The Collection of Materials for the Construction of the Tabernacle and Their Typical Meaning

Exodus 25:1‑9  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Not fewer than 603,550 males, Israelites of twenty years old and upward, paid the atonement money that was taken of the children of Israel in the wilderness, when God numbered His people. This number did not include the tribe of Levi (see Num. 1. 46, 47), which was specially set aside for the service of the Tabernacle. From this we gather that roughly speaking some three million souls must have come out of Egypt, when God " with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm " delivered His people from the bitter bondage of Pharaoh.
What a stirring tale it is, a tribute to God's mighty power and abounding mercy. Sheltered by the blood of the Passover night, saved by power as God's mighty hand brought them through the Red Sea, this host of erstwhile slaves found themselves God's redeemed people on the wilderness side of the Red Sea, on the opposite shore of which lay Egypt, the land of their bitter bondage.
What warrant, we may ask, have we for applying this incident of the Passover to Christ?
The modernist Professor would say we had none. Scripture says:—-" CHRIST, our Passover, is sacrificed for us " (1 Cor. 5:7). " All these things happened unto them for ensamples [or types]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come " (1 Cor. 10:1111Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1 Corinthians 10:11)). " Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope " (Rom. 15:44For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)).
The Passover is the foundation of the spiritual history of Israel as a nation. By it God declared that redemption by blood is the one and only foundation of His dealings with men. On this foundation God announced His good pleasure to dwell among His people. To this end He instructed Moses as to the construction of the Tabernacle, the order of the Sacrifices, the Service of the priests, the work of the Levites, and the conduct of a people thus brought into relationship with Himself. If God Himself instructed Moses as to these details, how can it be said that they are the dry recital of a ritualistic worship of a primitive race with no voice to us to-day?
The Tabernacle was divided into two compartments. The first and larger was where the priests performed their sacred offices. It was called the Holy Place, or the Sanctuary. The inner and smaller compartment was called the Holiest of All. It was where the glory of God dwelt upon the Mercy Seat.
For its size the Tabernacle was perhaps the most expensive structure that has ever been. Over £160,000 of gold and over 34,000 of silver, besides quantities of linen, precious stones, rare spices, oil, blue, purple, scarlet dyes, etc., were used in its construction. The weight of the silver has IN computed at 4 tons. This small building, its total length about 54 feet, its breadth about 16 feet, was valued at about 200,000. This is at a low computation of the value of gold. To-day it would be estimated at a much higher figure. The Court of the Tabernacle was roughly 180 feet by 90 feet.
When we reflect who furnished the materials our astonishment deepens. The Israelites had just escaped from bitter bondage. Their lot had been rigorous. " Bricks without straw " had plumbed the depths of the misery of sweated labor. Yet these were the people who so willingly offered of their substance that Moses had to restrain their flood of generosity.
We read of the offerers that " every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing " (Ex. 35:2121And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. (Exodus 35:21)) gladly contributed to the work of the Lord. Men and women brought their bracelets, earrings, rings, tablets, and jewels of gold; the " wise-hearted " women spun linen and goats' hair; the rulers brought precious stones, spices and oil.
What a lesson for us. " He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully... God loveth a cheerful giver " (2 Cor. 9:6, 76But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6‑7)). The widow, who cast in her two mites-all her living-into the Treasury of the Temple, when that system was drawing to a close, and had Ichabod, " the glory hath departed," written upon it, might well encourage us at the end of this dispensation to serve the Lord with might and main. He will be no man's debtor, nor is He unrighteous to forget the work and labor of love done in His name.
In seeking to give the typical significance of the various articles in the construction of the Tabernacle, the ordering of the Sacrifices, etc., it is well to remember that we cannot dogmatize, but that we offer our explanations to the spiritual judgment of the reader. Many things in Scripture we can, and must be, dogmatic about-doctrines for instance, which are vital and fundamental, such as the Deity, Manhood, atoning work and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the presence and work of God's Holy Spirit, the Church of God, her origin, blessings and destiny, the calling and ultimate blessing of Israel, God's earthly people. These truths are directly affirmed in Scripture.
