by Jack Minor –
Students of biblical history have a unique opportunity this week where they can see and learn from a group of high school students about one of the most important items in the Old Testament.
The book of Exodus devotes 16 chapters to the Tabernacle, a portable temple which the nation of Israel took with them during their 40 years of wilderness wanderings. By contrast, the bible description of Solomon’s temple in I Kings only takes up three chapters.
Messiah’s Mansion, which is currently in Loveland in the field by Johnson’s Corner until September 16, is a full scale replica of the tabernacle which was built by Moses and the Israelites after he led them out of Egypt.
Visitors get a 45 minute tour from 1-7 p.m. of the various parts of the structure including the Ark of the Covenant and the golden candlestick. The tours are free to the public, however those attending are free to provide a donation if they should chose to do so.
In the bible, the tabernacle was the place where Israelites came to offer sacrifices for their sins. It was also the place for the highest holiday on the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement, where once a year the High Priest would enter into the holy of holies and offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people.
The tour is conducted by high school students from Oklahoma Academy in Harrah, Oklahoma. Students desiring to go on tour spend their freshman year learning about the tabernacle from both a biblical and practical standpoint.
In spite of its elaborate layout, the tabernacle was also intended to be a portable structure that could be dismantled and reassembled on short notice. Those looking at the display will gain an appreciation for the design as they see how it was built to be transported quickly and easily.
Visitors move to different stations where they learn about the various parts of the structure. The tour begins with the brasen altar where they learn about the various types of sacrifices that were offered.
Morgan Jennings explained that whenever the tabernacle was set up, the single entrance was always on the east side.
“In pagan religions they worship the sun. God had the tabernacle set up so those entering it were facing away from the sun, thus showing they were supposed to worship him rather than the false gods of the other cultures around them.”
From there they move into the holy place where they can see the table of showbread, the golden candlestick and the table of incense. After this, they are able to see a part of the tabernacle that no Jew with the exception of the High Priest was ever allowed to see, the Holy of Holies.
This section contains only a single item of furniture, the Ark of the Covenant which contained the tables of the covenant, a pot of Manna which the bible said was angel’s food and the rod of Aaron, the brother of Moses. The bible records how the rod budded and sprouted almonds.
Lastly, visitors are taken to a tent where they are taught about the garments worn by the high priest.
Zachary Woolsey, 17 mentioned the significance of a particular item called the linen breeches and how it was appropriate today where many often dress immodestly.
“In other religions the practitioners often remove clothing and appear naked, but God wants his people to be modest and cover themselves. In the garden after Adam and Eve sinned what did God do? He covered them with animal skins from a lamb that had to be killed.”
While the tour guides present detailed information, they emphasize they are not providing a comprehensive lesson on the tabernacle and encourage those present to read their bibles to learn more information.
The tours move people through fairly quickly considering the size of the crowds. The tours often consist of 20-30 people and there was a steady stream of people attending.
Wheat Ridge resident Barrett Chezik’s family has been studying about the tabernacle and came down to see Messiah’s Mansion as a supplement to their education.
“We’ve been studying the tabernacle as part of our family bible study so it made sense to come down here to see what it looked like,” Chezik said. “It is one thing to read about it, but when you actually see it helps the bible to come alive.”
Chezik’s four girls were avid listeners during the 45 minute tour. Zoey Chezik, 6, said she was impressed by what she saw. “It was pretty cool,” she said.
Her oldest sister Jade, 9, she was glad they were able to come. “It was neat to see it after we have been learning about it.” Ryley, 7, and Keira, 4, both concurred saying they really liked it and were glad to come there and see it.
Nathan Shires, director of Messiah’s Mansion said the students on tour with the display have a real heart for God.
“They don’t just teach you about the facts of the tabernacle, they will also challenge you to make a decision for God,” he said.