Jewish tabernacle February 10 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Exodus 25, 26, 27, 30, 31

*The Tabernacle and Our Worship Center

Many people have seen or been involved in the construction of church buildings. People do not normally build church buildings in a half-hazard fashion, without thought. Everything begins with a purpose or purposes. Plans then follow purposes. Designs and blueprints are made from the plans. Afterward, finances are obtained, materials are gathered, skilled workers and artisans are hired, and eventually the work begins. When the structure is complete, it is then furnished with the things desired for worship. In 1444 B.C. the plans for the construction of a worship center, called the tabernacle or tent of worship, began within a few months after Israel was delivered from Egypt and immediately after God gave the Israelites moral and social laws. What was the purpose of the tabernacle? Who designed and built it? Why was it designed in such a fashion? What can we learn from the building of the tabernacle?

After God gave the Israelites the ten Commandments and social laws for their community, the people made a covenant with God to keep all the laws. They entered into a relationship with God. Then Moses went back up into Mt. Sinai to meet with God. The people last saw Moses go up into Mt. Sinai just before a cloud of fire descended (Exodus 24:15-18). What were they to think? They likely thought Moses got burned up, especially since he did not come back for a long time. This probably shook their faith. They were being tested (a 40 day time span often signifies testing in the Scriptures), and it was difficult to wait. Could we believe the best about God and wait for him?

Moses did not get burned up and neither did he desert them. God was preparing to do something good for the people. Perhaps this is why some of us don't get answers to our prayers right away - God is preparing something better for us. While Moses was on the mountain, he received a design for a tabernacle, its furnishings, and priestly garments for the ministers at the tabernacle. A tabernacle was a portable tent of worship. The tabernacle was what we might think of today as a worship center or church, only it had completely different furnishings and functions.

What was the purpose of the tabernacle? God said to Moses, “Have them [the Israelites] make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them,” (Exodus 25:1-2,8, NIV). Although God is Almighty and transcendent and able to be everywhere at the same time, God wanted his presence to dwell with the Israelites. This physical manifestation of his presence was important to the Israelites; they were surrounded by nations with foreign gods. The LORD, the true God of heaven, wanted the Israelites to worship only him and to do it in a proper manner. Though most of us are not Israelites, God wants to dwell within each of us so that we become a tabernacle of his presence and live to the praise of his glory (John 1:14; 2Corinthians 5:1-10; Ephesians 2:22). At the end of the age, God will again make his presence dwell with us as he did the Israelites (Revelation 21:3).

God designed the tabernacle and the Israelites contributed to it, making it their own, and then God chose certain artisans and laborers for the work of building it (Exodus 35:30). It was going to be a grand place.

The LORD said to Moses,

Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.

These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you, (Exodus 25:1-7, 9, NIV).

God wants each Christian to also be involved in the building up of our worship centers. He gave each of us gifts and abilities to contribute to His body, the church (1Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:1-16; Romans 12:6-8). We were chosen and designed for the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-13).

The tabernacle was designed to be a portable structure because the Israelites would be on a journey through the desert. Instead of brick and mortar, it was constructed with frames, bars, curtains, rings, and clasps. All the furnishings of the temple had rings and carrying poles.

The furnishings of the tabernacle were the Ark of the Covenant (a small golden chest with a lid, whereupon sat two golden angels with their wings facing each other and wingtips touching), a beautifully designed golden lampstand for light (a menora), a small golden table, on which daily a priest would put twelve flat cakes of unleavened bread, a small golden altar for burning incense, a bronze basin for the priests to wash, and a large bronze altar for sacrificing burnt offerings from the worshippers. Each article had a purpose, was made according to a pattern, and was a type symbolizing things to come.

The tabernacle was divided into sections, separated by richly decorated curtains on frame works. The tabernacle was in a large 150 ft. x 75ft. curtained courtyard. Close to the entrance was a large altar for sacrifices, and somewhere in the middle of the courtyard was a large basin for priests to wash themselves. Within the courtyard was the 45ft x 15ft. tabernacle, which contained the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The Holy Place contained the golden table of showbread, the golden lampstand, and the golden altar of incense. Separated by a thick, rich, and an elaborately designed curtain of Cherubim angels was the Most Holy Place. Inside this 15ft. x 15ft room was one article of furniture, the golden Ark of the Covenant with the Cherubim on top (see representative pictures of the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle). We will learn more about the tabernacle design and its purpose in coming days, but if you want more insight now, check out (Hebrews 8:5; 9:1- 10:25).

Lessons to live by:

  • God wants to dwell within each of us so that we become a tabernacle of his presence. He gives us his peace and his presence (more...)
  • God wants each of us to be involved in the building up of our worship centers through the use of our spiritual gifts.
  • We were chosen and designed for the praise of His glory.

Today’s Bible Memory Verse:

Exodus 25:8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” (NIV)

*A representative picture of the Tabernacle was graciously provided by

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