The Tabernacle

By Aubrey L. Jayroe

It Was Just Badger Skin

It was a privilege to have the Lord speak to someone. The Lord spoke to Moses and told him how to construct that old tabernacle in the wilderness. It may seem unimportant to us today how the tabernacle in the wilderness was constructed, but apparently it was important enough for the Lord to include the details in His Word.

The directions went something like this according to the fortieth chapter of Exodus. On the first of the month, Moses was instructed to put the tabernacle up in the midst of the congregation. Then he was to cover the ark of the testimony and put it in place within the tabernacle, bring in the table upon which the shewbread was placed and “set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it”. Next, he had to bring the candlesticks, light them, and set the altar of incense in its place before the ark. When this was completed, the door was to be hung. Though simple, but these were the instructions for the holy place and Most Holy of Holies.

The instructions continued. Outside, put the altar of burnt offering at the eastern entrance of the tabernacle. Then put the laver between the altar and the tent of the congregation. He sure to put water in the laver for the priests to wash. Next, they were to set up the court and hang all the walls to complete the physical construction.

Moses was then told to prepare the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and everything within it. The priests were to be brought to the appropriate places and given instructions to wash with the water in the laver. Moses was then to put the garments on the priests and anoint them to minister in the priest’s office.

Finally, the Word of the Lord states that Moses did as he was instructed. He set up the tabernacle…put the boards and curtains in place…placed all the vessels in their position…saw that everything was placed in the right position…lit the lamps…burnt the sweet incense on the altar…and brought in the priest to anoint everything and provide an offering to God.

Notice how important it was that Moses follow these directions, and how careful he was to be certain that things were set in order. We all know from reading the various accounts in the Bible, that the Lord was very detailed in his instructions as to how the services were to be performed in the tabernacle. There were negative results when God’s orders were not followed. When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord, it displeased the Lord so much that the men were destroyed. It is important to follow instructions from God with exact detail.

Please note that the Bible clearly states that when Moses did as the Lord had commanded, a cloud covered the tabernacle and the glory of the Lord filled the place. When everything was done properly, the Lord revealed His glory through the cloud that hovered over the tabernacle and the fire that at times came down from the heavens. If the people wanted to enjoy the glory of God, then the instructions had to be followed to the minutest detail.

Nothing could be done in a carefree manner. Every person had a place in which to worship, and each had to follow the specific guidelines of the Lord in order to see the desired results.

The ultimate for Israel when worshipping at the tabernacle, was to get their sins removed. The atoning of sins was critical, so it can be easily understood why Israel desired to follow the plan of God. If they did not, their sins were not forgiven!

And it was just for a badger skin tabernacle…

There is an old saying that goes something like this: When all else fails, read the instructions. If we want to see more than routine, ordinary church services, maybe we ought to read and follow the instructions that have been given to us. Our God is concerned that everything be done decently and orderly. He is also concerned that we see direct results when we meet together. It is the FATHER’S GOOD PLEASURE TO GIVE US THE KINGDOM! (Luke 12:32) That does not apply to heaven, but is directly associated with our present life. If you want to see and have more of God’s supernatural power, if you want to see family and friends saved, if you are tired of the same ‘ole’ services, then you may want to follow these instructions taken from the Holy Scriptures.

If following God’s instructions was important for an old badger skin tabernacle, how much more should it apply to tabernacles not made with hands?

I do believe it is important-today in this modern society that we become concerned with the results of our church services. If we do, we will not be contented with the routine and normal each week. We will desire to have greater services and will as we follow the plan of God.

Why Do I Go To Church

Today we are dealing with things much more important than just badger skins, rough materials, and linen curtains. We are dealing with PEOPLE – real live people that have different needs and desires. In order to be able to help these individuals, the church must understand its complete purpose of coming together.

Without a purpose we will only have a series of events that happen within an allotted span of time but with no significant meaning.

When God’s people gather together, it is more than just to meet friends and chat over what has taken place since the past service. While fellowship is important and it surely has its place, we don’t come to the house of God for the primary purpose of having fellowship with one another. It is more important than that!

