Lent 2018: See the Lord's Salvation: Day 22

Instructions for the Tabernacle


Today's Text: Exodus 26:1-37, Genesis 3:24, Hebrews 9:6-14

Scripture Reading: Exodus 26:1-37, Genesis 3:24, Hebrews 9:6-14

Why does Exodus include the building blueprints for a tent?

This is a question worth asking, because the “tabernacle”—a portable tent that would serve as God’s dwelling place—seems like only an artifact of history. Thousands of years later, we no longer need a tabernacle or temple in order to connect with God. Instead, God has come near to each and every one of us. Through Christ, we have unlimited access to Him.

So, why does Scripture include these instructions, which may seem a bit obsolete?

While it might be tempting to skim over this passage as a relic of a bygone era, we would miss something important if we did. The truth is, Exodus does not simply contain the blueprint of a historical artifact; it contains the blueprint of history.

Within the instructions for building the tabernacle, we discover tiny clues pointing to God’s plan for humankind, a plan for redemption. One of the clues that foreshadows this unfolding is the inclusion of “cherubim” in the design. The curtains were to depict images of these heavenly beings, who had made only one other appearance in the Old Testament: the garden of Eden. In Genesis 3:24, “cherubim” were stationed outside the garden to prevent people from ever re-entering it.

The garden of Eden was the last time in history when God and humans dwelt together. Because of sin, that intimacy and fellowship was disrupted. But God had a plan to repair it, and the tabernacle was a part of that plan. By including cherubim in His design for the tabernacle, God was hinting in a particular direction. He was, in short, reversing the fall. He was restoring our broken relationship, and allowing us to enter His presence once again.

In his writings on the tabernacle, theologian N.T. Wright refers to this as a “signpost.” The tabernacle was pointing to the temple, and the temple was pointing to Jesus, who would eventually “tabernacle” among us (John 1:14). In other words, the tabernacle was a foretaste of “God come near,” and a foreshadowing of God’s restoration of creation.

All of that is tucked into these seemingly obscure instructions for the tabernacle. They belong to the great arc of redemption, which God had only begun to unveil. All along, God was orchestrating a cosmic reversal to overcome the consequences of our sin, and He left all sorts of bread crumbs along the way.

Woven into these instructions was a plan to save the world, but the instructions tell us something else too. They tell us about God’s character. The God of the tabernacle is a sovereign God, a faithful God, a God of resurrection, who is working all things together for His will (Romans 8:28). He is a God who wrote redemption into the seemingly mundane details and instructions for the building of the tabernacle, and we can trust He is doing the same in our lives today.


Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife, mom, and she holds a PhD on women and calling. She blogs at SheWorships.com, and is the author of Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not about You.

Leave a Reply to Churchmouse Cancel reply


  • Moriah Nichols

    I’m a perfectionist. I’ve always just assumed that to be a bad thing in most cases, but in reading this passage it made me realize that God is also a perfectionist. His specific instructions for the building of the tabernacle and the use of the highest quality materials had me marveling at how much thought He put into this holy meeting place, and even more so how much thought He must have put into you and me. He doesn’t make mistakes. His creation is not only “good”, it’s perfect. So instead of seeing my perfectionism as a curse or downfall, I should mirror my tendencies in light of Christ and His perfection, aiming to give excellence in all that I do, for the approval of the One who created me.

    • Holly DeWitt

      This is beautiful! I, too, am a perfectionist so thank you for this.

      • Caroline Knox

        wow love your reflection. i too am a perfectionist. one book that has immensely helped me is “the road back to you.” re the enneagram. showed me more of God’s purpose when he knit me together! and instead of fighting my tendencies … i now embrace them. grace and peace to you both!

  • Rae Ann Smith

    I love these post that bring clarity to those passages that sometimes make you wonder, what is this all about!

  • Jen Jennings

    Wow the littles details are amazing! Would not have understood the connections without the Holy Spirit’s help working through this amazing community of women! Thanks all!

