The Purpose of the Wilderness Tabernacle: The Relational Component
On Mount Sinai, Moses received more than just the Ten Commandments. Also included were the detailed instructions for building a meeting place for God and His people. The Tabernacle was a temple of worship that involved specific protocols and procedures. These protocols purposely provided a possible means for God's people to dwell with Him per God's request.
Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
— Exodus 25:8
From the fall in Genesis up until the Tabernacle construction, the Bible records people occasionally walking and talking with God but not dwelling with Him. As we shall see, it is within the framework of this Old Testament sanctuary that God draws His people closer to Himself through an intricate sacrificial system. This arrangement can speak volumes to us today about the specifics of such a great salvation and indescribable gift.
. . . how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation . . . ?
— Hebrews 2:3
Every detail that Christ accomplished to restore our relationship with God finds its discovery in the particulars of the wilderness tabernacle.
This study will take a look at how the Tabernacle was designed to demonstrate the relational purposes and components of God's plan for uniting with us, using male and female forms as illustrative tools. The Tabernacle was about God dwelling with his people. The human relational aspect is not in conflict with the Tabernacle being a reflection of Jesus Himself. Jesus is the person and "the way" that fulfilled every element of the necessities of being near God. The male-female aspect is an additional concept tool that enables us to understand the relational facet more clearly and deeply more accurately.
Both the Old and New Testament provide us with great examples. In I Corinthians Paul tells us that Christ is the wisdom of God
But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption
— I Corinthians 1:30
And yet we see in the book of Proverbs that wisdom presented in a female form.
Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares.
— Proverbs 1:20
The purpose isn't for us to think of Jesus as a female. It is for the purpose of using female attributes to convey relational concepts.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” And call understanding your nearest kin,
— Proverbs 7:4
The male/female concept will be an important note as we study different aspects of this structure and the language itself. In Hebrew, like many other languages, words are either in a male or female form. This method surprisingly helps to communicate relational concepts that can be not be fully comprehended in any other way.
Let's take a look at how this works.
Eve: A Temple
We are informed in Genesis chapter two that man was "formed" from the dust of the ground. When the woman is made, the original Hebrew text reads that she was "built" "banah' hinting that her design images temple building concepts.
Gesenius Lexicon defines this Hebrew word "banah" as: "to build a house, temple, city walls, defenses, altar, and or family." This word is also a female word.
The description of Eve's construction supports this premise.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs (tsela), and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib (tsela) which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
— Genesis 2:21-22
The Hebrew word "tsela" translated "rib," in the above verse, can also be translated "side," "chamber" or "plank" and it receives a total of 41 mentions in Scripture. Two of those mentions are about the building of Eve, 8 in the building of the Wilderness Tabernacle, 7 in the construction of Solomon's temple, and 11 in Ezekiel's temple. This count brings us to 38 of the 41 mentions of this word connected to the building of Eve, the Wilderness Tabernacle, Solomon's Temple, and Ezekiel's Temple.
It is intriguing, in the case of Ezekiel's temple, that "tsela" was translated as "chamber," which is reminiscent of cell structure. A cell is the smallest unit containing the properties of life. It has a tri-part design, like the temple, consisting of plasma, cytoplasm, and a nucleus. The nucleus is where the genetic material is contained. Is this what God is describing when He builds Eve? Genetic material is known as "the building blocks of life" Adam interestingly names Eve with this possible connection in mind.
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living
— Genesis 3:20
Cell means little room in Latin that connects us with the idea of a temple-like structure. The nucleus is the holy of holies, the cytoplasm, the holy place, and the cell membrane is the boundary between the outer court and the two inner spaces.
"Tsela's" first two letters spell "tsel" and means shadow. These two letters are also used in the formation of the word for "image," which is "tsalem," as is used in Genesis chapter one, which references how created man and woman were designed to shadow God.
So God created man in His own image (tsalem); in the image (tsalem) of God He created him; male and female He created them.
— Genesis 1:27
The Bible begins with a temple structure and ends with one expressed in female form.
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband
— Revelation 21:2
This ubiquitous temple blueprint is at the foundation of all of God's purposes and plans. This pattern is, clearly, God's way of doing things.
The video below further expounds on the female temple concept. The teaching is rich and deep, with insights that connect the biological aspect with these revelations. You might want to get a pen and paper for taking notes on this one.
Just a snip-it from the below video teaching includes how the wilderness temple consisted of four layers of skins. The speaker relates this to a C-Section. He describes how a surgeon must cut through four layers of skin to gain access to the baby within the womb, which also images a type of "Holy of Holies."
It's About Intimacy
We discussed earlier how female presentations in the Bible depict relational things. This idea is also strongly related to the concept of intimacy. Intimacy and connection are what God seeks to develop in and with us. Intimacy is hinted at, once again, in the first few chapters of Genesis depicting a marriage between heaven and earth.
"the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them (children both human and divine), were finished. (כָּלָה kalah-completed bride)"
— Genesis 2:1
The Hebrew word for "finished," "kalah" (a female term), in the above verse, is spelled the same as the word for "bride." God's completed work is expressed in marital terms. The marriage of heaven and earth form a complete image of the order, power, intelligence, and beauty of their creator, and this expression functioned through both divine and human imaging hosts (His children).
Furthering this idea, the Hebrew word for "heavens" is expressed in male form. The Hebrew word for "ground" ("adamah") that is the productive portions of the earth from which Adam was created is in female form.
