The tent gave us a portable place to come together for fellowship, hear God’s word, and offer sacrifices of praise. As the winds of fall began to blow, we sensed the cloud leading us onward. We packed it up and headed for a new location. By the way, in a few years, Fairfax County bought the land, providing enough funds for a permanent home. God was and is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider.
While in the wilderness, Israel also had a tent. God said to Moses in Exodus 25:8-9, “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” In this verse, we find the purpose for this holy tent. The word “tabernacle” in the Hebrew is mishkan, and its most basic meaning is “dwelling place.” God wanted to live among his people in their journey. In verse 8 God says, “I will dwell among them.” The Tabernacle was the dwelling place for his presence. The Lord of Creation, the God of the universe, the Author of Salvation descended to dwell with his people while in transition – in the heat, confusion, hardship, and pain. The Tabernacle was a physical, tangible, touchable structure that displayed God’s devotion and commitment. He would never leave or forsake them, even while walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
The shape of the Tabernacle was the size of the average church, 150 feet long by 75 feet wide – an 11,250 square foot rectangle. Much like pipe and drape, the walls were curtains made of fine twisted linen. The curtains hung from silver rings attached to wooden crossbars connected to poles in bases of bronze.
Inside the temporary walls, was by far the largest area of the Tabernacle – the Courtyard. Here was the Altar, the place of sacrifice. All Israelites were welcome, and with a population over two million, it was in constant use. Far from feeling oppressed or under compulsion, the Israelites gladly brought their offerings with joy. It was their moment to worship, fellowship, and find forgiveness for their sins.
We find this consistent theme in their songs of praise. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 66:15-16 says, “I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals…Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” Psalm 96:8-9 says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness!” This was an opportunity to give an offering to the God who gave them everything. Like us, while happy at church, the hardest challenge was living it out in the daily grind.