The Tabernacle

We talked Wednesday night about how the Tabernacle passages are a little bit different than everything else we’ve read so far. These detailed instructions are an interruption in the stories and narratives we’ve been getting used to in the book of Genesis and first half of Exodus. For those of you like me, who are unable to visualize this stuff, I’ve compiled some links that might help you see the tabernacle and maybe see a bit more of its relevance and beauty.

All and all, what mattered about the tabernacle wasn’t the vast amount of gold or even the beauty of the artisans’ creation. Instead, it is the symbolism of God’s presence with man.

The Tabernacle with the Shekhina

The word tabernacle comes from the Latin tabernaculum, meaning tent. The Hebrew word used in scripture is Mishkan (משכן ) which meant residence or dwelling place. Pause for a moment and meditate on the idea of a literal house of God being built in your neighborhood. The mailbox would say God on it, I suppose. He has set up shop and moved in with his people — in the center of their community.

Now yes, we should have the same idea today…as we are his temple or his dwelling place…but they had the advantage of seeing it. Not only did they see the house, they saw the Shekhina, the glory-cloud of the presence of God. They saw his cloud and fiery pillar. They saw his wind as it parted the Red Sea. They saw the glowing of Moses’ face as he came down from Mt. Sinai the final time.

Then they saw God’s glory descend on the camp and dwell among them in the tabernacle. I’d call that a special place!

Here’s some links if you want to look at some models of this place:

  • Photos of a Model with Scripture.
  • Drawings of the furnishings. Attempts to explain symbolism. (You can buy your own “make-your-own-tabernacle” kit here, too…)
  • 3-D Walkthrough of the Tabernacle. This one is obscenely cool. You have to download an Internet Plugin, and you probably need broadband internet…but if you can manage that, you get to simulate actually walking through the tabernacle. You can examine the furnishings…and it gives you a really good sense of the scale of the place. (If I can figure out how, I’m going to show this in class next Wednesday night…)
  • The 3-d Bible Project. (Sponsor of the above. Also has temples, etc…)
  • The Jewish Encyclopedia Tabernacle Entry provides an interesting point of view. It’s missing the Christian fulfillment of symbolism, but it’s coming from people who certainly have the best scholarship about the tabernacle itself.
  • Ron Wyatt was the Nashville doctor-turned-amateur-archaeologist who thinks that he has found the Ark of the Covenant, Noah’s Ark, and the evidence for the true Red Sea Crossing Site. His work is very controversial — so investigate it on your own and feel free to draw your own conclusions…cause I’m not doing it for you! :)
  • Just for fun, since we’re talking about the Ark of the Covenant….

Enjoy! See you Sunday…