What is the Tabernacle?
To know what the Tabernacle is according to the Bible, the word teaches us that it was an earthly sanctuary inspired by God and ordered for its construction to Moses, according to the design he showed him at Mount Sinai (Ex 25:40; 25:8-9). It was made by a voluntary offering of the people, that is, an offering of heart, since God desired a willing heart (Ex 25:2). His purpose was to show God’s desire to live in the midst of his people (Ex 25:8). It was also known as the Tabernacle of Reunion and the place where the congregation of Israel brought their offerings and sacrifices to present them to God, it was usually a lamb or a pure and flawless animal, they could be goats, calves or bulls, they were presented to God by expiation of sins. (Lev 4:13, 14, 15).
What does the Tabernacle symbolize?
The Tabernacle was the method that God used to teach his people Israel. The Bible points to Christ as symbolism of the Tabernacle, in The Gate (Jn 10:9), The Lamb (Jn 1:29), The Priest (He 3:1; 9:11) and many more that we will study next.
The word of God in Exodus 25:8 says: “And I will dwell in their midst”. Therefore, this became a shadow of what was to come, God made man in the person of Christ, since in John 1:14 it says: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
The sacrificial system that was instituted by God in the Tabernacle, is a revelation of the redeeming work of Christ on the Cross, in this way we can understand the meaning of the Tabernacle and in a clearer way the truths of the gospel.
Symbolism of the Tabernacle in:
Christ: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).
The Church: “in whom you also are edified together for the dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:22).
The Believer: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy “(1 Cor 3:16-17).
The Coming Things: “And I heard a great voice from heaven saying: Behold, the tabernacle of God with men, and he shall dwell with them; and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God “(Rev 21: 3).
The Tabernacle and its parts
The Atrium of the Tabernacle
The court of the Tabernacle of meeting was surrounded by a fence of fine linen. This fence was supported by 60 bronze columns, with their respective bronze bases, and silver capitals.
The south consisted of a curtain of fine linen of 45 meters, 20 bronze columns, 20 bronze bases and 20 silver capitals (Ex 27:9-10).
The north likewise with a curtain of fine linen of 45 meters, 20 bronze columns, 20 bronze bases and 20 silver capitals (Ex 27:11).
The western one of the vestibule counted on a curtain of fine linen of 22.5 meters, 10 bronze columns, 10 bronze bases and 10 silver capitals (Ex 27:12).
The width of the eastern side was 22.5 meters (Ex 27:13) with curtains of fine linen of 6.75 meters supported by 3 bronze columns, 3 bronze bases and 3 silver capitals on one side and the other (Ex 27:14-15).
The gate of the court measured 9 meters and was made of blue, purple, and scarlet cloth and twisted linen, supported by 4 bronze pillars, 4 bronze bases, and 4 silver capitals (Ex 27:16-17).
The atrium of the Tabernacle, was the area where the sacrifices were carried out. Also to the only section to which the people had access, to present an offering or Sacrifice to God (Ps 96:8, 100:4;1 Ki 8:64). In this way, being in the atrium of the Tabernacle was for the people to be in the presence of God (Ps 65:4, 84:2, 84:10).
The Tent or Sanctuary
Another part of the Tabernacle was the Tent, it was built of 48 acacia mother-of-pearl boards covered with gold. Which were 20 on the south side (Ex 26:18-19), 20 on the north side (Ex 26:20-21), and 6 tables on the west side (Ex 26:22). Therefore, each of these boards had two spikes (wooden dowels) and each of these spikes, was embedded in 2 silver bases to join the boards (Ex 26:17), the total of the bases was 96.
The Tent was divided into two parts:
Holy Place of the Tabernacle
The Holy Place was the first section of the Tent of the Tabernacle and through which one had access to the dwelling. it was separated from the atrium by five golden columns and a veil that was the entrance to the enclosure. Therefore, there was inside the altar of incense, the table of the showbread and the candelabra. These were utensils of the Tabernacle, of which the priest was responsible for maintaining.
The Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle
The Holy of Holies was the second section of the tent of the Tabernacle. This was behind the four golden pillars and the second veil, where the ark of the covenant is (Ex 26:33; He 9:3). Therefore, the Holy of Holies was where the presence of God lived. In this part of the Tabernacle, the high priest entered once a year, to make atonement for the sins of himself and those of the people (Ex 30:10; Heb 5:3). When Jesus died on the cross, the bible says “Then the veil of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Mk 15:38), symbolizing our free access to God through the sacrifice of Christ. “So, brethren, having freedom to enter the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus Christ” (He 10:19).
Utensils of the Tabernacle and its Meanings
In the Atrium was:
The Bronze Altar
The Bronze Altar of the Tabernacle was the first thing that the people of Israel saw upon entering the courtyard. There continually sacrifices were made (Ex 29:38), in this way, the people were taught that the only way to approach God was through a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.
It was also called Altar of God (Ps 43:4) or Altar of Jehovah (Ml 2:13). It was made of acacia wood and covered with bronze (Ex 27:2). Its measurements were 2.25 meters long by 2.25 meters wide and 1.35 meters high (Ex 27:1). The fire on the bronze altar was to be lit continually (Lev 6:13) and everything the altar touched was sanctified (Ex 29:37).
Meaning of the Bronze Altar
The Bronze Altar symbolizes the Judgment of God for sin. Therefore, in this way we can understand the goodness of God towards us and the severity toward the victim. This came to typology the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins , in order to get closer to God, being justified by his blood (Ro 5:9, 3:25; He 10:1-18).
The Bronze Laver
The Bronze Laver was located between the altar and the tent (Ex 30:18, 40:7). This utensil was made with the mirrors of the women who ministered at the door of the Tabernacle (Ex 38:8). And in it the priests who served there washed their hands and feet , before being able to minister in the holy things of the Tabernacle (Ex 30:19-20).
Meaning of the Bronze Laver
In the Tent was:
The Table of Showbread
The Table of Showbread was located on the north side of the Holy Place in the Tabernacle Tent. It was made of acacia wood and covered with pure gold, with gold moldings around it. Its measurements were 90 centimeters in length, its width 45 centimeters and its height 68 centimeters (Ex 25:23-24), the surrounding molding was 7.5 centimeters wide (Ex 25:25). All their plates, cups and ladles were made of pure gold (Ex 25:29). The loaves were placed on the table in two rows of six (Lev 24: 6). Only the show bread could be eaten by the priests and they were replaced every day of rest (Lev 24:7-8).
Meaning of the Table of Showbread
Therefore, the Table with the 12 loaves can typify the 12 tribes of Israel, the provision of God, the spiritual nourishment that God gives to his people and the communion between the church and Christ (Mt 26:26; Lk 24:30).
The Lampstand was located on the left side when entering the Holy Place or on the wall facing south in the Tabernacle Tent. It was made of pure gold and hammered in one piece (Ex 25:31), on one side three arms with their candlesticks and on the other side three arms with their candlesticks, supported by a cane in the center with a candlestick, Each of these candlesticks was shaped like an almond blossom (Ex 25:32-33). The weight of the Candelabra with all its utensils was 34 Kilos (Ex 25:39). This utensil served to illuminate the Holy Place and the priests had to continually keep their flames lit with olive oil (Ex 27:20).
Meaning of the Lampstand
Therefore, the Lampstand is a type of Christ as the light of the world (Jn 8:12), and who lights the way of his holy people (Ps 119:105), Jesus Christ as eternal light (Rev 21:23). Also its workmanship in pure gold and hammered is a type of the sacrifice of Christ. His 6 arms on the sides (symbol of man), supported by a cane in the center, teaches us the dependence that believers have of Jesus Christ, so that through him we can be light and bear fruit (Mt 5:14; Jn 15:4).
The Altar of Incense
The Altar of Incense was in the Holy Place, in front of the veil that divided the Holy place of the Holy of Holies (Ex 30:6). Its measurements were 45 cm in length, 45 cm in width and 90 in height (Ex 30:2). It was made of acacia wood (Ex 30:1) and covered with pure gold, had a horn at each end, similar to the altar of bronze (Ex 30:3), but this altar was not made to burn burnt offering, but to burn aromatic incense day and night continually (Ex 30:7-8), this symbolizes prayer, praise and worship (Ps 141:2; Lk 1:10; Rev 5:8).
