The True Tabernacle

Norman E. Sewell

As you study the Scriptures you find types and antitypes; statements and things in the Old Testament that point to the New Testament.  One of those things is the Tabernacle.  After Israel had come out of Egyptian slavery they came to Mt. Sinai.  There God gave them the law, and instructed Moses to build the Tabernacle, and to do so following a specific pattern:  “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it” (Exodus 25:8-9). They did in fact build it as God directed (Exodus 40:17-18) and it became the center of their worship, located in the center of their camp, and the place where God symbolically dwelled among them.  However, we find in the New Testament that the tabernacle also pointed to something else.  As the writer of Hebrews put it, “9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which can not make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:9-10).  The tabernacle was a physical structure, and yet it was symbolic of something present when Hebrews was written.  It was further a “copy and shadow” of that which came through Jesus (Hebrews 8:5).

The tabernacle was the type, now we come to the antitype; the church.  Again in the letter to the Hebrews we read:  “

1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1-2).  That which Jesus built was the true tabernacle.  What did the Lord erect or build?  After Peter confessed that Jesus was in fact the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus promised to build His church on that truth (Matthew 16:18). While the tabernacle was physical, the church was not.  Instead it was called His body with Jesus as the head (Ephesians 1:22-23), and the Savior (Ephesians 5:23).  When you see both the type and the antitype you understand that the church was not a substitute or an accident, but part of God’s eternal plan and purpose (Ephesians 3:10-11).

The word for church comes from the Greek word “ekklesia”  and refers to those who are the “called out.”  God calls us by His gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14); to come out of darkness (sin) (I Peter 2:9), and those who believe and obey (the saved) He adds to His church (Acts 2:47).  While there are many churches built by men on human designs, wouldn't you truly rather be just a Christian and a part of the church which Jesus built, the true tabernacle?