Let them make me a sanctuary - מקדש mikdash, a holy place, such as God might dwell in; this was that part of the tabernacle that was called the most holy place, into which the high priest entered only once a year, on the great day of atonement.
That I may dwell among them - "This," says Mr. Ainsworth, "was the main end of all; and to this all the particulars are to be referred, and by this they are to be opened. For this sanctuary, as Solomon's temple afterwards, was the place of prayer, and of the public service of God, Leviticus 17:4-6; Matthew 21:13; and it signified the Church which is the habitation of God through the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19-22; Revelation 21:2, Revelation 21:3; and was a visible sign of God's presence and protection, Leviticus 26:11, Leviticus 26:12; Ezekiel 37:27, Ezekiel 37:28; 1 Kings 6:12, 1 Kings 6:13; and of his leading them to his heavenly glory. For as the high priest entered into the tabernacle, and through the veil into the most holy place where God dwelt; so Christ entered into the holy of holies, and we also enter through the veil, that is to say his flesh. See the use made of this by the apostle, Hebrews 9 and 10. Thus the sanctuary is to be applied as a type,
As the dwelling in this tabernacle was the highest proof of God's grace and mercy towards the Israelites, so it typified Christ's dwelling by faith in the hearts of believers, and thus giving them the highest and surest proof of their reconciliation to God, and of his love and favor to them; see Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 3:17.
Yahweh had redeemed the Israelites from bondage. He had made a covenant with them and had given them laws. He had promised, on condition of their obedience, to accept them as His own “peculiar treasure,” as “a kingdom of priests and an holy nation” Exodus 19:5-6. And now He was ready visibly to testify that He made his abode with them. He claimed to have a dwelling for Himself, which was to be in external form a tent of goats‘ hair Exodus 19:4, to take its place among their own tents, and formed out of the same material (see Exodus 26:7 note). The special mark of His presence within the tent was to be the ark or chest containing the Ten Commandments on two tables of stone Exodus 31:18, symbolizing the divine law of holiness, and covered by the mercy-seat, the type of reconciliation. Moses was divinely taught regarding the construction and arrangement of every part of the sanctuary. The directions which were given him are comprised in Exodus 25:2
That giveth it willingly with his heart - The public service of Yahweh was to be instituted by freewill offerings, not by an enforced tax. Compare 1 Chronicles 29:3, 1Chronicles 29:9,1 Chronicles 29:14; Ezra 2:68-69; 2 Corinthians 8:11-12; 2 Corinthians 9:7. On the zeal with which the people responded to the call, see Exodus 35:21-29; Exodus 36:5-7.
Gold, and silver, and brass - The supply of these metals possessed by the Israelites at this time probably included what they had inherited from their forefathers, what they had obtained from the Egyptians Exodus 12:35, and what may have been found amongst the spoils of the Amalekites Exodus 17:8-13. But with their abundant flocks and herds, it can hardly be doubted that they had carried on important traffic with the trading caravans that traversed the wilderness, some of which, most likely, in the earliest times were furnished with silver, with the gold of Ophir (or gold of Sheba, as it seems to have been indifferently called), and with the “brass” (the alloy of copper and tin, called bronze) of Phoenicia and Egypt. Compare Exodus 38:24 note.
Blue, and purple, and scarlet - i. e. the material dyed with these colors. The Jewish tradition has been very generally received that this material was wool. Compare Hebrews 9:19 with Leviticus 14:4, Leviticus 14:49, etc. When spun and dyed by the women, it was delivered in the state of yarn; and the weaving and embroidering was left to Aholiab and his assistants, Exodus 35:25, Exodus 35:35. The “blue” and “purple” dye are usually thought to have been obtained from shell-fish, the “scarlet” from the cochineal insect of the holm-oak.
Fine linen - The fine flax or the manufactured linen, for which Egypt was famous Ezekiel 27:7, and which the Egyptians were in the habit of using for dresses of state Genesis 41:42. It was used as the groundwork of the figured curtains of the tabernacle as well as of the embroidered hangings of the tent and the court. See Exodus 35:35.
Rams‘ skins dyed red - Skins tanned and colored like the leather now known as red morocco.
Badgers‘ skins - Rather, leather, probably of a sky-blue color, formed from the skins of the תחשׁ tachash (a general name for marine animals), which was well adapted as a protection against the weather.
