What was the purpose of the tabernacle and why would God put so much about it in the Bible? Every single thing in Scripture has a purpose, but the purposes for the tabernacle are unique and involved more than just Israel.
They involve relationship, repentance, and redemption and they involve Jesus and you.
A Purposeful Relationship
Did you know building the tabernacle was God’s idea? It wasn’t Moses or Israel trying to convince God to do something they’d thought of (ever do that? I sure do…), it was God’s idea because He wanted to dwell with His people.
As I said last week, God’s always wanted to dwell with His people, and the word tabernacle actually means “to dwell.”
Why would Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth want to live in a tent, in the middle of the wilderness with a bunch of rebellious sinful people? ‘Cuz I don’t know about you…I sure wouldn’t want to be camping in the middle of a situation like that.
Good thing is, I’m not God.
God…He wanted a relationship with His people because He knew that a relationship with Him would be important for Israel’s survival. They had a long wilderness journey ahead of them and God knew what that journey would entail.
What about you…
- How has your relationship with God changed the way you deal with life’s wilderness seasons, struggles, and trials?
- Can you look back and see how your ability to handle these things has changed as your relationship with God has deepened?
- How so?
God wanted a relationship with His people because He wanted them to know Him, trust Him, and ultimately, choose Him.
But a relationship with God wasn’t the tabernacle’s only purpose.
The Tabernacles Purpose in Repentance
When you look at the pattern God gave Moses for the tabernacle, you’ll see there’s only one way in, and that before you get to God, there’s an altar. Read further along in Exodus and God gives instructions for sacrifices that are to happen on that altar, sacrifices that involved atoning for Israel’s sins.
These sacrifices taught Israel the importance of repentance, and that God was holy and worthy of all honor and praise. They also taught Israel that sins are costly, but that God had graciously provided a way for Israel to atone (make amends) for their sins, sins they knew should cost them their lives.
Up to this point, Israel had heard and agreed to every statute, covenant, and commandment God had made with them. God had laid out His expectations and graciously provided a sacrificial system for coming to Him in repentance.
This immediately brings the song, Grace Greater than Our Sin to mind and the line: “Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sins.” It’s probably stuck in your head now, isn’t it…
- Can you imagine having to follow the sacrificial system God set up in order to have your sins forgiven?
- Do you think it’d make you more or less aware of your sins?
In the next week or two we’ll talk about Jesus’ connection with the tabernacle but until then…
- How grateful are you for the way repentance now looks?
Now, let’s move to the last “R” purpose for the tabernacle?
Near the end of God’s instructions for building the tabernacle, they take what appears to be a wee detour when God adds instructions for taking a census and collecting ransom money from the Israelites.
But…as you’ve likely guessed, it wasn’t a detour at all.
It was part of God’s purpose for the tabernacle in teaching His children about redemption. Redemption is where something is gained in exchange for a payment.
It both reminded and taught God’s children that they were “the redeemed of the Lord.” (Isaiah 35:10, 51:11, 62:12)
God had redeemed Israel from bondage in Egypt, and part of God’s purpose for the tabernacle was teaching them they’d also been redeemed from their sins.
- If you had to pay a ransom price for your sins and your life, what would you pay?
- Spend a minute thinking about the things you’ve been redeemed from and the price that’s already been paid for your life.
- Then, spend time thanking and praising God for all He’s done on your behalf.
Redemption sets us free from bondage and makes us Gods. What a beautiful combo that is, being freed from bondage and becoming God’s!
But…have you noticed how the purpose of the tabernacle seems to mirror God’s purpose for something (one) else?
God’s purpose’s for the tabernacle are truly amazing. I absolutely love how God’s woven the tabernacle throughout Scripture and how it all comes together as a beautiful tapestry that reveals God tabernacling with His people.
P.S. This is a beautifully rich subject and it has a lot to do with you!!
Be on the lookout for that post (it should go live 2 weeks after this one).
Until then...meditate on these three verses:
“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.” Exodus 25:8
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
Remember…tabernacle means to dwell. God bless.