Our world is hurting! Not only is the world hurting, but also the saints are hurting! Everybody is hurting! The doctors don’t have the answer; the politicians don’t have the answer. There must be a solution. We must understand that there is a definite solution…at church!

The church should be a place where people can be touched by the presence of God. Yes, there must be conviction of sins, but the end result must be that lives are changed from the old sinful life into a new life in Jesus Christ. If there is no purpose in a service, then it is very possible that nothing significant will happen. We must have a direct purpose for gathering together and attempt to seek for the direction of that service. The old cliche states that “if you aim at nothing, you will probably hit it”. And if we don’t have a direction- for the church service, we will leave having “hit” nothing!

In using the Old Testament story of the tabernacle, you can find some valuable insights into the purpose for which God designed it. The Lord had told Moses to put together the tabernacle so that there would be a place for Him to meet with the people. So take a close look at the purpose of the tabernacle plan and compare it with our needs today. We just might find a real purpose for having church…!

When you walked in that eastern gate, things became clear as to what the tabernacle’s functions were. The ultimate was to be able to get to the Holiest of Holies in order to be surrounded by the presence of God and receive atonement for the sins of the people. However, to get to the Holiest of Holies one had to follow the plan of God for each item in the tabernacle.

If we would take a closer look at the tabernacle and see how it relates to our lives today, we might get a better glimpse of what God is requiring of us today. In addition, life might become more enjoyable for us and we might get greater results every time we entered the House of the Lord.

The church was not established as a social club. We are not in this world to erect large structures that are only used a few times each week. We were put here to make a difference! We can only do so if we have the understanding of how our lives can affect others as we enter the House of God.

Unless we comprehend that we are the church and that God desires to use each of us in a distinct manner, we will shuffle to church in a care-free way and will never be content or satisfied internally.

The following chapters give the purpose of the tabernacle in the wilderness. We must compare this purpose to see how they parallel the church today. When we have understood our purpose, then we can march forth as the army of the endtime that we were designed to be.

It’s Important Where You Live

Please notice that prior to stepping into the one and only entrance, you would see all the tribes of Israel living around the tabernacle. The tabernacle was the center of all the activity of Israel. The tribes were given specific parcels of ground on which to set up camp, and these completely circled the tabernacle. They had no choice; they could not move anywhere they wanted; they could not change locations with another tribe. Regardless of the scenery, they were commanded to set up camp at the designated location given them by Moses.

It was mandatory to live within sight of the tabernacle so that the tabernacle was in the center of all Israel. At any given point within the tribes of Israel you could look and see the tabernacle. You quickly spotted the cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night that hovered above the tabernacle.

If you and I are ever going to see anything accomplished in our lives, the church must first of all be the center of all our activity. The church was designed to meet all the needs of our lives, and if those needs are ever going to be met in a satisfactory manner, we must live with the church in sight and at the center of our lives. There is no other way!

I realize that the church is not perfect, but neither are there any other people in the world who are perfect. Too often we excuse ourselves from the church because we don’t like someone or something that is done. If you and I ever hope to make it to that great city called Heaven, it will only be when we enter through the church. No other way, no other plan, so says God Almighty!

Put the church at the center of your life and you will reap great rewards. You will see your children come to love the church and not the things of the world. You will see the blessings of God rest on everything you do. You will be more fulfilled and rewarded.

Don’t allow things to happen that puts the church out of sight. That old saying simply says, “Out of sight, out of mind”. If you allow the church to be out of sight, then eventually it will be out of mind, and you will forfeit the benefits that could possibly be enjoyed by everyone in your family.

Remember, you don’t have the option. It’s mandatory according to the Word of God.

Entering The House Of God

There is something about the attitude we have when we come to church that is important. More will be discussed later regarding this subject, but briefly allow me to note something that is critical -to our understanding. While every tribe had to live within their allocated places, the one tribe that lived at the entrance of the tabernacle was the tribe of Judah.

