God invited Abram to leave his homeland and faithfully follow Him to a new home, to a place of great blessings. In Canaan, God said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them… Your offspring will be that numerous” (Genesis 15:5–6). But … “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be resident aliens for four hundred years in a land that does not belong to them and will be enslaved and oppressed” (Genesis 15:13). God also promised to set the descendants of Abraham free and bring them back to Canaan. “And to you and your future offspring I will give the land where you are residing—all the land of Canaan—as a permanent possession, and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8).
About two-hundred years after God made those covenant promises, Abraham’s great grandson, Joseph, became Prime Minster in Egypt. Soon after, Jacob, Joseph’s dad (a.k.a. Israel), and his other eleven sons moved to Egypt to escape the famine. Four-hundred years later, descendants of the twelve sons of Israel, now the twelve tribes, were emancipated from Egyptian slavery and led across the Red Sea into the Wilderness of Sinai.
God always keeps His promises … and sometimes He employs unlikely people in His Royal service. To lead Abraham’s offspring out of Egypt, God used a washed-up, runaway murderer, an octogenarian named Moses. With Moses at the helm, a couple of million Hebrews crossed the Red Sea leaving Egypt in their rearview mirror.
While the emancipated slaves were bivouacked at the foot of the mountain, Moses appeared before God on Mount Sinai. “There was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud on the mountain… Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke because the Lordcame down on it in fire. Its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently” (Exodus 19:16–18). To Moses, the Almighty spoke: “Make a sanctuary for me so that I may dwell among them. You must make it according to all that I show you—the pattern of the tabernacle as well as the pattern of all its furnishings” (Exodus 25:8–9). He commanded the construction of a dwelling, a tent, a tabernacle.
I plan to devote my next several blogs to discussing the tabernacle. Why? Because it speaks prophetically of Jesus, of Heaven, and of the Church.
When God’s Tabernacle was constructed at the foot of Mount Sinai, a “cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34). When Jesus clothed Himself in humanity, when He humbled Himself and became a man, when the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us… we observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). In the original language, the word “dwelt” can be translated “pitched a tent.” Jesus “pitched a tent” among us… He “tabernacled” among us to reveal the glory of God! The Tabernacle pointed forward to the incarnation of the King.
The Tabernacle also points to the New Testament church where every Believer is “being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).
One more thing… the Tabernacle points forward the Heaven, where “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3, KJV).
Because the Old Testament Tabernacle foreshadows New Testament truths, let’s spend some valuable time examining the blueprints given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Let’s explore the Tabernacle of God.