Understanding the Tabernacle and the Temple
In the New Testament our bodies are called both the tabernacle and the temple of the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:13-14 (KJV) Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.
1 Corinthians 6:19 (KJV) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
What is the difference between the tabernacle and the temple as it applies to us today as being the dwelling place of God’s Holy Spirit?
To understand the difference we must understand the difference between the tabernacle and the temple in the Old Testament.
In the Old Testament the tabernacle was a mobile, temporary dwelling place of God’s presence. The temple was to be a fixed and permanent dwelling place of God’s presence among His people.
Furthermore, the amount of work and material it took to build the temple was far more than what it took to make the tabernacle: in quantity, quality and detail.
What does this speak to us today as New Testament Christians?
When we first get born again and are filled with the Holy Spirit we become individual tabernacles of the Holy Spirit. Individual tabernacles will only manifest the glory of God to a very limited degree occasionally. God is there all the time but the degree of the manifestation of His glory is limited and sporadic. This is the condition of most of the Church today. On a corporate local level, a local church made up of individual tabernacles is a corporate local tabernacle and manifests the glory of God also in a limited and sporadic manner.
If we grow into the perfection of Christ, with the nature and character of Christ being built into our souls and bodies, permanently, then we become individual temples of the Holy Spirit. Individual temples will manifest the glory of God to a spectacular degree constantly as it was in the life of Christ. A local church made of individual temples, who in the corporate setting are now seen as individual stones (1Pet. 2. 5); make up a local corporate temple. Also a local corporate temple will manifest the glory of God in its fullness on a constant regular basis, like it was manifested in the ministry of Christ and even greater (John 14. 12).
God desires in this hour that we grow from tabernacles into temples. This is why the scripture uses the present continuous tense to describe us being built into the temple of God.
1 Peter 2:5 (NIV) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:20-22 (NIV) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
It is instructive to observe from the above scriptures that a temple needs the foundation of the apostolic and prophetic ministries, whereas a tabernacle does not. A tabernacle can be set up anywhere without a foundation. Many of the Christians and churches today are tabernacles that are not built on the foundation of prophetic and apostolic revelation knowledge teaching of the Word of God (1 Cor. 3. 10, Heb. 6.1, Mt. 16. 17, 18).
Now, after we die and go to heaven and after the resurrection, our works (1 Cor. 3. 12-15) will all be put together by God to form the eternal, corporate city that is seen and described in:
Revelation 21:2-3 (NIV) I saw the Holy City , the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
All Christians who have died already have their place in the eternal, corporate, city. That is why the names of the 12 Apostles of the Lamb are in the foundations of the walls of the eternal corporate city.
Revelation 21:14 (NIV) The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
So, we who are still physically alive on the earth should labour by the help of the Holy Spirit to become stones and temples and so have a place of honour in God’s corporate eternal city.