26:1–37 God reveals the pattern for the tabernacle proper. The tabernacle, God’s holy dwelling in the midst of His sinful people, served a double function. On the one hand, it protected the people from the dangers of unauthorized intrusion—the curtains of the Most Holy Place, of the Holy Place, and even of the courtyard stood between the people and the threat of God’s consuming holy presence. On the other hand, the tabernacle provided a way of approach to the Lord. Worshipers entered the outer court to pray and offer sacrifices; the priests carried the people’s petitions into the holy place; and once a year on the Day of Atonement the high priest entered the Most Holy Place, the very throne-room of the Almighty, with a blood atonement to meet the Lord at the mercy seat.
Nevertheless, the tabernacle was a provisional symbol, rather than the full reality, of God’s dwelling with man. It symbolized the heavenly temple of God (Heb. 8:1–6; 9:1–15), and pointed forward to the dwelling of God with man in Jesus Christ, God incarnate in human flesh (John 1:14 note). As the author of Hebrews makes clear, the tabernacle and its ministry were insufficient in themselves (Heb. 10:1–4). Rather, they foreshadowed the final and completely sufficient priestly work of Christ (Heb. 10:11–18).