The Tabernacle – Part 1: Sermon By Bishop Gobanga
And the Lord said to Moses, Speak to the Israelites, that they take for Me an offering. From every man who gives it willingly and ungrudgingly with his heart you shall take My offering. This is the offering you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, Blue, purple, and scarlet [stuff] and fine twined linen and goats’ hair, Rams’ skins tanned red, goatskins, dolphin or porpoise skins, acacia wood, Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones for setting in the ephod and in the breastplate. Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. And you shall make it according to all that I show you, the pattern of the Tabernacle or dwelling and the pattern of all the furniture of it.Exodus 25:1-9 (AMP)
You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.1 Peter 2:5 (NKJV)
Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.Exodus 40:34-38 (NKJV)
Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]? If anyone does hurt to God’s temple or corrupts it [with false doctrines] or destroys it, God will do hurt to him and bring him to the corruption of death and destroy him. For the temple of God is holy (sacred to Him) and that [temple] you [the believing church and its individual believers] are.1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NKJV)
The pattern of the Old Testament Tabernacle is a visual aid, a strong picture of spiritual truths. When you read the Old Testament, you realize that there is a lot of symbolism that God brings out. The Tabernacle of Moses is a type of you and me. The outer gate represented Jesus without which no one would enter in while the four pillars represent the four faces of God which are also represented in the four Gospels.
The problem with the Church today is that we don’t believe in the Bible. We are caught up with the outer man and external experiences that we forget about the inner man who is Christ.
Seeing then that the promise remains over [from past times] for some to enter that rest, and that those who formerly were given the good news about it and the opportunity, failed to appropriate it and did not enter because of disobedience.Hebrews 4:6 (AMP)
Our predestination is that we must conform to the image of the Son of God Jesus Christ. We must attain to the full measure, full stature of Jesus Christ, holy and without blame in the sight of God here on earth, and that which is not of Christ in us must decrease while that which is of Christ must increase.
As a Church, we are the Body of Christ. Jesus is the Head and He wants to dwell in the assembly of His people.
His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.Ephesians 4:12-13 (AMP)
You and I were not created to know physical death neither were we ordained to see death. This refers to the inner man and not the outer man. The Tabernacle is a picture of you and I.
Why did God want a Tabernacle to be built?
Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.Exodus 25:8 (AMP)
God wanted to dwell among His people. God does not change. This means that God still wants a place on earth where He may dwell amongst people permanently.
The priesthood of the Old Testament is of Aaron while the priesthood in the New Testament is of Christ in the order of Melchizedek. (Reference: Hebrews 7)
Now the main point of what we have to say is this: We have such a High Priest, One Who is seated at the right hand of the majestic [God] in heaven, As officiating Priest, a Minister in the holy places and in the true tabernacle which is erected not by man but by the Lord. For every high priest is appointed to offer up gifts and sacrifices; so it is essential for this [High Priest] to have some offering to make also. If then He were still living on earth, He would not be a priest at all, for there are [already priests] who offer the gifts in accordance with the Law. [But these offer] service [merely] as a pattern and as a foreshadowing of [what has its true existence and reality in] the heavenly sanctuary. For when Moses was about to erect the tabernacle, he was warned by God, saying, See to it that you make it all [exactly] according to the copy (the model) which was shown to you on the mountain.Hebrews 8:1-5 (AMP)
The Heavenlies in this portion of Scripture means you and I. The symbolism in the Bible are types and shadows about truths concerning people; that is you and I. It does not speak of a geographical placement outside of earth or in outer space.
The spiritual and only Tabernacle we read of in the New Testament is you and I. We are the habitation of God. We are the Tabernacle that is not made by human hands, the one that God wants to dwell permanently in. God did this to show the value that lies with you and me. Because we have not been made with human hands. We are part of the Body of Christ; the habitation of His presence.
