The Old Testament Tabernacle was not just a large portable tent the Israelites carried with them as they moved from place to place. It was a place of worship. The word tabernacle means “a dwelling place.” It was the dwelling place of God “among his people,” and when entering, one was ‘entering’ into the presence of God. Each part, each room, each piece of furniture, plus the metals, materials and colors used — all have significant metaphorical and typological meaning culminating in spiritual truth.
After coming in by the gate — the only way in — we first observe sacrifice at the altar of burnt offering. Here we find acceptance and the invitation to progress further to the water basin, for on-going cleansing. Once inside the Holy Place, true worship is pictured. We see the golden lamp — Christ our Light; the table with the bread — the Bread of Life; and the altar of incense — Christ our Intercessor and Mediator. Beyond the veil is the Holy of Holies, with the Ark and Mercy Seat, wherein is the presence of God.
Scripture tells us, (Ex. 39 and 40) that Moses did all that God commanded of him in constructing the Tabernacle, When the work was finished, God’s glory came and filled the Tabernacle so full, that Moses could not go in. That is how the book of Exodus ends. But Leviticus begins: ‘God spoke to Moses from the Tabernacle’. Hebrews 1:2 tells us that God now speaks to us through His Son. The Tabernacle or Dwelling Place of God, with all its types and shadows,– points to the Son, Who is the true dwelling place of God, with, among, and now — by His Spirit — in us. (John 14:17) His Body on Earth. Whereas, in the Old Covenant, no man tainted by sin, could come into the presence of God, lest he die, in the New Covenant, there is an eternal way made into God’s Presence. (Heb. 9:11–15)
The people of the Old Covenant were not allowed access to the tabernacle, but experienced its rites vicariously through the priests. When we study Hebrews we find that the only priest that we need in the New Covenant is our High Priest, Jesus Christ, Who takes us spiritually into the innermost: the Holy of Holies. (Heb. 4:14-16) to stand in the presence of the Father.
To be able to commune with God, we must enter through the gate, (John 10:9) be encountered with and embrace the sacrifice of His Son, (Heb. 12:2) walk past and through the washing, (Eph. 5:26) be the fragrance of worship in Spirit and in Truth, (John 4:24) see His light burning, (John 8:12) and partake of His bread (John 6:35, 48) that is ever present. Then and only then may we enter through the veil (now rent for us by Jesus’ cross ‘” Mark 15:38) as Jesus our High Priest ushers us into the Father’s presence. As related in Hebrews 4:16, we may then come boldly before the throne of grace! In this progression Jesus’ words are fulfilled, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6)
This should lay a foundation ‘” a brief overview — of why the Tabernacle is such a great, powerful and marvelous study. May we see Christ, the Son of God, in this journey through The Tabernacle of Moses.
This is the first of a series on the Tabernacle of Moses. Next:
The Tabernacle of Moses/Picture of Christ ‘” Part 2 — The Gate ‘– Only One Way In
All Scripture quotes: KJV, unless otherwise noted.
Thanks to Myers Media for the royalty-free photos from their The Sanctuary Teaching Aids DVD distributed by Vision Video.
My greatest teacher about the Tabernacle was and is my own personal Bible study, both Old and New Testaments. One of the outstanding influences on my beginning the personal study was:
The Tabernacle, by M.R. deHaan, M.D., Copyright 1955 by Zondervan Publishing House ‘” still in print.