Aaron's youngest son whose birth is recorded in Exodus 6:23 and his election to the priesthood mentioned in 28:1. Throughout the next forty years Ithamar will be responsible for directing the work of the Levitical clans in connection with the care, transportation and reassembly of the Tabernacle (Num 4:28). Ithamar's descendants will continue to play a role in the history of the covenant people into the era of the monarchy and into to the years of the return from the Babylonian exile (1 Chr 24:3; Ezra 8:2).
Oholiab's expertise in needlework is emphasized in 38:23; according to tradition he is the artisan who made the beautiful curtain that covered the Holy of Holies.
Please read Exodus 38:24-31: The Tally of the Cost of the Precious Metals
This inventory was compiled after the census (Num 1:5-47; 3:14-43), which was recorded by the Moses and Aaron (Num 1:2-4). God commanded that Moses take the census in Exodus 30:11-16 and to collect a poll tax of half a shekel from every male Israelite over 20 years old to help pay for the expense of building the Sanctuary: Everyone subject to the census will pay a half a shekel, reckoning by the sanctuary shekel: twenty gerah to the shekel. This half-shekel will be set aside for Yahweh (Ex 30:13). The money collected was used to purchase the metals that were needed in the construction of the Sanctuary and its furnishings. According to Egyptologists this inventory of the metals reflects Egyptian accounting practices in building projects. The metals are listed according to value, with the most expensive metals listed first.
A talent is the largest unit of weight used in the Bible; the Hebrew word is kikkar. According to verses 25-26 a talent is equal to 3 thousand silver shekels "a different ratio than the Mesopotamian kakkarum which was equaled to 3,600 shekels.(5) The Hebrew word beqa, from a Hebrew stem meaning "to split," is equivalent to half of a shekel (verse 26), a weight mentioned only here and in Genesis 24:22, and a gerah was one-twentieth a shekel. The the kikkar (talent) was equivalent to 75 pounds or 34.02 kilograms (New Jerusalem Bible "Tables of Measures and Money").
Question: According to the census, how many men over 20 years were in the Israelite community? What were the census numbers for the Levites and the first-born males? See Ex 38:26 and compare it to Num 1:46-47 and to Num 3:39 and 43.
Answer: There were 603,550 men over 20 years from all the tribes except the Levites. The Levite males over one month in age numbered 22,000 and the first-born males from all the tribes other than the Levites who were one month old and older numbered 22,273 males, slightly more than the Levites who have replaced them as the lesser ministers of the Sanctuary.
The low numbers for the "firstborn" of all the tribes one month and older might indicate that many of the men who led the revolt against Moses and were killed by the Levites were men who were the "first-born". Compare the number of first-born males over one month old to the lists of the men of the other tribes who were 20 years and older in Numbers 1:21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, and 43.
Please read Exodus 39:1-31: The Vestments of the High
Priest and the Chief Priests
39:1From the violet-purple, red-purple and crimson materials, they made the liturgical vestments for service in the sanctuary. They made the sacred vestments for Aaron, as Yahweh had ordered Moses.
The Ephod of the High Priest (also see Ex 28:6-8-12):
This list includes the four items worn by all priests and the additional four parts of the vestments worn only by the High Priest. In addition to the four colors of natural linen, red, blue and purple, costly gold thread also embellished the vestments of the High Priest. The process of producing the gold thread mentioned in verse 3 is typically Egyptian. The gold was hammered over a stone into very thin sheets from which narrow strips were cut to make a fine wire and even narrower threads. Generations of slavery in Egypt turned a pastoral people into gifted artisans who were prepared to build the sanctuary of God. It is an example of how God can take an evil and turn it to a good (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28).
