This study is about the Tabernacle. What does this word tabernacle mean? Tabernacle means “tent, place of dwelling or sanctuary” It was a sacred place where God chose to meet His people, the folk Israel, during the 40 years they were in the desert under Moses leadership. It was the place where the leaders and people came together to worship and offer sacrifices. The tabernacle was first made in the wilderness exactly one year after the Passover when the Israelites were freed from their Egyptian slavery. This is about 1450 B.C. It was a mobile tent with portable furniture that the people traveled with and set up wherever they had their camp. The tabernacle was the center of the camp, and the 12 tribes of Israel would set up their tents around it according to their tribe. The instruction to build the tabernacle was first given to Moses in the wilderness and he gave the orders to the folk Israel. In Exodus 25:8 we read: “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” And in Exodus 29:45, 46 we read: “And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God” The purpose of the Tabernacle is clear: God wanted to dwell among His folk Israel!
The Tabernacle was a building and the measures were 150 by 75 feet. It was enclosed by linen curtains. The entrance was in the east and it was a gate of curtains.
Near the entrance on the other side was the brazen altar. The priest offered sacrifices on the brazen altar for the people. The brazen altar was made of shittim wood. It was five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar was foursquare and the height was three cubits. It had horns on each corner. In the midst of this altar was the roaster whereupon the fire burned. Every day there was an event burned offer. The altar was made of cupper. The altar was a place for burning animal sacrifices. By this it showed the Israelites that the first step for sinful man to approach a holy God was to be cleansed by the blood of an innocent creature. For a sin offering a person had to bring an animal, a male without blemish or defect from the flock or herd to the priest at the tabernacle gate. All the sin offers were brought to this brazen altar for reconciling of sins. Guilty men found forgiveness through this.
Now the material of the altar: wood: it was made of shittim wood or acacia. This was a tree which came from the desert. It came out of the desert. In Isaiah 53:2 we read: ”For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” Here we know now the prophet Isaiah spoke about the Lord Jesus Christ. In this image of this wood we see His humanity. We read further on that He is made out of a woman. In Galatians 4:4 we read: “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoptions of sons” Sure God’s Son the Lord Jesus Christ is the true God and the eternal life! Jesus Christ, the eternal God, came to this earth, He humbled Himself through this and He did this in love and grace for us and became Human. In Philippians 2: 5-9:”Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name” Why humblest He Himself, the Almighty Creator, so deep? Answer: to take upon Himself the sin of the world. He died for you and me on the cross, in our place for our sins. We had to die our own death because of sin but we couldn’t, so He did this for us and died our death!
The altar’s wood was covered with cupper. Cupper is an image of power. It can resist the fire, it will not burn! In Numbers 16 we read in verses 35-39 about this! Who had the power to undertake God’s judgment? Nobody or angels. Only the Righteousness, Holy Son of God. He was Man- wood and He was God –the cupper. Only He, the Lord Jesus Christ could bring this offer, Himself. The work of redemption for all men of this world! This is enough to bring all men to God. He is the Answer for the sin of this world!
The roaster: the roaster was in the altar to lay down the wood on it. Upon this the fire burned and God had the fire lighten. Leviticus 9:24: “And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” In Hebrews 12:29 we read: “For our God is a consuming fire ”. We as men deserved the judgment of God but Christ hang on the cross under the flaming wrath of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” So the altar which upon the offer was laid became the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the altar and the offer! He offered Himself for this world! He gave Himself for us, for you and me dear reader and before this He gave Himself for God the Father. In Hebrews 10:11 we read: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God” The priest in the tabernacle couldn’t sit down because he stood the whole day burning sacrifices for the sins of the people but the Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself once for all for the sins of the world and sits now on the right hand of God! Then there was no rest, now at this moment it is rest, rest in the finished work from Golgotha!
