This is the first post of a new series I am reproducing on Jesus in the Tabernacle. The author of the series is I Gordon from the jesusplusnothing.com website. I have made some minor changes and additions IAW their gracious copyright statement.
The Tabernacle’s 1st Mention:
“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution. “This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze, blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair, rams’ skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece. “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. “According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. “(Exo 25:1-9)
Well, as we can see, it is obviously God who decided that there should be a tabernacle and its construction had to be exact to the pattern that God would give to Moses. In many different passages God restated that the construction had to be precisely as He would declare. If God said an item was 100 cubits long, then 100 cubits it was! So the next question is why? Why did God want a tabernacle constructed and why did it have to be so exact to His specifications? And what was God teaching Israel then and what is He trying to teach you and I now?
What the Tabernacle Teaches
There are some key ‘truths’ contained within the tabernacle. These truths are interwoven into its size, its materials and the objects it contains. It is a divine mystery if you like with clues scattered liberally throughout its construction. Initially we’ll start with a quick summary. Some of the fundamental core teaching of the tabernacle involves:
- Jesus Christ – First and foremost the tabernacle is a picture and type of that which takes the place of per-eminence in the Bible – and that is the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is the true fulfillment of this structure. As the amplified Bible brings out; “ And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.”
- The presence and holiness of God – we read above that God said that the tabernacle was constructed so that ‘I may dwell among them’. God wanted to be in the midst of His people… but His people were sinful and at times that is being kind! How could He dwell with them? The tabernacle taught God’s desire for fellowship along with His pure holiness (while thankfully also showing us the way into His presence).
- The plan of salvation – The earthly tabernacle pictures salvation. This is true of what it cost Jesus to provide the means of salvation and also of the steps necessary for those who want to be saved. Concerning the former, Jesus had to fulfill His role as the High Priest of the New Covenant, entering into the Heavenly tabernacle as the book of Hebrews teaches: Hebrews 9:11-12, 24 “ When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption… For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.”
- The dispensations and ages in the plan of God – The tabernacle teaches about God’s plan concerning the different ages or dispensations in His dealings with man. Each of the three distinct areas (the outer court, the Holy place, the Holy of Holies) represents a different dispensation and the objects found within each area are true to that age. I know… this is a tad cryptic but I will write more about this below.
Clues in the colors and materials…
Having seen the core truths that the tabernacle teaches, let’s have a look at the materials that God specifically said had to be used to in its construction. From our passage in Exodus 25 above we read:
“This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze, blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair, rams’ skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece.”
Everything, whether it was the curtains, the gate, the altar, the lampstand or the Ark of the Covenant itself were constructed from the materials mentioned above. Therefore, it is worth examining the meaning of these for we shall see them again and again throughout these studies.
Clues in the three-fold nature of the tabernacle
Finally, as part of this overview, it is worth looking a bit closer at the three different areas within the tabernacle. These areas and the objects within each will be the focus of the coming studies but for now I want to draw your attention to what these areas represent.
The three areas and possible meanings of the tabernacle are as follows:
Each of these areas can possibly represent an ‘age’ or ‘dispensation’ of God’s dealings with mankind. Although some may disagree with the projected duration of the Church Age, it is noteworthy that the Mosaic Law and the Holy of Holies measurements do correlate with the period of time that the Mosaic Law was in effect and the thousand year reign of the Messiah. Considering that Jesus died on the cross in AD 30, the 2000 years of the Church Age could indeed be coming to a rapid close. And, this is further evidenced in the objects constructed and the materials used.
- The Outer Court contained the brazen altar and the laver. The focus was on sacrifice, judgment and cleansing and represents the age of the Law. The area of the fence surrounding the outer court was 1500 cubits squared just as the period of time that the Mosiac law was in force for was approx. 1500 years! Everything in the outer court was constructed in bronze symbolizing judgement. This is what the law did! It pronounced you guilty and that judgement and a blood sacrifice was required. But it also pointed, as the law does, to Jesus as the Way of salvation and the need for ‘justification’.
- The Holy Place – The second area of the Holy place was different for it represents the church age. Its area confirms this as it was a room of 20 X 10 X 10 cubits (representing the 2000 years of the church age). Only the Priests could come within this area and not without cleansing at the laver. But this area contained no items made of bronze (judgement) like the outer court did. It contained the Showbread (Christ the bread of Life), the Lampstand (Christ the light of the world) and the Altar of Incense (Christ our intercessor). It was made from gold, silver and wood representing the deity, redemption and the humanity of Christ. It pictures Jesus as the ‘truth’ and in terms of salvation it represents our need of sanctification as we walk in this life with Christ as our life and bread.
- Finally, the Holy of Holies – This contained the Ark of the Covenant. Only the High Priest could enter here and only on one day of the year! Only on the Day of Atonement could the High Priest enter the Holy of Holies and be in the very presence of God Himself. This area represents the coming Kingdom age where God shall dwell among His people once again in visible form. In terms of the aspect of a believer’s salvation it represents our ‘glorification’ – when we are with Christ and are like Christ! As a picture of Jesus, it shows Him not just as the way or even the truth, but as ‘the life’. This special area of the tabernacle contained the very real presence and power of God and if we are to know Jesus today as ‘the life’ (and not just ‘the way’) then we too, as priests of the new covenant, need to come into His very presence in the new way opened to us.
Well, that is enough as an overview. But be assured that God has hidden amazing pictures of our salvation in Christ within this divinely inspired structure! We will search and examine these pictures in the next few posts, always realizing that:
“ It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”(Prov 25:2)
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!
Primary Source: jesusplusnothing.com/studies/online/Tabernacle1.htm