The Hebrew people made camp on Mt. Sinai for a whole year. At this time Moses, at God’s command, constructed a tabernacle, or a transportable sanctuary, in the form of a tent. The tabernacle was constructed from expensive fabric and hung from poles. It had three sections: the courtyard, the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies.
The people came into the courtyard to pray. Here were placed the altar, on which sacrifices were made, and a copper water basin.
The priests came into the sanctuary, which had a table on which were twenty loaves of bread, a golden seven-branch candlestick, or lamp stand, with seven lamps, and the altar of incense, that is, an altar on which the priests burned incense.
Into the Holy of Holies, which was separated from the sanctuary by a curtain, only the high priest could enter, and then only once a year. The Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies. The Ark of the Covenant was the name of a chest, made of wood and covered inside and out with gold, with a gold lid and with two golden images of the cherubim on it. The tablets with the Ten Commandments were kept in the Ark of the Covenant, as well as a chalice with manna, Aaron’s rod, and later, the holy books. Along the two sides of the ark were two pairs of golden rings, into which gilded poles were inserted for carrying it.
When the tabernacle was ready, Moses consecrated it, together with all its fittings, with holy myrrh. While this was taking place, the glory of the Lord covered the tabernacle in the form of the cloud which accompanied the Hebrews on their journey. From this time on, the cloud was always over it.
For serving in the tabernacle, Moses, at God’s command, appointed the tribe of Levi and ordained a high priest, priests, and Levites, assistants for the tabernacle.
Aaron, the brother of Moses, was made high priest. The priests were the four sons of Aaron; the other descendants of Levi were Levites. The high priest corresponded to our bishop, the priests to our priests and the Levites to our deacons and servers. God ordained that in the future the eldest of the line of Aaron would be high priest and the others of his descendants, priests.
The tabernacle represented the Church of Christ and also the Mother of God, Who, having contained God within Herself, was like the House of God.
Note: See Exodus, chaps. 25-34; Deuteronomy, chaps. 10,13,16; Leviticus, chaps. 1-7,16, 23.
(from: The Law of God by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy)