(The following is excerpted from my booklet, “The Consummation of All Things in Christ: Ephesians Chapters 1-4“)
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:14-16).
Exodus chapters twenty-five through forty record the building of Moses’s tabernacle and provide wonderful illustrations of the body building itself up in love. When John says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” the phrase “made his dwelling” is literally, “pitched his tent,” or “tabernacled.” The Word tabernacled among us. When we then read, “We have seen his glory,” it isn’t hard to be transported to Exodus 40:34, when Moses finished the tabernacle: “Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” The connection is unmistakable, and John means for us to make it. The tabernacle of Moses, in which the Lord made His dwelling and manifested His glory, looked ahead to the tabernacle of God’s only Son, “who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Through His death and resurrection, Jesus became a many membered tabernacle. Hebrews says, “And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast” (Heb. 3:6). Looking at Exodus, we can gain insight into how we, as God’s tabernacle, are built up in love.
“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.” (Ex. 25:1, 2).
The tabernacle of Moses was built entirely of things given. During the exodus, the Egyptians gave the Israelites many gifts, including silver and gold (Ex. 12:35, 36). Out of these riches God’s people gave materials, time, and abilities as their hearts were moved. Freely they received, freely they gave (Matt. 10:8). We will only be built into the tabernacle God desires as we willingly sacrifice who we are and what we have. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). The life laid down freely to the Lord is the kingdom’s greatest and only resource.
The Right Materials
“These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece” (Ex. 25:3).
There is not time to examine each item in the above scripture. Suffice it to say that each speaks of Christ in some way. Gold shows His incorruptible nature. Silver—associated with redemption throughout the Old Testament—looks ahead to the cost of Christ’s death (Ex. 30:12, 13; Lev. 27). Scarlet yarn is the blood Jesus shed for us; oil is the Spirit of God anointing Him (Acts 10:38). Everyone who has Jesus has something to give. We must build with Him or we will not be building His tabernacle:
“But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. […] Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him” (1 Cor. 3:10, 11, 16, 17).