What does the Tabernacle tell us about God?
The Tabernacle marked a very important event in redemptive history. Up to its point, God had interacted with man on a seemingly case by case basis, appearing to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and then Moses when God saw fit to do so. The Tabernacle indicated that God would now dwell with his people, being accessible to them, every minute of every day (Exodus 25:8-9). The details of the tabernacle all point to the character of God. However, they also reveal a key problem. God’s perfect holiness meant that in order for the high priest to commune with God, he would have to go through an elaborate process of sacrifices and purification in order to go into the Holy of Holies where God’s presence would be. As wonderful as having God in their midst was, the people were always reminded of how holy God was and how unholy man was.
This pattern continues with the building of the temple in Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 6-8) and even amplifies as God’s presence visibly comes to dwell in the temple (2 Chronicles 7:1). However, the glory of God eventually comes to leave the temple as the Israelite people turn their backs on God. Eventually the original temple is destroyed and although there will be attempts to later rebuild the temple the glory of God never returns in the same way (Ezra 3).
But God’s presence does ultimately return to the physical temple in the form of Jesus of Nazareth. What Jesus does is even more of a miracle then the original Tabernacle. Jesus says that when the temple is destroyed, He will rebuild it in three days (John 2:19, Matt 26:61 & Mark 14:58). What He was referring to what His own body. This implies more than just the resurrection. It indicates that Jesus is saying that He is the same as the Tabernacle, He is God dwelling with man (John 1:14). More than this, at Jesus’ death, God tears the curtain of the temple (Matt 27:51 and Mark 15:38), removing the separation between Himself and man. The Apostle Paul expands on this by telling us that we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 6:16 and Ephesians 2:19-22). What this means is that God via the Holy Spirit now dwells within us, the separation removed by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Hebrew 10). In John’s revelation of the Temple of God in Heaven, a notable absence is the dividing veil between man and God (Revelation 11).
The Tabernacle thus reminds the Christian of many things, but the most important being that Jesus has enabled us to now have God with us at all times.