The High Priest's Breastplate of Judgment (also see Ex 28:15-30)
The High Priest's Robe (also see Ex 28:31-35)
The Four General Vestments of the Priests and the High Priest's Miter (Turban) (also see Ex 28:39-42)
The Golden Diadem of the High Priest (also see Ex 28:36-37)
Please read Exodus 39:32-43: The Finished Word is
presented to Moses
39:32So all the work for the Dwelling, for the Tent of Meeting, was completed. They had done everything exactly as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 33They then brought Moses the Dwelling, the Tent and all its accessories: its clasps, frames, crossbars, poles and sockets; 34the cover of rams' skins dyed red, the cover of fine leather and the screening curtains; 36the ark of the Testimony and its shafts, and the mercy-seat; 36 the table, all its accessories and the loaves of permanent offering; 37the lamp-stand of pure gold, its lamps "the array of lamps "and all its accessories, and the oil for the light; 38the golden altar, the anointing oil, the fragrant incense and the screen for the entrance to the tent; 39the bronze altar and its bronze grating, its shafts and all its accessories; the basin and its stand; 40the curtaining for the court, its poles, its sockets, and the screen for the gateway to the court, its cords, its pegs and all the accessories for the service of the Dwelling, for the Tent of Meeting; 41the liturgical vestments for officiating in the sanctuary "the sacred vestments for Aaron the priest, and the vestments for his sons "for the priestly functions. 42The Israelites had done all the work exactly as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 43Moses inspected all the work: they had indeed done it as Yahweh had ordered and Moses blessed them.
Exodus 39:32: So all the work for the Dwelling, for the Tent of Meeting, was completed. They had done everything exactly as Yahweh had ordered Moses.
Question: The designation "the Dwelling for the Tent of Meeting" expresses what dual function of the Tabernacle?
Answer: It is the physical symbol of the indwelling of the Divine Presence of Yahweh in the camp of Israel that everyone can see, and it is the site of communication between God and Moses.
Question: When the age of the Old Covenant had come to an end, what was the physical symbol of God's Presence with His people when they were called into the New Covenant?
Answer: The physical sign was the vision of the man-god Jesus of Nazareth.
Answer: The completion of the work of Creation evoked a blessing (Gen 2:3). The cycle is repeated in the completion of the Sanctuary: they had indeed done it as Yahweh had ordered and Moses blessed them.
It is odd that only the outer two coverings of the Tabernacle are mentioned (red ram's skin and the leather), although the two inner coverings of the embroidered linen and goat hair are mentioned in 36:8-18. The "golden altar" in verse 38 refers to the Altar of Incense. Scripture does not record how long was spent on the construction of the Sanctuary.(6)
Please read Exodus 40:1-15: Yahweh's Last Instructions to
40:1Yahweh then spoke to Moses and said, 2 On the first day of the first month, you will erect the Dwelling, the Tent of Meeting, 3and place the ark of the Testimony in it and screen the ark with the curtain. 4You will then bring in the table and arrange what has to be arranged on it. You will then bring in the lamp-stand and set up its lamps. 5You will place the golden altar of incense in front of the ark of the Testimony, and place the screen at the entrance to the Dwelling. 6You will place the altar of burnt offerings in front of the entrance to the Dwelling, the Tent of Meeting, 7and you will place the basin between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and fill it with water. 8You will then set up the surrounding court and hang the screen at the gateway of the court. 9Then, taking the anointing oil, you will anoint the Dwelling and everything inside, consecrating it and all its accessories; consecrating the altar; the altar will then be especially holy. 10You will then anoint the altar of burnt offerings and all its accessories, consecrating the altar; the altar will then be especially holy. 11You will then anoint the basin and its stand, and consecrate it. 12You will then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, bathe them thoroughly 13and then dress Aaron in the sacred vestments, and anoint and consecrate him, to serve me in the priesthood. 14You will then bring his sons, dress them in tunics 15and anoint them as you anointed their father, to serve me in the priesthood. Their anointing will confer an everlasting priesthood on them for all their generations to come.'
Exodus 40:4: You will then bring in the table and arrange what has to be arranged on it. Unleavened bread in two stacks of six loaves in each stack was to be arranged on the table and replaced every Sabbath (Ex 25:30; Lev 24:5-9).
