The sideboards of the tabernacle formed a division between the outer courtyard and the two rooms of the inner sanctuary the holy place, and the most holy place. In order to enter into the holy place, spiritually speaking, one of the things we must do is hearken unto the word of God. To hearken means to both listen and obey. Nephi, an ancient prophet from the Book of Mormon explained to his older brothers, the spiritual significance of a dream his father Lehi had previously received.
In the dream, a rod of iron led the way to the tree of life. As Nephi explained, the rod of iron was the scriptures, which teach mankind how to obtain the fruit of the tree of life, or the love of God.
“And I said unto them that [the rod of iron] was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.” 1 Nephi 15:24
Those who held onto the rod of iron were led in safety to the tree of life. Those who did not wandered in darkness, and some fell into a river of water which flowed near the tree. Nephi’s brothers again asked him what the river of water meant. To which he responded:
“…the water which my father saw was filthiness… and I said unto them that it was an awful gulf, which separated the wicked from the tree of life, and also from the saints of God.” 1 Nephi 15:27-28
Those who held fast to the scriptures received of the love of God, and were made clean through the blood of the lamb. Those who departed from the scriptures fell outside the claim of mercy and were subject to the full implications of justice. Those who hearken (listen to and obey the word of God) were made clean, while those who did not remained filthy. The sideboards of the tabernacle separate the clean and holy from the filthy and unholy. Every aspect of the tabernacle testifies of the Lord Jesus Christ.