Read Exodus Chapter 25. After you have read the chapter, read the passages below to help you dive deeper into the Chapter. Conclude in Prayer.
“We see the prophet Moses isolate himself from any worldly hindrance, and ascend the mountain of knowledge, to receive the ten commandments and the Law. Now, God grants him a new vision, “the heavenly Sanctuary”, not made by human hands, where God dwells with His beloved creation, and commands him to make a shadow of the image of that Sanctuary, for the sake of those at the foot of the mountain, for God to dwell in their midst, and prepare them to enter into the heavenly Sanctuary. In other words, the tabernacle came as a shadow of heaven itself, so that the people would cross over to the New Testament, and enter into the image of heaven or its (advance payment); and finally would set forth in eternal life to the perfection of the heavenly Sanctuary.
The Jews, to whom the shadows of the image of heavenly were proclaimed, understood one third of the truth; we, on the other hand, have beheld the whole image of the heavenly pattern. But, after resurrection, the truth has been clearly represented, as we see the heavenly Sanctuary, “The city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11: 10). We see it face to face, not in the darkness, or in parts (1 Cor13: 12). This is what the apostle revealed to us in the Book of Hebrews, as he, through the Spirit, humbly and reverently, approached the tabernacle to see it as “the copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrew 8: 5), that proclaims the secrets of God’s work among His people,“ Of these things we cannot now talk in detail” (Hebrews 9: 5).” Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
ONLY A PATTERN OR MODEL - " By saying [to him], You shall make everything according to the model of the tabernacle that I will show you,‖ he first called it a model and a temporal tabernacle to indicate that it was transitory and that it would be replaced by the church, the perfect prototype which lasts forever. And so … they would esteem it because of its likeness to the heavenly tabernacle.” - EPHREM THE SYRIAN
THE TABERNACLE WAS A SHADOW OF AN IMAGE - "If, according to the apostle, the law is spiritual and contains within itself the images of the good things to come, then let us remove the veil of the letter which is spread over it and contemplate its true meaning stripped bare. The Jews were commanded to adorn their tabernacle as a proleptic imitation of the church, that through the things of sense they might be able to prefigure the image of things divine. For the exemplar which was shown forth on the mountain and on which Moses gazed when he constructed the tabernacle was in a way an accurate picture of the dwelling in heaven, to which indeed we pay homage insofar as it far surpasses the types in clarity and yet is far fainter than the reality. The fact is that the unmingled truth has not yet come to humanity as it is in itself, for here we would be unable to contemplate its pure incorruptibility, just as we cannot endure the rays of the sun with unshielded eyes. The Jews announced what was a shadow of an image, at a third remove from reality whereas we ourselves clearly behold the image of the heavenly dispensation. But the reality itself will be accurately revealed after the resurrection when we shall see the holy tabernacle, the heavenly city, whose builder and maker is God, face to face, and not in a dark manner and only in part.” - METHODIUS
“And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue and purple and scarlet yarn, fine linen thread, and goats’ hair; ‘rams’ skin dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate” (Ex. 25: 3 - 7).
What are these items with which we may participate in that building to be owned by God, and where He will encounter with us? Let us take some examples of these items, and try to appreciate their spiritual significances:
a- Gold: The scholar Origen believes that gold is faith that turns the heart into a heaven. That is why gold refers to the heavenly; it refers as well to the saints as being a heaven, and God dwelling in their hearts.
b- Silver: If gold is the faith of the heart, silver would be the word of preaching; as the word of God is like silver that is seven times purified. And if gold refers to virginity, fathers see in silver a reference to the purity of marriage.
c- Bronze: It refers to patience or strength. The Lord Christ’s hands appeared as “rods of gold” (Songs 5: 14), because His works are heavenly, while His feet were “like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace” (Revelation 1: 15),and with them we fearlessly crush all the thorns and afflictions of this life.
d- Wood: Which is not infected by bugs, but the wood is referring to knowledge or abstinence that never gets old or corrupted.
e- Fine linen thread: Referring to the body which is under strict control. According to the words of the apostle: “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9: 27). The trials we encounter to control the body, and to bring it into subjection in Christ Jesus, is an offering to the house of the Lord.
