What is the Tabernacle of Witness?
Many readers are asking: Is the Tabernacle of Witness the same as the Tabernacle? And others desire to learn whether it’s identical to the Tabernacle of Testimony? Are there other names for the Tabernacle of Witness?
Let’s continue with our Book of Acts Bible Study. Primary references for today are from (Acts 7:44-53 & Numbers 17:7-8).
Many readers also desire to know: What is the Tabernacle of Witness? Where is it? Therefore, I encourage you to continue reading, because I will answer all these questions concerning the Tabernacle of Witness.
In the Mountains of Sinai, the Lord showed Moses the Tabernacle in heaven and its furniture. Then He commanded him to build a replica in the earth to the one He showed him.
“Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen” (Acts 7:44).
Synonyms for the Tabernacle of Witness in the Wilderness
Therefore, the Tabernacle of Witness is synonymous with the following names:
- The Tabernacle of the Congregation (Exodus 27:21; 28:43; Leviticus 1:1).
- It is also the Tabernacle of Testimony (Exodus 38:21 & Numbers 1:50, 3).
- So too is the Tabernacle of the Tent or the Tabernacle of the Tent of the Congregation, (Exodus 39:32; 40:2, 6, 29);
- Or the Sanctuary (Exodus 15:17; 25:8).
- The Tabernacle (Exodus 25:9; 26:1; 33:7).
- And the Temple or the Temple of the Lord (1 Samuel 1:9; 2 Kings 11:10).
All these are alternate names for the tabernacle.
Therefore, one could use any of those names interchangeably without any problem. However, there are subtle differences based on context.
Where is the Tabernacle of Witness?
In the Holy Bible, the first instance of Tabernacle of Witness appears in (Numbers 17:7). However, from it and four other occurrences we shall procure necessary information about it.
This data includes: What is the Importance of the name: the Tabernacle of Witness? Who made it? Why is it important to us, as Christians, today? All these questions we will answer later.
The only New Testament (NT) reference of the Tabernacle of Witness is the one in the Book of Acts. You will find it in the quotation at the start of this Bible Study. The other four are in the Old Testament (OT).
However, Deacon Stephen continues:
“Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God [drove] out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David” (Acts 7:45).
The Tabernacle of Witness was only with Moses and the Children of Israel while they were in the desert.
That means, they only had the Tabernacle of Witness as they journeyed to the Promised Land.
Two Main Areas of the Tabernacle
There are two main parts to the tabernacle: the area before and after the “vail”. The vail is nothing more than a curtain.
It is a curtain of linen. It has three colors: blue, purple, and red (Exodus 26:31). These plus gold are the principal colors of the tabernacle.
The primary purpose of the curtain is to divide the tabernacle into two major areas.
The area before the vail is the “holy place”. However, the section beyond the vail is the “most holy place” (Exodus 26:33).
Only the High Priest could enter the most holy place. He did so once every year (Hebrews 9:25). Similarly, priests could be in the holy place but not the congregation of Israel or the people of Israel.
The Tabernacle of Witness is in the Holy Place.
However, seeing that the Children of Israel was traveling to the Promised Land and it took forty years, the Tabernacle of Witness was in the desert with them as they journeyed
When was the Tabernacle of Witness Made?
Consequently, we will read that the Tabernacle of Witness was in the wilderness with the Children of Israel.
Three months after the Children of Israel left Egypt they built the Tabernacle of Witness in the desert.
The Tabernacle of Witness – Possession of the Gentiles?
So, we learn that the Jewish Fathers brought the Tabernacle of Witness “with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles” (Acts 7:45). How?
Without Jesus Christ, the Gentiles have no connection to the Tabernacle of Witness. The Lord God gave it to the Jews. He showed Moses the heavenly Tabernacle. From that blueprint, he made the one in the wilderness (Acts 7:44).
To the Jews, the Tabernacle of Witness is symbolic, but also real and tangible.
Whenever they see or think about it, it reminds them that the Lord God lives amongst them. In it, He met and conversed with Moses in the wilderness.
Whenever they see Moses visit it they would remember that the Lord is amongst them.
Whose Idea was it to build the Tabernacle?
Now, Deacon Stephen mentions yet another great character in the history of the Jewish people even David.
Can a man find favor with God? Yet David found favor with Him. And what was this favor that he found with God?
He wanted to build a place where the Lord God would meet and commune with His people.
“Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob” (Acts 7:46).
But even though he found favor with God, he couldn’t build the temple of God. Too much blood was on his hands.
Remember that he was a Warrior King.
So, God allows his son to build it.
“But Solomon built him an house” (Acts 7:47).
To build the Tabernacle of Witness is the Lord’s design. But to construct the Tabernacle in Jerusalem was David’s dream.
This “house” is the Tabernacle. So, to answer your question: Is the Tabernacle different from the Tabernacle of Witness? Yes!
Differences Between The Tabernacle and the Tabernacle of Witness
- The Tabernacle of Witness was in the desert (wilderness).
- It was a temporary and movable structure. The Israelites would set it up and take it down as they traveled towards the Promised Land.
- Solomon built the Tabernacle in Jerusalem, (1 Chronicles 6:10).
- The Tabernacle of Witness was a tent (Numbers 1:51).
- The Tabernacle is a permanent structure with foundation.
- The Lord God commissioned Moses to build the Tabernacle of Witness.
