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Why should I care about the tabernacle?

So last week we had a look at the OT law and discovered that even some of the most bizarre looking ones had something to tell us about how God expects us to live, we had a look at the 10 Commandments and saw that there isn’t anything in them that God doesn’t expect us to live up to, we saw that they were still valid, but also that however hard we try, it’s impossible for us to go though our lives without breaking the law – and we saw that that was the point, not that God wanted to make life impossible, but that He wanted to show us what it means to be perfect, what it means to be holy and so we saw that God knew we would get it wrong and that we would need to be forgiven, and that brings us on to this weeks topics, because this week we’re looking at something called the tabernacle  – wow that sounds like a bundle of fun eh!

So what’s a tabernacle?


  • Quotes/video
  • Discussion – Q&A
  • Worship x2
  • Prayer


OK so first God gives the law so that people know exactly how to live, and the people say, in Exodus chapter 24:3 “we will do everything you say” …. Mmm, well maybe that was a bit rash.

But then God goes on to tell them to build a tabernacle – what’s a tabernacle? Well we’ll check that out in a minute, but first let’s turn to the Bible

Exodus 25:1-9

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings. Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them. 3 Here is a list of sacred offerings you may accept from them:

   gold, silver, and bronze;
 4 blue, purple, and scarlet thread;
   fine linen and goat hair for cloth;
 5 tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather;
   acacia wood;
 6 olive oil for the lamps;
   spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense;
 7 onyx stones, and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chestpiece.

 8 “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. 9 You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you.

So here we’ve got a whole list of stuff, but not just any old stuff, we’re talking about the most expensive things in the known world at the time, and all to make a tent. Well I say a tent, but let’s just have a look at what a tabernacle is:

Well there are three main Hebrew words for tabernacle and the same amount of Greek, and between them they mean a dwelling place, a house, a shrine, and a temple, and throughout the bible the original words vary, but whether it’s a house or a dwelling or a temple, the important thing to remember is that it’s a house or a dwelling or a temple of God.

So God has spent all of this time showing the people how holy and perfect and pure He is and then He says, but I want to be right in the middle of you.

You see that is the whole point of why God created us, He made people so that we could enjoy Him and that He could enjoy us, but ever since that thing called sin had entered the world, people had been steering clear of God.

So there you have it God was showing the people again and again how much He loved them, He rescued them from Egypt, He fed them, he made sure that they left Egypt with plenty of money, gold, silver and animals, and He has shown them by appearing on Sinai to them and giving them intricate and amazing laws to live by, just what a problem this sin thing is. But God say’s to them yes you’re in a mess, but look, I have physically rescued you from Egypt, and I have a perfect plan to rescue you from sin, and you need to see both how holy and perfect I am and how much real sacrifice costs – but whilst we’re working through this plan says God, I promise that I will stay with you on one single condition, and that is that you must be obedient….well we’ll see how that obedience pans out in a week or …

Anyhow God gives them a big shopping list and says I’ve provided you with all of this wealth, if you want to give some of it back to me, please do – you see there was not compulsion, no forcing, He said “Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them”. You see God knows what’s in our hearts, He knows that what He wants to do is to have an amazing relationship, and you know no relationship can work where one person gives and the other takes. God said to the Israelites and He says to you and me, the more you give, the more I can give to you.

But then before old Moses can get down from the mountain, there’s trouble, the people are getting restless wondering why Moses is still sitting up a rumbling mountain, (probably shut the air space) there’s a bit of bother we can’t spare the time to look at that now but if you read it later on you’ll see how it gets resolved.

Then from Exodus 35 – 40 we read some very clear and exact instructions about how it all came together

Discuss – slides

The Tabernacle was a mobile worship facility for the wandering Hebrew people. it was basically a very posh tent Just inside the door was the altar the only way for God and people to meet was by way of a sacrifice.  The alter was about 7.5 feet square (2.5 meters).  Next came the laver which was a large bronze basin used by the priests to wash before entering the tabernacle.  The Tabernacle tent itself was over a frame of acacia wood.  The wood was overlaid with gold which created two golden walled rooms within the tent.  The tent coverings were 4 layers thick of blue, purple, scarlet tapestry on the inside layer covered with goats hair cloth, followed by a waterproof covering of ram’s skins dyed red and finally an outer layer of fine waterproof leather.  The Tabernacle was divided into two rooms.  The first room was the Holy place in which was the Menorah, Altar of Incense and Table of Shewbread and the second room was the “Most Holy Place” the “Holy of Holies”.  The High Priest was only allowed to enter this room once per year.  The two rooms were separated by a double curtain.


So as I said earlier, the most important thing about the tabernacle is that it where God dwells.

In the NT at Christmas we often read the words He dwelt amongst us, talking about Jesus it literally means He pitched his tent in the middle of us.

There are at least seven major tabernacles in the bible:

  1. This was the first, it was a portable dynamic place where God met with His people, and it got shifted all over the shop and when it was pitched the twelve tribes (millions of people) had certain positions around it according to their tribe.
  2. The second one is the temple built by Solomon, we’ll come on to that in a few weeks
  3. The third is the temple that was being seriously refurbished by Herod in Jesus time
  4. The fourth is one that a bloke called Ezekiel saw in a vision and is a prophecy of a temple that will be built according to the last book in the bible (in fact old Herod stole a few snippets from Ezekiel when he revamped the temple)
  5. The fifth is found when Jesus speaks of His body as the temple
  6. The sixth is us as individual Christians; Paul reminds us that we are temples or tabernacles of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  7. Then there is the last one – the church is called the tabernacle of God.

So the first temple was a box within a box within a box there’s the outer court the Holy place and the holy of holies, and so it is for the other types of tabernacle, including you and me… you and I are a box within a box within a box and by now you’re probably thinking hang on a bit matey, you’re stretching this a bit, what are you going on about? a box in a box in a box?

Well there’s the outer court and that corresponds to our bodies, it’s what everyone sees, the whole world sees the outer court – but it’s still the temple of God

But then there’s The Holy Place – The this is the next level in, if the outer court is our bodies then the holy place is our soul, our emotions, our mind and our intellect, and then right inside each of us is the essence of who we are, it’s not our body, it’s not our soul, it’s our spirit, the innermost part of  us, it’s what the bible writers called our heart – not the bloody bit that keeps our body going but the essence of who we are and for Christians it is here in the Holy of Holies where the spirit of God resides, where He dwells, where He lives.

As I was preparing for this morning I was reminded that so often people ask this question “can Christians be demonised by the devil”, and you know the tabernacle gives us a brilliant picture to show us a clear answer to that question. Some of you here have asked me about this before, but let me answer that question, using the picture of the tabernacle.

Yes, Christians can be attacked in the outer court, demons can affect our bodies, sickness and sin and all of that stuff can hit our bodies...

And yes they can even affect our minds our bodies and our emotions we can be oppressed, but let me assure you if you have invited God to take up residence in your heart, in the holy of holies, in the innermost part of who you really are then the devil cannot move in – There are limits on what the devil can do.

Only people who haven’t asked Jesus into their lives can get into that difficulty – Christians can get oppressed, but they can’t be possessed because when we gave ourselves to God, then we became His possession.

When the Tabernacle was ready the Jews invited God in, let me read from the end of the book of Exodus



Exodus 40:34-38 

 34 Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. 35 Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.

 36 Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. 37 But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. 38 The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.

So what we’ve got here isn’t just some kind of weird archaic stuff that is just meant as a bit of history.

No it is history it is fact, but it’s more than that…. [expand and close]

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