We are the Materials for the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:4-29)

To build a tabernacle is a large undertaking.  As we see from reading this week’s passage, it was going to take an immense amount of offerings and a large quantity of labor.  But where were these gifts and this labor to come from?  Two verses provide the answer,

From what you have, take an offering for the Lord…All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded. (Exodus 35:5a, 10)

God’s saved and rescued people were to provide the materials from the gifts they had been given when they left Egypt.

The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:36)

And God’s people were to labor with these gifts in order to bring about a worship structure where the presence of the Lord could dwell.  Both of these points can be found in the ministry and life of Christ and his redeemed people.  Ephesians 4:8 tells us,

This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” (Ephesians 4:8)

And what are these gifts?  The most important gift a believer is given is the Holy Spirit.  The second are the special manifestations the Spirit brings.

“Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” (1 John 3:24) 

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:7–11)

These are the gifts God’s people bring in order to build up the true tabernacle of God, the living body of Christ in this world.  We are the offering called to labor, male and female, as God has gifted us when he brought us out of darkness and into the wonderful freedom of the Gospel.  For we are a holy temple, we are a royal priesthood; we are a chosen people, to declare the wonderful works of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (1Peter 2:9).  Just as every redeemed Israelite worked to build up the tabernacle,

All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds…every skilled woman spun with her hands…All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded. (Exodus 35:22, 25, 10)

So also, every believer has been specially gifted in Christ’s body to work and provide an indispensable service to every other part.  As Paul so eloquently reminds us,

God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted then to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body…And you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  (1Corinthians 12:18-20, 27)

Therefore let us labor just as hard and just as diligently as the Hebrews did in the desert.  For we are building up the spiritual tabernacle, where God resides in each and every person and in the company of his people, always remembering that we labor under the headship of Christ.

“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:21)


About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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