A Child's Lenten Meditation-Day 11
Setting Up the Tabernacle
1 Then the LORD said to Moses: 2 "Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. 3 Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain. 4Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. 5 Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the covenant law and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle. 6 "Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; 7 place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it. 8 Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. 9 "Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. 10 Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar, and it will be most holy. 11 Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them. 12 "Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 13 Then dress Aaron in the sacred garments, anoint him and consecrate him so he may serve me as priest. 14 Bring his sons and dress them in tunics. 15 Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations." 16 Moses did everything just as the LORD commanded him. 17 So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year. 18 When Moses set up the tabernacle, he put the bases in place, erected the frames,inserted the crossbars and set up the posts. 19 Then he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering over the tent, as the LORD commanded him. 20 He took the tablets of the covenant law and placed them in the ark, attached the poles to the ark and put the atonement cover over it. 21 Then he brought the ark into the tabernacle and hung the shielding curtain and shielded the ark of the covenant law, as the LORD commanded him. 22 Moses placed the tablein the tent of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle outside the curtain 23 and set out the bread on it before the LORD, as the LORD commanded him. 24 He placed the lampstand in the tent of meeting opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle 25 and set up the lampsbefore the LORD, as the LORD commanded him. 26 Moses placed the gold altar in the tent of meeting in front of the curtain 27 and burned fragrant incense on it, as the LORD commandedhim. 28 Then he put up the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle. 29 He set the altar of burnt offering near the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, and offered on it burnt offerings and grain offerings, as the LORD commanded him. 30 He placed the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing, 31 and Moses and Aaron and his sons used it to wash their hands and feet. 32 They washed whenever they entered the tent of meeting or approached the altar, as the LORD commanded Moses. 33 Then Moses set up the courtyardaround the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.
The Glory of the LORD34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out--until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.
The Israelites would continue to distrust, and disobey God. He would keep them in the wilderness for an entire generation, because that's how long it took to teach them to trust him. The new generation grew up living on God's provision, with the presence of God nearby, and they would be better at listening and obeying, without doubt.
But before that, something very important happened in the wilderness, something that will affect the way they understood things for ages to come. While Moses was on the mountain with God he gave him directions for building a tabernacle, a place set apart for the worship of God. See, the habit of worship and sacrifice to the God's was so ingrained that they made themselves an idol rather than not have anyone to worship, so God taught them how to worship him, properly. He would use forms and images that they were familiar with in order to show them something they didn't understand and make it plain to them.
To us some of these things aren't very plain, but that's because our lives are very different today than the lives of the Israelites. We buy our meat and vegetables in stores. If they wanted meat they had to kill and animal themselves, cut it up, and cook it. We have water that comes out of taps and toilets that flush. They had to live near a stream or pond to get water and they had to dig a hole to go to the bathroom in and then bury it. God even told them how far away they had to walk before they dug a toilet hole so that all the human waste wouldn't get into the water or the camp and make people sick. We live in houses that stay in the same place and have lot's of stuff in them. They lived like nomads and packed up their tents and everything they owned in order to walk to a different place.
Can you imagine picking up the place where you live and everything you own in order to move somewhere else for a few months?
Hebrews 8:5 says that the tabernacle in the wilderness was a copy and shadow of the true tabernacle in heaven, and it was here that they would start to learn about the kingdom of heaven.
They would sacrifice animals as part of their worship and to see and understand that everything they had was a gift that God gave them. They were giving back to Him something that was already His, but it was to show their hearts that it was God who took care of them, and gave them everything they needed. Animals were very valuable, they provided skins and wool for clothing and tents, milk to drink, and meat to eat to to give one to God was a big deal. It might be as big as if your family were to give God a car.
The sacrifices and the tabernacle were used to teach them about who God is, and help them learn to think like the people of God. God gave them laws, partly to teach them that they couldn't be like God and show his image on their own. For the law was not easy to keep. It was a bunch of rules that went against what the people actually wanted to do. Behaving as they were supposed to didn't come from inside their hearts, it was something they had to do even though they wanted to do other things.
God promised that one day he would change their hearts, so doing what was right would come from inside them. Until then it was not easy to keep the law, but the sacrifices would make it easier.
Tomorrow we will learn about the most important sacrifice of all that God told them about.