The Tabernacle of Moses ~ Study 1
Over all the years I have walked with Jesus, I normally sat at His feet as a New Testament gal. Give me the love expressed and written like John, Peter’s personality, Paul’s passion, and Luke’s eye for detail, not to mention Timothy’s desire to be used, despite his young age. Each giving their perspective of Jesus, His life, ministry, love and all He was, is and is to come.
All this, and yet…. until a couple of years ago. I have fallen in love with the Old Testament and the Hebrew language. I am learning to study it and see that one word can paint a vibrant full colored picture. My love for God’s word has so expanded, I can not wait to see ‘where we are going next’. The Lord has taken me back to the beginning, Genesis – oh so very rich. Moved me on. Looked at major key players in Israel’s history, Abe, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, King David, Daniel and now again Moses.
Much of the life of Moses, and his leadership over Israel spans many verses, chapters, even books. Moses first appears in Exodus chapter 2, as his story unfolds all through to Deuteronomy the last chapter (34).
Moses experienced God in ways we can only dream of. Going to Pharaoh and demanding the children of Israel be released. Walking them across the Red Sea. Putting up with so many complaints! Each time, they began to complain, have you noticed that Moses fell on his face before God… personally I believe – he was ducking! (just kidding).
One of the most interesting and colorful foretelling of Jesus in the Old Testament is found in the Tabernacle of Moses. Shortly after the 10 commandments were given (Ex. 20), the covenant between God and the chosen people was sealed (Ex. 24). The following chapter (25) is where God begins to lay out the plan for a dwelling place, where He, a Holy God, His glory could be with man. The Tabernacle. As true as it is a reality to the Israelites, to us is also a picture, also known as a ‘type and shadow’, an Old Testament idea, concept expressing the image of Jesus to us. John 1:14 says… ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling [tabernacle] among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’
Why study the Tabernacle of Moses? It is not just a nice description of the large portable tent the Israelites lugged around. The Tabernacle was a place of worship. The ‘entering’ into the presence of the LORD. In days to come, we will journey through, pause and take a look around, look at each piece of furniture in what it was also referred to as, The Tent of Meeting, beginning with the outer court.
We will first face sacrifice, the altar of
burnt offering, in this sacrifice we find acceptance
and the invitation to go further (into the courtyard), the water basin, for washing, then once inside – the incense
altar, we see the table with the lamp on it, then the table
with the bread, and behind the veil, the Ark…. God.
It says, (Ex. 39, then 40) that Moses did all that God commanded of him, THEN… God’s glory came and filled the Tabernacle, so full, that Moses could not go in. That is how the book of Exodus ends. BUT, Leviticus begins where it leaves off… the opening verse says…. ‘God spoke to Moses from the Tabernacle’.
To hear God’s voice, we have to enter His courtyard, be encountered and embrace sacrifice, walk past and through the washing, smell and be the fragrance of worship , see His light burning and partake of His bread that is ever present, then – and only then do we truly enter His presence (the veil now torn, thank You Jesus! ) there, He speaks to us… after the process…. of ‘entering’.
May we see HIM, in this journey through, The Tabernacle of Moses.
More to come….
In Him, DeDe (Ps. 92:4 You thrill me, LORD!)
Tabernacle of Moses – 2
Oh, the desire God has to be with us. See the progression… in Genesis, He first walked with Adam in the garden (3:8), He walked with Enoch (5:22-24) and Noah (6:9), and the Patriarchs (17:1 ~ 24:40 ~ 48:15) He was with Moses and the Israelites as He led them out of captivity… now He is to ‘dwell’ among them (Ex. 25:8, 29:44-46). But we can not stop there… that was not enough… ‘Jesus’ … John 1:14 ‘The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us…’, then in Ephesians 3:17 ‘Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith’.
Last week, we began an intimate journey into and through the Tabernacle. We considered the call to enter into God’s presence. When the Lord gave Moses the instructions, He began from the inside out. Chapter 25 of Exodus covers the furniture within the Holy of Holies, then the Holy Place. Yet, we will go all the way out and make our beginning outside the courtyard. Standing there, glance back in… through the gate we see the altar for sacrificing (we think Jesus!), further we see the water basin for cleansing (we think Jesus!). Further still in the Holy Place, the lamp, the bread and the incense (we think Jesus!). Then the veil…( we THANK JESUS! Ripped that hummer from top to bottom ! ) beyond that …the ark, the presence of God. Sense the intensity!
