The tabernacle, the temple, and the church


What is the Tabernacle and what was the purpose of people of Israel to build this? What is the relationship between Tabernacle and Temple? And what does that have to do with the church?


The Tabernacle was a tent that God instructed Israel to build as a physic place where they could meet with him. It had space for offering sacrifices when they broke his law, but its primary goal was the visible sign of God’s presence with his people (Exodus 25:1-9).

When Israel arrived in their land, they were to live so differently than those around them that the nations would have to come and see their secret, and then the Jews could introduce them to the true and living God.

Fun fact: the book of Hebrews tells us that the blueprints God gave Moses were patterned after the real temple in Heaven (Hebrews 8:5).

While Israel was at Mount Sinai, God commanded the nation to build him the Tabernacle. He never told them to make a Temple. It was not until 500 years later that David wanted something nicer than the tent, so he asked if he could build a permanent house for God, a temple. God said David could not, but David’s son would do it, so David started saving money and materials, and Solomon finally built the Temple. So, the Temple replaced the Tabernacle, even though God did not require it. (1 Chronicles 28–29)

The church is a completely unique entity. It is the Body of Christ made up of both Jews and Gentiles who have believed in Jesus as Savior since Pentecost in Acts 2. The only way to become part of this group is to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Baptism means “immersion” and Spirit baptism is when the Holy Spirit places/immerses a person into the Body, the church. That happens immediately at salvation and can never be undone. The church will continue on this earth until the Rapture, when Jesus will come for us, and we will be with him forever. But Jesus will come to rescue Israel in the future and finally fulfill all his promises and covenants that the prophets said he would do.

Unlike Israel, the church is not one nation or family, and we have no covenants with God. We have a much closer relationship with God through Jesus than Israel ever had. And unlike Israel, we have God’s presence dwelling in each believer personally and in the midst of believers when we gather together rather than a physical location like the Tabernacle or Temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are his temple!

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