f- Scarlet: If the scarlet cord that saved the life of ‘Rahab’ and all her household (Josh 2: 18), refers to the blood of the Lord Christ, the Savior, the scarlet that we offer is our testimonial to Him, even to blood, according to the words of the apostle: “For your sake we are put to death all day long,” as though the scarlet refers to martyrdom; either through shedding the blood of believers during the time of martyrdom, or through the daily strife for the sake of the Lord.
g- Purple: As purple is the color of royal garment, just as when the soldiers wanted to mock the Lord Christ as a king, “they put on Him a purple robe” (John 19: 2). We put on the purple royal robe, which is “love”. The scholar Origen believes that it refers to the shine of love, as well as to fire. As the true Christian carries fire in his heart, which is the fire of the Holy Spirit that enlightens the way, and consumes the thorns that strangle the soul.
h- Goats’ hair: This refers to death to sin (Ex. 35: 6; Leviticus 4: 23). The scholar Origen says: [Offering it refers to destroying sin, so that it reigns no more in his members].
i- Rams’ skin: If goats refer to sin, rams refer to anger; who offers them proclaims the death of anger in him.
“My Lord Jesus, grant me the worthiness to leave in Your house a momentum. I yearn to partake of that gold, of which the altar is made, the cover of the Ark, or the lampstand. Or at least, give me the privilege to partake of the silver offered for the pillars or their bases; or even to partake of the bronze, of which other items mentioned in the Holy Book, are made. I wish I am a prince to be capable to offer precious stones for the ephod and the breastplate of the High Priest; and if I cannot afford it, let me offer goats’ hair, so as not to be altogether without fruit."
“As the original building of the Church carries an image of the heavenly; in the same way we can also set within our hearts a sanctuary for the Lord that carries an image of the heavenly."
“That is the sanctuary He commands us to make; that the apostle yearns to see in the virgins, to be holy in body and Spirit, realizing that making a sanctuary for the Lord, would be through the purity of the heart and body, in order to behold the Lord. Therefore, let us make a sanctuary for the Lord; let us all make it together, and let each one of us make one inside himself. As to the Sanctuary that we make together, it is the holy Church, “that has no spots or wrinkles” (Eph 5: 27).”
“In this chapter, he talks to us about the Ark of the Testimony, the Table of the Showbread, and the Lampstand. It probably meant to talk first, of the most holy items, in the most holy place at the time. These three items represent the secret of God’s presence among His people (the Ark), the secret of their fulfillment in God (the Table of the Showbread), and the secret of their enlightenment (the gold Lampstand). The writing of these three things came after receiving the Ten Commandments and the Law, as though God by this intended to present to His people the possibilities that would support and help them to keep these divine commandments. As through his free will alone, man could not keep them; but he is in need of the Ark, which is the dwelling of God Himself in the heart, of the Table of the Showbread, which is the fulfillment with the bread of the angels, and of the Lampstand, which is the enlightenment with the Holy Spirit. By all this, the commandments would not only be possible to keep, but would become natural in the life of the children of God, and joyful to their souls.”
The Ark and the Christian Altar:
The Ark of the Testimony does not only refer to the presence of God, but also to His salvation work through the sacrifice of the Covenant. That is why the Altar came to consummate what the Ark signified in all its details and contents; of which we mention: a- The Ark was made of Acacia wood, as a reference to the wooden cross, the secret of our unity with God, and our entrance into His divine sanctuaries.
b- It was overlaid, inside and outside, by gold, although the inside was not visible to the eye, so it may act like the sacrifice in our inner depths, as well as in our outer actions, and so we may live with a heavenly Spirit (golden).
c- A molding of gold is made on it all around, a sign of our entrance into the heavenly glories through the divine Altar.
d- Two Cherubim stretch out their wings above the cover (the mercy seats); a sign of our opening on the heavenly creatures, and our fellowship with the Seraphim and the Cherubim, in their liturgies and praises.
e- The appearance of clouds between the Cherubim, the presence of God, hearing His voice there, and the appearance of a heavenly blue color were evidences of the eschatology of our liturgy in the new Altar.
f- Inside the Ark were the two tablets of the Law, referring to the salvation words of God that we receive through the sacrifice; a pot of manna, referring to the holy body of the Lord; and the rod of Aaron, referring to the shepherding work of the Church, and its connection with the sacrifice.”
