The Tabernacle – an exhibition of Christ the mediator
Scripture: Exodus 25:8-9
From the time of Moses to the time of David, the Tabernacle that was built at Sinai at the command of God was a dominant feature of the spiritual scene in Israel. At first moving with the people as they travelled in the wilderness and in the early days of the wars of Canaan then set up permanently at Shiloh during the time of the Judges; at Nob, not far from Jerusalem 1 Samuel 21:1; moved to Gibeon, 2 Chronicles 1:3, 6; the tabernacle was the focal point of the worship of God for over 400 years.
As an integral part of the early Levitical age the tabernacle is a structure that is worthy of our careful attention. The details of its construction and structure are filled with spiritual pictures, many of which are revelations of the coming Saviour.
By way of introduction we will consider this Divine statement which gives a general overview of the purpose of God in commanding this structure to be made.
The building of the Tabernacle teaches us —
I IT IS GOD’S PURPOSE AND DESIRE TO HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH MEN.
Overshadowing all that the Tabernacle symbolized is the glorious truth that God designed this structure as a place where He and sinful men could come together in harmonious communion. This is the great purpose for which mankind was created — that he might enjoy fellowship with God His Creator. This is his duty — a command, Exodus 25:8. Mankind’s fall into sin breached that communion but the Tabernacle is part of the Divine revelation in the OT how that breach may be restored and how man and God could well together in harmony and peace. Cp Exodus 5:22, Exodus 29:42-26, Exodus 30:6, 36. The name tabernacle of the congregation clearly signifies a ‘meeting’ place. It is specially to be noted that the tabernacle was built at the command of God. It is by Divine initiative that there is common ground secured between God and man.
1. The whole purpose of the Tabernacle is a picture of Christ. See Matthew 1:23, ‘God with us’; John 1:14, the Word dwelt or ‘tented’ with us; in Christ, God Himself comes to earth to meet with men and to dwell among them. The tabernacle illustrates the coming of Christ as Redeemer to live among men and for men to repair the breach caused by the Fall.
2. The place of public worship ought to be a place where God is met. That is God’s purpose. In order that He and the people may have fellowship together God erected a place of public assembly, a tent where the people were to gather to meet Him. It is interesting to note the link between the building of the Tabernacle and the Lord’s Day. Cp Exodus 24:16 & Exodus 25:1, Exodus 35:1-3: references to the Sabbath introduce instruction of the making of the Tabernacle.
3. God’s purpose is to have continual fellowship with His people. The children of Israel were a tent dwelling pilgrim people. In the Tabernacle God builds a tent so that He might dwell among them. There is the promise made that as they move on their pilgrimage, He will be with them at all times. In a special sense the Lord lived among them and walked with them, 2 Samuel 7:6.
II THE PLACE WHERE GOD IS MET IS A HOLY PLACE.
Primarily, the place where God dwells is a holy place. Sanctuary > ‘Pure, clean’. Though God in grace condescends to dwell among men and hold fellowship with men, the terms of fellowship is holiness. God does not compromise, He does not set aside His character to facilitate men. He who would meet with God must be holy for sin/uncleanness cannot be tolerated in the presence of God! Approach to God must take this into account. We must be clean if we are to meet God. See Psalm 15:1-5.
1. It is because of this principle that the Tabernacle was the scene of blood offerings for sin and other cleansing rites. Each of the sacrifices taught in some way lessons related to the justification of the sinner by leaning upon a Divinely appointed substitute who would bleed and die in their place. Communion with God is only by blood atonement because there is no other way for a sinner to be counted as holy in God’s eyes. Cp 1 John 1:7
2. Everything about this tabernacle reflected the holiness of God. The furniture of the Tabernacle is called holy Cp Exodus 29:37, Exodus 30:10, the tabernacle itself is called the holy place and contained the most holy place. Cp Exodus 40:9-11. The study of the Tabernacle will necessarily involve a study in holiness — both the holiness of God and that likeness to God which sinners must have to meet Him.
III GOD’S DWELLING PLACE ON EARTH IS IN CONFORMITY TO A HEAVENLY PATTERN.
1. The Tabernacle was a structure that had the mark of Divine design in every detail. The place where God is to be met and fellowshipped with will be in agreement with a Heavenly standard/pattern. What Moses built was a representation of what is found in Heaven, Hebrews 8:2, 5, Hebrews 9:23-24.
2. This pattern was revealed by God to men, Exodus 25:9, 40. It must always be so! It was revealed by God to Moses in a time of protracted fellowship with God in Sinai, Exodus 24:18. Here he was ‘caused to see’ what God required. Cp 1 Chronicles 28:12, 19.
That the Tabernacle was built to a heavenly pattern teaches us that —
a) Fellowship with God only takes place when the blueprint supplied from Heaven is followed. There is planning, order. The matter of meeting God is a matter that is carefully regulated — like a draftsman’s plans. The pattern related to every aspect of the work, v9. It was to be followed in every detail, Exodus 25:9, 40. It was to be looked at!! The business of the Church and public worship is to be conducted according to God’s revealed standard. Cp Matthew 21:13. Private acts of worship are similarly governed.
b) Fellowship with God on earth is a foretaste of Heaven, it is Heaven on earth! God would have us learn of and enjoy heavenly things as we assemble to meet with Him. As we gather in agreement with His pattern then we will know Heaven revealed. Meeting with God in this fashion ought to be Heaven to our souls. If it doesn’t then there is something wrong.