These last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit various cathedrals, and duomos, throughout Italy. They are both similar—marked by aesthetic and medieval architecture—and unique. The gothic-style design of Milan’s cathedral is accented with white marble and a record number of statues. Florence’s cathedral is renowned for the red-tiled dome that tops its mammoth structure. The cathedral in the hill-top city of Orvieto (my favorite Italian city, by the way) features a facade with beautiful mosaics and massive bronze doors. Each duomo was built with the idea that it would, for years and years, be the dedicated space where people could worship God and experience His presence. Centuries before these buildings were planned, God commanded the tabernacle’s construction for the same purpose.
“They are to make a sanctuary for me so that I may dwell among them.” —Exodus 25:8
When Adam and Eve sinned, humanity’s relationship with God was broken, and He removed them from the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24) and His presence. Still, God wanted to fellowship with His people and designed the tabernacle to be the sacred space where Israel could come before Him. The portable sanctuary, carried throughout the wilderness, is a monument of God’s grace. The devastation of sin is that it separates us from God. But He made way for His people to interact with Him despite the reality of sin. And this was how He would live with His people—through a tabernacle free of impurity, crafted from the choicest materials and furnished with the highest quality items.
Unlike the duomos of Italy, the tabernacle was not meant to be forever. Scripture progressively reveals God’s plan for redeeming humanity, and we discover that God had something more in mind than only dwelling among His people. He planned to live in us—without the requirement of a physical sanctuary to access His presence. Jesus’s once-for-all-time sacrifice makes it possible to enjoy fellowship with God. Because of Him, we get to experience the “good things that have come” (Hebrews 9:11).
How amazing of a holy and perfect God to invite flawed and broken people into His presence without any geographical requirements. Instead of needing to meet Him in a tabernacle or a cathedral, we get to carry His presence with us wherever we go—at church, at a football, or home. He is with us, and He is in us. Always and forever (v.12).