The biblical Tabernacle, it's design and construction is an interesting subject of study. It can also be overwhelming, tedious, and seem completely irrelevant to our lives today.
Yet, it is a subject that is given more detail than anything else in the Bible. It is referenced almost 100 times in the New Testament. And used at least three times to describe the body.
It could be that we miss the significance of the Tabernacle, as it applies to us today, because we only tend to see it as a thing that was created for the Jewish people, as a place of ritual worship, and not as God's way of describing who and what we are.
The Tabernacle was never intended as the substance of worship. Hebrews 10 tells us clearly that the sacrifices made on the altar never atoned for our sin. Instead, Tabernacle worship was developed as a model that described heavenly things using earthly terms. So, when we read about the Tabernacle, it's artifacts and the manner of worship described in offerings, prayers and sacrifices. Instead of wondering what this is all about in terms of theological allegory, maybe we may do better to think of them in the most personal of terms: how is this about me?
Probably the biggest handicap we face in understanding Tabernacle in terms of personal worship, is our fascination with the Most Holy Place, where the Ark of the Covenant is kept. But, that's rarely the focus of biblical Tabernacle worship. In fact, most of what is described in the Temple (and going on at the Temple) occurs in the outer court. There is a seven foot fence around it, but the activities are plain to observe by anyone passing by. This can be understood to represent our motives and our agendas: the things in our life that everyone around us will know about, if they have any interest in observing our lives. So, what does our conduct say about our relationship with God? This is what the outer court really is: and what kind of daily offerings we make send a very clear message about the God that we say that we serve.
The Inner Place or the Holy Place can describe what goes on in our minds. No one can really see what we have stored in there; but if we are truly housing the Spirit of God, there are three elements that are ever present: the Light of Truth, the Bread of Life and the Incense of Prayer. All three of these elements share the same space and mingle together. Even if everything outside looks like it is in place, without these three, the relationship we hope to have with God is broken.
Finally, behind the veil , in the most intimate place of our lives is the Most Holy Place. It is only entered by the High Priest once a year. Not even we, as the priests responsible for the maintenance of the Temple, have the right to enter there. It is a chamber that is reserved only for our Priest and King, the Messiah. Our job is to guard it, to keep it sacred, and to ensure the offerings on the brazen altar and the articles of the Holy Place are kept up.
All the details that go into the sacrificial system and Temple worship should take on a whole new significance when we understand that they are not about theology, not about ritual, but how we walk in our daily lives with God. There is much more to say about this, of course. But, these are lessons that we really need to find on our own. They are lessons we have to own for ourselves. Because they are not about things, they are about us.