Book of Exodus Chapter Thirty-Nine Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
It Is Finished
When reading this chapter, which is largely about the priestly garments to be worn in this wilderness tabernacle, keep in mind the words of 1 Peter 2:5—"You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." If you have faith in the Lord, the "garments" of this chapter are designed for you. In Verse 1, "Moreover, from the blue and purple and scarlet material, they made finely woven garments for ministering in the holy place as well as the holy garments which were for Aaron, just as the Lord had commanded Moses." Aaron was Moses' older brother, the first high priest of Israel. We should be encouraged that he was a flawed man, and God's acceptance of him was "by grace...through faith" (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is no other way. And as you read about these garments, remember that God sees you and your appearance with HIS eyes, much more effectively than you see yourself.
Have you ever worn a garment that others ask about? "Where did you get it?" they might inquire. If not, rest assurred that God causes His faithful ones to be delightful in His sight. He sees you as you really are, and note your clothing in Verse 2: "He made the ephod of gold, and of blue and purple and scarlet material, and fine twisted linen." Pure gold, woven with deep blue, intense purple and striking red. You might think, "I don't look good in those colors," but you do, for God makes it so. The process of making these precious threads is seen in Verse 3: "Then they hammered out gold sheets and cut them into threads to be woven in with the blue and the purple and the scarlet material, and the fine linen, the work of a skillful workman." Note that God has assigned skillful workmen to care for you, both human and angelic in origin. We are being dressed in the "fine linen" of Revelation 13:8, which continues, "for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints."
We are to see that Aaron and his successors did not adorn themselves. Their clothing and its adornment was carefully made by experts. God dresses us in robes of His righteousness, which we do not deserve and did not earn. In all that we are and will be, we owe Jesus Christ everything for what He has done, as symbolized by Verses 4-5: "They made attaching shoulder pieces for the ephod; it was attached at its two upper ends. 5 The skillfully woven band which was on it was like its workmanship, of the same material: of gold and of blue and purple and scarlet material, and fine twisted linen, just as the Lord had commanded Moses." An ephod is similar to a vest, but with two shoulder pieces and held together by a girdle. God is clothing us for the office of priest within His kingdom.
Much like gold and silver, the "stones" of the verses that follow are just shiny rocks that only have value because we pretend they do. However, they constitute the highest definition of value to many people, and this is a parable of much more: We are precious and valuable in the sight of God. He loves all of us, and an example is His love for Israel, imprinted on the high priest's garments, just as each of His loved ones are imprinted onto the heart of the Lord. Verses 6-7: "They made the onyx stones, set in gold filigree settings; they were engraved like the engravings of a signet, according to the names of the sons of Israel. 7 And he placed them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as memorial stones for the sons of Israel, just as the Lord had commanded Moses." All was done as the Lord commanded, which is how we should respond to His call.
The creation of the high priest's beautiful garments continues in Verses 8-9: "He made the breastpiece, the work of a skillful workman, like the workmanship of the ephod: of gold and of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. 9 It was square; they made the breastpiece folded double, a span long and a span wide when folded double." When I was in the military, my uniforms were provided for me. I was dressed in warrior's clothing, even though I was and am a very ordinary man. The priests were ordinary like everybody else, but beautiful stones were placed on them, as glimpsed in Verses 10-13: "And they mounted four rows of stones on it. The first row was a row of ruby, topaz, and emerald; 11 and the second row, a turquoise, a sapphire and a diamond; 12 and the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 13 and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They were set in gold filigree settings when they were mounted." In Verse 14, "The stones were corresponding to the names of the sons of Israel; they were twelve, corresponding to their names, engraved with the engravings of a signet, each with its name for the twelve tribes." Our High Priest's words about His faithful ones are in Isaiah 49:16—"I have engraved you on the palms of My hands." Compare that to Psalm 22:16, a prophetic look at the yet to be born Messiah—"they have pierced My hands and feet." He allowed Himself to be pierced to save us from our sins.
