The first tabernacle that was built by Moses consisted of a tent with wooden side walls (Ex. 26:15–26). The roof had four layers of material, the inner side was made of fine linen, the others of various kinds of animal skins (Ex. 26:1–14). The tent itself was about 43 ft. 9 in. long and 14 ft. 7 in. wide (13.34 by 4.45 m.), with an outer inclusion called the court, about 172 ft. long and 86 ft. wide (Ex. 27:9–18).
The building was divided into two sections, the first was named the holy, and the second the most holy. A thick veil, divided the two rooms. Light was produced by a pure golden seven-branched candlestick in the first apartment. In the holy place there were three articles of furniture: the table of shewbread, the candlestick, and the altar of incense. The table of shewbread was at the right and the candlestick to the left. On the table were the cakes of shewbread, arranged in two piles of six each.
In the Holy place, the most important article was the altar of incense. It was about 2 ft. 11 in. in height, and the top 1 ft. 51/2 in. square (88.9 by 44.45 by 44.45 cm.). The altar was covered with gold. On it, the priest placed the coals of fire from the altar of burnt offering, and also the incense. The incense filled the first apartment and entered the most holy place from above the veil.
In the second apartment or the most holy place, there was only the ark of the covenant. It was a chest about 3 ft. 8 in. long, 2 ft. 2 in. wide and high. The cover of the ark was called the mercy seat, where the atonement was made on the Day of Atonement. Inside the ark there laid the Ten Commandments on two table of stone written with God’s own finger. On top of the mercy seat were two cherubim of gold and where God communicated with His people (Ex. 25:22).
In the court outside the tent was the laver, a large basin made of bronze, containing water. In this laver the priests were to wash their hands and feet before entering the sanctuary or begin their service (Ex. 30:17-21; 38:8).
To the east of the laver, there was the altar of burnt offering, which served a most important purpose for all sacrificial offerings. The altar was about 4 ft. 5 in. (1.33 m.) in height. The top of the altar was about 7 ft. 4 in. (2.22 m.) square. It was made of wood covered with brass. On the four corners of the altar were the “horns of the altar.” In certain of the sacrifices, the priests touched the horns of the altar with the blood and in others, it was sprinkled round about upon the altar.
The Sanctuary represented God’s dwelling place among His children. “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).
In His service,
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