Concepts Regarding Its Symbolism
The tabernacle was a sanctuary, a place sanctified and set apart for God to dwell among His people and to meet with them. The glory of God, like a cloud, was over the tabernacle night and day. When the glory of God moved, the people of Israel would pack their belongings and move also, following God as He led them through the wilderness until they reached the Promised Land, where centuries later, King Solomon would build a permanent dwelling.
The tabernacle was a testimony, for contained within the Ark were the Ten Commandments, a constant reminder of God's holiness and His laws for living. Following God could not be separated from following His laws. Also within the Ark was a pot of manna, representing God's supernatural provision for His children. God's lesson for the children of Israel, as well as us, is that He will provide our needs daily, and not to worry about tomorrow. Jesus echoed this thought in His teaching, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you."
The tabernacle was a place of forgiveness, for the sins of the people were atoned for through the sacrifices of spotless lambs and bullocks. While the blood of lambs covered their sin, it symbolized Jesus, the Lamb of God, who would take away their sin, and our sin. The writer of Hebrews penned, "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Hebrews 9:11-12).
The tabernacle pointed toward New Testament believers, who would become the dwelling place of the Spirit of God. Paul expressed this to the church at Corinth, "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19). As God dwelt in the Holy of Holies, so each Christian as the temple of the Spirit is instructed to walk in holiness, "without which no man shall see the Lord." The veil of the temple, which visually separated God from man, would be torn in half from top to bottom when Christ, opening the way for men to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16).
The tabernacle pointed toward heaven and man's final redemption. "for Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true," the writer of Hebrews said, "but unto heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." (Hebrews 9:24). The apostle John, during the great Revelation of Jesus, saw a new heaven and earth, and a new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. Then he heard a great voice proclaim, "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. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and their shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things news. And he said unto me, Write: for these things are true and faithful." (Revelation 21:1-5).
The Temple was a foreshadow of Christ and His redemptive and sacrificial work for mankind, as well as symbolic of God's presence among men. As Christians, our own bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit, for which reason the apostle Paul warns us so strongly against immorality and impurity. Jesus came as "The Word made flesh and dwelt among us", and has promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us. The New Jerusalem which God is preparing for us will contain no temple. John the Apostle said in the book of Revelation, "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.