Exodus 25-27: The Place Where God Dwells
The tabernacle was a sanctuary built for God according to His throne room in heaven. This
would be the place He would choose to dwell among His people. The Tabernacle would be the
focal point of Israels national life from the time God brought the people out of Egypt under
Moses until they settled in the land of Canaan for 400 years. Israel would worship God in the
Tabernacle from a distance separated by the Veil from the presence of His Glory in the Holy
of Holies where He hovered above the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant. Only the High
Priest in all his priestly garments would enter one time per year on the Day of Atonement to
sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat.
A word about atonement before we begin to examine the Tabernacle and its furnishings: the
word atonement carries with it the idea of the Just, Holy, Righteousness of Gods nature being
satisfied . Gods law required death as a penalty for sin. When God saw the blood, signifying the
death of an innocent sacrifice, He was satisfied that the demands of the law were carried out.
Sacrificing an animal on an altar did not take away the Sin. Man was still sinful. The sacrifice
only pictured what was necessary for sin to be forgiven-death and the shedding of blood. The
blood provided an atonement or covering for sin. Thus through obedience these people were
placing their faith in the future sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, who takes away the
sin of the world. In the same way we express faith in the Lamb of God by looking back to His
In other words, sin required a payment and God developed a payment plan. Paul writes in
Colossians 2- He (God) forgave us ALL our sins, having cancelled the written code with its
regulations , He (Jesus) took it away nailing it to the cross. (NIV) The KJV puts it this way;
blotting out the ordinances against us. In Pauls day this was a business term referring to a
certificate of indebtedness written in the debtors handwriting.
Thus this ritual was practiced over and over and was a shadow of things to come . The law is
only a shadow of the good things that are coming, not realities themselves. (Hebrews 10)
Day after day every priests stand and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers
the same sacrifices, which can never take away the sins. But when this Priest ( Lord Jesus our
High Priest) had offered for all time one sacrifice( his own death and shed blood) He sat down
at the right hand of God. ( Hebrews 10: 11,12)
Since that time ( approx 33AD) He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool, because by
one sacrifice He had made PERFECT FOREVER THOSE WHO ARE BEING MADE HOLY! ( Hebrews
10:13,14) Notice the tense of the verb- we are being made Holy this refers to the process of
sanctification. We have been made perfect in position, but unfortunately not in practice. So
we pursue holiness with obedience, but will not be perfect in practice until we see Him- face to
face, then we will be like Him.
Our goal in this study is to see the pattern God has given us whereby we may enter into the
Holy of Holies. For this is our destination and our privilege as Gods children to enter into
throne room of heaven, where we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.
OVERVIEW OF THE TABERNACLE AND BASIC LAYOUT
The tabernacle consisted of a tent-like structure covered by a rug-like covering to protect it
from sun and rain and elements. It was within a courtyard that measured 150 feet by 75 feet.
This was enclosed in fence made of linen hangings held by pillars. This fence was approximately
7 feet high.
The tent or Tabernacle proper was divided into two compartments- the Holy Place and the
Holy of Holies. The tent consisted of acacia wood ( a very hard wood impervious to decay)
overlaid with gold and fitted together to form the walls. These two compartments measured
45 feet by 15 feet. On top of these walls were four layers of curtains which acted as the roof.
The innermost layer was woven with fine linen and embroidered with figures of cherubims.
The second layer was made of goats hair, probably similar to cashmere. The third layer was
made of rams skin dyed red. The outermost layer was porpoise skins, thus providing a water
repellent layer. These curtains were pinned to the ground with loops and clasps.
Throughout the Tabernacle we see yarns of blue, purple and scarlet. Blue obviously served
as a reminder of the Tabernacles heavenly descent. Purple represented kingship, royalty and
elegance. Scarlet denotes the shed blood and the pain.
There was only one entrance into the courtyard, a gate 30 feet wide that always faced due east.
The gate was located directly in the center of the outer court on the east end. The gate was
covered by a curtain or screen made of finely twisted linen in blue, purple and scarlet.
The one and only gate is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way through which one
can fellowship with God and worship Him. To do this we must enter in through the gate to the
place where God dwells.