The instructions for the ordination of Aaron and his sons are a repeat of part of the consecration and investiture instructions in Exodus chapter 29. After the Sanctuary is erected and consecrated, and Yahweh has taken possession of His Tabernacle (Ex 40:34-35), Aaron and his sons will be ordained to serve Yahweh in the ministerial priesthood. The ordination ceremony is recorded in Leviticus 8:1-36, and Aaron and his sons begin their ministerial duties in chapter 9.
Answer: The covenant of a perpetual priesthood.
Question: How is this promised everlasting ministerial priesthood being fulfilled today?
Answer: In the ministerial priesthood of the men who serve Jesus Christ and His Church "they have become the spiritual heirs of Aaron in the more perfect priesthood of Jesus Christ, the High Priest of the heavenly Sanctuary.
Please read Exodus 40:16-33: The Final Commands are Fulfilled
40:16Moses did this; he did exactly as Yahweh had ordered him. 17On the first day of the first month in the second year the Dwelling was erected. 18Moses erected the Dwelling. He fixed its sockets, set up its frames, put its crossbars in position and set up its poles. 19He spread the tent over the Dwelling and the covering for the tent over that, as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 20He took the Testimony and put it in the ark, positioned the shafts on the ark and put the mercy-seat on top of the ark. 21He brought the ark into the Dwelling and put the screening curtain in place, screening the ark of the Testimony, as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 22He put the table inside the Tent of Meeting, against the side of the Dwelling, on the north, outside the curtain, 23and on it arranged the loaves before Yahweh, as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 24He put the lamp-stand inside the Tent of Meeting, opposite the table, on the south side of the Dwelling, 25and set up the lamps before Yahweh, as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 26He put the golden altar inside the Tent of Meeting, in front of the curtain, 27and on it burnt fragrant incense, as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 28He then put the screen at the entrance to the dwelling. 29He put the altar of burnt offerings at the entrance to the Dwelling, to the Tent of Meeting, and on it offered the burnt offering and cereal offering, as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 30He put the basin between the Tent of Meeting and the altar and put water in it for the ablutions, 31where Moses, Aaron and his sons washed their hands and feet; 32whenever they entered the Tent of Meeting or approached the altar they washed, as Yahweh had ordered Moses. 33He then set up the court round the Dwelling and the altar and set up the screen at the gateway to the court. Thus Moses completed the work.
The phrase: as Yahweh had ordered Moses is repeated seven times. This is the figurative "seventh day" of the creation event of the Tabernacle.
Answer: The Sanctuary was erected on the 1st day of Abib in the second year after leaving Egypt. The Israelites left Egypt the morning after the sacred meal of the Passover victim on the 15th of Abib in the previous year.
Question: How was the Sanctuary divided and yet how was the Sanctuary one sacred space?
Answer: It was divided into three spaces: the space of the Outer Court where the sacrificial altar and the bronze holy water basin stood and the two spaces inside the Tabernacle, which was divided into the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. However, the two sacred rooms within the Tabernacle were unified in one building and the entire Sanctuary was enclosed as one sacred space.
Question: What does the three-part division in one sacred space of the Sanctuary, and the two part division of the Tabernacle, which will also be reflected in the construction of the Jerusalem Temple, point to theologically?
Answer: The three-in-one arrangement points to the Godhead: the Three Persons of the Godhead unified in One Holy and Supreme God. The two part division in one sacred space of the Tabernacle "the "meeting place" between God and man points to the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ, the meeting place between God and man.
Moses received the command to set up the Sanctuary and to put each piece of furniture in its designated place as he saw the design in the heavenly Sanctuary. The order of furniture placement is from the most holy to the least holy, almost exactly as in the initial instructions given to Moses on the mountain (with the exception of the incense altar). As soon as the Tabernacle was erected Moses began by putting the stone tablets of the Decalogue inside the Ark (40:20) and then placed the rest of the sacred furniture:
When the furnishings were in place, Moses set up the enclosure around the Outer court (40:33).
Question: How does the arrangement of the courtyard in the placement of the bronze Altar of sacrifice and the bronze basin of the water of purification point to the way man must approach God? Is our spiritual approach to God any different in the New Covenant? What purpose did the Sanctuary and the Tabernacle fill in terms of the people's sins?
