All the gold that was used for the work, in all the construction of the sanctuary, the gold from the offering, was twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary. The silver from those of the congregation who were recorded was a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary: a beka a head (that is, half a shekel, by the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone who was listed in the records, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men. The hundred talents of silver were for casting the bases of the sanctuary and the bases of the veil; a hundred bases for the hundred talents, a talent a base. And of the 1,775 shekels he made hooks for the pillars and overlaid their capitals and made fillets for them. The bronze that was offered was seventy talents and 2,400 shekels; with it he made the bases for the entrance of the tent of meeting, the bronze altar and the bronze grating for it and all the utensils of the altar, the bases around the court, and the bases of the gate of the court, all the pegs of the tabernacle, and all the pegs around the court. Exodus 38:24-31
The number of men alone was 603,550. Clearly, the Tabernacle was not a church building where people went to hear sermons. This was created as a place where the essential ministry of sacrifices were performed. The curtains and tents were meant to make the sacrifice and the presence of God something that was intimate and separate. Likewise, when this temporary shelter gave way to the temple, centuries later, it was not made as a meeting house. It was a private place for the sacrifice and the presence of God.
All this changed radically when Jesus was sacrificed publicly, bleeding out on a humiliating cross of execution. And 50 days later, on the Day of Pentecost, God’s presence would be poured out in an upper room and spill out on the streets, and the word of God would be proclaimed in every language.
Today we will build a sanctuary for the ministry and it may cost a million dollars or more. But the true cost comes from the way we have turned our sanctuaries into containers for the people, and ministry has become private and separated from the people we are called to reach.