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The Altar of God


The “stolen goods” lawsuit threatened in yesterday’s illustration was not the first time this has happened. The Talmud tells a story about a similar claim lodged in the court of Alexander the Great. A man named Geviha ben Pesisa, representing the Jews, asked about the source of the claim. “The Torah,” the Egyptians answered. “Very well,” replied Geviha, “I too will invoke the Torah, which says that the Jews spent 430 years laboring in Egypt. Please compensate us for 600,000 men’s work for that period of time.” The case was dismissed!

As construction of the tabernacle continued, everything was done precisely as God had instructed. It’s as if we’re reading the same chapters again, with “would” changed to “was.” The Israelites carefully followed every detail of God’s directions. “As the Lord commanded Moses” becomes a kind of refrain. When it comes to obedience, “details” are everything!

Bezalel taught and supervised the other craftsmen, but when it came to the Ark of the Covenant, he himself did the work. The artist whom God had specially chosen, commissioned, and filled with His Spirit was the right person to construct the tabernacle’s holiest object. The project proceeded next to the altar of incense, table for the bread, and lampstand—all gold due to their proximity to the Ark—then to the altar of burnt offering, wash basin, and linen fence curtains. Chapter 38 ends with an impressive list of materials used, including more than a ton of gold, 3.75 tons of silver, and 2.5 tons of bronze.

Interestingly, the text mentions “women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting” (38:8). Another translation calls them “ministering women.” Based on the verb used for “serve,” this was an organized group of some kind, perhaps started when the women donated their bronze mirrors.

Apply the Word

Who were these “ministering women”? They are mentioned again only in 1 Samuel 2:22 and perhaps in Psalm 68:11. What we do know is that they were willing to work behind the scenes. They didn’t need glory for themselves. They simply wanted to serve and worship the Lord. There’s a lot we can learn from their humble attitudes!

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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