Exodus 25:8–9, A sanctuary … tabernacle.
The Tabernacle of Moses
If you were the Creator of the universe, what means would you use to communicate with those that you had created through love in your likeness and image? In a remote way, it’s like a human standing over an anthill trying to communicate with the ants. How do you do it? Similarly, how does an all powerful, Spirit Being, loving Father in heaven relate to his mortal children who are but mere specks of dust without vaporizing them with his raw power? The difficulty is compounded when fearful humans don’t want to hear the voice of Elohim, which is what happened when YHVH Elohim’s voice thundered from Mount Sinai. The children of Israel begged him not to talk to them, lest they die. They asked the Almighty One to speak to them instead through Moses (Exod 20:19).
When man sinned at the tree of knowledge, and YHVH kicked them out of the Garden of Eden, direct communications between man and his Maker were hampered, if not all but cut off. However, Elohim had a plan to restore the loving relationship he had with man before the rebellion. But if men refuse to hear you when you speak, what are you do?
For certain, the Almighty doesn’t lack for ways to communicate with men. Man is without excuse when it comes to hearing Elohim, for even the heaven’s declare the glory of the Creator and the plans he has for mankind. The visible things of this creation shout loudly about the spiritual mysteries heaven desires to reveal to its earthly subjects. Furthermore, from time to time over the millennia, Elohim has chosen to speak directly to some select servants through dreams, visions, signs, wonders, angels, and even once through a donkey! But how does he speak to a whole nation, if that nation is plugging its ears and refusing to hear its Master’s voice?
Enter into the picture the Tabernacle of Moses, which was literally a three-dimensional gospel message tract. It is the visual demonstration of the whole salvation message of the Bible in a building—the blueprint of the plan of redemption of wayward, sinful man. It was a functioning masterpiece of artwork demonstrating the Father’s love for his people, and of his desire to commune and to communicate with Israel—his treasured possession, those he had hand picked and called out from the 70 nations of the world. Not only did the tabernacle involve the sense of sight, but the other four senses as well: sound, smell, touch, and taste. It also engaged and even challenged the heart, emotions, mind and spirit of man to focus on his need to be spiritually reconciled to his Creator. The Tabernacle of Moses was a vehicle for the Creator of the universe to communicate with man using a panoply of communication devices all of which pointed to the coming Messiah, the Redeemer of mankind who would die for the sins of the world to restore man into a loving relationship with his ever-loving, gracious, and longsuffering Father in heaven.
This is the story of the tabernacle, which, in every way, resembles a theatrical play, even a pageant, containing costumed actors each performing his carefully choreographed role on cue. Even a child can comprehend the message of this play, yet it contains mysteries and truths so deep that only in eternity itself will they be revealed to those who have been initiated into higher spiritual levels through the tabernacle’s spiritual paradigms of which its rites and ceremonies were mere prophetic shadows of things to come. To understand it, is to understand the message of the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
Let’s now enter into the world of the Tabernacle of Moses. Welcome! (Please note, over the next several parshiot, we will be discussing the tabernacle in great detail. Later, when we get into Leviticus, we will explore the sacrificial system as well as the other tabernacle rites and ceremonies, and we will learn how they all pointed to Yeshua and how it relates to us.)
Why Study the Tabernacle (or Temple)?
- Elohim commanded his people to study it. In Ezekiel 43:10–11, YHVH tells Ezekiel to explain to his people the layout of the temple “that they may be ashamed of their iniquities [Torahlessness]” and presumably repent or return to a spiritual relationship with him.
- Elohim commanded his people to build the tabernacle (and latter the temples, see Exod 25:8; 29:43; 1 Chron 17:11–15); therefore, it must be important, and we should study it to understand its significance. After all, one-half of the Torah and one-third of the 613 Torah commandments deal with the temple, so it behooves us to understand it’s spiritual significance.
- Elohim’s name resided in the tabernacle (and temple, Deut 12:5–6), and it’s where he chose to abide with man on the earth (Exod 25:8).
- Both the tabernacle and first and second temples in Jerusalem were the spiritual centers for the nation of Israel. Elohim’s manifest presence was found within the Tabernacle of Moses and Solomon’s Temple, and this phenomenon powerfully unified the 12 tribes of Israel making them feel as though they were one nation under YHVH’s divine protection and guidance (Exod 40:34–38). The tabernacle and later the temple became the focal point for all worship for the entire nation (Ps 5:7). For example, it was the place where YHVH chose to place his name and where all Israelites were to gather three times each year at YHVH’s appointed times (Deut 12:5, 11, 21; 14:23, 24; 16:2, 6,11; 26:2).
- The tabernacle (and the temple) was a monument to Elohim’s sovereignty. It was the place where he dwelt and where men come to commune with the Sovereign King and Creator (Exod 25:8; Pss 26:8; 27:4; 65:4; 92:13–15).
