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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

January 31, 2021

Reading Schedule: Exodus 39-40


Exodus 40:2

On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.


Try to picture the Tabernacle. This is why God gave us an imagination to see that which we read about. Use that imagination now as I try to draw a picture with words about the basic set up of the tabernacle. For in its simplicity there is a lesson for us today.


What is the Tabernacle? It was a transportable tent-like structure wherein God dwelled during the wilderness wanderings of Israel. It was set up in a rectangle, approximately 150 feet long and 75 feet wide. The outer walls were curtains that overlapped in only one place creating a gate. That gate pictures Christ as the door. Within the curtains, the Altar is the first object a person noticed. This Altar pictures the coming sacrifice of Christ, as many sacrifices were offered thereon prior to His death. The Altar is placed an equal distance from each wall of the Tabernacle about fifty feet in from the gate. Immediately past the Altar, as one moves toward the back wall of the structure, is the Laver. The Laver was a bowl-type vessel which the priests would use for washing ceremonies. This pictures one of two New Testament teachings: baptism, and/or purifying one's life from known, open, and habitual sin through the washing of the water by the Word (Ephesians 5:26). The laver is almost in the exact middle of the structure being slightly positioned more toward the gate than the back. As personal cleansing of a person's life is to be central in all of life's endeavors.


In a straight line past the Laver is the actual Tabernacle itself. It is a separate structure of about 45 feet by 15 feet. It also a rectangle that has heavy curtains surrounding it and is made up of two distinct areas. The first section is the Holy Place, this area is about 30 feet by 15 feet that has only one entrance, in which there are two structures. One, on the north side, positioned closer to the rear of this space would be the Table of Showbread. This pictures the Word of God as being the bread of life for all believers. Toward the back, just a few feet away from the Veil, is the Altar of Incense, which pictures the prayers of the saints. Behind this altar is the Veil that separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (some call it the Holy of Holies). This area is about 15 feet by 15 feet square in which the Ark is to be placed in the exact center. The Ark contained a jar of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables on which the commandments were written. This is the area wherein the Lord God abode. The Holy of Holies pictures the heart of the believer in which Christ is to abide, being ever-present through His Spirit.


That is the basic structure of the earthly Tabernacle which is a model of the true and everlasting Tabernacle in Heaven. Much more could be written about it, the priest's duties, their garments, the various offerings, and religious rites offered therein of which there is not space to do so today. Suffice it to say that the Tabernacle spoke of the coming Messiah, from the perspective of the New Testament this is clearly seen. For lack of a better way of explaining it, the Tabernacle and all its inclusions was the Bible for the Israelites. It pointed to the time of the Cross on which our Savior would lay down His life. The One who should ever have lived died so that we who should ever have died could live. As the Hymnist wrote years ago "Oh, What a Savior!"


Until tomorrow, live for Christ today.

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