Answer: Worship then and now must begin with confession of sin, atonement for sin, and sanctification before man is ready to approach God. The Sanctuary and its Tabernacle was the means by which God provided for the forgiveness of man's sins and restoration of fellowship with God in the Old Testament economy of salvation.
Question: How is it that New Covenant believers have access to God through forgiveness of sins and restoration of fellowship? See Heb 9:24-28; CCC 571; 601-04; 662.
Answer: The atoning blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the means by which New Covenant believers are cleansed of sin, are sanctified, are made approachable to God and judged worthy to eat and drink the sacred meal in His presence "the very Body and Blood of His Son and our Savior in Communion Rite of the Mass.
Question: Please consult the plan of the Tabernacle and its furnishings in handout #2, Lesson 13. If you drew a line connecting the furnishings of the Sanctuary as they were aligned north and south and east and west, what symbol do you have? What is the significance of the seven pieces of sacred furnishings making this sign? See Heb 9:6-14.
Answer: They form the symbol of a cross. The Sanctuary pointed to the redemptive work of the promised Redeemer-Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, upon the altar of the Cross.
Please read Exodus 40:34-38: Yahweh Takes Possession of
40:34The cloud then covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of Yahweh filled the Dwelling. 35Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, since the cloud stayed over it and the glory of Yahweh filled the Dwelling. 36At every stage of their journey, whenever the cloud rose from the Dwelling, the Israelites would resume their march. 37If the cloud did not rise, they would not resume their march until the day it did rise. 38For Yahweh's cloud stayed over the Dwelling during the daytime and there was a fire inside the cloud at night, for the whole House of Israel to see, at every stage of their journey.
In Exodus 40:34-35 the glory of Yahweh came down and filled the Tabernacle, as God took His place upon His earthly throne of the Mercy-seat (Kapporeth) in the Holy of Holies (see Num 7:89). In Hebrew the word translated "filled" or "overshadowed" in verses 34 and 35 is the verb male or mala, pronounced maw-lay' or maw-law. It is a prime root meaning "to fill or be full of," "to consecrate," "fulfill" [Brown-Driver-Briggs, 570 # 4390]. In the Greek translation of Exodus 40:34-35 the verb is episkiazo meaning "overshadowed," "filled" (Thayer's Greek Lexicon, page 242, # 1982). It is a word that is also found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in Numbers 9:18, 22; Isaiah 6:1; and 1 Kings 8:10-11. It is the Greek verb used in the New Testament in the Transfiguration event when the Glory Cloud "overshadowed" Jesus and those with Him when God spoke from the cloud (Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7; Lk 9:34), and when the healing power of the Holy Spirit flowed from St. Peter and "overshadowed the sick (Acts 5:15). It is the verb that is also used when the spirit of Yahweh "overshadowed" the Virgin Mary (Lk 1:35), whose womb was the Ark of the New Covenant as the tabernacle/dwelling-place of God the Son (see the chart "The Virgin Mary "The Ark of the New Covenant").
Like the angelic cherubim who surround the throne of Yahweh in the heavenly Tabernacle (Rev chapters 4-5), of which the earthly Tabernacle is only a copy (Ex 25:8-9; 27:8; Num 8:4; Heb 9:23), figures of cherubim, by Yahweh's command, were woven into the inner curtain that hung in front of the entrance to the Holy of Holies, and Yahweh's presence was enthroned between the outstretched wings of the cherubim on the Mercy-seat. The outstretched wings suggesting action and mobility, as the God of Creation, who is the God of Israel, was present and ready to offer mercy and forgiveness to His covenant people in sacred time and sacred space.
Answer: It was the condition of the sin and the sanctity of Israel that the Mercy-seat/Kapporet was meant to address. United with Yahweh in the covenantal union, Israel collectively and individually had come to Yahweh as the sinless Bride, and therefore she needed to have recourse to atonement for sins as Yahweh sat enthroned upon the Mercy-seat "the "Seat of Atonement", the highest means of atonement in the Old Covenant.
