Tabernacle Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Tabernacle

In the Old Testament, the tabernacle was Israel's portable temple during the years of wandering in the wilderness before settling into the promised land of Canaan. Most of Scripture's references to the tabernacle occur in Exodus, where elaborate instructions are given for the construction of this tent-and-curtain structure, and then in Leviticus and Numbers, which detail ceremonies and rituals involving the tabernacle. The heart of the tabernacle (and of the Temple in Jerusalem that eventually replaced the temporary tabernacle) was the Most Holy Place, or the Holy of Holies. The Most Holy Place housed the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God's throne and thus his presence among his people Israel. Another place where "tabernacle" appears in Scripture — even in the New Testament book of John — is in descriptions of the harvest-time Feast of Tabernacles, when the people presented grain and fruit offerings in gratitude for God's blessing of their crops. During this seven-day festival, the people lived in temporary tent shelters as a reminder of Israel's years of wilderness wandering and as a further reminder of God's gracious provisions to the people during that time. In the New Testament, the idea of the tabernacle makes a big comeback in the book of Hebrews, where the author contrasts the original dwelling place of God on earth with God's truest dwelling among us in the person of Jesus the Messiah, the true tabernacle. Similarly, in John 1:14 there is a subtle reference to the tabernacle when John tells us that the Word-made-flesh "tented" (or "tabernacled") among us, thus indicating that Jesus fulfills God's ultimate goal of once again dwelling in the midst of his people.

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.