“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, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.”
THERE was an infinite variety in the contributions made to the Tabernacle, from the precious jewels of the rulers to the acacia wood of the poor, and the goats’ hair of the women. The completed structure was a monument of the united gifts, handicrafts, and gems of the entire people. But in all there was the unity of the spirit, and plan, and devotion.
In the Church and the world there is a work for each of us to do.
— It may be a very humble part in the great factory — like minding the lift, or stoking the furnace, or fetching materials for the more skilled operatives; but there is a berth for each willing worker, if only the will and way of God are diligently sought and followed.
This work is suited to our special powers. — He who prepares the work for the worker, prepares the worker for the work. Whenever God gives us a task to fulfil, it is because He sees in us faculties for its successful and happy accomplishment, in co-operation with Himself. It is a mistake then to turn back daunted by difficulty and opposition. As Caleb and Joshua said of the possessors of Canaan, “We be well able to overcome them.”
We must bring our resources and powers to God. — Willing hearts were summoned to bring their offerings to the Lord. The maker of a musical instrument knows best how to develop its waiting music, and He who created and endowed us can make the most of us. Let us not work for Him; but yield ourselves to His hand, and our members as instruments of righteousness for His service. We may differ from all others in the special character of our work; but it matters not, so long as God effects through us His purpose in our creation.
“And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.”
THIS is always God’s way. No words could better express the Imperial measure and standard of His dealings with His people.
When He calls us out, as He did Moses, Bezaleel, and Aholiab, and entrusts us with His plan; and when we are careful to work out His specifications; He always makes more than enough provision for all our need.
The redemption in Christ Jesus. — Where sin abounded grace did much more abound. The topmost hills were covered by the waters of the deluge, and the Alpine heights of human rebellion were more than atoned for when Jesus died. Grace over-tops sin.
God’s ability to answer prayer. — He does exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. We ask great things, and secretly think that if God were to give only a fraction, we would be thankful.
How we straiten Him! He cannot do much because of our unbelief!
He yearns to do not only enough, but much more than enough for us. See His prodigality in nature: its enameled shells, its profusion of flowers, its swarming life.
In daily provision for spirit, soul, and body. — Give, and it shall be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. God is not niggard. If He withholds, it is that we may cling to the Giver rather than the gift. But for the most part, He gives all things richly to enjoy. He opens His hand, and satisfies.
Whatever thy need, God has much more than enough to meet it. He has riches of grace and of glory. Trust Him, obey Him, appropriate thy share in thy Father’s rich provision. Weak and needy as thou art, there is much more than enough strength in God to perfect what concerns thee.
“And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof.”
THIS was the Propitiatory. Beneath it lay the tables of the law, which even Moses had broken, almost as soon as they came into his hands, but which had been renewed. Concealing and covering them lay this golden lid, encrusted with the blood which successive generations of priests sprinkled there on the Great Day of Atonement.
There can be no doubt that this golden slab sets forth our Savior’s obedience unto death. God set Him forth to be “the Propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Our Lord’s obedience is priceless in the Divine esteem. — What pure gold is among metals, that is His advent to do God’s will, in comparison with all other endeavors to do it. It takes the first place, and is of peerless beauty and excellence. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.”
His obedience was to blood. — His wounds tell the story. He held nothing back; but yielded all to blood-shedding. Blood is life, and life is in the Blood: this He freely poured out to meet the claims of justice, and herein gave the sublimest token of His love.
His person and work are the medium of our approach. — In Jesus the Shechinah of God’s presence awaits us. On this priceless mercy-seat the Divine Fire trembles, and we may draw near with boldness. We are beloved children: but let us never forget that we are redeemed sinners.
There is a place where Jesus sheds The oil of gladness on our heads; A place than all beside more sweet— It is the blood-stained Mercy-seat.
“And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”
THIS was a good use to put these mirrors to. The women were so deeply interested in the work which was afoot, that they counted no sacrifice too great. But the main suggestion for ourselves is the wisdom of renouncing self-inspection.
The mirror speaks of self-scrutiny. — We are constantly holding up the mirror to our inner life, studying its mechanism and operations. Our fingers often on our pulse; the attention of the soul turned back on itself; the study of symptoms carried to the grievous extent of inducing the diseases which we dread. Of course, where there is evident mischief at work, we do well to take heed; but we must guard against a morbid self-anatomy, a perpetual analysis of motive and intention, an inwardness which diverts our attention from the person of Christ and the performance of duty.
The evils of self-scrutiny. — If we look down into the depths of our own nature, we miss the face of Jesus. To consider self is to become involved in a maze of perplexities and disappointments.
The disease cannot be cured by ceaselessly pondering its symptoms.
The soul cannot lift the soul. Self can never expel the spirit of self.
Its cure. — These women became so interested in the service of the Tabernacle that they were weaned from their mirrors. The better expelled the worse; the higher cast out the lower. Go out of yourself, find some work to do for God and man; seek in the laver the removal of the stains of human sin; find your center in God and His plans; and you will abandon the habit of morbid self-scrutiny.
For every look at self, take ten at Christ: He “healeth all thy diseases.”
“And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.”