And even in the types there are things we can be dogmatic about. The Passover is typical of Christ's atoning death on the cross. Our warrant for this is the Scripture: " CHRIST, our Passover, is sacrificed for us " (1 Cor. 5;7). Again, the Mercy Seat is typical of Christ in His atoning death, enabling God in all His holiness to meet and bless the vilest sinner. Our warrant for this is found in the Scripture: " God hath set forth [Christ] to be a propitiation [literally, a Mercy Seat] through faith in His blood " (Rom. 3. 25).
Bearing all this in mind let us proceed with our explanations:-
Gold, typical of Deity when in reference to Christ; of Divine righteousness when seen in relation to men. In Exodus whenever gold is typical of Deity, it is always "pure gold ": when it typifies Divine righteousness, the word gold is employed without the adjective " pure."
Silver, typical of redemption. The half shekel of silver, worth about 1S. 1 1/2d., demanded of the males from twenty years and upward when Israel was numbered, is described as " atonement money " (Ex. 30:1616And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls. (Exodus 30:16)).
Brass, typical of atonement in the aspect of the judgment of God being met at the cross of Christ in relation to man's responsibility. As a matter of fact the word, " brass," as employed in Scripture, should rightly be translated copper. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc of spelter, and is not so fire-resisting-as-copper. Keeping this in mind to prevent confusion, we will follow the phraseology employed in our Authorized Version, and speak of the Brazen Altar, the Brazen Laver.
Blue, typical of what is heavenly. The Hindustani name for heaven is simply their word for blue. It is the color of the cloudless sky.
Purple, typical of the glory of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. An Emperor is strictly a King of kings. Purple was the distinctive color used by the Roman Emperors. " To don the purple " meant to ascend the Imperial throne.
Scarlet, typical of the glory of Christ as King of Israel. Scarlet is the kingly color. In mockery of our Lord's claim to be the King of Israel the soldiers put on Him " a scarlet robe " (Matt. 27. 28).
Fine Linen, typical of the spotless, pure and holy humanity of our Lord; or of that, which is the product of the Holy Spirit of God in the lives of believers. " The fine linen is the righteousness of saints " (Rev. 19. 8).
Goats' Hair, typical of Christ as Prophet. Zech. 13. 4, 5, shows that a rough or hairy garment was the mark of a prophet. When the sick Ahaziah inquired what sort of man it was, who met his messengers, they replied that " he was an hairy man [that is, that he wore an hairy garment], and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins " (2 Kings 1. 8). The King immediately recognized the description as that of Elijah the prophet. John, the Baptist, too, is described as having " raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins (Matt. 3. 4).
Ram's Skins Dyed Red, typical of Christ's devotedness to God's glory even to death. The " ram " is called " the ram of... consecration" (Ex. 29. 26). " Dyed red " signified the length to which consecration can go, even Skins, typical of Christ as seen by the world.
Badgers' Skins, These formed the outward covering of the Tabernacle. Illustrates Isa. 53:22For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2): " He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him."
Shittim Wood, typical of the humanity of our Lord, and also of the believer as seen in the boards of the Tabernacle.
Spices, typical of the fragrance of Christ before God.
Onyx and Precious Stones, typical of the preciousness of believers to God, the outcome of their relations to Christ.
Sanctuary, typical of God's dwelling place among His people, a Holy Place set apart for God's pleasure. " Let them make me a Sanctuary; that I may dwell among them " (Ex. 25:88And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)).
"According to the Pattern "-Human mind and imagination are not left to work out what is suitable to God. Moses was called up to the top of Mount Sinai. The elders of Israel saw him disappear in the glory of the Lord, like a devouring fire on the top of the Mount. There he was instructed by God Himself, and exhorted, " Look that thou make them [the various parts of the Tabernacle] after their pattern, which was showed thee in the Mount " (Ex. 25:4040And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount. (Exodus 25:40)).
Seeing all these details have been designed by God Himself in order to teach His people lessons of heavenly things, these types and shadows become intensely interesting, and their study not to be neglected without real loss to the soul.
Just as refraction breaks up colorless light into its seven prismatic colors, so the types break up, as it were, the great truths concerning Christ-His Deity, Manhood, atoning work, the blessing and standing of His people-into instructive details. And as we learn these details, and one aspect after another is brought before us, one detail fitting into another, gradually the right appreciation of the whole is formed in our souls, till the truth is woven into the very fiber of our spiritual being, affecting us for God's glory. The writer can never be sufficiently thankful for the wonderful teaching as to the Person and death of Christ to be learned from the types, teaching which cannot be obtained elsewhere.