The Lord first spoke to Moses on Mt Sinai, where He appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush (Ex. 3:2) and promised to deliver Israel. Having left Egypt, Israel is now being led by the Lord in the wilderness. And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people (Ex. 13:21-22). Now upon the mountain of the Lord, amazingly God promises to dwell with His people. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst (Ex. 25:8).
The Lord in great detail gives Moses the blueprint on how this sanctuary is to be built. The Lord not only gives Moses its dimensions, but actually shows what it was to look like. And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain (Ex. 25:9; 26:30).
The Lord begins with the heart of the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, and works outward to our text today which details the Tabernacle structure itself. The Lord in His wisdom tells Moses how to build it and what materials to use–the most precious metals, yarns, colors, and skins. God would dwell with and speak to Israel as He leads them to the Promised Land.
Having God in their midst would have been an amazing comfort to Israel. But boundaries were set in place. The outer court had a gate. This was the one and only way by which men and women could draw near to God. It was the single entrance to the entire tabernacle. There was no other way in. Whether a priest going to carry out his duties or a repentant sinner seeking forgiveness, a man had to enter by that one way. Then there were two coverings in the Tabernacle itself. One, called a screen, stood at its entrance, through which only certain priests were allowed to go into the Holy Place. The other, called the veil, separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies where only the high priest was allowed to go once a year!
Does God still set boundaries today? Does God still dwell among and speak to His children?