When God called His people out of Egypt and they began to wander in the wilderness, He wanted them to focus on worshipping Him, so He instructed Moses to establish a place for this worship to occur-the Tabernacle. This tent of meeting established two things: it noted the presence of God among His people, and it was the means by which a sinful man could approach a holy God.
By exploring each element of the Old Testament tabernacle, which later was replaced by the temple in Jerusalem, we will see a biblical model that can transform our modern worship, both corporately as the church, and personally, as we each are God’s temple. Through this study of the tabernacle, we will discover answers to the questions we have about worship, what it is, who it is for, what it accomplishes, and how we do it. We will learn that we are all priests, and priests are meant to worship God and to help other people worship God.
We also will see how the tabernacle and all of the elements of it were a foreshadowing of Christ, as Jesus made a way for unholy people like us to dwell in the presence of a perfect and holy God, and our response to that is worship. Worship is a posture of our hearts that informs every action of our lives. When love for God is the motivation of our hearts, everything we do becomes worship, and as a result, we carry His love to a dark, hurting world helping people to meet with Him.
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God wanted Moses and the priests to build a tabernacle because He wanted to be near His people; the story of the tabernacle is the story of access. God gave every detail of how that tabernacle or tent should be constructed, and each aspect meant something. The tabernacle is designed to teach the world protocol for worshiping the Lord. God ordained the Levites to be His priests, and the priests were to be the stewards of the tabernacle. The priest’s job was to set up the place where God and people came together to meet. Since we all have been declared priests, it is our duty and responsibility to worship God in a worthy manner and to make God known to the world. Worship means demonstrating value or worth and involves sacrifice. Our worship shows the world that we have a Savior worth loving and worth living for.
Day 1 Exodus 25:1-9
Reflect: In what manner were the Israelites to bring the materials for the tabernacle? Why do you think it was important that it be made exactly like God said?
Apply: What do you freely offer to God as an act of worship?
Pray: Lord, make me a true worshiper. Teach me to worship You with my whole heart as You deserve and desire.
Day 2 Exodus 29:44-46
Reflect: Why did God want Moses to build a tabernacle? Who built it? Why was consecration of the tent and the priests necessary?
Apply: How do consecration and relationship with God go together? What is our role in this process?
Pray: Lord, help me to live a consecrated life of holiness in love and service to You.
Day 3 Exodus 36:1-7
Reflect: How did the people respond to Moses’ request for material offerings for God’s sanctuary? What does this reveal?
Apply: What things do you freely offer God? What does this reveal about your relationship with the Lord?
Pray: Lord, tell me how, where and to whom I can share the things You freely give me.
Day 4 Exodus 19:1-8
Reflect: What did God say He would do for the Israelites? What would it take for this to happen? How did the people respond?
Apply: How are you impacted by remembering God’s promises and what He has done in your life?
Pray: Lord, thank you for revealing Yourself to me through Your Word, through Your Son Jesus and through Your mighty works upon the earth and in my life.
Day 5 1 Peter 2:1-10
Reflect: According to this passage, what are the duties of a priest?
Apply: How have you, as a priest, fulfilled these duties?
Pray: Lord, thank You for choosing me to be Yours. I have worth, not because of what I do, but because of who You are.
Before the people could enter the courtyard of the tabernacle, they had to go through the gate, and there was only one gate. It was 30-feet wide and it 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, which stood out against the white linen fence that went around the entire courtyard. This one and only gate is a representation of Christ as the only way through which one could fellowship with God and worship Him. If we claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our hearts should reflect His Lordship, and from our hearts our words and actions will declare our praise and worship.
Day 1 Exodus 27:9-19; Leviticus 8:1-4
Reflect: Why do you think God described how to make the entrance to the courtyard of the tabernacle? How do you think the people felt as they gathered there?
Apply: What goes through your mind as you prepare to enter into worshipping the Lord?
Pray: All honor and majesty, strength and glory, holiness and righteousness are Yours,
Day 2 Psalm 100:1-4
Reflect: How were God’s people to enter the gate? Why?
Apply: As you come before the Lord, what does your grateful praise sound like?
