Some commentators say that the Tent Meeting and the Tabernacle in the Wilderness were two names given to the same thing. But, while it is true that Hebrew words translated Tent and Tabernacle all mean tent, these are two different tents. This is why some translations of Exodus 33:7-11 read Tabernacle of Meeting but to avoid confusion, I will call it the Tent of Meeting.
The Tent Meeting – Our Private Time with God
The Tent of Meeting in Exodus 33:7-11 was the place where Moses went to meet with God to receive direction and God spoke to him, face to face. This tent was temporarily erected before the Tabernacle was completed and was located outside the camp. This was because God was not pleased with the Israelites (Exo 33:3-6). When Moses went in the tent to meet the Lord, the presence of the Lord descended at the door as a pillar of cloud. After the Tabernacle was built, the term Tent of Meeting became synonymous with the Tabernacle.
The Tabernacle – The Temple of God
What is given in chapters 25 to 27 are the building instructions for the Tabernacle in the Wilderness that was actually built only after Exodus 35. The Tabernacle was the place where sacrifices were made, the Law was kept and the presence of the Lord dwelled. It was erected in the midst of the camp symbolizing that God’s presence was central to the children of Israel.
The symbolic meanings of the two tents are different.
- The Tent Meeting is a symbol for the special time we spend alone with the Lord to ask for direction and hear from Him. This requires that we separate ourselves physically from other people and distractions.
- The Tabernacle, the place where God dwells, instead, is symbolic of our body. We are the temple of God. Although in the Old Testament there were already different interpretations and groups in Judaism like there are even today in Christianity, some old rabbinical studies show that this symbolism was already understood in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, this symbolism is used repeated times (1 Cor 6:19-20, Mat 24:40, 1 Cor 3:16-17, 2 Cor 6:16)
- The Holy of Holies is the heart, where the presence of God dwells in us.
- There is also another dimension in the symbolism of the Old Testament Tabernacle in New Testament perspective which is given in the epistle to the Hebrews 9 and 10. As the title shows, this Epistle was written to explain and reconcile the Old Testament with the New Testament.
Moses’ and Jesus’ Ministry
Another symbolism I want to point out is that Moses is a type of Christ.
- Moses guided his people from slavery to freedom.
- He interceded for them.
- He even offered himself to pay for the sins of the people.
- However Moses was not without sin for this reason:
- His intercessions were not sufficient for the remission of sins. Even the sacrifices only covered the sinner from punishment and had to be repeated.
- His sacrifice was not accepted. Only Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect, accepted and sufficient for all mankind and done once for all (Heb 9:9-15).
- Moses’ type of salvation was from the outside and limited. Jesus’ salvation is from the inside out, makes us new creatures (2 Cor 5:17-18) Children of God (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1-3) and gives us eternal life (John 3:16).
- There is a parallel between the two but there is a basic difference as it is shown especially in John 1:17. This is how Jesus fulfilled the Law (Mat 5:17, Gal 6:2). Moses gave the Law. Jesus showed us the Father.
© 2014, Pastor Maurizio. All rights reserved.