Christ’s Work Displayed Through the Tent of Meeting

Explore the deep symbolism of the Tabernacle and its embodiment of Christ's redemptive work. This piece delves into the divine narrative, inviting a profound appreciation for the Old Testament's foreshadowing of Jesus's ultimate sacrifice.


Justin Hoke

2/27/20247 min read


All through the biblical narratives and divine ordinances, the Tabernacle stands out as a profound emblem of God's indwelling presence among His chosen people, Israel. This Tent of Meeting, as it is aptly named, is not merely an ancient relic of religious history but a vibrant display of the grandeur of God’s redemptive plan. As we explore the meaning enshrined within its structure and rituals, we discover profound imagery, which prefigures the person and work of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

For many Christians, including myself, the Tabernacle serves as a reminder of the continuity and depth of God’s revelation throughout Scripture. From the elaborate details of its design to the sacred rites performed within its walls, each element invites us to explore the glory of divine holiness, the gravity of human sin, and the boundless grace offered in Christ. It is my hope, in this study, that we will not only deepens our understanding of the Old Testament but also amplify our appreciation for the supreme manifestation of God's love, namely the person of our adorable Lord Jesus.

The Structure of the Tabernacle and Its Symbolism

The Tabernacle, as instructed by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, was more than a mere dwelling place; it was a divine masterpiece, perfectly designed to house God's presence with His people during their sojourn from Egypt to the Promised Land. Its portable nature symbolized God's unwavering commitment to guide and dwell among the Israelites, irrespective of their physical location.

The Outer Court

Entering the Tabernacle's areas, we first encounter the outer court, home to the altar of burnt offering and the bronze laver. The altar, where sacrifices were made, symbolizing Christ's ultimate sacrifice on the cross for our sins. This act of atonement, prefigured in the unblemished offerings of the Old Covenant, finds its fulfillment in Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Adjacent to the altar stood the bronze laver, used by priests for ceremonial washing. This vessel symbolizes the purification from sin, a symbolic representation of the cleansing we receive through faith in Christ’s atoning work.

The Holy Place

As we venture further into the Tabernacle, we arrive at the Holy Place, a chamber containing three crucial elements: the table of showbread, the golden lampstand, and the altar of incense. The showbread, continually present and renewed, signifies Jesus as the Bread of Life, sustaining believers with spiritual nourishment. The golden lampstand, with its perpetual light, represents Christ as the Light of the World, piercing the darkness of sin and guiding the faithful along the narrow path to the celestial city. Lastly, the altar of incense, with its ascending smoke, symbolizes the prayers of the saints and Christ's intercessory role, standing before God on behalf of His beloved people.

The Most Holy Place

At the heart of the Tabernacle lies the Most Holy Place (The holy of holies), a sacred chamber housing the Ark of the Covenant, covered by the mercy seat and flanked by cherubim. This inner sanctum, where God's presence was most intensely manifested, was accessible only to the high priest once a year on the Day of Atonement. This solemn occasion underscored the holiness of God, the seriousness of sin, and the indispensable need for atonement. The Most Holy Place foreshadows the redemptive work of Christ, who, as our High Priest, entered once and for all into the heavenly Holy of Holies, offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice to secure our eternal redemption.

The Tabernacle's structure and symbolism intricately weave a narrative of redemptive history, pointing Christians toward a deeper understanding of the outworking of God's Covenant of Grace. As we reflect on these elements, we are invited to marvel at the beauty of God’s plan, a plan that finds its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the true Tabernacle in whom the fullness of God is pleased to dwell.

Theological Significance of the Tabernacle

The Tabernacle not only served as a tangible expression of God’s presence among His people but also as a profound illustration of His plan for reconciliation through substitutionary atonement. This structure, with its intricate design and sacrificial system, prefigures the coming of Jesus Christ, who is described in the New Testament as making His dwelling among us (John 1:14). This imagery of "tabernacling" highlights Christ as the ultimate fulfillment of the Old Testament symbols, embodying the perfect sacrifice, serving as the everlasting High Priest, and mediating a new covenant between God and humanity.

For Christians, the Tabernacle is a rich source of reflection on the nature of God’s holiness, the severity of sin, and the matchless beauty of grace. It teaches us about the necessity of a mediator between a holy God and sinful men, a role perfectly fulfilled by Christ. Through Him, the requirements of the law and the rituals of the Tabernacle find their ultimate expression and fulfillment. The study of the Tabernacle, therefore, not only enhances our understanding of the Old Testament but also magnifies our gratitude for the cross, illustrating the depth of God’s love and the seriousness with which He approaches the problem of sin and the provision of grace.

