May 17, 2019

The Way Back to God

Exodus 38

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Making the Altar of Burnt Offering

He made the altar of burnt offering of acacia wood. Five cubits1 was its length, and five cubits its breadth. It was square, and three cubits was its height. He made horns for it on its four corners. Its horns were of one piece with it, and he overlaid it with bronze. And he made all the utensils of the altar, the pots, the shovels, the basins, the forks, and the fire pans. He made all its utensils of bronze. And he made for the altar a grating, a network of bronze, under its ledge, extending halfway down. He cast four rings on the four corners of the bronze grating as holders for the poles. He made the poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with bronze. And he put the poles through the rings on the sides of the altar to carry it with them. He made it hollow, with boards.

Making the Bronze Basin

He made the basin of bronze and its stand of bronze, from the mirrors of the ministering women who ministered in the entrance of the tent of meeting.

Making the Court

And he made the court. For the south side the hangings of the court were of fine twined linen, a hundred cubits; 10 their twenty pillars and their twenty bases were of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. 11 And for the north side there were hangings of a hundred cubits; their twenty pillars and their twenty bases were of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. 12 And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits, their ten pillars, and their ten bases; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. 13 And for the front to the east, fifty cubits. 14 The hangings for one side of the gate were fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. 15 And so for the other side. On both sides of the gate of the court were hangings of fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three bases. 16 All the hangings around the court were of fine twined linen. 17 And the bases for the pillars were of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. The overlaying of their capitals was also of silver, and all the pillars of the court were filleted with silver. 18 And the screen for the gate of the court was embroidered with needlework in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It was twenty cubits long and five cubits high in its breadth, corresponding to the hangings of the court. 19 And their pillars were four in number. Their four bases were of bronze, their hooks of silver, and the overlaying of their capitals and their fillets of silver. 20 And all the pegs for the tabernacle and for the court all around were of bronze.

Materials for the Tabernacle

21 These are the records of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, as they were recorded at the commandment of Moses, the responsibility of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 22 Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses; 23 and with him was Oholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver and designer and embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen.

24 All the gold that was used for the work, in all the construction of the sanctuary, the gold from the offering, was twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels,2 by the shekel of the sanctuary. 25 The silver from those of the congregation who were recorded was a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary: 26 a beka3 a head (that is, half a shekel, by the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone who was listed in the records, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men. 27 The hundred talents of silver were for casting the bases of the sanctuary and the bases of the veil; a hundred bases for the hundred talents, a talent a base. 28 And of the 1,775 shekels he made hooks for the pillars and overlaid their capitals and made fillets for them. 29 The bronze that was offered was seventy talents and 2,400 shekels; 30 with it he made the bases for the entrance of the tent of meeting, the bronze altar and the bronze grating for it and all the utensils of the altar, 31 the bases around the court, and the bases of the gate of the court, all the pegs of the tabernacle, and all the pegs around the court.


[1] 38:1 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
[2] 38:24 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
[3] 38:26 A beka was about 1/5 ounce or 5.5 grams

The Way Back to God

Key Verse | Exodus 38:21

These are the records of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, as they were recorded at the commandment of Moses . . . .

Bio | Stephen Bell

My story is one of God's grace relentlessly pursuing someone who is constantly tempted to hide from God behind a lot of moral doing and neurotic, anxious spiritual activity rather than rest in Jesus' finished work on the cross. Much of the time, my heart is unquiet when I am striving to perform for God out of my own strength. I have found peace in knowing that He does not ask that of me, but rather wants me to come to Him as my Father, cease from my striving, and know He is God. 

Central Truth

Although rituals remind us of our sin and need for a Savior, they are powerless to provide a way back to God. It is not in rituals, but through a relationship with Jesus that God has provided the way back to Him.

Devotional | Exodus 38

In the midst of seemingly endless lists of details regarding meticulous construction of the tabernacle, we are reminded of who God is and what God is doing: He is a kind God who provides a way back to Himself.


In the midst of seemingly endless lists of details regarding meticulous construction of the tabernacle, we are reminded of who God is and what God is doing: He is a kind God who provides a way back to Himself.

Exodus 38 draws our attention to the altar, the basin, and the veil. These items and the tabernacle were God's provision for the Israelites to meet with Him. The altar and basin reminded God's people of their need for a sacrifice and cleansing so they could be pure. Even so, a veil hung in the tabernacle, separating the Israelites from their holy God because animal sacrifices and ceremonial washings were not enough to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). But the altar, the basin, and the veil were not an end in themselves. They were "copies of the heavenly things" (Hebrews 9:23).

The Israelites' temporary provision pointed to a future permanent provision God would make available to all people. And this future provision would not come in the form of altars, and basins, and rituals, but in a relationship with a person—His Son, Jesus. He is our way back to God (John 14:6). He is our perfect sacrifice on our behalf, once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). He is the One who cleanses us and makes us pure (Hebrews 10:22). And He is the One who entered God's presence on our behalf to restore our relationship with God forever (Hebrews 10:19-20). Our provision is Jesus (Acts 4:12).