The stones that were required to build the tabernacle were rare and expensive. You are spiritual stones being built up in Christ into a tabernacle for the LORD to become a habitation for Him by the Holy Spirit. You are what God spoke about when He spoke to Moses about the tabernacle. We are more precious than gem stones. We are precious to God. We are priceless and bought by the blood of the lamb that is worth more than the blood of bulls and rams. This is the blood that caters for the sins of mankind. The Old Testament Tabernacle is a summation of you and I.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.Ephesians 2:8-22 (NKJV)
For this reason [seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ], I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named [that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name]. May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].Ephesians 3:14-16 (AMP)
If any of us thinks that we need a physical habitation to see God, then we are missing it. God is not very much concerned about the physical structure. God does not dwell in a building; He indwells man. If internally you are in tandem with God, it will show on the outside.
For I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up Israel from Egypt until this day; but I have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another.1 Chronicles 17:5 (AMP)
The Hebrew name for Tabernacle is “Mishkan” – to dwell, to live in, to rest.
The Tabernacle is a place of rest. The people of God are meant to enter rest from sin and efforts to save ourselves from bondage and the consequences of sin. It is one thing to be delivered from sin, but another thing to be free from the consequences of sin. The prophetic purpose of salvation is to deliver you fully from sin and the consequences of sin.
It is Christ in you that enables you to be delivered from sin and the consequences of sin – this is being made whole and to have rest. Christ not only healed people, He cast out demons and told them to not sin any more. The people were made whole.
There are certain doors in our lives that must be closed for us to know rest. If there are doors that are open then we have no rest from sin.
When God indwells, He brings you into rest. In the presence of the lord, there is fullness of joy that becomes your strength but outside of God there is no joy. Mountains melt like wax, the mountains of our struggles. This can only happen when we are the Tabernacle of God. We are to be completely delivered from the reproach of Egypt, it is to be far from you. The picture of the cross in my life is my heart.
The Tabernacle was a place where God met with people. This is the place of the Cross, which is our heart where Christ is enthroned. When Satan is dethroned from your heart, Christ is enthroned. The heart is the locus of human personality.
The Tabernacle was always the focus of the worship of God. It is where the Shekinah glory of God dwelt. The Israelites used to go to the Tent Of Meeting to offer sacrifices, to worship Him. People would gather to hear from Moses as he heard from God.
When God called Israel out of bondage in Egypt, understand that the Tabernacle was a mobile gadget. It was the portable place where the glory of God would manifest. It moved when the glory of God moved. They needed to move when God moved.
It was the very same Tabernacle that had the Ark of Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant contained two things:
- The rod of Aaron, which represented the people that God chose to be leaders, the ones called by God to do the work of God. Men do not, cannot chose men to do the work of God.
- It also had the 10 commandments, which symbolized the expectations of Divine obedience and the requirements of God.
The presence of God only dwelt in the inner chamber, the Holy of Holies, which only the High Priest could access once a year during the Day of Atonement.
What meaning did the Tabernacle have for Israel?
No one could approach the Tabernacle. It was a place where God was not approached in any manner. If you did, the fire of God would consume you instantaneously.
No other fire could be started. The sons of Aaron started a strange fire and at the wrong time. They died and Aaron was not allowed to mourn them. God’s holiness is fatal to a carnal person. The lesson is that God is not approached on human terms but His terms.
The more you drew into the chamber of the Lord, the fewer the people became. The Holy of Holies was not accessed by the masses but the high priest. This means that more you grow in salvation, the fewer friends one has, the price to be paid is too high.
There is a place of Divine transaction where you cannot have anyone with you- not your friend, your girlfriend, not your wife. For example, Abraham when going to sacrifice Isaac. He never told his wife Sarah. At the end of the day, your walk with God is personal. There is a way of transacting with God that is not with the multitudes but very personal. (Reference: Genesis 22)
In front of the courtyard, anyone could come. Many people were found in the courtyard, there they approached in thanksgiving. The outer court was where the priests did the work of the Tabernacle, but when it comes to the inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies only the high priest came once a year.
In the inner chamber, you only have time as an individual to decipher the transactions that you can have with the Divine. There are certain things we do as a Church but there is a role only consecrated people can handle.
Only those that live a consecrated life can minister at the altar. It takes an altar to make a servant of God.
You need a certain level of consecration that will give you a capacity to minister in the house of God and to discharge divine mandate. It is the consecration of your life that determines the things that God will give you. Your life with God must be in form and this takes more than just a degree. God does not acknowledge human/intellectual credentials.
