THE LORD’S TABERNACLE
By Wayne S. Walker
"LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?" (Psalm 15:1). Many people when they see or hear the word "tabernacle" immediately think of a place of worship. Many denominational churches use the term in their name, such as "Bible Tabernacle." However, the basic meaning of the word "tabernacle" in the original language was simply a temporary shelter, such as a tent, booth, hut, lean-to, or something like that. During the "feast of the tabernacles" the people of Israel were commanded to make booths in which they would dwell to remind them that they were sojourners in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:34, 41-43).
Of course, there was a tabernacle—a tentlike, temporary shelter–that was built for use as a place of worship while the Israelites wandered in the wilderness (Exodus 39:32). Its purpose was to represent the presence of God among the people of Israel (Exodus 25:8). Continuing to be used through the times of the conquest, judges, and reigns of Saul and David, it was finally replaced as the gathering place for the nation by Solomon’s temple (2 Samuel 8:4-6). Therefore, the concepts of "tabernacle" and "temple" are often used synonymously.
As Orville J. Nave noted in his Topical Bible, in Psalm 15:1, the tabernacle was used as a "symbol of spiritual things." This is also true of the usage made of the term in the book of Hebrews. A reading of Hebrews 8:1-5 and 9:1-12 and 24, leads to the conclusion that in the tabernacle’s serving as a copy and shadow of heavenly things, the inner room or most holy place obviously represents heaven, so the outer room or the holy place must represent the church here on earth. In both instances, the emphasis is on God’s presence among men and men’s resultant relationship with Him, first in the church here on earth and then later in heaven.
Thus, back to the Psalm, the inspired writer is describing in general terms the kind of character that one must possess to have fellowship with God here on earth and the hope of being with Him in heaven. "He who walks uprightly….He who does not backbite with his tongue,…in whose eyes a vile person is despised….He who does not put out his money at usury…." God has a certain standard of behavior which He demands of those who would be His people in this world and can expect to dwell with Him in His eternal home. Does this describe you and me?