The Establishing of Israel’s Worship

Discovery for Teachers

The Establishing of Israel’s Worship


Exodus 24:12 through 40:38

“Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did they.” (Exodus 39:32)


This final portion of the Book of Exodus focuses on Israel’s worship. Moses had been on the mountain with God, where he received the covenant which was to be established with the people (Exodus 19:3-7). Chapter 24 details the people’s promise to obey the covenant and its ratification. Moses built an altar with twelve pillars (representing the twelve tribes) and there the people vowed obedience to God. After sealing the covenant with blood, the spiritual and political representatives of the people ascended the mount with Moses, where they saw a visible manifestation of God. Following that, Moses was commanded to come again to the mount to receive further instructions for God’s special people and establish the rites and ceremonies that would define their worship.

In Chapters 25-31, God gave Moses specific directions regarding the construction of a tabernacle where His Spirit would dwell. While at first glance these instructions may appear to be merely ancient and complicated structural details, they are in fact a rich treasure trove of symbolism. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Tabernacle and its furnishings were a picture of God’s great plan for the salvation of humanity — God’s new and better way, described in the New Testament in the Book of Hebrews.

Chapters 32-34 record how Israel turned to idolatry while Moses was on the mountain. We are told of God’s punishment for the people’s rebellion and their subsequent restoration to God.

In chapters 35-40, we read how God’s plans for a place of worship were carried out by those who built the Tabernacle. Much of this material is a repetition of the details given earlier to Moses in chapters 25-31, witnessing to the fact that God’s instructions were carried out precisely. On the appointed day, almost a year after leaving Egypt, Moses set up the Tabernacle and all the furnishings just as God had directed. When he finished the work, “a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34).


  1. God told Moses to ask the Children of Israel to bring an offering in order to build the Tabernacle. What condition did He place on the offering and why? Exodus 25:1-8

    The offering was to be from a willing heart. God wanted to dwell among the Israelites in a place built from the love of their hearts toward Him. And the people did respond willingly, for Exodus 35:21-29 tells us that “every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing . . . brought the Lord’s offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation.”

    It is interesting to note that although the amounts given by individual Israelites were no doubt different, all had an equal part and blessing if they gave willingly. Discuss with your class why our willingness is so important to God. The point should be made that God is far more concerned with the attitude of our hearts than with any external gifts we can offer Him. The theme of “willing sacrifice” runs throughout Scripture.

  2. In Exodus 25:10-16, 21 we read the first instructions God gave Moses relating to the Ark of the Covenant, which was part of the furnishings of the Tabernacle. What item was the Ark to contain, and why was this article so important?

    The Ark of the Covenant was to contain the “testimony” or Law that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. Class discussion of the second part of the question should bring out that the Law was to be carefully preserved by the Israelites because it was God’s instructions to His people. Today, we too should take care to honor and preserve God’s Word, for it is our instruction book given to us by our Creator himself, and it teaches us how to have a right relationship with Him.
  3. Exodus chapters 25-27 describe the Tabernacle and its furnishings. List at least five items for which God gave the details. Why do you think God gave such exacting and specific instructions?

    Items which could be named are:

    • The Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10)

    • The Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:17)

    • The table of shewbread (Exodus 25:23)

    • The golden candlestick (Exodus 25:31)

    • Bowls (Exodus 25:33)

    • Lamps (Exodus 25:37)

    • Curtains (Exodus 26:1)

    • Taches of brass (Exodus 26:11)

    • The tent covering (Exodus 26:14)

    • The boards (Exodus 26:15)

    • Sockets of silver (Exodus 26:19)

    • Bars of wood (Exodus 26:26)

    • The veil (Exodus 26:31)

    • Hangings for the door (Exodus 26:36)

    • The brazen altar (Exodus 27:1)

    • Court of the Tabernacle (Exodus 27:9)

    As your class discusses why God gave such exacting and detailed instructions, the point should be made that when God gave Moses the pattern for the Tabernacle, He was looking beyond the time of Israel and into the future. The Tabernacle and its furnishings were an “example and shadow of heavenly things,” looking ahead to God’s plan of redemption. God was clear that Moses was to make all things “according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount” (Hebrews 8:5). The life of Christ showed this same preciseness in that it fulfilled every Scripture regarding God’s redemption plan. We should approach God’s plan of redemption with the same care and scrupulous attention as Moses was instructed to show.

    It may be helpful to refer to the drawing of the Tabernacle included in Daybreak in conjunction with the discussion of this question.

  4. Why did the Children of Israel have Aaron make them a golden calf? Exodus 32:1-8

    The Children of Israel became impatient as they waited for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai, so they sinned by having Aaron fashion them a “new” god to lead them.

    As a follow-up, ask your class to list ways that impatience can be disastrous in our walk with the Lord. Class discussion should bring out that being impatient could cause us to move ahead of God, to become discouraged, or to choose our own path rather than letting Him guide. We must rest in the assurance that God’s timing is always perfect, and never become impatient with God’s providence. You may wish to look at Hebrews 10:36 and James 5:10-11 with your class to amplify this point.

  5. What were the qualifications of Bezaleel and Aholiab, the men whom God chose to supervise the construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:30-35; 36:1-2, 4, 8)? How do their qualifications parallel God’s requirements for workers today?

    Bezaleel and Aholiab were men with natural capabilities and skills, along with an ability to teach others. More importantly, they were men filled with the Spirit of God who possessed wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. Class discussion should bring out that while our differing responsibilities in the work of the Lord today may require a variety of skills and talents, all workers today need the same spiritual qualifications.

    God equips each of us specifically for the task He has intended for us. It might be interesting to give your class an acronym that spells out how God shapes us for ministry:

    S — Spiritual qualifications
    H — Heart involvement
    A — Abilities
    P — Personality
    E — Experiences

    Your class could offer examples from their own knowledge or experience of times when God imparted one of the items in the acronym to enable them to accomplish a specific task.

  6. Chapter 36 gives details regarding the construction of the Tabernacle. What might be the significance of the following facts?

    There was only one sanctuary, not many.

    The Tabernacle was located at the center of Israel’s encampment.

    The Tabernacle and its furnishing were portable.

    There may be more than one answer. However, you could direct your students to these thoughts:

    • There is only one approach to God, and that is through His Son, Jesus. This also stressed the importance of spiritual unity.

    • This was a picture of the fact that the nation’s life must revolve around God, and that He was dwelling in its midst for worship and fellowship.

    • The Children of Israel were traveling toward their goal through a land that was not their permanent dwelling place.

  7. Aaron and his sons were chosen to minister inside the Tabernacle (see Exodus 28:1-3). The first 31 verses of chapter 39 describe the preparation of the holy garments to be worn by Aaron. Why do you think God required special clothing for Aaron?

    Class discussion may bring out several thoughts. Obviously, the garments were designed to give Aaron dignity and grandeur, for the appearance of the high priest was to convey the beauty and authority that belonged to God himself. Each piece also had a functional role. However, perhaps the most important reason was the symbolism involved. The Tabernacle was a holy place because God’s presence was there. It necessitated the ministers to be separated for the work and consecrated to it by ceremony (Exodus 29). The clothing was specially made to distinguish Aaron and his sons.
  8. The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle when it was completed (Exodus 40:33-34). What can we expect to happen if we do everything God asks of us?

    We can expect to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, and enjoy His presence with us and in us as we go through life. You may wish to refer your class to Luke 24:49 for additional Scriptural support.


God delineated minute details regarding the place and methods of worship for the Children of Israel, showing us the care we must take in our worship of Him if we desire His blessing upon our lives.