Section 1 - The Exodus from Egypt
Section 2 - The Covenant at Mount Sinai / The Giving of the Law
Section 3 - Instructions for the Building of the Tabernacle
We are currently reading about the detailed instructions given to Moses regarding the construction of the tabernacle tent and the elaborate furniture that would be placed inside. In order understand the purpose of the tabernacle, it might be helpful to review the overall history of God's relationship with his people, paritcularly how God has chosen to dwell among his people. (Here I will attempt to summarize thousands of years of salvation history in a few paragraphs....wish me luck!)
The Garden of Eden and the Fall
We know that God created humanity in his image and that we were created to be in relationship with God. We are told that Adam and Eve "walked with God" in the garden and were intimately connected to their creator. However, due to their disobedience, Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden and, therefore, their intimate fellowship with God was broken. The "fall" also resulted in fractured human relationships as well as turmoil within the created order. After the "fall" a significant theological quandry developed: How can a holy God dwell in the midst of a sinful and disobedient people?
The Tabernacle Tent
In God's great love and tender mercy, he instructed Moses and the people of Israel to construct a "tent of meeting" or a "tabernacle." This "tent of meeting" would serve as the gathering place for the people where they would offer sacrifices to God and be reminded of the covenant they had made. God would dwell in the midst of his people; however, there remained a veil of separation. God's presence would only dwell in the Most Holy Place (the "Holy of Holies") and only the High Priest would have access to God's presence on behalf of the people. The tabernacle tent was portable, since the people of Israel were still on their journey through the Sinai wilderness.
After several hundred years, the people of Israel were established in the Promised Land and were under the leadership of the great King David. God instructed David to build a house, a permanant dwelling place for God's presence. Although David was given the detailed plans for the Temple, it was David's son, Solomon, who would ultimately facilitate the contruction of the great Temple in the city of Jerusalem. The Temple was essentially a permanant version of the tabernacle that had been used during the exodus from Egypt.
I know this was a long post, but it important that we able to place our biblical reading within the context of the grand narrative of God's plan of salvation, through which we are restored, renewed, and reconciled to God.