Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Tabernacle Was Small (Guest Post)

Last Sunday evening our Provo campus toured Brigham Young University's life-sized replica of the ancient tabernacle. Our tour began with visual displays inside the Joseph Smith Building. What caught my attention most was a mural depicting various temples throughout history. The tabernacle was minuscule compared to all of the others. It was especially dwarfed by Herod’s temple from ancient Rome, and the LDS temple in Salt Lake City, which were about the same size.

The tour continued outside. Several women guided us and presented historical facts along the way. Their words provided context for the purpose of each area of the tabernacle, where priests would perform sacrifices for sin and thus act as mediators between God and man. While it was big enough for our group of 13 to fit comfortably inside, not many more would have been able to join. Honestly, as a structure, I found the tabernacle to be underwhelming. Simply put, it was small.

Our God made the mountains high and the ocean deep. He provides us with endless and enjoyable resources. Every creature, every color, every shape, every sense, I could go on; God made it. Our God is so great! Comparatively so, His sanctuary on earth was ridiculously small. 

Likewise, King David also thought the tabernacle was too small. In 2 Samuel 7, David decided he would build a grand temple for God. However, God reminded David that He never asked for a temple and had no need for anyone to build Him one. We see this reiterated in Acts 17:24-25, "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things." Out of His love for David, God allowed his son, Solomon, to build the temple of Jerusalem. Yet, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, "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? Hath not my hand made all these things?" (Acts 7:49-50; cf. Isaiah 66:1).

The tabernacle and temple had their significance, but we see their ultimate fulfillment in Christ Jesus. As a descendent of David, Jesus reigns as king over the promised eternal kingdom (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-16). This kingdom was not meant to continue on with more man-made temples and priests. Those were just a shadow of things to come (cf. Hebrews 8, 10). Now, God's presence dwells inside the citizens of this spiritual kingdom. Our bodies are His temple (cf. Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:5-10; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20). He alone is our eternal High Priest (cf. Hebrews 7), and that makes Him the only mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 9:15). He alone is our eternal sacrifice (cf. Hebrews 9). Yes, something greater than the temple of Jerusalem is here, and His name is Jesus (cf. Matthew 12:6). 

Honestly, I love that the tabernacle was small. God didn't need to upgrade it. Instead, He longed to downsize. Now, His treasure is stored in our bodies, in mere jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7). It reminds me of the simplicity and sustainability of the Gospel, and of the greatness of our God, who doesn't need our assistance to redeem and restore us to Himself.

"And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it" (Revelation 21:22).

Contributed by Dana Glenn.

Learn more by listening to Pastor Logan's series Holy of Holies: A Tour Biblical Temples.

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