Question: If the Mercy-seat provided atonement for sins why did Israel need a Redeemer-Messiah? How does the Mercy-seat prefigure the redemptive work of Jesus Christ? See CCC 433; Num 15:22-31; Heb 9:24-28; 10:1-4.
Answer: The atonement for the restoration of the entire covenant people was imperfect because it could only be offered once a year and only for unintentional sin "the blood of an animal was not perfect enough to offer expiation for mortal or deadly sins (Num 15:22-31; Heb 10:1-4). It was in that function as the means of the atonement for the sins of the people that the Mercy-seat foreshadowed the complete act of expiation offered in the fullness of time by Christ Jesus, the Bridegroom of His New Covenant Bride, the Universal Church. Jesus offered atonement on the "mercy seat" of the Cross when His pure and holy sacrifice cleansed the sins of all mankind for all time and for all the ages of man (Heb 9:24-28).
Verses 36-38 look forward to the departure from Mt. Sinai as recorded in the Book of Numbers and recounts the continuing presence of the Glory Cloud on the Israelite's journey to the Promised Land.
The Book of Exodus closes with the establishment of the Old Covenant Church and the creation of the Israelites as a liturgical people. In the Old Covenant there was one central authority to rule over the one covenant community (Church) which was also the kingdom of God on earth (the nation of Israel). The hierarchy of the Old Covenant Church was a central authority answerable to God through Moses who together with Aaron the High Priest and the other chief priests was the governing authority of the covenant community/ nation of Israel. There was also an ordained priesthood bound by the covenant to wear certain liturgical vestments and to teach the people the Law and to lead the people in right worship (see CCC 1539-41).
Question: In New Covenant worship is there one central governmental authority which rules over the one Church of Jesus Christ ( Rom 12:4-5) "the King of the eternal kingdom of heaven and earth ( Dan 1:44-45; 7:28; Mt 4:17; I Tim 1:17; 6:15; Jm 2:5; 2 Pet 1:11) "with a validly ordained priesthood ( Jn 20:22-23), and do they wear prescribed liturgical vestments and lead the covenant people in right worship? Also see CCC 763-65, 771, 874-87, 911, 914, 1120, 1544-45, 1551, 1564, 2663.
Answer: Only the Catholic Church has one central authority that has governed Christ's covenant people for 2,000 years. The Catholic Church has validly ordained priests. Their vestments are very similar to the vestments of the Old Covenant priesthood. Christ is both the Church's High Priest and King. The New Covenant Church, like Old Covenant Israel, is therefore also a kingdom. The Bishop of Rome, as the direct successor to Christ's vicar (a vicar is he who rules by authority of the King), St. Peter, along with the bishops who are the successors of the Apostles form the Magisterium of the Universal Church and are the central governing authority of the Universal (catholic means "universal") Church "the One Body of Christ "founded by Jesus Christ through His Apostles (see Jn 20:22-23; 21:15-17).
Question: Are there lesser ordained ministers in addition to chief priests who serve in the New Covenant Church who are similar to the Levites who served the Israelite congregation and the chief priests who were the descendants of Aaron? See CCC1536, 1543, 1569-71, 1593, 1596, and 1630.
Answer: Yes, there are ordained deacons who are the lesser ministers of the Catholic Church who assist the ordained priests in service to God and to the congregation.
