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IV. The Present Use of the Tabernacle

The Tabernacle of Israel, by George de Charms, 1969

To the sons of Israel the tabernacle was a localized abode of Deity. It was the only place in the world where the voice of Jehovah could be heard. Only there could they be assured of Divine protection and guidance. Around it their whole national life revolved. Nevertheless, its use was temporary. When they had been settled in the land of Canaan, it was no longer needed, and in time it was abandoned. Only the Ark remained in use as the instrument of communication with Jehovah, and this was brought to Jerusalem by King David. (2 Samuel Chapter 6) In the reign of Solomon the temple was built to take the place of the tabernacle. It was a magnificent building of stone, designed to provide for the far more elaborate worship that was required by the greatly increased numbers of the Jewish people. This temple also served only for a time. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar when the Jews were taken captive to Babylon. Another temple was built by Ezra and Nehemiah after the years of captivity, but this was destroyed by the Greek rulers of Syria. When Herod was appointed king of the Jews by the Roman emperor, he restored the temple, and worship according to the ancient rites was performed there until seventy A.D. when this last abode of God was razed to the ground by the Roman army in the reign of the Emperor Vespasian. However, its use as a national shrine had been fulfilled, and it was no longer needed. The representative of a church, of which it had been the center, was replaced, at the advent of the Lord, by a truly spiritual church, dedicated to the worship of Jesus Christ, risen and glorified. Thenceforth, God was to be seen, not in a local building, but in His Word. Especially was He to be seen in the Gospels, where the life-story of Jesus Christ was faithfully recorded by the Evangelists. There also, by the Sermon on the Mount, and by other teachings, the Lord began to unveil the inner meaning of the Old Testament Word, which had been concealed from the Jews. He revealed a new vision of God, and imparted to men a new concept of the Divine Will, on which the Christian Church was founded. He taught that the worship of God was no longer to be confined to a specific place, because He would thenceforth be present wherever His Word was known and understood, and reverently obeyed. Thus when the woman of Samaria spoke to Jesus Christ at Jacob's well saying: "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus said unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:20-24) Jesus Christ could openly declare only the broad generals of religious truth, during His life in the world. That further revelation would be necessary He plainly foretold, saying: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you." (John 16:12-15)

This prophecy was fulfilled at the time of the Lord's second coming, when, through His servant Emanuel Swedenborg, the spiritual truth contained in the Word of both Testaments, was made known in great abundance. It was explained in rational terms in great detail. It is contained in some thirty-five volumes, all of which taken together are called "the Heavenly Doctrine of the New Jerusalem." On this revelation a New Christian Church is now being established. Here, in the work entitled the Arcana Coelestia we find a spiritual exposition in great detail of those chapters in the book of Exodus that describe the construction of the tabernacle.

We have pointed out that, although God is present everywhere in the universe, He can be consciously present only in the human mind. The human mind is an instrument Divinely created to become aware of God's presence, to perceive His Divine qualities of love and wisdom, that He may be loved in return, and worshiped from the heart. This is now the real tabernacle of God, the place of His indwelling with man.

However, in order that God may dwell in the human mind, it must be formed and built into a tabernacle. It is not so formed from man's birth, but during childhood, it is built out of sense impressions derived from the material world. On these all man's ideas are based. Only at adult age, after these worldly materials have been provided, can the process of constructing the tabernacle out of these materials be begun. This is because, during the years of minority, every one is dependent upon the external control and guidance of parents and teachers. He has not yet acquired the ability to think and judge for himself. His mind is patterned by others, through instruction and education. If it is to become a tabernacle for the indwelling of God with him, it must be reformed in accord with his own will and personal choice. Only by his own free election can his mind be opened to receive the Lord as his own individual God, the object of His individual love and worship.

This re-ordering of the human mind by a gradual process of regeneration, is what is specifically meant by the building of the tabernacle as described in Exodus. It can be accomplished only according to the Divine laws of life which are revealed in the Heavenly Doctrine. They are explained in connection with all the details of the account recorded by Moses.

It is important in the first place to note that the tabernacle was built of materials that were given by the sons of Israel as a free-will offering to the Lord. "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto the children of Israel that they bring to Me an offering: of every man that giveth willingly with his heart ye shall take My offering." (Exodus 25:1, 2) This is the first essential of a spiritual religion. It must be free. Man must sacrifice his own will in order to obey the will of God. What he must sacrifice, is not any material possession, but things of the spirit. They must be selfish loves, and self-centered goals that are contrary to the Divine will. These must be disciplined, and made subject to the love of service to others, and charity toward the neighbor. In no other way can the mind be opened to receive heavenly love and wisdom from the Lord.

But what does this have to do with the minute details of the tabernacle? Is this not recognized as true by those of every religion in the world? In spite of all their differences as to doctrine and religious life, do not all religions require of man that he live a life of use to others? Do they not all acknowledge the Ten Commandments as laws to be observed? What else does God require of any one than that which is so simply expressed by the prophet Micah: "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:6-8)

The law of religion, thus stated, is very simple; but human life is very complex. This becomes evident when we attempt to understand the laws of nature, and to use them for the benefit of human society. The field of scientific knowledge is beyond all limits. Its details are so numerous, that even in a life-time of devoted research, only a very small portion of them can be mastered. Yet only so far as these details are known and understood can anyone succeed in producing succesful mechanical inventions for the service of men. The same is true of spiritual things. Men think of them as abstract formulas of theology, but in reality they are the laws of spiritual life according to which alone man can achieve true and lasting happiness. They must be learned from Divine revelation, even as natural laws must be learned from nature. That they may be learned is the whole purpose for which the Word of God has been given. They must be seen in the Word, not as abstract formulas, but as vital principles of human thought, and love, and conduct. And they must be understood in application to all the complex conditions of life with which everyone is confronted daily. This is the reason why so many books have been written to explain the Ten Commandments. Why else should the Old Testament have been given, including the five books of Moses, the historical books from Joshua to Kings, and all the Prophets? And why else should it be necessary to add all the volumes that are included in the Heavenly Doctrine? All of these Scriptures contain treasures of Divine wisdom that are necessary for the establishment of the Lord's kingdom among men, and for the salvation of the human race.

From the construction of the tabernacle, therefore, and from all its specifications, spiritual knowledge and understanding may be derived that is of surpassing value to mankind. Whether the present study can succeed in transmitting to the reader some idea of how these things may be related to the practical problems of religious life, is doubtful; but if it does so in some small degree, it will have achieved its paramount purpose.


Crown of Revelations
Rebirth, Reincarnation
The Holy Center
Salvation in the Gospels
Psychology of Marriage
Precious Stones
The Human Mind
The Moral Life
Saul, David & Solomon
Bible Lost & Found
The Human Soul
Genesis and Exodus
City of God
Swedenborg Cosmology
Ultimate Reality
The Pattern of Time
Means of Salvation
NC: Sex and Marriage
Book with Seven Seals
My Lord and My God
Philosopher, Metaphysician
Inspiration of Genesis
Words In Swedenborg
Book Expo
Missionary Talks
Tabernacle of Israel
A Brief View of the Heavenly Doctrines
Ancient Mythology
Odhner: Creation
Ten Commandments
Christ and The Trinity
Discrete Degrees
Body Correspondences
Language of Parable
The Ten Blessings
Creation in Genesis
The Third Source
Noble's "Appeal"
Life After Death


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The Present Use

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