The Tabernacle Part 1

After Jethro left Moses to return to his country, the people of Israel came to the Sinai Desert and set up camp in front of Mount Sinai.  It was here that God intended to marry His people Israel. 

Once the people were washed, sanctified, and had separated themselves for 3 days, God came and spoke the Ten Words or Ten Commandments to the people.  These words were the basis of the original marriage covenant that God had with His people.  The Jews and Christians identify the first two differently.  Here is a summary of what God said:

  1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt.  (The idea here is that we need to know that the Lord really does exist and He is the one who brought His people out of Egypt.)
  2. You are not to have any other gods besides Me nor make images of anything in heaven, earth, or sea in order to worship them because I’m a jealous God and will punish the children of the sins of the parents to the 3rd and 4th generation.  I will show mercy (chesed) to 1000th generation of those who love me and obey my commandments.
  3. Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Remember the Sabbath (7th) day and keep it holy by refraining from work because it has been blessed and set aside for rest since the time of creation.
  5. Honor your parents so you’ll live long in the Promised Land.
  6. Do not murder.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not give false witness/evidence against your neighbor.
  10. Do not covet (desire) your neighbor’s things.

God gave His people additional rulings or judgments (mishpatim) to follow as well.

After the marriage covenant was agreed to by the people, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the 70 elders went up the mountain where they saw God and ate and drank with Him.  They must not have been on the top of the mountain but somewhere on the slope because later God wanted Moses to come up higher.  After telling the men to stay until they returned, Moses and Joshua went higher upon the mountain.  Moses then met with God for 40 days and nights. 

The location of the men on the slope of Mount Sinai represented how all priests could enter into the Holy Place of the Tabernacle while only the High Priest could come into the Most Holy Place.  Even though Moses and Joshua were not actual High Priests, they were types of Jesus, our High Priest and therefore able to ascend higher on the mountain.  The rest of the people were waiting beyond the boundary at the base of the mountain. 

Once Moses was with Him on the mountaintop, God asked Moses to take up a collection from the people in order to make the Tabernacle.  According to Exodus 25:3-7, the contributions included:

  • gold, silver and bronze
  • blue, purple and scarlet thread.
  • fine linen, goat’s hair, dyed ram skins
  • acacia-wood
  • oil for the light
  • spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense
  • onyx stones and other stones for the ritual vest and breastplate.

At that time, God showed Moses a pattern for the Tabernacle and its furnishings which would allow God to dwell among His people.  The Tabernacle and the items associated with it were to be built according to the precise instructions and pattern God gave Moses because they were a copy of heavenly things. 

The Tabernacle was made of a total of ten linen (shesh) curtains that were 42 feet long and 6 feet wide [28 X 4 cubits].  They were woven with blue, purple, and scarlet thread.  In addition, cherubim were woven into them.  Two sets of five curtains were joined together at the edge of the outermost curtains which had 50 blue loops each.  Fifty gold fasteners held the loops of both sets of curtains together in order to form a single unit.

The curtains of the Tabernacle were held upright on posts which were 15 feet long X 2 ¼ feet wide [10 X 1.5 cubits].  Each post had 2 projections which were inserted into 2 silver sockets.  There were 20 posts overlaid with gold for the south side, 20 more for the north side, and 8 posts for the west (back) side – that’s 6 with 1 extra on each corner.  The extra post on each corner was joined with another post to form a single corner using a single ring on each end.  Five crossbars for each side (N, S, W) were overlaid with gold and mounted mid-way up on the posts through gold rings.

A linen curtain (veil) was made with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and cherubim woven into it.  This curtain divided the Holy and Most Holy Place and was hung below the fasteners on 4 posts using gold hooks.  These posts were made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold.  They stood in 4 silver sockets like the others.

The cherubim on the curtains should remind us of the ones placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden to prevent mankind from going back into the garden after Adam and Eve sinned.  As you imagine what the Tabernacle looked like, contemplate what the priests’ fellowship with God in the Tabernacle may have been like.

