God’s presence is always with us and always has been. His desire is to have relationship with us therefore He has made Himself available different ways throughout history. One of the ways He made His presence available to us is through the building of the tabernacle.
The tabernacle, which can also be described as the “tent of meeting,” is the residence or dwelling place of the presence of God. After being rescued from Egypt, the Israelites needed guidance as they wandered in the desert to reach the Promised Land, so God created the tabernacle where He could meet with His people.
“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” Exodus 25:8-9
The Tabernacle became a dwelling place of God on earth, the center of all worship and a covenant between God and man. The covenant was a promise that God would make a way for us to have relationship with Him. Although most could not meet with Him directly, He had chosen people who would serve as priests to enter into the tabernacle and intercede for the people of Israel. The people could receive provision and revelation from God’s word and also receive atonement for their sins. This covenant however did not come without a cost, it required something in return. It required a sacrifice.
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them: ‘If any of you—whether an Israelite or a foreigner residing in Israel—presents a gift for a burnt offering to the LORD, either to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering, you must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or goats in order that it may be accepted on your behalf. Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf.” Leviticus 22:18-20
This burnt offering to the Lord redeemed of their sins and their bondage to sin and allowed the people to have relationship with God. However, this sacrifice was only a temporary solution to the separation that sin made between man and God. Without God’s presence always dwelling among them, the people were tempted and easily fell into sin. God still wanted relationship even though sin caused a separation between Him and His people. An intercessor, a mediator was needed to keep this relationship. One who had been chosen for this role was Moses, one of the few who was know to have a face to face relationship with God.
“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” Exodus 33:7-11
The tabernacle allowed the people to be sanctified for their sins and receive blessing and guidance from God. All who wanted to be in the presence of the Lord went to the entrance of the tabernacle and worshiped as Moses spoke face to face to God. God made a way to manifest His presence to the people even though it required sacrifice and a mediator. It was God’s promise to never leave them or forsake them and He demonstrates this promise as He revealed His presence in the tabernacle.