A SUMMARY OF THE SINAI COVENANT
The Sinai Covenant was unique for its time in salvation history in that it was a corporate covenant that bound the descendants of Israel to Yahweh through Law and Liturgy: the Law taught Israel to identify sin and to live in holiness as Yahweh is holy (Ex 19:6; Lev 11:44), and Liturgy was the public act of worship through which God dispensed grace and mercy to His covenant people. The Ten Commandments and the additional body of the Law in the Book of Covenant cannot be separated from the command to be a liturgical people who maintain the covenant through the Sabbath obligation and communion with God in the earthly Sanctuary that is a copy of the heavenly reality. The Sabbath obligation and worship in the Sanctuary taught the people the meaning of sacrifice, how to reject sin, how to make expiation for sin through prescribed animal sacrifice, how to live in holiness as reflected in ritual purity, and how to obtain mercy and forgiveness in order to reestablish fellowship with God and to be recipients of God's divine grace. The Sabbath obligation and the Tabernacle were the sacred signs of the Sinai Covenant in time and in space. The Tabernacle was the visible sign and the Sabbath obligation was the invisible sign of the covenant. The Sabbath could be experienced and it could be lived but it could not be seen, just as the invisible God could not be seen and His interaction with Israel had to be experienced through faith.(7)
In addition, the Law and the liturgy of worship in the Sanctuary and its Tabernacle prepared the covenant people for the coming of the Redeemer-Messiah (CCC 633-34). Jesus the man-god was the visible sign of the New Covenant and His New Covenant Law freed the Old Covenant people from their bondage to the Old Law that convicted them of their sins but could not open the gates of heaven (CCC 1026; 1963). Jesus' sacrifice on the altar of the Cross and the New Covenant law brought what the Old Law could not give by offering the gift of grace in the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit and the promise of eternal salvation to all mankind "giving not just the descendants of Israel but the entire the family of man the promised redemption and the return to the state of grace man enjoyed before the Fall in the garden Sanctuary.
The Purpose of the visible sign of the Desert Sanctuary and its Tabernacle:
The Tabernacle had three functions:
The purpose of the desert Sanctuary and its Tabernacle was not to separate God from His people. Instead, it was built to make a way for Yahweh to dwell among the Israelites and to provide the safe means for His people to approach Him by atoning for their sins through blood sacrifice, followed by restored fellowship in the communion sacrifice and the sacred meal eaten by the offerer, his family and friends and the officiating priest in the presence of God (Lev 7:11/7:1-17/7:7; 19:5-6; Dt 12:17-18).
With the exception of the Letter to the Hebrews, New Testament references to the Tabernacle, whether the earthly Tabernacle or the heavenly "tent" are infrequent (see Acts 7:44-45; Rev 13:6; 15:5; 21:3). Much of the Letter to the Hebrews focuses on the Levitical priesthood and their duties in the earthly Tabernacle/Temple which have been made null and void by Jesus Christ, the New Covenant High Priest who serves in the heavenly Tabernacle. One of the boldest statements made in the Letter to the Hebrews concerning the earthly Tabernacle/Jerusalem Temple was its temporary status as a symbol of what was to come. Referring to the priestly service in the earthly Tabernacle the inspired writer of the homily to Jewish Christians wrote: Under these provisions, priests go regularly into the outer tent to carry out their acts of worship [the Holy Place], but the second tent [Holy of Holies] is entered only once a year, and then only by the high priest who takes in the blood to make an offering for his own and the people's faults of inadvertence. By this, the Holy Spirit means us to see that as long as the old tent stands [meaning the Jerusalem Temple], the way into the holy place is not opened up; it is a symbol for this present time. None of the gifts and sacrifices offered under these regulations can possibly bring any worshipper to perfection in his conscience; they are rules about outward life, connected with food and drink and washing at various times, which are in force only until the time comes to set things right. But now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, not made by human hands, that is, not of this created order; and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement, may restore their bodily purity. How much more will the blood of Christ, who offered himself blameless as he was, to God through the eternal Spirit, purify our consciences from dead actions so that we can worship the living God (Heb 9:6-14).
The Soulful Tabernacle of the New Covenant Believer
In the Old Covenant the Tabernacle/Temple provided the means for atonement and restored communion with God, but in his letter to the Christians at Rome and at Corinth St. Paul taught the old order was no longer valid "it had served its purpose in teaching holiness, in condemning sin, and pointing the way to the Messiah (CCC 1963). Jesus Christ had come to perfect the Old Covenant and through His work of redemption every New Covenant believer has become the temple of the Holy Spirit: Do you not realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you and whom you receive from God? You are not your own property, then; you have been bought at a price. So use your body for the glory of God (1 Cor 6:19-20). The Tabernacle and the Jerusalem Temple prefigured the mission of Jesus Christ the Redeemer-Messiah "the God-man who came to dwell among His people "God dwelling in the soulful tabernacle of the New Covenant believer.