This passage (and the story of the Bible for that matter) is not about restoring a relationship with God through rituals, religion, or the Law. It is about a God desiring to draw closer and closer to His people. The God who filled heaven came down to dwell with His people on the mountain and then in the tabernacle. Centuries later, He drew nearer still when He came to dwell among His people as a man. Now, for those who have trusted in His provision, He dwells in us by His Spirit. He is always moving closer and closer, eager to draw near (James 4:8).

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Discussion Questions

1. Are there any "rituals" that you believe make you acceptable to God rather than relying on Jesus' righteousness on your behalf? (i.e. you might believe, "If I read my Bible enough, or attend church often enough, or do a certain amount of good deeds, then I'll be acceptable to God.")

2. Have you found rest in recognizing your need for God's provision in Christ for your ultimate need—a right relationship with God? 

3. If you have acknowledged your need for Christ and trusted Him with your eternity, what circumstance is weighing on you right now that would change the next 24 hours if you reminded yourself of the truth that Christ is your provision and is with you even in the day-to-day circumstances here and now?

11 Comments available

Jay Caruso 4 days ago

Thanks Steven for taking the time to devo this chapter He is always moving closer and closer, eager to draw near I think if we continue to look at the details meaning are lord and savior Jesus Christ we will have opportunities to have a life with Christ

Adaora Eseoghenegbuyota 6 days ago

Thanks for today devotional. I really appreciate it. Want to ask: is it wrong to have a set of rituals to keep one going in the faith? How and when does one move from being ritualistic to flowing in a genuine relationship with Christ. Is having a specific time in your day fixed for prayers & studying the word a ritual or routine? I believe having some set of routine helps one to be disciplined though.

Michael Scaman 9 days ago

Hi Gregg, it does show up as bronze. These are not modern mirrors but bronze ones

I don’t know much about the ministering women but I do see in Psalms two references to ‘I am your servant the son of your maid servant’ (I take as a Messianic reference and also as honoring women serving God)

Nothing wrong with mirrors or other beauty items with right priorities. Job’s youngest daughter loosely translated is ‘little makeup box’ ( more literally horn of jewels … or something like that )

Jonas Scott 9 days ago

To Timothy,

Something Jesus says specifically is.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

The 13 chapter of Romans and we know which side of government God put into authority.

Sue Bohlin 9 days ago
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@Timothy, great question. I highly recommend the book “The Rest of the Gospel” by Dan Stone and David Gregory. Years ago I bought a box of them to give away!

Sue Bohlin 9 days ago

Thanks, Stephen. Love how you connected our passage to the rich explanation from Hebrews!

Team Bezalel-Oholiab got up every morning to go to work creating the beautiful components of the tabernacle to enable worship as God commanded it.

It’s no different for us.

When we see our days as comprising a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), when we see our work as worship–whether that means employment, service, studying, or even developing relationships so we can fulfill the second greatest commandment–then what we do is like Team Bezalel-Oholiab. Our tools may be different than theirs but no less important to God: a computer, a textbook, mechanics’ tools, a car, a box of diapers, pots and pans, etc. etc. etc. All instruments of worship.

greg jones 9 days ago

@Michael, paying attention verse eight I noticed the ministering women ministered at the entrance of something that isn’t built yet? Also noticed mirrors are not on the needed inventory list Exodus 35:4-9? Nor do the LORDS instructions concerning making the basin call for this material Exodus 30:18?

Any ideas about who these women are? Does the term ministering women show up anywhere else in the OT?

@Stephen great devotional this morning. In your opinion could a reflection in the mirrored basin be a copy of a heavenly thing? Hebrews 9:23?


Timothy Spotts 9 days ago

How does one rest in Christ’s work on the cross? How does one not try to perform for God? I’ve wrestled with that all my life.

Don Freeman 9 days ago

Amen o

Hugh Stephenson 9 days ago

2 Timothy 3:16 - What a huge amount of detail and work. Gold, silver, bronze worth tens of millions of dollars today. So much time spent to cut and shape the Acacia wood. An amazing amount of linen and cloth. All of which points to the rituals. Which reminds me of how much purity and perfection it takes to be worthy, (Romans 3:23).

And all of it is now completely unnecessary.

No rituals are needed. No cleansing. My perfect rest is found in Jesus.

All the years of sprinting and striving!

So, God shows me the place He will come to dwell with me. I find three words that can mean “dwell” - menō (Greek); yâšaḇ or lûn (Hebrew). In looking up these words I see that in Job, Isaiah and several New Testament passages they are all translated as “abide”.

A friend shares that for him abide means “rest”.

Michael Scaman 10 days ago

I like Ex 38:8 where the women who served at the entrance to the sanctuary gave up their polished bronze ‘mirrors’ to make the basin of bronze

Sounds like an interesting guild. Maybe they couldn’t go in themselves but they sent their mirrors on ahead.

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