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also see: Good Reasons to Study the Tabernacle

THE TABERNACLE OVERVIEW

images/R9.gifemember when the Hebrews were taken into Egyptian bondage for 430 years? In Exodus Chapter 3 God hears the cry of His people and calls a man named Moses. God speaks with Moses at the burning bush and says for him to go to Pharaoh of Egypt and simply tell him to, "let My people go."

 

Exod 3:12 So He said, "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain."

Notice it says that it will be a sign that they will serve God on Mount Sinai. So Moses goes as the Lord instructed and after a series of 10 plagues the children of Israel were released from Egypt. They were led through the wilderness by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night and when they came to the Red Sea the Lord parted the waters and they passed through and when the Egyptian army attempted to cross it the waters came back down on them and they all drowned. The Lord sustained them and provided for them and then they came to Mount Sinai exactly as God had told Moses and something happens.

In Exodus chapter 19 we pick up the story. All of the 2 or 3 million Hebrews were standing at the foot of Mount Sinai and God comes down in all of His glory and says that He wants them to sanctify themselves for three days and then come and stand before Him. So they do this and God displays His power and might.

Exod 19:16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.

They trembled at His Presence saying, "Let not God speak to us lest we die," and they didn't want to go before Him again and so they elected Moses to be their permanent spokesman even though the Lord had wanted them to be a "kingdom of priests" (Ex. 19:6).

This is when the Lord commands them to build the structure called the tabernacle.

Exod 25:1-9 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: "Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering... And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.

This is what it looked like:

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The Tabernacle of ancient Israel

The Tabernacle was a portable tent with a wooden framework to give it stability. The entire sanctuary consisted of three parts:

  1. An outer court enclosed by curtains supported on pillars. It was oblong in shape and the entrance was on the east side.
     
  2. The altar of sacrifice (bronze altar) was within the court, facing the entrance.
     
  3. The Tabernacle itself was located at the western part of the court. The Tabernacle was divided by a veil or hanging curtain into two chambers. The first chamber was called the Holy Place, it contained the Table, Lampstand, and Altar of Incense. Only priests were allowed into this section. The second chamber was called the Holy of Holies, it contained the Ark of the Covenant. The High Priest the Holy of Holies only once a year on the Day of Atonement.

The objects closest to the Holy of Holies were constructed of precious metals and cloths. Those farther off were made of bronze and ordinary woven materials. The Tabernacle was covered by a tent and additional cloth covers.

The Tabernacle area was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide. There was a 7 1/2 foot curtain made of fine white linen which were fastened to 60 supporting pillars of bronze surrounding it with one entrance through the eastern gate. Within the outer court were two articles of furniture, the bronze altar of sacrifice where all of the sacrifices were made, and the bronze laver of cleansing where the priests washed their hands and their feet.

The Tabernacle building itself stood at the West end of the court and was a wooden structure overlaid with gold 45 x 15 feet divided into two parts by a heavy curtain called the "Veil." The entrance was a multicolored curtain door hanging on 5 pillars. The bigger part (30 x 15) of the tabernacle building was called "the holy place" and contained three golden articles of furniture. The golden lampstand that shined on the shewbread on the left, the table of shewbread that represented the people of God on the right, and the golden altar of incense that spoke of ever ascending prayers in the back. The smaller part (15 x 15) of the tabernacle building was called "the holy of holies" and contained only the ark of the covenant (the box that contained the two tables of the Law) and its lid, the mercy seat where the blood was sprinkled once per year by the high priest on the day of atonement.

Everything in the tabernacle was portable so that if the cloud of glory (Heb. Sh'chinah) moved, they moved with it and the ark would lead the way:

Num 10:33-36 So they departed from the mountain of the LORD on a journey of three days; and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them for the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them. And the cloud of the LORD was above them by day when they went out from the camp. So it was, whenever the ark set out, that Moses said: "Rise up, O LORD! Let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You." And when it rested, he said: "Return, O LORD, to the many thousands of Israel."

They needed to learn that it was Yahweh who was camping with them. As the Israelites marched in the wilderness, the Levites (priestly tribe) would disassemble the Tabernacle, and, the ark carried by the priests on two poles would lead them as they went, with the glory cloud hovering over them. There were three principle families of the tribe of Levi who were responsible for the transporting of the tabernacle items. The people of God were to realize that they were pilgrims here and when God said move, they needed to be ready. There are some very important things to realize about the condition of man when studying the tabernacle.

After the breakdown of their faith God created something that would strikingly appeal to their 5 senses so they would remember that they were the people of God. Throughout the Old Testament God had to stimulate the senses because after Adam, and up to the time of Jesus, man was spiritually dead. God is Spirit, and all man knew was the 5 senses (what he could see, touch, taste, hear, and smell). The Lord would begin here at the tabernacle to enshrine the people of Israel with ceremony and rituals so that they would remember Him. God would begin to tie a sense ruled people with something spiritual so that they would have faith simply by what they saw. If you think about the covenant of circumcision, each time a man would go to the bathroom he would remember the covenant. And what was the covenant? That one day Messiah would come of the nation that God raised through the first Hebrew, Abraham. This Messiah would be the savior of the whole world.

