Creation, Tabernacle, Dwelling

My thoughts on this aren’t as fully formed as I would like. I’m sure there is more to this topic and it will need further exploration later. But we finished Exodus this past Shabbat and the theology of Tabernacle-as-mirror-to-Creation says some things about God’s intent, his aims, for . . . well, everything that is.

According to Torah, there is more to the little tent in the desert than meets the eye. I don’t think any of this was lost on readers and hearers in ancient Israel. This sort of theology embedded in sacred space and objects was normal and usual for them. How did the Israelites view the Tabernacle? Why the parallels to the Creation account? Why is the concept of God dwelling emphasized?

TABERNACLE CREATION PARALLELS

……SECTIONS BEGINNING WITH . . . . . . . . . . . . CREATION DAYS IN GEN 1:1 – 2:3
“THE LORD SAID TO MOSES”
(1) Exod 25:1 The Terumah (contribution) . . . . . . Day and Night
(2) Exod 30:11 The Half-Shekel Census . . . . . . . . . Waters Above & Below
(3) Exod 30:17 The Laver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Land & Vegetation
(4) Exod 30:22 The Anointing Oil . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Lights in the Firmament
(5) Exod 30:34 The Incense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Life in the Waters
(6) Exod 31:1 The Craftsmen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Life on Dry Land & Humanity
(7) Exod 31:12 The Sabbath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sabbath Rest

There is probably little point in finding specific symbolisms for each day of Creation compared to each section of the Tabernacle narratives, but there is this general pattern: six days of creativity followed by a seventh about the Sabbath (Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus).

There are also a few other things to notice:

(1) The Tabernacle and the Sabbath are connected to each other. See Leviticus 19:30 and 26:2, “You shall keep my Sabbaths and venerate my Sanctuary” (Sarna).

(2) The Tabernacle is assembled on New Year’s day (Exod 40:17) which represents the Creation symbolically (Sarna).

(3) In the Ancient Near East, the cosmos was regarded as a sort of temple for the gods and temples were associated with the cosmos (Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One

(4) There are specific elements of cosmos/Creation in the Tabernacle/Temple (Walton):
…The Laver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Waters
…The Pillars . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Pillars of the Earth
…The Menorah . . . . . . . . . . . The Heavenly Lights
…The Bread . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Vegetation
…The Incense . . . . . . . . . . . . The Cloud
…The Veil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Firmament (Sky)

(5) Isaiah 66:1-2:
The heaven is My throne
and the earth is My footstool:
Where could you build a house for Me?
What place could serve as My abode?
All this was made by My hand.
And thus it all came into being — declares the LORD.

(6) In the second Creation account, the rivers of Eden become a Temple theme. Thus, waters will come from the Temple giving life in the New Earth as in Ezek 47:1-12; Psa 46:5(4); Zech 14:8; Rev 22:1-2 (Walton).

GOD’S DESIRE: TO DWELL WITH HIS SONS AND DAUGHTERS

Exodus 25:8, “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.”

Exodus 29:45-46, “And I will dwell among the people of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them; I am the Lord their God. ”

Exodus 40:34-35, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”

The point of all this is that God created space and sons and daughters because of his desire to dwell with us. There is nothing about us that he needed. God is Infinitely complete. Not out of necessity, but out of desire, he made us and the space that we occupy (with a crazy abundance of space far and away beyond what all living beings need) as a Temple for one purpose: to dwell with us.

And so, the Israelites who came to the Tabernacle drew near to the Presence. And so God dwelt in Tabernacle and then Temple. And so the Spirit was in Israel. And so the Presence (Shechinah) is in exile with Israel (many scriptures about this and a tradition in Talmud as well).

And God dwelt in Yeshua, the Word made flesh.

And so the Spirit came upon the nations.

And God did not need us. He desired us. And his purpose is to dwell with us.

And the dwelling of God will be with his sons and daughters and the cosmos will be his Temple.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Creation, Tabernacle, Dwelling

  1. Pingback: Creation, Tabernacle, Dwelling, and History « The Return of Benjamin

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