“Beginning of the Tabernacle” Sunday School Lesson, Exodus 40:16-21, 29-30, 34, 38, November 24, 2013

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November 24, 2013

“Beginning of the Tabernacle”

Exodus 40:16-21, 29-30, 34, 38

(Click here for PDF: Beginning of the Tabernacle Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below.  Enjoy!)

(Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited)


Worship and a place to worship are essential to the Christian life.  We are told in Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.”  When we come together in one place, as a corporate entity, we do so to learn of God, to encourage one another in God, and to experience God’s presence.

While God is omnipresent and “the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee,” (1 Kings 8:27), there’s something special about God’s people gathering as one, in one place to draw closer to Him.  The tabernacle, in all its special care and glory, was going to be used as a meeting place; a place for God and man to experience fellowship and reconciliation.

Exodus 40:16 “Thus did Moses according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he.” 

“So did he.”  The obedience of Moses is something we hit on in last week’s lesson “The Beginning of Freedom” where I stated “There’s much to be said in relation to our obedience and God’s moving on our behalf.  The two go hand in hand.” (wordforlifesays)

Moses’ obedience in last week’s lesson showed the power of God working through him to part the Red Sea that His people might experience liberation from their Egyptian captors.  In this week’s lesson being obedient will eventually lead to them experiencing “the glory of the LORD,” (Ex. 40:34).

But, before they can reach that climatic event everything must be put in proper order the way God instructed.  Following God’s instructions or being obedient is a key factor from Genesis to Revelations.  Even beginning with creation itself, when God spoke everything had to obey and be what He called it to be.  “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast,” (Ps. 33:9).  The first man was commanded to obey, (Gen. 2:17).  And, at the end of the Bible Revelations 22:14 says, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that thy may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

Obedience is not an option.  It is a requirement!  Simply put NO OBEDIENCE, NO GLORY!

God desired a certain order for the tabernacle and all that is in it.  Everything had to be as prescribed or else the people will short-change themselves in experiencing all that God has in store for them.

Exodus 40:17-19 “And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.  And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars.  And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the LORD commanded Moses.”

“In the first month . . . on the first day of the month.”  The time when the tabernacle was reared up was another act of obedience on the part of Moses.  In Exodus 40:1-2 God spoke to Moses stating this is the exact time that He wanted the tabernacle “set up.”  Moses, in obedience, rallied the people to get the work done on time so that it can be erected in the time God stated.

“The tabernacle was reared up.”  At this point of time in the Bible all preparations have been made and now it was time to erect the tabernacle itself and to also start assembling everything where it needed to go.

“Sockets . . . boards . . . bars . . . pillars” were some of the items that needed assembling in the rearing of the tabernacle.  In Exodus 36 there is greater detail shown for these items.  “Sockets” were silver and they were placed under the boards and used in the pillars (vss. 20-30).  In verse 38 the “sockets” were “brass.”  The “boards” and “bars” were both made of “shittim wood” (vss. 20, 31).  The “boards” were 10 cubits by 1 ½ cubits (vs. 21).  The “boards” and “bars” were overlaid with gold, (vs. 34).  The “pillars” were also made of “shittim wood” and overlaid with gold, (vss. 36, 38).

It would be good to familiarize yourself more by reading Exodus 36:8-38.

“He spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it.”  Exodus 36:19 tells us, “He made covering for the tent of ram’s skin dyed red, and a covering of badgers’ skins above that.”  So, here we get a general idea of some of the materials that went into this tabernacle and how it was constructed.

Exodus 40:20-21 “And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark: And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses.”

“Put the testimony into the ark.”  In Exodus 24:12 the LORD called Moses up on the mount.  He said, “I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.”

Moses was on the mount for “forty days and forty nights,” (Ex. 24:18).  While there God gave detailed instructions on EVERYTHING!  Traveling a little bit further in the Bible to Exodus 31:1 it says, “And he gave unto Moses when he made an end of communing with him upon the mount Sinai, two tablets of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”

In Exodus 32:19, those first “tables;” those that were considered “the work . . . the writing of God,” (Ex. 32:16) were broken when Moses cast them down in his anger over the worship of the golden calf.  The “testimony” that he is placing in the ark in today’s lesson were the second set of “tables of stone,” (Ex. 34:1-4).

“Put the mercy seat above upon the ark.”  Exodus 25:17 tells us of this “mercy seat.”  It says, “Thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof,” (a cubit is approximately 18 inches in length).

