Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. Hebrews 9, verses 1-5.
Here is more information on the ancient tabernacle. It’s nice to know; it’s good to know; it’s great to know since it is a representation of the place in which God approached man. It’s valid history that can increase your understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus; thank you Chad Bird for that bit of teaching. Understanding the tabernacle and what was done there can greatly increase your perception of the beauty of God.
It’s also irrelevant.
Yes, irrelevant. There’s nothing today that requires you to build your worship life around the kind of worship that the ancient Israelites conducted in the desert 4000 years ago. YOU are God’s tabernacle now. Believe in Jesus and you are the place where God Himself comes to dwell with men. You, me, and millions like us. He built His church on our hearts. He lives, works, breathes, sees, feels actively through you. God will not be bound by the confines of a tent, temple, or sanctuary. Instead, He constructs His temple in you and lives as His church through you. You’re the successor to God’s tabernacle.
Now, that’s not to say that tradition is a bad thing; it isn’t. If you think about it, many modern churches are still set up in a similar, though not identical, pattern. Medieval cathedrals were, for the most part, built to reflect the shape of a cross. Most of today’s churches have a place for the masses to sit or stand, an area down front with an altar that is segregated from where the congregation, well, congregates. That isn’t much different from the tabernacle, which was segregated into sections for man’s protection and man’s benefit.
In truth, this side of heaven, we won’t fully understand all the implications of just why God determined that His tabernacle must have the dimensions it did. Or how He fully occupies our hearts with His presence. It’s a vision of heaven given for our understanding even as we don’t fully see what it will look like there. Here on the Third Rock, it’s our lot to simply accept it as just the way it is. If you think about it, that’s the foundation of faith. “Put your trust in me,” says God. “I’ve told you all you need to know. Some of it you won’t understand, just trust me anyway.” Religion teaches us to be skeptical of this, but that doesn’t change the basic fact and premise of it: trust God anyway. Trust God because He came to you, entered your life, became not just your Savior, but your partner, your friend, your guide, your observer. When you choose to do what He asks, you benefit. When you choose otherwise, He is there to remind you that He is there and working to turn things around for you. Whatever you choose, God is with you. Immanuel ‘immanueling’ with you as an active participant in your life.
THAT was the central point of the ancient tabernacle. It wasn’t given to Israel as a way for a vain god to steal glory. It was given to them as a way to see how God had come to them and would always work for them, working to turn things around for them. In my daily devotions, I’m reading through 2 Kings (having already gone through 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Kings). Ancient Israel was brutal. It was divided and lived under the thumb of many more evil tyrants than good leaders. The time of 2 Kings was long past the years of the tabernacle in the desert. God had long ago kept His promise to make Israel a great nation, yet Israel missed the intention of God’s promise. He would make them great not because of political power or wealth. No, they would be great because God would be with them. He would live through them, work through them, demonstrate His beautiful love through them. He gave them the tabernacle, then the Temple, then the synagogues, to reach them where they were. Their reaction? “Who are you, God, to talk to me?” Isn’t it amazing how little things have changed?
For further reading: Exodus 25, 26 and 30; Leviticus 24:5-8, Numbers 17:10.
Lord, I thank You for Your tabernacle, for coming to us through this place. Help me to ponder it, to study it, to understand more of You through understanding it. And help me to always sense how You are always with me and in me.