Exodus Chapter Thirty Seven

Desert Provision

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In our study of Exodus chapter thirty seven, we look at God's provision of all that was needed for the people to worship Him even while they were in the desert of Sinai.

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Exodus 37:1-9

B'tzal'el made the ark of acacia-wood three-and-three-quarters feet long, two-and-a-quarter feet wide and two-and-a-quarter feet high. He overlaid it with pure gold inside and outside and put a molding of gold for it around the top. He cast four gold rings for it at its four feet, two rings on each side. He made poles of acacia-wood and overlaid them with gold. He put the carrying-poles for the ark in the rings on the sides of the ark. He made a cover for the ark of pure gold, three-and-three-quarters feet long and two-and-a-quarter feet wide. He made two k'ruvim of gold; he made them of hammered work for the two ends of the ark-cover - one keruv for one end and one keruv for the other end; he made the k'ruvim of one piece with the ark-cover at its two ends. The k'ruvim had their wings spread out above, so that their wings covered the ark; their faces were toward each other and toward the ark-cover.

Once again, we see the construction of the ark of the covenant, the lid, and the poles for carrying it. One might ask why it was made of acacia wood and the answer speaks of God's provision. That was one of the only type of trees in the area of Sinai but it was also the perfect choice for the construction of something that you wanted to last. Acacia wood is dense and extremely strong as well as resisting decay and insect damage. We also see that everything that was made of the wood was also covered in gold but the cover known as the Mercy Seat was made solid pure gold. It is amazing how the cover was made as the craftsmen took a single lump of gold and hammered it so that everything was of one piece. Why use any kind of wood at all? If everything would have been made of gold, the ark would have been so heavy that it could not have been moved in the manner that God desired.

Exodus 37:10-16

He made the table of acacia-wood, three feet long, eighteen inches wide and eighteen inches high. He overlaid it with pure gold and put a molding of gold around the top of it. He made around it a rim a handbreadth wide and put a molding of gold around the rim. He cast for it four gold rings and attached the rings to the four corners, near its four legs. The rings to hold the carrying-poles for the table were placed close to the rim. He made the carrying-poles for the table of acacia-wood and overlaid them with gold. He made the utensils to be put on the table -its dishes, pans, bowls and pitchers - of pure gold.

This table was known as the table of showbread (Lehem haPanim) which literally means "bread of the faces". We see that it had much the same construction as the ark with the gold and acacia wood. This table had racks on top of it which held twelve loaves of unleavened bread and the bread was replaced at the start of each week with the priests eating the previous weeks' bread on Shabbat. In this, we also see the provision of God as this bread was kept for Shabbat when the priests would not have been able to get fresh bread. It is amazing to think that this bread would have sat on these racks for seven days and still be fresh but that is what the presence of God does to things.

Exodus 37:17-24

He made the menorah of pure gold. He made it of hammered work; its base, shaft, cups, rings of outer leaves and flowers were a single unit. There were six branches extending from its sides, three branches of the menorah on one side of it and three on the other. On one branch were three cups shaped like almond blossoms, a ring of outer leaves and petals; likewise on the opposite branch three cups shaped like almond blossoms, a ring of outer leaves and petals; and similarly for all six branches extending from the menorah. On the central shaft of the menorah were four cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with its ring of outer leaves and petals. Where each pair of branches joined the central shaft was a ring of outer leaves of one piece with the pair of branches - thus for all six branches. Their rings of outer leaves and their branches were of one piece with the shaft. Thus the whole menorah was one piece of hammered work made of pure gold. He made its seven lamps, its tongs and its trays of pure gold. The menorah and its utensils were made of sixty-six pounds of pure gold.

Now, we look at the menorah which was a unique lampstand and we see that, like the Mercy Seat, this was hammered from one lump of gold. This lampstand is a symbol of the Tree of Life from Genesis 2 and we see that the menorah had cups that were shaped like almond blossoms. The Hebrew word for almond is "shakeid" and it also means watchful and this speaks of God's watchfulness over His people. According to Jewish tradition, no matter where you were in Jerusalem you could see the light from the menorah.

Exodus 37:25-29

He made the altar on which to burn incense of acacia-wood, eighteen inches square and three feet high; its horns were a single unit. He overlaid it with pure gold -its top, all around its sides and its horns; and he put around it a molding of gold. He made two gold rings for it under its molding at the two corners on both sides, to hold the carrying-poles. He made the poles of acacia-wood and overlaid them with gold. He made the holy anointing oil and the pure incense of aromatic plant substances as would an expert perfume-maker.

Finally, we see the construction of the altar of incense and it was made in much the same way as the table for the showbread. The anointing oil and incense were also made of a unique formula given by God and we are told, inRevelation 8, that this incense was mixed with the prayers of God's people.

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