And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them’ Exodus 25:8
‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14)
In our last lesson, we saw how the Israelites turned from the LORD who had redeemed them from their slavery in Egypt. While Moses was receiving God’s Word on Mount Sinai, the Israelites made a calf of gold to be worshiped as an idol. We are going to read a much more pleasant story. But we must read it very carefully because it is not easy to understand. We are going to see how God told Moses and the Israelites to make a very special tent so that He might teach them how they might approach Him, meet with Him and worship Him. Our lesson is called
“The Tent of Meeting.”
The Scripture says:
(Exodus 24:16-25:9) “And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and got up into the mount; and Moses was in the mount
forty days and forty nights.
And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it
willingly with his heart
ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them: gold, and silver and bronze, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and rams’ skin dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and acacia wood, oil for the light, spices for anointing oil and for sweet incense, onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary, that
I may dwell among them.
According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the furnishings thereof, even so shall ye make it”.
Did you hear what God told Moses? He told him something very amazing and wonderful! God planned to dwell
among the Israelites,
among those who had sinned against Him so many, many times! Why would God, who is so great and holy, want to live with such sinners? Why would God, who is spirit and has need of nothing, bother to talk to the descendants of Adam who had turned away from Him? As we have already seen, God created man in the image of God because
Man’s sin spoiled that fellowship, but God established a righteous way by which man could come back to Him. It was because of His great compassion for sinners that the LORD God planned to place His glorious presence in the midst of the Israelites. By means of a very special tent and very special laws, God planned to illustrate how Adam’s descendants can draw near to God. As we have already learned, because
God is holy,
sinners cannot have fellowship with Him in just any way. For this reason, God commanded the Israelites to make a special tent for Him so that He could dwell among them–in a way worthy of
His holiness and glory.
Also, by means of this special tent, God planned to teach future generations many important lessons about Himself and about the Savior He planned to send into the world.
Before we examine what God commanded Moses concerning the dwelling place which the Israelites were to build for Him, we must first understand that God did not tell them to build a tent for Him because
He needed a place to live!
No! God, the Most High, who created the world and everything in it, does not live in houses made by men! In Holy Scriptures, the LORD Himself declares: “The
heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been” (Isa. 66:1,2; Acts 7:48,49)
Why then, did God command the Israelites to make a tent in which His Spirit and glory would dwell? As we have already said, God wanted to teach the Israelites and all the descendants of Adam how much
He longs to have fellowship with them.
God also wanted to put before them an illustration of the way by which people can be forgiven of their sins and have the right to live with God in heaven forever!
Thus, God commanded Moses and the Israelites to make for Him a tent
so that He could dwell among them.
However, that Tent of Meeting was not to be like any ordinary tent. In fact, the Scriptures contain fifty chapters which describe how the work of the Tent of Meeting was to proceed! These chapters are full of meaning and we do not have time to speak of all they contain. We can only attempt to summarise the most important things.
What you must know first about this Tent of Meeting is that God told Moses that it must have two rooms. The Tent of Meeting was one tent, but a beautiful and heavy curtain (veil) was made to divide the tent into two rooms. The first room was called
the Holy Place.
No one could enter that room except the priests. The priests were those whom God had chosen from the descendants of Aaron to kill the animals as sacrifices which remove (or cover) sin. There were three things in that room. A golden table on which they burned incense, a golden lamp stand, and a table on which to place special bread which was presented before God in worship. The second room of the tent was named
the Holiest Place.
It was called the Holiest Place because after the tent was completed God planned to come down and fill that room with His majestic glory. The Holiest Place was an illustration of heaven (Paradise). Consequently, that place belonged to God alone! That is why God told Moses that anyone who tried to enter the Holiest Place would die! No one was to enter the Holiest Place except the High Priest and he could only enter once a year. Furthermore, he had to enter with the blood of a sacrifice for his own sins and for the sins of the people,
as God had commanded.
Inside the Holiest Place, God commanded Moses to place a chest made of acacia wood, and overlay it with pure gold. That chest was called
the Ark of the Covenant.