When it comes to God, you must know what He wants, how He wants it, when and with whom and when you do not meet this requirement, the Bible does not regard you as righteous.
In this season of fellowship, communion and service you will need to draw nigh to God alone. There is a place of divine transaction that you can only have with God.
The message of the Tabernacle relates to the Messiah. His death and resurrection is how we are able to enter into the Holy of Holies. God is separate from sin and death.
God dwelling with His people, is very much central to the tabernacle. God is interested in the Body of Christ in Nairobi, Kenya and the rest of the world. Unless the entire land is under the authority of God, no one is safe. Not even the believers in that land.
God dwelt with the people so that the people would know that HE is with us, so that people can sense His nearness and experience the proximity of God to them. Without the nearness of God in our lives, we will feel an emptiness.
God wants me to experience His nearness even when I am alone. There are certain transactions you can only do in solitude in the presence of God and cannot be sorted by the company of men. They can only be sorted out by God, with God. Only Jesus (knowing Christ and letting Him abide in you) can keep the devil away from you. Be with God and all will be well.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened at all, that it cannot save, nor His ear dull with deafness, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.Isaiah 59:1-2 (AMP)
In those times, as much as God wanted people to sense His proximity, their sins made them profane before God and this kept Him at bay, and that is why the Tabernacle was continually cleansed with the sacrifice of bulls and rams. The priests were constantly asked to wash themselves. The purity of the Scripture requires constant holiness.
The book of Hebrews is there to show us that the types and the work in the Old Testament is a foreshadowing of Christ.
It is dedicated to making Christians know about the Messianic work on the Cross. God had to come up with something better than the tabernacle of Moses where one sacrifice would suffice – Jesus Christ. Jesus is superior to angels, to Moses, the patriarchs and the law. His blood is superior. It cleansed the sanctuary of your heart.
Characteristics Of The Tabernacle:
1. The Tabernacle Was A Functional Facility
It was a Tent Of Meeting. It was the place where the glory of God could be manifest. The Tabernacle was built in such a way that the Shekinah Glory was kept away from the people. Having God in such close proximity was dangerous and His wrath was being kindled repeatedly against them because the people were so sinful and because of this God would continually breakout against them.
The Tabernacle solved the problem of a Holy God dwelling among a sinful people. It would help the Shekinah Glory of God relate with them in an indirect way that He may not destroy them – the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. These two were a veil to shield the people that were sinful.
The tent curtains and a thick veil separating the holy place and the Holy of Holies also serviced the same purpose of shielding the people. If the brilliance of the Glory of God came down; the wrath of God would be kindled against them from time to time and it would consume man. This was the only way to protect the people. Only Adam had direct contact with God before he fell into sin.
And the Lord said to Moses, I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; Now therefore let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and that I may destroy them; but I will make of you a great nation.Exodus 32:9-10 (AMP)
2. The Tabernacle Displayed The Fabulous Wealth & Ability Of God
It took excellent people to build with excellent things. God does not take anything but the best. You are the best of God. The intricate design of the Tabernacle is a type of how you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
When God requires us, He wants the best of us not a life that is rife with sin. He wants a life that is sanctified. He demands your mind, your emotions, your will, your time; all of you wholeheartedly.
Prayer is something about your life that God requires. Worship is something that God requires. The more time you give to God, the more of Him you experience. Prayer is time communing with God. The word of God is what ventilates your spirit man. We are to study it in depth. Worship is a response to the revelation you have of God. Fellowship is your supply into the body of Christ from what you have received from God.
We can be so passionate about our careers, about our academics, but are we passionate about God? #Selah
The building of the Tabernacle involved everybody. God expects each and every one of us to plug in to build up the body of Christ. Not just the Pastors and Deacons. God wants all of us to participate. Yes, there are ranks and we are not to break ranks, but all of us are to exercise our diversity with one another and together.
3. The Tabernacle Testified To The Character Of God
The excellence of the tabernacle reflected the excellence of God. It testified of the holiness of God.
4. The Tabernacle Highlighted The Aspect Of Unity In Diversity
Each and every component used to build the Tabernacle was diverse and spoke of the importance of each and every one of them. God does not dwell in disunity. The tabernacle is a place of unity. The composition of the Tabernacle had unity and diversity in design and purpose.