Jesus said: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through
me. ( John 14:6)
Jesus again said: I am the GATE, whoever enters through me will be saved. ( John 10:9)
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to
destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to
life and only a few find it. ( Matthew 7 :13-14) Jesus speaking in the Sermon on the Mount.
The act of entering the gate to the Tabernacle was significant to the Israelites. By entering
the gate, one could find forgiveness of sin and fellowship with God. The first thing they
encountered when entering the gate was the Brazen Altar which served as a reminder of mans
sinfulness and the need for a blood sacrifice in order to fellowship with God. One needed
to repent and offer sacrifices for their sins. Those who did not repent were not entering
the narrow way.
THE BRAZEN ALTAR
We will spend more time here since this is an important act. The brazen altar was situated
right inside the courtyard upon entering the gate to the Tabernacle. The Hebrew root for altar
means to slay or slaughter. From Latin, the word alta means high. Therefore, an altar means a
high place for sacrifice. The altar stood on raised ground, higher than the surrounding furniture.
Do you see the picture here? This is a picture of our Sacrifice, the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus
lifted up on a cross, a place of slaughter on a high ground called Golgotha.
This altar was made of acacia wood overlaid with bronze. Bronze is symbolical of judgment in
the Bible. It measured 7.5 feet on all four sides and 4.5 feet deep. Four horns projected from
the top four corners and a bronze grating was inside to hold the animal.
The altar was the place for burning the animal sacrifices. It showed the Israelites that the first
step for sinful man to approach a Holy God was to be cleansed by the blood of an innocent
creature. For a sin offering, a person had to bring an animal a male without blemish or defect
from the flock or herd to the priest at the Tabernacle gate.
Listen to the process as God instructed: He must present it (the sacrifice) at the entrance of
the Tent of Meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord. He is to lay his hand on the head of
the burnt offering and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. ( Leviticus
1:4) By placing his hand on the sacrifice, the person was identifying with the sacrifice. His sin
and guilt was being transferred to the animal .
Did you know the person bringing the sacrifice not only placed their hand on the head of the
animal, but also were responsible for cutting its throat with their other hand? They would
feel the animal shudder in pain and fear and hold their head as its life bled away. In fact in the
Passover, the sacrifice was brought into the home four days before it was slain. Do you realize
your sins led the Lord Jesus to the cross like a sheep to the slaughter. We laid our hands on His
Head to transfer our sins and with the other hand- we cut His throat.
God the Father never asked anyone to sacrifice their child on an altar did He? Yet our Heavenly
Father so desired to have a personal, intimate relationship with us, He gave us His only
Begotten Son, that whosever should believe in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.
( John 3:16) Not only did He not withhold His only son, He refused to hold his head when He
died and for that reason the Lord Jesus, Gods Only Son cried out in anguish- My God, My God,
why hast thou forsaken me? What kind of love is this- that God would let His son die in my
place? Because the Lord Jesus was forsaken- you and I are forgiven.
Why blood, Lord? For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make
atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for ones life. (
The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, for without the shedding of
blood there is no forgiveness. ( Hebrews 9:22)
and when I see the blood, I will pass over. ( Exodus 12)
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were
redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the
precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. ( I Peter 1)
Although the blood of animal sacrifices covered over the sins of the Israelites, they had to
perform the sacrifices over and over, year after year for they continued to sin and could not be
freed permanently from their guilty conscience.
All of this pointed to the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world
with a once and forever perfect sacrifice.
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. ( Mark 14.24)
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially
unclean sanctify them so that they may outwardly be clean. How much more, then will the
blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse
our conscience from acts that lead to death, so that WE MAY SERVE THE LIVING GOD! (Hebrews 9:13.14)4
We have been made holy ( our position) through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once
for all by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy and
where these have been forgiven , there is no longer any need for sacrifice for sin. (Hebrews 10:
10,14, & 18)
Horns were a symbol of power and strength in the Bible. These horns were used to secure the
sacrifice on the altar. Blood from the sacrifice was dabbed on the horns of the altar, signifying
the power and strength of the blood to atone for sins. What can wash away my sins- NOTHING
BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS.
