Scripture Reading: Exodus 25:1-27:19
Do you ever wonder if God speaks to people? And if so, does He just speak in generalities, giving us good principles to live by, but leaving the details up to us?
I was in a Bible study with a friend who felt that God does speak to us, but only in terms of giving us the “big picture.” The specifics were for us to figure out. I understood what my friend was saying―and at times that is certainly true.
But as I’ve read through the Bible, I’ve also been struck by how often God speaks to people with very specific instructions―instructions that He wants to be followed precisely―even down to the last “cubit.”
Exodus chapters 25, 26, and 27 are prime examples of God speaking specifically and clearly. In the opening words of chapter 25, God tells Moses to collect some very specific items from the people: ram skins dyed red, acacia wood, onyx stones and more. God continues with these words:
“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you” (Exodus 25:8-9).
For the next 89 verses, God gave Moses a detailed description of exactly how to build this tabernacle, and all of the elements within it: the ark of the covenant, the tables, the lampstands, the altars, the oil, the shovels―even the meat forks.
Listen to some of this detail:
… “ Make a lampstand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand―three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand” (Exodus 25:31-33).
… “Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim worked into them by a skilled craftsman. All the curtains are to be the same size―twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide” (Exodus 26:1-2).
… “Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide…. Make a grating for it, a bronze network, and make a bronze ring at each of the four corners of the network. Put it under the ledge of the altar so that it is halfway up the altar” (Exodus 27:1,4-5).
The detail reminds me of when God told Noah precisely how to build the ark for the animals, describing its dimensions cubit by cubit (a length of about 18 inches).
Why was God so specific? Maybe it was because there had never been a need for a boat like that before. How could Noah have known how many animals would show up? It was better for Noah to follow God’s specific instructions up front on how to build the ark, than to try to build it his own way and then have the elephants and hippos and rhinos and giraffes show up!
When we need wisdom, we can ask God for it. He’s the Creator of the universe. He knows how every molecule is put together. He knows what needs to be done and how to do it. And He’s glad to pour out that wisdom into us.
The Bible says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
God can speak specifically and clearly. There’s no doubt about it scripturally, as in this case from Exodus. Someone might wonder, based on their experience (or lack thereof), if God speaks specifically. But based on Scripture, there’s no doubt that He does!
Whatever you’re working on right now―a project for work, a new type of ministry, a relationship with a spouse, child or friend―ask God for wisdom on how to proceed. Then listen, and do, what He says.
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.