Let’s go back out and consider what it took to build this magnificent structure. God’s dwelling place. As we consider this dwelling place, please keep in mind the current dwelling place for God:
1 Cor. 3:16 ‘ Don’t you know that you yourselves
are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you’
(see also 1 Cor. 3:19, 2 Cor. 6:16)
The Lord was very specific in His instructions, ‘see that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ (Ex. 25:40, Heb. 8:5) Not only does the Lord have a pattern, a blueprint, a plan for building the Tabernacle, but also for the structure of the church, ministry and our personal lives… and we are to follow that to the ‘T’. (smile)
Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not harm you, and plans to give you hope and a future’.
He is specific in the required materials as well….
God had Moses ‘speak to the children of Israel’, having them bring an offering, not to Moses, but to God Himself… (Ex. 25:1-8) ‘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’. Amazing isn’t it, God did not ‘demand’ that everyone participate, but they came on their own accord, their hearts would lead them. Exciting note: the folks got so involved and caught the vision, they brought so much that Moses eventually had to tell them, to stop …
‘Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp, ‘no man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary’ And so the people were restrained from bringing more because what they already had was more than enough to do the work’ (Ex. 36:6-7)
Can you imagine the shock and adrenaline rush our pastors would have if this happened TODAY!
King David had a wonderful perspective of this … 1 Chronicles 29:14, ‘But who am I and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You and we have given You only what comes from Your hand.’
The instruction proceeds, giving a list of all that was needed… (v.3-7) ‘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 fragrant incense and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breast piece’.
This was quite the list. Remember where they are ~ still wandering in the desert (a desert can be defined as an uncultivated region). Where are they going to come up with gold, silver and bronze. There was no Wells Fargo currency exchange office to dash into. No JoAnne Fabrics to gather the linens, and definitely not the bright orange striped Home Depot for the acacia wood. Think back from where they came… Egypt. At that time Egypt had been the wealthiest of countries. They had been toting much of these things with them.
Exodus 12: 35,36 (upon leaving Egypt) ‘the Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold. The LORD caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So, like a victorious army they plundered the Egyptians. (NLT)
Remembering also, they defeated the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-16) possibly walking away with victory souvenirs tucked here and there.
Can you imagine the tear down, and set up required every time they were to move. I can hear one lady, say … ‘oh be so careful with that’, her husband rolling his eyes as he lugs the 10 pound jewelry box up on the camel.
Have you too found yourself wandering in a desert, for you there seems to be no end in sight, and it is the presence of God you so hunger for? As God spoke to Moses, is He speaking to you? Does He want to cultivate the desert region, and have communion with you right where you are? Stop… Pause… and think… the Israelites didn’t refuse to built this dwelling because they weren’t at their final destination yet… NO! They were there in the thick of things, and didn’t wait for the perfect scenario. We too should not wait.
Many times God requires us to bring Him, stuff – our stuff, not our neighbors, not our family or friends (physical, emotional, spiritual). Stuff we have been toting around. Those things we find of great value, once treasures. He may want those. It is in the offering of giving them to Him, that He can melt them down and create something beautiful and new. Not only does He use them, it lightens our load! So… when He does say, ‘we are moving on’, it does not take so much time and effort to ‘get up and go’. (hm… think on that).
After the list of supplies was given, God says in verse 8, ‘then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.’ I appreciate the word ‘then’, implying there is something needed before … ‘bring Me your ‘stuff’ … then I will….’ What are you wanting ~ NEEDING from the ‘I will…’ of God?
May we truly experience the ‘dwelling’ of God. Relationship – He setting up residence in and among us.
We will stop here for today, we glanced through the Tabernacle and saw Jesus, unrolled the blueprint and considered the pattern. The supplies list vast, but attainable. Understanding that now is the time to build! May we allow the Lord to become the Lord of our NOW!
Next time, we will look at the outer courtyard, the fencing, the gate opening and its contents within.
In Him, DeDe (Ps. 92:4 You thrill me, LORD!)
The Tabernacle of Moses ~ 3
Quiet ( ah…) – I got the family out of the house at record speed this morning, (slightly faster than a snail). The reports are created and ready to mail and the new account of 27 points of entry is now on line, ( I work from home). Now I take a deep breath and pray. Pray that the Holy Spirit massages His word, life and love in my heart, as I again turn and face the Tabernacle.
Ever go traveling and see many new sights, but come to one in particular and you say to yourself, ‘now this one I want to remember’, while you pull out that Canon digital camera and take a snap shot of it. We are at such a place. Traveling through the Word of God and here stands before us the Tabernacle of Moses. Let us too, take a mental picture.