Shittim wood - The word שׁטים shı̂ṭṭâm is the plural form of שׁטה shı̂ṭâh which occurs as the name of the growing tree, Isaiah 41:19. The tree is satisfactorily identified with the Acacia seyal, a gnarled and thorny tree, somewhat like a solitary hawthorn in its habit and manner of growth, but much larger. It flourishes in the driest situations, and is scattered more or less numerously over the Sinaitic Peninsula. It appears to be the only good wood produced in the wilderness. No other kind of wood was employed in the tabernacle or its furniture. In the construction of the temple cedar and fir took its place 1 Kings 5:8; 1 Kings 6:18; 2 Chronicles 2:8.
See the notes to Exodus 25:8
sanctuary - i. e. a hallowed place. This is the most comprehensive of the words that relate to the place dedicated to Yahweh. It included the tabernacle with its furniture, its tent, and its court.
That I may dwell among them - The purpose of the sanctuary is here definitely declared by the Lord Himself. It was to be the constant witness of His presence among His people. Compare the marginal references.
According to all that I shew thee - The tabernacle and all that pertained to it were to be in strict accordance with the ideas revealed by the Lord to Moses (compare Exodus 25:40; Exodus 26:30; Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5). The word here translated “pattern” is also used to denote the plans for the temple which were given by David to Solomon 1 Chronicles 28:11-12, 1 Chronicles 28:19; it is elsewhere rendered “form, likeness, similitude,” Deuteronomy 4:16-17; Ezekiel 8:3, Ezekiel 8:10.
The tabernacle - The Hebrew word signifies the “dwelling-place.” It here denotes the wooden structure, containing the holy place and the most holy place, with the tent which sheltered it. See Exodus 26:1 note.
When God commanded the tabernacle to be built in the wilderness, each man's work was assigned him.... In setting up and taking down the tabernacle, in moving from place to place in the wilderness, the position each was to occupy was plainly specified. TMK 323.2Read in context »
In Exodus we read that at the time the Lord directed the Israelites to build a tabernacle in the wilderness, He gave certain men special ability, talent, and skill in devising, and then He appointed them to the work. He will deal with us in the same way.... And although we may have to begin in a very small way, He will bless us and multiply our talents as a reward for faithfulness. OHC 43.4Read in context »
1-6 (1 Timothy 5:13). Meddling Punished by Death—The Lord loves to see His work done as perfectly as possible. In the wilderness, the Israelites had to learn to accomplish with exactness and promptness the work connected with the order of the camp and especially the work of the tabernacle, its ornaments, and its service. All had to learn before they could accomplish this, to them new work. They had to be trained before they could do it as God desired. There were men there ready to give counsel and advice and to meddle with the work of mounting and dismounting the tabernacle; and those who neglected their special work to meddle with the work of others, thinking they had special wisdom and knew how it should be done, were put to death. Each one had to be taught the value of promptness and exactness in every position of trust. The memory had to be taxed, and they had to realize the responsibility of doing everything in due time. 1BC 1108.1
This is the discipline which the Lord anciently gave to His people, and it is the discipline which should exist in our missions, our colleges, our publishing houses, our sanitariums. God likes to see men understand their weak points, and instead of closing their eyes to their defects, they should make persevering efforts to overcome them (Manuscript 24, 1887). 1BC 1108.2
How Could the Work Be Done?—Israel had been held all their days in the bondage of Egypt, and although there were ingenious men among them, they had not been instructed in the curious arts which were called for in the building of the tabernacle. They knew how to make bricks, but they did not understand how to work in gold and silver. How was the work to be done? Who was sufficient for these things? These were questions that troubled the mind of Moses. 1BC 1108.3
Then God Himself explained how the work was to be accomplished. He signified by name the persons He desired to do a certain work. Bezaleel was to be the architect. This man belonged to the tribe of Judah,—a tribe that God delighted to honor (Manuscript 29, 1908). 1BC 1108.4
2-7. Did Not Depend on Skilled Egyptians—In ancient times, the Lord instructed Moses to build Him a sanctuary. The people were to provide the material, and skillful men must be found to handle the precious material. Among the multitude were Egyptians, who had acted as overseers for such work, and thoroughly understood how it should be done. But the work was not dependent upon them. The Lord united with human agencies, giving them wisdom to work skillfully. [Exodus 31:2-7 quoted.] 1BC 1108.5
Let the workmen in the service of God today pray to Him for wisdom and keen foresight, that they may do their work perfectly (Manuscript 52, 1903). 1BC 1108.6
