Lesson 6 | Sabbath, 7 August 2021
“Through Christ was to be fulfilled the purpose of which the tabernacle was a symbol–that glorious building, its walls of glistening gold reflecting in rainbow hues the curtains inwrought with cherubim, the fragrance of ever-burning incense pervading all, the priests robed in spotless white, and in the deep mystery of the inner place, above the mercy seat, between the figures of the bowed, worshiping angels, the glory of the Holiest. In all, God desired His people to read His purpose for the human soul.”–The Faith I Live By, p. 192.
God’s dwelling place
1. Among other things, what did the Lord ask His people to do? What was His great purpose for the sanctuary?
Exodus 25:8; 29:45. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them….29:45And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
Revelation 21:3. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
“God directed that a tabernacle should be built, where the Israelites, during their wilderness-journeying, could worship Him. Orders from heaven were given that this tabernacle should be built without delay.” –(Review and Herald, October 28, 1902) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1108.
“In the building of the sanctuary as a dwelling place for God, Moses was directed to make all things according to the pattern of things in the heavens. God called him into the mount, and revealed to him the heavenly things, and in their similitude the tabernacle, with all that pertained to it, was fashioned.
“So to Israel, whom He desired to make His dwelling place, He revealed His glorious ideal of character. The pattern was shown them in the mount when the law was given from Sinai and when God passed by before Moses and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.’ Exodus 34:6.” –Education, p. 35.
2. Therefore, what is one of the most distinctive names given to the tabernacle and also later to the temple?
1 Samuel 1:24; 3:15. And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young….3:15And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision.
John 2:16. And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
“Henceforth the people were to be honored with the abiding presence of their King. ‘I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God,’‘and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory’ (Exodus 29:45, 43), was the assurance given to Moses. As the symbol of God’s authority and the embodiment of His will, there was delivered to Moses a copy of the Decalogue engraved by the finger of God Himself upon two tables of stone (Deuteronomy 9:10; Exodus 32:15, 16), to be sacredly enshrined in the sanctuary, which, when made, was to be the visible center of the nation’s worship.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 314.
“We shall talk of the loving faithfulness of God as the true, tender, compassionate shepherd of His flock, which He has declared that none shall pluck out of His hand. The language of the heart will not be selfish murmuring and repining. Praise, like clear-flowing streams, will come from God’s truly believing ones. ‘Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.’ Psalms 23:6; 73:24, 25.”–Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 367, 368.
The place of atonement and refuge
3. In every case, when an individual or the people sinned or committed errors, where could they find forgiveness and comfort? Therefore, what can we call this incomparable place?
Leviticus 4:27-29, 31. And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; 28Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned. 29And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering,…31And the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
“But this ideal they were, in themselves, powerless to attain. The revelation at Sinai could only impress them with their need and helplessness. Another lesson the tabernacle, through its service of sacrifice, was to teach–the lesson of pardon of sin, and power through the Saviour for obedience unto life.” –Education, p. 36.
“The tabernacle here mentioned was a temporary tent arranged for the worship of God. The tabernacle, the pattern of which God gave to Moses, had not yet been built.” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 287.
“‘He shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.’ An atonement was also to be made for the altar, to ‘cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.’ Leviticus 16:16, 19.” –The Great Controversy, p. 418.
4. While people could meet other people in various places, with whom could they meet in the sanctuary? What did every true believer feel when he entered the house of the Lord?
Exodus 33:7; 29:42, 43. And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp….29:42This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. 43And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.
Psalm 122:1. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.
“The tent was pitched without the encampment, but Moses called it ‘the tabernacle of the congregation.’ All who were truly penitent, and desired to return to the Lord, were directed to repair thither to confess their sins and seek His mercy….
“The Lord hearkened to his prayer, and directed him to summon seventy men of the elders of Israel–men not only advanced in years, but possessing dignity, sound judgment, and experience. ‘And bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation,’ He said, ‘that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.’” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 327, 380.
