Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
I dread the last 15 chapters of Exodus. Say what you will about Leviticus being boring; for me the tabernacle is a killer. I don’t like the sections focusing on the tabernacle for several reasons: 1. They’re boring. 2. They repeat; part one is the instructions and part two is the nigh-identical carrying-out of said instructions. 3. I can’t casually get anything out of reading it. Actually, that last part might be the most frustrating; at least with the historical parts of the Bible you can get a story or with the Law you can get instructions for good living. But the building of the tabernacle it’s….it’s just materials and numbers:
Make the curtains of goat hair for the tent over the tabernacle- eleven altogether. All eleven curtains are to be the same size- thirty cubits long and four cubits wide. Join five of the curtains together into one set and the other six into another set. Fold the sixth curtain double at the front of the tent. Make fifty loops along the edge of the end curtain in one set and also along the edge of the end curtain in the other set (Exodus 26:7-10).
It’s just this sort of stuff for nearly half of Exodus, save for a brief reprieve involving the golden calf. However, this time while reading through the end of Exodus, the Holy Spirit showed me an awesome prophecy for our lives from the tabernacle’s blueprints.
As already noted, chapters like Exodus 26 are not very eye-catching. But the Holy Spirit called my attention to the framework of the tabernacle. It’s made of wood, “Make upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle” (Exodus 26:15). …Ok, duh, that’s not very impressive. But, the framework isn’t only wood,
Also make crossbars of acacia wood: five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, five for those on the other side, and five for the frames on the west, at the far end of the tabernacle. The center crossbar is to extend from end to end at the middle of the frames. Overlay the frames with gold and make gold rings to hold the crossbars. Also overlay the crossbars with gold (Exodus 26:26-29).
The wood that makes up the frame of the tabernacle is covered-over with gold. This is the case with the posts too, “Make gold hooks for this curtain and five posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold. And cast five bronze bases for them” (Exodus 26:37). More places have this too (like the ark [God-box variety]) but let’s focus on the framework. Although the frames of the tabernacle are just wood, to the casual observer who doesn’t know otherwise, it looks like they’re made of pure gold. This is what happens when God forgives people of their sins. Job stated in faith,
You will call and I will answer you;
You will long for the creature your hands have made.
Surely then you will count my steps
But not keep track of my sin.
My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;
You will cover over my sin (Job 14:15-17).
And through Christ’s death and resurrection we find ourselves covered (if we believe in him), for it is written,
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2).
And so through belief in Christ, we cross from wood to gold in the eyes of God. Paul put it this way,
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work (2 Timothy 2:20-21).
When you come to Christ, you’re no longer just some ordinary person, but instead you shine like gold through the work of Christ Jesus on the cross.
However, underneath that gold appearance there is still wood. And, just like the tabernacle’s framework, we’re not pure. We may appear as gold to God and we may even have some of its properties through the Holy Spirit, but we’re still stuck with remnants of our humanity. Paul noted,
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is the sin living in me that does it (Romans 7:18-20).
Within us is still our sinful nature, which is at constant war with our new golden properties. This wears us down and can be discouraging because we want to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, and yet so often we can get sucked back into old habits and dragged off by new sins too. The Bible puts it like this,
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, and eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life (2 Corinthians 5:1-4).
While we live on earth after being saved through Jesus’ work on the cross, we strive to shed our woodiness in order to fully embrace the gold that now surrounds us. This is where we have a leg up on the tabernacle, for the wooden frame would never change, but God promises that we will. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:5, “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” So not only will you possess the properties of God’s gold here on earth, but you’ll fully embody it after you shed your earthly body.
Another cool thing is the status we gain when Jesus covers us with his blood and redeems us. The sons of Korah once wrote,
Better is one day in your courts
Than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of the wicked (Psalms 84:10).
Well guess what? As a piece of wood covered in gold, you get to hang out with God all the time. The framework overlaid in gold was actually a part of the House of God (well, the Tent of God anyway). And while it was always a part of God’s house, God is always part of you after you’ve received Christ. Jesus taught his disciples,
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you (John 14:16-17).
So, through the coming of the Holy Spirit after salvation, we become a house for the Spirit of God; and guess what the Bible says? Scripture records,
As you come to him, the living Stone- rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:4-5).
We too are being built into God’s house as his holy priesthood, even you! This was all prophesized back in the most boring part of the Bible because it’s always been in God’s blueprint for you to be saved by his son Jesus Christ and to be a part of not only his kingdom, but his very dwelling!
Rock on God!