Exodus 25:1-9 – And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.
God wanted to make His abode in the midst of the people, but He had to have a tabernacle that was the finest of earthly things to be worthy enough for Him to abide there. He told Moses exactly what the dimensions were to be and down to the last exact detail about how it was to be made and what to put inside it.
The Foundation of the Tabernacle consisted of one hundred blocks of silver, called sockets. (See illustration at the end of this text.) There were forty along the south side, forty along the north side, sixteen along the west side, and four across for the entrance to the Holy of Holies.
When the sockets were placed on rows on the ground to form the foundation, the sockets were made so that they could be connected together (as you would tongue and groove wood flooring or pieces of a puzzle). It’s possible that this was done by a very simple method called dovetailing (shown in illustration). Each socket was joined to the sockets on either side of it so that they were strong and secure enough to bear up the walls of the temple. This was not done just haphazardly like we might think with them living in the desert. Everything was very precise and it must have been a wonder to behold with them living as nomads out in the desert in tents.
It is generally agreed that the tabernacle was 30 cubits long and 10 wide. A cubit in our measure is about 18 inches, so in terms that we know, it makes the Tabernacle about 45 feet long by 15 feet wide. Each of the sockets weighed a talent, which in our measures is about 94 lbs.
The inside of the Tabernacle was divided into two sections: 10 cubits, or 15 feet, for the Holy of Holies and 20 cubits, or 30 feet for the Holy Place.
With each socket weighing a talent, or almost 94 lbs, the value of the 100 sockets was at least £40,000. Their Litra was considered a pound, with the same weight in our measurements being 12 oz. You can see that at that time, the foundation was a very expensive undertaking, not counting everything else that went into its building.
Since God had delivered the people from the crushing weight of the cruel taskmasters the Egyptians, he allowed them to somewhat redeem themselves by paying a very small price for donating the items to build the Tabernacle. That was part of the offering that God had told Moses about in the above verses. Every man was asked to donate willingly a half-shekel, which is a little larger than a shilling or 2/5 of an ounce. The only exception to this was that the Levites didn’t have to pay because they were already retained in His sacred service.
When all the coins were counted, there were 603,350, showing that every man had paid his ransom money. This amounted to the total number of half-shekels coming exactly to 100 talents. This was exactly enough to make the 100 sockets.
The redemption of sinners can be looked like this in some respects. God estimated every Israelite man at the same value by asking them to contribute the same thing. Likewise, God looks at every sinner with the same value and requires the same price to be paid for every one, whether poor or rich. God looks at each soul as a priceless gem of great value. That’s why He had to send the best, His Son, to redeem us and pay our ransom.
The beautiful shining foundation that was made of the ransom silver was worth 40,000 pounds of sterling. Just like Jesus paid our ransom and is the sure foundation on which everything spiritual stands, so the sockets had to be made from atonement money that could stand as a ransom for the Israelites. If they hadn’t done this, God would not have acknowledged the Tabernacle as His palace-temple. He would never have enthroned Himself in a visible way to them.
In like manner, we must make sure that we are building on that sure, strong foundation that is real and not resting on just good works or any other substitute other than Jesus Christ and the blood He shed for us. Exodus 30:16 – And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.