Exodus 35–40: Enter God’s rest before building His home

“‘See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40 NASB)

Everything in the Tabernacle is both functional and beautiful, just as the LORD made mankind at the beginning. God made humanity to appreciate beauty, because He appreciates beauty. But He doesn’t want us to worship beauty. Worship belongs to Him alone.

None of the components of the Tabernacle are identified by their looks but by their works — what they do. Humans also are primarily defined by their works, not their looks. We know who Yeshua is the Messiah, not by His looks but by His actions and how they align with the pattern shown Moshe on Mt. Sinai.

In the Torah reading ויקהל Vayakhel (“and he assembled,” Exodus 35:1–38:20), the people were united in their desire to build the Tabernacle for the LORD, assembling so many donations for it that Moses had to turn donations away. In the Torah reading פקודי Pekudei (“accounts,” Exodus 38:21–40:38), these donations are accounted for and used to create the Tabernacle. The section culminates in the LORD’s entering His new home.

We cover a Torah portion every year, but we don’t cover the exact same part of the Torah reading every year. There is something different that catches the eye every time one reads through Torah. As you grow and change, different parts of the Torah readings will touch you. This is a good thing.

No one reads for the sake of reading once one has learned how to read. God put these things in here, not for the sake of study but for the sake of application. This information was written down for us to do something with it, not just for meditation.

None of the components of the Tabernacle are identified by their looks but by their functions. Humans are also defined by what we do, not how we look. We know one other by what we do as well.

We notice that everything in the Tabernacle is beautiful and designed to attract the eye. When things are attractive, we look at them. That is how God wired mankind.

God’s goal is for us to move towards Him but if we imagine Him as an austere bully, we won’t move towards Him, we will move away from Him.

We see here that God made us to appreciate beauty because He appreciates beauty. We are made in His image, after all. He doesn’t want us to worship beauty, though. Our worship belongs to Him alone.

Shabbat: Resting in the Presence of the LORD

“Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, ‘These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do: For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.’” (Exodus 34:35–35:2 NASB)

There is one day a week the children of Israel don’t do any work, even the work of building the most important thing they will every build: the Tabernacle. That day is called Shabbat (Sabbath). They had less than a year to complete the task of building the tabernacle. They certainly would have been tempted to use that deadline as an excuse to work 24/7 to complete it in time but God says that even for something as important as the Tabernacle, they must stop and rest one day a week. No matter what work you are doing, whether it’s for God or for yourself and your family, you must rest one day a week.

When we disregard God, we make Him less important. If we use God’s “work” as an excuse not to keep the Sabbath, we are not worshipping God, but disregarding Him. God does not like being ignored. If you are working, you are not listening to God. If you are working on the Shabbat, it’s just another day of the week.

The Shabbat is a permanent marker of God’s people, forever.

“You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day.” (Exodus 35:3 NASB)

What does one use fire to do?

  1. Cooking
  2. Baking
  3. Melting metal

Cooking is done on Friday, which is also called the Preparation Day (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14, 31, 42; Didache 8:1). You prepare for Shabbat, which includes kindling one’s fire on Friday rather than waiting until Shabbat to kindle it.

Does this mean one can’t keep warm in the middle of winter? Certainly not! God didn’t create the Shabbat so we can die of hypothermia. When it comes to Torah, there’s the letter of the law and then there the spirit of the law, which is common sense. It is permissible to maintain an already lit fire on Shabbat.

Fires for cooking and working are prohibited on Shabbat, fires for heat and light are permissible on Shabbat.

There are sects of Judaism who read the text about not lighting fires on Shabbat hyper-literally and those people froze to death.

When some people read Torah, all they see is what is not permitted rather than what is permitted.

These rules don’t apply in the same way for priests as they do for lay people. Just as God works on Shabbat (John 5:16–17), so do the priests (Matt. 12:1–8). God answers prayers 24/7 because that is how He serves His people. The priests scale back their tasks on the Shabbat, but they still work.

Tabernacle furniture

There’s lots of furniture in the Tabernacle. All of it is imbued with meaning.

Ark of the Testimony

A “big box” with a lid, poles. It’s made of gold inside and out. It stores the manna, 10 commandments, and Aaron’s almond staff. It is covered by two cherubim. Their wings create God’s throne. This is called the mercy seat.

This “box” represents a human being. A man’s heart is supposed to have the 10 commandments, God’s eyes looking upon him continually, and the bread of life. The inside is supposed to be as pure as the outside. God is above us at all times. It’s a box that only God is allowed to touch and God is the one who takes care of it and His angels protect it.

Table of bread

It has “show bread” on it, which is leavened. Sacrificial bread is unleavened but the show bread is leavened. God looks at 12 loaves of “puffy bread” all the time, which represent the 12 tribes of Israel. During Unleavened Bread, puffy bread represents sin and arrogance but during the rest of the year, the puffy bread represents people filled with the Spirit of God. When God looks at these 12 loaves, He sees His spirit in His people.

The bread from heaven was puffy, the bread that comes from the earth to be sacrificed to God is flat.


This represents the eyes of God that are filled with olive oil. The pure olive oil is offered by the people, their work. God is looking at the people’s work. If He likes the work of our hands, he uses it. If he doesn’t like it, he spews it out in judgement. It is made of almond blossoms, which also represents God’s eyes.

Altar of incense

This gold altar was used for burning incense, which represents the prayers of God’s people.

Altar of offering

It was made of bronze or copper. It was used to sacrifice animals, unleavened bread and drink offerings. This altar is where you meet God. Some of the offerings were burned completely, some of them were shared with the priests, some were exclusively eaten by the priests and some were eaten by the priests and the people offering it. Most of the offerings are basically a BBQ offering, that are shared with the priests and the people offering it.

Our offerings are either shared with other people or given completely to God.


It is used to wash people, items, sacrifices, etc. It’s about being clean. There’s no soap, but there is lots of water. This basin is carried on the backs of several large bulls. This basin was filled not only with water but also with the ashes of the red heifer, which makes lye water. Our hands, our offerings, everything that is given to or shown to God must be clean.

Boards for the walls

They are made of acacia wood, covered in gold. They stand up at all times along the entire perimeter of the tabernacle. Trees represent righteous, upright people. They are covered with gold, which represents God’s purity. They hold up the curtains, which are made of 4 colors (red, blue, purple and gold). The curtains separate what is outside from what is inside. They separate the holy from the unholy.

A righteous person stands up and keeps themselves separate from sin.


The veils are the doors and walkways, decorated in a similar but simpler manner to the outer walls. They represent the fact that there is only way to enter from one area to another area.


Red dyed animal skins. The red represents mankind, which represents separating what is holy from what is unholy.

Why all the symbolism?

When we understand the why, we are more than happy to do.

When God enters His new house, Moses leaves. No one enters God’s presence without an invitation.

The Tabernacle is a window into the reality of the LORD’s dwelling on Earth, according to the Jewish Study Bible commentary on Exodus:

“… at this point Exodus ends, allowing the reader to contemplate the phenomenon of God dwelling on earth with a symbol of His Presence in full view of the Israelites.”

We will learn in the book of Leviticus who, when and how one enters God’s presence.

Summary: Tammy.

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