“Unit 11: Day 2, Exodus 25–31,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 11: Day 2,” Old Testament Study Guide
Through His prophet Moses, the Lord commanded the children of Israel to build a tabernacle to be a sanctuary where the Lord could dwell among His people and give them commandments. He gave detailed instructions for the building of each item that would furnish the tabernacle.
From the beginning, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples—sacred structures where He could teach, guide, and bless them (see Bible Dictionary, “Temple”; Guide to the Scriptures, “Temple, House of the Lord”; scriptures.lds.org). The Lord told the Israelites to build a portable tabernacle that would be their temple while they traveled in the wilderness (see Exodus 25–27; 40:35; Bible Dictionary, “Tabernacle”; Guide to the Scriptures, “Tabernacle”; scriptures.lds.org).
Although the tabernacle Moses was commanded to build shared similarities with modern temples—such as priesthood ordinances being performed in both—the tabernacle functioned under the law of Moses (with the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood) and thus differed substantially from modern temples. Both the tabernacle and modern temples are the house of the Lord where we feel close to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Read Exodus 25:1–7, looking for what the children of Israel were asked to offer in order to build the tabernacle. Mark in your scriptures how they were to offer their contributions.
What could the Israelites show the Lord by willingly giving these items?
Read Exodus 25:8, looking for one reason the Lord wanted the tabernacle built in the wilderness. From what you learn in this verse, consider how the Lord’s command to build temples anciently relates to His command to build temples in our day.
The Lord wanted the children of Israel to build a tabernacle, or sanctuary. A sanctuary is a holy place or a place of safety. In our day, a temple is considered a sanctuary.
From the Lord’s instructions to the Israelites, we learn that the Lord commands us to build temples so He can dwell among us. To have the Lord “dwell” among us can mean both seeing and feeling His presence and power.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
When have you felt close to God because of the temple?
When have you or someone you know been blessed by attending the temple, performing ordinances, and making and keeping covenants?
Do you ever wear clothing that has some type of symbol on it, such as a brand or sports team logo?
The Lord often uses symbols to teach or remind us of gospel truths, especially in covenants and ordinances of salvation.
A gospel symbol can be an object, event, action, or teaching that represents a spiritual truth. For example, the bread and water of the sacrament represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Baptism by immersion is symbolic of death, burial, and resurrection.
Items of clothing are also sometimes used as symbols to teach gospel truths. In the temple today we all dress in white. White is a symbol of purity. This can symbolize that no unclean person can enter into the presence of the Lord. Sacred religious clothing, like that worn by Aaron and his sons, has been used symbolically since the Lord made “coats of skins” for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:21). When Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days, the Lord revealed to him details concerning the tabernacle as well as the sacred clothing that the priests who would serve in the tabernacle were to wear.
Read Exodus 28:1–3, looking for what blessing the Lord said would come from Aaron wearing special clothing. (It may be helpful to know that the word consecrate means to dedicate for a holy purpose, such as the service of God.)
Read Exodus 28:4, and identify and perhaps mark the different articles of clothing mentioned. See if you can identify the articles of clothing in the accompanying picture of Aaron being ordained as the high priest. (An ephod is like a vest or an apron, depicted by the blue portion of Aaron’s clothing in the picture, and the mitre is the cap in Aaron’s hands.)
The rest of Exodus 28 describes the details of this clothing and some of the symbolism associated with it.
We also wear special symbolic clothing for temple ordinances today. Such clothing, including the garments we receive in the temple, is sacred and should be treated and spoken of with reverence.
Think of a dirty spoon or other eating utensil. Would you want to use it to eat your next meal? What ought to be done to a dirty utensil before it is used?
How does the example of the dirty utensil relate to the priests who were to help the Lord in His work by serving in the tabernacle? Remember that the processes of becoming physically clean and ceremonially clean were different. While God wanted the priests to be physically clean, their spiritual cleanliness was more important. (See Bible Dictionary, “Clean and unclean”; Guide to the Scriptures, “Clean and Unclean”; scriptures.lds.org).
The Lord described how priests were to be purified, consecrated, and set apart in a special ceremony before they began their service in the tabernacle. This ceremony taught the children of Israel the importance of being spiritually clean. As you study the Lord’s instructions in Exodus 29, look for principles concerning how you can be clean and live more fully set apart from sin.
Read the scripture references in the following chart and, in the space provided, write a brief description of the Lord’s instructions. Then write the number of the Lord’s instruction by what you think the symbolic meaning may be. One line has been done for you. You can check your answers at the end of the lesson.
The Lord’s Instruction
After the ram was sacrificed, the next part of the cleansing ceremony symbolized that the priests could apply or access the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Read Exodus 29:20–21, and mark what the Lord instructed should be done with the ram’s blood after the ram was sacrificed.
Notice that the priest would put the blood of the ram on the right ear, thumb, and toe of the other priests. Look at the words below and draw a line between each part of the body mentioned in verses 20–21 and the word you would associate with it.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What might placing a symbol of Jesus Christ (the blood of a ram) on a priest’s ear, thumb, and toe show the Lord the priest was willing to do?
According to verse 21, what effect would this ceremony have on the priests?
One principle we can learn from this symbolic ceremony is that if we will apply the atoning blood of Jesus Christ by listening to the word of the Lord, acting upon it, and walking in His paths, we will be sanctified.
- Write in your scripture study journal how you can show the Lord that you are dedicated and consecrated to following Him.
In Exodus 28–29 we learn that priests are to be set apart to perform their duties in the temple. Exodus 29:22–42 further explains some of the sacrifices and procedures that consecrated and sanctified the tabernacle, the priests, and the children of Israel.
Read Exodus 29:43–46, looking for what the Lord said He would do if the Israelites faithfully followed His instructions in building the tabernacle and performing the ordinances therein. You may want to mark what the Lord said He would do. Ponder what you have learned about the purpose of temples and ordinances from the chapters and verses you have been studying.
An important truth to understand is that the temple and its ordinances prepare us to be in God’s presence.
Ponder how the preparation of the priests to officiate in the tabernacle relates to your preparation to participate in temple ordinances.
Exodus 31:1–11 explains that the Lord had prepared certain individuals to be able to construct the tabernacle and its furnishings and make the priests’ clothing. The Lord told Moses that He had filled these people with the Spirit of God so that they would be able to perform these tasks.
The Lord often uses signs or symbols to remind His children of what they have promised Him and what He has promised them. Read Exodus 31:13, looking for a sign God uses to remind us of our relationship to Him and His promise to sanctify us. According to verse 13, what is the sign that God is the Lord “that doth sanctify [us]”?
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How does keeping the Sabbath day holy help us stay clean and set apart from worldliness?
Read Exodus 31:14–17, looking for an indicator of how strongly the Lord feels about keeping the Sabbath holy.
Write down at least one way you can better keep the Sabbath day holy: ____________
Before the Lord was done speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two stone tablets containing His law and covenant with Israel. On line 8 of the “Moses’s and Israel’s Experiences with Jehovah at Mount Sinai” diagram in the Exodus 17–19 lesson (Unit 10: Day 3), write: God writes His law on stone tables.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Exodus 25–31 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: