How would you feel if God tells you He wants to live with His people? Read about God's revelations to Prophet Aaron regarding the Tabernacle and Sacrifice here (Exodus chapter 40, Leviticus chapter 1).

The Tabernacle: God dwells among His people

We've already learned from Prophet Adam that no one can come near God directly because our sinfulness and shame cannot coexist with God’s perfection and holiness. But as revealed to all the Prophets discussed in this study, God’s love and mercy is so great that He desires to be near His people. God is determined to remove this barrier of sin to draw near to us for eternity.

But how? First, God used tangible ways to teach His people what it meant to draw near to Him. He instructed Moses and Aaron to build a Tabernacle: a holy place where God would live in the midst of His people and where the people could draw closer to Him.

The Tabernacle had an outer courtyard with an altar. In it, there was a tent which was divided into two parts by a large curtain. The outer room was the Holy Place, and the most inner room was called the 'Most Holy Place' (Holy of Holies) (Exodus 26:30-34).

Everything in the Tabernacle is a symbol of God’s covenant with His people.

Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle." (Exodus 40:34-35)

God chose to dwell among His people! Imagine the glory and the power of God in front of your eyes!

Only priests were allowed into the first part of the tent. But they could enter only after purification through washing, the shedding of blood of the lamb and the anointing with oil.

Drawing near to God

God's design for the Tabernacle clearly reveals How He wants us to approach Him. This is a serious matter. We draw near to God on His terms, not on our terms. Only He knows how to deal with our sin and shame.

1. Entering

We enter into God's presence through prayer as seek God with all our hearts and draw near to Him.

2. Sacrifice and confession of sin

In ancient times, an animal had to be killed and the blood was to cover the sin of the people. These are represented by the bronze altar where sacrifices for sin were made. As we confess our sins in humility and look with faith to the sacrifices God has prepared for us, we connect with Him via His grace and atonement.

3. Cleansing and forgiveness of sin

These are represented by the bronze laver or basin. We receive His forgiveness and cleansing by faith with thankfulness.

4. Worship

Worship is the next step. As the priests tended the lamps, the table, and the altar of incense, we offer regular thanksgiving and praise to God in the Holy Place, as a sweet fragrance before Him.

5. Encounter with God

Meeting God in the Holy of Holies is the ultimate goal. The glory of God filled the Tabernacle. But we cannot enter this place. Only the High Priest could enter on our behalf.

Atonement: A sacrifice that covers the sin of the people

'Atonement' means making amends for a wrongdoing. In the Word of God, it specifically refers to the reconciliation (restoration of a broken relationship) between mankind and God. It means paying the price of sin so that we can be right with God again.

In the time of Prophet Moses and Aaron, Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would pass through the curtain and enter the Holy of Holies (the Most Holy Place) on behalf of the people. It was the most inner part of the tabernacle. No one else could enter it because it was too holy and sacred.

But before entering, the High Priest must make sacrifices and burnt offerings for the sins of both himself and all the people (even the High Priest was a sinner!) (Leviticus chapter 1):

1. The animal must be without defect (verse 3).

Sin is costly. Our defects need to be covered by something that is without defect. Anything that is not perfect cannot be accepted as a substitute.

2. The Offerer lays his hand on the head of the animal (verse 4).

Laying on of hands is accompanied by confession of sin (as in Leviticus 16:21), and involves passing one's sins to the animal that God has accepted as a substitute. The innocent animal dies for our sins.

3. The Offerer slaughters the animal (verse 5).

The priest doesn't do the killing here; it is at the hands of the sinner himself -- a graphic reminder of the brutal consequences of our sin and rebellion against God.

4. Priest collects the blood and sprinkles it against the altar (verse 5).

While the animal is being killed by the slitting of its throat, the priest holds a basin to collect the blood and sprinkles it against the altar to make atonement. Blood represents life.

"For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." (Leviticus 17:11)

This was the only way that the sin of all the people could be cleansed and they could have their relationship with the Lord restored.

Your Response: Listen to God and Pray...

1. What is God's attitude towards sin? What is your attitude?

2. According to God's Word, what would qualify you to draw near to God?

3. What have you learned about God's character and what He wants in our hearts and lives?

4. How would you respond to God?

5. Who will you share this story with?