The Camp at Sinai. "The order so strikingly displayed in all the works of God was manifest in the Hebrew economy." "Even before they left Egypt . . . the people were arranged in companies, under appointed leaders. At Sinai the arrangements for organization were completed." Ed. 37. Here, the people were grouped according to their tribes around an open space in which Moses and Aaron camped. On the east side of this court were the three tribes of Judah, on the south the three tribes of Reuben, on the west the three tribes of Ephraim, and on the north the three tribes of Dan. Num. 2:3,10,18,25. To Moses in this open space the people brought their gifts for building the sanctuary, and here, under his supervision and the instruction of teachers chosen by God, all its parts were constructed. Thus located, the tribes could follow the progress of the work.
The Tabernacle Finished. From careful consideration of the events that occurred after Israel left Egypt several months elapsed from the time they began to build until the work was finished. This was truly a great accomplishment, impossible without God, for "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." Ps. 127:1. During the next few months the laws that were to govern the nation, including those concerning offerings and sacrifices as recorded in the book of Leviticus, were carefully explained. At last, one year from the time the people left Egypt, Ex. 12:2, and about ten months after they came "into the wilderness of Sinai," on the first day of the first month Ex. 40:2; 19:1, the tabernacle was set up. Ex. 40:17. In the mount God had showed Moses not only all the parts of the sanctuary, but also just where they were to be placed: "Thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was showed thee in the mount." Ex. 26:30.
An Awe-Inspiring Procession. "And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses." Ex. 39:33. Bezaleel of the tribe of Judah with his assistants in gold and silver and brass, in cutting of stones, and in carving of timber, brought their work which they had faithfully and skillfully and accurately done. And Aholiab of the tribe of Dan with his assistants which did the engraving, the embroidering and the weaving for all the hangings, the coverings, and the priests' garments, came with the finished products of their labors. This surely must have made a most awe-inspiring procession. Let us endeavor to get a mental picture of the scene.
Following somewhat the order as given for the line of march when the people left Sinai, Bezaleel with his helpers come first carrying the sacred ark glittering with gold. Ex. 40:3. Next comes the mercy seat with its two cherubim of solid gold, their wings reaching above the heads of its carriers. Others bring the forty-eight boards, carved with cherubim and 'heavily plated" with pure gold, each massive plank weighing about eight hundred pounds, and requiring the service of a number of men. Next are the fifteen golden bars, and one hundred solid silver sockets each weighing a talent, 200 pounds. Then come the nine golden pillars for the veil and the door. With these are the sixty shining brass pillars for the court each crowned with silver and requiring a number of carriers. Others come with the sixty-five brass sockets for the court wall and the door, the brass pins, the cords, and the gold and brass vessels for the service of the sanctuary.
Aholiab with his helpers follow, bringing the blue and purple and scarlet veil, door, gate, and the inner covering of the tabernacle with its hundred gold taches, each resplendent with rich embroidery in pure gold thread. Others bring the white goats' hair covering, measuring at least 45 by 66 feet, with its one hundred brass taches, the covering of red rams' skins, and the covering of brown badgers' skins; also the four hundred twenty feet of white linen court hangings.
Others of Aholiab's trusty workers bring the white linen garments of the priests and the gorgeous garments of Aaron - the white linen coat with its exquisite tessellated embroidery, the sky blue robe with its border of tinkling gold bells and bright colored pomegranates, the wonderfully gold embroidered ephod with its shoulder clasps of engraved onyx stones and its elaborately embroidered girdle. Another carries the breastplate, its twelve precious stones glistening like
diamonds and magnifying the names of the twelve tribes engraved upon it, EW 251, while another carries the holy crown with its plate of pure gold bearing the inscription, "HOLINESS TO THE LORD."
Following these are the golden altar of incense, the golden table, the candlestick of solid beaten gold, each borne by consecrated, trusty workmen. And lastly a number of Bezaleel's faithful carriers, bringing the shining brazen altar at least seven and one-half feet square and four and one- half feet high, and the laver with his foot, both of polished brass, which like mirrors reflect everything around them. This was indeed a most brilliant and colorful procession.
Moses Inspects the Work. âMoses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded.â Ex. 39:43. "A formal inspection was made to ascertain whether it was made 'according to the pattern.' The result of a careful and minute survey showed that every plank, curtain, and article of furniture had been most accurately made as designed by the Divine Architect." JF&B Com. "And Moses blessed them" Ex. 39:43 - perhaps the same blessing, or a similar one, that the Lord later commanded Aaron to pronounce upon Israel:
"The Lord bless thee, and keep thee;
The Lord make His face shine upon thee; And be gracious unto thee;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, And give thee peace." Num. 6:22-27
Setting Up the Tabernacle. "On the first day of the first month" Ex. 40:2,17, Moses, following the explicit directions of the Lord, set up the tabernacle. First, the boards were raised up, set in their sockets, the bars put in them, and the pillars for the veil and the door erected. Thus the walls, securely fastened to the two corner boards, were "held firm." PP 347. Next the four coverings were spread above this framework, Ex. 40:18,19; first, the richly embroidered royal covering, then the white goats' hair covering, the taches of both these coverings being directly above the second veil. Next above these were the red ram's skins and the brown badger skin coverings.
