The Tabernacle and the Temple


The people of Israel have escaped Egypt, and are now wandering the desert. Moses and the people received three main types of laws. Some are moral laws, others are laws for their government, and they also receive a set of strict guidelines on how to atone for their sins. In these laws, we will discover quite a few set-ups that Jesus will later fulfill.

There are chapters and chapters on different rituals required for atonement, but effectively it went like this. If you sinned, you took an animal, often a lamb if you could afford it, to a priest.

The priest would then sacrifice it on your behalf. Your guilt, your sin, would be placed upon this innocent animal. The animal would take your place. So all throughout the books of the law we see these words, “the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.”

Let’s suppose you lived during the time of Israel. Could you make atonement for yourself, or did you require a priest to make atonement on your behalf? Well the laws given to Moses were very clear – you required a priest. You couldn’t do it on your own.

In 1 Samuel 13, there is a story about a King named Saul who chose to make a burnt offering instead of waiting for the priest to arrive. Saul gets in big trouble for this, in fact, he actually ends up losing his kingdom because of this act of disobedience.

So here’s another piece of set-up: In order to atone for our sins, we need a priest to intercede on our behalf.

Got another set-up for you: Not only did people need a priest to intercede on their behalf, but they also needed the tabernacle or temple. Just to clarify, the tabernacle and temple played the same role. Israel was on the move for many years wandering the desert and getting settled in the Promised Land, and so they used a tabernacle until they could build a permanent version, which was called the temple.

So they both played the same role, but at different times in history. Our sin separated mankind from God, but He designated the temple to be a unique place where His presence would actually meet with His people.

At the very center of the temple was a place called the Holy of Holies. It was here that God’s presence would reside. No human was allowed in this room. Except, one day each year, the High Priest could enter and make a sacrifice to cover the sins of all the people. He had to go through extensive rituals himself to ensure he was clean and covered before going in, because the place was so Holy.

Speaking of the temple, when Solomon actually built it, do you know where it was built? On a place called Mount Moriah. That name should sound familiar to you.

Abraham was sent to sacrifice Isaac on a mountain in a region called Moriah. These are the only two times in the Bible when Moriah is mentioned, so it’s very likely the same place. Again, not a coincidence. “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

All throughout Scripture, God is paving a way for his people to come back to him. And right now, we know that a sacrifice must be made to make atonement for sins. We know that a priest is required to intercede, or to go before God, on our behalf. We also know that the Temple is the place where God’s presence encounters God’s people.

But the temple, the sacrifices of lambs, the ceremony – this was not enough to wholly restore us to God. These sacrifices had to be made over and over again, but all of these rules and rituals are setting up the work of Jesus.

And in the next video, we will show how he does that. But first, there is a reading and activity to complete.