Ark of Covenant/Tabernacle - Lesson Set
Summary: this lesson set includes the following workshops:
- Computer #1: iLumina software presentation on Ark of Covenant, Tabernacle, high priest
Focus: Examining the building of the Tabernacle
- Computer #2: Children will play the Fall of Jericho computer game to review the entire Moses story.
- Games: /Photography: Explore some of the meaning behind the Tabernacle furnishings by playing a recognition game. Explore our sanctuary to compare our worship to the Israelites’ worship. Older children will create a game for younger children to play by taking digital pictures in our sanctuary.
- Video/Model: Children will watch the Tabernacle video and then build a model of Tabernacle (completed over the weeks as each week a different group will complete their portion). Focus: Understanding the Tabernacle
- Art/Construction: Children will recreate a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. Focus: Ark of the covenant, God’s presence with the Israelites
- Cooking: Focus of this workshop will be on the building of the tabernacle for worship. The children will make showbread to place in the tabernacle.
- Extra art/game activity: Idea to create a mural of Moses's story and Moses Pictionary Game.
Our series on Moses...
This is the fourth rotation in a series of rotations on the life of Moses.
Rotation #1 Moses’ birth and early life (posted at http://rotation.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/3796068121.../710102279#710102279)
Rotation #2 - Plagues and Passover – and Escape from Egypt
Rotation #3 - 10 Commandments
Rotation #4 - Worship in the Wilderness – Ark of Covenant/Tabernacle
As a culmination of this four-month study of Moses, the children led an entire worship service (including sermon) that told the complete story of Moses from baby in the bulrushes through the wilderness wanderings. Children processed into the sanctuary with all of their projects and displayed these in the narthex before and after the service.
God gave us guidelines for worship. We worship God because God loves us and created us.
”We will do everything the LORD has told us to do. We will obey him.” Exodus 24:7
Objectives and Life Application:
- Children will locate the story in their Bibles.
- Children will retell the story in their own words.
- Children will identify the book of Exodus as a book of Law (3-6 grades).
- Children will discuss the experiences of the Israelites in the desert (complaining, grumbling, impatience, lack of faith and trust).
- Children will recognize that God is faithful and can be trusted.
- Children will understand that no matter what we do or how we mess up, God loves us!
- Children will describe the tabernacle or tent of meeting including its purpose.
- Children will reflect upon how the symbolism of the tabernacle helps us understand Jesus.
- Children will compare worship during Moses’ time with worship today.
- Children will memorize Exodus 24:7.
Time in History:
There is great debate among scholars about the dates of the Hebrew sojourn in Egypt and the Exodus. The Bible does not give the Pharaoh’s individual names, making it difficult to determine exactly which ruler reigned during this time. Historians have traditionally believed the Pharaohs of the Exodus period were Seti I (1308-1290 B.C.) and his son Rameses II (1290-1224 B.C.) Newer archaeological investigation suggests that the Exodus might have taken place much earlier, perhaps during the reigns of Ahmose or Amenhotep I (~1500-1450 B.C.).
In October we began our study of Moses’ life. We learned about his birth in Egypt during a terrible time of persecution for the Hebrew slaves. All male babies were to be killed by throwing in the Nile River. Moses’ mother, Jochebed, hid baby Moses for several months, then placed him in a papyrus basket in the Nile where he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses was raised and educated in Pharaoh’s court. When grown, Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave and was forced to flee to Midian. There he spent the next forty years as a shepherd. There he also experienced God in a dramatic way through a burning bush. God told Moses to return to Egypt to set the Hebrew people free.
In November we learned about Moses’ journey back to Egypt and his confrontations with Pharaoh. We studied the ten plagues God sent to Egypt when Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses. We experienced a Passover Seder and discussed the origin of this Jewish celebration. This final plague, the death of all firstborn males (animals and human), finally resulted in Pharaoh releasing the Hebrews. We left the Hebrews as they had just passed safely through the Red Sea. We now meet the Hebrews being led by God into the wilderness, away from all they have ever known.
In January, we continued our journey to Mt. Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. We also discussed the faithlessness of the Israelites as they quickly forgot their promise and created and worshiped a golden calf idol. We now return to Mt. Sinai. The Israelites camped at Mt. Sinai for nine months. During this time they received instructions on how to live their lives (Ten Commandments and other rules) and how to worship. The focus of this rotation will be on how the Israelites were instructed to worship God – through the building of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle or Holy Tent of Meeting.
The book of Exodus . .
is the second book of the Old Testament, a book of Law, traditionally believed to be written by Moses himself, or at the very least based on his writings and stories. The dating of the events is placed between 1450 and 1200 BC, depending on the sources read. Exodus means “going out.” The book of Exodus tells the story of how the Hebrew descendants of Joseph were delivered from slavery in Egypt. It tells of the dramatic confrontation between the God of the Hebrews and the ruler of Egypt. This book initiates the special relationship between God and the Hebrews as a people. The Hebrews now have an identity as a special “nation” led by God. Throughout their journey, the Israelites are tested, matured and molded by God.
