Where the Israelites Worshiped God

One of the things that God told Moses while he was on the mountain was to make a building to worship him in. It was to be a building that could be taken down and moved and was covered like a tent; therefore it is called the tabernacle. God told Moses, "Be sure to make everything just like the plan that I will show you."

Three sides of the tabernacle were made of large boards covered with gold. They were held together by rods. Then they were covered by four layers of cloth and skin. In the front, which faced east, a curtain made of blue, purple, and red cloth was hung to serve as a door. The tabernacle was 45 feet long, 15 feet wide and was 15 feet high. It was divided into two rooms by a curtain made of blue, purple and red cloth. The back of the room was a cube: 15 feet long, 15 feet wide and 15 feet high. It was called the most holy of holies. Into this room only the high priest was supposed to go, and then on only one day out of the year, the Day of Atonement. It contained only one piece of furniture, a box, 45 inches long, 27 inches wide and 27 inches high, that was covered with gold. The lid was creatures of Gold, called cherubim. The box was called the "Ark of the Covenant" and its lid was called the mercy seat. Inside the box were the two tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments written on them. On the Day of Atonement the high priest would twice come into this room and sprinkle blood on the ark first he would sprinkle the blood of a bull as a way of asking God to forgive his sins. Then he would again come in and sprinkle the blood of a goat as a way of asking God to forgive all the people's sins. A light shone above the mercy seat between the cherubim to show that God was there.

The outer room was called the holy place. It was twice as big as the most holy place. It contained a wooden table, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide and 27 inches high, that was covered with gold. On it were 12 loaves of bread. Each Saturday, on the Sabbath day, the priest would put fresh loaves of bread on it and eat the old loaves. The room also had a lamp stand made out of solid gold with seven lamps on it. These were filled with olive oil and kept burning all the time to give light; the third piece of furniture in the holy place was a wooden altar, 18 inches long, 18 inches wide and 36 inches tall, covered with gold. It was called the altar of incense, because incense was burned on it twice a day as an offering to God. When sacrifices were offered in the morning and evening a priest would bring in fire and burn incense.

In the front the tabernacle was a large bowl mad of bronze that held water for washing. In front of it was a large altar called the altar of burnt offerings, because animals were burnt on it as offerings to God. It was 7 and a halve feet long and wide and 4 and a halve feet tall. Its walls made of wood covered with bronze and its top was a bronze grating that would allow ashes to fall through to the ground. At least twice a day, morning and evening, animals were sacrificed on it and also at other times. The space around the tabernacle, large bowl and alter was surrounded by a fence made of white curtains 7 and a halve feet high. They were held up by bronze posts. At the front was a curtain made of blue, purple, and red cloth that served as a gate. The space that the fence surrounded was called a "court" and was 150 feet long by 75 feet wide.

When Moses told the Israelite people about the tabernacle, he said that anyone who wished to bring things as an offering to God to help make it could do so. The people brought so much cloth, wood, and jewelry that Moses had to tell them to stop. Then the Israelite craftsmen, led by two men named Bezalel and Oholiab, made the tabernacle just as god had said. When the tabernacle was set up, Moses made his brother Aaron the high priest. Aaron's sons became the regular priests and the men from the tribe of Levi were the helpers. The priests wore special robes and the high priest wore a breast [late on his chest with twelve different jewels, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Then Moses offered sacrifices to appoint Aaron and his sons as priests. When the sacrifices were put on the outside altar, Aaron raised his hand to bless the people. Suddenly fire came down from heaven people bowed their faces to the ground in worship of God. But latter a very bad thing happened. Aaron's two oldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, were supposed to offer from the offering, they used "strange fire that God had not commanded, to burn the incense. Then God sent out fire and burned them to death. Moses told Aaron and his other sons not to mourn for them wile they were worshiping God and had some cousins take away their bodies to be buried. Perhaps they had been drunk, for Moses told the other priests "do not go into the tabernacle after dinking wine or bee." From this we learn that it is very important to do exactly what God says to do.

All of the things in the tabernacle were symbols of the new way of Christ. The altar was a symbol of the cross where Jesus was sacrificed. The large water bowl was a symbol of the washing in the blood of Jesus that takes away our sins. The lamp stand was a symbol for the light of God's word. The golden table with bread on it was a symbol for the Lord's Supper. The altar with incense burning on it was a symbol for our prayers that rise to heaven. The most holy place was a symbol for heaven itself and the ark was a symbol of God's throne. The high priest was a symbol of Jesus, who went into heaven when he died, to offer his own blood to take away our sins.

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Last updated on November 18, 2010
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