Metaphysical meaning of tabernacle (mbd)
Meta. The temporal body of man. The tabernacle represents the temporal body, as the Temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem represents the regenerated, permanent body. In the wilderness of sense, man worships God in a tent, or a temporary, transitory state of mind, which makes a perishable body. Yet in this flimsy structure are all the furnishings of the great temple that is to be built. The outer structure was of cloth, but the altar, laver, candlestick, Ark of the Covenant, and all the inner utensils were of gold and silver and precious woods. This means that the central functions of the body are enduring and that it is the fleshly covering that is so perishable. When the Lord commanded the building of this temporary structure there was a promise of a permanent one. So the body of every man is the promise of an imperishable one, even the body of Christ.
The setting up of the tabernacle means the establishing of a new state of consciousness. Man builds his own mind, his character, and his body--God furnishes the design. The tabernacle was built after the pattern that was shown to Moses in the mount.
The first step toward the building was the giving of gifts (Exod. 25:1-9). A great variety was called for. The gifts included jewels, gold, silver, brass, spices, oil, skins, linen, acacia wood, and help in preparing the materials for the tabernacle and its furnishings, and in erecting it. The gifts had to be willing ones from the heart (Exod. 25:2). We are here shown that we must give up the material ideas of value before we can build the spiritual. Back of these material ideas, however, is the substance that is converted into the new. Nothing is lost in the divine economy. Every experience leaves its form in the soul, and in the divine alchemy may be converted into gold for the tabernacle.
"The tabernacle of the tent of meeting" means that a definite point shall be established in consciousness where we shall dwell in the universal substance of Being, which moves as a tent wherever we go.
"The ark of the testimony" is the remembrance of God's promises, which are sacred and are peculiar to each soul. No human hand is allowed to touch this "ark of the covenant." In it we have stored that indefinable spark which links us to God. No human thought should enter its sacred precincts, which should be kept veiled from all eyes.
The "table . . . set in order" represents a definite arrangement of thought in communing with Spirit. Upon this table were twelve loaves o-r cakes of bread. This means that we should realize that the substance of Spirit perpetually supplies the twelve faculties of mind. The candlestick and its seven lights are symbolical of the divine intelligence, inherent in man, which lights the seeming darkness within him.
This "temple" was the inheritance of those who were faithful. Faith must also become substance. Before we can enter into the consciousness of an eternal body we must vitalize with our concentrated thought every part of the temporal body in its inner processes. The table that was to be set up represents the orderly appropriation of the daily needs, and the bringing in of the candlestick and lighting of the lamps thereof is the establishing of the divine intelligence in the inner consciousness.
"The golden altar for incense," "the altar of burnt-offering," and so forth, are the establishing of permanent resolutions of purity, and covenants with the higher law of obedience and conformity thereto, though daily sacrifices are entailed thereby.
The "laver" with "water therein" is the word of denial ever at hand ready to cleanse every impure thought that comes into consciousness. "The court round about" is the outer realm of thoughts that have not yet been spiritualized.
The bringing of Aaron and his sons to the door and washing them with water means that we shall declare spiritual strength to be the presiding, directive power of this new state of consciousness --not a mere animal strength but a strength washed clean and purified from all the grossness of sense. This declaration of strength is absolutely necessary to the permanency of our tabernacle. Through it is set up an abiding thought action that continues while our attention is elsewhere. Aaron continues to "minister . . . in the priest's office."