Justin Taylor has a helpful post on the meaning of the tabernacle on his blog today. As we have seen in our study of Exodus, the tabernacle is filled with imagery that helps us better understand our own relationship with God.
First, the tabernacle is seen as a tented palace for Israel’s divine king. He is enthroned on the ark of the covenant in the innermost Holy of Holies (the Most Holy Place). His royalty is symbolized by the purple of the curtains and his divinity by the blue. The closer items are to the Holy of Holies, the more valuable are the metals (bronze→silver→gold) of which they are made.
The other symbolic dimension is Eden. The tabernacle, like the garden of Eden, is where God dwells, and various details of the tabernacle suggest it is a mini-Eden. These parallels include the east-facing entrance guarded by cherubim, the gold, the tree of life (lampstand), and the tree of knowledge (the law). Thus God’s dwelling in the tabernacle was a step toward the restoration of paradise, which is to be completed in the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21-22).
The explanation continues here with a full-color picture of the tabernacle.
For further reflections on the tabernacle see:
Soli Deo Gloria, dss