5. Whenever the people moved from one place to another, what was always placed in the center of the camp? In such cases, did the Levites camp wherever they preferred, or was there an exact place and order to respect? What does this teach us even today?
Numbers 1:50; 3:38, 23, 35, 29. But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle….3:38But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death….23The families of the Gershonites shall pitch behind the tabernacle westward….35And the chief of the house of the father of the families of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail: these shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle northward….29The families of the sons of Kohath shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle southward.
“Another remarkable exhibition to the nations round about was the perfect order observed in the camp of the Israelites. They could see the cloud hovering over the place where the tabernacle was to be pitched; they observed the priests and other appointed agencies going about their special work, each one doing the part assigned him in the work of preparing the camp for the night. No one did anything that someone else should do. Whoever would have tried to do another man’s work would have suffered the death penalty. Each one attended to his special duty. In the erecting of the tabernacle, part fitted to part, and the house of the Lord was set up with beautiful precision. Not a word was spoken, not an order given, excepting by the one in charge. No one was confused; everything was put together in accordance with the similitude shown to Moses in the mount.” –Lift Him Up, p. 145.
6. Besides the Levites, what did the congregation respect in reference to the tabernacle? Could every tribe choose its own place in the camp as it wished, or did each have a specified place in the encampment? What do we learn from such regulations?
Numbers 2:2, 3, 5, 7, 18, 20, 22. Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father’s house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch. 3And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be captain of the children of Judah…. 5And those that do pitch next unto him shall be the tribe of Issachar: and Nethaneel the son of Zuar shall be captain of the children of Issachar,…7Then the tribe of Zebulun: and Eliab the son of Helon shall be captain of the children of Zebulun….18On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their armies: and the captain of the sons of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud…. 20And by him shall be the tribe of Manasseh: and the captain of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur….22Then the tribe of Benjamin: and the captain of the sons of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni.
“Everything connected with the pitching of the camp was an object lesson to the children, schooling them in habits of precision and carefulness and order. The children that were old enough were required to learn how to pitch the tents in which they lived, and to observe perfect order in all that they did…. Constantly they were obtaining an education in regard to heavenly things. Constantly the parents were explaining to their children why the Israelites were traveling in the wilderness; why the law was given at Sinai; and what they expected to do and to be when they reached the Land of Promise.” –Lift Him Up, p. 145.
“The position of each tribe also was specified. Each was to march and to encamp beside its own standard, as the Lord had commanded: ‘Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father’s house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.’‘As they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards.’ Numbers 2:2, 17. The mixed multitude that had accompanied Israel from Egypt were not permitted to occupy the same quarters with the tribes, but were to abide upon the outskirts of the camp; and their offspring were to be excluded from the community until the third generation. Deuteronomy 23:7, 8.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 375.
God’s continual presence
7. What happened when the tabernacle was dedicated? Day and night, what was the visible sign of God’s presence in the tabernacle?
Exodus 40:34-38. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.36And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:37But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. 38For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
“God commanded Moses for Israel, ‘Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them’ (Exodus 25:8), and He abode in the sanctuary, in the midst of His people. Through all their weary wandering in the desert, the symbol of His presence was with them. So Christ set up His tabernacle in the midst of our human encampment. He pitched His tent by the side of the tents of men, that He might dwell among us, and make us familiar with His divine character and life. ‘The Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the Only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.’ John 1:14, R.V., margin.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 23, 24.
For additional study
“Through Christ was to be fulfilled the purpose of which the tabernacle was a symbol–that glorious building, its walls of glistening gold reflecting in rainbow hues the curtains inwrought with cherubim, the fragrance of ever-burning incense pervading all, the priests robed in spotless white, and in the deep mystery of the inner place, above the mercy seat, between the figures of the bowed, worshiping angels, the glory of the Holiest. In all, God desired His people to read His purpose for the human soul. It was the same purpose long afterward set forth by the apostle Paul, speaking by the Holy Spirit:…” –Education, p. 36.