The Tabernacle

Kait Tompkins   -  

Hey Church! As we journey through the season of Lent, our Community Bible Reading and Weekly Blog will take us through the book of Exodus. This incredible Old Testament story, though it took place centuries before Jesus came, offers both a foundation and a foreshadowing of the incredible things that God would do through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. As we journey through this biblical book, we’ll explore the connections between the two, and celebrate the incredible wisdom in God’s plans and the incredible grace in His salvation! Read on!

This week we are exploring chapters 25-31 in the book of Exodus, these 7 chapters contain God’s initial instructions to Moses about how the tabernacle (the place where God will meet with and speak to His people) should be designed.

When I realized that this was the passage assigned to the blog this week, I dreaded it a bit. If I’m completely honest, these are the kinds of Bible passages that I often skim over quickly while thinking to myself, “Why do I need to know all of these details? I’M not going to build a tabernacle, so why do I need to be familiar with the blueprints?” I certainly don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to study this passage in detail. I kind of just figured that the tabernacle was old news because… welll… in the New Covenant Jesus Himself is now our tabernacle and High Priest and so the old way didn’t seem overly relevant to me.

That is, until I had to write this blog post.

I was lying in bed the other morning thinking a little bit about what to write for the blog, when suddenly I felt the Holy Spirit put this question into my mind: “Kait, why do you read the Scriptures at all?”
I thought to myself for a second and then I responded in my head, “I read them to know you more, God.”
And that was it. There was no follow up conversation, no finger pointing by God telling me what to do. Just a question – an invitation, really.

So I sat down and opened my Bible. I started by going through the chapters slowly, more slowly than I have in the past. The more I read, the wider my eyes got, as I began to notice things I had never seen before. Before I knew it, I had spent several hours pouring over these 7 chapters and consuming any and every biblical study resource online that I could find!

Why? Because with that one simple question, God had given me an invitation – an invitation to relationship. In the past, I had approached these kinds of passages (and at times other parts of the Scriptures) like a “how-to” manual. I would read them mainly so that I would know:

a) what to believe and
b) what to do.

And truthfully, the Bible is full of lots of wisdom and direction when it comes to instructing us in belief and action. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

But Jesus also said this to the Jewish leaders in His day, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40).

Bruxy Cavey, in his book Reunion says something similar, “We don’t follow the Bible,” Bruxy says, “We read the Bible so we can follow Jesus.”

And there was my problem. I hadn’t been approaching this passage as an invitation to deeper relationship. I had been looking for information, instead of intimacy.

And so when the Holy Spirit asked me that question, it opened a door. It led me through a journey of discovering Jesus and God’s incredible plan of redemption in these passages about the Tabernacle. And that’s what this blog series is all about! Hallelujah!

So friends, as we read through these chapters together, it is my hope is that He will do the same for you. May the Holy Spirit open up doors and invite you into a deeper relationship with God the Father and Jesus His Son through these readings.

Before we begin, I found it really helpful to watch the Bible Project’s videos on the book of Exodus, they’re just so good for helping us understand the bigger picture before we jump into all the smaller details. Hopefully you’ve already watched the first one from Pastor Dave’s blog from March 1st (if not you can find the video HERE).

And you can find Exodus part 2 (the one that talks about our chapters for this week!) HERE.

Some basic info that will also help: Moses is up on the mountain of Sinai receiving a download of information from God about the tabernacle: the place where God will dwell on earth to be among His people. What’s so amazing, is that within the details of the Tabernacle blueprints we find many signs of God’s redemptive plan to one day restore His people back to Himself through Jesus. Keep in mind, this is about 1200 years before Jesus is born! Later on in the Old Testament, the tabernacle is replaced by a more permanent space called the Temple. Then, in the New Testament, when Jesus enters into human history, He says that HIS BODY is the temple (John 2:19, 21). Knowing this brings new richness to our reading of this week’s chapters in Exodus.

Final Tip: It might be helpful to have a paper and pen, journal, or memo on your phone with you as you read and reflect each day so that you can take some brief notes.


Day 1: Exodus 25

  • The ark described in verses 10-22 was covered with something called the atonement cover, which was bookended by 2 cherubim. It was above this cover that God would come and meet with Moses and speak to the Israelites (25:22). John 20:11-12 says, “Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.” Notice anything interesting? The New Testament discusses the idea of Jesus as our atonement (Romans 5:25, 1 John 2:2, 4:10). As we look forward to Easter, say a prayer of thanks to God that Jesus is the one through whom we receive God’s mercy. And through whom we have access to God’s presence.
  • The table in verses 23-30 was the place where the bread of the presence was placed. You may recall that Jesus called himself the Bread of Life (John 6:30-35). Just as bread is essential for life, Jesus is essential for spiritual and eternal life. What has been sustaining you lately? How is God inviting you to allow Jesus be your sustenance in this season?
  • The tabernacle lampstand, described in verses 31-40, was decorated with almond blossoms. The almond tree is the first tree to bud in Spring and symbolically represents resurrection and new life. The lamps were to be lit from evening to morning, while it was dark (Exodus 27:21). Their light would be a reminder of hope for new life to those who saw it, even amidst darkness. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). How is Jesus offering you hope for new life to you in this season?

