The Tabernacle - 3

The Ark

In our last lesson we established the fact that Israel was drawn by the grace of God and made the children of God by a blood covenant. Now YHVH is going to give them instructions. As I have said before, this is always God's pattern. YHVH is now going to give His children instructions for life. He begins by giving them an earthly structure that will speak to us as well as them of heavenly things, specifically the Deliverer, the Messiah. He begins,

Shemot (Exodus) 25:1-2And YHVH spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that gives it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.

There are several things we must point out here. YHVH speaks to His children to bring Him an offering. There are many kinds of offerings in Torah. This offering is the terumah or offering that is lifted up. This offering is referred to many times in the New Testament. Two good examples would be in Romans 11:16 and Yochanan (John) 12:32. The holiness of the first fruits in Romans is the first portion of the dough, which is literally lifted up and offered to God as a representation of the rest of the lump. When the first portion is deemed holy, then the rest of the lump, by identification, is also holy. Yeshua‘ also refers to himself as this offering in Yochanan 12:32 where he says, "And if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me." Immediately, Yeshua‘ is hinted at in this earthly structure. The second comment is that this offering is to come from the heart, willingly. To give willingly or nadav means to do it in freedom. One of the cognates of this word means to flow from within. Remember that these children had been recently placed under God's wings. True freedom comes from continuing in God's words, not being released from them as is commonly taught. (See Yochanan 8:31-32.)

The next five verses of Shemot 25 are a synopsis of the materials that we will cover one at a time as they are solicited by God.

Shemot 25:8And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.

The very structure that God is telling them to build from their heart is the very structure that He will become. This is why it is imperative that they build it according to all the pattern that God has shown Moshe. The word sanctuary is miqdash or a hallowed place. This word generally refers to the tabernacle itself and is derived from the word qodesh or holy. It was designed to be a place of separation and is also referred to simply as "the house of YHVH". The temple at the time of the writing of the New Testament was also referred to as the Bet HaMikdash. It is commonly called simply "the house" and this is where the early Jewish disciples met on the feast of Shavu‘ot in Acts chapter two, not the upper room.

Shemot (Exodus) 25:9According to all that I show you, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the furnishings, thereof, even so shall you make it

God instructs them to make it according to the pattern. What pattern? I believe, as many do, that Moshe was shown the "real" tabernacle on the mount, and God instructed him to make it on earth as it is in heaven. The word pattern here is translated from the word tav'niyt. This word is translated as pattern, form, likeness, or figure. (Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 44:13, Yechezeq’el (Ezekiel) 10:8, Devariym (Deuteronomy) 4:16) It's action or verbal root is banah, to build, or a building plan. Banah is also the root for son. A son is in the pattern or likeness of the father. I think you can see the connection here. God has a "plan" constructed in the heavenlies that is to be expressed or duplicated in the earth. It will be a picture of heavenly things, but particularly His Son. This is God's ordained blueprint for understanding the purpose and nature of His coming Deliverer. This Deliverer is to be recognized and followed according to God's pattern, not man's evolving doctrines concerning the Messiah.

God is now going to give specific instructions for the construction of His dwelling place. He will begin where He has always desired to begin, and that is from the very heart of the mishkan or tabernacle. He will begin with the material for the ark, the place where His testimony will reside, the place of perfection and pure holiness. As it is with many translated words, the English word ark does not fully describe this piece of furniture. Perhaps to some it conjures up an image of Noah or Harrison Ford. To many it is simply a mysterious box or an irrelevant ritual of the dark, foggy, black and white past. In Hebrew, this word is 'aron. We would think of it as a chest, for the verbal root of this word is 'arah or gathering. In context here it will be the container or gathering place for the testimony or the word of God, to be eventually expressed in the tablets. 'Aron is in the feminine gender and not by coincidence. The bearer of the "Word of God" is always in this gender, beginning with the seed of the woman in Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 3:15. The Word of God is pictured as a child in a womb, to be protected, kept, and nurtured. Five chapters earlier YHVH had given His people His word, and now He is giving instructions for a container for His words. It will be a pattern designed to show us where He will dwell. As we will see, there is to be only one vessel in the heart of the sanctuary, the ark. YHVH will design one vessel which is to teach, guide, and instruct His children, that which houses His eternal words. From God's point of view this entire structure is constructed around His word. His word was, is, and will always be, the center of His will for man. This is the very reason that Yeshua‘ is first introduced to us by Yochanan as the "Word of God". Again, the word will be housed for nine months in a feminine container called Miriam. He will be protected, kept, and nurtured there until this seed bursts forth from the ground for all to see, and once again the word of God will be in a tabernacle, a perfect tabernacle. The heavenly structure shown to Moshe by God will take upon flesh and shakan among us.

Shemot 25:10aAnd they shall make an ark of acacia wood.

The ark is to be made of 'tzey shittiym or shittim wood. This word is sometimes translated as acacia wood, which may or may not be the same wood that Yeshua‘’s wreath of thorns were constructed from. It also was the thorny branches placed over the sheep pens at night and during the winter months that Yeshua‘ referred to in Yochanan 10:8-17. This tree grows very deep roots, draws nourishment from deep in the earth, and survives very well in dry ground. This tree is not an attractive tree such as a mighty oak or a giant redwood. In the Septuagint translation (Greek) of the Scriptures, shittim is translated as aphthartos or incorruptible.

So let's summarize. This container for the word of God is to be made from a tree that has roots that grow from dry ground.

Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 53:2aFor he shall grow up before him like a tender plant, and like a root out of a dry ground:

It is an unattractive tree.

Yesha’yahu 53:2b... he hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

This tree is translated as incorruptible.

Ivrim (Hebrews) 7:26For such an high priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.

This shittim wood speaks of the Messiah's perfect humanity. This wood was touched with all that nature could throw against it, as it was, and is, with all trees, yet remained undefiled and incorruptible. Why? Because it housed the word of God. See you next week.

Shalom Alecheim!