If a person is prepared to enter the tabernacle, he must enter through the tribe of Judah. A person was not allowed to climb over the curtains, or even slip under them. He had to enter through the one gate. Since Judah resided at the gate, he must tread through the tribe of Judah in order to enter the sanctuary.

The word Judah means “worship”. (Genesis 29:35) If you and I ever think that we might enter into the presence of God, there is only one way to do so. We must enter through worship. We don’t have the option to enter through any other manner than that of worship. We can’t come up with some new idea that tells us worship is not important. We can’t discount the fact that worship is important. It becomes the only way to enter into the presence of a Holy God.

Worship is so critical to our relationship with God and should be given priority in our lives. The next time you come to church and nothing seems to happen, check the direction from which you came. Did you come with an attitude of worship? If not, nothing is going to happen of significance.

The Bible clearly discusses the subject of worship, but time and space will not permit me here to expound on this subject and give it due service. However, it is necessary to understand that worship was designed by God for his people. He lives where people worship. He stays around those who praise Him.

Some have said that you don’t have to worship. That is true. You don’t even have to come to church or live for God if you don’t want to. But you must face the consequences of your decision. No one has to worship, but if they want to entertain the presence of God in their lives, they MUST worship. The Psalmist David summed it up when he said that we are to enter HIS gates with thanksgiving and HIS courts with praise. (Psalms 100:4)

I Don’t Want To Be A Sacrifice

That old tabernacle had some unique features that provided help to the individuals who came there. The priest would take an animal, lay it on the altar and give it as a sacrifice for sins. You could go no-further, until the sacrifice was given. Without the sacrificing of an animal, there was no help from God to atone for the sins of the people.

When an individual comes to the church, one of the most significant purposes is to give himself to God in a sacrificial manner so that God can save him. People come to the House of God from varied walks of life and backgrounds. Some have been involved in the depths of sin that are difficult to understand. But we must remember that no sin is too difficult for God to forgive and no one is beyond being reached by the unseen power of the Spirit of God.

There may be individuals who come to the church who we feel can’t be reached, but remember, with God…”all things are possible”. (Matthew 19:26) Regardless of who they are, we must have the mind-set, as God’s people, to see that they have every opportunity to seek Him at an altar of repentance. I’m sure that the early church did not ever dream that a man like Saul of Tarsus would ever become a part of the church. However, God can do anything, even reach and save what we might consider the most difficult of sinners.

The saints must come and sacrifice their time and feelings in order to see the sinners have an opportunity to offer themselves as a sacrifice at an altar of repentance. Paul familiarized us with this procedure by stating that all must “…Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1) You cannot take away the sacrifice of those who attend church if you plan to see the results of salvation on those lives.

The sacrifice was critical in the atonement of sins. It remains the same critical point in our lives today. We must be willing to sacrifice ourselves in order for God to use us in whatever capacity He chooses. Refraining from giving ourselves to Him will hinder His ability to use us for His Kingdom. Never be afraid to give yourself to the cause of Christ. Jesus said we were to take up our cross and follow Him. (Mark 10:21) That may seem to be an unreasonable sacrifice, but if we take the cross now, we will receive a crown later. That makes it worthwhile.

The Wonder Of Washing

I don’t know if I would have enjoyed being a priest in the Old Testament. If you look at the work load he had and some of the things that were required of him, I’m grateful I live on the grace side of the cross. The priest had to handle animals all day long. Every family had to offer a sacrifice to God and with some 2-3 million Israelites, sacrifices had to be given all day long in order for everyone to eventually give one.

Because of the magnitude of the sacrifices the priest quickly became filthy with the blood and particles of animal flesh. His garments became splattered with the blood. This mingled with his sweat and the odor made for an awful sight. For this reason he was required to wash at the brazen laver after sacrificing all the animals.

When we compare this duty of the priest with our lives, we quickly find that we are “washed” at baptism so that our sins can be removed from our lives. (See I Corin. 6:11; Hebrews 10:22) The old song asks a question that we all must ask. “ARE YOU WASHED IN THE BLOOD, IN THE SOUL CLEANSING BLOOD OF THE LAMB?” During the time of our baptism, we are washed in the blood of the lamb.