He would start by giving them a physical structure called the tabernacle with all its furniture, and priesthood, and offerings. Then He would give them daily rituals (reminders) and prayers, weekly Sabbaths, feasts and festivals, clean and unclean foods, and many other chosen ceremonies and laws that would all be physical reminders that would all point to the one Man who would come, who would be the Messiah. God enshrined them with so much ceremony that when He came they wouldn't possibly miss Him. And guess what? When He came they missed Him. They were so involved in their traditions and rituals that when Jesus came, Who was the fulfillment of all the ceremonies, they were completely in the dark and didn't recognize Him and ended up forcing Roman governor to crucify Him. But God, in His wonderful foreknowledge knew this and planned it from the start. That is why He instituted blood as the means of redemption.

So the tabernacle was the beginning of the visible reminders of a Spiritual God and His plan. Everything in the tabernacle was a type of Jesus. That is why God was so specific as to what they were to construct it with. They could not use one ounce of human imagination "Lest they die." Gold, silver, bronze, the fine white linen, the four colors, the anointing oil, the incense, it all pointed to the One who, "became flesh and dwelt (literally tabernacled) among us." Jesus said, "I have not come to destroy the Law and the prophets but to fulfill them." It is no wonder that when He hung on the cross Jesus cried, "It is finished." and the veil of the temple was ripped in half. What was finished? The entire Old Testament ceremonial, moral, and civil law was nailed to that tree outside of Jerusalem. He came to be the very embodiment and fulfillment of the Law itself.

Notice what Jesus said to the two men on the road to Emmaus after His death:

Luke 24:25-27 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! "Ought not the Messiah to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Also when Jesus appeared alive to His disciples after His death:

Luke 24:44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."

Remember what the Word says, "all Scripture is given by inspiration (God-breathed) of God..." When we look at the Bible we must remember that it is completely God-breathed. When we look at each Word we must remember that every Word is specifically God-breathed. That was the view of Christ when it came to the Scriptures, that was the view of the apostles, and that must be our view. This is the very Word of God. It doesn't just contain the Word of God, or just point to religious experience, this is the Word of God.

Is it any wonder then that each and every detail and Word about the tabernacle has spiritual significance? As we look to the tabernacle structure itself and its unique pieces of redemptive furniture there is great symbolism and typology found in them. Remember, everything was a finger pointing to the Messiah. The tabernacle, as a type, designed specifically and in detail by God, would point to the character and aspects of the ministry of Christ. When Jesus was accusing the Jewish authorities He said, "You have made My Fathers house into a den of thieves," and by saying "My Father" they knew He was claiming Messianic authority over the temple, and so they said, " what sign do you show us seeing that you do these things?" and notice what He said:

John 2:19-21 Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

They were looking at the physical structure (Heb. Mikdash) of the temple but He said, "Destroy this temple" He used the word in Hebrew 'Mishkan' which was the word used in the Old Testament of the Presence that lit the holy of holies on Yom Kippur in the tabernacle or temple. Jesus said I am the temple (Mishkan) of God. When the glory (Heb. Sh'chinah) would come down like a tornado or funnel right through the roof of the holy of holies and the Presence would manifest on the mercy seat between the cherubim after the blood was sprinkled, that was the mishkan. That Presence was what Jesus said dwelt within Him. And in fact Paul said about the church, "Know ye not that you are the temple (Mishkan) of God?" We, as the body of Christ, have the same Presence dwelling within us. God doesn't dwell in buildings now but within His people. Romans 10 says that If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Yahweh and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. It's that easy. At that point you become the Mishkan of God. When God said, "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them," He literally said 'in' them. God's ultimate goal has always been to dwell within His people (Jer. 31:31-33) and to put His Spirit within us. When you accept Jesus you become the Mishkan of God.

So as you begin this rich and wonderful study of the tabernacle remember that it is all pointing to Jesus Christ. Everything was a picture of Him. If you can grasp this incredible study it will add an element of new strength and joy in your devotion to the Lord.

John 1:12-14 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

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The Tabernacle of Ancient Israel

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THE TABERNACLE OF ANCIENT ISRAEL

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"And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among (in) them" - Exodus 25:8

The Purpose and Heart of the Law - A Devotional Message

Blood Atonement - A Bible Study

The Tabernacle of Ancient Israel was a sanctuary which was given in a vision to Moses as a pattern and constructed by the children of Israel. God's promise was that He would dwell within the Holy of Holies above the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant.

Why Study the Tabernacle?