Meaning of the Incense Altar
Therefore, the Altar of Incense is a type of Christ in its nature Human (acacia wood) and Divine (pure gold). The incense that was burned morning and evening on the altar, represents the interceding prayer of Christ for his saints (Jn 17:9, 14:16, 16:26). So also, once a year the blood of the atonement was applied on the horns of the altar, this teaches that the interception of Christ has virtue in the sufferings suffered on earth.
The Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant was located in the Holy of Holies, after the second veil, it was made of acacia wood and covered with pure gold inside and out. His measures were 1.12 meters in length, his width of 68 centimeters and his height of 68 centimeters (Ex 25:10-11). He had a propitiatory (mercy seat) with two cherubs one in front of the other, his wings extended upwards and their faces looked towards the ark. This propitiatory (mercy seat) was made of pure gold, its measurements were 1.12 meters in length and 68 meters in width (Ex 25:17-19).
Within the Ark of the Covenant were the commandments that God gave Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 25:16, 31:18). The book of Hebrews explains that it also contained the rod of Aaron that budded and the manna (Heb 9:4). The Ark of the Covenant was the throne of God on earth and where his presence was, there God spoke to Moses (Ex 25:22; Nu 7:89). Aaron in his office as High Priest, could only enter once a year on the Day of Atonement to sprinkle blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat (Ex 30:10; Lev 16:2, 14-15). The Levites were the only ones who could move the ark and only by the rods (Dt 10:8; 1 Ki 8:4).
Meaning of the Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant symbolizes the covenant of God with his people. It was also a symbol of God’s presence. The ark was made of acacia wood representing the humanity of Christ and covered in gold inside and out representing its Divinity. He is also a type of Christ in his nature without sin and as the only one who kept the law, since the tables of the law were inside the ark. The blood that the high priest sprinkled on the mercy seat symbolizes the death of Christ and how with his blood he makes atonement for our sins. The cherubs represent the service of the angels to Christ to do his will, his presence in the congregation of the saints, and his longing to look at the mysteries of the gospel.
The Door of the Tabernacle
The door of the Tabernacle was located to the east. This was a curtain or veil that measured 9 meters, it was made of blue, purple, scarlet cloth and fine twisted linen. He also had 4 bronze columns and 4 bronze bases that supported him (Ex 27:16)
The door was the only access to the Tabernacle, no one could enter the Tabernacle without first going through the door, in the same way that no one can go to God without knowing Christ, so the door symbolizes Christ as the only access to God (John 10:9, 14:6, Ro 5:1-2, Eph 2:18).
The Veil of the Tabernacle
The Veil of the Tabernacle was made of blue, purple, crimson (red cloth) and white twisted linen, with cherubs on each veil (Ex 26:31). The Tabernacle had two veils, one that separated the Atrium from the Holy Place and another that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.
The veil represents separation from the holy God of sinful humanity. So once a year on the day of atonement, the high priest crossed the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies to offer to offer sacrifices for his sins and those of the people. Therefore the veil represents the Flesh of Christ, when the Lord Jesus Christ dies on the cross, the veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom indicating free access to God through the sacrifice of Christ. (Mk 15:37-38; He 10:19-20).
The cherubs in the veil represent the angels with the flaming sword who guarded the way to the tree of life and to the presence of God (Ge 3:24).
Colors of the Tabernacle
The colors that were used to make the Door and the Veil, have their symbolism as everything in the Tabernacle.
Blue: Celestial color. The Lord Jesus Christ came from heaven, this color teaches us that our salvation is heavenly (1 Cor 15:47-48).
Purple: Color of royalty. This tells us that our Savior is King of kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16), through Him, we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people acquired by God (1 Pe 2:9).
Red: Color of the Blood. Our Redeemer buys us at the price of Blood (1 Pe 1:18-19).
Fine White Linen: Color of purity. It represents Holiness and Justice. Thus, this reminds us that we were justified by our Savior and that when we come to Christ we are clothed with His righteousness (Ro 3:24, 5:1; Ga 3:27).
Who is the Tabernacle?