  • Audrey Gonzalez

    Thankful that this story of redemption means i have a way to such a holy God. Through his doing!

  • Michelle Hogan

    I’m struggling to understand this section. Very frustrating.

  • Please pray for my son,Andrew, that the Lord Himself would “tabernacle”in the mediation process he is facing today on behalf of his children. Our heart’s desire is “Thy Will be done” for the best emotionally healthy plan to emerge for his children. Thank you for standing in the gap in prayer!!

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Grammy, we’re praying for your son! Thank you for sharing, we’re so grateful that you’re here. -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Lisa A Olsen

    So many details that I would not see the significance fully on my own – thankful for community and how the Holy Spirit teaches through His word and through others!
    God doesn’t leave a single thing out… such a reminder to trust in His provisions for me. Our God is faithful!

  • Jo Gistand

    I love how the writer pointed out that the mundane areas of scripture are reflective of God’s grace and mercy for His people. I can see how in the mundane areas in our lives , Gods mercy and grace are abound.

  • Rachel Marshall

    I’ll be honest, I totally skimmed over the verses. I thought, ok…lemme skim through and make sure I’m not missing anything important, then I’ll focus on the study portion. How often I likely do that in my day to day moments. I briefly see the “unimportant” details and skim right on past them, not giving a second glance because I feel they don’t matter. But, God is using every second of my life for His kingdom, so what am I missing? I pray that He will open my eyes and heart and help me to focus more on what He has laid before me, as mundane as it may seem…it matters to Him, and that’s what is important. I also pray for my mind and soul to slow down long enough for Him to show me what He has, instead of life being a constant routine rush. Who knows? The “meat and potatoes” could be right among the “boring” parts. ❤️

  • I remember reading Exodus in confirmation classes when younger and thinking every lengthy passage of building the tabernacle was so tedious. I don’t know how I did not notice the purpose until this study. What a profound imagery of how we have constant access to Him no matter what is happening in our life. I so needed to hear the reminder that even in the mundane or troubling moments in my life God is always hinting toward His plan. What an awesome reminder that I don’t need to keep trying to take so much control.

  • Allison Joy

    I had an interesting thought about all the intricate details included in the building of the tabernacle. I wonder if there’s also a reference to man’s imperfection, compared to God’s standard? I can’t help but think that the Israelite, without modern tools and technology, thought, “But we can never make this perfect, according to God’s standards.” And that’s the point. We will mess up, even when working for God. But God gives us Jesus, the only one who worked for God perfectly.

  • Denise Powers Fabian

    It would have been easy to pass over this chapter in Exodus, but how could we ever appreciate the access we have to God if we did not know the history. The cherubim symbol is POWERFUL! And then to read the passage in Hebrews that shows how the sacrifice of God Himself through Jesus, nullified all of this. I am unworthy…

  • The beautiful details instructed in the building of the tabernacle pointing to God wanting to redeem and restore our relationship to Him is so lovely to think on. He loves us so much! I am enjoying reading and seeing how the old testament connects to and is revealed in the new testament. These daily readings really keep me accountable for reading my bible. I’m always so amazed how much more thoroughly I read as well as my commitment to follow through in my reading are made more attainable by following along the SRT daily devotions and readings.Thank you SRT for such a great bible study!

  • Peony Noirr


  • Sabrina Michelle

    This was just beautiful and Lord I thank you. There is nothing boring about our God, He always teaching us and revealing Himself to us❤️

  • Thank you for this devo. I have to remind myself that God is in control. I need to stop worrying and start enjoying the life he created for me (:

  • Caroline

    Through this devo, I’ve realized that there are so many times in my life where I sit and think, “ok God, what are you gonna do with this situation, I know you are in it but what are you doing?”. I’m sitting in my room trying to think through how I should really be looking at these situations that seem so mundane, so small, and so repetitive. Any advise on how I should really be looking at them? I know I need to trust God in even the small stuff and I do, and I know that all of these things are part of his plan for me. But, how should I be handling these situations where I pray and hope for that immediate clarity?
    Idk if any of that made sense, but I feel like I’m on the verge of something clicking in my head but can’t quite seem to figure it out.

