The Tabernacle – The BackStory Part 1

When we read scripture and pick out verses to quote, in the end, what we communicate does not always carry the original meaning of the text. Context is of utmost importance, The same is true in telling a story. If we don’t give some context, those listening have questions. Who did this? Why did they choose to do it this way? How were others affected by their decision? Etc. 

My approach to writing about the Tabernacle stirred many of the same questions. In the past, the facts of what materials were used, their size, shape, and color, and every detail revealing something about Jesus, filled my presentation. 

While these are still needed, I sense Abba wants to go deeper. So, I prayed. And the more I prayed the more I realized that He wanted to start with a back story. But how far back and what to include? 

“Where do You want me to begin?” I asked. 

“With Abraham,” He said.

“Abraham? That’s a back story,” I said. “Okay, You are the Editor in Chief. Lead me.”

Thus, we begin with the story of the Tabernacle. We are going to run through centuries of history. We will cover the main characters and bits of their stories. You won’t hear some of your favorite pieces. But my prayer is that you will be better prepared for the unveiling of His plan. 

Long ago, 760 years before the Tabernacle was completed, Abram was born. When God called Abram, he lived in the city of Ur, as seen on the map below.

Ur was a city where people worshipped the moon god. Abram’s father, Terah, made and sold idols for a living. (Joshua 24:2)

Abram was 70 years old when Terah moved his family from Ur to Haran. We don’t know much more about Abram’s back story. But this is where our story of the Tabernacle begins. 

In Genesis 12:1-3, we have a record of what God spoke to Abram when He called him. Abram was 75 years old at the time. 

God said, “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Going on, it says, Abram left Haran as the Lord had spoken… to go to the land of Canaan. Genesis 12:4-5 He did this without knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8) As far as we know, Abram didn’t know God other than this brief call. 

When Abram got to Canaan, The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants, I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:7

Abram did not hear from God again until twenty-four years later. That is a long wait. Sarai, Abram’s wife was childless. She prompted Abram to have relations with Hagar, Sarai’s maid. Hagar gave birth to Ishmael. After all, how could his descendants inherit the land, if Abram and Sarai were barren? Now everything is in place, or so they thought.

God’s timetable is always perfect, and we are always in a hurry. We don’t need to help God fulfill His word. 

Genesis 15 relays the covenant God made with Abram. He assures him Ishmael is not Abram’s heir, but another son will be born. He also told him that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars overhead. 

Then He said this: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here…” Genesis 15:13-16

On that same day, He deeded a large parcel of land from the Nile to the Euphrates to Abram’s family. 

In Genesis 17:1-8, Abram’s name changed to Abraham and we hear the rest of God’s promises. 

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 

3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

Abram was one hundred years old when Isaac was born and Sarah (Sarai’s new name) was ninety years old. 

Romans 4:18-22, reveals Abram’s faith and how God saw him. 

(Abraham) who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Okay, now put on your running shoes, we are going to cover some ground. Isaac grew up to be a man and married Rebecca. Rebecca gave birth to twins, Jacob and Esau. Jacob tricked Esau and Isaac and received the firstborn blessing from his father. But he would experience something in his future in return. 

Jacob loved Rachel. Through the trickery of Rachel’s father, Jacob became the husband of two wives–Rachel and her older sister Leah. Rachel remained barren until ten sons were born, but she gave birth to two sons before her death, Joseph, and Benjamin. 

Hang on, we are almost through Part 1 of our backstory. The Israelites are about to appear on the set. 

Jacob loved Joseph and gave him a multicolored coat that marked him as his father’s favorite. Through a series of events that included Joseph sharing dreams of his superiority, Joseph’s eleven brothers grew jealous. They sold him into slavery and convinced Jacob that Joseph was dead. 

But God had other plans. Joseph found himself in Egypt, serving in the house of the Pharoah. The wife of Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard’s wife took a liking to Joseph and through her lies, Joseph was soon imprisoned. 

Two of his fellow prisoners had dreams that Joseph interpreted. The dreams come true, but Joseph is still in prison. Two years later the Pharoah had a dream and none of his magicians or wise men could explain it to him. It was then that the chief butler stepped forward. He told Pharoah about Joseph and his skills in interpretation.

Pharoah called Joseph and he interpreted the dream. The Pharoah was quite impressed. In Genesis 41:39-41 we read how God put a key piece in place.

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”

When famine came to Egypt, it also fell on Jacob and his family. They heard about the food available in Egypt and Jacob sent all his sons but Benjamin to buy food. The rest of the story is a good one, but I will jump to the end because it is the beginning of the Tabernacle story in earnest. 

Jacob and all his family moved to Egypt and received good land to grow food and raise sheep. God has all the principal characters in place for a great exodus in four hundred and thirty years. Seventy-two people settled in Egypt from Jacob’s family. In the time they were there, their family grew to three million plus. 

Again, you can see, God is not one to hurry. He is meticulous in His planning and His timing is perfect. 

I know this was long—we covered centuries. My prayer is that you enjoyed this overview and will stick around for the rest of the story. We will cover Moses’ life until Mt. Sinai in Part 2 and then deep dive into the Tabernacle. We are just getting started and you, my friend, are in the script.


Main Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “The Tabernacle – The BackStory Part 1

  1. Just wondering if there is a typo on the part about the wife of Pharoah. Should it not be the wife of Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there?

  2. I just accidentally deleted Part 2 or I would reply there, but I wanted to say I love this. He was and still is committed to His bride. So much here I did not know.

    I am reading a book you may have, but if not I think you would love it. It is called Bearing God’s Name – Why Sinai Still Matters by Carmen Joy Imes.

    Vicki Welter

    Sent from my iPad


    • Thanks, Vicki. No, I’ve never heard of this book. From what I see in Amazon, it looks interesting but not the track God has me on for the series I am writing. I believe the author’s theme will be woven through what I write, but will not be the focal point. I celebrate the fact that she’s written about the value of studying the Old Covenant. To me it has so much bearing on how we walk in the new covenant. Thanks again.

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