Summary: What was God was trying to communicate to us by how He had the Tabernacle laid out? (This sermon gives an "overview" of the entire tabernacle).
OPEN: A couple of years ago, I visited a placed called “Colonial Williamsburg” in Virginia.
It’s a famous town which has restored buildings from the 1700’s. There are shops there, a couple of restaurants, the governor’s mansion… and there is an Episcopalian Church building – constructed in 1715 that still has regular worship services. It has a current membership of around 1600 people (though I don’t think they all show up for worship).
It’s called the Bruton Parish, and it is beautiful structure. On there are pews are plaques with the names of some the more famous people who attended there:
• George Washington
• James Madison
• Patrick Henry
• And Thomas Jefferson
But what caught my attention was how the sanctuary was laid out.
(we displayed a church diagram showing the cruciform shape of the sanctuary)
The pulpit was way up high - a good 10 feet off the main floor. The preacher has to climb a set of stairs to preach. And the pews had doors on the end that you could close.
But the most significant thing, to me, was that the seating was divided into 4 sections so that the aisles formed a cross.
The design was deliberate - it’s called a “cruciform” (or a cross) design.
It followed the pattern of many of the cathedrals in the Old World of Europe.
They intended to communicate that their faith was based on the cross by how their building was constructed.
APPLY: In previous sermons we’ve mentioned that the Tabernacle was a unique structure. And just as the sanctuary at Bruton Parish was deliberately designed to teach its people something, so also was the Tabernacle.
Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the Old Testament priests served “… 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 heavenly lessons God wanted to teach His people thru that earthly tabernacle.
One of the lessons God wanted to teach was one we learned in an earlier sermon:
God wanted to be in the midst of His people.
The Tabernacle was situated right in the middle of the Israelite encampment. When the Tabernacle was set up, the nation of Israel surrounded it. Three tribes set up their tents to the North, three to the South, three to the East, and three to the West.
And right in the middle of them all was God’s tent… His tabernacle.
But even when the people moved from place to place and the tabernacle had to be torn down and moved, EVEN THEN, God’s Tabernacle was the center of His people.
The procession looked like this:
Then the Gershonites with 2 wagons carrying the Curtains, Coverings, Hangings, etc.
Then the Merarites with 4 wagons carrying the Boards, Bars, Pillars, etc.
Followed by Kohathites bearing the Ark, the Table of Shewbread, the Lampstand, the Altar of Incense, the Altar of Sacrifice, and the Brazen Laver
And last of all, the tribes of:
God was always in the “midst” of His people.
And that was a good thing too, because they couldn’t have survived without Him.
ILLUS: Out in the desert with no food, no water and Moses has about 3 1/2 million people to take care of. It takes about 500 tons of food each day to feed that many. Today, that would require 2 freight trains, each a mile long to hold it all.
It would have taken 4000 tons of firewood each day to cook that food.
And the water! That many people would need about 3,000,000 gallons just for drinking water, and that doesn’t include baths or washing laundry!
Then the camping space. Every time they camped, it took an area 2/3’s the size of Rhode Island for them just to pitch their tents. (25 by 30 miles).
How could Moses do that?
How could he supply for so many people in the midst of an unforgiving desert?
Well, he didn’t have to… God did it.
When they needed food, God provided it.
Every day God gave His people a special bread called manna. And on the day before the Sabbath (when they weren’t allowed to work) He supplied a double portion.
And when they needed meat, Numbers 11:31 tells how God caused a wind to drive quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp as far as a day’s walk in any direction.
When they needed water, God supplied it. At least 2 times Moses struck a rock and God caused water to come out.