Building of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting:
Moses tells the Israelites this is what the Lord has commanded: “Take up among you a collection for the Lord. Everyone, as his heart prompts him, shall bring a contribution to the Lord. . ” Thus, all the materials for the Tabernacle were gathered from donations from among the people. God also calls expert artisans (Bezalel and Oholiab, etc. ) to work on the construction of the Meeting Tent. Once the Tabernacle “mishkhan” is later consecrated and sanctified, it is no longer referred to as the Tabernacle, but now, the “Tent of Meeting” or “Meeting Tent.” God will now dwell with His people, meet and have fellowship with them. The people brought so many contributions that they had more than enough and Moses had to tell them to stop bringing contributions. Yahweh dictates to Moses all of the specific materials and dimensions for the construction of the Tabernacle. It is a heavenly blueprint that images the Tabernacle from Heaven. “The veil was woven of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined, with cherubim embroidered on it.” This is the veil in front of the Holy of Holies that is later torn when Jesus dies on the Cross. The inner sanctum of the Holy of Holies of Yahweh is made accessible to all peoples through the death of Christ. For now, the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat of Yahweh will lay hidden behind the veil in the Sacred Space of the Meeting Tent. The other Sacred objects, such as the Ark, the Table, the Altar of Incense, are often made of “acacia wood” and covered in gold, signifying Christ and the Incarnation. The Altar of Holocausts is made with acacia wood and plated in bronze. The Courtyard also has the bronze laver for washing. As one enters the Tabernacle they proceed from “bronze” objects into objects covered with gold to “pure gold” as sanctity and Sacredness increases deeper into the Tabernacle.
The Meaning of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting:
The Tabernacle will be a “new Eden,” where God will once again dwell with His people in a Sacred Space. The Edenic Outpost of the Tabernacle will be an outpost of sanctity and holiness in a sea of chaos, desert, and wilderness. The Cherubim on the Tabernacle harken to this idea of the Cherubim guarding the Garden of Eden. The Menorah in the Tabernacle harkens to the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden too. The same colors decorate the veils and curtains: violet, purple, scarlet, and white. Different materials (gold, bronze, wood) show varying gradations of sanctity and holiness in the Tabernacle. The deeper one goes into the Tabernacle the deeper one goes into holiness and Sacred Space. Only the High Priest can go behind the Veil to the Mercy Seat and Ark of the Covenant (the footstool of God) once a year on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”). This is the most holy place in the Sacred Space of the Tabernacle. There are varying zones and gradations of Sacred Space around the Holy of Holies. They also have varying degrees of Sacred objects and priests of varying Sacred Status that can access varying zones of the Sacred Space at specific Sacred Times (Feasts, Festivals, Sabbaths), all governed by specific policies and procedures dictated by God. Yahweh is distinct from us. There is an “otherness” to Yahweh. Being in the very presence of God is dangerous. Hence, breaking any of these rules or regulations or procedures can, and would, very likely lead to someone’s death. One must be “whole” and sanctified and consecrated to enter the Tabernacle, and only at the proscribed times and with the proscribed actions. Anything else risks the ritual purity of the Sacred Space and the presence of God leaving, and quite possibly the life of the offending person. Ritual purity is crucial to maintaining the Sacred Space of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting. This has nothing to do with immorality or sins, but is about “ritual purity” and being able to access the Holy Place of God. To maintain this relationship and fellowship with God, one must follow God’s rules, be obedient to His requirements for the Covenant. Then, God will bless the people and dwell with them. Breaking the rules, will result in God cursing them, and leaving His people (as happens later in Israel’s history). For now, it is all about re-establishing this “outpost of Eden” in the midst of the Israelites and progressing on God’s mission to sanctify His “firstborn son” of Israel. This plan will lead Israel to proclaim Yahweh to the nations, drawing the Gentiles back into Covenant with God. This is fulfilled obviously with the coming of Jesus, the Gospel and the New Testament. The Tabernacle at Mt. Sinai, however, is the first step. The Trinity also lay hidden in the Tabernacle from the Courtyard (which is Christ) to the Holy Place with the tongues of fire Menorah (which is the Holy Spirit) to the Holy of Holies (which is God the Father). The three zones in one Tabernacle reveal the three persons of the Trinity of the one God.
The priests and High Priests vestments are similarly described with similar colors and materials. Violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and “fine linen.” Gold is threaded into the Ephod. The names of the twelve tribes are also inscribed into it. The breastpiece is filled with four rows of precious stones, twelve in all, matching the twelve tribes of Israel. The High Priest is the representative of all of Israel. He is the intercessor and mediator before God for his people Israel. He alone can enter the Holy of Holies once a year. He has consecrated Sacred Status, who can enter the Sacred Space, on a specific Sacred Time, and perform Sacred Actions. Bells of pure gold are sewn into the bottom of the garment. Later, Jewish tradition holds that the bells are there partially to know when the High Priest is performing the priestly actions in the Holy of Holies, and if he is struck down by Yahweh for making a mistake, then they would know. Supposedly a rope was tied around his ankle too so they can drag him out if he dies while in the Holy of Holies, since no one else could enter there within. As the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Atonement one can imagine the bells ringing, just as the bell rings three times at the consecration of the Eucharist in the Catholic Mass. The other priests also wear “tunics of fine linen” just as Jesus wore a seamless tunic as He was brought to the Cross and crucifixion. Jesus sacrifices Himself as both priest and victim. The plate of gold on the head that says “Holy to the Lord.”
“Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished; and the people of Israel had done according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so had they done.” (Ex. 39:32) Then, they brought everything they had made and presented it to Moses. “And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. And Moses blessed them.” (Ex. 39:43) Then, the Lord has Moses anoint and consecrate everything to Him to make it holy: “Then you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture; and it shall become holy. 10 You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar; and the altar shall be most holy. 11 You shall also anoint the laver and its base, and consecrate it. 12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water, 13 and put upon Aaron the holy garments, and you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest.” (Ex. 40:9-13) After they had did all that Yahweh commanded, the Tabernacle was finally erected, consecrated, and finished, just as God had instructed. “So Moses finished the work.” (Ex. 40:33)
The Glory Cloud of the Lord Fills the Tabernacle:
Now, God dwells again with His people, just like again at Eden. The microcosm of Eden is complete. The Restoration has begun, first with Israel. Yahweh leads His people Israel, and Israel has fellowship with their God. “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.” (Ex. 40:34-38) Thus, ends the book of Exodus, the Lord stays with the camp of the Israelites throughout their wanderings in the wilderness.