Tabernacle– Tent or Temporary. Paul refers to our own bodies as tabernacles of clay. The tabernacle was a place of divine worship, where God dwelt with Israel as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Israel was divided by tribe and encamped around the tabernacle (Num. 2). God in His Shekinah Glory dwelt in the Most Holy Place, behind the inner vale of the Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. The tabernacle is where the children of Israel approached God through the Levitical Priesthood; Aaron and his sons, to make blood sacrifices and meat (flour, oil and frankincense) offerings to atone for different types of sin. The priest would enter the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16), where a ritual of washing, special garments, bull’s blood (for the priest), 2 goats (for Israel, one to sacrifice and one to have the sins transferred to and become the scape goat), a ram, and a final bathing.
Commandment to build the tabernacle and a pattern given: In Exodus 25 the Lord specifies to Moses the offerings and the pattern, “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” New testament scriptural cross reference: Heb. 9:11-12, “But Christ being come an high priest of good things 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.”
Offerings for the Tabernacle: (Ex. 25 1:9)
- Gold, Silver and Brass – For the furnishings, loops, and couplings.
- Blue, Purple, Scarlet, fine linen, and goats hair– for the curtains.
- Rams’ skins died red, badgers’ skins – Rams’ skins are like the present day morocco leather, badgers’ skins were actually porpoises which were native to the Red Sea, used to cover the Holy Place.
- Shittim wood– Very hard wood, wood eating insects could not infest it. It was found in the Sinai Peninsula.
- Oil, Spices– myrrh, cinnamon, cane, cassia, stacte, onycha, galbanum (Ex 30:23-24)
- Onyx stones– Part of the priest’s garments found in Ex. 28. The onyx stones were used to engrave six of the names of the children of Israel on each of the 2 stones and placed on the shoulders of the ephod. (Ex. 28:9-12)
All of the material that was of precious stones including the oil and spices came with the children of Israel from the Egyptians when the exodus began. The workman were called and gathered to begin this work. Bezaleel from the tribe of Judah, Aholiab from the tribe of Dan, and every wise hearted man whom the LORD gave wisdom was called to begin this work. The people were moved in such a way that they brought much more offerings than necessary to complete the tabernacle. Moses gave a commandment to restrain the people from bringing any more.
The tabernacle was designed to be mobile. Only 7 weeks after the Tabernacle was built, they made their first move! (Num. 10:11). Everything about the tabernacle is a picture of things to come in Christ. There are so many parallels and types and shadows, that I know I cannot do it justice, so I will offer a few that I see. However if anyone reading this article would like to send me your thought on the types and shadows, I would be happy to add them to this article.
Types and Shadows
One Door: There is one entrance into the tabernacle, there is one entrance into the sheepfold, and Christ is the door. Anyone who enters any other way than by Christ is a thief and a robber.
The Walls: The walls a high enough that one who is outside the tabernacle and in the world are not able to pear in and see the things of God in parallel to when we were dead in trespasses and sins we were not able to know God or understand the things of God.
The Colors of the Curtains of the door:
- Blue: Symbolizing Heaven
- Purple: Symbolizing Royalty
- Scarlet: The Blood of Christ
- White: His Holiness and Righteousness
Skins and Goat hair covering the outside of the tent of the tabernacle and the beauty within: There is no beauty that we should desire Him outwardly (Is. 53) in contrast to being in Christ and seeing His beauty inwardly.
Shittim Wood overlaid with Gold: The two natures of Christ, he is Verily Man (Wood) and Verily God (Gold).
Bronze (Brass), Silver and Gold: The closer the items are to the Most Holy Place the more precious metals are used. From the outer court bronze is the choice metal, the 4 posts dividing the curtain and the base supporting the frames were silver and the Holy Place and Most Holy Place is mostly gold. The closer you are to the Lord, the more precious it becomes.
Brazen Alter: The place of the burnt offerings, the four horns symbolized help and refuge (1Ki 1:50, 2:28, Ps 18:2) They also symbolized the atoning power.
Laver of Brass: Place of washing. Could be viewed as the washing of the Word or Baptism. (Eph. 5:26)
The Table of Shewbread: Shewbread literally means “bread of presence”. 12 loafs were to be offered before God continually, one for each tribe of Israel not only does this exemplify Gods continual presence but it is our offering to him which is our fruit.
The Candlestick: There are seven lamps showing completeness and in parallel with the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne of God. This can be representative of several things: 1. The Holy Spirit (Is. 11:1-2, Rev. 5:6), 2. Christ, the light of the world, 3. God’s glory. I tend to believe it is most likely in reference to the Holy Spirit due to the location of the candle stick and the scriptural references.
Alter of incense: Symbolizes the prayers of the saints. (Ex 30, Rev. 5:8)
Mobile Tabernacle: The tabernacle is movable in contrast to our bodies, we are now the temple of the living God, He is everywhere present and nowhere absent.
The Ark of the Covenant: Located in the Most Holy Place. Symbolizes the Throne of God, Christ, and Christ’s Attributes. Please see the article Ark of The Covenant.
The Walk of a child of God:
- One is born already a child of God being predestined in parallel to being born of Israel of the 12 tribes.
- Being born again vitally, enters through Christ (The Door), now able to see the things of God paralleled to the one door of the tabernacle, and the things within.
- It is manifested that Christ had died for our sins Paralleled to the brazen alter.
- They repent and are baptized in parallel to the bronze laver.
- They join to a church in parallel to entering the holy place.
- They engage in spiritual worship and prayer in parallel to the alter of incense and Golden candlestick.
- Christ died for our sins and now has rent the veil of the temple in twain giving us access to the Father in Heaven through Christ our mediator in parallel to the Most Holy Place.
Elder Jonathan Cook