Teaching the tabernacle is one of my favorite things to do! It is such a perfect picture of Jesus and His sacrifice for mankind. Use the lesson below to build the tabernacle and explain to children how the different parts explain Jesus.
Materials: Pictures of the tabernacle and each piece of furniture (click on links in post); as you discuss each part of the tabernacle, “build” it on the board in front of the children. See a picture of the tabernacle HERE.
- the students will become familiar with the terms and looks of the Hebrew tabernacle
- the students will discover that the tabernacle is a picture of God’s relationship with humanity and Jesus
Moses received the directions for building the tabernacle when he went up to Mt. Sinai. God gave specific instructions and expected obedience. Moses did as he was told and the tabernacle was created and used for hundreds of years until Solomon build the first temple.
In Genesis, we learn that God created man to commune with Him. God “walked” with Adam in the garden. When Adam and Eve fell to sin, that relationship was broken. The purpose (Exodus 25:8) of the tabernacle was for God to dwell among His people once more. The tabernacle was a tent that moved with the people as they traveled the 40 years in the desert and as they took the land. God really did travel and dwell with His people.
It’s interesting. In the scriptures there are 3 chapters dedicated to the creation of the world; yet there are 50 chapters, in Exodus and Hebrews, dedicated to the tabernacle.
The Colors of the Tabernacle:
BLUE – is the color of the sky reminding the people that the tabernacle came from God who is in heaven
PURPLE – is the most valued color during the times of the scriptures and signifies royalty
SCARLET – reminds the people of bloodshed, pain, and sacrifice
WHITE LINEN – is the color of purity, holiness, and perfection
The Gate of the Tabernacle:
There was a fence of sorts around the tabernacle and the gate was to always face the east. The sun rises from the east which allowed the first light of the day to shine on the front curtains of the Holy Place of the tabernacle. In Isaiah 41:1-4, it is written that Jesus comes from the east.
The Altar of Sacrifice:
The Priest would put his hands on the animal being sacrificed and pray for all the sins of the people to be placed upon the animal. The altar was shaped like a cube with a horn on each top corner. The horns were used to tie down the sacrifice. The blood of the sacrifice would pour down the sides of the altar as the animal burned. Remember the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac? A ram was found, caught in the thicket by its horns. Jesus is described as the “horn of our salvation.”
When the tabernacle was completely built, it was dedicated to the Lord. God sent fire from heaven to the altar of sacrifice. (Leviticus 9:23-24) One of the jobs of the priests was to never let the fire burn out.
The Brazen Laver:
This was a small pool of water the priests used to wash themselves before entering the Holy Place. They were to wash their hands and feet. If they were not properly washed and prepared, then they would die. Throughout the scripture there are verses that refer to our hands needing to be clean before the Lord. (Psalm 24:3-6) Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. (John 13:1-17)
Before the priests could enter into the presence of the Lord, they had to be washed clean, just as we must have our sins washed away in order to stand before the Lord. (Isaiah 6:6-7) If we choose to not be washed in the blood of Jesus, or atoned, then we will die and be eternally separated from God in hell.
The curtain was made of blue, purple and scarlet material. It veiled the beauty of the inside of the tabernacle. Once inside, the priest would see a tent of white linen that had gold cherubim(winged angels) embroidered into the material. This symbolizes the throne room of God and the angles that surround the Lord.
Now we have entered into the Holy Place. To the left was the lampstand. It was the only source of light in the tabernacle. It was to burn continuously. Jesus called His followers the “light of the world.” We are to always make our light shine in the darkness of the sin in this world. (Matthew 5:14-16)
Table of Shewbread:
Fresh bread was baked weekly and every Sabbath new bread would be placed onto the table, which is on the right side of the room. The priests then ate the bread that had been replaced. There were 12 loaves. Jesus was called the “Bread of Life.” Just like the smell of fresh bread permeates a room, so should the “fragrance” of a Christian. People should be able to tell we are there, and that we have something wonderful to offer them.
Altar of Incense:
The priests were to burn incense each morning and evening. The rising smoke of the burnt incense symbolized the prayers and worship of God’s people. As the smoke floats toward heaven, so do the prayers that are offered with pure hands and hearts.
This was another curtain of blue, purple and scarlet that blocked off the Holy of Holies from the rest of the tabernacle. This huge curtain had cherubim in the material. Angels in scripture are depicted as guards (Genesis 3:23-24) and/or messengers praising God (Luke 2:8-14). Perhaps the angels on the curtains were to guard God’s dwelling place and send a message to God’s people about who He is. When Jesus died, this was the veil that ripped from the top to the bottom allowing all people access to the Holy of Holies through the blood of Christ.
The Ark of the Covenant (Testimony):
Only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, and then, only once per year. Inside the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant. (Exodus 25:22) God’s Mercy Seat was on top of the ark with two cherubim facing inward. This is where God’s glory would dwell. Hebrews 10:19-22 tells us that Jesus is our High Priest. He is the One who has access to God. And Hebrews 9:5 calls Jesus the Mercy Seat. It is through the blood of Jesus, as the ultimate sacrifice, that allows us access to the Holy of Holies. When Jesus died, the veil ripped from the top to the bottom. At that point, anyone who believed on the Lord Jesus would be saved.
Anyone who comes to the Lord, washed and purified by the blood of Christ, will be given access to the Holy of Holies. And the amazing thing is this…God wants to dwell WITH YOU IN YOUR HEART!!! He wants to travel with you day and night. He wants to be a part of everything you do. Oh how the mercy of God is GOOD!
Resources: A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place by Beth Moore