One of the best parts of reading through the Bible is learning that there is one amazing, single redemption story from Genesis through Revelation. Never has a book been written over thousands of years by dozens of authors and remain one miraculous story!
The Bible is not a collection of random acts and teachings. It is God revealing through every character, every situation, every prophecy, every word, His plan to bring man back into a complete knowledge and relationship with Him as He had intended to have with Adam and Eve culminating with Jesus’ return to earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
By the time we study the life of Moses in Exodus, God is opening the plan of salvation even wider for all to see through the details of design and operation of the Tabernacle of Moses – not only God’s desire to have relationship with His chosen people, but to give understanding through “types and shadows” seen in the Tabernacle of the coming of the Messiah to save the whole world.
Just as the work that God does in each of our lives is a beautiful story, so, too, the Tabernacle is a beautiful picture of the character and nature of God. There are many more details of the Tabernacle than we can mention here, but just an overview I believe will increase our understanding of the goodness, beauty, and awe-inspiring holiness of God.
So here are the Hebrew people, thousands in number, in the middle of the desert. Where did they get all the resources to build this beautiful place of worship? We see the prophetic answer in Genesis 15:14. God spoke to Abraham that his descendants would spend 400 years in captivity but would come out with great possessions – and they did! The Egyptians were so glad to see them leave that they gave them anything they wanted!
God gave Moses the instructions of what to build and how to build it – after He had already arranged for the materials they needed to be at their disposal and the talented men and women came out of Egypt who could design, weave, build, and sculpt every detail.
THE ENTRANCE TO THE TABERNACLE
We begin at the entrance door – there was only one way to enter the presence of the Lord. It was wide and the pattern in the tapestry looks like the outstretched arms of the Lord welcoming all who would come. (Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6)
THE BRAZEN ALTAR
The next thing we see is the Brazen Altar where the burnt offerings were presented every morning and night. This altar was a type of the cross where Christ would offer Himself as a pure offering before God on behalf of sinners. It stood on an elevated place to remind us of the “mountain of God” where Moses received the commandments of the Lord and also of the place Jesus was raised up at Golgotha.
THE BRAZEN LAVER
Next is the Brazen Laver which was filled with water and had no measurements, for cleansing before the priest entered the Holy Place. This reminds us of Titus 3:5 – the washing of the water of the Word.
THE TABERNACLE COVERINGS
The Tabernacle itself contained the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. It had four coverings – each one significant:
- The outer layer was badger skin – the badger was a loner and vigilant.
- The next layer was of dyed red rams’ skin representing the sacrifice of Jesus life.
- The next layer was of goats’ hair – the garment of the prophets.
- The final covering which was seen from the inside of the tabernacle was an intricately woven tapestry of heavenly hosts (cherubim). The cherubim were angelic beings associated with guarding and bearing God’s throne and represented the worship of God Almighty.
THE HOLY PLACE
The Holy Place contained three key elements –
- The Table of Showbread which symbolized Jesus, the Bread of Life. There were twelve loaves representing the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve disciples signifying “authority for administration.”
- The Golden Lampstand served as a symbol of God as the light that was the guide for the children of Israel and a type (picture) of Christ, the Light of the world. It was made from solid gold – 75 pounds. The holy oil that was used in the Lampstand represented the presence of the Holy Spirit.
- The Altar of Incense was used to offer up the most pleasing and acceptable aroma that can be imagined representing the prayers of God’s people ascending up to God. The intricate recipe for the incense was holy and was never to be used outside of the tabernacle (or later the temple) worship.
THE HOLY OF HOLIES
The Holy of Holies was only entered one time a year on the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur by only the High Priest. His white garment represented purity from sin and he entered with the bowl of sacrifice in a cloud of incense.
This room contained the Ark which contained the pot of manna (God’s provision), the rod of Aaron (representing the priesthood), and the tablets of the Law (the Word of God).
The Mercy Seat that covered the Ark was made of solid gold and above were the two cherubim focusing their gaze on the Mercy Seat. They were symbols of God’s power in creation and in providence.
It must have been an amazing and awe-inspiring view from inside the Holy Place and in particular the Holy of Holies. And from the outside was seen the pillar of fire by night and the column of cloud in the daytime.
As we study the Old Testament and especially the books of the Law, we can be so thankful as New Testament believers that, because of Jesus sacrifice which we are preparing to recognize in the coming weeks, we no longer have to endure the rigid system of the temple sacrifice and law. But all of these things have been given to us, “for our learning.” (Romans 15:4)
After Jesus rose from the grave and met with His disciples, Luke 24:27 says, “From Moses and all the prophets He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” It is so important to study and understand all the scriptures that have been given to us!
We’ve only scratched the surface of what can be explored in studying the Tabernacle of Moses, but I pray that you will be inspired as you see the beautiful plan of God to redeem us and have relationship with us!
May you pursue God by putting your roots down deeper and deeper into His Word!
Blessings to you, Readers!
Source: The Tabernacle of God in the Wilderness of Sinai by Kiene.