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God with us: The Tabernacle Exodus 25-30
God with us
The Tabernacle: Exodus 25-30

This morning I want to introduce you to an unfamiliar (to us) structure that existed about 3500 years ago. The structure in question was called the Tabernacle.

-It's plans were revealed to Moses while he was with God on Mount Sinai in the wilderness following the Israelites be delivered from slavery in Egypt
-It was built by Spirit filled craftsmen over a span of 7 month
-When they were in the wilderness for 40 years, the 12 tribes of Israel were encamped around it in an orderly fashion
-It was portable, being in pieces and easy to carry
-It cost a lot to build and was a glorious facility-- taking 1900 pounds of gold (49 million) , 6500 pounds of silver (3.3 million) , and 4500 pounds of bronze plus precious stones, costly spices, expensive linens and animal skins. (roughly $5000 a square foot)
-It was staffed by Aaron - the high priest- and his sons (priests)
-It served as the center of the Israelite sacrificial system (here people brought their thank offerings, sin offerings)
-The people gathered at it to pray and to hear from God
-The entire facility was only 150 long by 75 wide
-It was planned by God. It was not by man's initiative that it came into being. It was God's idea--- reminding us that salvation and peace with God is God's work.

God's big idea behind the Tabernacle and its construction:


Exodus 25:8 "have them make a sanctuary fro me, and I will dwell among them."

God's design is recognizable to us for it makes us think of Jesus/Immanuel -- God with us. It also reminds us of Jesus' promise to us before he ascended to Heaven "I will be with you to the very end of the age"

Two big differences:

1. God being with us and us with Him is not conditioned upon our keeping the 10 commandments and offering daily sacrifices for our sin. Jesus entered our world, perfectly kept the 10 commandments and then died as a once for all sacrifice for our sins-- taking the punishment we deserve for our breaking of God's laws. Jesus did this that we might come to have the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, peace with God, and that we might know Him.

2. God with us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (given to every person at the moment of their conversion)

Our prayer: That we would have an abiding sense of His presence and that we would always have eyes to See Him


Note: Exodus 25-30 a complete section on the Tabernacle and its aspects


1. It involved the people- starting with a generous free will offering 25:1-7

While the Tabernacle and God being with his people was God's idea and God's plan. He wanted the people's participation. He wanted their ownership and involvement.

When we bring our tithes and offerings today- in obedience to God's command- we do so freely, as an act of worship, devotion, gratitude to God for His saving work, and as a tangible sign that He comes first in our lives.

It's also interesting that in Exodus 30:11ff that God also made arrangements for the upkeep of the Tabernacle and priests.

2. The Tabernacle was built to facilitate the WORSHIP OF GOD

What was the constant refrain of Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh?? God says to "let my people go that they may WORSHIP me"

The Tabernacle was the worship center for the people. God presented Himself there in a special way (a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day)

Further note: While the Tabernacle was built to facilitate the worship of God- the instructions for the Tabernacle and all its effects showed that great care is to be taken as it regards the worship and service of God. He is holy and must be regarded and approached as such.

The worship of God is to be a priority of ours (in song, in prayer, in speech, in conduct). He worthy of it as our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Redeemer

3. Design wise, the Tabernacle was impressive

-ie. Grades of material as approached and went into it (bronze, silver, then gold). Same thing true of the actual tent that housed the Ark (durable leather layer, dyed red layer of leather, woven goat hair layer, fine linen layer embroidered with cherubim)
-i.e It's an outside in design in that everything about it points in to the middle, the key place -- where the presence of God was.
-i.e one entered by the east gate and so the sun (which some people worshipped) was at the back of the worshipper. One was hence worshipping the Creator and not an aspect of the creation.

4. Curiously, the key article inhabiting the Tabernacle was a box. Exodus 25:10-22

Behind the inner curtain of the Tabernacle (which the high priest could only go once a year) and which was the holiest place in the Tabernacle- was a box.