Pray: Read Psalm 100 aloud as a prayer of praise and worship.
Day 3 Psalm 135:1-4
Reflect: What reasons are given here for praising the Lord?
Apply: How has the Lord been good to you? What comes to mind when you consider that you are His treasured possession?
Pray: Lord, You are a good Father. How great is Your goodness to those who trust
and fear You.
Day 4 John 10:7-9; 14:6
Reflect: What descriptions did Jesus give about Himself in these passages? What does
Jesus provide for His flock?
Apply: In what ways do you experience the loving security and protection of Jesus?
Pray: Good Shepherd, thank You that You came to give us abundant life on earth
and for eternity.
Day 5 Isaiah 29:13
Reflect: How would you paraphrase this passage?
Apply: How do you feel when you receive empty praise? When have you paid “lip service” to the Lord? How do you go about syncing your heart with your praise? Pray: Lord, fill my heart with such great knowledge of You that praising You becomes like the air I breathe. In Your presence I will find everything I need.
The altar would be the first thing a person would see when coming through the gate. All worshipers brought their sacrifices to the tabernacle and after they transferred their sins to the animal, it was killed and its blood poured out at the foot of the altar. After praise, the first step into God’s sanctuary is the step of sacrifice. Access to God is impossible without a blood sacrifice.
Between the altar of sacrifice and the Holy Place of the tabernacle we find the bronze basin. It was here that the priests washed their hands and feet before entering into and coming out of the Holy Place. For us the water in the basin speaks of Jesus, the living Word of God that changes us and gives us eternal life. The basin is the continual washing and the daily cleansing that comes from the ministry of the Word of God in our lives.
Day 1 Exodus 27:1-8; Leviticus 1:1-9
Reflect: Where was the animal offering to be presented? What did the people have to do first before slaughtering the animal sacrifice? For what was the sacrifice?
Apply: When approaching God, what are the first two steps for us as represented by the gate and the altar? Why do you think this order is important?
Pray: Jesus, I give you thanks and praise for being the perfect and acceptable sacrifice for the forgiveness of my sin.
Day 2 Romans 12:1
Reflect: For what reason should we sacrificially offer ourselves to the Lord? What is the act
Apply: In what ways do you offer yourself to God to please Him? What sacrifices have you made for God? What motivated you to do so? Put today’s verse to memory.
Pray: Lord, show me the contrast in the way I think, speak and act compared to how You thought, spoke and acted when You were on this earth. Help me be more like You!
Day 3 Psalm 51:16-19
Reflect: Why would God not delight or accept a sacrifice or burnt offering? What is more important to God?
Apply: Why is our attitude and motivation for worshiping God so important? When have you experienced a broken and contrite heart? How did it affect your worship?
Pray: Spend time in prayerful inventory and confession, asking God to give you a broken and contrite spirit for the things that break His heart. Thank Him for His forgiveness.
Day 4 Exodus 30:17-21
Reflect: Where was the basin positioned in relation to the other items? Why was it necessary? How often did the priests need to wash?
Apply: The altar takes care of payment for sin. What do you think the washing symbolizes?
Pray: Lord, help me separate myself from anything that is not holy—I don’t want to waste myself on things that have no value.
Day 5 Ephesians 5:25-27
Reflect: What reason is given for Christ’s offering of Himself for the church? How does the cleansing occur and what is the result?
Apply: How have you experienced being cleansed through the Word of God? Is there an
area in your life that needs to be cleansed today?
Pray: Lord, thank You for the daily cleansing of Your Word that purifies and empowers me to grow more Christ like.
When the priest entered the Holy Place he was entering the tabernacle structure, which was the main feature in the complex. The priest had at his right hand the table of showbread, which is from the Hebrew word meaning “bread of face,” or also referred to as the table of the presence. The purpose of the golden table was to hold 12 cakes of bread made of fine flour, representing the tribes of Israel. The Old Testament showbread placed on the table in the tabernacle provides a wonderful picture of Jesus, the Bread of Life. It is impossible to consider the table of showbread without thinking of Holy Communion. While we celebrate the Sacrament of Communion as a powerful aspect of corporate worship, it is meant to be more than that; it is a way of living. It is entering into communion and intimacy with the Lord, joining our lives to Christ’s life.
