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  1. Pray that God would stir your heart with wonder at a God who would want to dwell with his people!

  2. Exodus 25

    Offerings for the Tabernacle
     1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give. 3 These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; 4 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 5 ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows ; acacia wood; 6 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 7 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

     8 "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

    The Ark
     10 "Have them make a chest of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. 11 Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. 12 Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. 13 Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the chest to carry it. 15 The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. 16 Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you.

     17 "Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 18 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 19 Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. 20 The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. 21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. 22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.

  3. God's love
    Not only did God rescue Israel, he also wanted to dwell with them! He gave them instructions on which materials to donate as they felt stirred (vs 1–7), and then shifted focus to the Ark of the Covenant.

    Can you imagine being given unique access privilege to the Ark of the Covenant – this small gold-covered wooden box that pictured God’s heavenly throne? Surely you would be astonished that God would choose to dwell in a tent with his people. And perhaps you would feel fear since this is the God who gave the Law to the people – a Law nobody could keep?

    Our cleansing
    By God’s mercy, God’s Law does not have the final word against us. The Law was kept under the Mercy Seat, where blood would be sprinkled for the sins of the people.

    Reading about the Tabernacle in Exodus points us forward to when God’s desire to dwell with us was fulfilled in Jesus: who ‘tabernacled’ among us (John 1:14). Jesus is our Great High Priest whose perfect sacrifice cleanses us so we now have full access to God’s throne (Hebrews 9:11–14). And while we don’t see Jesus today, he dwells in us, his new temple (Ephesians 2:21,22).

  4. Does being close to God stir fear in you because of your sin? Thank God for the blood of Jesus and spend some time at God’s merciful throne. Tell God how you feel about his desire to be near you.

    Peter Mead

  5. God promised Moses ‘I will be with you’ (Exodus 3:12). How is God to be present? Not only with Moses, but with his rebellious people? Not only in the cloud and fire during the journeying (Exodus 13:21,22), but beyond? These chapters have at their centre the dramatic narrative of the golden-calf incident and its aftermath (chs 32–34). The dialogue in those central chapters between God and Moses focuses on God’s continuing presence with the people, despite rebellion, and leads to God’s confirmation of the covenant. That account is framed by God’s instructions to Moses for making the tabernacle (chs 25–31), where God would ‘dwell among them’ (25:8; 29:46), and matching details of how the people followed them (chs 35–40). The culmination of the book of Exodus is God’s actions: ‘the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle’ and ‘the cloud of the Lord’ continued to guide them (40:34–38). God was walking among them, as he had with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8; Leviticus 26:11,12; Deuteronomy 23:14).

    We read now in light of the wonder that ‘the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us [and] we have seen his glory’ (John 1:14). ‘Glory’ resounds in Christ’s prayer for his disciples in John 17 ‘that the world may believe that you have sent me’ (John 17:21). Further, through the Spirit, ‘you yourselves are God’s temple and … God’s Spirit dwells among you’ (1 Corinthians 3:16).

    Exodus encourages reflection on ‘God with us’ and his mission as we journey through life. The Exodus, the tabernacle, the golden-calf narrative and God’s glorious presence are bound together in God’s intention that both his people and the nations should know that ‘I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt’ (29:46; 32:11–13; 34:5–7). His glory is to be known ‘among the nations’ (Psalm 96:3).

    John I Durham, Exodus; Word Biblical Commentary, Nelson, 2010
    Walter Brueggemann, The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol 1, Abingdon, 1996, p675–981
    W Ross Blackburn, The God who makes himself known, IVP, 2012