Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A New Creation

In The Temple and the Church's Mission: A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God, G. K. Beale offers some significant parallels between the creation account of Genesis and the construction of the tabernacle found in the book of Exodus. Beale compares Genesis 1:31; 2:1, 2, and 3 with Exodus 39:43, 32, and 33, and he references M. Fishbane's work as part of his commentary on these passages:
   ...Moses' work of constructing the tabernacle is patterned after God's creation of the cosmos, using the same language: 'Thus, "Moses saw all the work" which the people "did" in constructing the tabernacle; "and Moses completed the work" and "blessed" the people for all their labors. Fishbane concludes that the tabernacle's construction was intentionally portrayed in the image of the world's creation. 
   More specifically, both accounts of the creation and building of the tabernacle are structured around a series of seven acts: cf. 'And God said' (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, 26; cf. vv. 11, 28, 29) and 'the Lord said' (Exod. 25:1; 30:11, 17, 22, 34, 31:1, 12).1

This symbolism does not merely connect the construction of the Tabernacle and it's liturgically rich laws with the creation of the heavens and earth itself; it also connects God's dwelling-place with man as seen in the Garden of Eden with God's dwelling-place with man in the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle provided access to God by means of symbolically returning to the Garden of Eden -- the Garden as it was accessible before Adam fell into sin. 

1.  G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church's Mission: A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press; 2004], p. 61

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