Day 1 Exodus 25:23-30
Reflect: What was to go on the table? What is the significance of the name of the bread?
Apply: What evidence do you have of the perpetual presence of the Lord in your life?
Pray: Lord, fill me afresh with Your presence and keep me mindful of Your Spirit at work in me today.
Day 2 Leviticus 24:5-9; Exodus 26:35
Reflect: Where was the table placed? How often was the bread set out and when?
Apply: The area behind the first curtain of the tabernacle was the Holy Place; this is where the table of showbread was found. What does this say about the bread?
Pray: Father, I’m overwhelmed by your open invitation to enter into Your presence, to come to Your table and to dine with You.
Day 3 John 6:51-59
Reflect: What is the difference between the manna and the bread of which Jesus speaks? How would you explain to someone what it means to eat Jesus’ flesh and to drink His blood?
Apply: Do you hunger for more of Jesus? How will you satisfy that hunger?
Pray: I’m not satisfied with mere spiritual morsels. I’m hungry for You in Your fullness and desperate to feast on the bread of Your presence.
Day 4 Matthew 26:26-28
Reflect: How does Jesus’ blood fulfill the old covenant and usher in the new covenant?
Apply: When the church partakes in the elements of bread and juice, it is called Holy Communion. Describe what this means in your own words.
Pray: Jesus, I bow before You in grateful remembrance with a heart full of humble gratitude of what You did for me on the cross.
Day 5 Revelation 3:20
Reflect: What is the significance of the door? Is this verse a call to salvation or fellowship? Why?
Apply: Imagine Jesus saying, I want to come into your life and dine with you, and you with Me. What feelings does this stir in you? Make a plan to commune with Him daily as an act of worship.
Pray: Holy Lord and Savior, I know You long to share your presence and fellowship with me. I ask you to come into my heart and fill my day with your presence, comfort, and power.
When the priest entered into the Holy Place, the table of showbread was immediately to the right, and to the left was the golden lampstand. It was the only light in the Holy Place and it was situated next to the table so that the light fell onto it. The priests were to keep it filled with oil and lit at all times; it was never to stop shining. This was a constant reminder that God was with His people. The lampstand being the only source of light points directly to Christ as being the Light of the World. Jesus is the true light that gives light to everyone. He is the only way anyone can come to the Father.
Day 1 Exodus 25:31-40
Reflect: Of what is the lampstand made? What do you think is the significance of the design: buds, flowers, branches?
Apply: God commanded Israel to use the finest materials in His presence. How are you giving your best to the Lord?
Pray: Lord, help me to give my very best to You in all that I do today.
Day 2 Exodus 27:20-21; Leviticus 24:1-4
Reflect: What was used to fuel the lamps? How long were the lamps to burn? What does the lamp’s light illuminate?
Apply: What one way can you “fuel your lamp” to reflect God’s powerful light in your life?
Pray: Jesus, shine Your light through me to draw people to You.
Day 3 Zechariah 4:1-6
Reflect: What did God show Zechariah? What do the lamp and the trees represent?
Apply: At this moment, in what areas of your life do you long for the very presence and
power of God’s Spirit?
Pray: Lord, open my eyes to the glory and blessing that You bring into my life.
Day 4 John 8:12
Reflect: What does Jesus mean by light and darkness?
Apply: Reflect on a situation in you life when Jesus dispelled the darkness and filled it with His light.
Pray: Jesus, teach me to look to You to be my treasure in darkness. Shine Your light into any area of my life where I am not obedient to Your ways.
Day 5 Matthew 5:14-16
Reflect: Why does Jesus describe His followers as light to the world?
Apply: How do you intentionally shine the light of God’s holiness and grace to others?
Pray: Lord, thank You for being the light within us so we can shine brightly for the world around us.