ZECHARIAH tells us that these words were to be written on the bells of the horses. The sacred inscription, which stood on the brow of Aaron, designating his separation to his sublime office, was to become incorporated with the business of the farm and city, where burdens were borne and heavy weights drawn with difficulty.
The inscription befits all bells that ring in the home, the shop, the factory. We are to be God’s priests everywhere.
The priest was separated from all impurity. — We must be in the world, but separate from its sin. When evil threatens us from a distance, we must be sensitive to its approach, and quick to put the covering presence of Christ between.
The priest was separated to holy service. — He was keenly sensitive to the honour of Jehovah, and to the demands of his service. Rather be cut down at his altar, like Zechariah the son of Berachiah, than prove a delinquent. We cannot all do the inner service of offering incense and of blessing men, but we can render every act as a sacred service to God; always treading the holy floor, and within sight of the holy presence, and within earshot of the Divine voice; eating, drinking, doing everything for the glory of God. Throughout this chapter we are reminded that all was made as the Lord commanded Moses; this should be the law of our life.
The priest bore holiness written where all could read it; so should we. — It should not be necessary for us to be labelled. For men to need telling that we are Christians, is a sign that we are far from what we should be. But so to live that the first and slightest glance at us should betray our heavenly calling, is to adorn the Gospel and please our Master.
“For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”
THIS was the cloud of the Shechinah, in the heart of which was fire, the symbol of the presence of God. Probably this fire was always present, but only visible against the background of the surrounding darkness. In the New Testament fire is always associated with the ministry of the Holy Spirit; and in Isaiah (Isaiah 4:5) we learn that in the coming time God would give, on every dwelling-place in Mount Zion, and in all her assemblies, the same cloud of smoke by day, and flaming fire by night, as had been vouchsafed to the Tabernacle where God dwelt. What a glorious revelation is this!
The Holy Spirit brooding over each individual believer. — It is a symptom of the highest life, when God spreads his tabernacle over the soul. We should march only when He lifts up His enfolding presence, rest under His canopy, and recognize the sanctity of all life.
The Holy Spirit resting on each home. — “Every dwelling-place in Zion” must stand for the homes of God’s people. How blessed it is when the home is a temple, and each inmate of the beloved circle a priest! Such homes are rare, but they are possible. Let those who are founding a new family make this their ideal.
The Holy Spirit directing and filling each assembly and believer — As of old the movements of the cloud determined those of the tent and people, so in the Pentecostal Church the Spirit was Guide, Director, Executor. “Separate Me ... to the work to which I have called them.” We must rely most absolutely on Him, waiting for His initiation, His teaching, the settling down of His infinite benediction. Then there will be glory and defence.
“But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. ... But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. ... And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.”
HOW sweet the offering up of the Son was to the Father! “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour” (Eph 5:2). The burnt-offering was an imperfect type of His entire devotion to His Father’s will.
When Jesus saw the inability of man to keep the holy law, and volunteered to magnify it, and make it honourable; when He laid aside His glory, and stepped down from His throne, saying, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God” (Ps 40:8); when He became obedient even to the death of the cross — it was as sweet to God as the fragrance of a garden of flowers to us.
Let us never forget the God-ward aspect of the cross. The sacrificial fire fed on every part of the sacrifice, on the inwards as well as the carcase; so did the Holy God delight to witness the spotless and entire devotion of the Son to the great work in which the entire Godhead was most deeply interested. The fragrant graces of Christ were made manifest on the cross, and are perpetuated in his intercession.
There is a sense also in which our consecration to God is fragrant and precious. When we see His claims, and yield to them; when we submit to His will, and commit our lives wholly to His direction; when we offer and present ourselves to Him, a living sacrifice, keeping nothing back — His heart is gladdened, and His fire of complacency feeds on our act. Always count on this; you may feel no thrill, and see no light, but reckon on God, believe that He accepts what you give, and will crown your sacrifice with the fire of Pentecost. Who today will surrender to God, and become an offering of a sweet savour?
“And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon:”
THIS type is only true in its fullest extent of the blessed Master; but as we are to be conformed to His image, we may humbly take the ingredients of the meat offering as indicating various qualities in our personal character and behaviour.
Fine flour. — There should be nothing coarse-grained or rough to the touch; but all even and tender. So that however great the pressure brought to bear on us, we should meet it with perfect grace and gentleness. Jesus reviled not again, but was led as a lamb to the slaughter. David Livingstone said that the promise of Christ was the word of a perfect gentleman. This should be our character.
Oil upon it. — We must be mingled with oil — that is, the Holy Spirit must have access into the secret places of the inner life, and we must have the anointing of the Holy Ghost for service. In Christian work nothing is of any value or permanence, useful to man or pleasing to God, in which the Holy Spirit is not first.
Frankincense. — Every act of our life should emit sweet fragrance towards God. Always moving forward in Christ’s triumphant procession, bearing aloft the incense-bowls of thought, action, word, filled with love and praise.
Salt. — “Let your conversation be always with grace, seasoned with salt.” (Col 4:6) The words of Jesus were full of grace, and also of truth. There was a pungency and purity and uncorruptness in His speech, which have in every age arrested the progress of the world’s evil. Let us give Him our lips.
No leaven — the symbol of the rising of pride and self.
No honey — that which is merely attractive and sensuous.