- David desired to build the Tabernacle, but God allowed his son Solomon to construct it.
- The Israelites could setup the Tabernacle of Witness in a day.
- It took Solomon thirteen years to build the Tabernacle.
Why was the Tabernacle of Witness made?
The Lord needed a place to meet and communicate with His people. Before the tabernacle was made, He would descend on Mount Sinai “in a thick cloud” and speak with Moses, (Exodus 19:9).
The first experience this nation had with the Lord in this manner was terrifying for them. They were very afraid.
“And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that were in the camp trembled.
[Therefore], …[M]oses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.
… [M]ount Sinai was altogether on a smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.
And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice,” (Exodus 19:16-19).
A Place to Live
The idea for a tabernacle is not Moses’ but the Lord’s. He suggests it to him.
The Lord invites the children of Israel to build Him a “sanctuary” where He could meet with them and live amongst them (Exodus 15:17).
He says: “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them,” (Exodus 25:8).
Consequently, He designates a place in the tabernacle that he would dwell and from which he would speak to Moses.
“And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel,” (Exodus 25:22).
Witness Before the Lord
“This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee,” (Exodus 29:42).
The tabernacle was called the Tabernacle of Witness because all that the Children of Israel did in it, they did “before the Lord”, but “at the door” of the tabernacle. They couldn’t enter into it.
For example, they would kill their offerings at the door of the tabernacle (sanctuary) before the Lord.
“If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord,” (Leviticus 1:3).
Even the priests, Aaron’s sons, performed their rituals “before the Lord”.
“And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the vail of the sanctuary,” (Leviticus 4:6).
Therefore, it’s a Tabernacle of Witness because all their actions are done before the Lord. The Tabernacle is a witness against the congregation of the Children of Israel to the Lord.
The Tabernacle of Congregation
As I said before, there is no fundamental difference between saying the tabernacle of witness or saying the tabernacle of the congregation.
“And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that [everyone] which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp,” (Exodus 33:7).
Therefore, the tabernacle was called the Tabernacle of the Congregation, because it was available to everyone who wanted to seek God.
The Tabernacle of Testimony
Another name for the Tabernacle of Congregation is the Tabernacle of Testimony. However, the latter has some differences.
First, the Tabernacle of Testimony is beyond the veil. It is found in the second section of the tabernacle. Here only the High Priest goes and only once per year.
Is the Tabernacle of Witness Symbolic?
“Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet” (Acts 7:48).
If God doesn’t live in buildings or structures made by mortals, why build Him a house in the first place? Nevertheless, a place for God to live is symbolic.
“Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?” (Acts 7:49).
God is not a man. He doesn’t live in mortal places like temples or houses. He lives in our hearts.
“Hath not my hand made all these things?” (Acts 7:50).
Uncircumcised in Heart and Ears
“Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51).
The “stiff-necked” are the unbelieving people. Similarly, the “uncircumcised in heart and ears” also describe them.
The uncircumcised heart is hardened. The hardened heart has not been circumcised or cutaway. It’s hardened against God.
It doesn’t believe His Word. These are the people who have not allowed the Word of God to cut away the “fat” from their hearts.
The Uncircumcised Heart
Hence, it has grown impervious to receiving and believing the Word of God. It takes no pleasure in it.
“To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? [B]ehold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the [Lord] is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it,” (Jeremiah 6:10; 9:26).
Consequently, the uncircumcised heart is haughty. It’s not humble before God, (Leviticus 26:41).
These are the people who always “resist the Holy Ghost”.
So too are the uncircumcised ears, they reject the Word of God. They fail to listen to sermons or any spoken Word of God. They never read nor receive it. Their ears are uncircumcised against the Word of God. They are tough against it.
The Betrayers and Murderers of Jesus Christ
The Jews have never been a friend of Jesus Christ nor the Church. They have persecuted and or killed all the prophets who spoke of his coming.
Until finally they have become “the betrayers and murderers” of him.
“Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? [A]nd they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52).
The Lord God by the hands of Moses gave them the “law”. But they have not kept it. Then, how could the Gentiles who have not the “law” expect to keep it?
“Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it” (Acts 7:53).
Seeing that the Tabernacle of Witness is a replica of the one in heaven, then it should be important to Christians. By studying it we shall learn more about the Lord and His roles in our lives.
The Tabernacle of Witness has alternate names. How the distinction among them is a function of what the Lord is emphasizing.
When we read of the Tabernacle of Congregation, it reveals our access to God. Now through Christ, everyone who believes in him has access to God.
Before it wasn’t so. Only priests, prophets, and kings could approach God.
For that reason, the entire congregation of Israel could only be at the door of the Temple. They couldn’t enter into it. Therefore, they did all their worship rituals at the door of the temple before the Lord.
They offer their sacrifices there. The priest operates there and God spoke with them there.
Christ Jesus Change Everything
Because of him, our bodies are now the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). Instead of the glory of God descending on the Sanctuary, it descended on us when we receive His Holy Ghost. And through Him, we have access to God by His Spirit.
Before the Day of Pentecost, only Jews had access to God via the rituals and obedience to the Law. The Gentiles were without God in the world.
But Christ changed that when he went into the Temple, the Holy Place, once with his blood for our sins. Now we have hope in God through him, (Ephesians 2:11-13).