Now the box was very special (containing at first the 10 commandments, then later Aarons staff, and a jar of manna). It was also special because above it God presenced Himself in a special way to communicate with Moses and the High priest

Why just a box in the most holy of places?

In the temples of other people, in the most holy places was their god-- being represented by a carved image

The 10 commandments forbid such a thing as an offense against God. Thus at the center of the Tabernacle was the Ark with the 10 Commandments. The lid of the ark (called the mercy seat) spoke of the need of forgiveness of sins and the need for mercy. The Cherubim overshadowing it reminded Aaron that the angels of heaven avert their eyes (note the direction of their eyes-- to the mercy seat) At the center of all things in Heaven is God being worshipped.

5. The Tabernacle is a shadow and copy of the Heavenly Tabernacle

For us to understand more about the Tabernacle and the sacrifices, we have the book of Hebrews (written by the Apostle Paul)

In Hebrews 8:5 and Hebrews 9:24 we are told that the Tabernacle was a shadow of the true copy that is in Heaven

This explains why God said to Moses "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain." (Exodus 25:9,40; 26:30)

6. The key call of the Tabernacle is the call to Holiness

In Exodus 28:36-38, which is part of a series of instructions on the outfit that Aaron was to wear as High Priest, it says "Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD. Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. It will be on Aaron's forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron's forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord."

This verse reminds me of Hebrews 12:14, wherein it says; "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."

In Leviticus 20:26, which is repeated in 1 Peter 1:16 it says; "You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy"

Living a holy life is to be an aspiration of every one us. The Bible tells us how (We can't be it on our own-- and so it starts with a relationship with Christ and the forgiveness of our sins). Holiness is not a state of mind, its very practical. A holy person guards their mind when it comes to sexual thoughts. Holiness involves saying sexual relations for marriage. A holy person is honest, not taking what does not belong to them, working a full day, telling the truth, paying all taxes that are due. A holy person is careful to not call names or insult others or gossip. A holy person thinks about the needs of others. A holy person is one whose desire is to emulate Christ. Holiness involves the heart, the mind, our speech, our actions. We are not to try to fake it.

7. Everything about the Tabernacle points to Jesus

While the Tabernacle served a very practical purpose in its day-- pre eminently as a tangible sign of the LORD's presence in the midst of His people, everything about the Tabernacle points to Jesus

For example

a. The bronze altar where the sacrifices were made reminds us of the need of a sacrifice for our sins (Jesus the perfect once for all sacrifice for our sins)
b. The wash basin that was near the altar reminds us of the need of our cleansing to be right with God. By the blood of Christ shed for us we who have called upon the name of Jesus have been cleansed of our sins.
c. The bread on the table outside of the innermost part of the Tabernacle reminds us that Jesus is the Bread of Life
d. The golden lamp stand that was outside the innermost part of the Tabernacle reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World. We are also reminded of the scene of Revelation 1 when John sees Jesus in a vision amidst 7 golden lamp stands (representing the church)
e. The sacred garments of Aaron the high priest reminds us that Jesus is our Great High Priest who sacrificed himself once that we might be reconciled to God. Further-- as Aaron had proper clothes to wear that he might appear before God, we are reminded that to appear at the great wedding feast of the Lamb that we require proper clothes -- clothes of righteousness and holiness.
f. The gate to the court of the Tabernacle reminds us that access to God is through Christ alone. He is the Door. He is the Gate.
g. The Ark with its mercy seat reminds us that access to God is by His grace and mercy alone. Because of our sin, we are in need of God's mercy. His mercy and grace was shown to us in sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins that we might be forgiven and have eternal life.
h. The curtain that separated the innermost room of the Tabernacle points to the body of Christ
i. As God dwelt with His people at the Tabernacle, Jesus is the true Tabernacle. He came and dwelt with us. He dwells with us today by His Spirit.