Both the man-made Sinai Tabernacle and Jerusalem Temple prefigured the ministry of Jesus Christ "God dwelling among His people, and His work of salvation as the Resurrected Christ who serves in the heavenly Sanctuary (Heb 4:14-16; 7:26-28; 8:1-5). Jesus Christ serves as both the spotless victim of sacrifice and as the eternal High Priest who makes intercession for the salvation of mankind, while the body of every believer, fashioned by God, becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21) "a soulful tabernacle and dwelling place of the Living God. St. Paul admonished Christians to never take for granted their holy calling to live as those who are the dwelling place of the Most Holy Trinity "it is a warning for all Christians of every age to live holy as you were reborn holy in Christian baptism as children in the family of God: So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are fellow-citizens with the holy people of God and part of God's household. You are built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, and Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone. Every structure knit together in him grows into a holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built up into a dwelling-place of God in the Spirit.
Questions for group discussion:
The Old Law of the Sinai Covenant, liturgical worship in the Tabernacle and later the Jerusalem Temple could not offer eternal salvation; the faithful who observed the commandments, sacraments and holy days only had the "hope" of salvation (Gal 3:24; Heb 9:6-15; CCC 633-64, 1963-64). Eternal salvation was a gift of God's grace that would be completed in the redeeming work of the Redeemer-Messiah and in the giving of the New Law which is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to believers through faith in Christ the Redeemer: In any case, even though the Old Law prescribed charity, it did not give the Holy Spirit, through whom "God's charity has been poured into our hearts" (St. Thomas Aquinas quoting Romans 5:5). St. Paul wrote that the Tabernacle and the Old Law with its commands, prohibitions, sacrifices and holy days was a "shadow," or a "type," of what was to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Question: Compare Jesus Christ and His Church to Old Covenant worship established in the Sinai Covenant:
See the lesson 18 handout for suggested answers.
Question: What was the function of the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies? What did it come to symbolize after the people's collective sin in the Golden Calf and in the Book of Numbers (chapter 14) when God barred individual covenant members from the Tabernacle (Num 18:21-24)?
Question: When Jesus died on the altar of the Cross the curtain that covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple was torn from the top to the bottom "it was torn asunder not by human hands. What did two things did this divine act symbolize? See Mt 27:50-54 and CCC 586.
1. The Greek word translated "lived" (also translated "to dwell/ dwelt") in John 1:14 is literally translated "tent/ tabernacle" "Jesus tabernacled among us! (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, page 578). Also see the same Greek word in Rev 7:15 (... and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them); 13:6 (... and it mouthed its blasphemies against God, against his name, his heavenly Tent and all those who are sheltered there); 21:3 (He will make his tabernacle among them...).
2. Egypt was the center for the export of hand held mirrors for the entire Near East. A letter found at the Egyptian site of Tell el-Amarna (14th century BC, contemporary to this author's projected time-frame for Moses and the Exodus), mentioned a shipment of mirrors from Pharaoh Amenhotep IV to the King of Babylon (JPS Commentary: Exodus, page 230). The most commonly used metal in the ancient Near East until the 1200's was bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, that had to be imported because was not in plentiful supply for the countries in the ancient Near East. However, during the political upheaval in Mediterranean region during the 1200s, the supply of copper and tin was cut off. Since none of the nations in the ancient Near East had plentiful local sources of copper and tin, the people turned to iron as a substitute since iron ore was readily available and did not need to be imported. The fact that bronze was used in the building of the Sanctuary instead of iron, which was just as valuable a metal, may be evidence that the Exodus occurred prior to the thirteenth century BC (A History of the Ancient Near East, page 190).