The “mercy seat” is the meeting place of God.  Exodus 25:22 says, “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of testimony . . .”

“Covered the ark of the testimony.”  With all the pieces of the “ark” in place it’s now taken into the “tabernacle” and set behind a “vail.”  God gave instructions for this “vail” in Exodus 26:31-33.  It was used to “divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy,” (Ex. 26:33, see also Hebrews 9:1-6).  It was in this most holy place where Christ entered with His blood and “obtained eternal redemption for us,” (Heb. 9:12).

Exodus 40:29-30 “And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the LORD commanded Moses.  And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal.”

“Altar of burnt offering.”  Exodus 27:1-2 describes the altar as made “of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.”  Verse 2 goes on to describe the “horns” of the altar and that is overlaid with “brass.”

This “altar” would receive the unblemished sacrifice, (Lev. 1:3).  This “altar” is where “atonement” would be made, (Lev. 1:4).  This “altar” is where a “sweet savour unto the LORD is made,” (Lev. 1:9, 13, 17).  This “altar” would be an integral part of their worship.

“He set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar.”  This is one of those times where you can really apply that old saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”  This “laver” was made of “brass” and was used for the purpose of washing, (Ex. 30:17-21).  God warned that if the priests tried to approach Him or any of His services at the altar and such, if they did so without washing, they would die (Ex. 30:20-21).  This is a good representation of how seriously we should be careful in how we approach God in our own worship.

Exodus 40:34, 38 “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”

“A cloud covered the tent.”  In last week’s lesson they were guided by a “cloud.”  Here, the “cloud” indicating the presence of God, covers the “tent of the congregation,” and “the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”  God has a way of showing up, so to speak, and making His presence known when His people follow His directions and have everything in place.

In 1 Kings, when Solomon brought the “ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place,” (8:6) and the “priest came out of the holy place,” (8:10), the Bible tells us “the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.”

In either instance, imagine what it would have like, there on either of those days, to visibly witness the presence of God.  Awesome!  Terrifying!  And, everything in between!

“Cloud . . . by day, and fire . . . by night . . . throughout all their journeys.”  The same way God assured them in last week’s lesson is the same way He assures them now.  He is ever with His people.  When He moves they move; when He stayed still they remained where they were.  “And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents,” (Num. 9:17, see also verses 18-23).


Let us be mindful of how we draw near to God in worship.  Jesus paved the way through His redemptive blood that we might have an intimate relationship with God.  He entered the most holy place to gain our salvation.  Let’s give Him the worship He deserves.

Below you will find activities to help support this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

Wordsearch:  Beginning of the Tabernacle Wordsearch  Answers:  Beginning of the Tabernacle Wordsearch Answers

Crossword:  Beginning of the Tabernacle Crossword  Answers:  Beginning of the Tabernacle Crossword Answers

Draw the Scene:  Beginning of the Tabernacle Draw the Scene

Below are more links and resources for this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

“Bible Stories – Instructions for the Tabernacle” (This Youtube video animation is great for explaining all those little details of building the tabernacle.  Great visual representation.  Enjoy!)

“Building the Tabernacle” (Scroll down to the activity section on this site to put together a simple project for any student.  Enjoy!)

“Building the Tabernacle Coloring Page”

“Build Your Own Tabernacle” (Step by step and fully printable!!!! Two great combinations to help any teacher bring something special to the lesson.  With this each student can build their own tabernacle or simply use this as a model for yourself to show to the students and have them make one with popsicle sticks.  Enjoy!)

“Holy of Holies” (Scroll down to the craft/activity section for a simple but nice way to introduce the idea of the Holy of Holies to students.  This would go well with explaining verse 21 of our lesson. Enjoy!)

“The Tabernacle Picture Object Lesson” (Okay, this site not only shares a wealth of information that can really help a teacher out when trying to explain the different aspects of the tabernacle (which can be a bit tricky sometimes ;)) – but, there is also a very easy and simple idea to cut the pictures out and put them into the proper place of the “tabernacle.”  Enjoy!)

“Israel is Instructed to Build God’s Tabernacle Coloring Page”


3 thoughts on ““Beginning of the Tabernacle” Sunday School Lesson, Exodus 40:16-21, 29-30, 34, 38, November 24, 2013

  1. Pingback: “Jesus’ Birth” Sunday School Lesson, Luke 2:1-17, December 22, 2013 | Word For Life Says . . .

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