Summary: The first thing an Israelite could see, when facing the tabernacle, was this vast fence that surrounded the courtyard. Why was it there, and what can it teach us about our faith?
OPEN: There are all kinds of doors in this world.
There are doors on this church building.
Doors at the entrance to the Mall.
There are garage doors, house doors, bathroom doors, closet doors.
There are wooden doors, glass doors, plastic doors and there are hollow as well as solid doors.
Some doors are massive, and some are small - but every door has one purpose:
• Close-off an entrance
• Block an opening
• Keep people out
It may not be a very strong or imposing door, but when you see one you realize - only those who have a right to enter will be allowed beyond that opening. Everyone else is a trespasser.
They don’t belong.
ILLUS: Now I have a door to my house… and not everybody gets to go thru that door. You might ask “what kind of person wouldn’t you allow in?”
Well, here’s the test: You come to my door and knock – and if I don’t let you in – it’s you!
But in reality all of you would be welcome…
Diana’s relatives, my relatives, my kids’ friends – all those can usually get in. But there’s just some folks that will never get in the door.
APPLY: Here in Exodus 27, we’re introduced to a different kind of door.
It’s the gate that barred the way into the Tabernacle of God.
(Tabernacle Court Picture #1 here)
As you’ll notice here, the Tabernacle was a tent-like structure that sat inside a large courtyard. This was the worship center for the people of Israel for the next 647 years. It was replaced – in the days of King Solomon - with a wondrous Temple.
But for 647 years, God’s people worshipped at a tent. That’s 3 times longer than our nation has been in existence.
But this wasn’t just any old tent.
This was a tent designed by God for a very specific purpose.
In Exodus 25:9 God tells Moses
“Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings EXACTLY like the pattern I will show you.”
This tent was not a human invention, it was a divine sanctuary.
It was built FOR God’s people.
But it was to be built ONLY in the way God wanted it done.
ILLUS: When we build on to our church building in the next few months, we’ll have a blueprint we’ll be operating from. But in spite of the fact that there is a blueprint… we can change a few things.
• We can add a few inches to a class room,
• Shave a foot or two off of the stage,
• We can paint the wall any color we want
• Arrange the chairs any way we wish…
• And God won’t care.
We’re building it for God but God really doesn’t care about the specifics as long as we do it to honor Him and minister to His people.
But you couldn’t do that with the Tabernacle.
Every dimension had to be precise.
Every item had to be made to spec.
And to make sure everything was done properly, God selected an general contractor named Bezalel. Exodus tells us “the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts— Exodus 35: 30-31
In other words, Bezalel was endowed by God to read the blueprints. And this man wasn’t trained by some university or tech school. He was trained by GOD so that the people would build the Tabernacle precisely the way God wanted it done.
The reason everything had to be so precise was because God was communicating heavenly truths thru this earthly tent. Hebrews 8:5 tells us
"(the Temple priests) serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ’See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’"
There were specific messages God wanted to communicate.
There were deep spiritual truths about what it meant to live in presence of a Holy God.
So, we’re going to start this morning by trying to understand the part of the tabernacle most people could see. Look again at this picture. (I tried to use a picture that showed the tents of the Israelites encamped around tabernacle)
The 1st thing I noticed is that the tabernacle is right in the middle of the entire camp.
Three of the tribes encamped on the North side, three on the South, three on the West and three on the East. The Nation of Israel literally had God living in their midst.
In a lot of cultures, the pagan gods were displayed as living off by themselves. They lived up on a mountain top, off in a forest, or down in the depths of the sea. Their temples were usually separated from the general populace because (as far as the pagans were concerned) their gods never really wanted to spend that much time with them anyway. Most religious activities of that day involved trying to buy off their gods… keeping them from bringing disaster down on them. Their relationship with their gods had nothing to do with love… just convenience.