Friday, September 24, 2010

Exodus 38

The altar of burnt offerings (vs. 1-7)--Bezalel doubtless did a lot of this work himself, but just as doubtless had helpers, and he was the chief overseer. The instructions regarding the altar are found in Exodus 27:1-7, and they were followed to the letter. The account of the building of the tabernacle and the accoutrements thereof is not related in the same order as the instructions given to Moses by God. This can probably be explained by the activities of said building being done all at the same time. And, again, Bezalel was probably the chief overseer.

The laver (v. 8)--The construction of the laver gets only one verse. Its purpose is stated in Exodus 30:17-20. The priests were to wash before they could serve in the tabernacle, make their offerings of sacrifice, etc. The laver is a type of baptism. We must "wash" in the blood of Christ, be pure, before we can enter into true service to God and make our sacrifices to Him as a "royal priesthood" (I Pet. 2:9). Interestingly, verse 8 says that the laver was made "of the lookingglasses (mirrors) of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." In the ancient world, mirrors were nothing better than polished metal, which did not give as pure an reflection as our mirrors today. Thus, Paul could say about the age of incomplete revelation, "for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face" (I Cor. 13:12). He was writing about 40 years before the New Testament was completed thus did not have full knowledge of the totality of God's word, comparing such to looking into one of these ancient mirrors. When the word of God was finally completed, men would be able to see (and now can see) "face to face"--we'll have a clear rendering of God's truth for us.

Who these "serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting"--or, better yet, exactly what they did--is not explained.

The court of the tabernacle (vs. 9-20)--There was an outer court which had a gate for an opening on the east side. Its construction and materials are related in these verses. The instructions regarding it are found in Exodus 27:9-19.

The "inventory," or "sum" (vs. 21-31)--The NKJV uses the first term, the KJV and ASV the latter. The construction of the tabernacle is related in the previous 2.5 chapters. This summation indicates how much material was used in the tabernacle--29 talents of gold, 100 talents of silver, and 70 talents of bronze. The exact relation today is not easy to determine, but Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary reckons it to be 250 pounds of gold and 125 pounds of silver. As today, the value of some metals was greater than others and thus computed differently. This is further complicated by the fact that just about every country in the ancient world accessed the weight of the talent differently. But above figures, even if not exactly accurate, do indicate the tremendous wealth put into the tabernacle. The Israelites were not "rich" by any means, so the giving of this much material, regardless of the size of the population, was significant indeed.

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