AH join in ~ bible study! Reviewing first the structure in detail.
Let’s take an aerial view, as if looking down from a helicopter ride, hovering over the Tabernacle. We see a large cloth like fencing that surrounded the outer court, rectangle in shape, measuring approximately (in U.S. measurements) 150 ft long, and 75 ft wide, and have to mention 7.5 ft high, (no peeking over this fence). It was made of linen curtains stitched together. The structure sits east to west. There is only one entry way, and always faces east. Remembering this is a ‘portable’ structure, designed for travel.
The entry gate is 30 ft wide. Once inside the courtyard, with no roofing, there are only three visible objects within the fencing. First the Altar of Burnt Offering, then directly ahead of that, the Bronze Laver (or water basin).
There is a smaller structure, just beyond the water basin, this is called the ‘Tent of Meeting’. This is roofed, and not that glamorous from the outside, but once in side, that changes. There are two rooms within, the total measurement is 45 ft long and 15 ft wide. Once inside we enter the Holy Place, this room is the larger of the two, 30 ft long and 15 ft wide. Its contents are the Golden Lampstand, Table of Shewbread, and the Altar of Incense. There is a veil that separates the two rooms, beyond this veil, the Holy of Holies, also known as the Most Holy Place. This room is a perfect cube, 15 ft. by 15 ft. Only one object is here. The Ark of the Covenant.
The design of this Tabernacle has tremendous lessons for us, one of which is visual, implying that approaching a Holy God, takes structure, and detail, some places may not be as glamorous as others, but once in the presence of God, it holds awe struck moments. In all aspects – we are called. .to draw near . ( Heb. 10:22, Eph. 2:13, James 4:8)
One scholar points out, that the 3 rooms (if you will) hold significant meaning for the life of the believer and our quest for the Living God, this done in the process of worship.
When God created man, He created him body, soul and spirit, (1 Thess. 5:23)
The Outer Court – place of sacrifice … body
The Holy Place – place of worship … soul
The Holy of Holies – place of true communion … spirit
Back in our helicopter…. from our view we can see the positioning of the tribes outside the courtyard. God is an orderly God, He gave strict instructions where each tribe was to take their position and camp around the Tabernacle. Israel consisted of 12 tribes, and they were divided into four groups, (this is found in the book of Numbers chapter 2).
North: Tribes of Gad, Simeon, Rueben – totaling 151,450
South: Tribes of Dan, Asher, Naphtalli – totaling 157,600
West: Tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin – totaling 108,100
East: Tribes of Judah, Issacher, Zebulun – totaling 186,400
The tribe of Judah is closest and directly in front of the entry way to the courtyard. This could be symbolic of Jesus being the first point of entry, to the presence of God. Jesus’ lineage comes from the tribe of Judah, by blood and adoption, by tradition, legally and physically ~ both genealogies in Matthew (chapter 3) and Luke (chapter 1) list Judah.
We now end our helicopter ride, (pause and fix your hair!) and stand facing the gate. There is a curtain loosely hanging over the entry way. This is the only way in or out. No going over the fence, no going under, and definitely no back door. The fence of the law says ’stay out’ but the door of the grace of God in Christ says ‘come in, whosoever will.’ Jesus said 8 times in the gospels ‘whosoever will’ all of which point to action to be taken by the believer. Remember last week we looked at the need for the ‘I will.’ of God. This is where the two meet, He will…. we will.
Jesus says in John 10, that He is the gate ‘I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture’ (v.9) In the book of Acts, Peter filled with the Holy Spirit says . ‘It is by the name of Jesus Christ, salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved’ (v. 10, 12)
The gate ….what a beautiful type and shadow of coming to Jesus, standing before Him, and because of Him, He grants us access to the Father. Jesus says in John 14:6 ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ In today’s society many suffer from what I would call NTS ‘narrow thinking syndrome’, they hear this and think ‘that is just too narrow, and there has to be other ways’. God put in the heart and soul of every man and woman the desire for Him, for the divine. Yet leaves it up to us to come to Him and find Him, and choose Him. No – it is not too narrow, it is wide enough for the whole world. Again …. the ‘whosoever’. The most foundational verse of many of our Christian walks holds this to be true. John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should
not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
Definitely an ‘I will..’ of God meeting with the ‘whosoever will’ of man. It doesn’t stop there, it is continuous. The giving of God and the believing of man.