The Tabernacle was designed as a permanent facility. God wants to dwell with His people permanently more than a building. God does not dwell in buildings. He is not concerned about the physical structure. Look at Indian temples and mosques with the beautiful architecture yet they lack the presence of God. There needs to be a balance though since God will not be glorified by a bad structure. He is a God of excellence.
The architectural design of the Tabernacle is not about a building in and of itself. That is why whenever the people in the Old Testament would glory in the resplendence of the temple, God brought people to destroy it. We need to be cautious not to exalt our fellowship above Christ by glorifying one assembly, denomination or congregation above another, and thereby abuse the principle of the Tabernacle/Temple and lose sight of God Who is key and should remain central to any gathering, to the entire Body of Christ. We are one Body under one God aiming for the unity of the faith and one baptism.
The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.Revelation 21:21 (NKJV)
The architectural design of the New Jerusalem denotes your life in a glorified state.
In the New Testament, we are to be the permanent abode of His presence. God is using the picture of the Tabernacle as a visual aid to show that He is after a permanent habitation with His people. It is the principle of Tabernacle that God is interested in and not the buildings.
Maturity is not measured on the basis of your ability to exercise your giftings, talent, and abilities, but it is seen in how you take responsibility for your mistake(s) and accept rebuke and correction.The sacrifice that God accepts, is that of a contrite and humble spirit, not one of your talent, gifting and abilities. These after all were given to you by God. And they are irrevocable.
When Isaiah saw the glory of the pre-incarnate Christ, he discovered that he was a man of unclean lips. And when he acknowledged his error, God cleansed him with His fire. From this we see that it is possible to walk in your calling, and still be in sin. More character is required than charismatic overtures. It takes divine encounters with God. The Lord hates a proud and haughty look. He is looking for they that tremble at His word. God is interested in them that have the right estimation of Him.
In the year that King Uzziah died, [in a vision] I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the skirts of His train filled the [most holy part of the] temple. Above Him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two [each] covered his [own] face, and with two [each] covered his feet, and with two [each] flew. And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory! And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone and ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! Then flew one of the seraphim [heavenly beings] to me, having a live coal in his hand which he had taken with tongs from off the altar; And with it he touched my mouth and said, Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity and guilt are taken away, and your sin is completely atoned for and forgiven.Isaiah 6:1-7 (AMP)
The more you grow in God; the more you ask Him to change you and mould you.
The same way that every piece of the Tabernacle is important, so are all the people in the Body of Christ important. God’s Tabernacle comprises of people from all walks of life. Exclusivity is what leads to cults and cultish behaviour.
And those [parts] of the body which we consider rather ignoble are [the very parts] which we invest with additional honor, and our unseemly parts and those unsuitable for exposure are treated with seemliness (modesty and decorum).1 Corinthians 12:23 (AMP)
The Tabernacle was constructed according to the pattern that God showed Moses at Mt. Sinai. (Reference: Exodus 31)
The Church [Body of Christ] is God’s Tabernacle built according to the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets with Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.
You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone.Ephesians 2:20 (AMP)
The Church is not a corporate entity built on the Babylonian systems. It is supposed to be God’s temple built according to apostolic teachings because there is a pattern. The glory seals the pattern, and God’s glory will never come to seal something that is not according to His pattern.
God was very categorical. Where He required a certain stone to be used, He followed it up with an explanation why. There is nothing that pleases God except His Son Jesus Christ. There is nothing that God does in humanity outside of His Son.
God had Moses commune with Him at the mountain to show him how the Tabernacle should be constructed. God revealed the Church to Moses in pictorial form on the Holy Mountain. He revealed the picture of Jesus being the Head of the Church. He showed him the pattern of what was going to happen in the future. Moses saw the birth of the Church foreshadowed in the tabernacle.
The Church Age gives room to the Kingdom Age. We see this as the New Jerusalem comes down.
Then I saw a new sky (heaven) and a new earth, for the former sky and the former earth had passed away (vanished), and there no longer existed any sea. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, all arrayed like a bride beautified and adorned for her husband; Then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, See! The abode of God is with men, and He will live (encamp, tent) among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God.Revelation 21:1-3 (AMP)