Ancient Israel meets the 21st century

GRAND PRAIRIE?This spring, the tabernacle is coming to Texas.

The life-size replica of the Old Testament Jewish tabernacle will be on display March 18-28 in Grand Prairie and includes a narrated tour through seven interactive stations featuring the altar of burnt offering, laver, lampstand, altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant.

A press release from event organizers indicates the tour will cover themes such as biblical history, worship, atonement of sin, holiness, the grace of God, and even Christ’s resurrection.

The exhibit is the brainchild of Jeanne Whittaker, who envisioned it after a trip to the Holy Land for a women’s retreat with her church in California. Even though Whittaker believed God called her to replicate the tabernacle, she admitted feeling overwhelmed and under-informed.

“I really wasn’t quite sure what I had I just said ‘yes’ to. I looked around our immense sanctuary wondering if the tabernacle was bigger than this or smaller than a bread box? I began the game of multiple questions,” she said. “I spent precious sleepless nights traveling through the Scriptures with our High Priest, Jesus. He led me within the walls of the courtyard, ushered me into the Holy Place, and solemnly beckoned me beyond the curtain to worship him in the Holy of Holies. At every turn he revealed himself in the mystery of his Tabernacle,” Whittaker wrote.

Since then, the exhibit has moved across North America, from California to North Carolina. However, this is not the first time the Tabernacle Experience has come to Texas. Several thousand church leaders and musicians attending the National Worship Leader Conference in Austin toured the Tabernacle in 2008, and several churches have hosted it, including First Baptist Church of Borger.

Among those at the Austin event was Wayne Bartley, executive pastor of First Baptist Church in Prosper, who said the tour is an experience to remember. “So many of the Scriptures just came alive as I listened and walked through the Tabernacle Experience,” Bartley said. “It is something I will never forget and hope I get to do again.”

“As you journey through the stations of this exhibit, the person of Jesus Christ is revealed in every aspect of the Old Testament tabernacle,” explained Shawn Barnard, pastor of Inglewood Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, concerning the event that his church is hosting.

The March 18 opening day is reserved for pastors and local media to preview the exhibit, opening to the public March 19-28 at a cost of $5 each. Space may be reserved in advance for large groups on March 22-24. In addition to other public viewing days, the exhibit will be open on Palm Sunday, March 28, from 2 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit ibctabx.com.

Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the TEXAN that the study of the tabernacle is vital to understanding the nature of God and the work of Christ.

“To understand the nature and the function of the tabernacle is to gain a perspective on the significance of the death of Jesus on the cross that can be appreciated in few other ways,” Patterson said. “Furthermore, the nature of God, himself, his holiness and the prescribed method of human approach to God are nowhere more clearly outlined than in the symbolism of the tabernacle and its worship. This is why such an exhibit is vitally important.”

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