The Tabernacle is Christ. When we study each of its parts we see that all of these have a type of Christ. Therefore now we can understand the sacrificial system imposed by God so that the people could approach Him. This gives us a clearer way of Christ’s atonement for the sins of the world. And how I carry the sins of the world in him, to make us approved before God and give eternal redemption to all who trust in his name.
Who designed the Tabernacle?
When we study the Tabernacle we see that God is very precise in the instructions given to Moses in the construction and design of the Tabernacle (Ex 25:9). The Bible shows God giving Moses order in every detail, design, measurements, materials and every color in the fabrics that were used. These in turn have a spiritual symbology of celestial truths that God wanted to teach the People of Israel.
All this came to make shadow and design the true Tabernacle that God was going to raise, not made by man, nor of this creation, to Christ, The Tabernacle of God among men. Therefore I charge Moses to do everything according to what he had shown him (Heb 8:2, 5, Ex 25:8, Jn 1:14).
Construction of the Tabernacle of Moses
God ordered the Tabernacle of meeting to Moses and for this work he had also provided himself with the people who would work on him. So the chosen ones were Bezaleel and Aholiab, who were gifted by God with special wisdom and talents in craftsmanship, to work with gold, silver, bronze, in the making of jewelry, carving wood and all kinds of artistic works that they were required in the elaboration of the Tabernacle (Ex 31:2-5). Along with them worked all those to whom God gave the ability and the understanding to work in the work (Ex 31:6). The people of Israel in Egypt had been brick makers and workers. Therefore, they were not qualified for craft work. But the Spirit of God gave Bezaleel and Aholiab the abilities and talents they needed (Ex 31:3).
Who could enter the Tabernacle?
The people were only allowed to enter the Tabernacle atrium to carry their offerings and sacrifices. The priests had access to minister in the atrium and in the Holy Place. Only Moses and the High Priest had access to all parts of the tabernacle and the only ones who could enter the Holy of Holies. But only Moses could enter at any time without offering sacrifices. While the High Priest could only enter once a year on the Day of Atonement (Ex 30:10).
Where was the Tabernacle of meeting?
The first time the Tabernacle was erected was in its construction, but the Bible does not give an exact location of where it was built. The order of its construction was given by Moses on Mount Sinai, and according to the time and location that the bible points out was during the 40 years in the desert. After this, I pass to the city of Siloh as the book of Joshua recounts at the time of the conquest of Canaan (Joshua 18:1, 19:51).
While the Tabernacle in Siloh, the city had become the center of Worship and Adoration of the people of Israel. The Tabernacle was approximately 300 years in Siloh during the period of the judges. The Bible tells how Elkanah and his family traveled to Shiloh every year to worship and offer sacrifices to God (1 Sa 1:3). In Siloh it was where Ana, who would later be the mother of the prophet Samuel, prayed to God to grant her to have a son, which she would consecrate to his service (1 Sa 1:9-11). There also took place in Siloh three times a year the religious festivals that were celebrated in the Tabernacle: the Passover, the feast of the unleavened bread, the feast of the tabernacles and the feast of the weeks (Dt 16:16).
Finally the Tabernacle was located in Gibeon in the time of King Solomon, and was still considered a center of worship until the Temple was built in Jerusalem.
The Tabernacle of Israel and the 12 tribes
The Tabernacle was in the middle of the camp of Israel. It was the place of worship and worship where the people approached God. Therefore, at the moment of being raised to be taken from one place to another, he was also taken into the midst of the 12 tribes, this taught the people that God was always in their midst (Is 12:6, Ps 46:5-7; Zephaniah 3:17)
Location of the tribes
North: Aser, Dan and Naftalí
South: Gad, Rubén and Simeón
East: Issachar, Judah and Zebulun
West: Benjamín, Efraín and Manasés
Difference between The Tabernacle and The Temple
First, The Tabernacle was a mobile sanctuary of worship. Therefore, it was built while the people traveled to the promised land. While The Temple was built as a permanent place of worship. This then, that the people of Israel were already established and had peace in the land that God promised.
Significant events in the meeting Tabernacle
The manifestation of the glory of God (Ex 40:34-38).
The cloud over the Tabernacle (Nu 9:15-23).