It seems important to God to have a place set apart, made holy, to keep His covenant words that He gave Israel etched by the finger of God.
The gold box had a cover called the mercy seat and two angels facing each other. The items used in worshiping God–including the table, lampstand, and mercy seat–were made from acacia wood and overlaid with gold.
The table was to place the bread of the presence, in a very real way reminding Israel of God’s presence among them. They certainly could not escape in the future when God would feed them manna, that God is their continual Provider.
Twelve loaves of bread were made, one for each tribe, reminding Israel of God’s provision for each tribe.
The lampstand is easiest to visualize because we’ve more recently seen it in modern Jewish life during Hanukkah celebrations. The seven branches of the lampstand were meant to be like buds of almond and represented God’s light and fire He had so often provided as guidance, and this would light the Holy Room.
Here in chapters 25 and 26, Yahweh describes what the first Holy Room should look like. A tent called the Tabernacle would be where Israel worshiped until Solomon built the first Temple many years later. In case you wondered, yes, the Tabernacle is the first form and served the same function as the Temple.
At this point, it’s easy to glaze over and wonder why you are being subjected to reading about dimensions and components of the ornate tent called the Tabernacle. Here’s another way to think about this: God cares about details of worship and does not want His people to descend into mimicking pagan cultic practices.
Detailed designs show God’s attention to giving Israel a well-designed, God-designed place for His presence to graciously dwell with Israel.
Look at the painting above. This painting hung in my office many years because it’s one of my favorite ways to imagine God dwelling in the center of the Israelite tribes. God’s Holy Spirit has led our church to a mission that this painting symbolizes: God in the center of life. Our mission is to invite all people into Christ centered life. God has always been and will always be at the center of the universe, the center of human life. God interjects Himself for the sake of humanity in the middle of our world.
Dear God, thank you for coming to dwell among us, in the center of the camp. Would you help us as a community to dwell with you in the middle and learn to be good tent-mates as we dwell in this human tent of our bodies and lives.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg’s wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.