Troublesome Topic: Lessons from the Tabernacle Part 1

Lesson 1 of 12

The entire tabernacle was a visual lesson about how we draw closer to God. The tabernacle was God’s dwelling place among the people He had chosen to represent Him on this earth. This in itself is an amazing truth—that the creator of the universe would want to live among a sinful and rebellious group of people.

But the tabernacle was also a visual learning station regarding several aspects of what God intended to teach His followers. It was especially relevant in relation to the major categories of how one draws close to God (faith and adoration), and how one becomes more like God (holiness).

Observe what God told Ezekiel to tell the people about the temple during the time of exile when they had no temple:

Ezekiel 43:10


You, son of man,

Go to footnote number

proclaim an explanation

Go to footnote number

of the temple to the house of Israel that they may be ashamed of their guilty condition. Let them measure its well-proportioned pattern


I want you, my special child, to stand boldly and describe loudly and clearly the details about the temple to the nation of Israel so they will be ashamed of their guilty condition. Make your explanation such that they will carefully evaluate and learn from its careful balance.

Ezekiel 43:11


(Oh that

Go to footnote number

they would become ashamed of all they have done.)

Go to footnote number

Make known to them  the design of the temple – its arrangement, its exits and entrances – its entire design and all its regulations, its entire structure and all its laws. Write these down while in their sight so that they may be faithful to its design and put to practice all its regulations.


(My desire is that they will see the truths I have woven into the temple and become ashamed of all that they have done.) So, make known to them the design which reveals the purpose for the temple, how it is laid out to connect them to me, its

emphasis on coming to me in the proper way and leaving a different person, every aspect of its purpose with its

accompanying instructions, all the life-lessons this physical structure can teach, and all the teaching methods that go with it. Give them a copy that they know has not been altered, so they will live according to the purpose it exhibits, and obey all its instructions.

The temple itself was a useful teaching device, capable of teaching a number of spiritual lessons:

A.  There is an order in how we must approach God

This relates to the topic of faith and adoration.

The order to be followed when entering the tabernacle was instructive. When they came to approach God, they could not go running right up to Him, there was a set order to follow. After one entered the gate to the courtyard, the first thing that one would see was the altar for sacrifices. First one had to deal with the issue of sin if he hoped to get closer to God. Next came the laver (basin) where the priests washed their hands and feet in order to cleanse themselves before serving the Lord. The washing was not to remove blood during their service, but to remove dust before they began to serve. Blood was good; dust was bad. Everything in the temple had been dedicated with blood and many things were regularly splattered with blood. That was expected and desirable. But dust and unseen contaminants were a problem because the physical contamination represented spiritual contamination. The point was that serving God on behalf of others requires a special level of cleansing and commitment to God.

Next the priests entered the holy place on behalf of the people. This room had three primary pieces of furniture; they were the lampstand, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense.

The golden lampstand which represented God’s glory and purity. It demonstrated that, in order to draw close to Him, they needed to recognize His greatness, His glory and His purity.

On the other side of the room was the table of showbread had twelve loaves on it which represented the twelve tribes. This emphasized that God’s people had to continually recognize who was providing for their needs. It was also an emphasis on gratitude for His provision (a topic which keeps resurfacing, so it must be important).

Finally, along the back “wall” (which was a curtain) stood the altar of incense. This altar was placed directly in front of the Holy of Holies indicating that when you got to this point you were indeed very close to God. Because of the ingredients used to make incense, I believe the offering of incense represented more than just prayer; it was a picture of the giving of our entire lives to God, and the Bible highlights prayer as an important part of life. To see my explanation of incense as it relates to Revelation Ps 141:2, Rev 5:8 and Rev 8:3-4, click on this link: Revelation 8:3. Although incense represented one’s entire life, for our current discussion I wish to highlight its connection to prayer, as the Bible did in the three passages mentioned above. The point I wish to make here is that we cannot go running to God when we need Him and ignore the steps He has said we must follow. God is not a firefighter that we can call by dialing 911 when we are in trouble, and then ignore Him the rest of the time. I see many people today that only go to God when they are in trouble and need Him to bail them out. Usually we are in some trouble due to some imprudent or irresponsible action on our part. There is only one option at that point—we have to bear the consequences of our actions, and hopefully, learn something from it. Even when difficulties come that are not consequences of our decisions, we should not treat God like a 911 service; we should be in constant communion with Him in order to accept difficulties with humility and learn the lessons which can only be taught through hardship. Prayer is a wonderfully intimate interaction with

Prayer is a wonderfully intimate interaction with God himself, but it must be arrived at properly. First take care of sin, then keep yourself pure, show gratitude for His provision, and recognize who He is. Then you are ready to pray. All this was being taught to the people of that day just by observing the order that was to be followed in the tabernacle.

The next lesson in the full and medium series on Covenants is Lessons from the Tabernacle Part 2.



“Son of man” was both a way to single someone out as special, and also say he is ordinary. Besides that it was an open slate allowing the one speaking that title to fill it with almost any meaning he desired.


The word I have rendered as “proclaim an explanation of” has the root meaning of “to be conspicuous, i.e. highly visible.” The rest of its meanings have to do with saying something. What is said and how it is said is not important, as long as it is conspicuous, visible and loud.


What I have rendered as “Oh that” is often translated “if” or “when.” But it can mean “Lo,” short for “look,” or it can mean “Oh that!” which is what I have chosen for this passage.


It seems best to make this a parenthetical clause. Some have translated it as an “if…then” statement, “if they are ashamed…make known to them…” But I think God wanted the prophet to make this known to them regardless of their response. Its proclamation was tied to the first part as one body of truth. It was not two sections, the second of which would be delivered if they were ashamed sufficiently. It was all together with a parenthetical wish thrown in the middle.