The Tabernacle, Godís Dwelling Place - Lesson 1
Today we begin a series of lessons concerning a very unique construction project that God was instrumental in bringing about.
We know from scripture that our God is the creator of the heavens and the earth, and all living things.
But here in our study we will find that God is also the architect of a dwelling place for himself.
This is a unique thing for in no other instance in scripture do we find that God has so described structures and furnishings that have been built according to his exacting specifications.
But the exacting specifications that he has given Moses for the construction of a tabernacle and its environs show us a God who will not just dwell anywhere but will only dwell in a place that he has designed and prepared for himself.
And as we study the Bible we know that this is a principal with God for God chooses his dwelling place carefully according to his exacting will.
Our first introduction to this dwelling place is given to us in
Exodus 25:8-9 where this place is called a sanctuary which means a consecrated thing or place, a set apart place for a special purpose, a holy place.
And as we read this we are to know that this is God speaking to Moses:
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. 9According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.
Now think about this amazing condescension on the part of our Holy God who in this statement deigns to dwell among a people who have been called out to bear His name.
There had never been to this time a people given the privilege and blessings to have Almighty God himself dwell among them.
Now before we get into the details of this dwelling place that God has so carefully defined, let us consider just a few things this called out nation had experienced just prior to the construction of the tabernacle.
The Israelites had just been set free after dwelling in Egypt 400 years with many of those years spent in slavery.
The nation of Israel was in its birth pangs.
The Israelites were soon to be given their own country, a homeland, the land of Canaan known today as Palestine.
And most importantly the Israelites had been chosen by God to be His followers, the people of God.
They had been chosen to be God's witnesses to the other nations of the earth, testifying to the fact that there is only ONE TRUE and LIVING God which was a bold head-on-declaration against all the religions of that day.
In fact, during the very days Moses had been up on Mount Sinai face to face with God, the Lord had given him the civil and religious laws that were to form Israel as a nation and govern them as a people.
These very laws, both civil and religious, form the basis for all society today!
Look at the front of our Supreme Court Building and you will see Moses and the ten commandments most prominently displayed.
The body of law of governments throughout the world is centered on the principles of the law given to Moses.
God chose to give this gift of law to the world through a people whom He had separated from Canaan to Egypt for the purpose of becoming a nation.
And this came about through years of conflict and struggle.
And after the giving of the ten commandments and the civil and religious laws He now provides instructions for constructing the Tabernacle, the place where His very own presence was to dwell among this people.
Moses had come down from the mountain and shared all that he received from God with the people, confirming them into a nation ruled by law that had actually been handed down to them by God Himself.
Now, they were ready to begin their final march to the Promised Land except for one thing: building the house of God, that was to be called the Tabernacle.
The Tabernacle was to be the place of God's presence where He would dwell and guide His people in a very special way during their wilderness journeys.
And as testified by scripture the building of Godís dwelling place was one of the most joyful and momentous occasions in the history of Israel.
The Tabernacle was the worship center of the Israelites during their wilderness journeys which would last until they reached the promised land.
The Tabernacle was actually a large, beautiful, portable tent, built to be easily pitched and taken down and designed as suitable for travel.
Solomonís temple which replaced the Tabernacle was to be built some 500 years later, and was a permanent edifice, not designed for mobility for the Israelites were intended to be in the promised land forever.
Here are Some Key Facts About the Tabernacle:
Number 1. The Tabernacle was the worship center of Israel for more than 500 years from MOSES to DAVID - until Solomon's TEMPLE was built.
Much of its life was spent in a permanent location even though it was built for portability.
Number 2. A Large Portion Of God's Word Is Dedicated To The Tabernacle:
Some 37 entire chapters discuss the Tabernacle: 13 chapters in the book of Exodus discuss the Tabernacle and its priesthood.
Some 18 chapters of Leviticus discuss the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle.
Two chapters in Deuteronomy are set aside for its study.
d. In the New Testament, the Tabernacle is discussed in detail in four of the 13 chapters in the book of Hebrews.
Number 3. The Tabernacle Of Moses Is A Powerful Teaching Tool Of Godís Grace
The Tabernacle was full of symbols, types, pictures, and shadows that point to spiritual truths for the believer.
Now in looking at symbolic meanings, we allow the Bible to speak for itself and allow "scripture to interpret scripture."
We must rely upon the Holy Spirit to guide us in its study, just as He was the guide in the construction of this magnificent building and compound.
Number 4. God's Holy Sprit Inspired Moses To Write Everything Down That God's People Would Need In Order To Know How God Wanted To Be Approached And Worshipped.
This teaches us that we cannot worship God as we choose to do, we are to worship Him as He chooses for us to do.
The Tabernacle and its priesthood were teaching tools for more than 500 years.
