The tabernacle proclaims several facts.
First, that God is holy. When the tabernacle was properly constructed and assembled, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, not even Moses (who had placed everything where God had specifically told him to) could enter the sanctuary because of the glory of God. His holiness is awful and glorious.
Second, God can only be approached by sacrifice. The ugly visual and smell of animal after animal being slaughtered in sacrifice portrays the enormous guilt of sin and the terrible price required to take it away - the slaughter of Christ on the cross.
Dr Rayburn says... We are always domesticating our sin and always making too little of its forgiveness. But a courtyard full of squealing, blood, and death will cure us of that mistake.
Third, God made His expectations to His people clear. Though the people were not allowed into the Holy of Holies, they knew what was in there. It was not a mystery. It contained the ark, and within the ark was the the law. Israel's conduct would prove her faithfulness or faithlessness. And that is just as true today. We are not saved by our works, but after we are saved we must serve our Saviour in obedience, proving our faith to be genuine.
Rayburn summarizes, and does not pull any punches!
First, the presence of the living God with us is not something to be taken lightly. It is to produce reverence, fear, joy and thanksgiving in us. Similarly, we are always to appreciate that we are not worthy of this privilege but enjoy it only because of God’s redeeming love. And, finally, the way to maintain God’s presence with us and to realize its blessing in our lives is to obey the Lord and to live according to his covenant....
There is no presence of God without redemption, there is no fellowship with a present God without a life of obedience to him. And there can be no obedience to him except the obedience of his covenant. Men cannot invent their own laws, obey them, and expect Yahweh to be pleased....
God, the high and holy one, is far above us. We are not worthy of him and have offended him greatly with our sin. God’s presence is not available to anyone and everyone according to his or her lights. It is not at our beck and call. It can be known only through redemption in Christ and by faith and obedience...
We human beings do not all take different routes but end up at the same place as so many will say today. God is not an experience or a feeling. Sincerity is not all that matters. Truth is not in the eye of the beholder. There is a living God, a God far greater than we can possibly conceive, and he bestows his presence when and where he will. He gives it to those who come to him in humble acknowledgement of their need to have their sins removed and who willingly consecrate themselves to that way of life that is pleasing to him. Everyone else, no matter what he says or thinks, is, as the Apostle Paul bluntly and simply put it, “without God.” They do not think so. We know that. But they are without God. His presence is not with them. It is not with them in just the same way it is not with anyone in the Christian church who professes a certain faith in God but who has betrayed God’s covenant and care not to live by its stipulations.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Numbers 7