“Home-Study Lesson: Exodus 21–34 (Unit 11)” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Unit 11,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
This lesson provides a chance to involve students as they learn more about the tabernacle that God commanded the children of Israel to build.
If possible, show the picture Temple Baptismal Font (Gospel Art Book , no. 121; see also LDS.org).
What do you think the 12 oxen around the baptismal font represent?
What do you think the purpose of these symbols used in the temple is?
Invite students to ponder the possible meaning of the symbolism of the tabernacle as they continue to study Exodus 25–27; 30.
Invite a student to read Exodus 25:10–22 aloud. Ask the rest of the students to follow along and draw on paper the temple object described in these verses. As the student reads about the mercy seat, explain that it refers to the lid of the ark. You might also need to explain that the word cherubim is the plural form of cherub and refers to heavenly beings or creatures whose exact forms are unknown. The wings may be symbolic of their movement and power. (See Bible Dictionary, “Cherubim.”)
After students finish drawing, you could invite them to show their work to the class. Explain that the ark (sometimes called the ark of the covenant or ark of the testimony) was the central feature of the tabernacle and represented the presence of the Lord, or the place where God and His children meet.
On the board, draw only the outline of the tabernacle (in blue) as shown in the accompanying diagram:
Explain that in Exodus 26 we read that the Lord commanded the children of Israel to build the tent of the tabernacle with boards and curtains. He also commanded them to make a curtain called a veil to divide the tabernacle into two rooms. (Label the Veil dividing the rooms you drew on the board.)
Invite a student to read Exodus 26:33–34 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the two rooms were called.
What were the two rooms called? (Label The Holy Place and The Most Holy Place on the board, as shown in the diagram.)
Which room was to house the ark? (The most holy place. Choose one of the student pictures of the ark and place it in the area of the board labeled The Most Holy Place.)
Draw the boundary of the outer courtyard on the board. Explain that Exodus 27:9–18 contains the Lord’s instructions that Israel place linen curtains between pillars to create an outer courtyard with a gate around the tabernacle.
Assign students to read about and draw one of the following items found in the tabernacle. Ask them to notice where each item was to be located. They could work in pairs or small groups.
Altar of incense: Exodus 30:1–8
Laver (basin of water): Exodus 30:17–21
After sufficient time, invite each student or group to report on the item they studied by showing their drawing and explaining anything they learned about the item’s purpose and location in the tabernacle. Place one student picture of each item on the diagram on the board in the correct location. You may also want to label each item.
Point out that the sacred items of the tabernacle lead from the gate to the most holy place, where the ark is. Explain that these items and the ordinances performed with them were symbolic and were meant to teach the people how to journey through life back to God. Ask students to suggest what these symbols may represent.
They might suggest the following possible symbolic meanings. (If students have difficulty thinking of meanings, consider listing some of the following items on the board and letting them suggest matches between the meanings and the items of the tabernacle.)
Explain that although temples look different and operate differently than the tabernacle, they still contain ordinances and symbols that help us prepare to walk back into the presence of God.
How would you summarize what the ordinances and symbols of the temple teach us? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: The ordinances and symbols of the temple teach us how to proceed faithfully through this life and eventually enter God’s presence.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Sister Silvia H. Allred, formerly of the Relief Society general presidency. Ask the class to listen for how we can allow the symbols and blessings of the temple to teach us during our journey back to God.
“The temple is a house of learning. Much of the instruction imparted in the temple is symbolic and learned by the Spirit. This means we are taught from on high. Temple covenants and ordinances are a powerful symbol of Christ and His Atonement. We all receive the same instruction, but our understanding of the meaning of the ordinances and covenants will increase as we return to the temple often with the attitude of learning and contemplating the eternal truths taught” (“Holy Temples, Sacred Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 113).
How can we learn from the ordinances and symbols of the temple?
Ask students to share how the temple has helped them draw closer to their Father in Heaven and the Savior.
Encourage students to attend the temple regularly and to be more attentive when they attend the temple in the future. You may want to share your testimony of temples.
As students prepare to study Exodus 35–Leviticus 27, encourage them to consider the following questions: What does Leviticus teach about holding grudges? Did the Lord forbid tattoos anciently? Ask them to imagine what it would be like to offer a lamb as a sacrifice at the tabernacle. What if the lamb had a blemish? Why were some animals rejected? What is the symbolism of this sacrifice? Explain that in the coming lessons, students will discover the symbolism behind the ordinances the children of Israel practiced in the wilderness to remind them of the great and last sacrifice of Jesus Christ.