Tabernacle Symbolism: Ten Points

 Vern Poythress’ book, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1991) has some very helpful sections.  Below is Poythress’ summary of how the OT tabernacle is connected to other biblical truths.  These are points that Poythress explains in a more detailed fashion in the early chapters of the book.

1) God dwells in heaven in the midst of his holy courtroom of angels and ministering spirits. The tabernacle as a dwelling place of God replicates heaven.

2) The whole universe has been created in a manner like constructing a house (Ps 104:2-3; Amos 9:6; Prov 8:22-31; Is 40:22).  The tabernacle is analogous to the universe as a whole.

3) The tabernacle is connected to the temple, a larger replica of the same truth.

4) The tabernacle is suggestive of the Garden of Eden, which was a special dwelling of God where God met with Adam and Eve.

5) The tabernacle is a pattern for the people of God corporately, who become a dwelling place of God.

6) The tabernacle is a pattern for each individual believer, and for the priest in particular, since each individual becomes a dwelling place of God.

7) The tabernacle looks forward to the final dwelling of God, the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22.

8) The tabernacle prefigures Christ himself, who is the ultimate dwelling of God with humans.

9) The imagery in the tabernacle is also capable of recalling God’s great acts of redemption in the Exodus.

10) The tabernacle points forward to God’s future acts of redemption.

“All these connections, especially 1-8, are part of the great biblical theme of God’s dwelling place.  Hence, they all express the truth that God comes to us to be personally present and a source of personal communion.  The cosmic scope of the connections 1, 2, and 7 particularly remind us that God is the source of all order.  Connections 9 and 10 remind us that God is the Redeemer and Restorer.  All of these connections of tabernacle symbolism have an inner unity, because Christ is the source of all (connection 8).

Vern Poythress, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, p. 96-97.

shane lems