When Dr. Otto Piper visited Japan, I asked him if there was anything he could advise us as to the content of our faith. He said, "No, I was taught so much. I do not have anything special to say except to question your calling your group a Tabernacle. The connotation of this word in English is rather passive. Literally it means Tent, and gives an impression of something that is temporary and pertaining more to the Old Testament. I think it would be a better idea for you to find a more affirmative, more permanent, more New Testament-like name." So I said, "There is a variety of institutional churches, and each claims to be the expression of the invisible ecclesia. But ecclesia means a gathering of called-out ones rather than an institutional church. The Bibie does not understand the word ecclesia as an inflexible institution (Eph. 1:23). On the other hand, 'Non-Church' does not sound quite suitable to us. Therefore, we feel 'The Tabernacle' is most appropriate, since the term vividly expresses the non-institutional character of ecclesia."


The History and the Symbol of "The Tabernacle"

The word tabernacle is a translation of the Hebrew ohel and the Greek word skeneh skhnh. The root meaning of the word tabernacle in English is "to lodge overnight." In German, the word is translated as Hutte. Both English and German renderings are not weighty and colorful as Dr. Piper said.

In the primitive church, however, the Greek noun skeneh and the verb skenein were often used as synonyms of the Hebrew word Shekinah, or the glorious dwelling of God (Rev. 21:3; John 1:14; Mark 9:5).

The essence of the tabernacle has its origin in the commandment of God to Moses at Mt. Sinai when God said to him, "You shall make the tabernacle that I might meet with the people and with you." He gave this commandments, in order that the people would continue to meet with God. This is why the tabernacle is sometimes called the tabernacle of congregation, or rather, the tabernacle of encountering (ohel mo'eid) (Ex. 19:1-20:17; 24:12-31:18; 35-40; Lev. 8-9).

Mt. Sinai

The tabernacle consisted of the outer court, the holy place (ulam hakodesh) and the holy of holies (kodesh hakodashim). In the holy place were the altar of incense, thc menorah (the seven-branched lampstand) and the table of shewbread. In the holy of holies was the ark of the covenant made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. It contained the two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were engraved. Therefore, the holy tabernacle was sometimes called "the tabernacle of witness" (ohel haedut). The tabernacle of God was the dwelling place of God. It signified the most holy spot on earth. The tabernacle worship is a basic thought that flows consistently through the Old and New Testament. It dates back to the time of the Exodus, when faith in YHVH God was central in the life of the children of Israel, and continues to the end of the Book of Revelation (Chap. 21).


The Place unto which We Are Called by the Name of the Lord

Jesus Christ said, "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). Where Christ is, there is the holy place. Wherever true worship is offered, there is the holy tabernacle (ohel kodesh). It is not a building nor any particular location. Wherever people are gathered in the name of Christ, there is the true ecclesia. This is the concept of the tabernacle, which is vividly expressed in this statement of Christ. Thus, we can see the tabernacle is the best form of expression of the New Testament ecclesia, the gathering of called-out ones.

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