The Tent of Meeting. The Place G-d Dwells With His People
Thus was completed all the work of the Mishkan Tent of MeetingExodus 39:32
Today, most are familiar with the Temple built by Solomon, which was later rebuilt by Herod the Great. Mainly because of 2 CHRON 7:1-33 when G-d’s fire lit the altars and consumed the sacrifice. The dedication of Solomon’s Temple was complete with the Gory of G-d displayed in the fire from heaven.
Many denominations call this “Shekinah” (שכינה) as in the Glory of G-d. They use this example to further the doctrine of fire baptism as proof of salvation and speaking in tongues. However, most fail to understand that the word Shekinah does not appear in the text or even in Tanakh.
The Hebrew word that does appear is Kavod (כבוד) – translated as glory it means honor, respect, and dignity. However, we find that the original design for what is known as the First and Second Temples is found in Exodus chapter 39. Thus, it is known as “The Tent of Meeting” or the “Tabernacle.”
Considering the misuse of the word Shekinah, we find that it is a root word that G-d uses to describe the placer where He meets with His people. The Tent of Meeting is called the “Mishkan.” משכן
As we explored the word Shekinah, we found that it shares the same root as Mishkan. Shakan (שכן) is the Hebrew word for dwell. When you add the letter Mem (מ) in front of the word, it means to come from or to. Combined, this makes the word mean to dwell with.
The name Mishkan derives from the idea that the Tent is a place in where G-d’s Divine Glory (kavad כבוד) dwells (shakan שכן) among the Israelites. This would later be the centerpiece of the highest holy day in Judaism, Yom Kippur’s day of atonement.
43 There I will meet with the people of Isra’el; and the place will be consecrated by my glory.Exodus 29:43
Maimonides, a thirteenth-century Rabbi and scholar, believed, “the primary purpose of the Mishkan is to perpetuate the Sinaitic revelation, a central temple from which the Divine voice would continue to emanate and direct the Jewish people.”
19 (22) “These words Adonai spoke to your entire gathering at the mountain from fire, cloud and thick mist, in a loud voice; then it ceased. But he wrote them on two stone tablets, which he gave to me.DEUTERONOMY 5:19
What we will later see is that G-d commands the building of Aron HaBrit – (ארין הברית) Lit. Chest (cupboard) of Testimony. Commonly known as the Ark of the Covenant. Covered by the two Cherubim, we are told that HaShem will meet us there, and from Aron HaBrit He will speak to us.
Ohel Mo’ed אוהל מועד
In studying the Mishkan, we quickly discover that the word itself is all-encompassing. That is, it is the entirety of the design. Contained within the boundaries of the Mishkan is the “Tent of Mutual Appointment witness,” known as Ohel Mo’ed אוהל מועד
Ohel (אוהל) in Hebrew simply means tent. It is important to note that it does not mean he enters the Mishkan throughout the Exodus account of Moses entering the tent. Instead, the Mishkan Ohel Mo’ed is the actual structure inside the Mishkan that housed the furniture and two rooms where only the Cohanim could go. The confusion is found in the use of the phrase itself.
In the narrative concerning Moses and the “Tent of Meeting,” we find two Tents of Meeting with G-d. The Mishkan Ohel, or the Tabernacle, and Moses’ private tent where he would be with G-d away from the people.
Moses’ private Ohel Mo’ed first shows up in Exodus 33. He had just come down from Sinai to find Israel in utter chaos and worship of the golden calf. After retribution was made on behalf of Israel’s sin, Moses would leave the camp and “take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the camp. He called it the tent of meeting.” When Moses entered the people would prostate themselves in prayer (EX 33:10). G-d spoke with Moses face to face as a friend. It isn’t until Exodus Chapter Thirty Nine that we have the completion of the Mishkan Ohel Mo’ed, the Tabernacle.
Moshe would take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the camp. He called it the tent of meeting. Everyone who wanted to consult Adonai would go out to the tent of meeting, outside the camp. 8 Whenever Moshe went out to the tent, all the people would get up and stand, each man at his tent door, and look at Moshe until he had gone into the tent.Exodus 33:7-8
The idea that Moses had a dwelling place with G-d before the Mishkan was built tells us that G-d desires an intimate relationship with all of His people. However, because Israel had grievously sinned with the worship of the golden calf, G-d could not speak with them in an intimate setting. Instead, he needed a mediator who would hear Him, obey His Word, and walk-in His path of righteousness.
When G-d gave Moses the instruction to build a corporate Ohel Mo’ed, the people could see outwardly what was In the heart of Moses and G-d—To dwell with each other.
Therefore, Moses’ private time in his personal tent with GH-d was one of respect, honor, and praise. Here a mutual relationship began. They would meet face to face and they would speak.
Remember that Moses had a speech impediment. While at the burning bush, when G-d tells Moses what the people could call Him, he relates to Moses. Knowing his issue with speech, G-d simply said, “Hayah.” (אהיה) This requires no use of the tongue and would not be a stumbling block for Moses as he communicated with Israel.
The Tabernacle is designed for communication with G-d by those who are willing to be obedient to His Word. It’s a place of sacrifice, honor, respect, and a place where Israel would know that they were forgiven.