I am glad that when we laid ourselves on the altar of sacrifice, He forgave us. BUT I am thrilled that when I was “buried with Him in baptism”, my sins were remitted. (Romans 6:4) There is a big difference. To have my sins remitted means that I will never have to give account for those sins. They are gone forever; cast in the sea of forgetfulness; removed as far from me as the east is from the west! (Psalms 103:12)

There is power in the name of Jesus, and being washed in that name cleanses me from ALL sin. “THANK GOD FOR THE BLOOD”, the song states to us. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to be washed from the filth and grime of sin.

The priest had to wash, or die! So must we ! It is so important for us to recognize this vital part of God’s plan in the church, and understand that this is a part of the purpose of our gathering. We cannot leave out any part of the plan of God if we are going to enjoy the results of His plan.

I’m Hungry

The priest was required to partake daily of the shewbread in the holy place. The shewbread was replaced frequently in order for it to remain fresh for the priest. This bread gave him the nourishment needed to proceed daily with life. Without nourishment, survival is short. At the first bite, the priest noted a bittersweet taste because it had a bitter crust on the outside. However, the more he ate, the sweeter the bread became.

Everyone knows that it is important for a human to eat! There is a basic requirement that we eat in order to grow and maintain our health. Unless we do so, we become weak, under nourished, and will eventually will die.

An individual comes to the church to be fed so that he can “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. (2 Peter 3:18) To many, the preached Word of God is bitter. The first bite may seem so, but the more we eat of the Bread of Life, the sweeter it becomes to us. Many times to the carnal man, the “bread” or God’s Word is bitter and difficult to digest. We need the bread of life by HEARING and READING the Word of God. Everyone should find that at church.

David said that God’s Word was sweeter than honey in the honeycomb. (Psalms 19:10) Oh, if we could only understand that the Word of God was necessary for spiritual growth and survival, then maybe we would understand how good it was. We must learn to enjoy the Word of God if we are going to become a mature Christian. Without growth, there is something wrong in our lives. Partaking of God’s Word helps us to grow and understand His plan for our lives. It helps us follow Him in the direction He leads. It gives us hope for the times when we can’t find hope anywhere else.

Don’t ever be guilty of saying you don’t like to hear the preacher, or that Bible study is dull and dry. God has already said that His Word would not return void. (Isaiah 55:11) Every time a man of God steps in the pulpit, something will be said that we need in our lives. Cherish the Word of God. Thank God for the preacher! The Word in my life gives me what I need to survive spiritually in a dark, sinful world.

The Psalmist said that he hid the word in his heart so that he would not sin against God. (Psalms 119:11) There is no other means available for us to protect ourselves from sin other than receiving the Word! Cherish it. Love it. Enjoy it. It becomes the spiritual nourishment that will save you.

Turn On The Lights

There was no natural light entering the holy place. The sun or moon never got their rays inside the holy place to give it natural light. The only light was from the golden candlesticks that burned continually: Unless the candlesticks were continually burning, the priest could not see to officiate in the manner in which God so designed.

Thank God for the light of the gospel. The god of this world has blinded many people’s lives, but when we gather together at the church, the light can shine out of darkness into their hearts so that they are complete in HIM!

It takes the gospel message to save a person. God chose the foolishness of preaching to save the world. By hearing the preaching of God’s Word, the light of the gospel message is beamed into the heart of the those who most need it. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) I’m thankful that there is a place in which we can gather to hear the “good news” and accept it readily in our hearts.

When people hear the Word of God, they are put in the position of seeing how God can change their lives from the sinful nature to that of having peace and joy within. Jesus’ message will give hope to the hopeless; joy to the sad; peace to the weary; and direction to those who are lost. This is not just some made up ritual, but is a fact; Jesus Christ still saves from sin.

Today, God has shined into the hearts of millions of believers and awaits the opportunity to do so for the rest of the world. The light of the gospel message will save and deliver even the worst of sinners. It will give hope in the darkest of situations. It will provide help in times when a person thinks of giving up. Thank God for the Light!

