The Tabernacle: Eden Restored


At last week’s Bible Study, we looked at the Tabernacle, with the aid of a large model Roger Carswell had procured for us. This was the large, mobile ‘temple’ facility which God required Israel to have while they journeyed through the wilderness from Egypt to Canaan. I’ll confess to having to brush up my knowledge of its layout and workings but also to discern which of the many online interpretations were fit to share at the meeting. There are three principal interpretations of the tabernacle that I accept and shared: i) it is a picture of Eden restored ii) it is a picture of Messiah’s salvation and ministry and iii) it pictures the believer’s progression from damnation to salvation. Here is a summary of the complex’s features:


Wooden pillars topped with silver, holding up a white linen barrier

Entrance on the east, with a scarlet, purple, blue and white curtain


Outer Courtyard

Brazen altar, used for burnt offerings of sacrificed animals  

Bronze Laver, used by priests for washing hands and feet ahead of ministering


Holy Place

Entrance on the east, with a scarlet, purple, blue and white curtain

Table of showbread, with 12 cakes of bread kept thereon

Menorah (golden branched lampstand), providing light inside the sanctuary

Golden altar, used for offering incense daily and blood annually


Most Holy Place

Entrance on the east, with a scarlet, purple, blue and white curtain, with embroidered cherubim

The Ark of the Covenant, containingq the tablets of stone, pot of manna and Aaron’s staff; received the blood of atonement annually. On top of it was the lid or mercy seat, and two downward-facing models of cherubim

The Tabernacle as a Restored Eden

The key to understanding God’s plan of salvation is to understand the first chapters of Genesis. We must see what we lost before we can understand how it will be restored. Redemption is about being brought back to some formerly lost, forfeited state. Salvation is restoration. Eden was the earthly paradise we were forced to surrender, a physical reflection of the heavenly paradise above. The Tabernacle- the place where the Creator once more dwells with man as once he did in the Garden- is very much a symbol of this.


These wooden pillars topped with silver, holding up a white linen barrier bespeak the trees of Eden with their beautiful fruits- pure, pleasant and wholesome. The barrier demarks the garden as holy. Although the whole earth was uncorrupted, something especially sacred went on in Eden, and Genesis implies it had clear boundaries. Like Eden, the entrance of the tabernacle is always on the east, which contrasts with many pagan temples which had western entrances, allowing their shrines to be at the end closest to the rising sun.

Outer Courtyard

The brazen altar bespeaks the array of animal life in Eden, though specifically of those poor creatures God killed to provide Adam and Eve’s covering of sin. Although the first animals did no wrong, they too were ill-affected by mankind’s rebellion. The bronze laver filled with water reminds us of the four rivers of Eden, pure and clear, as well as the general cleanness of the place before the serpent’s entry and subterfuge.

The Holy Place

The Table of Showbread reminds us of God’s generous bounty. Before the Fall, food grew itself, and was freely available from the many verdant trees. Man did not have to toil for it, it was given to him freely and without effort. Here, the bread is relaced each Sabbath and left out, one piece of each of Israel’s tribes.

The Menorah or golden candlestick reminds us of God’s light. Though He established the sun to rule by day and the moon by night, God Himself, the source of all light, came to Eden, and walked there in the evening’s cool. Furthermore, Eden was a place of spiritual light; until the rebellion, truth and obedience reigned therein without rival. That light was the life of men; the lampstand also reminds us of the tree of life with its ‘branches’ and carved almond flowers.

The Golden Altar of incense represents the worship of the earth ascending to the heavens. Where God is obeyed and loved, He is worshipped. As Adam tilled the ground and enjoyed the pleasures of Eden, so his admiration and appreciation for the Creator were received in heaven as true veneration.

All of these objects are gold and remind us of the ‘good gold’, for which Eden is remembered in Genesis.  

Most Holy Place

Once again, the entrance is from the east. The Ark of the Covenant symbolises the very presence of God on earth. Upon it are the two cherubim, just as they are found depicted in the veil. This is a reminder of the cherubic guard commissioned to prevent mankind’s unlawful entry to Eden. On the ark, their faces look down upon  the Mercy Seat (the ark’s lid), the place where the high priest would sprinkle the atoning blood each year. By looking down upon the blood, they symbolically accept that the priest is covered and not deserving of death. Of course, this blood saved no one, but it pointed to the blood of the Messiah that would one day cover all believing sinners.

Inside the ark were the tablets of stone upon which were God’s laws, as given to Moses. This is a depiction of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There was only one prohibition, or law, in Eden, which was not to eat from that tree. Similarly, those who break God’s laws (eating from the tree of knowledge) such as murderers and thieves, must be excluded from His presence unless Messiah’s sacrifice covers him.

the only way to regain Eden and admission to God’s presence is through the promised Messiah, whose depiction I shall explain next time.

Top image by Jim Black from Pixabay 

Lower image by Dorothée QUENNESSON from Pixabay