The Laver: In Exodus 30: 17-20 we read the following verses: “And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord;” For the normal Jew the laver was not important because it was forbidden for him to come to the laver. The altar was the place which he could reach, not further. The laver was located in convenient pace for washing and stood as a reminder that people need cleansing before approaching God. For the priest the laver was important, every day. The laver was filled with water. The priests had to wash their hands and feet here before they would enter the tabernacle, the tent of the congregation. Because of their everyday duties the priests were defiled (their hands and their feet) so every time they had to cleanse themselves with this water. What is the meaning of water in the Scriptures? Answer: cleaning. Blood speaks of reconciliation and water speaks of cleaning. In the Middle East people wear not shoes but sandals. Because of this the feet were very soon dirty. It was forbidden with dirty feet to lie down in a house to eat. Before every meal people had to clean their feet and hands with water. Water was for cleaning.
When the Lord Jesus Christ died for us on the cross after His death we read the following verse: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water”. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ speaks for reconciliation, water is for cleaning. I John 1:7b:”and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us form all sin” The Laver was made of brass. This brass was from the mirrors of the women. The women had given their mirrors for God’s Work. Exodus 38:8: “And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the looking-glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” In the time when the folk Israel was in the desert, looking-glasses were not made of glass what we now see but were made of brass. Originally the women were looking into their glasses to see if they were beautiful etc. Now they gave their looking-glasses of brass to God and they(other people of the folk Israel) melt them down for the laver made of brass.
For us believers in the Lord Jesus, we are forgiven through Christ’s work on the cross and we are washed by His Word. We need to be washed daily in His Word to cleanse ourselves so that we can serve and minister before Him.
And in Ephesians 5:25 and 26 we read: ”Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word” We are cleansed through the Lord Jesus Christ, through His blood! His blood what flowed on the cross out of His body with the water! Through His blood we have also the forgiveness of all our sins. Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14.
The Holy place:
After washing their hands and feet at the laver, the priest could enter the Holy Place. This was the first room in the tent of the tabernacle. In that Holy Place were three pieces of furniture: the Menorah, the table of showbread and the golden altar of incense. The house, the Holy Place and Holy of Holies, were made of wood. Exodus 26:15: “And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up. Ten cubits (5 meters) shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board. 48 boards were neccesarily for this house of God. The wood came out of the earth. It speaks of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is really Man and was born on earth. The boards were covered with pure gold! Gold is a noble metal, we see it through all the Bible. The wood of the boards represent the Lord Jesus Christ His pure human nature. The gold is for His divine glory. This is how He walked here on earth: God and Man in one Person.
The menorah is also called the golden lampstand or candlestick. The menorah stood at the left side of the Holy Place. It existed of one piece of pure gold. The lampstand had seven branches. One of them was central in the middle. The seven lamps holding olive oil and wicks stood on top of the branches. The priests were instructed to keep the lamps burning continuously. In Leviticus 24:1-3 we read: “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the Lord continually; it shall be a statute forever in your generations” The lampstand was the only source who gave light in the Holy Place. Without this light the priests couldn’t do their work there. The light gave light upon the table of showbread and the altar of incense and the priest could approach God. In John 1:9 Gods Word tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ is the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. The Lord Jesus Christ while He was on earth told: “I Am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” John 8:12. The Lord Jesus Christ is represented as the main branch of the lampstand. We as believers in Christ are children of the light Ephesians 5:8. We were in darkness but now in Christ we are in the light!! Pure gold is a representation of the deity and perfection of our Lord Jesus Christ and seven is the number of completeness in the Bible. We as believers are made complete by the perfection of Christ.
The table of showbread:
This table was a small table. It was made of acacia wood and it was covered with pure gold. It stood on the right side of the Holy Place across from the lampstand and held 12 loaves of bread. The 12 loaves of bread represent the 12 tribes of the folk Israel. The priests baked the bread and this bread was laid down for the Lord for 1 week. Every Sabbath the priests would remove the bread and eat it in the Holy Place and after this they put fresh bread on the table again. The priests could only eat this bread and it could only be eaten in the Holy Place because it was holy.
