photo: The Tabernacle
In the Old Testament the tabernacle was built by the people of Israel as an altar to God. They would bring their finest gold, silver, fine linens, and other wares to the tabernacle as a sacrifice to God. The tabernacle was built to worship God, it symbolized the dwelling place of God for the people. (The table, its carrying poles, and all of its utensils; the bread of the presence; the lampstand and it’s accessories, the lamp cups and the oil for lighting; the incense altar and its carrying poles, the anointing oil and its fragrant incense.” (Exodus, 35:13-16) They would come to worship God, but would need to go through the priests for forgiveness of sins. The tabernacle was where God’s presence was- the tribes of Israel were situated around the tabernacle which was located in the center of the camp. A huge cloud would cover the camp in the day, and than at night a pillar of fire. The cloud and the fire meant God’s presence dwelling among the people of Israel. To get into the tabernacle you had to go through the priests to be in the presence of God. This was an incomplete picture of the redemptive work of Christ, and was part of the old covenant, (mutual agreement).
However, in the New Testament, Christ died on the cross for the people’s sins. By doing this a new covenant was made. What the new covenant symbolized was that the laws of Moses were still there, but instead of going through the priests, we have direct access to God the Father, through Jesus Christ. These laws reflect the perfection and absolute sovereignty of God. However, when Christ died on the cross for all of the sins of humanity, we were set free from the law of Moses. Even though these laws in the Old Testament set a standard of holiness, and they are true and right; man will break the laws due to his imperfection because of sin, and so by Christ’s death on the cross he redeemed us from having to be perfect. (Hebrews 10:19) Christ’s death made it possible for us to be forgiven by asking God directly for forgiveness, and enjoying his presence unlike in the Old Testament. “We have perfect access to the father through the son (Jesus), and God’s indwelling Spirit will never leave us or forsake us. He has taken up his Tabernacle in our hearts and lives.” (Adventuring through Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus.) You are the tabernacle of God! (I Corinthians, 3:16).
To read about the Tabernacle, go to Exodus chapters, 35-40.
The Holy Bible
Ray C. Stedman Adventuring through Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus (Grand Rapids Michigan: Discovery House Publishers, RBC Ministries, 1997), pp 28-30.