When God instituted the Passover the Passover Lamb was also eaten
What did Jesus say to His disciples on the night of His last Passover supper with his disciples:
When He took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, Jesus
said: Take and eat this is my body. (Matthew 26)
Earlier Jesus taught them this: I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink his blood, you have NO LIFE IN YOU. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has
eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real
drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. ( John 6)
This was not cannibalism but pointed to the crucified Christ as the source of eternal life.
Appropriation of Christ as our Passover Lamb as Gods appointed sacrifice.
Sacrifices of all kinds were made at the brazen altar. The priests were in constant action around
the clock. It was required at nightfall for Aaron and his sons to slay and burn an evening
sacrifice that God commanded to be left burning on the altar all night. They were to rise early
in the morning to wait for the last ashes of the sacrifice to fall through the brazen altars grate.
They usually fell at dawn. They were then to carry the ashes outside of the camp. Ancient
Hebrew history records when the last ash fell, the priests blew the trumpet and cried out IT
IS FINISHED! Remember what Jesus said regarding the law- He came to fulfill every jot and
tittle. Thus when He cried at Calvary- It Is Finished. He bowed His head and gave up his spirit.
(We must remember as a Royal Priesthood we must keep the fires burning. The resurrected
Lord shared the Word of God with the disciples on the road to Emmaus and they exclaimed: did
not our hearts burn within us?)
The sacrificial system God demanded of His people had the following purposes: there must
be a payment for sin and God had a payment plan. It was a plan that was NOT devised as an
afterthought- it was a plan agreed upon and set before the foundation of the earth was laid.
THE BRAZEN LAVER
There is one other article of furniture in the outer court and it was the brazen laver. It was
situated between the brazen altar and the entrance to the Tabernacle proper. It was made of
brass. In fact the brass came from the mirrors the women had received as gifts when they left
Egypt. Remember all the materials in the structure of the Tabernacle and the courtyard and
all the furnishings were supplied as a free will gift or offering from the people. And everything
they had was given to them by the Egyptians when they left Egypt. It was God who placed in
the heart of the Egyptians to give to the Israelites out of their own riches. So in essence, God
was asking the Israelites to give what He had already supplied them with. Everything we have is
from God and every good gift comes down for our Heavenly Father.
The Word of God is compared to a mirror and James warns us not to look in a mirror and the go
away forgetting what we look like. A mirror can also be something that represents vanity and
pride in appearance. To give up their mirrors was an act of dying to self and selfish pride. The
laver was filled with water and was for ceremonial cleansing by the priests before entering the
Holy Place. They were instructed to cleanse their hands and feet or else they would die.
The purpose and lesson is clear : before we can truly come before God for cleansing we must
examine our selves to see how we have sinned or erred. Your confession of sins must be
specific and an examination in the Word of God, the Mirror shows us the error of our ways.
The Word of God is also referred to as water. Listen to Jesus in John 15- where he tells his
disciples he is the vine and they are the branches and His Father is the Vine Dresser. He tells
them you are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
How do we stay cleansed? Psalm 119 tells us- thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not
sin against thee.
Jesus performed the role of the bondservant on that last night and took off his outer garments
and took the basin of water and begin to wash the feet of the disciples. An embarrassed Peter
said Lord do not cleanse my feet. To which Jesus replied, Unless I wash you, you have no part
of me. In other words you cannot enter into fellowship with me unless you are cleansed.
Peter replied then- wash me all over. Jesus answered : A person who has had a bath needs only
to wash his feet ; his whole body is clean. (John 13) The person who has been saved , need
not be saved again when they sin; however, when they sin to restore fellowship they need to
confess their sins. And when they do we are told: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins, and purify (cleanse) us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).
There we see it clearly in the outer court- there is blood required and there is water for
cleansing. Cleansing that comes after examining ones self in the mirror of Gods word.
Now look at the cross- we see the blood streaming down- poured out for us on the altar- a high
place of slaughter. Then see the water that comes from His side from the Roman spear. Blood
Therefore we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the BLOOD of Jesus, a new
WAY, opened for us through the curtain, (the veil) that is His body and since we have a
great High Priest over the House of God. Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full
assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled (with blood) to cleanse us of a guilty conscience
and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrew 10: 19-22.
Now are you beginning to see Gods pattern, His plan?