(Background Reading: Exodus 21-40)

Exodus 24:16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

Exodus 25:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.

3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,

4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,

5 And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,

6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,

7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.

8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

Exodus 31:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:

3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,

5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.

6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;

7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle,

8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense,

9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot,

10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office,

11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do.

Exodus 40:17 And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.

18 And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars.

33 And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.

34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

MEMORY VERSE: But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. —Hebrews 9:11-12

CENTRAL THOUGHT: Much of the law which God gave to Moses while he was in the mountain with God was the pattern for the tabernacle—its materials, measurements, furniture, and rituals—and instructions as to who would build it. When the work was finished, the glory of God filled the tabernacle, a glorious foreshadowing of the spiritual tabernacle established by the Lord Jesus Christ.


Exodus 25:3 “Brass”: copper or bronze, a compound of copper and tin. “To understand how the Israelites could supply all that was wanted, we must remember, 1. That they had a certain amount of ancestral wealth, as that which Joseph had accumulated, and what Jacob and his sons had brought with them into Egypt. 2. That they had received large presents of gold and silver from the Egyptians just before their departure (Exodus 12:35); and 3. That they had recently defeated, and no doubt despoiled, the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-13)” (Pulpit Commentary).

Exodus 25:5 “Badgers’ skins”: possibly “a species of seal found in the Red Sea. Burckhardt remarks that he ‘saw parts of the skin of a large fish, killed on the coast, which was an inch in thickness, and is employed by the Arabs instead of leather for sandals.’ Others think it was an animal of the antelope species, the skins of which the Jews had obtained in
Egypt” (ATS Bible Dictionary). “Shittim wood”: a species of acacia wood.

Exodus 25:7 “Onyx”: shosham (Hebrew), which refers to a fingernail. It has been translated variously as “sard,” “sardonyx,” “onyx,” and “beryl.” As the color of the flesh shines through the nail, so the reddish layer below shines through the whitish surface of the onyx.

Exodus 40:17 “The first month in the second year”: “It is generally supposed that the Israelites began the work of the tabernacle about the sixth month after they had left Egypt; and as the work was finished about the end of the first year of their exodus, (for it was set up the first day of the second year), that therefore they had spent about six months in making it: so that the tabernacle was erected one year [minus] fifteen days after they had left Egypt” (Clarke’s Commentary).


After God finished giving the Ten Commandments, the people stood far off, but Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was and God continued to give him various laws and ordinances, commandments and promises, one of which was “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way … Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not….” Moses told the people all that God had said, and they entered into a covenant of blood, agreeing to obey all He had commanded them. Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons and seventy elders had a special experience where they saw the throne of God and feasted in His presence; after which Moses took Joshua, telling the elders, “Wait for us. If you have any needs, Aaron and Hur are here for you,” and the two of them went up the mountain. Joshua waited on the slopes for Moses, but Moses went up into the cloud and was gone forty days and nights. While he was there, all the instructions contained within chapters 25 through 31 of Exodus were given to him; in addition to the two tables of “testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18).

During the 40-day delay, the waiting congregation grew restless and skeptical. In Stephen’s account (Acts 7:39), they refused to obey the “Angel” and “in their hearts turned back again into Egypt.” They complained to Aaron and demanded him to make idols for them. The golden calf he created from their own jewelry was erected, and an altar was made before it. It is interesting to note that Aaron commanded, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.” They had all night to contemplate their doings!

The scripture says they rose “early … and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat, and to drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6). God spoke to Moses on the mountain and revealed what they were doing, ready to destroy them immediately. Moses pleaded for their pardon, and God turned away His anger. As Moses and Joshua descended, they could hear the riotous music and dancing. This time Moses became angry and threw down the tables of stone, breaking them physically as the disobedient Hebrews had done spiritually; burnt the golden calf to powder, mixed it into the water, and made the people drink it. More punishment ensued, and when the day was done, three thousand men were dead. Moses continued to intercede with God for the people, who, when they heard the threatenings of God’s wrath and realized that He had withdrawn His presence from them, put off their jewelry and mourned. Moses erected a small “tabernacle” or tent outside the camp for the purpose of seeking God, and the cloudy pillar descended once more. In Exodus 33:11 we read that Joshua, a young man, “departed not out of the tabernacle”—a small hint of the source of Joshua’s spirit of bravery and might!

Moses again went up into the mount with God for forty more days (Exodus 34). There the glory of God passed by him and God made a covenant with him. When he came back with two new tables of testimony, his face was shining so much that the people begged him to cover it with a veil. He wore it while he conveyed all that the Lord had shown him. They immediately set to work building the tabernacle according to the pattern God had revealed.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. How many total days was Moses in the mountain with God?
  2. Name the two craftsmen appointed by God to direct the building of the tabernacle.
  3. How had the children of Israel acquired their jewels and fabrics which they now willingly donated to build the tabernacle?
  4. About how long did it take to build the tabernacle?
  5. What took place when the tabernacle was all completed?


Although the Israelites had grieved and angered God by worshipping the golden calf, He forgave them and went forward with His original plan to have them build a special place of worship where He would meet with them and commune with them (Exodus 25:22). In this we can see the longsuffering and mercy of God.

We can see the love God has for order and beauty and His meticulous attention to detail as we consider the specifications for the sanctuary, the furniture, and the rites of worship. His desire to commune intimately with His people can be seen as well. His holiness was symbolically written in the details of color, fabrics, and embroidery, as well as in the pure gold that was used so lavishly.

The New Testament—the book of Hebrews in particular—takes these details and applies them directly to the plan of salvation and the worship of the New Testament church.

Moses was a type of Christ, who erected His own “tabernacle,” the Church, with whom He dwells and communes. The rituals of cleansing and atonement point to Christ, who with His own blood now makes the worshippers holy (Hebrews 9:14; 10:10). The continual burning lamps and incense, the bread, the mercy seat, the altars, the offerings, the laver, the curtains—each has its significant meaning in the experience of the redeemed one.

It is not my intention to study these things in depth in this lesson; however, by personal study of these details we can discern much about God’s plan to save, sanctify and preserve a pure and holy people for sacred communion and spiritual worship.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


God enjoys variety. He also enjoys patterns. To illustrate this, one need only look at the various intricate patterns found in nature. For instance, every snowflake follows a hexagonal pattern, but every single snowflake that has ever fallen has been uniquely formed so that none are exactly the same! The rainbow, in all its beauty, demonstrates the variety of colors across the spectrum presented in mathematical precision through angles and refraction. The Fibonacci sequence, a numerical pattern of numbers, is identified as the basis of a mathe- matical ratio found in the spiral formation of shells, hurricanes, solar systems, various systems of the human body, and even shows up in musical patterns!

In the building of His tabernacle, we can see through God’s use of the many types of materials, the myriad colors, and special human skill-sets the ability of the Creator to orchestrate such a grand project. Each precious stone or metal, each fabric or wood species, each dye, oil, or spice used, all individually bring glory to God, but what beauty must have been evident when they were woven into a glorious tapestry within which God was so pleased to dwell!

That tableau of the tabernacle in the wilderness translates in much the same way to you and me today. As human beings we all share approximately 99.83% of our DNA. As those that have been redeemed, we all have come back to God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Yet, with that small percentage or uniqueness that makes each of us individuals, along with our unique experiences and the various giftings that God has imparted to His body, He takes each of us as vessels yielded to Him and blends us all together through His Holy Spirit into a glorious Church in which He is content to abide. Thank the Lord that “…the tabernacle of God is with men…” (Revelation 21:3a)!

–Bro. Fari Matthews