What was the Tabernacle?

May 18, 2022

The Tabernacle

This portable temple was built in the wilderness by the Israelites around 1450 B.C. after they were freed from Egyptian slavery. The tabernacle was the first temple dedicated to God and the first resting place of the ark of the covenant. It served as a place of worship and sacrifices during the Israelites’ 40 years in the wilderness. 

There are 50 chapters in the Bible devoted to the tabernacle: 13 in Exodus; 18 in Leviticus; 13 in Numbers; two in Deuteronomy; and four in Hebrews. The final 16 chapters in Exodus are primarily devoted to the instructions and fashioning of the tabernacle.  

The amount of space devoted certainly demonstrates its importance to Israel’s experience as a religious community.  

The Meaning of the Name

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. 

Exodus 25:8-9 KJV 

These verses highlight two of the five different names or titles applied to the tabernacle in the Pentateuch. Sanctuary derives from a root meaning “be holy,” and may have come into use because of the two parts into which the facility was divided; the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. This reinforces the notion of holiness or separation. The sanctuary testifies to the holiness of God by more than its structure. 

Aaron, the chief minister of the tabernacle, wore a diadem with the engraving, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” (Exodus 28:36). This term lends an aura to the unapproachable and the distant. Though God was accessible to the people, the engraving reminded them that the tabernacle was no ordinary facility. The tabernacle was set apart and special to Yahweh. 

The second term, tabernacle, translates from the Hebrew for “dwelling place.” Notice that Yahweh says, “Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” It implies an active sense of dwelling. When the tabernacle was completed, the signal that Yahweh had come now to inhabit it was the descent of the glory cloud (see Exodus 40:34-38).  

The ark was significant for more than being the depository for the law. The ark’s cover represented the throne of God. Therefore, the ark was placed in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle and symbolized God’s presence.  

Christ in the Tabernacle

The predominate “type” of Christ in the Old Testament is the tabernacle. The New Testament authority for recognizing its typological significance is Hebrews 9:1-24. Because the pattern for the tabernacles was designed by God, this has led some Bible scholars to conclude that even the most minute details of the tabernacle have a typological significance 

In describing the incarnation (John 1:14), John uses the word for dwelt, which has the idea of pitching a tent or tabernacle. The tabernacle was the sanctuary of God, described as His dwelling place (Exodus 25:8). Just as God lived in a tent in the wilderness, so the Son of God live (and still lives) in a human body as the New Testament “tent.” 

Today, the physical bodies of Christians serve as the temple (dwelling place) of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 16:19-20). 

#######################

Content in this article is adapted from the King James Study Bible, Full Color Edition.

An all-encompassing study Bible — the only Bible featuring extensive commentary, doctrinal notes, archaeological insights, and time-tested study aids developed exclusively for the King James Version. Perfect for in-depth study or personal devotion, this Bible will be the one you’ll

continue to reach for in your study of Scripture.

Learn more by clicking here

 

Related Articles

5 Old Testament Prophecies Answered in the New Testament Through Christ

Bible scholars estimate that more than 350 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by the birth, life, death and resurrection of […] Read More

A Deeper Dive Into Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and... Read More

An Ancient Tradition of Worship in a Modern World

Worship has existed since … well, since humankind has existed. Adam and Eve lived in a paradise. They experienced God’s creation before the Fall, in... Read More

Sign Up for the Latest Blog Posts from Thomas Nelson





By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) providing information about products and services of HCCP and its affiliates. You may unsubscribe from these email communications at any time. If you have any questions, please review our Privacy Policy or email us at yourprivacy@harpercollins.com.

1 reply on “What was the Tabernacle?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.