Exodus 25:1–7, An offering is collected for the tabernacle. All Israel contributed to the building of the tabernacle (Exod 25:1–7), yet YHVH chose only two Israelite artisans, Bezalel and Aholiab (Exod 31:1–6), filled them with the Spirit of Elohim “in wisdom, understanding, knowledge an in all manner of workmanship …” to oversee the building of the tabernacle. This teaches us that the work of YHVH is a joint effort of the every member of the body of YHVH-Yeshua, but that YHVH will endow certain individuals with unique gifts of the Spirit in order to accomplish his specific plans and purposes (Eph 2:22; 4:11; Rom 12:4–8; 1 Cor 12 and 14).
Exodus 25:2, That they may bring me an offering.Interestingly, this is the only place in the Scriptures where an offering was taken of YHVH’s people to support the work of the ministry. In one other place in the Bible, a collection was taken, but what was its purpose and who was it for? (See 1 Cor 16:1–3 and Acts 11:27–30.) This is not to say that the saints should not give of their substance to help support their spiritual leaders. What did Paul teach about the saints supporting the work of the ministry—especially those who are spiritually feed them? (Read 1 Cor 9:1–18; 1 Tim 5:17–18; Gal 6:6–9.) The main point we wish to make here is that the taking of offerings or the passing of the plate isn’t a biblical norm. People were expected to give, but of their own freewill and without pressure or coercion from their spiritual leaders. What did Yeshua say about giving? (Note Acts 20:35; Luke 6:38.) What did Paul say to those who do not share their substance with (or sow sparingly to) those who teach them? (Look at 2 Cor 9:6.) What should be our heart attitude when giving to the ministry of Elohim? (See 2 Cor 9:7.) What are the blessings from Elohim that one can expect from giving cheerfully? (Read 2 Cor 9:8–11.)
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 is Strong’s H4908 meaning “tabernacle, dwelling or habitation.” mishkan is from the root word shakan (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 (as in tent of the congregation/meeting) is Strong’s H166 meaning “a nomad’s tent, dwelling, home, habitation”(Exod 29:42).
- Miqdash 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).
Examples of YHVH Tabernacling With His People
The children of Israel have just left Egypt and are now trekking through the wilderness. Within a couple of months, he gives them their first assignment. In Exodus 25, YHVH tells them to build a tabernacle. Why? He says to Moses, “And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” (Exod 25:8). From the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, Elohim has wanted to “hang out” with man. Elohim’s desire to dwell or tabernacle with man is a theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation. We see this idea repeated in the Testimony of Yeshua (the New Testament).
John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The word dwelt (skenoo, Strong’s G4637) means “tent or tabernacle.”
Luke 2:7, The baby Yeshua was laid in a “manger.” This was probably a sukkah or tabernacle.
Revelation 21:1–3, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Elohim, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of Elohim is with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they shall be His people. Elohim Himself will be with them and be their Elohim.’” The word tabernacle in verse three is skenoo in the Greek, the same word used in John 1:14.
Examples of YHVH’s People Tabernacling With Him
The talithe/talit or prayer shawlworn by Jewish men is an examples of YHVH’s people tabernacling with him. The word tal-ithe means “little tent.” Each Hebrew man has his own little tabernacle, tent or prayer closet to pull over his head whenever he wants to tabernacle or commune with his Elohim. When a talit is spread out with one’s arms it resembles a bird with wings. This represents YHVH’s “wings” forming a protective shield or brooding over his people. Such a place becomes a place of refuge (Ps 91:1,4). The Spirit of Elohim brooded over the waters of the earth at creation (Gen 1:2). Yeshua spoke of his desire for Jerusalem as a mother hen spreads out its wings and gathers together its young (Matt 23:37). In ancient Mideast culture, a man would cast his outer garment over his wife-to-be as an act of claiming her for marriage. In Ezekiel 16:8, YHVH spread is “wings” (Heb. kanaph meaning “edge, extremity, wings, bird’s feathered wings,” Strong’s H3671) over his bride, Israel, to cover her nakedness. The Jewish wedding canopy or chuppah represents this.
The Steps of Redemption Within the Tabernacle
First Step of Eight: One is in a state of separation from his Creator because of sin. One sees the good news, the light of truth, the message of the cross, the multi-colored door and the luminescent walls of the tabernacle. As one takes his first steps to become separated or set-apart from the confusion, darkness, chaos, emptiness, lostness and death of the world one must first encounter the altar of the red heifer located outside the tabernacle (in later years on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Mishnah Parah 1:1ff). There the red heifer was slaughtered and burned and its ashes were used as a sin offering to bring about purification for uncleanness (Num 19:1ff). Yeshua was likewise crucified outside of the camp of Israel and the gates of Jerusalem (Heb 13:10–13). This altar represents the work of Yeshua at the cross. One cannot enter the tabernacle until one has been redeemed and purified by the blood of Yeshua. Even the Israelites killed the Passover lamb outside their homes on the afternoon of the fourteenth of the month of Abib The blood was then smeared on the doors of their homes. Once they entered the blood-smeared doors and were inside their homes they were safe from the death angel who simply passed over them. Likewise, when we enter through the gates of the tabernacle (which are crimson in color, as well as blue, white and purple—colors which point to the four Gospels and the four aspects of Yeshua’s mission as Redeemer) we do so saved and purified. This is the Passover (Pesach), which is the first of YHVH’s seven annual appointed times (moedim).
