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Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Dictionaries
Tabernacle, the

Morrish Bible Dictionary

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This is variously styled the 'tabernacle of testimony, or of witness,' the 'tabernacle of the congregation,' or 'tent of meeting.' It was the place recognised by Jehovah, where, as dwelling among them, He met His people, and where in separation from the outer world His will was made known. It was to be made after the pattern shown to Moses in the mount, and when it was completed Moses bore witness that it had been constructed as the Lord had commanded. It is worthy of notice that none of its details were left to the ingenuity of Moses: he had simply to carry out his instructions. We read in the N.T. that the things made were patterns of things in the heavens, but not the very image of them; they were patterns of things that were before God, which were not to be materialised.

The tabernacle with its sacrifices was God's way of displaying Himself, and His way for man's approach to Himself. Any one drawing near to the tabernacle would see first its court, a space enclosed with curtains hanging from pillars. This was a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits broad. On entering the court by its one gate the first thing approached was the brazen altar. This altar was the place of approach for the people. The burnt offering was the ground of acceptance for a people on earth. The place of approach for the priestly family was the golden altar in the holy (place); but the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest. Hebrews 9:8 .

Between the brazen altar and the holy (place) stood the laver , at which the priests washed their hands and feet whenever they drew near to minister. The holy (place) contained the table of showbread on the north, the golden candlestick on the south, and the altar of incense 'before the vail' in the centre. Here the priests ministered daily, burning sweet incense: type of Christ's intercession, and of the perfections of His Person and work, not seen here as meeting man's need, but as for the delight of God, His Father. The lamps were burning 'continually,' but apparently only in the night: cf. Exodus 30:7,8; Leviticus 24:2,3; 2 Chronicles 13:11 . The light typified the manifestation of God by the Spirit, the seven lamps being figurative of heavenly completeness. Twelve loaves were constantly on the table, typical of Israel in association with Christ before God, and of God's bounty which will be administered through Israel (twelve loaves) to the earth in the kingdom. The holy (place), or 'first tabernacle' refers to the things of Israel. Inside the second veil was the holy of holies, in which was the ark (q.v. ) with the cherubim, typical of the throne of God. It figured the approach which Christians now have to the presence of God, because Christ has made a new and living way for them by entering in Himself as their great Priest. Hebrews 10:19 .


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(Not to scale)

The tabernacle was a rectangle, measuring ten cubits in breadth, and thirty cubits in length, which was divided into ten cubits for the holy of holies and twenty for the holy (place). The sides were formed of boards of acacia wood, ten cubits in height, set by tenons into silver sockets, each board having two sockets. The boards were kept together by horizontal bars throughout, and were all covered with gold. If the whole tabernacle be taken as typical of Christ, then the gold and the wood may point to His divinity and His humanity, or the gold may be taken as typical of divine righteousness. Internally all was gold and embroidered work: the wood was not seen.

The whole was covered with curtains, the innermost being of rich embroidered work of various colours; then curtains of woven goats' hair; then coverings of rams' skins and badgers' skins — typical of entire preservation from outward evil. There were three distinct parts in the entire covering: the tabernacle, the tent, and the covering. Exodus 35:11 . The inner curtains, which were of such widths that the junctions of each set did not fall in the same place as the one next to it, formed the tabernacle (mishkan ); the set of curtains of goats' hair were the tent (ohel ) of the tabernacle (see TENT); and the rams' skins and badgers' skins formed the covering (mikseh ). An embroidered hangingformed the door, or the first veil. Exodus 25 Exodus 27 gives God's approach to man; Exodus 28 - Exodus 30 , man's approach to God; and Exodus 35 Exodus 40 the gifts for the tabernacle and its construction.

The tabernacle as a whole may be said to typify

1. God coming forth in a Man (His own Son) and on the basis of redemption, filling the universe with the light of His glory.

2. The provision made by God for approach to Himself by a redeemed people. Much light is thrown on the tabernacle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, but what is there taught presents often a contrast rather than a comparison to what pertained to the earthly tabernacle.

The tabernacle may also be considered as God's house, and thus a type of the saints in their present place. The temple was for the ordered and established kingdom. In Revelation 21 , after alluding to the kingdom and the eternal state, the Spirit goes back to the thought of the tabernacle.

The tabernacle was carried about during the forty years in the wilderness (see CAMP), and when the Israelites entered the land it was apparently placed first at Gilgal. Joshua 9:6 . Afterwards it was at Shiloh. Joshua 18:1 . While here it was forsaken of God because of the idolatry and wickedness of the people. Psalm 78:60; Jeremiah 7:12,14; Jeremiah 26:6,9 . The ark was taken by the Philistines and was not returned to the tabernacle; nor, when David removed the ark, did he restore it to the tabernacle, but placed it on Mount Zion. We next read of the tabernacle as being at Nob. 1 Samuel 21:1-6 . Afterwards it was at Gibeon. 1 Chronicles 16:39; 1 Chronicles 21:29; 2 Chronicles 1:3-6 . When the temple was built, the tabernacle was brought up, with the ark and the holy vessels. The ark was placed in the most holy place, and the staves drawn out, for it had found its settled rest. The tabernacle gave place to the house, the latter glory of which will yet be greater than ever. 2 Chronicles 5:4-9; Haggai 2:9 .

Amid the coming judgements, we read of "the temple [or shrine, that is, the holy place] of the tabernacle of the testimony" being opened in heaven, and out of the temple proceed the seven angels having the seven vials. Revelation 15:5,6 .

Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Tabernacle, the'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​mbd/​t/tabernacle-the.html. 1897.
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