God’s amazing miracles did not stop when the Israelites were safely out of Egypt. God continued to miraculously provide for his people by providing water in the desert, manna every morning and quail for meat.
Every morning for forty years the Israelites awoke to a covering of manna on the ground. Manna literally means “What is it?” or “Whatchamacalit.” Manna was a small round substance, as fine as frost with a sweet honey/coriander taste. It was ground on millstones and then baked into small cakes. Manna is sometimes called “angel’s food” or “bread from heaven.” The Israelites were directed to gather enough manna to feed each individual family for one day only, (except on the day prior to the Sabbath, when they collected twice as much – an omer is a day’s ration of grain or bread and equal to about 2 quarts). When the Israelites disobeyed and gathered more manna than could be consumed, it became wormy and rotten (except for the Sabbath manna). There has been much speculation about manna. Many scholars believe manna was actually a sticky, sweet substance that is formed from the secretions of insects and the sap of the tamarisk trees. However, this happens only during certain seasons of the year, only with tamarisk trees and produces only a small amount, not nearly enough to feed all the Israelites! As with the plagues, while there may be scientific explanations to help explain what happened, the sheer magnitude and volume of the miracles demonstrated God’s intervention.
God also provided meat for the Israelites in the form of quail. Great flocks of the birds traveled along the coast of the Red Sea and up the Gulf of Suez and Gulf of Aqaba. They fly low, about three feet above the ground, and when they tire, are easily caught. For forty years, God provided manna and quail for the Israelites daily. Despite this provision, the Israelites became weary of the food and complained bitterly about missing the delicacies of Egypt.
Three months after the Red Sea crossing, the Israelites found themselves at the base of Mt. Sinai. This is the same location where Moses first met God in the burning bush. There is much debate among Bible scholars about the actual location of Mt. Sinai/Horeb. The traditional site is located in the Sinai peninsula. This site was actually selected by Constantine’s mother in a vision. Despite extensive exploration, no evidence has been found to indicate the Israelites’ presence there. Several modern-day scholars believe the actual site is in Midian, in modern-day Arabia. Explorers have found evidence there (blackened mountain top, remains of twelve altars, paintings on cliff walls, which all correlate with the biblical account. (for more information see http://www.wyattmuseum.com)
Moses climbed the mountain to speak with God and receive instructions. God reminded Moses of his mighty actions and how he had carried the Israelites “on eagles’ wings.” This saying derives from the belief that adult eagles catch their young and bear them on their own wings when the fledglings become weary or falter. God explained that Israel would be God’s special treasure among all the nations. All they had to do was obey. The Israelites’ all responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said.”
Ark of the Covenant.
While on Mt. Sinai, God gave Moses instructions about how to worship. The Ten Commandment tablets needed to be stored in a safe and special place. God instructed Moses to build an Ark to hold the covenant (the carved stone tablets). We see how the Egyptian gifts of gold and silver are now used to glorify God. The building instructions for the ark are specific and outlined in scripture. Basically the ark was a wooden box (ark means box or chest) made of acacia and covered completely (inside and out) in pure gold. Rings on the side held poles, by which the ark could be carried, preventing anyone but the high priest from touching the ark. The cover was called the mercy seat or atonement cover. Two cherubim kneeled on the top with their outstretched wings nearly touching. Cherubim have been described in multiple ways, but most likely had animal bodies (such as lions) with human faces and wings. God’s presence rested in between or just above the wings of the cherubim. Inside the Ark of the Covenant, the Israelites were to place three reminders to them of God’s faithfulness: the stone tablets, a golden pot filled with manna and Aaron’s rod that miraculously budded (see Numbers 17:1-10).
Construction of the Tabernacle
After giving instructions for the Ark of the Covenant, God explains how to prepare the Holy Tent of Meeting or the tabernacle. A tabernacle is a place where God can dwell in the midst of the people. The tabernacle was a large portable tent surrounded by an outer court enclosed by curtains and poles (see attached diagram). It always faced east. The outer court was 150 feet by 75 feet or a total of 450 feet in perimeter. The tabernacle or Holy Tent can mean the entire enclosed area, or just the smaller holy tent inside. Linen curtains hung on bronze pillars with silver hooks were place 7.5 feet high and 7.5 feet apart surrounding the outer court. The inner court was made of 48 planks of acacia wood covered in gold and held together with bars and silver rings. It was 15 feet by 45 feet and divided into two parts: the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The Most Holy Place was a perfect cube 15 feet by 15 feet by 15 feet. Here is where the Ark of the Covenant resided. Any of the priests could enter the Holy Place, but only the High Priest was allowed into the Most Holy Place, and only on the Day of Atonement, once each year when blood was sprinkled over the cover of the Ark as a sacrifice for forgiveness of sins. The Holy Tent was overlaid with a series of coverings: linen with blue, purple and scarlet threads, a covering made of goats hair, a covering made of ram’s skin and a covering made of goats skin. Linen veils embroidered with cherubim closed the entrances to the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.
