The Tabernacle



I’m not here to tickle your ears today.  You may hear some things you haven’t thought about before.  But whatever you hear, whatever sounds true, you need to search it out for yourself in God’s Word.  Only in your own communion and study of God’s Word is He going to reveal His Truth to you.


In Exodus 25:8-9 God is telling Moses about the Tabernacle that He wants His people to build for Him. "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.  Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.


Have you ever noticed how much the Old Testament points us toward Jesus?  Jesus spoke of His body as a temple.  John 2:19-21 “Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?"  But the temple he had spoken of was his body.”   Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?”  If the tabernacle that God is speaking of is really our body and our life before Him, then He says, “make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”

What was the pattern that God has shown us?   JESUS CHRIST.  And God’s Word tells us that we are to walk as Jesus walked.  1 John 2:6 “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”


God also said to make all of the tabernacle’s furnishings exactly like the pattern.  Let’s consider the furnishings of the tabernacle to see if they apply to our life before God. The first thing God mentions is the Ark of the Covenant.  The ark is in the Most Holy place and is truly the heart of the tabernacle.  If the ark represents our heart, what did God tell Moses to put in the ark?  His Commandments.  Exodus 25:16 “Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you.”

He repeats the same words in Exodus 25:21.  It seems to be very important to God that we keep His commandments in the heart of our tabernacle.


In Exodus 25:22 God finishes His instructions about the ark saying, that in this place, “I will meet with you and give you all my commands.”


Again God says in Exodus 30:6 “Put the altar in front of the curtain that is before the ark of the Testimony — before the atonement cover that is over the Testimony — where I will meet with you.”  It also seems to be very important to God that we hear His Words; “I will meet with you”, there in the heart of the tabernacle.


The next item in the tabernacle was the Altar of Incense.  God said that the Altar of Incense should be placed in front of the Ark of the Covenant in Exodus 40:5.  If each of the furnishings represents something in our life before God, what does the Altar of Incense represent?  Looking to Jesus again, I believe the Bible gives us a specific answer in Revelation 5:7-8. This is talking about Jesus:  “He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.  And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”  The Altar of Incense represents our prayers to God. 


The next piece of furniture mentioned is the table where God wants the Holy Bread presented.  Exodus 25:30, God says, “Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times.”  In the phrase, Bread of the Presence, presence is capitalized and refers to the Presence of God Himself.  The Bread represented a perpetual offering to the Lord by which His people declared that they consecrated to God the fruits of all their labor.  At the same time acknowledging that all the fruit had come only by God’s blessing.  So the Table of Holy Bread would represent our gratitude and thankfulness to God for His presence and provision to us, and of course His greatest provision for us is the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.


The next furnishing the Lord speaks of is the Lampstand.  Exodus 25:37 "Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it.” Exodus 25:40 “See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”


The pattern on the mountain?  Well we know that Jesus is the pattern, and we read in Matthew 17:1-2 “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.”


I would submit to you that the Lampstand represents the Light of Christ shining in you that others will see.  Some will understand the Light and most will not.  John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”


The next furnishing in the tabernacle was the basin for washing.  Exodus 30:18a "Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing.”    Washing what?  Again let’s look to Jesus and God’s Word for the answer.  Ephesians 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”  Sounds like baptism doesn’t it?


Titus 3:5-6 “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”


The Basin for Washing is where Christ cleanses us to make us holy and blameless before Him.  That is what baptism symbolizes.  Did you notice the two baptisms these Scriptures spoke of?   He sacrificed His own life for us.  He took our uncleanness so that we could be clean and know the Living Water that only He can give us.


The last furnishing of the tabernacle is the Altar of Burnt Offering.  Speaking of the Altar of Burnt Offering God’s Word says, Exodus 27:8b “It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain.”


Let’s go back to the mountain.  Matthew 17:1-6   After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.


Did you ever wonder how the disciples knew that it was Moses and Elijah?  It could be very simple.  Jesus could have called them by name as He was talking with them.  Or, Jesus could have revealed it through the Holy Spirit to the disciples.  God’s Word doesn’t give us all the details, but it does tell us that with certainty they knew it was Moses and Elijah.


I would like you to take a few moments to try to put yourself in the place of Peter, James or John on that mountain with Jesus.  As a disciple you’ve been with Jesus quite awhile.  You have seen Him do many miraculous things, but He has always had the appearance of a normal human being on the outside.  Now all of a sudden, He is transformed before you into a brillance of light far beyond this world’s description.  Then your eyes also see Moses and Elijah appear right before you and they are talking with Jesus. Think about how you would feel if you were there on the mountain with the disciples.  What would you be feeling?  What would you be thinking?  What would you say?


Notice that James and John are silent while this is happening, but Peter, being Peter, blurts out Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."  The other Gospels tell us that Peter did not know what he was saying. It seems as though Peter had a condition that when he was very much afraid he contracted something like diarrhea of the mouth.   He had to spew out words however senseless they were.  Apparently this condition existed even before a glorified Christ.  But God does not allow Peter to continue. “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" “When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.”  Apparently Peter learned it was a time to be silent in his fear.


The Altar of Burnt Offering was the first thing that believers came to as they entered God’s tabernacle.  On the Mountain God said, “This is My Son whom I love, with Him I am well pleased, listen to Him.”  The Altar of Burnt Offering is where we start to become God’s tabernacle.  But we have to make an offering there before we can go any farther.  The offering God requires is all of ourself surrendered to Jesus with no reservations.  When we have made that offering, then God says that we have to listen to Him and obey everything He tells us to do.  And if we are willing to walk as Jesus did then we can continue on the path of becoming God’s tabernacle.


Have you started the process of becoming God’s tabernacle?  Have you made it past the Altar of Burnt Offering yet?  God wants you to become the sanctuary that He can come and dwell in for eternity.  Are you getting ready for eternity today, or are you still trying to hold onto the things in this world that you know in your heart cannot last?


If God is speaking to your heart today, then just do what His Spirit is telling you to do. Will you surrender all of your heart and life to Jesus today?  Will you make the offering that God requires of you?  God requires a daily offering from His people.  It will be the most important thing that you do or do not do for the rest of your life. Don’t let fear, doubt or anything that satan is trying to throw at you, keep you from the place that God has for you in His presence.