Jewish tabernacle February 10 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV): Exodus 25, 26, 27, 30, 31. Note: The Living Bible provides an easier version to understand (use browser arrow to return to this Bible study) Exodus 25-27, Exodus 30-31

*The Tabernacle and Our Worship Center

Many people have seen or been involved in the construction of church buildings. Church buildings are not built in 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 and permits 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 the tabernacle or tent of worship begin within a few months after Israel is delivered from Egypt and immediately after God gives the Israelites moral and social laws. What is a tabernacle? What is the purpose of it? Who is the designer and builder? Why is it designed in such a fashion? What can we learn from the building of the tabernacle?

After God gives the Israelites the ten Commandments and social laws for their community, the people make a covenant with God to keep all the laws. By doing so they enter into a relationship with God. Then Moses goes back up into Mt. Sinai to meet with God. The people last see Moses go up into Mt. Sinai just before a cloud of fire descends (Exodus 24:15-18). When he does not come back for a long time they wonder what has become of him. They are being tested (in the Bible a forty day time span often signifies testing), and it is difficult to wait. Could we believe the best about God and wait for him?

Moses does not get burned up and neither does he desert them. God is on Mt. Sinai with Moses 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 is on the mountain, he receives a design for a tabernacle, its furnishings, and priestly garments for the ministers at the tabernacle. A tabernacle is a portable tent of worship. The tabernacle is similar to a worship center or church, only it has completely different furnishings and functions.

What is the purpose of the tabernacle? God says 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 wants his presence to dwell with the Israelites. This physical manifestation of his presence is important to the Israelites; they are surrounded by nations with foreign gods. The LORD, the true God of heaven, wants 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 designs the tabernacle and the Israelites contribute to it, making it their own, and then God chooses certain artisans and laborers for the work of building it (Exodus 35:30). This is going to be a simple but magnificent structure.

The LORD says 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 gives each of us gifts and abilities to contribute to His body, the church (1Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:1-16; Romans 12:6-8). We are chosen and designed for the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-13).

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

The furnishings of the tabernacle are the Ark of the Covenant (a small golden chest with a lid, whereupon sit two golden angels with their wings facing each other and wingtips touching), a beautifully designed golden lampstand of cups and almond blossoms for light (a menora), a small golden table, on which a priest daily places 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 has a purpose, is made according to a pattern, and is a type symbolizing things to come.

The tabernacle is a 45ft x 15ft curtained tent located in the north end of a large 150 ft. x 75ft. curtained courtyard. Close to the south entrance is a large altar for sacrifices, and somewhere in the middle of the courtyard is a large basin for priests to wash themselves.

The tabernacle is divided into sections, separated by ornately decorated curtains on frame works, containing the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The Holy Place accomodates the golden table of showbread, the golden lampstand, and the golden altar of incense. Separated by a thick, rich, and an ornately designed curtain of Cherubim angels is the Most Holy Place. Inside this 15ft. x 15ft room is 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 are 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 is graciously provided by

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