April 11, 2024

What Are We Looking For in the Tabernacle?

The construction of the tabernacle found in Exodus can be one of those sections of scripture that can be easy for us to simply skim through, as a new covenant believing American Gentile. We are thousands of years removed from the culture, tools, materials, and measurements. What does acacia wood look like? How many feet are in a cubit? I didn’t even know you could weave thread from goat hair. Furthermore, the significance of the fixtures and furniture commanded by God to be constructed for consecration and worship are incredibly alien to us who worship God in renovated buildings with screens and speakers. In light of all this, we tend to exegete, or interpret the meaning or application of these chapters in Scripture, in one of two ways:


David Terry

Executive Worship Pastor

The first way we commonly interact with these passages is to simply ‘pass on through’. We treat it like a small town we drive through on the way to our ultimate destination. We may admire the charm and romance of the ancient way of Hebrew worship as we drive on to more easily digestible and applicable passages, but we see no reason to stop and explore. Like someone who has only known the way of living in a larger more modern city with movie theaters, shopping malls, and trendy coffee shops, we might even be thankful that we don’t live in that little primitive town with the single sketchy Dairy Queen and Dollar General. We think, “man, that all seems very complicated and and inconvenient. Glad I wasn’t born then.” To be honest, I myself prefer church today where the only decisions to make is which service time to attend and what seat to take.

But, read this way, we entirely miss the beauty the Bible reveals just underneath the surface of the text of God’s heart, and the way He relates to his people - and, in turn, how His creation can once again be in communion with Him. This is more than just old blueprints and interesting Jewish history.

The second way we tend to read these passages is the opposite. We are captivated by the details and grander. The ancient ways and protocols have a nostalgic affect where we dive into every detail and instruction seeking to pull every 3 shekels of symbolism we can find (3 shekels weighs about 1 ounce. Sorry, lame joke). Although there absolutely is incredible nuance and allegory in the tabernacle, foreshadowing Jesus and instructing us even today on how to worship God, the tabernacle in Exodus and later the Temple in 2 Chronicles is not some secret hidden code from God to be deciphered to reveal an ancient map leading to a somehow more spiritual encounter with Him.

The Tabernacle is more a different side to the same coin, an additional angle or point of view of the same story that we find ourselves in today as the people of God. The inherent sinfulness of mankind hasn’t changed and God never has or ever will change (Malachi 3:6). These things are the same throughout history: Man’s inherent separation from God through sin, God’s eternal and ultimate essence of Holy, and in light of that, God’s plan through works of redemption to accomplish His gracious desire to restore man back to right standing and relationship with Himself.

So what is there to learn from the tabernacle? What should we be looking for over the next few days of reading? 3 things:

God’s Grace:
The Hebrews knew God had been the one to rescue them out of Egypt, that it was His hand responsible for the plagues and signs, that it was his hand that had split the red sea, His glory leading them by cloud and fire, but they didn’t know who their God really was. They had been saved out of a polytheistic culture that had dominated and indoctrinated them for 400 years. Their worldview had been distorted as they had been changed from the single family of Jacob and his sons, led and provided personally by the voice of the one true God, and had been turned into an enslaved people who’s oppressors credited their success and dominance to the favor of 2,000 gods.

It’s no wonder that when Moses hadn’t returned from meeting with God on Mount Sinai, they presumed him killed by God’s wrath and thus scrambled to try a new approach and methodology to worship him and please him. After fashioning the golden calf they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt.” They build and altar before the calf and Aaron proclaims “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.” They were trying to worship God but didn’t know him. They had a fear of the power of what He could do but had no fear of His holiness.

In God’s grace, through the instruction of how to build and facilitate worship in the Tabernacle, God defines a narrow path, fulfilling the requirements for redemption and consecration, so that they would be purified and led just to Him. By doing so, he constructs a lane to keep His people from going astray and worshiping something that isn’t Him.

Man’s Participation:
God provided the instructions. God provided His glory. The people provided the materials and labor. God says to the people “I want you to know me, to know my glory, for me to be your God, and this is how you do it.” It was up to the people to act on His invitation. It says the people were so stirred to bring offerings and materials to contribute to the construction that the builders had have Moses restrain the people from continuing to give. God stirred in the hearts of the people with specific skills to give their time weaving fabric, cutting gems, constructing the Tabernacle fixtures. The Tabernacle was run by people, the levites, to minister to God and lead the nation in worship. In the same way, God invites us to build places of meeting and glory in our homes and hearts.

As with every story in every book of the Bible, Jesus is present. It’s not hard to see how the Tabernacle is a foreshadowing of the work of Jesus. The Ark, the table of shewbread, the altars, the priests, the sacrifices, everything is describing the future work of Jesus. Jesus remains the focal point and fulfillment of the Tabernacle today; in fact, He has not done away with it’s function but, as we see him claim in the Gospels, has Himself stepped in and assumed the role and function of the Tabernacle and Temple forever more.

Further Resources:
Fill The Earth Week 5 - The Church As The New Temple
Signs - Cleansing The Temple

· 5 min read
What is a Kinsman Redeemer?

The book of Ruth is a fascinating and enthralling narrative - one drawing us into the story of redemption and the grafting of Gentiles into the family of God. It begins with the family of Naomi, an Israelite woman who finds herself in a tough situation, as both her sons and husband pass away. Left with no family, and in a foreign land, Naomi decides to leave the country of Moab and head back to Bethlehem. She heard the LORD had come to the aid of her people in Bethlehem by providing food and decided to make the journey back home with her daughters-in-law.


Tonderai Bassoppo-Moyo

Associate Pastor

· 6 min read
What Does it Mean to Desecrate the Sabbath?

Exodus 31:14
You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people.


Sarah Blount

Lead Pastor