The Divine Principle agrees with those Christians who believe that the Tabernacle represented Jesus, the Messiah. However, DP does not teach that the historical Jesus of Nazareth was predestined to be the Messiah. Indeed, the Messiah could have come at several historical moments much earlier than Jesus, and in this case the Messiah would have been a different person than Jesus. Nevertheless, the DP sees the Tabernacle as being of great significance in preparing the people of Israel for the Messiah's coming.
The Tabernacle was a representation of Jesus, but in symbol... The Tabernacle was divided into two parts: the holy place (sanctuary) and the most holy place (holy of holies)... The most holy place was where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. Here was the place where God made Himself present. It symbolized the spirit of Jesus. The holy place... symbolized the body of Jesus. Furthermore, the most holy place symbolized the spiritual world, while the holy place symbolized the physical world.
The DP sees the main function of the Tabernacle and the Temple of Jerusalem as being a means of preparing and training the people of Israel to receive the Messiah. Since the Tabernacle symbolized the Messiah, the Israelites were supposed to honor it above anything else on earth and to value it even more than their lives.
However, according to the Principle, the original course of Moses and the Israelites was not actually supposed to involve the Tabernacle. This first course would have occurred if the Israelites and Moses had united immediately after Moses—at the age of 40—left the Pharaoh's palace and killed an Egyptian who had been abusing the Hebrew slaves.
If the Israelites had trusted Moses and entered Canaan in the first national course, Moses' family would have served in the role of the Tabernacle, and Moses himself would have fulfilled the roles which were taken by the tablets of stone and the Ark of the Covenant. Moses' family would have become the bearer of the heavenly law. The Israelites could then have built the Temple in the land of Canaan without any need for the tablets, the Ark, or the Tabernacle. (Exposition of the Principle Part II, Chapter 2, Section 18.104.22.168.1)
DP explains that the Tabernacle was necessary as a temporary symbol of the Messiah during the Israelites' course of entering Canaan. Thereafter, they were supposed to build the Temple, unite in faith centering on the Law of Moses, and finally receive the Messiah and his Bride as the True Parents. After the first 40-year course ended in failure, Moses restored it through his 40-year course in Midian. He then returned to Egypt and led the Israelite across the Red Sea into the wilderness on the first leg of the Exodus.
Originally, the Israelites were to build the Tabernacle and enter Canaan immediately after Moses' first 40 days on Mount Sinai. However, the first 40-day course centering on the Tabernacle failed due to the incident of the Golden Calf. After another 40 days, the Israelites united with Moses and succeeded in building the Tabernacle, but their second course failed when they complained about God's gift of manna and wanted to return to Egypt. The third course failed when, after another 40-day period—this one involving sending 12 spies in Canaan—the Israelites accepted the report of the ten faithless spies instead of the faithful report of Joshua and Caleb. Because the Tabernacle remained intact, another course still remained open to them. But after three failures to establish a providential foundation centering on the Tabernacle, they now had to spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness. At the end of this period, Moses' mission was inherited by Joshua, who led the Israelites, once again centering on the Tabernacle, on a victorious 40-year course of entering Canaan and taking control of the land.
After conquering Canaan under Joshua, the Israelites then had to spend another 400 years during the period of judges to indemnify the 400 years of slavery in Egypt. During this time the Tabernacle was established semi-permanently in Shiloh. At the end of the period of judges, God could finally send Saul, David, and Solomon to end the providence centering on the Tabernacle and begin the national-level providence to establish the foundation for the Messiah centering on the Temple of Jerusalem.