Furnishings of the Tabernacle.
There was only one entry into the tabernacle. The first item inside the entrance was the bronze altar of sacrifice. Here daily sacrifices were made. Next came the laver, a bronze bowl filled with water for cleansing before entering the Holy Place. The Holy Place was separated from the outer court by a linen veil embroidered with cherubim and woven with threads of blue, scarlet and purple. The Holy Place contained the Table of the Bread of the Presence or showbread (sometimes called shewbread, but pronounced showbread). The table held twelve loaves of unleavened bread, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The loaves were replenished each week with fresh loaves. To the left was the golden lampstand with seven branches. This was the only source of light inside the tent and was kept filled with oil and burning at all times. Next came the golden altar of incense. This altar burned incense used for worship and prayer. Then came the second veil at the entry to the Most Holy Place. Inside the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant.
Theology of the Tabernacle.
The tabernacle has great theological symbolism for us today. The tabernacle was placed in the middle of the Israelite’s camp thus showing God’s desire to be truly the center of our lives. The building of the tabernacle indicated God’s willingness to meet with people on earth. It foreshadows the ultimate meeting of God and man in Jesus’ coming. There is only one entrance into the tabernacle – symbolizing the way to God through Christ. Immediately upon entering the tabernacle, one sees the altar of sacrifice, confronting us with our need to atone for our sins and seek forgiveness. The altar of incense reminds us of the importance of worship and prayer. The table of Bread of the Presence reminds us of God’s constant provision for our daily needs and that Christ often referred to himself as the Bread of Life. Perhaps most significant is the final veil separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. When Christ died, this final veil is what was torn from top to bottom, providing all who believe in Christ direct access to God. Jesus is our High Priest and with him, no other is needed. Jesus’ sacrifice provides the gate through which we may come to meet God and be made right with him.
By giving the Israelites the tabernacle, a consecrated place (a place that was set aside for a special pupose), God promised to dwell with his people always. This provided them a special place and a visual reminder of God’s presence. Even though we know we can worship God anywhere, God knows that we tend to associate special experiences with special places. Setting aside a holy place helps us get away from the distractions of life and helps us worship. A consecrated place reminds us that God is holy and deserving of such special attention.
History of the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant became the most sacred object in the Israelites’ worship. It was covered whenever it was carried from place to place so that it could not be seen. Later the Israelites came to revere it so much that it become as an idol to them – representing God’s power itself. They placed their trust in the Ark itself, rather than God, carrying it out in front of them to battle. Here is an example of the danger of idols or symbols becoming more than what they are – God allows us material objects as symbols, but never are these symbols to be actually equated with God’s power and self). Eventually, the Ark was captured by the Philistines. It was later returned, and placed in Solomon’s Temple, but after the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C. it was lost and has not been recovered.
- Schoville, Keith. Cokesbury Basic Bible Commentary – Exodus and Leviticus. Graded Press, 1988.
- Invitation Bible Studies. Graded Press, 1989, 1992.
- Richards, Laurence O.Bible Teacher’s Commentary. Colorado: Cook Communications Ministries, 2002.
- Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church – Faith Quest Leader’s Bible Study,http://www.kirkofkildaire.org
- Napier, David. Layman’s Bible Commentary. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1963.
- Murphy, Michaela.Egypt – Exploring Ancient Civilizations. Carthage IL: Teaching and Learning Co., 2002.
- Walton, John and Victor Matthews and Mark Chavalas. IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament. IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
- Disciple: Into the Word Into the World Study Manual. Nashville: Cokesbury, 1991.
- Wilson, Ian.The Bible is History. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1999.
- Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993.
Important Workshop Teacher Notes:
Each workshop begins with the Bible story. One of our primary goals is to improve the children’s Bible literacy! If children did not bring their Bibles from home, use the classroom Bibles.
Remember that as the rotation progresses, the children will become more familiar with the story. When this happens, allow the children to tell you what they know. The children should still locate the story in their Bibles every week. Use the bold headings in their Bibles to guide your discussion. You may want to review some of the Bible notes as well. Be sure to fill in any missing information and add additional details using the Background Information to help you. One of the greatest advantages of this model is that children who come regularly learn the story in great depth.
Each lesson contains more Background Information and discussion questions than can be used in one session. Remember, children are studying this story for four weeks! Be sure to follow the time guidelines and leave ample time for the activity.
A lesson written by Jaymie Derden from: State Street UMC
This lesson created and copyrighted by State Street UMC, Bristol, VA, 2004. Permission granted for non-commercial, local church use, provided credit is give to the source.
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