God's image is consistently projected through the concepts of male and female unity and the fruit that is produced by this union. In the creation narrative, it is in Eden that heaven and earth unite. And as discussed in part two, it was where they were divorced.
Eden means "paradise." A conversation at the cross between Jesus and one of the criminals hanging next to Him, reveals a reconnect with earthly and eternal heavenly things, with the mention of paradise.
Then he (the thief on the cross) said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
And Jesus said to him,“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Eden in Hebrew)
— Luke 23:42-43
The marriage of heaven and earth in the temple paradise of Eden was intended to spread the heavenly rule, reign, and presence of God throughout the whole earth. This concept was also depicted in Genesis, chapter two.
Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.
— Genesis 2:10
Not to jump too far ahead, but we can see the imagery, already, of God's dwelling presence flowing from His Holy Place of Eden and watering the central sanctuary of the garden.
Next, we see four river heads which foretell of four gospels going out throughout the whole earth, spreading the knowledge of God to all places of the outer court or the world.
. . . when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
— II Corinthians 2:12-14
Song of Solomon an Intimate Portrait
Song of Solomon, commonly understood to be the most intimate book of the Bible, uses this same combination of female, temple, garden themes that can help us connect these ideas with God's plan.
A garden enclosed Is my sister, my spouse, A spring shut up, A fountain sealed. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates With pleasant fruits, Fragrant henna with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron, Calamus and cinnamon, With all trees of frankincense, Myrrh and aloes, With all the chief spices— A fountain of gardens, A well of living waters, And streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind, And come, O south! Blow upon my garden, That its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden And eat its pleasant fruits . . . I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk. Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!
— Song of Solomon 4:12-16, 5:1
In the passage above, we see the specific mention of the garden, four of them in fact, along with trees, living water, and fruit, which are all depicted in both the Genesis garden and the Revelation holy city.
There is also the combination of wine and milk, which is also used by the prophet Isaiah in what is known as the Gospel of Isaiah. These things tie into the section above concerning God's purpose in establishing these places and points of worship and the spread of the Kingdoms family.
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—The sure mercies of David.
— Isaiah 55:1-3
A Possible Prophetic Component
In the next scene in chapter five of Song of Solomon, things take a dramatic turn from the intimate exchanges between lovers to an apathetic, or could we say, "lukewarm" bride who hesitates to open the door for her beloved who is knocking.
I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one; For my head is covered with dew, My locks with the drops of the night.”
I have taken off my robe; How can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; How can I defile them? My beloved put his hand By the latch of the door, And my heart yearned for him. I arose to open for my beloved, And my hands dripped with myrrh, My fingers with liquid myrrh, On the handles of the lock. I opened for my beloved, But my beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart leaped up when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me; The keepers of the walls Took my veil away from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, That you tell him I am lovesick!
— Song of Solomon 5:2-8
This scene begins with the woman sleeping. Jesus told a prophetic parable that concerned five sleeping virgins who were to be prepared and ready for the coming of the bridegroom.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘ No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
— Matthew 25:1-13
The bridegroom knocking on the door in Song of Solomon is also reminiscent of the letter written to the church of Laodicea, known as the "lukewarm church."
Keep in mind, as you read, that Jesus is knocking on the door of a church. We have many times mistakenly read this verse as a pitch to the unbelieving. But this is, instead, an appeal to His people who are in a dangerous position of indifference.
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ”
— Revelation 3:14-22
The woman in Song of Solomon was so comfortable in her bed that she wasn't sure if she wanted to bother with answering the door. This kind of reminds me of the lukewarm church of today. We are so content with so many other things pleasures and comforts, much like the Laodicean church, and have fallen fast asleep in our complacency. To pursue the lover of our souls seems to be such a bother.
The gospel of Isaiah mentioned earlier has this also to say concerning this.
Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
— Isaiah 55:6-7
And this is what the Shulamite woman does. She eventually decides that she wants to open the door for her beloved, but by then, he left. She suffers from being struck and wounded to get to him but continues in desperation to find him. Since we have rejected Him for so long and not wanted to be bothered, is this the course the church will have to take?
This element of the structure we are studying reminds us that God's call is not an invitation to religious duty but a call to love the perfect Lover of Souls with genuine faithfulness and passion, and this is where Eve misses her call.
Eve's Failed Mission
In part two of this series, Adam's failed mission was discussed, as it concerned his not protecting the sacred space. Eve is not an innocent bystander. Her projected purpose of being a type of sanctuary that expresses a complete and finished work in connection with her beloved becomes undone when she looks to another for fulfillment.
Her desire for independence was a massive departure from the relational intentions God designed for her and consequently resulted in fractured relational results. When God confronts Eve and explains to her the challenges that she will face because of this decision, the two affected areas concern childbearing and her relationship with her husband. Adam's concerned a new unruly territory to which he would be employed to sustain his life.
God's plan, as viewed through the "Wilderness Tabernacle", is one of restoration and redemption of both male and female failed missions as well as retrieval of mankind in totality.
Questions & Answers
What is the true purpose of a woman in building the family's (nuclear and extended) spiritual relationship with God?
You ask a great question. Perhaps the answer should be a future addition to the article.
The true purpose of a woman in building the family's spiritual relationship with God is, first and foremost, to be in a relationship with God herself. Secondly, to extend the graces God has given her to those around her. Thirdly, I believe that a woman can bring her loved ones, whom she bears in the womb of her heart, to God in travailing prayer as no one else can. And lastly, a woman can nurture the building of her family by building them up in God's Word.Helpful 1