A Model Tabernacle

Scripture: Exodus 35-40

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn that God wanted the Israelites to have a place to come and worship Him.
  • Students will learn the various parts of the Tabernacle and how they were used in worship.
  • Students will participate in an activity to help them better understand the Tabernacle

Guiding Question: What did the Tabernacle look like and how were things used in worship?

Materials: May vary – you can use paper, cardboard and markers or build a more elaborate model using balsa wood, fabric and other craft supplies. Kits can be ordered and purchased online.

Procedure: Review the story of the building of the Tabernacle. (note: it isn’t necessary to go into a ton of details. For purposes of this activity it is necessary to know the major areas and several significant items.) Explain that the Tabernacle was basically a large tent that could be moved as the Israelites traveled through the wilderness. After entering the promised land the Tabernacle continued to be used until King Solomon built the Temple hundreds of years later. Many aspects of the Tabernacle were repeated in the Temple. Using your chosen materials, have the students work together to build a model of the Tabernacle. As you work help the students understand the function and importance of the following items:

  • Brazen Altar – this is where animal sacrifices were made. Sacrificed animals had to be “perfect”. Even so the sacrifice itself was not perfect. Jesus would later die on the cross to be the Perfect Sacrifice for our sins.
  • Brazen Laver – There were many rules to make sure that the priests were “clean” when they worked in the Tabernacle. The laver or basin was very large and foreshadowed baptism.
  • Altar of Incense – Incense was to burn on this small altar all day. It was a special incense made of four spices (stacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense). The formula was considered holy and not to be used outside of the Tabernacle. God said the fragrance was pleasing to Him. Psalm 141:2 compares our prayers to this incense.
  • Lampstand (Menorah) – The lampstand was made of gold and weighed about 100 pounds. Both Old and New Testament state that God’s people are a light to the world.
  • Table of Shewbread – This table held twelve loaves of unleavened bread. Each loaf represented a tribe of Israel. Every week fresh loaves were placed on the table and the old loaves were eaten by the priests as they stood there in the Holy Place. The showbread was a hint of the future communion bread eaten by Christians.
  • Holy of Holies Curtain – This curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place in the Tabernacle. Only priests could enter the Holy Place. The High Priest was the only person allowed to enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. The Holy of Holies held the Ark of the Covenant and was where God’s presence was found. At the death of Christ this Curtain was miraculously torn from top to bottom. The torn curtain meant that Christians did not need a High Priest to intercede with God for them. Christ is our “High Priest” and we have direct access to God through prayer.
  • Ark of the Covenant – The Ark of the Covenant was the most special “box” in Judaism. It held the stone tablets with the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s budded rod and some manna. Many stories in the Old Testament reinforce the specialness of the Ark of the Covenant – it was a constant reminder of God’s presence and power with His people in this world. The Ark of the Covenant is last mentioned in the Bible in 2 Chronicles 35:1-6. As the Israelites rejected God and worshiped idols, it makes sense that they would no longer honor God’s presence and power or the Ark which reminded them of God. The Ark also represented how the High Priest on the Day of Atonement asked God to forgive the sins of the people. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross means that Christians no longer need the Ark but can pray through Christ to God and ask His forgiveness whenever we sin.

Note: Depending on the difficulty of the model of the Tabernacle you choose to make and the amount of discussion you have on the various aspects, this lesson may take two class periods.

Additional Questions:

  • How did Solomon’s Temple compare to the Tabernacle?

Supplemental Activity: Have advanced students research and compare and contrast Solomon’s Temple and the Tabernacle. Have them share their findings