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“And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about…And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the apothecary.” (Exodus 37:1-29)
Everything written in Exodus 37 is written in almost the very same words in Exodus 25 and 30. In Exodus 25 and 30, the Lord God told Moses exactly how to make the ark with its mercy-seat, the table of showbread with its vessels, the golden candlestick with its bowls and snuff dishes, the golden altar of incense, and the holy anointing oil. Here we are told that Bezaleel made those things exactly as God had declared they must be made. We might reasonably ask, “Why are these things recorded again in almost the very same words? Wouldn’t it have been just as useful for Moses to have written, ‘Bezaleel made everything as the Lord commanded Moses’?”
Of course, we dare not make such a presumption. If something is repeated in the Book of God, there is a reason for the repetition. May God the Holy Spirit who inspired Moses to make this repetition show us the blessedness of such inspired repetitions in the Book of God.
The Ark of the Covenant
In Exodus 37:1-5, Moses tells us that Bezaleel made the ark of the covenant just as the Lord commanded that it must be made in Exodus 25:10.
“And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about. And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it. And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold. And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark.”
There is nothing in the Holy Word that can be said to be unnecessary or superfluous. And if, as it is written, our God does not forget our work of faith and labor of love, surely, we can never think too often, remember too dearly, or speak too frequently of his great acts of mercy, operations of grace, and works of love for our souls (Philippians 3:1).
Originally, these things were written to the children of Israel, to whom these sacred treasures were entrusted. Yet, none of the Israelites ever saw the interior furnishings of the tabernacle, except the priests. What a blessing it was to them that they were often reminded in the Book of God of those blessed types of the Savior in whom they, like us, hoped and trusted. As often as they read, they were reminded and called to remember what God had done for them and what he would do for them.
In the New Testament, we frequently read the same things repeated again and again. Many of the events in our Lord’s earthly life and ministry, many of his works, his obedience, the details of his agony, Gethsemane, Gabbatha, and Golgotha, and his resurrection and glory are recorded two, three, and four times by the gospel writers. — Who would have them written less often?
In verse 6-9, we are told that Bezaleel constructed the mercy-seat with its cherubim exactly as the Lord commanded Moses.
“And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat; one cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.”
We cannot keep our blessed Lord Jesus in view sufficiently. It is he of whom both the ark, and mercy-seat speak. Christ is the mercy-seat. He is our or propitiation (1 John 2:1; Romans 3:24-26)
The spiritual riches and beauties of the gospel tabernacle are by these things recommended to our frequent and serious consideration. Walk much around this Zion. — “Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces” (Psalm 48:13. — “Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks” (Isaiah 26:1). The more we contemplate the glories of Christ and the gospel of his grace, the more you will admire him and love him. The everlasting covenant, God’s charter of grace, should be read often.
Table of Showbread
Exodus 37:10-16 tell us again about the table of showbread.
“And he made the table of shittim wood: two cubits was the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof: And he overlaid it with pure gold, and made thereunto a crown of gold round about. Also he made thereunto a border of an handbreadth round about; and made a crown of gold for the border thereof round about. And he cast for it four rings of gold, and put the rings upon the four corners that were in the four feet thereof. Over against the border were the rings, the places for the staves to bear the table. And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold, to bear the table. And he made the vessels which were upon the table, his dishes, and his spoons, and his bowls, and his covers to cover withal, of pure gold.
This golden table on which the showbread was perpetually kept was intended to portray the Lord Jesus who is the everlasting bread of life to his people. As the show-bread was always to be spread upon the table, the Lord Jesus is always in the presence of God for us.
But we must never fail to see the vast superiority of the gospel over the law. The show-bread was always upon the table indeed, but it was only to be looked upon, not eaten, except by the priests. But our blessed Savior not only calls for us to look on him and receive him, he who is the Bread of Life bids hungry souls to eat the bread (Proverbs 9:5).
In our Father’s house there is always bread enough and to spare. Come and eat! — “Come and dine, the Master calleth, Come and dine!” In the house of God bread is always on the table, and that Bread is Christ.
The Golden Candlestick
In Exodus 37:17-24, we are told that Bezaleel made the golden candlestick.
“And he made the candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work made he the candlestick; his shaft, and his branch, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, were of the same: And six branches going out of the sides thereof; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side thereof: Three bowls made after the fashion of almonds in one branch, a knop and a flower; and three bowls made like almonds in another branch, a knop and a flower: so throughout the six branches going out of the candlestick. And in the candlestick were four bowls made like almonds, his knops, and his flowers: And a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches going out of it. Their knops and their branches were of the same: all of it was one beaten work of pure gold. And he made his seven lamps, and his snuffers, and his snuffdishes, of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold made he it, and all the vessels thereof.
The golden candlestick (lamp stand) is used throughout Scripture to portray and typify both Christ the Light of the World and his gospel churches (Revelation 1-3), through whom the light shines in this dark world. Clearly, the candlestick points us to Christ who shines into the hearts of chosen sinners by God the Holy Spirit and his Sacred Word.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalms 119:105)
“The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:20)
The branches of the candlestick were meant to show that this Light which shines in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and by the Word of his grace is Christ the Light. Everything our souls have in the sweet experience of God’s saving grace is ours in, with, and by Christ Jesus (Zechariah 4:2-3; 2 Corinthians 4:6).
A candlestick is a very faint, dim light. And the light we have in this world is but as the light of a candle compared to the full day-light of glory in the Lord Jesus which is reserved for the upper world (1 Corinthians 13:12). Imagine that! If we now just see a little, what glory awaits us?
Altar of Incense
Next, we read about the altar of incense. It, too, was made exactly as the Lord commanded Moses (Exodus 30:1).
“And he made the incense altar of shittim wood: the length of it was a cubit, and the breadth of it a cubit; it was foursquare; and two cubits was the height of it; the horns thereof were of the same. And he overlaid it with pure gold, both the top of it, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns of it: also he made unto it a crown of gold round about. And he made two rings of gold for it under the crown thereof, by the two corners of it, upon the two sides thereof, to be places for the staves to bear it withal. And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold.” (Exodus 37:25-28)
The Lord Jesus Christ is both our Altar of Sacrifice, by whom we draw near to God, and our Altar of Incense, in and by whom we have perpetual acceptance with God.
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:16-22)
“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.” (Hebrews 13:10)
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” (Revelation 8:3)
The Holy Anointing Oil
The last thing mentioned in Exodus 37 is the holy anointing oil and the pure incense of sweet spices. In Exodus 37:29, we are told that even these things were mixed together exactly as the Lord commanded Moses (Exodus 30:22-25).
“And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the apothecary.
This holy oil represented God the Holy Spirit and the gifts and graces of the Spirit bestowed upon us by the merit and efficacy of Christ’s shed blood.
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14)
May God the Holy Spirit teach us to read his Word with thoughtfulness and care, earnestly praying that he will cause us to see our blessed Savior and hear his voice in every line. Pause as you read and remember as you go how very precious Christ Jesus ought to be us. He who was shadowed forth by the Holy Spirit in these rich pictures makes the pictures themselves precious. May God the Spirit ever give us grace when we pass by the picture to pause and remember the Savior. Christ is…
Š My Ark of Salvation
Š My Mercy-seat of Propitiation
Š My Living Bread
Š My Everlasting Light
Š My Altar of Sacrifice
Š My Incense of Acceptance
Š And Our Holy Anointing — He makes his priest fit to draw near to God!
Thank, our God, for every repeated reminder of Christ Jesus our Lord. Blessed repetitions they are to our souls.