- It was a place to renew Israel’s covenant with Elohim. When the Israelites came to the temple to give their offerings, to make sacrifices and to commune with YHVH during his appointed times, they were doing so out of obedience to his covenants he had made with them. In so doing, they were renewing that covenantal relationship with him.
- The tabernacle and temples were the place where atonement for sin was made through the sacrifices that were offered there.
- YHVH’s plan of salvation for man or way was revealed in the tabernacle (Ps 77:13).
The Benefits of Studying About the Tabernacle?
- It teaches us how to properly approach a holy Elohim through turning from or repenting of sin (Ezek 14:6).
- It reveals YHVH’s plan of redemption (Ps 77:13; Heb 9:1–26).
- It teaches us about the priesthood of Messiah (Heb 7:26–28).
- It helps us to understand the kingdom of Elohim, which is an essential element of the gospel message (Mark 1:15). Yeshua will rule the earth during the Millennium from his temple in Jerusalem (Zech 14:4, 8–9, 11; Rev 20:6; Matt 6:9–10; Ezek 44:23 cp. 2 Cor 6:17).
- The tabernacle teaches us how to order our lives. Even as the morning and evening sacrifices were conducted in an orderly manner following certain protocols, this teaches us how to order our daily lives around our devotions to Elohim. The biblical feasts (the weekly and annual sabbaths) also revolved around the tabernacle, even as our lives should revolve around these feasts that help lead us into the presence of and relationship with Elohim as represented by the tabernacle.
- It helps us to recognize and avoid idolatry and all manner of abominable and worldly practices because it teaches us the importance of holiness when approaching a holy Elohim.
- It teaches us to be conscious about dwelling (living our lives as if we were) in the very presence or courtyard or throne room of Elohim.
- Everything in the tabernacle (and temple) pointed to Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross for our sins, and his work as our Great Heavenly High Priest Advocate who is presently at the right hand of the Father in heaven. It reveals to us the gospel message in an active and pictorial way. All these things are for our learning and admonition (1 Cor 10:11; Rom 15:4).
Major Themes of the Tabernacle/Mishkan
- It reveals the process of going from the profane or polluted to the kadosh or set-apart, from darkness to light, and from disobedience to obedience.
- It shows man the need for his progressive separation from the world and spiritual refinement leading to purity and perfection.
- It reveals the process of growing in progressive intimacy and fellowship with our Father in heaven.
- It demonstrates the steps of the biblical wedding ceremony; the marriage of YHVH to his people.
- It presents the seven steps of spiritual growth and reconciliation to the Father as epitomized by the seven annual appointed times or festivals (moedim).
- The tabernacle pictures two spiritual processes going on simultaneously inside the heart man. One process is from the viewpoint of a man, from the outside of the tabernacle looking in. The other process is from the viewpoint of Elohim inside of the holy of holies looking out. From the outside of the tabernacle looking in, from man’s perspective, as he enters the tabernacle, it’s about going from a physical and outward state of cleanliness and holiness to an inward and spiritual of cleanliness and holiness as one approaches the holy of holies representing the Presence of YHVH Elohim. From Elohim’s perspective from the inside of the tabernacle looking outward, it’s about cleansing the man from the inside out starting with the spirit of man moving to his physical body. Indeed, when one becomes spiritually regenerated, it’s the inside of the man, or his spirit, that is first regnerated and activated. After that, the soul (the mind, will and emotions) of a man is progressively regenerated throughout his lifetime. Finally, at the resurrection of the dead, a man’s body is regenerated and glorified receiving immortality.
Fast Facts About the Tabernacle of Moses. The tabernacle/mishkan was constructed circa 1450 b.c. at the foot of Mount Sinai. It took about a year to build.
Hebrew Names for the Tabernacle
The several names the Bible uses for the Tabernacle of Moses reveal something about Elohim’s purpose and mission for the tabernacle.
- Mishkan/ifÑn is Strong’s H4908 meaning “tabernacle, dwelling or habitation.” mishkan is from the root word shakan/ifÑ (Strong’s H7391) meaning “to dwell, abide, settle down, reside, tabernacle.”The word shechinah derives from shakan and refers to the manifest light or presence of YHVH among his people(Exod 25:8–9).
- Ohel/kvt (as in tent of the congregation/meeting) is Strong’s H166 meaning “a nomad’s tent, dwelling, home, habitation”(Exod 29:42).
- Miqdash/Ñsen is Strong’s H4720 meaning “sacred place, sanctuary, holy place”and is from the primitive root qadash/Ñse (Strong’s H6942) meaning “to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed or set apart, be separate or holy” (Exod 25:8).
- Kodesh or sanctuary because it was set-apart for a set-apart (kadosh) Elohim (Exod 30:13).
- Ohel haeduth or the tabernacle/tent of the testimony or witness since it contained the ark of the covenant housing the Torah-law given to Moses, which was an abiding witness of Israel’s covenant with YHVH (Num 9:15).
- Mishkan haeduth or tabernacle of the testimony (Num 10:11).