The Tabernacle of the Lord

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The Lord told Moses to build a Tabernacle to help the children of Israel look to Him and worship Him as they traveled in the wilderness. The Tabernacle was to have an inner room called the Holy of Holies where the Ten Commandments would be kept in a wooden ark covered with gold. The next room would be the Holy Place with a lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table of showbread. Then there would be an Outer Court with a laver for ceremonial washing and an altar for burnt sacrifices. When the Tabernacle was completed, there was a cloud above it during the day and a fire at night so they could always see it in the middle of their camp.

The Story

Introduction to the Reading: Moses went up Mount Sinai and was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights. While he was there, the Lord gave him detailed instructions on how the Tabernacle should be built. First, people brought freewill offerings of precious metals, gems, wood and other materials needed to make the Tabernacle. Then gifted artisans, specially chosen by the Lord, made the curtains for the Tabernacle, the ark covered in gold, two cherubim of gold, the gold lampstand, and every other part of the Tabernacle. When they had finished all of this work, it was time to use the Tabernacle for the first time.

Read in Exodus 39:32-43; 40:1-38 to find out how the children of Israel set up the Tabernacle for the first time, how Aaron and his sons prepared for their role as priests, and how the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. You may also want to read portions of Exodus 24-31 and 35-39 for more details about the Tabernacle.

Ideas for discussion

  1. Why did the Lord tell Moses to build a Tabernacle? (So the children of Israel would have a place to look to the Lord and worship Him on their journey.)
  2. How was this Tabernacle different from a temple or a church building we use today? (It was designed by the Lord, it was made of materials donated by the children of Israel, it was made by skilled craftsmen who were Israelites, and it could be moved from one place to another.)
  3. What sign did the Lord give the children of Israel to signal His presence with them? (The cloud over the Tabernacle by day and the fire at night.)
  4. The two tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments written on them by the finger of God were most precious. How does the design of the ark and the Holy of Holies show this?
  5. The Tabernacle with the Lord’s commandments were placed in the center of the Israelitish camp. We, too, can try to center our lives on the Lord and His spiritual laws.
  6. The lampstand gave light in the holy place all day and all night, just as the Lord gives us the light of truth when we are in a good place to receive it.
  7. Think of some ways that you could "build a tabernacle" in your life. What kinds of things help you to remember the Lord? In what ways can you worship Him?

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