The Tabernacle, A Picture of Christ - Lesson 5
In our following lessons we will be studying in greater detail the tabernacle which was simply a portable tent with various curtains and coverings over a wooden structure located within a courtyard.
Today we will briefly discuss the tabernacle and its furnishings with a broad brush but get into greater detail in future lessons as we study each part of the tabernacle.
The portable tent was divided into two areas, one called the Holy place where the Golden Altar of Incense; the Table of Showbread; and the Golden Candlestick were placed.
The other area was called the Most Holy place, where the Ark of the Covenant with its contents was located, and the Arkís covering which was called the mercy seat.
The Outer Court contained the Brazen Altar and the Brazen Laver.
Now it is obvious that the purpose of the tabernacle is to show man the way to God.
In one word it is the physical representation of the Way.
The Tabernacle is a picture of God's plan of salvation to man, a picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And every thing in the tabernacle, and the courtyard pictures Christ.
He is the gate, he is the altar, he is the laver, he is the lamp stand, he is the showbread, he is the incense, he is the Ark, he is the covering, he is the law, he is the manna, and the is the rod.
In the scriptures starting in Genesis 25 the details of the tabernacle are given by God starting out from His location in the Most Holy place and proceeding outward to the Holy place, to the courtyard and then to the gate.
This is Godís perspective.
We will look at it from manís perspective and proceed from the gate to the Most Holy Place for this is the journey that man takes to come to God.
So the Way of Introduction to God is shown in the gate of the outer court.
Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, Enter ye in at the strait gate...because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life.
What Jesus said on many occasions can be tied to the tabernacle, its layout and its furnishings
Now it is interesting to see the physical layout of this courtyard and how small it is.
Lord willing we will see that in our field trip.
There is only one gate into the courtyard.
It is placed in the east outer wall of the courtyard, a wall of 50 cubits, or 75 feet if we judge a cubit to be 18 inches, the gate taking up 20 cubits or 30 feet of the 75 foot wall.
The walls were 7.5 feet high and not meant for climbing over.
How this reminds us of the teaching of Jesus who told us that He is the door of the sheep.
He told us in John 10, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
After entering the gate we come to the brazen altar.
The Way of Reconciliation of God to man is pictured in the brazen altar.
This is pictured in the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 5:19-21, To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
The brazen altar is the place of sacrifice, and it shows that a subsitutionary sacrifice will only be accepted by God for we are without merit as a sacrifice.
As a blemished animal was rejected as a sacrifice we too come to the altar with blemishes and are rejected without merit.
Only the unblemished was accepted which pictures the absolute need for God himself to be our sacrifice for Jesus Christ, Godís Son was perfect and without sin.
Acts 4:12, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Next comes the laver, the washing place.
The Way of Separation is pictured in the laver.
The laver, or basin, was a large bowl filled with water located halfway between the brazen altar and the Holy Place.
In it the priests were to wash their hands and their feet before entering the Holy Place and this act is a reminder that people need cleansing before approaching God.
The application for believers today is that we are forgiven through Christís work on the cross, but we are washed through His Word.
In the tabernacle setting we have passed the altar on the way to the Holy place but on our way we meet the laver.
We need to be washed daily in His Word in order to be cleansed so that we can serve and minister before Him.
When Peter objected to Christ washing his feet Jesus said:
If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
John 15:3 tells us we need to be clean in Godís presence, Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Ephesians 5:25-27, Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Hebrews 10:22, Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
We have passed the laver and now we enter the Holy Place, the first compartment of the covered structure.
There are three objects here, on the left is the golden candlestick also called the menorah, on the right is the table of showbread, and before the veil to the entrance to the Most Holy place was the altar of incense.
The Way of Illumination is pictured in the golden candlestick.
The lamp stand or golden candlestick was the only source of light in the Holy Place, so without it, the priests would have had to minister in the dark.
Just as the lamp stand was placed in Godís dwelling place so that the priests could approach God, Jesus, the "true light that gives light to every man" (John 1:9) came into the world so that man could see God and not live in spiritual darkness anymore.
Jesus said in John 8:12, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
And again in John 12:46, I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
The Way of Satisfaction is pictured in the table of showbread.
The word showbread means bread that is exhibited, bread that is shown.
It was shown on a small table on the right side of the Holy place.
The number of loaves presented on the table totaled 12, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and were not to be eaten except by the priests on Sabbath day.
"Showbread" also was called "bread of the presence" because it was to be always in the Lordís presence.
