While the Ten Commandments reveal God’s standard and holiness, the Tabernacle was God’s provision for sinful men to approach a Holy God. It shows us God’s grace and mercy, where He provides a way for sinners to come before His presence and find forgiveness. The word Tabernacle means God’s dwelling place. In the New Testament, the same word was used in reference to Jesus, having dwelt or “tabernacled” with us (John 1:14). Indeed, the Tabernacle in the Old Testament is a foreshadow of Jesus (Hebrews 8:5).
In Exodus 25, God showed the people how the Tabernacle ought to be built. He gave specific instruction and did not leave the work to their imagination. It was His initiative, design, and pattern. He showed how he ought to be approached and worshiped, instead of leaving it to guesswork. God is the One in pursuit of us. He desires to dwell with us (Exodus 29:45-46). The extravagance of the Tabernacle, with its gold, silver, and precious stones, shows us that God is worthy and He deserves the best.
The Tabernacle has three compartments: the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Hollies. In the outer court, there was a single gate where people could enter. To approach God, there was only one entrance. Similarly, Jesus says He is the gate and the only way to the Father (John 10:9, 14:6).
Next was the altar, where unblemished animals were killed for sin sacrifices. It portrayed the principle of substitution, life for life, the death of an animal for the forgiveness of sins (Leviticus 17:11). God tells us the gravity of sin and its penalty (Hebrews 9:22, Romans 6:23). This is a foreshadow of Jesus, the Lamb of God (John 1:29, Heb 10:9-10) who takes away the sins of the world. His blood has cleansed us once and for all, and His death alone is the acceptable payment for our sins (1 Peter 1:18-19).
After sacrifices were made on the altar, priests were to wash in the laver (Exodus 30:19-20). This symbolizes that while sins have been paid for (positional sanctification), daily cleansing is still necessary (practical sanctification). We need to pursue sanctification (Hebrews 12:14) and allow the Holy Spirit to transform us. We must also abide in His word and be sanctified by it (Ephesians 5:26, Psalm 119:16).
While the Tabernacle used to be carried by the Israelites wherever the went, we are now the Tabernacle in the new covenant and God lives in us through Jesus. It is indeed the greatest honor and privilege to be the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Let us therefore be holy as He is holy, and pursue intimacy with Him above all things.
CCF Chronicle, November 22, 2015