3. There is another reference to such women in the Hebrew text of 1 Samuel 2:22. This line is missing from the Septuagint translation and from most English translations but is found in the Jewish Tanach (also see footnote "g", NJB, page 359). The verse concerns the sinful behavior of the High Priest Eli's sons: Eli heard about everything that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. This verse suggests that there were women who regularly served the Tabernacle. They may have been women who were responsible for repairing or reweaving the Sanctuary's textiles and weaving the liturgical garments of the priests (the tunic and the high priest's robe had to be woven of one piece) "the weaving of which would have to be performed under ritually pure conditions. The non-canonical document known as the Protoevangelium of St. James (also called the Gospel of St. James), which claims to have been written by St. James the first Christian Bishop of Jerusalem, son of Joseph and kinsman of Jesus (see the New Testament Letter of St. James), records that very young girls were dedicated to God by their parents to serve as Temple weavers and remained in service until they reached puberty, at which time husbands would be selected for them. The author of the document claimed that the Virgin Mary was one of these young women (Protoevangelium of St. James 7:2; also see Pseudo-Matthew 4.1; 6:1).
4. Ritual washing as a sign of reverence and purification continued from the Old Covenant rites and rituals into the New Covenant. Solomon's Jerusalem Temple, in addition to a huge basin for washing (called "the bronze sea"), had numerous smaller lavers. Early Christian churches followed this pattern by building courtyard fountains so that people coming to Mass could purify their hands. The "Church of Holy Wisdom" in Constantinople (6th century AD) had a huge basin in the courtyard inscribed in Greek with the words: Wash not only your hands but also your souls. There is more than one type of holy water used in the Catholic Church for ritual purification: there is the ordinary blessed water found in the church's holy water fonts, there is also water mixed with wine, salt and ashes used only in the consecration of a church building called the "water of consecration" or "Georgian water," and there is baptismal water that is mixed with holy chrism, an oil that is a mixture of olive oil and balsam that is blessed by a bishop (Why do Catholics Do That? page 219-20; Catholic Dictionary, page 69).
5. A silver shekel was approximately 1/20th the value of a gold coin and it has been estimated that 400 silver shekels weighed about 10 pounds (Archaeology and the Old Testament, page 105).
6. The Israelites left Egypt on the 15th of Abib (Nisan) "the month that was from that time forward to be considered the first month of the year " and they arrived at Sinai the first day of the third month. Moses spent two 40-day periods on the mountain and there were intervening days in the covenant ratification and in the rebellion period. According to rabbinic tradition the Sanctuary was finished on the 25th of Kislev "the ninth month (JPS Commentary: Exodus, page 234), but this is probably an attempt to connect the Tabernacle to the national feast of Hanukkah. Ex 40:17 records that the Sanctuary was completed on the 1st day of Abib in the second year after leaving Egypt (two weeks shy of an entire year after leaving Egypt). The 1st of Abib became New Year's Day in the liturgical calendar after the first Passover (Ex 12:2); previously the new civil year started in the fall on the 1st of Tishri, which became the 7th month in the liturgical calendar. However, the 1st of Tishri was still considered to be New Year's Day in the civil calendar and is celebrated as Rosh Hashanah, which means "head of the year" (Lev 23:23-25; Num 10:10; 29:1-6). The 1st of Tishri is believed to have been the first day of Creation. The 1st of Tishri was also the day Noah opened the Ark after the Flood (Gen 8:13). The commemoration of the civil New Year on the 1st of Tishri is marked by the blowing of the shofar (ram's horn) 100 times; hence this feast is also called the Feast of Trumpets (The Jewish Book of Why, vol. I, page 225).
7. The same is true of the New Covenant. Both the Old and the New Covenants are all about God's gift of grace to His covenant people and the people's faith in God's promises. The visible sign of the New Covenant is Jesus Christ who lived and walked the earth as a flesh and blood man and is the only begotten Son of God (Jesus identified Himself as God's Tabernacle/Temple in Jn 3:19). The invisible sign is the presence of God in the liturgy of worship in the sacrifice of the Mass "Christ present in the Eucharist it is a sign we must believe on faith just as the children of Israel had to believe on faith that God was present between the golden cherubim of the Mercy-seat.
Catechism references for Exodus 37:17- 40:38 (* = Scripture quoted or paraphrased in the citation):
433, 586, 1963-64
1536, 1543, 1569-71, 1593, 1596, 1630.
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