Since the Israelites were then still on the move, no permanent structure could be built, so the Tabernacle took the form of an elaborate, and holy, tent-structure that could be taken apart and moved. Its design however included many of the same features that the Temple (see Temples) built by Solomon in Jerusalem had later.
The Tabernacle was constructed to very precise specifications, as given by God Himself (Exodus chapters 35 to 40). It was approximately (depending upon the actual length of the ancient Biblical cubit) 45 feet long, 15 feet wide and 15 feet high. The west end of the interior was sectioned off as a 15 foot square room, called the Most Holy Place, where The Ark of the Covenant was placed. The entry into the Tabernacle faced east. The interior had elaborately woven curtains, and the structure was covered by hides to make the tent that protected the interior from the elements. Various other articles were used by the priests (see Levites) in their duties - The Lampstand, table of showbread, the great bowl for washings, the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering. The Tabernacle's exterior courtyard was enclosed by an outer wall of tent material.
What both the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple in Jerusalem had in common, apart from being physical places of worship, was that both were used to symbolize God's ultimate plan of salvation now in progress - Christianity! The sacrifices represented the later ultimate Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the Most Holy Place represented God's throne in heaven where the high priest (a Levite descendant of Aaron on earth, Jesus Christ in heaven) entered to make Atonement for the people before God (Hebrews 9:1-28).
The Old Testament Tabernacle demonstrates the continuity of God's plan through the entire Bible (see also Old Testament Fact File and New Testament Fact File). There is only One True God, and only one true means of salvation for all humanity.
Fact Finder: Was the Old Testament Tabernacle meant to represent what is in heaven, that is, the ultimate ministry of Jesus Christ?