Exodus 38 Commentary

Exodus 38 Commentary: Finishes to the Tabernacle.


We notice that the items outside the Holy and Most Holy places are made out of bronze. The altar for burnt offerings with its grating network and the wash basin are all made out of bronze.

The courtyard is completed together with the components – the altar and the wash basin.

The construction philosophy for the Tabernacle is very interesting. We began with the inside. We don’t construct anything like that today! Interiors and finishes are done last! The message in the reversed order of construction is that most important items come first and must be attended to first. Attend to the heart first before you attend to the body. Seek the cleanliness of the heart before attending to rituals, regardless of their importance.

Today we can read the LORD’S word because Moses was commanded to write down these events. Here we see Moses commanding Ithamar to record everything in terms of quantities. The importance of the tabernacle lies in the fact that it is a representation of the realities that Jacob failed to experience.

The presence of the LORD and its essence is now reduced to something only close. At the same time it is a model that is so far, determined by its resemblance with existing pagan worship systems. It’s a compromise. Advanced thoughts, even during these times, were that Jacob’s God existed far beyond a physical structure. Solomon who constructed an elaborate temple to replace the tabernacle knew that his mega project wasn’t at all meant to house the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

“But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!
2 Chronicles 6 verse18

So we read of the of the construction of the tabernacle with the knowledge that it is just a model. It is a model with very strict instructions meant to represent the realities that the LORD had hoped to achieve with Jacob. It is a perfect model in design not in function. The very presence of the Tabernacle signals failure at what the LORD had hoped would happen – a relationship unhindered by man’s fears of God’s presence. The fear itself was encouraged by man’s sinfulness.

Could this be the blessing of Dan – Israel being “…. a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward.
Genesis 49 verse 17

Israel has taken a bite at the means to get forward and the plan of the LORD is off balance. Progress is halted nearly permanently until the appointed time.

The physical structure is completed but we need to keep these thoughts in mind.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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