“The Ark came to carry a symbol of this one Church: the Church of the holy congregation, and that of the heart. “So it is fitting for you to have nothing in your mind but the Law.
God will have pleasure to abide in your mind, as He does on the mercy seat and the two Cherubim”
“It is fitting for the bride of Christ to be, like the Ark of Testimony, overlaid by gold inside and outside, and to be a guardian of the Law of God (the two tablets). And as “there was nothing in the Ark except the two tablets of stone” (1 Kings 8: 9), there were no other tablets. And as the pot of manna, and the rod of Aaron are concerned, both enter within the Law and the word of God.”
“As the Ark represents the Church, it also represents the holy Virgin St. Mary, being a bearer of the Lord Christ; and the most ideal member of the holy Church. We have spoken in more detail of the similarities between the Ark of the Testimony and St. Mary, that she is overlaid by virginity (gold), physically and spiritually, from inside and outside. And as the Ark used to bring joy to the people, (as David danced before it with all his might (2 Sam 6)); likewise, when the Virgin St. Mary, bearing the Lord Christ inside her, came to visit her pregnant relative Elizabeth, the babe John the Baptist leaped in her womb for joy.”
“The exact translation of the Hebrew name is Bread of the face, referring to its presence before God and in His presence, as though God is personally committed to fulfill the needs of His people. “That is why the number of breads was twelve, a sign of God’s commitment to fulfill all his people (all the tribes). The figure 12 also refers to the months of the year, as though God is committed to fulfill His people all the year long. So it is also called ‘the continual Showbread’ (2 Chr 2: 4). The continuity of offering it refers to the standing or permanent covenant between God and His congregation. It is called ‘the holy bread’ (1 Sam 2: 4), to be eaten only by the consecrated priests, on the Sabbath, in the tabernacle; as though it does not refer to carnal material fulfillment, but to spiritual fulfillment; fit for the life of holiness, and to be eaten on the Sabbath, namely on the day of rest, as though concerning the eternal rest.”
“It was made every Sabbath in which no work is allowed, as it refers to the heavenly bread, that is out of this world, namely the Lord Christ Himself; offered hot on the golden table, as a confirmation of His heavenly feature and His heart enflamed with love to fulfill us. The bread is set in two rows, six in each row, and on them is put pure frankincense, which was, according to Josephus the historian, put in golden cups, to be burnt on the Sabbath.”
“The lampstand was not just for illumination, but was an integral part of the rituals of worship which has spiritual theological concepts. The light reminds us of God, Who formed it as His first creation (Gen 1: 3). In light God dwells, for He is the light to Israel (Is10: 17), as well as to the Gentiles (Is 42: 6; 49: 6), Who shines on them, by coming for their salvation (Is 9: 2), and to convert them from being the children of darkness to those of light. That is why, he who seeks Baptism, as he denies the devil, he looks toward the west, in reference to the kingdom of darkness of the devil; then, as he confesses the salvation work of God, he looks toward the east, in reference to the kingdom of light of God. The Lord Christ is the light of the world (Jn 8 12; 12: 46), and by shining on His disciples, He made them the light of the world (Matt 5: 14, 16). In the Book of Revelation, we see the Churches referred to as ‘lampstands’ (Rev 1). The seven lampstands refer to the work of the fiery Holy Spirit, who shines in the Church and enflames it by the fire of divine love. And also, works in its secret life (through the seven sacraments and in every spiritual work, to which the hand of the Church extends, in order that the believers live in a continuous enlightenment.”
Heavenly Father, we thank You for giving us the Tabernacle to enjoy heaven on earth. By Your Grace, through the altar, the bread, and the lights we have closer to experiencing You and meeting You daily. Yet and still dear Lord, we desire to look upon the Original Heavenly Sanctuary, the One which “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." We Love You dear God and hope that You can transform our hearts to be a living sanctuary for You to dwell, today and forever. Amen,