1 Chronicles 16:37-42 (Part 1) – Why Two Tabernacles?

Posted: April 28, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 16:37-42 (Part 1 of 2)

Worship at Jerusalem and Gibeon

This morning was a bit of a struggle to write. I usually like to have researched a bit before I commit fingers to the keyboard to write my blog, but the question that came to my mind about this passage, I could not find the answer(s) to in my research. The question that kept plaguing me was “why were there two places of worship” (one now in Jerusalem where the Ark was moved and the other in Gibeon where the tabernacle tent was still sitting sans the Ark). So, what gives? Why did they not move the tabernacle? It was portable. It was made to be taken apart and moved. It was made to be easily movable. Why then was it not moved when David moved the Ark to Jerusalem? I couldn’t shake that question in my mind. There is certainly a devotional in this passage about Obed-edom and the other guys that ran the temple about all the necessary things that have to happen in churches and all are needed for the smooth operation of the church. I will write about that tomorrow. But, this one question, why didn’t they move the tabernacle when they moved the ark, just plagued me. I could not find any research on the matter anywhere. I am sure there is something out there, but my google search questions may have not been phrased appropriately. So, I will have to use my own reasoning that would seem most consistent with the general tenor of God’s Word.

The only thing that I can think of is that God allowed this temporary state to demonstrate a couple of things. First, it is symbolic of the coming of the church. Second, it is symbolic of both the holiness and mercy of God. Let’s read the passage, 1 Chronicles 16:37-42, now with this question about the two places of worship in mind:

37 David arranged for Asaph and his fellow Levites to serve regularly before the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, doing whatever needed to be done each day. 38 This group included Obed-edom (son of Jeduthun), Hosah, and sixty-eight other Levites as gatekeepers.

39 Meanwhile, David stationed Zadok the priest and his fellow priests at the Tabernacle of the Lord at the place of worship in Gibeon, where they continued to minister before the Lord. 40 They sacrificed the regular burnt offerings to the Lord each morning and evening on the altar set aside for that purpose, obeying everything written in the Law of the Lord, as he had commanded Israel. 41 David also appointed Heman, Jeduthun, and the others chosen by name to give thanks to the Lord, for “his faithful love endures forever.” 42 They used their trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments to accompany their songs of praise to God.[a] And the sons of Jeduthun were appointed as gatekeepers.

As noted, I think the fact that God allowed this for a period of time was that it was not against His will. He allowed it because it was to demonstrate something to the people of Israel, God’s chosen people. I think it demonstrates that worship of the Lord can take place anywhere. It is a foreshadowing of the coming day when worship of Jesus Christ began house to house and from town to town. There was no longer one central place to worship the Lord. We can worship the Lord anywhere. It is symbolic of church planting in a sense as well. You take a part of the mother church and you send it off (people and resources) to start a new church in a new location where God has led you to plant it. It then becomes a place of worship on its own. This idea of being able to worship God anywhere instead of one central place is given its seed right here in this passage in the Old Testament. The Tabernacle of David was a symbol or foreshadow of the church. In the Book of Hebrews, we are told to come boldly into the Throne Room of God (Hebrews 4:16). Because of the redeeming work of Jesus, we have full access to God’s presence, just like they did in the Tabernacle of David.

The second aspect of this demonstrates two of the equal qualities of holiness and mercy.

  • The Tabernacle of Moses at Gibeon was to demonstrate the holiness of God. It required that you had to have extensive preparation to be allowed by God to go into the Holy of Holies where God’s presence resided. It was the location where a priest mediated on behalf of the people in the Holy of Holies. The Tabernacle of Moses had its purpose. It showed the perfection needed to come before the Presence of God. No sin. It was the reminder to the people of their sinfulness in the presence of God. It reminded them of the Holiness and purity of God. It reminded them that the two could not mix. We would be consumed in the presence of the pure holiness of God without extensive preparation and God recognizing that and not allow his purity to consume what was still impure (even though purified through symbolic washings). We would do well today to understand more so the holiness and purity of God and how we are tainted and impure because of our sins. And, as a result, that we need the mediator, Jesus, how is holy as the Father is holy as is the Holy Spirit is holy and thus can be in the presence of the Father on our behalf. It is well to remind us of our complete lack of holiness in the absence of the representation by and covering of the holiness of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • Equally as important is the mercy of God which is demonstrated by the Tabernacle of David in Jerusalem. At the Tabernacle of David, King David now had full, free access to God’s Presence. Further, there was no veil separating people from Ark of the Covenant, as there was in Moses’s tabernacle. Everyone could come before God’s Presence at this simple tent. At the temporary Tabernacle of David, we see the foreshadowing of everyone having access to the presence of God, Jews and non-Jews alike. Here we see that God allows us to come into His presence through His mercy in that He chooses not to view us on our own merits, our deep state of sinfulness, but rather in the holiness of heart that worships and loves the Lord. We do not deserve to be in the presence of God because of our first sin, much less the lifetimes of sins we commit, but in His mercy God allows us to be in His presence when we accept the imputed holiness of His Son, Jesus Christ, when we ask Him to be our Savior. But the Tabernacle of David showed the mercy of God. He was going to make a way so all would have equal access to God’s Presence because of Jesus’ cleansing blood (1 John 1:7).

This line of reasoning seems to me to be consistent with the general overarching story of God’s Word. Everything has a purpose in God’s economy and this situation is no different. The two tabernacles for a temporary time in Israel’s history is to show us that everything has a purpose in God’s plan. This situation was symbolic to us of what God is like equally and at the same time. It also reminds us that there is too not one way to worship God – the tabernacle of Moses was the traditional church of its day and the tabernacle of David was the modern worship style church of its day. Each one gave glory to God and serve a purpose. Further, like I said, it was to demonstrate the mercy and holiness of God. We need to know both qualities of God so that we truly understand what we have been freely given in Jesus Christ.

Amen and Amen.

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