    • Michelle

      Hi Caroline! Something that helps me is finding rest in my community and in the Lord. When I am in strong relationships I find I worry less about the outcome of small things because I have more satisfaction in my soul. I would sit in His presence and ask Him to speak over you or spend time in the Psalms.

    • truthseeker

      One thing that really helped me to gain perspective over the “situations that seem so mundane, so small, and so repetitive” (aptly put !) was to think “A year from now – what will this matter?”
      Or even “By the end of the day – what will this matter?”
      1 Peter 5:7 ” casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.

  • Laural Armster

    I am amazed and encouraged by this one detail I never noticed before. The Cherubim will no longer stand in the way of people coming to God….and one day the tent and even the temple will no longer be necessary. Someone else pointed out that Jesus’ death rips the veil into the holy of holies in two and I had chills as I realized anew how much history was involved, how much significance and planned detail by God. Oh, how He loves you and me! ❤️

  • Kathryn Kamin

    I’m struggling with this passage…I have resigned myself to the fact that God is not going to provide me detailed direction for how He wants to use me in this life…but then here is such granular detail! Oh Lord, forgive me for my desire to understand and control you and your actions and please fill me with peace and patience.

    • Jessie Chatigny

      Praying for you! This is a sticking point for me also. Remember, God did not give Moses this plan when he was in Midia or even when he had started the journey in the desert. They had been wandering for a while at this point. Hugs.

  • Katie Morrison

    This makes me feel so loved, He was writing our love story to get back to our hearts

  • I find myself fascinated by these details and trying to imagine what it must have looked like…. As a quilter, I think of the women who who’ve these curtains and veils, and embroidered them with such care and perfection … How amazing to have the opportunity to work for God on his special place! It reminds me that “whatever yiu do, do it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not human masters” Col.3:23

  • Kerry Campbell

    Romans 8:38 is in the Jesus Calling devotional today as well…have to believe we are meant to pay attention to the truth of God working out all things for our good. Well, I need to pay attention, anyway! I love the cherubim guarding the tree of life, the beautiful symbolism of a tree that, centuries later, would be the place where Jesus would win our salvation.

  • Blair Onyekanne

    And how incredible that God described the curtains in such detail, with full knowledge that He would one day rip the same curtain from top to bottom.

  • Jessica Mccann

    Isn’t the history of our Lords plans and accomplishments simply amazing? As he instructed the beautiful designs of the tabernacle he knew full and well that ultimate Sacrifice and redemption would come. Oh how good our father is to mold our hearts along a journey, without haste. It’s so easy to brush over historic details or to crave immediate satisfaction of knowing what’s next in our life. When we press in and trust God’s timing, we can look back and see that tabernacle go from human handiwork to gods own life form when we are patient and cognizant. Lord thank you that we can meet with you in our humble places and that all of those sacrifices have already been made for us. There is no greater gift.

    • bouckey

      Amen…..to this “When we press in and trust God’s timing, we can look back and see that tabernacle go from human handiwork to God’s own life form when we are patient and cognizant”.

  • Vicki Del Boccio

    . . .by the fact Moses remembered the details to be put into action later. Did he write them in stone? I wonder. Imagine how detailed and stunning Heaven will be!

  • Vicki Del Boccio

    I’m impressed by the details here . . . we worship a God of details and order. I’m further impressed

  • Sarah Marshall

    Wow, God really was in the details in this passage. Yet, I was ready to just skim over it because it never stood out to me before. What am I missing out on in my life because I was ready to just skim over it? What details am I not seeing because my eyes are glazing over?

    • Taylor Landers

      This is a great thought. Makes me wonder how this impacts my relationships!

    • Rhonda

      such good insight!! So true for me of skimming over seemingly unimportant things in my life, which probably need to be examined closer!