Inside the ark of the covenant, they were to keep the two tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written. Above the ark (chest) they placed a lid of gold which the High Priest had to sprinkle with the blood of an animal once every year so that God could forgive the Israelites their sins. That is why God called this lid
the Mercy Seat.
After that, God showed Moses how they must make a high curtain to surround the Tent of Meeting. That wall, the wall of the courtyard, was to be made of a white curtain. In the curtain surrounding the tent, they were to make
Thus no one could enter the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting unless he passed through the door of the courtyard. Inside the courtyard, in front of the door of the courtyard, God commanded Moses and the Israelites to place
made of bronze. Everyone who passed through the door of the courtyard had to pass by the altar first. God wanted to teach the Israelites and all of Adam’s descendants the way by which they must approach God. How were the Israelites to approach God? By the way of
the blood sacrifice.
Everyone who wanted to enter the courtyard of “God’s dwelling place” had to enter with an animal sacrifice as a payment for sin. God was teaching the Israelites that no one can ever approach Him except on the basis of
the blood of the sacrifice.
That is why God told Moses, saying, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11).
Therefore, if someone wanted to worship God, he had to offer an animal sacrifice first for
the forgiveness of his sin.
The worshiper had to bring a bull, a sheep, or a bird into the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting. In front of the altar, he was required to place his hands on the head of the sacrifice he had brought, confess to God that he was a sinner and that
he deserved to die
for his sins. After that, a priest would take the blood of the sacrifice, sprinkle it on the altar and on the ground around the altar, and then burn the sacrifice on the altar. In this way God could forgive (or cover) the guilty person’s sins, because the innocent animal had died
in his place.
The Israelites had to repeat these sacrifices over and over every year. Animal sacrifices could not satisfy God’s holiness forever. They were temporary illustrations of the Redeemer who was to come and die in the place of sinners—so that God could permanently forgive the descendants of Adam their debt of sin and still remain righteous.
To illustrate what the Redeemer would do for sinners, God established for the Israelites one day each year when the High Priest would enter the second room, the Holiest Place, of the Tent of Meeting. That day was called
On that one day (in October), the High Priest had the authority to enter the Holiest Place, and sprinkle blood on the atonement cover of the ark of the covenant. He could never enter the Holiest Place without bringing with him the blood of a spotless animal, which he consecrated to God for his own sins and for those of the multitude. In this way, God was showing how the Redeemer would come, shed His blood so that God could forgive sinners, and welcome them in His presence
Our lesson is incredibly deep and wonderful and there is much we could say, but there is something else which you should understand about the Tent of Meeting. In the last chapter of the book of Exodus, the Scripture says: “According to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work. And Moses did look upon all the work, and behold,
they had done it as the Lord had commanded,
even so they had done it; and Moses blessed them … Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and
the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the tabernacle, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Exod. 39:42,43; 40:34,35)
Do you see what happened? After the Tent of Meeting was ready, the glory of God descended on the tent and filled the Holiest Place, and the light of the glory of God shone forth, even surpassing
the light of the sun!
What we must remember is that, in all of this, God was illustrating the greater blessings which were to come when the Redeemer of the world descended from heaven and came to dwell among the sons of Adam.
The Redeemer Himself
is the true “Tent of Meeting” which God gave so that we can have a close and wonderful relationship with Him forever! As it is written in the holy Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us! And we beheld His glory! . . . [He is] the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world!” (John 1:1,14,29)
Yes, the Redeemer is the One who fulfilled everything pictured by the Tent of Meeting and by the animal sacrifices, for He not only came into our world and lived among men, but He also shed His blood as
the Perfect Sacrifice
for sinners so that we might have a close relationship with God forever!
Is what we have studied today hard to understand and even harder to believe? Then let us remember that sometimes there are things in the Word of God that are difficult to understand, but that does not keep them from being true! May we never forget that the LORD Himself says: “For
my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8,9)
We end with these verses from the Holy Scripture:
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:33-36)
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