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Friday, February 28, 2014



The Tabernacle was very different in substance and purpose from other ancient temples. Even though it had some items that were similar to those of the other temples such as a Holy of Holies for God Himself, a Holy Place for the Levite priests, courtyards, incense, candlesticks, food and basins for washing. God's Tabernacle was much different.  Consider the following:

  • God's purpose to reside in the Tabernacle was not in order for His people to meet His needs.  He did not have to be fed, clothed or washed as the ancients did their gods.
  • The Holy of Holies contained only an ark and a lid that was called the Mercy Seat.
  • No idol god sat in the Holy Seat.
  • God never needed light, a bed, a dresser for His clothes, a throne or a table for food. All of these items were in the Holy Place for the priests to use.
  • The Tabernacle was not stationary, but portable.
  • God was never confined to the Tabernacle.
  • God would go in front of His people in order to guide them when the Tabernacle was packed up for travel.
  • God was willing to live in a tent, just as His people who also were living in tents. God did not need a high dwelling place that stood high above those of His people.  He just resided among His people.  His only desire was for His people to know Him and obey Him!  
  • No food was ever brought before God to taste or consume.
  • God's required sacrifices were simple compared to those of the Near Eastern ancient gods.
  • God never needed to wash His hands. The water basin was used only by the priests to wash themselves for purification and cleansing purposes.
  • To enter into God's presence was a holy and reverent act. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies.  He only entered once a year.  Notice there were no windows to allow others to see inside.
  • There was no class system. The Tabernacle was available to everyone. Even the poor could participate of the special offerings when available. 
  • God did not need clothing. The laws regarding clothing only covered what the priests wore, not what God wore.


The Tabernacle was separated into sections:  the Outer Courts, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.  Both the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies were confined in a tent.  The entire Tabernacle along with its courtyard was surrounded by a fence.

The Holy Place and the Holy of Holies were shielded with hangings of blue, purple and crimson linen, colors of royalty, which could be seen only from the inside. The linen covered a durable layer of black curtains made out of goat's hair. All around this was a tent layer made of ram's skin, followed by another layer of skin on top. The Tabernacle looked like any other tent from the outside.  Its layers of skin provided protection from the ceremonial elements.

Altar of Burnt Offering:  
Exodus 27:1-8:  

This was made of acacia wood covered with bronze. All the utensils were also covered with bronze. This altar was designed to be carried. The sacrifices on the altar covered the unintentional sins of the Israelites in order that they might have been cleaned.

"For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"  Hebrews 9:13-14; see also Mark 14:24, Hebrews 19, I Peter 1:18-19, 2 Corinthians 5:21
Laver or Basin for Washing:
 Exodus 30:17-21:
This was made of bronze. The priests used it to cleanse themselves before entering the Inner Courts.

"Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."   Hebrews 10:22.  
Table of Shewbread:  
Exodus 25:23-30

This sat in the Holy Place. It was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. It was designed to be portable like the rest of the Tabernacle. All the utensils were also covered in gold. Twelve loaves of bread were placed in two rows of six each, on the table each Sabbath. This stood as a reminder of the Covenant God made with the twelve tribes of Israel as well as Israel's dependence upon God as their Provider.

"Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst."
John 6:35, 48-51
Lampstand or Menorah:  
Exodus 25:31-40: 

This was made of pure gold and supported seven lamps. It gave light for the priests.

"Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."  John 8:12
Altar of Incense: 
 Exodus 30:1-10

This was made of acacia wood covered with gold. It sat in the Holy Place. It was burned twice a day by the Priests.

Psalm 141:1-2 indicates that our prayers are like incense to the Lord. Likewise in Revelation 5:8 and 8:3, an angel of the Lord offers incense before the throne and the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.
The Veil:  
Exodus 26:31-35:

This was made of wool and linen. It was decorated with cherubim. It separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.

"And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split."   Matthew 27:51

 "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh"
Hebrews 10:19-20

The Ark of the Covenant:   
Exodus 25:10-22:

 The ark was a chest made of acacia wood covered with gold inside and out. "The Mercy Seat," was its gold cover. It featured two golden cherubim facing each other. God spoke to Moses from above the Mercy Seat, between the two cherubim. Inside the ark there were the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments.

In John 1:14 Jesus says,
"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

"For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."   
Hebrews 9:15 

NOTE: God showed Moses the design of the Tabernacle on Mount Sinai. According to the Book of Hebrews, what Moses saw was exactly the pattern that God wanted him to follow in building the Tabernacle:  

"According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it."
 Exodus 25:9 NASB

"See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain." 
Exodus 25:40 NASB

See also Exodus 26:30, Numbers 8:4, Acts 7:44 and Hebrews chapters 8:5 and 9:1-10 related to the building of the Tabernacle.

In our last discussion we will consider examples of  disobedience toward God and the terrible consequences. We will also discuss the Ten Commandments and the Feast of the Tabernacles.  


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