Exodus 26 explains the construction and details of the Tabernacle. Moses will have taken these details back to the people eventually for construction. The Tabernacle is built as a way to represent the presence of God among the people. Within the Tabernacle, there is a nucleus referred to as the “Most Holy Place.” This place is the core of the presence of God as it would hold the Ark of the Covenant, which will ultimately contain physical artifacts that represent proofs of the agreement and promises that God made with the Israelites.
The Tabernacle was very ornate, decorated with rare materials and colors. The beauty of the Tabernacle was to call attention to the sanctity of the relationship that God has with His people. The many curtains described identified boundaries and served to create a “holy” atmosphere. When the people saw or entered the Tabernacle, there would be no mistake that they would know that it pointed them toward the Lord. Thread colors are specified blue, purple, and scarlet and there is much written on the significance of this color grouping. Blue, the color of heaven, purple, the color of royalty, and scarlet, the color of blood. The meanings are clear yet complex when you think of God communicating from the heavens to man, who will sacrifice to Him.
There are ther attributes of the Tabernacle which indicate specialness or holiness. The outer coverings were made of more hardy or common materials, while the inner and interlocking junctures were made of strong and costly materials:
- Loops of blue yarn
- Clasps of gold
- Clasps of bronze
- Sockets of silver
- Sockets of bronze
- Curtains of goats’ hair for the tabernacle covering
- Covering of ram skins dyed red
- Covering of badger skins
The significance of the Tabernacle has meaning for us under the law of grace in Jesus Christ as well. The writer of the book of Hebrews (most likely the apostle Paul) recognizes the symbolism and order that the Tabernacle represented for God’s people:
Hebrews 9:2-5: “For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.”
“These things” were known oracles to New Testament Christians as they are to us today. Perhaps mysterious in nature to these early Jews, the contents of the Tabernacle no longer hold much mystery to us under the law of liberty in Jesus Christ. For He has brought everything to us, has made everything known through His death, burial and resurrection:
Matthew 27:51: “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.” This veil was of course that covering leading to the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.
The Tabernacle, a place where Israelites interfaced with God, loses its weight for us today since God made all things new under Christ (Revelation 21:5). But the Tabernacle still has a mysterious attraction as a relic of our Creator’s interaction with mankind. God, at this time in human history, saw fit to create a dwelling place among His people where they could sacrifice to Him and maintain the artifacts of His holy covenant. For thousands of years, God’s people would utilize the Tabernacle to interact with Him. The Tabernacle would not always be a holy place, as man would corrupt and misuse it. But through Jesus, God created the perfect way to dwell among us, and the perfect singular sacrifice to atone for all sin.
Just like so many other examples from Exodus, the Tabernacle served as a tutor. Galatians 3:24-25: “But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
The Tabernacle, or God’s “dwelling place” among His people, was supplanted by His Son Jesus. Matthew 1:23: ““Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.””