“Altar of sacrifice”

Volunteers measure a replica of the “altar of sacrifice” (forefront) where Israelites offered a variety of animals for sacrifice as a covering for sins. Shown in back is the tabernacle structure containing the holy place and holy of holies.

A life-size replica of the ancient Tabernacle of Moses will be available for tours from March 22 to March 29 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chino Hills on Eucalyptus Avenue and Peyton Drive.

The dimensions follow a blueprint described in the Old Testament Book of Exodus where Yahweh instructed Moses to build a portable meeting place, or tabernacle, for use by the Israelites in the wilderness.

According to Exodus, Moses freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and led them through the desert for 40 years before reaching the promised land. They carried the tabernacle from location to location during the journey.

The structure was built last summer by the Huntington Beach stake for its tabernacle youth camp and public open house, attracting thousands of people over three days.

“We wanted to bring it to Chino Hills so that people of all faiths could experience it,” said resident and church member Adam Eliason. “Particularly those who regard the Old Testament as a source of spiritual guidance in their lives.”

Like their counterparts in Huntington Beach, Mormon youth in Chino, Chino Hills, and Diamond Bar will experience the tabernacle this weekend during a retreat camp.

Volunteers spent the last few days putting up the tabernacle on a resident’s property in Carbon Canyon. Mormon youth will pitch tents facing the tabernacle and learn about Old Testament rituals and symbols.

They will be divided into twelve groups, resembling the 12 tribes of Israel, and march into the camp holding banners.

The tabernacle replica is surrounded by a fence draped with white fabric. Inside is a courtyard with the altar of sacrifice with four horns and a container for ritual washing.

The tabernacle building contains the “holy place” with a seven-branched lampstand, a table containing 12 unleavened loaves representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and a small altar for incense.

A thick embroidered veil separates the holy place from the “holy of holies” that contains the Ark of the Covenant described in Exodus as holding the stone tablets of the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and a bowl of manna. 

A mercy seat with two cherubim is also in the holy of holies.

The youth will make olive oil from a reconstructed olive press, share a communal meal and learn about temples, the tree of life, sacred clothing, blood, prayer, and priesthood.

They will learn about how the Old Testament symbols, including lambs that will be present, testify to Jesus.

A spotlight will light the sky at night to represent the “pillar of fire” that watched over the Israelites by night.

When the youth retreat is over, the tabernacle will be taken down and reassembled in the large grass area behind the Mormon Church in Chino Hills for public viewing.

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