The Altar of Incense was square in shape, made from acacia wood and had horns of gold on the corners of the top rim. Once a year, the blood of the atonement sacrifice was applied to these horns. The priests were instructed to make a special kind of incense to be burned on the altar. The fragrance was designed to be only for God; it was sacred. It is here God promised to meet and speak with His people. This is a beautiful picture of worship, showing that worship is to be a unique, separated, sanctified, holy act that arises out of a person's heart to the very nostrils of God. The Altar of Incense represents the burning fervent prayers of the people of God. Intercessory prayer is really an expression of worship.
Day 1 Exodus 30:1-9
Reflect: Where was the altar to be placed? What did God say would happen there?
Apply: Why do you think it was important that the altar be used only for incense?
Pray: Lord, You say my prayers are fragrant incense to You. Make prayer a vital
part of my day.
Day 2 Exodus 30:34-38; Leviticus 16:12-13
Reflect: Why do you think God wanted a unique incense? What did the incense do for the priests?
Apply: What do you think the people felt when they smelled the incense?
How has your sense of smell influenced you?
Pray: Lord, help me be the fragrance of Christ to those I have contact with today.
Day 3 Psalm 141:1-2; Revelation 8:3-4
Reflect: To what does David compare incense? What does he say his lifted hands represent? In John’s vision, what did the angel offer up to God?
Apply: Smoke protected the Hebrew priests. How does intercession protect us as priests? How is prayer an act of worship? What would change if you considered meeting with God in prayer as worship?
Pray: Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.
Day 4 Numbers 6:22-27; 2 Chronicles 30:27
Reflect: What did God instruct Aaron and his sons to do in their role as priests?
Apply: How have you been impacted by the prayers of others?
Pray: Spend time thanking God for the faithfulness of those who pray for you.
Day 5 Hebrews 7:23-25; Romans 8:34
Reflect: What role is Jesus described as having in Hebrews 7? What do both passages say that Jesus does for us? How does this truth impact your heart and your faith? What do you think Jesus is praying for you now?
Apply: As a priest, how has your role of intercessor for others been effective?
Pray: Who is God telling you to pray for right now? Pray for them.
Behind the Holy Place, separated by a veil or curtain, was the Most Holy place. The veil was made of blue, purple and scarlet fine woven linen; it was not flimsy, but more like a thick blanket. Right behind the curtain was the Ark of the Covenant. The ark represents the glory of God on earth—the throne of God among His people. Everywhere the ark went, the glory of God went. When Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice for our sins, the veil in front of the ark was torn in two; He made a way for us to enter into the throne room of our Father. Our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. Whatever we do and wherever we go, He is in us; we take Him with us.
Day 1 Exodus 26:31-34; Exodus 40:3-5
Reflect: Where was the curtain to be hung? What was the purpose of the curtain or veil?
Apply: What barrier keeps you from being in God’s holy presence?
Pray: Lord, I need Your holiness to penetrate my life. Make me into a holy person who is separate from anything that would separate me from You.
Day 2 Exodus 25:10-22; Numbers 7:89
Reflect: What do you think the Ark of the Covenant represents? What was in the ark? How did God say the ark was to be carried and by whom? Where did God meet and talk with Moses? Why is that significant?
Apply: When was the last time you had an encounter with the One who dwells between the cherubim?
Pray: Lord, I know that nothing in this world can do for me what You do. I want to know Your presence in my life in a new and powerful way.
Day 3 2 Samuel 6:1-23
Reflect: How did the people first attempt to transport the ark? What was the result? How did the people respond to the ark coming into the city?
Apply: How does your response to encountering the presence of God in worship compare to David’s? What steps can you take to experience unrestrained worship?
Pray: Lord, I know that when I worship You, it is the closest I can be to You this side
of heaven. I praise You with all that I am.
Day 4 Luke 23:44-46
Reflect: What is the significance of the curtain being torn when Jesus died?
Apply: We now have access to the throne room of the Lord. Based on the what you’ve learned about the tabernacle, how should you approach the King?
Pray: Lord, thank You that You have chosen to be with Your people. I draw close to
You this day.
Day 5 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:1-20
Reflect: What does Paul say that our bodies represent? Why?
Apply: How are you making your heart a seat of honor for the glory of God? How are you living so that others see the glory of God and are drawn to worship Him, too?
Pray: Lord, I pray that my light will so shine before others that they will see it and glorify You.