Chapter 25 begins a new major section of the book comprised of the last sixteen chapters of the book (chapters 25 – 40). The focus of this section is the building of the tabernacle which became the focus of the presence of the LORD and the worship of Him by His people. There are three subsections in these sixteen chapters:
• The Plans for the Tabernacle (25:1 – 31:18)
• The Golden Calf (32:1 – 34:35)
• The Building of the Tabernacle (35:1 – 40:38)
In the first subsection (chapters 25 – 31), the LORD dictated to Moses the plans (blueprints, if you will) for the construction of the tabernacle. The actual construction of the tabernacle and its contents are described in chapters 35 – 40.
It is interesting that the book of Exodus uses less than two chapters to describe the exodus from Egypt and thirteen (almost one-third of the entire book!) to describe the planning and construction of the tabernacle. Genesis only uses one chapter to describe the creation of the entire earth! Some rabbis conclude that the tabernacle is a microcosm of the universe; they link the descriptions of the tabernacle to other passages describing the heavens and the earth. For more on this concept, read our Digging Deeper article.
The book of Hebrews gives a peek into why such attention was paid to the subject of the tabernacle. Speaking of the wilderness tabernacle, Hebrews 9:24 says:
“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”
The tabernacle was a copy of “true things” in “heaven itself,” so it might be a pattern that represents the seat of reality from the Living God who is the “I AM”, the source and sustainer of all that exists.
The tabernacle was to be the place where the LORD’s presence dwelt among His people. It represented and housed His presence with them, and it was the place where He met with them.
Chapter 25 can be outlined as follows:
• Offerings for the Sanctuary (25:1 – 9)
• Plans for the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat (25:10 – 22)
• Plans for the Table of Showbread (25:23 – 30)
• Plans for the Golden Lampstand (25:31 – 40)
The LORD told Moses to collect a “contribution” from the people of Israel. These contributions were to include precious metals and other materials that were to be used in the construction of the tabernacle.
Here are the LORD’s instructions concerning the construction of the ark of the covenant along with its mercy seat.
The next piece of tabernacle furniture described was a table. This table was to be where the “bread of the Presence” was placed.
The next item described for the tabernacle was the golden lampstand. It was to be placed on the opposite side from the Table of Showbread and its purpose was to provide light in the tabernacle.