The table and the bread were a picture of Godís willingness to fellowship and communion with man.
Jesus displayed this fellowship when He ate with tax collectors, prostitutes and the sinners of Jewish society.
Jesus came to call sinners to Him, make them right with God, so that they could enjoy everlasting fellowship with God.
John 6:35, And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 6:49, I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any
man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is
my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
God so desires our fellowship that He was willing to come to earth from heaven as our "bread of life" to give eternal life to all those who would partake in it.
At Jesusí last Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus again described Himself as bread:
Matthew 26:26, And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
Jesus is the showbread.
The Way of Intercession is pictured in the altar of worship or altar of incense.
Hebrews 13:15, By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
The golden altar of incense sat in front of the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place also called the Holy of Holies.
God commanded the priests to burn incense on the golden altar every morning and evening, the same time that the daily burnt offerings were made.
The incense was to be left burning continually throughout the day and night as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
The incense was a symbol of the prayers and intercession of the people going up to God as a sweet fragrance.
The picture of prayers wafting up to heaven like incense is captured in Davidís Psalm 141:2, Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
This golden altar of incense is a picture of Christ who is our intercessor before God the Father.
Romans 8:34, Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
After leaving the Holy Place we can only enter with our mind the Most Holy Place but before entering this small room where the Ark of the Covenant is kept we must pass through a veil.
This veil was a thick curtain which separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place.
This curtain or "veil," was made of fine linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn.
The word "veil" in Hebrew means a screen, divider or separator that hides.
This veil then was hiding or shielding a Holy God from sinful man.
The picture of the veil was that of a barrier between man and God, showing man that the holiness of God could not be treated in a trivial fashion.
The veil was a barrier to make sure that man could not carelessly and irreverently enter into Godís awesome presence.
So the presence of God remained shielded from man behind a thick curtain during the history of Israel.
However, Jesusí sacrificial death on the cross changed that.
For when He died, the curtain in the Jerusalem temple was torn in half, from the top to the bottom.
Only God could have carried out such an incredible feat because the veil was too high for human hands to have reached it, and too thick to have torn it.
The Jerusalem temple, a replica of the wilderness tabernacle, had a curtain that was about 60 feet in height, 30 feet in width and very thick. During the crucifixion of Jesus Christ it was torn from top down, meaning this act must have come from above.
As the veil was torn, the Holy of Holies was exposed.
The torn veil illustrated Jesusí body broken for us, opening the way for us to come to God.
So Jesus is the veil!
As Jesus cried out "It is finished!" on the cross, He was proclaiming that Godís redemptive plan was now complete.
The ultimate offering had been sacrificed.
We can now boldly enter into Godís presence, behind the curtain for Christís body was broken for us.
Hebrews 10:19-22, Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
The Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies is a representation of heaven itself, Godís dwelling place, which we now have access only through Christ.
Hebrews 9:24-26, For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 25Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
So once through the veil we are now in the Way of Communion that is pictured in the Ark of the Covenant.
This ark or box was most beautiful for it was overlaid with pure gold and topped by a cover over which stood two angels facing each other and looking downward.
Within the box were three items, a golden pot of manna reminding the children of Israel of Godís provision, Aaronís staff or rod that had budded reminding the children of Godís authority, and the two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written reminding the children of Godís requirement to obey His law.
These three articles were preserved in the ark throughout Israelís history as an symbol of manís sins and shortcomings, a reminder of how they rejected Godís provision, authority and right standard of living.
It pointed to man as a helpless sinner, undone, pedantic, and without hope in anything that man could do.
It may have been uncomfortable to think that Godís splendor was so close to the three articles associated with manís sinfulness.
But this is where Godís provision comes in.
When God looked down from His presence above the ark, He did not see the reminders of sin.
They were covered by a necessary object ó the atonement cover or mercy seat.
Jesus Christ has become our permanent atonement cover.
Through Jesusí blood, our sins have been covered over.
When God looks at us, He doesnít see our sin, but He sees His provision: His own Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus lay down His life for us as an innocent sacrifice so that God would look on us and see His perfection.
The atonement cover was Godís throne in the midst of the Israelites.
God is on His throne today in heaven and Jesus, our high priest, is at His right side.
Above the atonement cover was Godís dwelling place in the tabernacle. for God said to Moses in:
Exodus 25:22, And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
Above the ark and the atonement cover, God appeared in His glory light which no man can approach unto.
This light is sometimes referred to as the Shekinah glory which means tabernacle glory and refers to the presence of the Lord.