Exodus 38-40

Exodus 38-40…Tabernacle preparations.

In order to understand the purpose of the tabernacle, we need to go all the way back to the beginning of Genesis. We read in 3:8 that the Lord used to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden during “the cool of the day,” signifying the close, intimate fellowship they enjoyed with the Creator before sin caused everything to fall apart. Having sinned, Adam and Eve were banished from Eden and the immediate presence of our holy God (vv. 22–24), and since that day the goal of salvation has been to restore that face-to-face communion between the Lord and His people. This is seen in the promises to the patriarchs where God promised not to leave Jacob until He accomplished what He said He would do (28:10–17).

The tabernacle was the vehicle through which God manifested His presence among Israel between Sinai and the construction of Solomon’s temple. Because it was constructed like a portable tent, the tabernacle could travel with the people into the Promised Land (Num. 1:47–53). During their journey, at those times when the Israelites stopped for a time, the tabernacle would be erected in the center of the nation’s camp and the people would see that the Lord dwelt among them.

Exodus 38-39 explain the preparations, and Exodus 40 records God’s entrance into the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34–38). No longer would He meet Israel at the top of Sinai but His presence would be visible in the midst of the camp. Now the people had a tent where they could meet the Creator.

Yet even though the tabernacle was a step forward for God’s people toward one-on-one communion with Him, it still did not go far enough. Sin had not yet been atoned for, and only a select few could enter into the tabernacle and enjoy the Lord’s glorious presence (Num. 1:51–53).

Exodus 26-28

Exodus 26-28…Design plans for the tabernacle, the altar of burnt offerings, and the priestly garments.

There is much that could be said about the tabernacle’s design, but perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it was designed to be a copy of the Almighty’s heavenly throne room. The ark of the covenant sat within the Most Holy Place as the Lord’s footstool (Exodus 26:34), and the cherubim woven into the curtains of the tabernacle were depictions of the heavenly host that glorify God day and night in heaven (Exodus 26:1).

Clearly, the details of the tabernacle, altar, and priestly garments were to be a sign that there is a massive separation between our holy God and sinners. Entering His presence is no small matter, and His worship must be carefully guarded so His name is not profaned. The care given to entering God’s presence because of sin shows just how desperately we need a savior to intercede on our behalf. Christ’s sacrifice was pleasing to God, because of His holiness. It is a healthy spiritual practice to remember this huge chasm each day, so we esteem Jesus properly, and cling to His righteousness, seeking to grow in righteousness ourselves.