A reading for all you quilters and home-makers out there!
These chapters are all about the instructions God gave for the making of the tabernacle and its furnishings. As with the law, there’s plenty of attention to detail. Exact measurements, attention to detail including embroidery and which metals to use in construction – enough detail for us to be able to re-create the whole shebang in our own backyard if we got the urge.
Why does God care about such details? I think the answer is that God cares about the way that we worship him. He wants us to do it on his terms rather than making up our own ideas about what he might appreciate from our own ideas about what he is like. That simply won’t do though. As we saw in the ten commandments, right at the top of that list is that we worship God and God alone and we can only do that properly if God tells us what he is like and tells us what it means to worship him.
It might not seem obvious at first but the design of the temple taught Israel a lot about both these things.
The “Ark” was a reminder to the people that God was with them. The fact that it was to hold the “Testimony” (the stone tablets on which the 10 commandments would be written) was a reminder to the people that they were to be ruled by the word of God.
The layout of the temple – separation of the Holy place from the most holy place and the further separation from the outer courtyard – was designed to constantly remind Israel of the fact that it was the Holy God who dwelt with his people and that they needed a mediator, a go-between, to address God on their behalf. The fact that it was a tent and not a permanent structure was also a reminder that God was in the process of leading them to the home that he had promised them. And each piece of furniture had its function and revealed much about what God is like and how Israel were to worship him.
I think that we Christians can easily get a bit chummy with God, a bit presumptuous. I think we do this because we forget who he is, who he really is. I think that somehow, knowing Jesus can give us the wrong impression about God – make him somehow smaller, less awesome in our sight. How silly – it really should be the other way around shouldn’t it?