Second Step of Eight/First Step of Seven: Upon entering the tabernacle one immediately comes to the altar of sacrifice. After the lamb was sacrificed on the afternoon of Passover, that evening (the beginning of the fifteenth day of the first month, which was also the first day and a high Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread/Hag HaMatzot) the Israelites ate the Passover lamb. At the altar of sacrifice the Levites would eat those animals sacrificed there. This pictures the fact that the saved believer must continue to “eat the flesh” and “drink the blood” of Yeshua to stay in communion with him (John 6:35–58), and that when one sins after one is saved they must continue in a state of repentance and overcoming through the blood of the Lamb (1 John 1:7–9). On that evening, one not only ate lamb, but unleavened bread after having put all leavened bread out of one’s home. This pictures the believer walking forward spiritually putting sin out of one’s life. To the degree one eliminates sin from one’s life is the degree one has communion with our Father in heaven. Therefore, the altar of sacrifice in the tabernacle is a picture of the Passover meal and the first high Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Third Step of Eight/Second Step of Seven: At the bronze laver one ritually washed in preparation for entering into service in the sanctuary. This represents being baptized for the remission of sins, being washed in the water of the Word of Elohim and receiving the Set-Apart Spirit of Elohim. This corresponds with the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea and being baptized unto Moses who was a type of Yeshua (1 Cor 10:2). This occurred during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and most likely on the last high Sabbath of that week-long festival.
Fourth Step of Eight/Third Step of Seven: The next step takes one to the menorah where the light of the Spirit of Elohim shines in the hearts and minds of men. Here man becomes fruitful ground (the fruit of the Spirit) and becomes empowered to reach a lost world (by the gifts of the Spirit). Once separated, redeemed, washed and transformed by the Word and Spirit one is to become an earthly light (in heavenly realms) shining into the dark world. Humans are the lesser light (moon) reflecting the greater light of the Yeshua, the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2). This occurred for the first-century believers on the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot)
Fifth Step of Eight/Fourth Step of Seven: Yeshua’s people prepare themselves to meet him at his second coming. At this time occurs the awakening and reunion/regathering of the twelve tribes of Israel around Yeshua, the Bread of Life. This end time event is represented in the tabernacle by the table of show bread with the twelve loaves of unleavened bread. This is all pictured prophetically by the Day of Trumpets (or Awakening Blast).
Sixth Step of Eight/Fifth Step of Seven: At this step the focus is on intimacy and intercession, purity of heart, oneness and relationship with the Father through prayer, praise and worship. This speaks of thefinal redemption (jubilee) where YHVH’s people will be regathered to worship him in total freedom without the distractions of the world, flesh and the devil (who have been judged). The altar of incense and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) are pictures of this.
Seventh Step of Eight/Sixth Step of Seven: This step speaks of total peace (shalom) and Sabbath rest during the Millennium between YHVH and his beloved saints, the bride of Yeshua. It is a time of feasting and rejoicing; a time of Torah, spiritual bread and fruitfulness. The ark of the covenant and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) picture this step.
Eighth Step of Eight (Eternity Begins)/Seventh Step of Seven (Perfection or Completion Arrived At): This step pictures being totally set-apart to YHVH for eternity. At this point the saints experience the ultimate deliverance from darkness and being bathed in the divine and eternal light of New Jerusalem: the Sun of Righteousness who is the Lamb of YHVH in whom there is total light and no shadows. The shekinah glory above the ark of the covenant speaks to this glorious time of which the seventh feast, The Eighth Day (Shemini Atzeret) is a prophetic shadow-picture. Seven appointed times and seven steps in the mishkan, but eight steps in all picturing perfection and completion and new beginning in the New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem.
Exodus 25:8, That I may dwell with them. This is the heart of Elohim—to dwell with his people that he has made in his image. He wanted to dwell with Adam and Eve in the garden until their sin cut them off from fellowship with him. The tabernacle contain the means by which sinful humans could have their sins atoned and come back into a right relationship with their holy Creator, so that he might again dwell with them. Of course, everything in the tabernacle pointed forward to Yeshua the Messiah through whose atoning death repentant and believing humans could come into relationship with Elohim that he might once again dwell with them. Those who have entered made this spiritual transaction are now the spiritual temple or dwelling place of Elohim as Paul states in 1 Cor 3:16 and 2 Cor 6:16.