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Scripture Story: Exodus 25–40; Leviticus 4; 16.

Commentary: Patriarchs and Prophets (or Beginning of the End), chapter 30.

making rooms for God

Photo by Alden Ho


“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Exodus 25:8, 9, NIV)


“With deep emotion the people beheld the token that the work of their hands was accepted. There were no loud demonstrations of rejoicing. A solemn awe rested upon all. But the gladness of their hearts welled up in tears of joy, and they murmured low, earnest words of gratitude that God had condescended to abide with them” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 350).

what do you think?

The following is a list of truths about the plan of salvation salvation that are taught by the ministry of the sanctuary. Rank them according to which speak to you personally (1 being the most, 5 being the least).

The cost of sin required the blood of an innocent sacrifice.
The sanctuary is meaningful because it shows how God made a way for us to dwell with Him.
Every Old Testament sacrifice pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
In the same way that the priest was a mediator for Israel, Christ is our mediator with God.
While the daily sacrifice offers forgiveness, the judgment (day of atonement) covers us and pronounces us “not guilty.”
The earthly sanctuary was a model of a heavenly sanctuary.

did you know?

The word “temple” is used 15 times in the book of Revelation. The Old Testament sanctuary was patterned after a heavenly sanctuary, which seems to be a theme in the last book of the Bible. In fact, the original purpose of the sanctuary was so God could “dwell” with His people. God’s ultimate purpose for the sanctuary emerges as the crowning event of Scripture. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’” (Revelation 21:3, NIV). Maybe there is more to the sanctuary than just a bunch of symbols to remember!


The Beginning of Building the Sanctuary “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.’ ”

The Talent for Building the Sanctuary “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills. . . . Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you. . . . They are to make them just as I commanded you.’”

The Completion of Building the Sanctuary “Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.”

(Exodus 25:1-9; 31:1-11; 40:33-38, NIV)


What are some of the key words and phrases in this passage?

What was the ultimate purpose for building the sanctuary?

Why do you think God instructed individuals to give to the building of the sanctuary as their heart prompted them to give? (See Exodus 25:2.) What was the response of the Israelites? (See Exodus 35:29 and 36:6, 7.)

Why do you think God was so specific with the instructions for building the sanctuary?

Describe how you think the Israelites must have felt when the tabernacle was finished.

Fifteen chapters in Exodus are devoted to the tabernacle and the services to be performed in it. Scan these chapters and see if you can identify any recurring themes that seem to be emphasized.

If you were to choose one verse that captures the essence of the tabernacle, which would you choose and why?

punch lines

“Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God” (Exodus 29:45, NIV).

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’” (Revelation 21:3, NIV).

“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: ‘The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death’” (Psalm 102:18-20, NIV).

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split” (Matthew 27:50, 51, NIV).

“Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being” (Hebrews 8:1, 2, NIV).

(See also: John 1:1-5, 14.)

further insight

“Christ on the cross was the medium whereby mercy and truth met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other. This is the means that is to move the world (Manuscript 56, 1899).”—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1113.



Read Matthew 1:23 and John 1:1-5, 14.

Rank the statements of truth listed in the What Do You Think? section of this week’s lesson and explain your number one ranking and your number five ranking. What are some other truths or teachings about the sanctuary that are not in the list? Compare the passages with God’s purpose for making a sanctuary. In what way and to what degree is the sanctuary connected to the person of Christ?


Read Exodus 25-40.

What information do you find between the beginning and the end of making the tabernacle. Read Into the Story and answer the Out of the Story questions. Why do you think the significance of the sanctuary story and its message is held by so few Christian denominations?


Read Joh0:10.

Read the Key Text in Exodus 25:8, 9 several times and take note of the key ideas that grow out of this passage. How do you respond to the notion that God desperately wants to commune with people who barely even know that He exists? Is this theme evident elsewhere in Scripture? Where? What does the image of a heavenly sanctuary look like in your mind? How is it similar to or the same as the earthly sanctuary and how might it be different?


Read Exodus 29:45.

The Flashlight quotation for this week is a beautiful description of the state of the heart of Israel when God moved into the sanctuary they had worked for months to build. Do you know someone who feels as keenly the presence of God with a heart of gratitude? How do they express their joy in their relationship with God?


In the Punch Lines section of this week’s lesson is a list of a few verses that convey different aspects of God’s plan of salvation as seen in the sanctuary service. If you had to pick one of the verses given, which one best captures the work of salvation from your perspective? What are some elements all of these verses have in common? If you had to give a Bible study to someone else on the meaning and purpose of the tabernacle, where would you begin and what would you focus on? Why?


Read Romans 12:1.

Chapter 30 in Patriarchs and Prophets walks the reader through the various parts of the tabernacle service in rich and clear detail. Read this chapter and highlight the parts of the chapter that bring you a new understanding of the sanctuary. Take a moment to reflect on how important this theme is to understanding the gospel of grace. Consider the need to have bloodshed, a sacrifice, a mediator, cleansing, and, ultimately, judgment. How are all these ideas tied to Christ? How do they impact your relationship with Christ right now?


Read 1 Timothy 2:1-6.

God has always had a plan for our redemption. When sin entered the landscape of human life, God had already made provision for the needs of those on earth. The sanctuary in the desert was patterned after God’s system in heaven. It was not an afterthought or a quickfix bandage for our situation. God had a plan to redeem and restore humanity that is the focus of the work that goes on in heaven.

Today's reading sums up the whole plan. Take some time today to reflect on the work of the tabernacle and what it says about the One to whom it was pointing. The sanctuary simply makes no sense without Jesus, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NIV).

Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

this week’s reading*

Patriarchs and Prophets (or Beginning of the End), chapter 30.

*Beginning of the End is a special adaptation of Patriarchs and Prophets, created for you by the Ellen G. White Estate and Pacific Press. Get more information about it at By following the weekly reading plan, you will read at least one book of the Conflict of the Ages Series each year.