Read Exodus 38
The Altar of Burnt Offering
1 They built the altar of burnt offering of acacia wood, three cubits high; it was square, five cubits long and five cubits wide. 2 They made a horn at each of the four corners, so that the horns and the altar were of one piece, and they overlaid the altar with bronze. 3 They made all its utensils of bronze—its pots, shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat forks and firepans. 4 They made a grating for the altar, a bronze network, to be under its ledge, halfway up the altar. 5 They cast bronze rings to hold the poles for the four corners of the bronze grating. 6 They made the poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with bronze. 7 They inserted the poles into the rings so they would be on the sides of the altar for carrying it. They made it hollow, out of boards.
The Basin for Washing
8 They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
9 Next they made the courtyard. The south side was a hundred cubits long and had curtains of finely twisted linen, 10 with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases, and with silver hooks and bands on the posts. 11 The north side was also a hundred cubits long and had twenty posts and twenty bronze bases, with silver hooks and bands on the posts.
12 The west end was fifty cubits wide and had curtains, with ten posts and ten bases, with silver hooks and bands on the posts. 13 The east end, toward the sunrise, was also fifty cubits wide. 14 Curtains fifteen cubits long were on one side of the entrance, with three posts and three bases, 15 and curtains fifteen cubits long were on the other side of the entrance to the courtyard, with three posts and three bases. 16 All the curtains around the courtyard were of finely twisted linen. 17 The bases for the posts were bronze. The hooks and bands on the posts were silver, and their tops were overlaid with silver; so all the posts of the courtyard had silver bands.
18 The curtain for the entrance to the courtyard was made of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer. It was twenty cubits long and, like the curtains of the courtyard, five cubits high, 19 with four posts and four bronze bases. Their hooks and bands were silver, and their tops were overlaid with silver. 20 All the tent pegs of the tabernacle and of the surrounding courtyard were bronze.
The Materials Used
21 These are the amounts of the materials used for the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the covenant law, which were recorded at Moses’ command by the Levites under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest.22 (Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made everything the Lord commanded Moses; 23 with him was Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan—an engraver and designer, and an embroiderer in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen.) 24 The total amount of the gold from the wave offering used for all the work on the sanctuary was 29 talents and 730 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel.
25 The silver obtained from those of the community who were counted in the census was 100 talents and 1,775 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel— 26 one beka per person, that is, half a shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, from everyone who had crossed over to those counted, twenty years old or more, a total of 603,550 men. 27 The 100 talents of silver were used to cast the bases for the sanctuary and for the curtain—100 bases from the 100 talents, one talent for each base. 28 They used the 1,775 shekels to make the hooks for the posts, to overlay the tops of the posts, and to make their bands.
29 The bronze from the wave offering was 70 talents and 2,400 shekels. 30 They used it to make the bases for the entrance to the tent of meeting, the bronze altar with its bronze grating and all its utensils, 31 the bases for the surrounding courtyard and those for its entrance and all the tent pegs for the tabernacle and those for the surrounding courtyard.
In Exodus 38 we read about the materials used to build everything we learned about throughout the book of Exodus. Chapter 38 seems like another irrelevant, “Why am I reading this?” chapter of the Bible. Often we’re left wondering what we should do with what we read. Is this chapter prescriptive and should we go build our own altar, basin, and courtyard? Furthermore, you might wonder where God’s people got all these materials to build the tabernacle, the bronze basin, the table, and all the utensils. Did the land around Mount Sinai have bronze, silver, and gold-producing trees?
A few weeks ago we read about the Ten Plagues in Exodus chapters 7-11. In Exodus 11:2-3, right before the exodus, we read: “Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” (The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)” We know the people did what God commanded because of what we read in Exodus 12:35: “The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing.”
These were the very materials God’s people used to carry out the Lord’s instructions. He provided exactly what His people needed. Because of the Lord’s provision through the Egyptians, God’s people had all the materials they needed to complete the construction detailed by the Lord.
Sometimes we get frustrated by the Word. Things that seem irrelevant to us are actually very intentionally communicated by the Lord through His Word. It’s no accident that God told His people to ask the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold. In His omniscient, all-knowing power (1 John 3:20, Matthew 10:29-30, Psalm 139:15-16), God knew exactly what His people would need to build and create the tabernacle and everything in it.
Our God is not a weak, random, thoughtless god. Rather, He is the Creator of the universe (Isaiah 42:5), the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and the one true God, one in nature and three in person (Matthew 28:19). What seems irrelevant to us is divine to Him.
- What intrigues you the most about the descriptions of how the courtyard and tabernacle were made?
- How can you grow your trust for the Lord as you read details in the Word that might seem irrelevant to your life?
- What does Exodus 38 reveal to you about the nature of man and the character of God?
Did You Know?
The materials described in this chapter included over a ton of gold, almost four tons of silver, and about two and a half tons of bronze. This is an estimated 15,000 pounds of gold, silver, and bronze!