    • Natasha Reyes

      You opened my eyes today Sarah, thank you!

    • Valerie Hines

      Sarah I love that thought, God is a detailed God, how much have I missed of this detail in my life.

      My prayer will be open my eyes to your details Lord!

  • Gina Glennon

    Thank you Jesus for your bloody sacrifice that tore down the Temple curtain forever. Thank you for reconciling me, a sinner, to Holy, Holy, Holy God!

  • Laura Barthelmess

    Wow so many details I’d overlooked before today! What a love He has for us!!

  • Kelly Chataine

    God is a God of planning, detail, and intricacies. We are His and He made us. He has an intricate, detailed plan for us! Being so precise with the Tabernacle, where He dwelled. We are the temples of the Holy Spirit, He will be and is just as precise with us. Praise God!

  • Jessica McCreary

    Beautiful illustration of the cherubim and the connection from the Garden.

  • The Cherubim – what a beautiful connection to the Garden that I had never seen. As for all the instructions, all I can think is- these people are in the desert!!!! There are no fabric shops, hardware stores or sewing machines or power tools. They are in the middle of the desert and they faithfully pick up their tools and get to work following God’s instructions.

    • Chris Gruhlke

      RH, I completely agree! Not only are they at a disadvantage because of their location but can you imagine following all those specific instructions? Goodness! My eyes started to glaze over in the first verse. I’m wondering how many times God has given me direction and I’ve chosen another path because it looks too difficult?? Humbling thoughts!!!! If we want to be used by the Master we have to be willing to follow His direction. I have so much to pray on this morning. Love to you all, sisters.

    • Brandi

      Yes! And yet He provided everything they needed to do exactly what He said right where they were and He’s doing the same for me today! Thank You Father!

    • Emily T

      They plundered the Egyptians- they asked for all of that stuff and the Egyptians willingly gave it to them.

    • Emily T

      Ex. 12:33-36 :)

  • Kristine Loughman

    “He is a God who wrote redemption into the seemingly mundane details and instructions of the tabernacle, and we can trust He is doing the same in our lives today.” How many times have my eyes glazed over reading a passage like the building details of the tabernacle, or genealogy lists. But how many times have I wished for that type of specific clarity from God over the own details in my life! How beautiful to know that God has a plan for us, one that has been lovingly planned, organized, and shaped from the very beginning.

  • Churchmouse

    Ahhhh God is surely in the details – not only in the construction of the tabernacle but in my life as well. He will bring about His purpose for me. Help me, Lord, to trust that You have it all covered, that You are working it all out. So grateful that with Your death on the cross, the veil was torn and I can now enter into Your presence at all times, right where I am. Grateful that because of faith in You, I have Your indwelling Holy Spirit and that my body is now Your temple. You are a near God, not a distant God. I trust that You, who so carefully had the tabernacle constructed, are more than able to complete the construction of my life for my good and Your glory. I release every single detail to Your perfect prerogative. Go at me, Lord. Build. Amen.

    • nursedodie

      hi churchmouse what you said here struck a cord as I have said I have been struggling with work related problems, your post has helped me realize what exactly I need to pray to God. May God be with you and thank you

  • “He is a God who wrote redemption into the seemingly mundane details and instructions of the tabernacle, and we can trust He is doing the same in our lives today.” WOW, just WOW!! God is not a God of chaos and disorder. He is a God who orders all the seemingly chaotic events of my life to bring me into a closer and more intimate relationship with Him. Papa God, I pray today that I will see You in all the seemingly mundane details of my life. Help me to not take anything for granted.

  • I never saw that before! The cherubim protected the tree, bc that would have been terrible to live in these conditions forever. The author points out that then the tabernacle and temple lead to our sweet Savior Jesus that brings redemption, restoration, and salvation! Wow! Thanks for the insight!

  • Caroline Smith

    Oh sweet sisters! Our god is good! I’m about to leave my house for what could be the most important trip of my lifetime! Please pray for me! Xo

Further Reading...