It is surprising the amount of detail Moses is given for constructing the tabernacle. “God spoke all these words” to Moses (Exodus 20:1) and in chapter 26 we have God’s detailed instructions. “Moreover you shall make the Tabernacle with …” (verse 1) and there follows detailed information about the texture, length and colour of the ten curtains that are to enclose its contents. There are also 50 loops and clasps to secure the curtains, and the “50 clasps are of gold” (verse 6).
He is to make “curtains of goats hair” (verse 7) for a top covering, 30 of these are needed, they are to be longer, 30 cubits (about 45 feet each, nearly 14 metres). Next are details of the sizes of the acacia wood frames (verses 15-29) and the need for bronze bases (verse 37). The verse that particularly stood out was verse 30, “you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain”.
Why all this meticulous attention to detail? In Revelation the Apostle John says he “turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden Lampstands, and in the midst of the Lampstands one like the son of man …” (Revelation 1:12,13). John is told “the seven Lampstands are the seven churches” (verse 20). The seven churches, the assemblies of believers, are named and described in chapters 2 and 3. We see them as being representative of all the different types of assemblies of “saints” that have existed throughout the earth since that time. Each is told “I know thy works” because the Son of man was in the midst of them.
In Ephesians Paul tells the believers they were “members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (2:19-21).
Just as God oversaw the construction of a physical tabernacle in the wilderness, there is now a spiritual temple. Do we see it? Just as in Revelation John saw Jesus in the midst of the assemblies of believers, so also Paul concludes his revelation of the true, but physically unseen state of things by writing, “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (verse 22). Are we conscious of the builder? Are we co-operating with Him? Moses is our example. The majority of the people with Moses in the wilderness lost their vision of the spiritual behind the physical. Is not the same tragedy happening in today’s wilderness? “Who is on the Lord’s side?”