When we gather in the House of God, we should pray that someone will be illuminated with the plan of God for their lives. There is no telling what God can do, if we choose to believe that he can. And there is no telling who can be touched by the light of the gospel, if we ask the God of glory to shine on their pathway.

It Makes Life Bearable

There was an altar of incense in the holy place that burned with incense prepared for that particular purpose. This part of the tabernacle is one of the most exciting portions for study. These spices, made up of a variety of ingredients when combined, made one of the most powerful and sweetest odors in the world.

The priest had been performing at the altar all day with the horrible smell of burned flesh, hair, blood and the smell of death filling his nostrils and clothes. Only your imagination can comprehend the horrible smell that was associated with the priest’s duties. After a long, hard day the priest would look forward to laying aside the tools of the sacrificial offerings and there entering the holy place. When he entered into the holy place the fragrance from the altar of incense totally permeated his clothing, hair, and skin to eradicate the unpleasant smell. Stepping into the atmosphere of the incense made life much more bearable for the priest. He actually looked forward to attending the holy place.

Representing our prayer and praise going up to God, the altar is vitally important in our relationship with Him. We must pray and praise HIM continually. After working all day the priest probably did not feel like going into the holy place, but it was critical that he do so. The removal of the sins of the people rested on his obedience to God’s plan. How important it is that we communicate with our God. Our being righteous and holy depends on our communication with HIM.

Equally as significant, when we come to God we come many times with the horrible smell of the world. Whether saint or sinner we rub shoulders daily with the “world.” And by doing so, we become filled with the “stench” of the world and all its problems. By stepping into the atmosphere of HIS presence in prayer and praise, life becomes much more bearable for us.

When we come into the presence of God, the aroma of God’s glory fills our lives, and life becomes much more bearable. Just as the aroma from the altar of incense completely “overrode” the smell of the altar of sacrifice, so will our coming in contact with a clean, holy God wipe out the smell of the world in our lives. We need that contact with God to remain clean and pure today. The priest coming into the Holy Place was the refreshing part of performing services before the Lord. His day became more bearable as he was saturated with the beautiful incense.

God help us to understand that when we come together, there is a refreshing that can be ours. The horrible odor of the world can be removed by one touch of his presence! With all the problems people face today, this becomes important. Let us recognize it every time we gather together.

There are times in our lives that we don’t feel like entering into worship. Because of the circumstances around us, we have been drained by the influences of the outside world. During these times, it is so critical that we gather together in worship. Others will feel like worshipping and we will step into that atmosphere which has created an aroma that eventually touches our lives. Life becomes much more bearable when we enter His presence in worship.

One other thing remains. When the priest left the Holy Place after being affected by the aroma off the altar, everyone he met knew where he had been! As he left the tabernacle and began to walk among the people he left behind the beautiful smell from the altar. After leaving the holy place he traveled home each afternoon. The people he encountered may have seen the results of the sacrifice on his garments because of the blood, but the smell was what they noticed most. The odor the priest left behind came from the altar of incense!

So it is with us when we have been to the altar. Everyone knows where we have been and those we see are touched by the presence of the Lord we leave with them. It is- so important that we learn the secret of worship. Take time to seek God and worship him. Life will become much more bearable to you and those around you.

Basic Necessities Of The Church

The Ark was important to God’s people because of what it represented. Inside the Ark was the Golden Pot of Manna, representing the ability of God to provide for His people; the rod of Aaron that had budded, expressing God’s miracles for the people; and the Ten Commandments providing God’s direction in which He wanted His people.

God provides! The scripture states that our God provides all our needs according to His riches in glory. One day I had ministered in our church on this scripture that Paul mentioned to the Philippian church. Afterward a dear elderly lady came up to me and said that God could provide her basic needs, but she did not feel worthy asking another from God other than just those basic needs. I never felt that God wanted us to just get by in this world when it is his pleasure to give us the kingdom! That afternoon in prayer and study I asked God for an insight into this scripture. The word NEEDS actually means, “needs, desires, and wants”! (Strong’s Concordance)

God gives His children more than just food on the table or clothes on their back. He understands us and if we ask anything, according to His will, He will give it to us. God still provides for His people.