As you consider that, ponder the significance of the three main colors which were woven into the white linen. The colors of the Tabernacle fabric represent different things:

  • white > righteousness
  • blue > heaven; Holy Spirit
  • purple > royalty
  • scarlet > blood of atonement

Gold is one of the metals that are prevalent in the Tabernacle. It represents God’s kingdom and kingship.

Now let’s looks at the 3 coverings of the Tabernacle.

The first covering was made of eleven curtains of female goat (ez) hair.  Each curtain was 45 feet long and 6 feet wide [30 X 4 cubits].  This covering was composed of 1 set of five curtains and a 2nd set of six curtains with the sixth curtain folded double at the front.  One edge of each set of curtains had 50 blue loops on their outermost edge.  Bronze fasteners held the loops of both sets together to form a single unit.  The half curtain which remained hung over the back of the tabernacle.  The extra 18 inches [1 cubit] on each side hung over the bottom of the tabernacle.  The original covering made of female goat hair most likely represented the incarnate Christ who was born of a virgin woman.

The second covering was made of red dyed ram (ayil) skins and represented the blood atonement provided to God’s people by the blood of Christ. 

The third or final covering for the Tabernacle was made of tachash.  This Hebrew word is often translated as badger, sea cow, or porpoise in English; however, the Greek Septuagint uses the word huakinthinos which can be translated as jacinth or deep blue.  This led me to believe the final covering was made of ram skins which were dyed blue.  Since blue can represent the Holy Spirit, I believe the final covering represents the power of the Holy Spirit which came down on Jesus as a dove.

The Tabernacle was erected according to the pattern shown to Moses on the mountain.  Two things we should note about the Tabernacle are that:

  • All of the posts were set in silver sockets.  It is quite possible the silver shekels given as atonement money were used to make the silver sockets of the Tabernacle (Exodus 30:15).  Silver metal represents redemption.
  • Multiples of 5 are frequent in the sizes (when measured in cubits) of the Tabernacle and its furnishings.  Most Biblical scholars recognize that the number 5 represents grace.  Since this is the case, grace was not something new after Jesus’ resurrection but was present in the original pattern of the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle was set up inside the courtyard.  The courtyard was a place where anyone could enter.  It was made of curtains of finely woven linen:

  • The south side was 150 feet [100 cubits] long and was supported on 20 posts in 20 bronze sockets. 
  • The north side was also 150 feet [100 cubits] long and was supported on 20 posts in 20 bronze sockets.
  • The west side (width of courtyard) was 75 feet [50 cubits] long and was supported on 10 posts in 10 bronze sockets.
  • The east side was also a total of 75 feet [50 cubits] long but was divided into two sides (with a gateway in between them) – each side was 22 ½ feet long [15 cubits] and had 3 posts and 3 sockets. 
  • The gate was 30 feet [20 cubits] long and had 4 posts and 4 sockets.  It was made of linen woven with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. 
  • Silver hooks and rings were used to hang the curtains on the posts.  The posts were banded with silver and stood in bronze sockets.

Biblical scholars agree that bronze represents judgment.  One day, everyone will come to God’s courtyard in order to approach God’s white throne, stand before the Lord, and be judged.  In the meantime, we should obey Colossians 2:6-7 which says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

In a way, these verses reveal that Jesus is the silver socket in which we stand by faith.

1 Thessalonians 3:8, 12-13 tells us, “For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord…. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” 

If we desire a life of fellowship with the Lord now and eternal life later, we must trust in Jesus.  Only Jesus is able to make us stand blameless on the Day of Judgment.  This can only be accomplished because of the atonement He provided for us. 

Those who do not trust in Christ are not under the atonement covering of Christ.  They have not been redeemed.  They stand in the bronze sockets of the world which are outside the Tabernacle of Meeting. When the Day of Judgment comes, they will not stand and they will never be permitted to come into the eternal Promised Land.

Where do you stand?

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