The Tabernacle is a meeting place between God and people. This is a juncture where the two can meet. There has always been a place for this, by the way, but it wasn’t always been very accessible. In Genesis, God met with Adam and Eve freely in the Garden of Eden. Once sin entered the world, they could no longer meet with God the same way. In the beginning of the book of Exodus, God meets with Moses at a burning bush, later on Mount Sinai, and then at the Tent of Meeting. In these instances, God approaches people on his terms. He marks the place and the time and the people are unsuspecting. There’s no certainty about when God will show up. There are entire generations, actually, who don’t seem to hear from God at all.
Finally, God gives Moses instructions to build the Tabernacle: a place where God can meet with his people, or more accurately: where the people can meet with God. Still, the people will meet on God’s terms, under the conditions of the building of the Tabernacle and the times for offerrings and sacrifices. But now the people can expect that God is there– their relationship with him is measured and predictable and reliable.
This may sound boring to you, but it probably came to them as a great relief. To be able to engage God at all, and to have any access to his plan, his thoughts, his heart for his people. This was all very new for them. And God continued to increase this throughout the Old Testament. God tells the people how to have a good relationship with him and how to be a good nation. Instructions! Remember, these are people wandering around in the wilderness with no home to call their own. Instructions were so badly needed at that point in time.
Have you ever been confused and wandering? Have you ever felt like all you want in a moment is for someone to give you clear instructions that would release you from confusion? I imagine that in every way, the Israelites felt that way at the time. Then here was God, giving them a purpose, an objective and tangible instructions for how to be a people that mattered and would carry on a great legacy and purpose. And through all the ups and downs and times they listened and didn’t listen: it worked. They did carry on a legacy. I know because thousands of years later you and I are reading about them.
To sum it all up, here are the main reasons the tabernacle was so important:
- It symbolized the glory of God. With all of the fine linens and precious metals and the beautifully crafted designs, it screamed of the importance of who God is. It all symbolizes his qualities, beauty and power.
- It symbolized a meeting place for God and people.
- It displayed that the only way through God was by his own terms. God himself laid out the terms for being close to him. God himself laid out the specific instructions for how to meet with him. God himself laid out the prescription for how to appease his wrath against sin.
Keep these ideas in mind as you read next week and the weeks after. This idea of the Tabernacle, and the meeting place of God and people is very important throughout your reading.