The Tabernacle – Exodus 35 - 40

God REALLY wanted His people to KNOW Him, and He really wants us to know Him, too. To help His people experience Him – see Him, taste Him, smell Him, and feel Him – God created the tabernacle worship experience for His people. Everything about the tabernacle pointed to God and the plan He had to redeem people for Himself. Our job in this lesson will be to help kids SEE God and hopefully, to help them fall more in love with Jesus!


Watch this video for a summary explanation of Ex. 35 – 40 (short) or (longer and more complete).

Place markers on the floor to indicate where the ark of the covenant, the veil, the table of incense, the table of showbread, the lampstand, the basin and the altar would be. Explain how each item taught God’s people about Himself.

Everyone contributed from what they had and according to what they had (Ex. 35:4-29)

  • In the church, everyone has a role; the body has many parts, and every part is important.

The ark of the covenant (Ex. 37:1-9)

  • The place where the glory of God resided – God came down to be with His people
  • Between the cherubim is the mercy seat, where God meets man and where man finds mercy from God

The table of showbread (Ex. 37:10-16)

  • Made of acacia wood, which represents Jesus’ humanity
  • Covered with gold, which represents perfection / God
  • Holds 12 loaves of bread, one for each tribe, communicating that Jesus, the bread of life, is the One who satisfies and fills everyone
  • The bread is called the bread of Presence, telling us that Jesus’ presence is always with us and His presence meets our daily needs

The lampstand (Ex. 37:17-24)

  • Made of gold, which represents perfection / God
  • Represents Jesus, the light of the world, who illuminates our hearts and lives, showing us the Way to go
  • The light burned perpetually, showing that Jesus is always with us

The altar of incense (Ex. 37:25-29)

  • Made of gold, which represents perfection / God
  • Incense was burned every morning and evening
  • The smoke rising upwards represents prayer, especially the intercession of Jesus for His saints

The altar of burnt offering (Ex. 38:1-7)

  • Made of bronze, which represents sin
  • The place where animals are sacrificed and sin is atoned for, representing Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross
  • The fire always burns on the altar, representing God’s perpetual wrath against sin

The basin for washing (Ex. 38:8)

  • Made of bronze, which represents sin
  • Lined with mirrors, a reminder that when we are cleansed by God, He begins working in us to transform us to the image of His Son
  • The water represents God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, which both work to cleanse and change us

The courtyard (Ex. 38:9-20)

  • Only one way to enter just as Jesus is the only way to God
  • The place where you find the altar and the basin for washing


Activity –Match Objects to Their Description – place the following objects in front of the kids: a golden box (ark), a curtain (the veil), golden tables (2 – table for showbread and table of incense), incense, showbread, lampstand, a small grill to serve as the altar of burnt offering, and basin for washing (place a mirror in the bottom). Read each hint and let kids place it where it would be in the tabernacle.

  • This provides light in the holy place. (lampstand)
  • The hides the ark of the covenant from view. (the veil or curtain)
  • This is where animals are killed and burned to pay for someone’s sins. (altar)
  • This is where the incense is burned. (the table of incense)
  • This is where the bread is placed. (table of showbread)
  • This is where the priests wash. (bronze laver)
  • This where God’s presence rested and where God met people. (ark of the covenant – mercy seat)
  • There are 12 of these, representing each of the 12 tribes of Israel. (the showbread)
  • This is burned and creates a good smell that rises up. (incense)


       Activity – Each object can remind us of Jesus. Choose a few to discuss with the kids.

  • Lampstand – Jesus shows us the way; He is the light of the world.
  • Veil – Jesus’s body, which was torn for us. The veil was torn in two when Jesus died on the cross, allowing us to have access to God.
  • Altar – the place where fire, representing God’s anger towards sin, destroys sacrificed animals, just as Jesus absorbed God’s anger when He hung on the cross
  • Incense – a sweet smell to the Lord, just as Jesus is sweet to God; a symbol of prayer – Jesus always is talking to God about us!
  • Bread – Jesus is the bread of life; He satisfies our hungers
  • Bronze laver – Jesus cleanses us from sin


  • What did this story teach you about God? He wants us to know Him!
  • What did this story teach you about people? We need to be reminded of God.
  • What did you learn about yourself? I need to find objects in my life that will remind me on a daily basis about God and Jesus.