The Design of the Tabernacle

Scripture Passage: 
Exodus 37:1-29; Exodus 38:1-22

INTRODUCTION: Someone has counted seven different sets of instructions concerning the tabernacle in the book of Exodus. Each set of instructions repeats some things and adds others. This approach is part of God’s special design for the book of Exodus, but it can confuse the casual reader. In order to make the tabernacle more understandable, this lesson follows topics more than the text. However, the bulk of our text deals with the furniture in the tabernacle and you can follow it in order under that topic below.

  1. THE SEVEN TEMPLES (as an edifice used for worship)
    1. The Heavenly Temple (Exodus 25:8-9; Hebrews 8:1-2; Hebrews 9:24-25; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 15:5-8)
    2. The Portable Temple – Tabernacle (Exodus 39:32; 1 Samuel 1:9; 1 Samuel 3:3)
    3. Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:1, 37-38; 2 Chronicles 3:1-2)
    4. Zerubbabel’s Temple (Ezra 3:8-13; Ezra 6:14-15; Zechariah 4:6-10; Haggai 1:14-15; Haggai 2:1-4)
    5. Herod’s Temple (Matthew 24:1-2; John 2:20)
    6. Tribulation Temple (Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
    7. Ezekiel’s Temple (Ezekiel 40:1-2; Ezekiel 41:1; Ezekiel 43:1-5)
  2. THE NAMES OF THE TABERNACLE
    1. Tabernacle
      1. Means dwelling place and refers to a temporary tent-like structure
      2. Occurs 328 times in scripture. Not all of these refer to the tabernacle erected by Moses.
    2. Sanctuary - Refers to a holy place (Exodus 25:8; Leviticus 19:30; Leviticus 21:12; Leviticus 26:2; Numbers 3:32)
    3. Phrases used with tabernacle
      1. The tabernacle of the congregation; used 133 times (Exodus 33:7)
      2. The tabernacle of the LORD; used 12 times (Leviticus 17:4; Numbers 16:9; Numbers 17:13; Numbers 19:13; Joshua 22:19)
      3. The tent of the congregation; used 9 times (Exodus 39:40; Exodus 40:7-26)
      4. The tabernacle of witness; used 5 times (Numbers 17:7, 8; Numbers 18:2; 2 Chronicles 24:6; Acts 7:44)
      5. The tabernacle of testimony; used 4 times (Exodus 38:21; Numbers 1:50, 53; Numbers 10:11) and the tent of the testimony; used 1 time (Numbers 9:15)
      6. The tabernacle of the tent of the congregation; used 4 times (Exodus 39:32; Exodus 40:2, 6, 29)
      7. The tabernacle of the house of God; used 1 time (1 Chronicles 6:48)
  3. THE PLAN OF THE TABERNACLE
    1. The Court of the Tabernacle (Exodus 38:9-20)
      1. 100 by 50 cubits (Exodus 27:9-19)
      2. Contained the brasen altar and the laver
    2. The Holy Place
      1. Separated from the Most Holy Place by the veil (Exodus 26:33; Matthew 27:50-51)
      2. Place of priestly service (Exodus 35:19; Exodus 38:24; Exodus 39:1, 41)
      3. Contained the candlestick, the table of shewbread and the altar of incense
    3. The Most Holy Place (Exodus 26:33-34)
      1. Contained the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat
      2. Entered only by the high priest once a year (Leviticus 16:1-2, 11-16, 34)
      3. Sometimes just called the holy place (Exodus 28:33-35)
      4. Called the Holiest of all (Hebrews 9:3, 8)
  4. THE STRUCTURE OF THE TABERNACLE
    1. The Materials (Exodus 25:1-7)
    2. The Framework (Exodus 26:15-30)
    3. The Covering (Exodus 26:1-14)
    4. The Veil (Exodus 26:31-33)
    5. The Court (Exodus 27:9-15)
    6. The Gate of the Court (Exodus 27:16)
    7. The Colors (Exodus 25:1-31; Exodus 27:16; Exodus 28:5-6)
      1. Blue – Heaven
      2. Purple – Royal
      3. Scarlet – Blood
      4. Gold – Redemption
      5. White – Purity
  5. THE FURNITURE OF THE TABERNACLE
    1. Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-16; Exodus 37:1-5)
      1. In the Most Holy Place
      2. 2 ½ by 1 ½ by 1 ½ cubits
      3. Contents (Hebrews 9:3-4)
      4. Picture of the presence of God
    2. Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:17-22; Exodus 37:6-9)
      1. Sat on top of the ark with two cherubim
      2. Picture of God’s mercy
    3. Table of Shewbread (Exodus 37:10-16)
      1. On the north or right side on entering (Exodus 40:22)
      2. Contained 12 loaves (Exodus 40:23; Leviticus 24:5-8)
      3. Picture of the word of God as the bread of life (Deuteronomy 8:3)
    4. Candlestick (Exodus 25:31-40; Exodus 37:17-24)
      1. On south or left side
      2. 7 lamps and 22 almond-shaped bowls
      3. To burn continually (Exodus 27:20-21; Leviticus 24:1-4)
      4. Picture of illumination of God through the word and the Spirit
    5. Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1-8; Exodus 37:25-29)
      1. Before the veil
      2. 2 by 2 cubits
      3. Pictures prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:4)
    6. Brasen Altar (Exodus 38:1-7)
      1. 5 by 5 cubits
      2. Picture of judgment and sacrifice
    7. Laver (Exodus 30:17-21; Exodus 38:8)
      1. Made of mirrors (Exodus 38:8)
      2. Picture of cleansing

CONCLUSION: The tabernacle was part of God’s greater plan to have a dwelling place among men. In it, we can see the whole of our Christian walk from salvation all the way to our arrival in the presence of a holy God.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 18:15

The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.