A) 50 Chapters Mention The Tabernacle

Because at least 50 chapters (13-Ex, 18-Lev, 13-Num, 2-Deut, 4-Heb) in the Bible tell of the construction, the ritual, the priesthood, the carrying of the tabernacle, and the meaning of it all. Also many other places in Scripture speak in figurative language concerning the tabernacle. In many Bible studies this subject is overlooked and considered insignificant.

 

B) The Tearing of the Veil

God Himself thought so much of the importance of the type, as shown by the tearing of the veil:

Matt 27:50-51 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

If we don't understand the meaning in Scripture of the holy of holies and the veil we miss out on extremely significant information concerning exactly what Christ's death meant to sinful mankind.

 

C) The Tabernacle is a Type of Christ:

Remember what the Word says, "all Scripture is given by inspiration (God-breathed) of God..." When we look at the Bible we must remember that it is completely God-breathed. When we look at each Word we must remember that every Word is specifically God-breathed. That was the view of Christ when it came to the Scriptures, that was the view of the apostles, and that must be our view. This is the very Word of God. It doesn't just contain the Word of God, or just point to religious experience, this is the Word of God.

Is it any wonder then that each and every detail and Word about the tabernacle has spiritual significance? As we look to the tabernacle structure itself and its unique pieces of redemptive furniture there is great symbolism and typology found in them. Remember, everything was a finger pointing to the Messiah. The tabernacle, as a type, designed specifically and in detail by God, would point to the character and aspects of the ministry of Christ. The more we become familiar with the tabernacle the more we become familiar with Christ and all that He means to us. What a great reason to become familiar with the Scriptures concerning the tabernacle.

Heb 10:20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,

Col 2:17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

D) It is a Representation of the True Tabernacle in Heaven:

The Lord wants us to be aware of His nature and character. Even the angels don't fully understand the nature and character of God but they learn from watching His dealings with His church (Eph 3). Things are really happening in the heavenly dimension and the Lord wants to reveal to us what took place in heaven after the resurrection of Christ. There is a real tabernacle in the heavenlies and Christ really appeared before the throne of heaven as the Lamb of God (Rev 5). There is no doubt that some of these things are a mystery but the more we draw close to God and His Word the more He draws close to us.

Heb 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.

 

E) The Presence Within the Holy of Holies Dwells Within the Believer in Jesus:

Jesus said I am the temple (Mishkan) of God. When the glory (Heb. Sh'chinah) would come down like a tornado or funnel right through the roof of the holy of holies and the Presence would manifest on the mercy seat between the cherubim after the blood was sprinkled, that was the mishkan. That Presence was what Jesus said dwelt within Him. And in fact Paul said about the church, "Know ye not that you are the temple (Mishkan) of God?" We, as the body of Christ, have the same Presence dwelling within us. God doesn't dwell in buildings now but within His people.

1 Cor 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

 

F) Its teaching covers in type almost all of New Testament truth.

The study of the tabernacle is so rich in meaning to the Christian and so pregnant with Messianic significance that we can spend a lifetime in the study of it and only begin to understand the riches and the depth of truth that lies within the study of the tabernacle.

Rom 15:4 "Whatever things that were written before were written for our learning."

G) Studying the Tabernacle will absolutely strengthen our faith in the Bible.

Be assured that anyone who has delved into the wonderful details of the tabernacle will confess that the Bible is more than just a book. No man could have thought of this. The Bible is the Word of God.

"all Scripture is given by inspiration of God..."


 

 

The Tabernacle

Bible History Online


Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)

The Tabernacle | Glossary

Table of Contents
Introduction to the Tabernacle in the Old Testament
Overview of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament
The Holy Materials Used in the Tabernacle in the Old Testament
The Outer Court of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament
The Holy Place in the Tabernacle in the Old Testament
The Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle in the Old Testament
The Five Levitical Offerings
Brief History of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament
Blood Atonement in the Bible

The Tabernacle

Overview

Reasons to Study

The Holy Materials

Typology

Numbers and Scripture

The Four Colors

The Priestly Garments

The Outer Court

The Entrance Gate

The White Linen Fence

The Bronze Altar

The Bronze Laver

The Holy Place

The Door

The Curtains

The Boards

The Golden Table

The Golden Lampstand

The Golden Altar

The Holy of Holies

The Veil

The Cherubim

The Ark of the Covenant

The Mercy Seat

The Shekinah Glory

The Children of Israel

The Encampment of Israel

Reuben Simeon Judah Dan Naphtali Gad Asher Issachar Zebulun Ephraim Manasseh Benjamin

Marching Order

The 5 Levitical Offerings

The Priests

The Consecration of the Priests

The High Priest

The Priestly Garments

A Brief History

Moses and the Exodus

The Giving of the Law

Idolatry & Rebellion

The Law Given Again

The Day of Atonement

 

Bible Study

Blood Atonement

 

Devotional

The Purpose & Heart of the Law