Teaching has its moments. On Sunday, a young lad was captivated by a model made of grey plastic which was placed on a table before him. Rectangular in dimension, it covered a space no bigger than the length and width of a small floor mat. The kit included several miniature parts resembling tables and ancient altars quite common to the Old Testament period. The furniture pieces of the tabernacle were mostly yellow and brown in colour, only the miniature priestly figures were entirely white. Usually, not something that would excite most kids today. Yet, forty minutes of unabridged talk about the significance of each piece and its relation to the Old Testament offering system had passed, and the student seemed to soak it all in.
When asked about the elevated mound under which the bronze altar rested on the answer came back in a heartbeat, “so that all the Hebrews could see it.” The sins of the people were dealt with on this seven and a half foot raised altar where animal sacrifices were made for and viewed by those gathered outside of the entrance of the tabernacle area. And on and on it went. Sacrifice after sacrifice, thousands upon thousands have been estimated that spanned several decades during their long wilderness journey.
Next was the bronze basin. A large copper bowl filled with water where the Levites would wash the dirt from off their feet, hands, and body; filth that had collected while outside of the fenced area of the tabernacle. This symbolized the pollutants that comes from being in the world. To be rid of these pollutants, spiritually speaking, it is necessary for us to be cleaned by the washing action of God’s Word. Moving deeper into the courtyard you come face to face with a small rectangular structure.
At this point, leaning ever forward my pupil is taking great care to place the remaining tabernacle pieces inside this rectangle tent like structure, shaped from a few dozen post and covered by material. In real life, this exclusive area was called the holy place or inner court. A thick curtain stretched across the front entrance, where inside was kept a gold candlestick, a table with loaves with manna on it, and an altar of incense where prayers were offered up to God. Then, another thick curtain and just beyond that, a smaller second compartment.
It was here that the ark of the covenant rested. This special place was named the Holy of Holies, and was where the High Priest entered into to make atonement once a year. Outside and high overhead of this structure, resided either a cloud during the day or fire by night to direct His people from place to place through the wilderness. When asked about what was in the ark itself, the Sunday School student correctly replied: a pot of manna, the rod of Aaron, and the ten commandments, all testimonials of God`s considerable care and oversight.
At the close of the session, this simple but effective teaching facsimile for the tabernacle was taken apart and put away. In a previous era, the real tabernacle would be dismantled piece by piece each time the nation of Israel moved from one location to the other on their way through the desert to the promised land. The tabernacle was a constant reminder of God’s presence in their midst and the way sinful men were to approach Him. This same God is in our midst today. But no longer is there any need for a physical pattern, since His Holy Spirit is in His Church and dwells within each Christian today where He works His divine plan and teaches us personally. External evidences are not required as before since the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God`s children Romans 8:16. He tabernacles or dwells inside each of us in the New Testament period. Clearly an endearing truth for all ages.