Israel had to settle for an imperfect Tabernacle that was made with human hands.
But the believer today has a much better perspective of our redemption that was spelled out in the Tabernacle.
The spiritual has come to fulfill the natural.
We are no longer limited to the mere shadow of the Tabernacle and its priesthood; we have the reality of the Tabernacle's message - the unique Person to whom the Tabernacle pointed Ė OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, who is the Redeemer of the World.
This is so clearly pointed out in Hebrews 8:1-5, Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 4For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.
Number 5. The Tabernacle Symbolizes Three Major Things:
The Tabernacle symbolizes the ministry of JESUS CHRIST.
John 1:14, And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The Tabernacle symbolizes the ministry of the CHURCH.
The Tabernacle was a worship center in which God dwelt, and the Tabernacle stood as a witness to the world.
So does the church. God's presence and witness dwell within the church in two ways:
The Tabernacle symbolizes or pictures the Christian believer, the person who TRULY follows God
God's Spirit dwells within believers, God's Spirit dwells among believers - when two or three of them gather together as we are told in:
Matthew 18:20, For where two or three are gathered together in my
name, there am I in the midst of them.
The believer, his body - is the very TEMPLE OF GOD, the sanctuary and dwelling place for the presence and witness of God upon earth.
1 Corinthians. 6:19-20, 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.
2 Corinthians 6:16, And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Now there were two main purposes and several lesser purposes for the provision of the tabernacle.
The tabernacleís short-term purpose was to build God a sanctuary where God would be worshipped and to show His presence among the people.
Exodus 25:8, And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell
The long-term purpose of the Tabernacle was to excite God's people to see in the tabernacle the promised MESSIAH.
The promised MESSIAH would come and fulfill every picture of the Tabernacle within HIMSELF.
Through the life of Jesus Christ, God's people would no longer have to settle for a pattern made with human hands.
Jesus Christ is the true Tabernacle who came to "tabernacle" among HIS PEOPLE!
That word tabernacle can mean, "camp out," "dwell," "stay," "commune," "inhabit," and "be in union with."
All those things speak to us of the relationship between the believer and our Lord.
The tabernacle became flesh and dwelt among us as we read John 1:14.
The details of creation are contained in Genesis 1 and 2.
If we pay attention we marvel and stand in awe daily at the creation.
But equally we can marvel and stand in awe in how a Sovereign Creator, a Supreme Being, could lead a group of slaves to construct a building in which GOD HIMSELF could dwell among the people.
As we study this dwelling, God will lead us to a wealth of knowledge, truth and revelation about Himself.
The Tabernacle is a mere shadow of our Redeemer and a picture of the type of dwelling place God wants us to be for Him.
We are the New Testament Tabernacle of the Lord.
God has forever wanted to dwell among His people.
This is revealed in the typical dwelling place in the Old Testament and accomplished in the New Testament.
There is a progressive revelation of the dwelling places for God in Scripture:
∑ God dwelt with man before the entrance of sin in Eden's dwelling or tabernacle.
God walked and talked with Adam in this Garden (Genesis 3:8, 24)
∑ God walked and talked with Noah and the patriarchs in their times (Genesis 6:9).
God appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 17:1; 26:24 and 35:1)
∑ And in our study we find that God dwelt with man in the TABERNACLE OF MOSES (Exodus 25:8, 22).
∑ God gave still further revelation in the TEMPLE OF SOLOMON
∑ God's fullest and most perfect revelation is in the person of JESUS CHRIST.
For He is the FULLNESS of the Godhead Bodily.
He is God in human form.
He is THE TABERNACLE and THE TEMPLE.
He was the WORD made flesh who DWELT, which literally means tabernacles, among us, and we BEHELD HIS GLORY.
God was IN CHRIST. (2 Corinthians. 5:18-19)
∑ God now dwells in the tabernacle or dwelling place of the Church.
He dwells individually in each believerís heart and corporately in the Church as a body.
∑ The ultimate revelation of the dwelling place of God is seen in the revelation of the FOURSQUARE CITY of GOD, which is the New Jerusalem.
Rev. 21:1-3, And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
So God has dwelt WITH MEN, AMONGST MEN, and today, IN MEN and in eternity in men and with men.
Fellowship with God and man is necessary to fulfill God's purpose and plan in redemption.
As recorded in Genesis in the beginning we see God coming down to earth to dwell and fellowship with Man eternally.
God desires fellowship with man, and yet God can only dwell with man on His own terms.
To dwell with men requires God dealing with manís sinfulness.
And then divine holiness will result in a holy being for Godís word will bring this about as it is recorded in:
1 Peter 1:16, Be ye holy, as I am holy.
This is Godís will and Godís will be performed.