Jesus Our Tabernacle

Posted on September 16, 2019

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By David Ettinger

Old Testament Endorsement
ALL Christians should be reading their Old Testaments. To fully understand the New Testament, we must have an understanding of the Old. After all, Jesus Himself said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

How are you going to know what Jesus came to fulfill if you don’t read it for yourself? Understanding the Old Testament gives believers a more complete picture of who Jesus is. Also, by proclaiming Himself the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets, Jesus was validating the OT’s importance, and that it still lives.

If this is the case, shouldn’t those who love Jesus be reading the Old Testament He regarded as so crucial and dear?

Perfect Example
A perfect example of how being familiar with the OT can give more meaning and richness to your NT reading is found in John 1:14: “The Word [Jesus] became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

The Greek word for “dwelling” is skēnoō, which means “to fix one’s tabernacle,” “to have one’s tabernacle,” or “to reside.” Therefore, John 1:14 can also read: “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.”

If you have no or limited knowledge of the OT, this has little meaning to you. However, if you are familiar with the OT, your mind will take you to the Tabernacle as outlined in the Book of Exodus. The Tabernacle was God’s portable earthly dwelling place used by the children of Israel from the Exodus until the conquest of Canaan.

The Tabernacle, which stood in the center of the Israelite camp, was a symbol of protection for the people of Israel and proof that God was present among His people. In fact, Exodus 25:8 tells us: “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me [God], that I may dwell among them.”

Jesus Our Tabernacle
Now that we very briefly looked at what the Tabernacle was, let’s read John 1:14 again: “And the Word [Jesus] became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

Just as the Tabernacle was a visible sign to the ancient Israelites of God’s presence among them, so is Jesus our Tabernacle present among His redeemed ones. It is no coincidence that John used this particular word (skēnoō) to describe Jesus’ presence.

As our Tabernacle, Jesus is not some far-off deity which can’t be reached. Rather, He resides with us; He has set up His tent in our lives, and we can visit Him (through prayer) any time we want.

Furthermore, as our Tabernacle, Jesus is – or should be – centrally located in our lives. Just as the Tabernacle was in the center of Israel’s camp, so should believers make Jesus the center of our existence. He should be in our sight at all times, a constant source of strength and protection which cannot fail – unless, of course, we decide to walk away from Him.

That Jesus has come to Tabernacle with us means He resides with us; He has offered to take up the central place in our lives, and bids us to partake of His protection and fellowship. To ancient Israel, the Tabernacle was a physical representation of their closeness to God. To believers, Christ is the Tabernacle made flesh. Let us dwell with Him as He does with us, and seek ever-greater closeness with Him!