We first encounter the altar which stood just inside the gate. It had a large frame made of wood and covered with brass (or bronze). It had four horns, one in each corner . There was a fire burning continually in it’s belly. There was nothing sentimental or attractive about this large piece of furniture, it was blood-stained. But without it, no one could proceed into the Tabernacle. ‘It’s place at the entrance of the Tabernacle teaches us that Christ’s sacrifice, of which it is a type, stands at the very entrance of all our access to and communion with God.’1
The gate is where the priest would come and meet with the Israelite on an individual basis. The tribesman would come to sacrifice and worship. The worshipper would lay his hand on the head of the animal he brought to sacrifice to identify with the offering (Lev. 1:1-9). The priest would then slay the animal in the place of the Israelite and offer it on the brazen altar.
Here at the altar the priests sacrificed various offerings to God, some offerings were for their own sins and the other for the sins of the people. The whole purpose of the burnt offering was, a person might become accepted before God and forgiven (Leviticus 1:4) The offering had to be without blemish. This foreshadows the Lord Jesus, Who was examined by Pontius Pilate, who declared “I find no fault in Him at all” (John 18:38).
I want to briefly share 8 points of need for the blood, found in scripture through the process of God providing access to relationship with Him. While reading these, see if there is place where we need to pause… and consider and apply Jesus to an area of our lives… (some of this list is not original with me, but taken from a wonderful ‘boring-geeky looking’ book called Christ in the Tabernacle – by A.B. Simpson – a great read by the way)
First – First blood – in the garden, after the fall, God shed blood to clothe Adam and Eve ‘the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them’ (Gen. 3:21). The Lord is still ‘covering up for us’ isn’t He.
Second – Protective blood – the blood was to be placed over the door posts of the homes of the children of Israel, to escape death, the passing over of the angel of death. Just prior to their exodus from slavery in Egypt. (Ex. 12)
Third – Atoning blood – the blood that was shed, on the altar (courtyard of the Tabernacle) for the washing away guilt, and penalty… to stand in our place of ..obligation. Another’s death instead of our death. A life given instead of mine, – head bowed. (Ex. 29, Lev.1)
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I
have given it to you upon the altar to make
an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood
that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Lev. 17:11)
Fourth – Cleansing blood – the cleansing of one marked as ‘unclean’, (Lev. 14), a leper was sprinkled with blood of a sacrificed animal by the priests. Declared now ‘clean’. We too are now ‘clean’ before a Holy God.
Fifth – Covenant blood – (Heb. 9:19) Moses took sacrificed blood and sprinkled the book, the commandments. God’s covenant with man, is covered with blood. Every promise found in the Bible has been touched by Jesus Christ, endorsed it, purchased it .. for us.
Sixth – Consecrating blood – When dedicating the priests for worship, the right thumb, ear and toe were touched with blood. Setting them apart. (Lev. 8) We too are ’set apart’. Our lives covered with the blood of Christ.
Seventh – Redeeming blood – We find blood on the mercy seat. (Lev. 16:14,15) Grace . Mercy!
Eighth – Final blood – Jesus’ blood.
’The Son of man must suffer many things,
and be rejected of the elders and chief priests
and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day’.
(Jesus says of Himself – Luke 9:22)
For you know that it was not with perishable things
such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from
the empty way of life handed down to you from your
forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a
lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
And they sang a new song: “You (Jesus) are worthy to
take the scroll and to open its seals, because you
were slain, and with your blood you purchased
men for God from every tribe and language and
people and nation.” (Rev. 5:9)
John continues on .
In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who
was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom
and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (v. 12)
Worthy is the LAMB.
Next week …. more….
In Him, DeDe (Ps. 92:4 You thrill me, LORD!)
Thanks DeDe. I am reading about the Tabernacle just now and was blessed to have your website sent to me from a friend who was actually sending on another piece you wrote that was encouraging to her. I found myself stumbling over all the particulars about the Tabernacle and was asking the Lord what all this meant for me. It is not the first time to read this nor the first time to feel like I’d like to do a study about the meaning of the Tabernacle to a New Testament Christian. I look forward to reading more.
February 1, 2010 at 4:56 pm
Sandra ~ How so exciting to be revisiting the Tabernacle. Many people read through the description and move on, but fail to seek the explanation … it is ALL there. God is very thorough, He is a God of detail. May you enjoy your journey through the Tabernacle, seeing Jesus at each point… the gate … the sacrifice … the washing of the water … the bread … the light … the fragrance … the PRESENCE … the blood atonement on the mercy seat. Note the beautiful embrodery of the veil … the veil of Presence separation, the veil that Jesus tore Top to Bottom.
February 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm