This chapter continues in the same pattern as the last, relating the construction of the Altar of Burnt Offering (Exodus 38:1-7), following the directions laid down in Exo. 27:1-8; the construction of the Laver (Exodus 38:8) in the pattern given in Exo. 30:17-21; and the building of the Court (Exodus 38:9-20) in conformity with the instructions given in Exo. 27:9-19. Exo. 38:21-31 give for the first time a summary of the precious metals used in all of the construction. Uncertainty as to the exact meaning of some of the weights gives rise to various estimates of the total value. If we take Cook’s calculation of: Gold ….. 1 ton, 400 pounds; Silver … 4 tons, 400 pounds; Brass …. 2 tons, 1900 pounds; the total value of the gold alone, as calculated by Fields, exceeded “five and a half million dollars at $150.00 per ounce” [today gold is at $1,418 (4/1/2011)], or more than twice that amount if calculated on the current value of gold. We agree with Fields that the extreme costliness of this tabernacle in no sense requires that churches of the Lord today are obligated to construct extravagantly expensive houses of worship. It is a matter of history that for nearly three centuries following the establishment of the church, Christians did even not own houses of worship, but often met in the homes of its members, as evidenced in Rom. 16. The Jews even exceeded the costliness of this tabernacle in their Temples, that of Solomon, and also the Herodian Temple, but God destroyed both of them! Neither should it be concluded that the construction of a costly place of meeting is sinful. The economic ability of God’s people is more or less as that of the nations, races, or cultures vary wherever the church exists. Again, from Fields: “If God should grant us on some occasions a degree of luxury, we shall pray that it may be used for his glory. If we should suffer want, we shall still praise him and be content. Nor should we ever forget that God dwells with him that is “of a poor and contrite spirit” (Isaiah 66:2).
Application: What can be said that Coffman has not considered? I will offer this: will we short-change the Lord? If we do so, who are we really affecting?
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