The bread was always in the Lord’s presence that’s why it also is called bread of presence.The table and the bread were a picture of Gods willingness of fellowship and communion with man. God was willing for man to enter into His presence to fellowship with Him, and this invitation was always open. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke in John 6:35,49-50 the following words: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die” Jesus Christ is the Living Bread. He gave Himself for this world, for the sin of the world and the one who take Him as his personal Savior God gives that person eternal life. In I Corinthians 11: 23-24 we read the following verses: ”For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: And when He brake it, and said, Take, eat this is my body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me”
The golden altar of incense
This altar is not to be confuse with the brazen altar. It stood in the Holy place in front of the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of holies. The altar was smaller than the brazen altar. It was made of acacia word and covered with gold. On each corner were horns placed. The priests had to burn incense on the golden altar every morning and evening. On the same time were daily burnt offerings. The incense burned continually throughout day and night and it was a pleasing aroma to the Lord. The golden altar of incense was a symbol of prayers and intercession of the people going up to God as a sweet fragrance. God’s will was His dwelling to be a place where people could reach Him and pray to Him. In Isaiah 56:7 we read: “For Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The golden altar is a representation of Christ. He is now our Intercessor before God the Father on the right hand of the Father. While the Lord Jesus Christ was on earth He prayed for the believers and just before His betrayal He interceded for His disciples and all the believers asking God the Father to guard them form evil and sanctify them by His Word. Read John 17:1-26. Now, today He is on the Father’s side, interceding for us, the body of Christ, the Church. In Romans 8:34 we read: “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us” The horns of the golden altar were sprinkled with blood from the animal sacrifice to cleanse and purify it from the sins of the people of Israel. We read this in Leviticus 4:7 and 16:18. As we have seen we cleansed through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ once and for all.
The Holy of Holies:
In the Holy place of the tabernacle was an inner room who was called the Holy of Holies or the most Holy place. It was a sacred room and an ordinary person couldn’t enter this place.
It was the place where God dwelled in the midst of His people. When Israel was in the wilderness, God appeared as a pillar of cloud or fire in and above the Holy of Holies. The veil, a thick curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. The veil was made of fine linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn. The veil was a screen, a divider or separator that hides. The veil shielded a holy God from sinful man. Who entered into the Holy of Holies was entering the very presence of God. Everyone who entered the Holy of Holies would die. On the day of Atonement the High Priest, God’s chose mediator with His people could enter the Holy of Holies through the veil. This was once a year. The veil was a barrier between man and God to make sure that man could not enter into God’s presence. The high priest on the Day of Atonement before he could enter the Holy of Holies, he had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes form a direct view of God, and bring blood with him to make atonement for sins.
In Hebrews 9 verse 7 we read: “But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people”
In the same chapter in verses 11 and 12 we read the following verses: “But Christ being come an high priest of good thing to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Christ is the complete Sacrifice. He offered Himself for you and me and that did He to die on the cross on Calvary for all our sins and sin of this world! He had done this because to redeem us out of this dark world which is without God and lost. At the end of His crucifixion we read: “Jesus , when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.“ When our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross the temple was in Jerusalem. The above verses tell us that the way to God was open on the moment that our Lord Jesus Christ had all finished. Now we have free access to God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ Ephesians 2:18: “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” Every day, every moment we have this free access to God. There is for us nothing in the way to approach God. O how a wonderful God we have! The following verses let us see what our position is in the Lord Jesus Christ: “But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved; And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2: 4-6. Now we are in Christ as members of the body of Christ I Corinthians 12:13. Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Ghost Who lives in us. Our bodies now are the tabernacle. God lives in us through His Spirit. In I Corinthians 6:19,20 we read: “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”. This we have to recognize every day and have to do as believers in Christ.