Lessons From Your Tabernacle
The inspiring vision that you carry everywhere you go!

In Leviticus 23, God commanded the Israelites to dwell in booths during the Feast of Tabernacles. Church members today still follow this instruction. A booth, or tabernacle, is simply a temporary dwelling. Anciently, the Israelites constructed their temporary dwellings from materials such as tree branches. When God’s people today attend the Feast of booths, they generally reside in hotels, campers or, in some cases, tents.

By dwelling in temporary booths during the Feast, the Israelites were reminded that their sojourn in the wilderness was only temporary and that they were not yet inheritors of the Promised Land.

The same lesson can be learned by God’s people today during the Feast. Booths remind us that we are heirs, not yet inheritors, of eternal life in God’s Kingdom and that our physical lives are only temporary—that our bodies are only temporary tabernacles.

Lesson 30 of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course (1986) noted this point. “[Our] physical bodies—with all their imperfections, their natural desires, their weaknesses, aches and pains—are meant to last only long enough for them to learn to serve God in this life.” Our physical bodies are simply temporary dwelling places.

The Apostle Peter, nearing the end of his life, said, “[S]hortly I must put off this my tabernacle”—or his physical body (2 Peter 1:14).

“By staying in temporary dwellings each year during the Feast of Tabernacles, God’s people are reminded of this important knowledge. They understand that … they are merely pilgrims in this present life, waiting to inherit the Kingdom of God!” (ibid).

Our bodies are like the hotel rooms we stay in during the Feast. Some people’s bodies could be likened to a five-star resort hotel off the Pacific Coast. Others are more run-down and aged, like a two-star hotel room some might stay in during the Feast.

By staying in temporary booths during the Feast, we are reminded that it doesn’t matter how strong and beautiful, or aged and worn out, our bodies might be: Both are just as temporary!

Let’s review two lessons from this symbolism.

Not the Deciding Factor

First, our human bodies are not the deciding factor of spiritual success. It is entirely possible to stay in a five-star resort during the Feast and not have a spiritually productive Feast. On the other hand, a person can stay in a leaky tent and still have his or her best Feast ever.

What goes on inside is what matters. Anyone who has been to the Feast of Tabernacles knows it is the heartfelt prayer, the digestion of the God-inspired messages, the deep meditation, the commitment to serving the other brethren, and the joyous and bonding fellowship that make the Feast successful. The temporary dwellings we live in during the Feast certainly can facilitate these things, but they do not make it the best Feast ever.

Our human tabernacles can be run-down and beset with all kinds of ailments and pains. Our visage can be like that of a worn-out old tent. But we can still have a powerfully productive and rewarding spiritual life. We could literally be dying physically and still have a spiritual life of the highest quality. It is what is going on mentally and spiritually that determines our spiritual success!

The Apostle Paul said that even though the “outward man,” or physical body, might be perishing, “the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Remember, however, that a fit and healthy body will facilitate a strong and more vibrant relationship with God. Our attitude toward our bodies does indeed reflect our spiritual mindset.

A Prod to Greater Works

Second, the temporary nature of human existence should stir greater works. The Apostle Peter knew his life was short and that his human tabernacle wouldn’t be around for long. This inspired him to lead an active life.

He became determined to make the most of his temporary existence. In 2 Peter 1:13, he writes: “Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.” Physical life is fleeting, and Peter wanted make the most of it. Warning the people and doing the work was what he lived for. Time was short, and he worked tirelessly to make the most of it.

At the Feast, we must strive to make the most of the short amount of time we have there. We should study more, pray more, meditate more, fellowship more—because our time together is short.

Our physical existence is the same! Herbert Armstrong said our bodies begin dying each day after age 25. Death is encamped just outside our door. We need God’s protection to stay alive. The temporary state of our existence should spur us to greater works.

Like Peter, this should stir urgency in our lives and motivate us to work harder all year around. Can we be more active in our congregation? Can we be more active in our relationship with God? Can we be more active in prayer and Bible study? Can we be more active in building relationships with the other brethren?

As we draw closer to the Feast, we should ask ourselves: Am I making the most of my time as a temporary, physical tabernacle?

Our Permanent Tabernacle

Our spiritual forefathers also understood that physical existence is only temporary. Notice this lesson from Abraham: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).

Abraham had his hope in new Jerusalem. This city is soon to become the permanent home of God the Father and Jesus Christ and His Bride.

New Jerusalem will soon become our permanent tabernacle!

Like Abraham, God’s people today must remain focused on new Jerusalem. “Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby” (Isaiah 33:20-21).

Unlike the booths we dwell in at the Feast, and our physical bodies, new Jerusalem will be a tabernacle that “shall not be taken down.” This is our goal. As spirit beings with eternal life, new Jerusalem will be our permanent tabernacle.

As we prepare for the Feast, let’s consider these lessons from our physical tabernacles. Remember that physical life is short and temporary. Like Peter and Abraham, let’s remain focused on the magnificently beautiful and glorious Kingdom of God, soon to be permanently established in new Jerusalem.