Placing the Furniture. When the structure was ready for the furniture, Moses reverently put the tables of the testimony into the ark - the same tables that God had given him when he was in the mount; the staves, which were never to be removed, he placed in their rings, covered it with the mercy seat, and it was brought into the tabernacle. Then the second, or inner veil, was hung on its four golden pillars. It was hung âunder the tachesâ which divided "between the holy place and the most holy." Ex. 26:33. Following this, he set the golden table on the north side of the holy place, and arranged the bread and the dishes in order upon it. On the south side, "without the veil of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation" Lev. 24:3, he put the candlestick,
and supplied the lamps with oil. Ex. 40:25. Before the inner veil he placed the golden altar, and put incense upon it, v. 27. Then the door - the outer veil - was hung on its five pillars, thus completing the furnishing of the sanctuary proper. Ex. 40:22-28.
In the center of the court before the sanctuary, was placed the brazen altar, and between the altar and the door of the tabernacle, the laver and his foot. Into the laver water was poured, and Moses, Aaron, and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat. Lastly, the brazen court pillars were raised up, on which were hung the court hangings and the gate. "So Moses finished the work," and it was done "as the Lord had commanded." Ex. 40:29-33.
The Holy Anointing Oil. As the shewbread and the sweet incense each containing four ingredients, represented Christ, so also the holy anointing oil consisted of four sweet spices pointed to Christ. These spices were pure myrrh, an odorous resin or liquid which exudes from a tree that grows in Arabia; sweet cinnamon, the aromatic substance produced from the inner bark of the sweet gum imported chiefly from Ceylon; sweet calamus, a reed-like plant, a native of India, and of
remarkable fragrance; cassia, a sweet spicy herbaceous plant grown in Arabia and India. These spices, weighing about 48 pounds (Moffatt) were compounded in an hin (1.5 gal., Moffatt) of olive oil. Ex. 30:23-25, thus making sufficient for anointing the priests and the sanctuary. The olive oil representing the Holy Spirit, and the four fragrant spices symbolizing Christ, being "compounded" indicates the close cooperation of Christ and His representative, the Holy Spirit. This accounts for the warning given against compounding any like it or using it for any common purpose, under penalty of being cut off from Israel. Ex. 30:31-33.
The Tabernacle and the Priests Anointed. "And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle of the congregation; (that is, the holy place), and all that is therein," "and the ark of the testimony," "and the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot." Aaron and his sons were also anointed. Ex. 30:26-30. Aaron, dressed in his holy garments, was anointed high priest. Upon his head the oil was poured," so that it ran down his beard and his garments. His sons and their garments were "sprinkled" with the holy oil. Ps. 133:2; Ex. 29:4-9,21.
In connection with their anointing another service formed part of the consecration of the priests. As God in the Garden of Eden offered the first sacrifice, foreshadowing the Sacrifice that later was made on Calvary, so Moses, who by Divine appointment was as God to Aaron, Ex. 4:16, offered the first sacrifice, the "ram of consecration." Ex. 29:15,22. When he killed the ram, he took "of his blood and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot." Ex. 29:20; Lev. 8:22-24. This signified complete consecration of ears, hands, and feet. Moses then placed the "whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour." Lev. 8:21. As it was placed on the brazen altar there "came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed the sacrifice . . . which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell upon their faces." Lev. 9:24. Thus God expressed His acceptance of the work and the consecration of Israel. This fire kindled by God, was never to go out. Lev. 6:13. Likewise, God will accept the service of every ambassador who is fully consecrated, and the influence of such service will never die - their works will follow them. Rev. 14:13.
To complete the service of this inauguration day, Moses carried coals from the brazen altar to the altar of incense and burned incense upon it, and with this fire he lighted the lamps of the candlestick. Ex. 40:25-27.
The Antitype of This Anointing. The setting up and anointing of the earthly sanctuary was a type of the setting up and anointing of the heavenly sanctuary, "the most holy," which took place at the ascension of Christ, and which Gabriel explained to Daniel. Dan. 9:21,24. The anointing of Aaron as high priest and of his sons as associate priests was their inauguration for holy office. It was a type of the anointing of Christ as heavenly High Priest at His inauguration and of His followers, Acts 2, and of all the redeemed - those who have "part in the first resurrection" and who "shall be priests of God and of Christ." Rev. 20:6. As the service in the earthly sanctuary could not begin until it was anointed and until the "ram of consecration" had been offered, so the service in the heavenly sanctuary did not begin until "the most holy" was anointed, Dan. 9:24, and Christ had been sacrificed on Calvary and received the anointing of the Holy Spirit at His inauguration. Then, and not till then, "the way into the holiest of all was made manifest." Heb. 9:6.
When the tabernacle had been erected and the consecration service was completed, all that God commanded Moses had been done. What next?
God Dwells Among His People. On this inauguration day, while the people - a vast assembly - were drawn up in calm and orderly arrangement around the newly erected tabernacle, "contemplating the scene with reverent satisfaction," all eyes were suddenly directed toward the summit of Mount Sinai. Here "a cloud," Ex. 40:34 - literally "the" cloud - the familiar cloud which had guided them from Egypt to Sinai and which was to them the symbol of the divine presence, appeared to be in motion. "If many among them had a secret misgiving about the issue, how would
the fainting heart revive, the interest of the moment intensely increase and the tide of joy swell in every bosom, when the symbolic cloud was seen slowly and majestically descending toward the plain below, and enveloping the tabernacle!" Ex. 40:34, and in majestic splendor it passed into the interior of the most holy place, and rested between the cherubim of the mercy seat. From that moment the ark was sacredly hidden from common view within the most holy place. Even Moses, in overwhelming awe, stood aloof and was not able to enter the tabernacle. See JF&B Com. on Ex. 40:34,35; PP 349.
Inauguration day, a day never to be forgotten, was drawing to a close, and Israel quietly and reverently retired to their camp. The Father's heartlonging, "Let them make me a sanctuary; that 1 may dwell among them," Ex. 28:8, was realized.