The Tabernacle in Christian Theology

Within Christian theology, the Tabernacle serves as a cornerstone for understanding the continuity of God's redemptive work from the Old Testament to the New Testament. It emphasizes that every decree, every law, and every prophet in the Scriptures point to Christ. The Tabernacle, with its precise instructions and detailed rituals, is a shadow of the good things to come, realized in Jesus, who not only fulfills the symbolism of the Tabernacle but also transcends it, offering Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin.

This understanding encourages believers to view the entire biblical narrative through the lens of Christ's redemptive work, reinforcing the principle that Scripture cannot be rightly interpreted or applied apart from Him. As evangelical Christians, we are reminded that our faith is rooted in historical events and divine revelations that are both consistent and progressively unfolding the story of redemption. The study of the Tabernacle, therefore, deepens our appreciation for the unity of Scripture, reinforcing our faith in the Bible as the inspired, infallible, and inerrant word of God and in Christ as the pinnacle of God’s revelation.

Practical Applications and Reflections

The Tabernacle offers practical insights for the Christian life. It serves as a constant reminder of God's holy presence with us, His call to live a life of holiness, and the ultimate hope we have in Christ for reconciliation, adoption, and our eternal inheritance. The principles we learn from the Tabernacle can inspire us to pursue a deeper relationship with God, to cherish His presence, and to live in a manner worthy of the calling we have received in Christ.

Moreover, the Tabernacle’s emphasis on atonement and reconciliation provides a framework for understanding the importance of confession, repentance, and forgiveness in our daily Christian walk. Just as the high priest made atonement for the sins of the people, we are called to acknowledge our sinfulness, seek God’s forgiveness, and extend that forgiveness to others. This model fosters a community marked by grace, mercy, and love, reflecting the character of Christ to a watching world.


As we conclude our exploration of the Tabernacle and its profound significance within the biblical narrative, we are reminded of the intricate ways in which God has woven the story of redemption through the fabric of history. The Tabernacle, with its detailed structure and symbolism, serves not merely as an artifact of ancient worship but as a beacon pointing us toward the ultimate fulfillment of God's promises in Christ Jesus. For Christians, the study of the Tabernacle is an invitation to marvel at the consistency, depth, and beauty of God's plan for His people—a plan that culminates in the life, death, and resurrection of our adorable Lord Jesus.

Reflecting on the Tabernacle compels us to appreciate the meticulous care with which God instructed His people to approach Him, highlighting His holiness, our sinfulness, and the necessity of atonement. It reinforces the continuity between the Old and New Testaments, reminding us that every shadow in the law finds its substance in Christ. As believers living on this side of the cross, we are afforded a clearer view of God's redemptive work, from the Tabernacle in the wilderness to the empty tomb outside Jerusalem.

Call to Action

Considering the rich theological insights gleaned from the study of the Tabernacle, I want to encourage you to undertake a personal journey into the depths of Scripture. Approaching God's Word with reverence and awe, seeking to understand the full scope of His revelation to us. Here are a few steps you can take to deepen your faith and understanding:

Engage in Thorough Study: Commit to studying the passages in Exodus that detail the construction and significance of the Tabernacle. Consider using reputable commentaries and theological resources to enhance your study.

Reflect on Christ's Fulfillment: Meditate on the New Testament revelations of Christ as the fulfillment of the Tabernacle's symbols. Pay special attention to the book of Hebrews, which elaborates on Jesus as our High Priest and the perfect sacrifice.

Apply the Lessons Learned: Contemplate on the practical implications of the Tabernacle's teachings for your daily life. How does understanding God's holiness and our need for atonement through Christ affect our approach to worship, community, and personal holiness?

Share Insights with Others: It’s just a fact that we retain knowledge better when we are tasked to teach it to others. So, engage in discussions with fellow believers about the significance of the Tabernacle and its relevance for Christians today. If possible consider leading a Bible study or writing reflections to share with your church family or online community.

Live in Light of God's Presence: Let the reality of God's desire to dwell among His people shape your understanding of the church as the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Strive to live in a manner that reflects God's presence in your life.

As we do so, may our hearts be drawn closer to the heart of God, filled with gratitude for Christ. Let the Tabernacle remind us of our God who dwells with us, calls us to holiness, and offers us the hope of eternal fellowship with Him through the work of His beloved Son. Together, let us glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

For Ruther Study:
Rose Guide to the Tabernacle
The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament by Edmund P. Clowney
Preaching Christ in All of Scripture by Edmund P. Clowney