The day of miracles are not over! This world needs to know that God still moves! The day of miracles is not over as our God is the “same yesterday, today, and forever”! (Hebrews 13:8) The miracle worker is still working. Whatever He did in the past, He can do TODAY? We can gather at church and believe for a miracle…they still happen!

God wants to show Himself strong to His people. We can depend on the fact that God will still provide for us. David reminded us that once he had been young, and even though he was old, he had never seen the righteous forsaken, or God’s seed begging for bread. (Psalms 37:25) Aaron’s rod is spiritually budding in this generation. Miracles are not over, but still happen!

Recently, our church has gone through a period of time where God has been showing us what He can do. During a Wednesday night Bible Study, a new saint requested prayer for her sister who was expecting a child within the next few days. The doctors had informed the sister that the baby would be born without arms. Needless to say, the family was devastated. I remember saying that we needed to pray for the sister and then I felt checked in my spirit. Prior to our prayer, I said to our congregation that we should pray for the baby. If God healed the baby, then the mother and family would be touched also. So we prayed! Some people wonder if God still moves, and especially during Bible Studies. However the baby was born about four days later as a normal, perfect child? To God be the glory! Miracles are still available today!

Which way do we go? It is a confused world, but the church is not without direction. We get that from the God we serve. The Lord provided the commandments so that Israel could live and enjoy life. The commandments of the Lord are not grievous…then or now…and we need to cherish them.

The Lord promised that if Israel would follow the commandments of the Lord, He would not allow the diseases of Egypt to come upon them. There is a purpose for following God, and that is found at the church. Those tablets of stone may have been designed thousands of years ago, but the church today still needs direction and it comes only from the Word of God. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”. (John 14:15) That is important today. The commandments of God are provided to insure us a complete happy life. Don’t ever grumble about what the Word of God requests of us. Don’t complain when the minister gives us vital instructions for our day. We need that direction from God to survive!

Thank God For The Mercy Seat

The mercy seat was the most prominent piece of furniture in the Holiest of Holies. When the priest entered the Holiest of Holies, he sprinkled blood from the sacrifice onto the mercy seat! This meant that atonement was available for God’s people.

You and I can thank God for the anointing blood of Jesus Christ and His mercy for saving us. Without this ability, we are lost! None of us deserve to be saved, but by His great mercy and grace we are saved. It is not by our works of righteousness, or our abilities, or our talents; it is according to His mercy that we are saved today.

When the blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat, God began to move! Sins were atoned! People’s lives were touched! We need to enter his presence to get a touch that is available only to those who desire His spirit within their lives. God presence, the Holy Ghost, can be enjoyed by everyone today! Too many are discounting the fact that God still gives the Holy Ghost, but if we are going to be victorious in this evil world, we are going to need His presence daily in our lives.

World-wide, from every walk of life, people are receiving His spirit. Sins are being removed! People are being touched! Victory is being received! Walk into His presence daily to enjoy a relationship with the Master! Jesus Christ desires to live within the temples of flesh so that he can change us from the creature we were into a new creature in Christ Jesus.

There is a distinct purpose for our being in the church service. We must recognize that God’s will is for something to happen EVERY TIME we gather together. The Bible states that…”where two or three are gathered together in His name, He is in the midst of them”. (Matthew 18:20) We must remember that wherever the Lord was while on this earth, something was happening. While walking down the road and being accosted by Bartimaeus, or having a small, frail sick lady join the crowd to touch Him, or just sitting at a the well of Jacob, he always moved for someone. It was never a dull day when the Lord came by.

The same should be the case today. We just need to understand the purpose of our gathering together and be sure we have God’s direction for that service. The wise man Solomon instructed us that without a vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18) It is also possible that if we don’t have a vision (purpose) for the church service, we leave without gaining God’s attention.

This article “The Tabernacle” written by Aubrey L. Jayroe is excerpted from his book Etiquette In The Sanctuary.