13 (ch. 25:8). Sabbath Kept During Construction—God directed that a tabernacle should be built, where the Israelites, during their wilderness-journeying, could worship Him. Orders from heaven were given that this tabernacle should be built without delay. Because of the sacredness of the work and the need for haste, some argued that the work of the tabernacle should be carried forward on the Sabbath, as well as on the other days of the week. Christ heard these suggestions, and saw that the people were in great danger of being ensnared by concluding that they would be justified in working on the Sabbath that the tabernacle might be completed as quickly as possible. The word came to them, “Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep.” Though the work on the tabernacle must be carried forward with expedition, the Sabbath must not be employed as a working day. Even the work on the Lord's house must give way to the sacred observance of the Lord's rest day. Thus jealous is God for the honor of His memorial of creation (The Review and Herald, October 28, 1902). 1BC 1108.7Read in context »
In the days of ancient Israel, when at the foot of Sinai Moses told the people of the divine command, “Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them,” the response of the Israelites was accompanied by appropriate gifts. “They came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing,” and brought offerings. For the building of the sanctuary, great and expensive preparations were necessary; a large amount of the most precious and costly material was required; yet the Lord accepted only free-will offerings. “Of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering” was the divine command repeated by Moses to the congregation. Devotion to God and a spirit of sacrifice were the first requisites in preparing a dwelling-place for the Most High. 2BC 1027.1
A similar call to self-sacrifice was made when David turned over to Solomon the responsibility of erecting the temple. Of the assembled multitude that had brought their liberal gifts, David asked, “Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?” This call should ever have been kept in mind by those who had to do with the construction of the temple. 2BC 1027.2
Chosen men were specially endowed by God with skill and wisdom for the construction of the wilderness-tabernacle. “Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel ... of the tribe of Judah; and he hath filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.... And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab ... of the tribe of Dan. Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer ... and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.” “Then wrought Bezaleel, ... and every wise-hearted man, in whom the Lord put wisdom and understanding.” Heavenly intelligences cooperated with the workmen whom God Himself chose. 2BC 1027.3
The descendants of these men inherited to a large degree the skill conferred upon their forefathers. In the tribes of Judah and of Dan there were men who were regarded as especially “cunning” in the finer arts. For a time these men remained humble and unselfish; but gradually, almost imperceptibly, they lost their hold upon God and His truth. They began to ask for higher wages because of their superior skill. In some instances their request was granted, but more often those asking higher wages found employment in the surrounding nations. In place of the noble spirit of self-sacrifice that had filled the hearts of their illustrious ancestors, they cherished a spirit of covetousness, of grasping for more and more. They served heathen kings with their God-given skill, and dishonored their Maker. 2BC 1027.4
It was to these apostates that Solomon looked for a master workman to superintend the construction of the temple on Mount Moriah. Minute specifications, in writing, regarding every portion of the sacred structure, had been entrusted to the king, and he should have looked to God in faith for consecrated helpers, to whom would have been granted special skill for doing with exactness the work required. But Solomon lost sight of this opportunity to exercise faith in God. He sent to the king of Tyre for “a man cunning to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in iron, and in purple, and crimson, and blue, and that can skill to grave with cunning men ... in Judah and in Jerusalem.” 2BC 1027.5
The Phenician king responded by sending Huram, “a cunning man, endued with understanding, ... the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre.” This master workman, Huram, was a descendant, on his mother's side, of Aholiab, to whom, hundreds of years before, God had given special wisdom for the construction of the tabernacle. Thus at the head of Solomon's company of workmen there was placed an unsanctified man, who demanded large wages because of his unusual skill. 2BC 1027.6
Huram's efforts were not prompted by a desire to render his highest service to God. He served the god of this world—Mammon. The very fibers of his being had been inwrought with principles of selfishness, which were revealed in his grasping for the highest wages. And gradually these wrong principles came to be cherished by his associates. As they labored with him day after day, and yielded to the inclination to compare his wages with their own, they began to lose sight of the holy character of their work, and to dwell upon the difference between their wages and his. Gradually they lost their spirit of self-denial, and fostered a spirit of covetousness. The result was a demand for higher wages, which was granted them. 2BC 1027.7Read in context »