The Tabernacle


(This is a brief resume for more detail read my fathers sermon notes on this subject at )



The  Tabernacle was a structure built by the children of Israel under the  supervision of Moses, around 1450 B.C. The layout of the Tabernacle and the  materials of its construction were specified in great detail to Moses by God at  Mount Sinai, a few weeks after the children of Israel had left hundreds of years  of slavery in Egypt (the Exodus). The Tabernacle was a portable construction,  made by wise, skillful workmen and transported by one  tribe (the  Levites) through the 40 years in the desert wilderness and on  into the land of Canaan.

The first five books of the Bible were  written down by Moses; they are called the Torah, the Hebrew word for 'law'.

Matt 5:17 17 "Do not think that I have come  to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to  fulfill them. NIV

John, one of Jesus' disciples, tells us that  "the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ"  (John 1:17). The word 'truth' here is alethia in Greek, meaning  'reality'. The 'truth' John speaks of is Jesus Christ as the Word, who was God  and who became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:1,14). (The Greek word  sometimes translated as 'dwelt' here is more literally translated 'tabernacled').

Therefore, the Tabernacle is a picture, a  foreshadow of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the book of Exodus, when God dictates to  Moses the detailed design of the Tabernacle (some 1450 years before the birth of  Jesus), He speaks forth a description of just who and what the coming Messiah  (the Christ) would be.

In the four gospels, particularly in John's account, Jesus shows  Himself to be the reality of every item in the Tabernacle. The real Tabernacle  of God with men is therefore the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tabernacle Furniture

There were six items of furniture with their respective accoutrements in the Tabernacle. Details about these articles can be found in two major sections of Exodus: chapters 25-31, where the specifications of sizes and materials are given, and Exodus chapters 35-40, which are largely a repetition of the previous section, but written in the past tense, indicating the actual construction of the articles. The specific references are as follows:




Table of shewbread
Lamp stand
Golden incense Alter
Altar of burnt offering




Altar of Burnt Offering (Exodus 27:1-8) 

The Altar of Burnt Offering

At the Burnt Offering Altar the priests  sacrificed various Offerings to God; some  offerings were for their own sins and for the sins of the people. The point of  the burnt offering was that, by it, a person might become accepted before God  and forgiven (Leviticus 1:4). For the burnt offering a male animal was  sacrificed: a ram, a goat, a bullock or a turtle-dove (or a pigeon) (Leviticus  1:3-17). The offering had to be without blemish, the very healthiest and best  available. This foreshadows the Lord Jesus, Who was examined by Pontius Pilate,  who declared "I find no fault in Him at all" (John 18:38).

The blood of the offering was poured out  round the base of the altar, foreshadowing the Lord Jesus, whose precious blood  flowed out when His side was pierced on the cross by a Roman spear (John 19:34 &  I Peter 1:19).

The Laver (Exodus 30:17-21)

The Laver

The Laver was a large bronze basin  containing water. The Bible does not record its size or dimensions.

Having entered through the Door into the Tabernacle's  Outer Court, the priests had to wash their hands and feet at the Laver before  they could either enter into the Sanctuary Building or make any  offering to the Lord at the Burnt Offering Altar. God  warned Moses that if the priests did not wash they would die (Exodus 30:20-21).

The Holy Place 

The first room, on the East side (right),  was called the Holy Place; the priests would enter the Sanctuary via the Entrance Door curtain on the  East side (far right); the room contained:

The Table of Shewbread (inside at  top),

Table of Shewbread

The Lamp stand or Golden Candlestick (inside at bottom)

The Golden Candlestick

The Golden Incense Altar (middle);

Altar of Incense

The Veil (middle, left of centre)  separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.

The inner room, to the West (left), was  called the Holy of Holies, where only one man (the High Priest) once per year was  permitted entry; this was where God's presence and glory resided over the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark (Behind the Veil)

Ark of the Covenant

The only piece of furniture in the holy of holies, the ark was an oblong chest of acacia wood overlaid within and without with pure gold, measuring two and one-half cubits high and one and one-half cubits broad and wide. Two gold-covered poles were left permanently in four rings on its sides, by which it could be carried. On its top was a golden covering called the mercy seat. It was upon this mercy seat that the blood of the slain goat was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:15-16).
At each end of the mercy seat and of one piece with it were the cheribim, facing each other and looking down upon the mercy seat. Between these cherubim and above the mercy seat was the dwelling place of the Lord (Exodus 25:22; Numbers 7:89). Contained in the ark were the tablets of the law (Exodus 25:16, 22); hence, the name, ark of the testimony), a pot of manna (Exodus 16:33-34), and Aaron's rod that budded (Numbers 17:10).

The High Priest and His  Garments (Exodus chapters 28 and 39)

The high priest in his "holy garments  ministered in the Holy Place" (Exodus 39:1).  Aaron was the first high priest; he was Moses' brother. After Aaron died,  subsequent high priests were his descendants, the sons of Aaron.

The high priest was responsible for the  Tabernacle, its daily offerings and functions and  also its regular Feasts, three times in the year: at Passover, at Pentecost and  at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (which was followed by a week of joy in the  Feast of Tabernacles), as seen from Leviticus 23.

On the Day of Atonement, it was  uniquely the high priest's responsibility to take the blood of the sacrificed  goat into the Holy of Holies on behalf of  all God's people, for forgiveness of their sins.

This awesome responsibility required a  sanctified person (Exodus 29), the high priest, dressed in "holy garments".

The Robe (Exodus 28: 31-35)

The Priests Robe was made entirely of blue.  It had a hem, attached to which were pomegranate motifs (in blue, purple and  scarlet), with golden bells alternating in between the pomegranates. The golden  bells were an audible announcement of the high priest's service, that he was  still alive. Attached to his leg was a rope leading out into the Holy place. If  the bells ceased to be heard they would know that he had died and could pull him  out of the Holy of Holies as no one was allowed in that place other than the  priest.

Finally ...

"Holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly  calling, consider the High Priest, Jesus" (Hebrews 3:1)

"Seeing we have such a great High Priest who  has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, a High Priest who can  sympathise with our weaknesses (being tempted in all points as we are, yet  without sin), let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may  obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).

The Golden framework of the Tabernacle & the Coverings

Tabernacle and Coverings

Tabernacle Diagram


Tabernacle Layout


This is a brief resume for more detail read my fathers sermon notes on this subject at

Subject titles covered

1 Preamble to Tabernacle Study

2 Study of The Tabernacle in the Wilderness

3 The Purpose of the Tabernacle

4 The Production of the Tabernacle

5 Obedience in Seeing and Doing

6 The Plan of the Tabernacle

7 Position of the Furniture 

8 The Way

9 It Provides One Way In

10 The Brazen Altar

11 The Brazen Laver

12 The Tabernacle

13 Tabernacle Content

14 The Altar of Incense

15 The Ark of The Covenant

16 Typical Teaching of the  Furniture Part 1

17 Typical Teaching of the  Furniture Part 2