When Moses was told to set up the tabernacle he was repeatedly asked to do it according to the plan shown him on the mountain (Exodus 26:30) while he was with God forty days and forty nights. Why this strict instruction? Because it pointed to truths about Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice for sins. The tabernacle that was set up in the desert was just a copy or shadow of heavenly realities (Hebrews 8:5).
The tabernacle told the Israelites that God desired to dwell among them. This is clearly understood because God’s Presence was seen in the tabernacle especially in the Most Holy Place. John wrote about Jesus as “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14 NIV). The word dwelling is also translated as “tabernacled” or “pitched his tent.” That means that Jesus came to tabernacle with us or pitch his tent with us. Thus it reveals Himself as Immanuel meaning God with us (Matthew 1:23).
The tabernacle also told the people that God is holy and cannot be approached in a light-hearted manner. He could only be approached by sacrifice and gifts. And someone from the tribe of Levi, that is the tribe of priests, had to represent the sinner before God. Thus Jesus also is our High Priest representing us before God today. But there are differences which make Jesus superior to them. One of them is that Jesus ever lives to continually represent us before God in heaven (Hebrews 7:23-25, 1 Timothy 2:5).
Then there was the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle which was separated by a curtain. This curtain represented the body of Jesus Christ. No one was permitted to go inside the Most Holy Place except once in a year and that too only by the sprinkling of blood of innocent animals. Then the blood was shed on the top of the tabernacle known as the mercy seat or the cover of atonement. But when Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple was torn in two indicating that anyone now could enter the presence of God by the blood of Jesus (Luke 23:45, Hebrews 10:19, 20).
It is important to note that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). Instead of sacrifices of lambs and bulls, Jesus came to sacrifice Himself once for all (Hebrews 9:26). His precious blood has redeemed us from all evil (1 Peter 1:18, 19). So let us humbly accept His sacrifice for us and enjoy that forgiveness and pardon He has purchased for us.
There is perhaps one more thought. He who planned our eternal salvation like this and showed it through the specific details of the tabernacle, will He not plan for our earthly lives as well? Isn’t it important for each one of us to understand how God wants to build our lives and then live according to the plan God shows to us. Whatever it be, it begins at what the tabernacle pointed to–Jesus and His sacrificial blood on the cross! Amen!