Day 2: Exodus 26-27

  • The structure and colours of the tabernacle distinguished it from all the other tent structures the Israelites would have lived in. It was a place set apart for God. Verses 31:35 tell us that the tabernacle had 2 rooms: the holy place and the most holy place (or holy of holies). This was where God would meet with His people. Today we don’t have a special place to meet with God. All we have to do is invite His presence and the park, our kitchen table, or our seat at church (to name a few) instantly become “set apart” for us to commune with God. Spend some time today thanking Jesus that He is our tabernacle and has made communion with God available wherever we go.
  • The outer courtyard (verses 9-19) is said to represent earth, and the altar (verses 1-8) was the place where sacrifices were made before one could enter the tabernacle. When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled, once and for all, the sacrificial requirements. Hebrews 10:12-14 says, “But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” What does Jesus sacrifice mean for you personally? What does it mean for the world? How can you invite Jesus to bring you into a deeper personal appreciation of His sacrifice?

Day 3: Exodus 28

  • The priests played a very significant role in the Scriptures. For Israel, they were the mediators between God and the people; the ones who made it possible for the people to maintain relationship with God. While the garments the priests wore may not make a lot of sense to use today, they were a way that the priests were set apart as spiritual leaders who, both literally (28:9-12), and symbolically, carried the weight of the people on their shoulders. Jesus is described in the new Testament as our great high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), who intercedes for us before the Father. Close your eyes for a moment, imagine that your name or your family’s name is written on one of the onyx stones that He wears on his shoulder, and on one the precious gems worn over his heart. What significance does that have for you? Is there anything you want to say to Jesus in light of this?

Day 4: Exodus 29

  • The consecration of Israel’s priests required 7 days of ordination ceremony, sacrifices, and offerings so that the tabernacle, altar, and priests would be set apart for God. For many modern people who haven’t don’t have animal slaughter as a part of their day-to-day lives, this passage can seem pretty intense. But the reality is that Jesus’ sacrifice one the cross was even more brutal. As you read this passage today, ask Jesus to help you prepare your heart through this season of Lent. Ask Him to set you apart for God’s work. Thank Him for His sacrifice, which makes all of this possible.
  • This chapter ends with God saying, “Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God” (29:45-46). This past Sunday, Pastor Vijay talked about how Jesus has brought us out of our own spiritual slavery. Because of Jesus, we can know that the Lord is OUR God who has freed US from slavery so that He can dwell among us. What does this reality mean for you in your daily life?

Day 5: Exodus 30-31

  • Incense was to be burned on the altar inside the tabernacle at all times. In other places in the Scriptures, the prayers of the saints are described as incense rising up to God (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4). Have you ever thought about the fact that your prayers are a like sweet-smelling incense to God? Knowing that just makes me smile, and reminds me that our God loves and longs to hear from His people! Have you prayed yet today? Consider offering up a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to God right now.
  • What I love about these last chapters is that God provides His people with all the tools and skills they need to build the tabernacle, just as He has given us all we need to be in relationship with Him! Have you been neglecting any of the gifts God has given you so that you and He might “dwell” together (e.g. scripture reading, prayer, thankfulness and praise, worship, confession, fellowship, Sabbath, keeping of the commandments, etc.)? How can you use the tools God has given you to keep in close relationship with Him?
  • Finally, these chapters wrap up with God reiterating the importance of the Sabbath, and saying that He too rested on the 7th day and was REFRESHED! The Sabbath is, in my opinion, one the most neglected of the 10 Commandments. What’s crazy is that in this passage, the penalty of not resting was DEATH! Crazy, right!? Well, that should signal to us just how vital this day is for God’s people each week. Are you setting aside 1 day a week to be refreshed by God? Ask Him what that kind of day could look like for you (and your family if applicable).

End your time of reading and reflecting this week with a simple prayer reflecting on what you’ve experienced through God’s invitation to know Him more. I have written one below for you, or you can craft your own.

I come to the end of this week amazed at all the ways you pointed to Jesus through the tabernacle. I am so thankful that I can read passages like these and come to a deeper understanding of your great love, sacrifice, holiness, and mercy for your people. Thank you that I am among them. Thank you that because of Jesus, these rituals and sacrifices are no longer necessary. Thank you that you gave us your Son to be our great High Priest, and that He has made deep, intimate union with You possible. I pray that You will continue to invite me to know you more through Your Word, and help me understand how what is written within it points to Jesus and Your Kingdom. Amen.