The gold rings and cords of the next verses remind us of the poles and rings used to carry the ark of the covenant and other furnishings of the Tabernacle. Just like those items were carried by the priests, we are being carried by the Lord. In Verses 15-21, "They made on the breastpiece chains like cords, of twisted cordage work in pure gold. 16 They made two gold filigree settings and two gold rings, and put the two rings on the two ends of the breastpiece. 17 Then they put the two gold cords in the two rings at the ends of the breastpiece. 18 They put the other two ends of the two cords on the two filigree settings, and put them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front of it. 19 They made two gold rings and placed them on the two ends of the breastpiece, on its inner edge which was next to the ephod. 20 Furthermore, they made two gold rings and placed them on the bottom of the two shoulder pieces of the ephod, on the front of it, close to the place where it joined, above the woven band of the ephod. 21 They bound the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord, so that it would be on the woven band of the ephod, and that the breastpiece would not come loose from the ephod, just as the Lord had commanded Moses." The chains should also cause us to remember the chains of sin that have bound us, and we can only be freed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
As the process of creating the garments of the priests continues, keep noticing the precision and detail involved. It's an example of how God cares for you. His values are different than ours, so life can seem confusing. We value things like money, health, power and reputation, whereas God knows we instead need the Lord, out of Whom comes faith, hope, love and the Holy Spirit in us. Verses 22-26 are as follows: "Then he made the robe of the ephod of woven work, all of blue; 23 and the opening of the robe was at the top in the center, as the opening of a coat of mail, with a binding all around its opening, so that it would not be torn. 24 They made pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material and twisted linen on the hem of the robe. 25 They also made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates all around on the hem of the robe, 26 alternating a bell and a pomegranate all around on the hem of the robe for the service, just as the Lord had commanded Moses." The Lord was very clear about what He wanted for the priests, just as He has a clear intention for you, and note that Moses had become a man who followed the Lord in everything.
Nothing but the best was in store for Aaron and his sons, just as God has a perfect intention for your life and mine. In Verses 27-31, "They made the tunics of finely woven linen for Aaron and his sons, 28 and the turban of fine linen, and the decorated caps of fine linen, and the linen breeches of fine twisted linen, 29 and the sash of fine twisted linen, and blue and purple and scarlet material, the work of the weaver, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 30 They made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and inscribed it like the engravings of a signet, 'Holy to the Lord.' 31 They fastened a blue cord to it, to fasten it on the turban above, just as the Lord had commanded Moses." These are garments for a king, and we should remember that not only are these verses about God's intention for his faithful ones, but this is also a reminder that we have a High Priest, and He is our King.
You and I are under construction, a process that can seem tedious and all too long, but suddenly this life is over, and all that will matter is our faith in the Lord and what has been completed for Him. In Verses 32-33, "Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was completed; and the sons of Israel did according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so they did. 33 They brought the tabernacle to Moses, the tent and all its furnishings: its clasps, its boards, its bars, and its pillars and its sockets." It was done. How long it took, we do not know, but now the parts of this portable Tabernacle were complete. Bezalel and his workers did it all, and now they brought the unassembled parts of the Tabernacle to Moses for final approval.
As Moses looked out and up from his prayers and duties, he saw the Tabernacle being carried toward him, and here is what he viewed as he stood up to look with delight at the various parts of this enormous, moving tent-structure. He first looked at the outer parts in Verse 34: He saw "the covering of rams’ skins dyed red, and the covering of porpoise skins, and the screening veil." They placed all these items right next to the small tent Moses had been using to meet the Lord, and as he excitedly strode to the workers, he saw, in Verses 35-39, "the ark of the testimony and its poles and the mercy seat; 36 the table, all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; 37 the pure gold lampstand, with its arrangement of lamps and all its utensils, and the oil for the light; 38 and the gold altar, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the veil for the doorway of the tent; 39 the bronze altar and its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils, the laver and its stand." Breathless, he looked, touched, smelled and delighted in—everything. He smiled, looking at Bezalel, Oholiab and the other workers, as he saw, in Verses 40-41, "the hangings for the court, its pillars and its sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court, its cords and its pegs and all the equipment for the service of the tabernacle, for the tent of meeting; 41 the woven garments for ministering in the holy place and the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests."
It was all perfect. Verses 42-43 touch the feelings of Moses, as he looked at this work completed by men and women, but done for the purposes of God: "So the sons of Israel did all the work according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses. 43 And Moses examined all the work and behold, they had done it; just as the Lord had commanded, this they had done. So Moses blessed them." "You did it!" Moses breathed and then blessed them. Wouldn't it be wonderful to receive such a blessing? "It is finished" the Lord will shout, when you and I are in His Presence, and HE will bless those of Godly faith who have loved Him and one another in this confusing world. If you let your anger at circumstances go and in its place, breathe "Thank You, Lord," as things go wrong or right, He will smile and bless you when the troubles of today are no more. He will be glad—and so will you.
Lord, You are weaving me into Your Temple, in a very positive and healthy way, clothing me in Your righteousness. I am Yours, and You are making me beautiful, even me. I trust in You, Lord. Thank You for all You are doing for me. In Jesus Name. Amen.