On Mt. Sinai, Moses remained for 40 days. There, he not only received the ten commandments, but he also was given a revelation of the tabernacle. If he had only come down with the law, God would have had to destroy Israel, for they had broken it before Moses could even make it down the mountain.
The tabernacle showed to mankind, the way for people to be forgiven for their sins. God told Moses to make Him a sanctuary in which He could dwell in the midst of His people. This tabernacle had to be made according to the Divine plan. The purpose of this tabernacle was to make a way for mankind to atone for their sins, and then allow mankind to approach a God Who desires fellowship.
To know God, one must be righteous and pure. God had to make a way for mankind to become righteous and pure, for no man has ever accomplished that feat. The tabernacle revealed in type how salvation is given in grace by God.
"And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them."
TITLES OF THE TABERNACLE
The tabernacle is most often called simply the "tabernacle", which in the Hebrew means "dwelling" from the Hebrew word "dwelling". God dwells everywhere, but He appointed a place where Israel could find Him.
Sometimes it is called the "tent of meeting" which is from the Hebrew "ohel moedh". It was a place of contact between heaven and earth. God desires to meet with us, dwell with us, even now we find that He has made us to be His temple, or meeting place, and He dwells within us!
"This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord, where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified with My glory."
It has also been called the "tabernacle of testimony," or "tent of witness". The tabernacle was a testimony to man about God's holiness, man's sinfulness, and God's plan of atonement. The whole tabernacle was a demonstration in type of God's plan of salvation.
It has been called the "sanctuary" which means that it is a "holy place." This was a building set apart for the dwelling place of God. In the New Testament period, we, the people of God, are His "sanctuary." The tabernacle was an earth sanctuary, made with hands. Bezaleel and Oholiab were given special skills in its building. Being an earthly building, it had limits and weaknesses. It needed repair. It was limited geographically. It was made for Israel, not the whole world.
PARTS OF THE TABERNACLE
The Bible description of the tabernacle starts within the Holy of Holies and moves outward. It starts with the innermost piece of furniture, showing that it is the plan of God to reach mankind, not the plan of mankind to reach God.
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
This chest (or box) was actually a replica of the throne of God in heaven. It was made of shittim (or achaia) wood, overlaid with gold. Inside it was the tables of the law given on Mt. Sinai, the bowl of manna, and the rod of God.
On top of this ark, was the mercy seat, upon which the blood was sprinkled each year on the day of atonement.
The shekinah glory presence of God dwelt between the two golden cherubim atop the mercy seat.
THE MERCY SEAT
This slab of solid gold had cherubim of beaten gold arising from each end. When the presence of God looked down through the mercy seat to the law within the ark, He had to look through the blood.
"And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times."
Christ is our mercy seat when God looks at us. He sees us through Jesus and therefore does not judge.
"Mercy seat" comes from the Greek word "hilasterion" which means "place where sin is satisfied..."
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
ALTAR OF INCENSE
Incense was burned upon the altar which represented prayers to God, and intercession. This piece of furniture in the holy place, that was the closest to the Holy of Holies. It shows that in our service to God, prayer and intercession brings us closest to God.
The incense was to be of a special compound, unlike any other in the camp...
It was composed of:
stacte (speaking of spontaneity of worship)
onycha (speaking of depth of worship)
galbanum (speaking of brokenness needed in worship)
frankincense (speaking of loneliness and suffering within our worship).
TABLE OF SHEWBREAD
The table was overlaid with gold, and had upon it twelve loaves of bread. When Titus sacked the temple in 70 A.D. and later erected the arch of Titus in Rome with etchings of the tabernacle furniture upon it. It shows the Table of Shewbread with two trumpets, and incense cups. The bread was a symbol of life, i.e. Jesus Christ...
The twelve loaves speak of the twelve tribes of Israel, and they were to be of unleavened bread (leaven being a type of sin). The priests gathered at the table periodically and fed themselves upon the bread... This speaks of the fellowship nature of Christianity. We are all to be fed with the bread of life... i.e. Jesus.
The light of the Holy Place represented Jesus as the light of the world. The fire for this seven branched lampstand came from the burnt altar.
This lampstand was filled with pure olive oil.. and was refilled daily. Periodically it was trimmed, so the lamps would not produce more smoke than light... It burned continually, and never was to go out...
Jesus was the light of the world, and with Him in us, we have become the lights of the world... We need refilled with the oil (Holy Spirit) often, and periodically trimmed...
The four coverings over the tabernacle each had a typology.
1. blue, purple, scarlet linen
= the righteousness of Christ..
2. ram's skins dyed red
= the sacrifice of Christ as the Lamb of God...
3. goat's hair
= Christ is our scapegoat upon Whom has been placed all our sins...
4. badger's skins
= the humility of Christ...
The tabernacle was 15 feet by 45 feet, and 15 feet high...
The two veils and the outer gateway represent the body of Christ, Who is the Door, the Way to God...
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having a High Priest over the house of God; 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..."
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, Who is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.... Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need..."
These boards which made up the wall of the tabernacle were shittim wood, overlaid with gold. They were portable, and the whole structure could easily be dismantled and carried to the next location. The wood represented the humanity of Christ, and the gold represented His deity. Together they represent the "body of Christ", i.e. the church, who are fitted together.
"In Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord; In Whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit."
There were 48 boards, and each was ten cubits high (15 feet). They were one and a half cubits wide (2 feet). There were 20 on the north side, 20 on the south side, and six on the east side... The final two were used somehow for support...
Being a type of the believers, these boards represented:
1. shittim wood = our humanity
2. overlaid with gold = our sonship to God
3. the boards once were rooted in, and sustained by the earth...
a. selected and chosen (John 15:16)
b. cut down (I John 3:13)
c. stripped of bark (our pride)
d. removed from the forest (II Cor. 6:17)
e. trimmed by God's chosen workmen according to God's dimensions
f. put into God's appointed place
g. carried from place to place, without personal choice...
The bars that supported these boards speak of Christ's holding together of individual believers...
The sockets of silver in which the boards rested, and which separated them from the ground, speak of the redemption of Christ that separates us from the world.
The name comes from the Hebrew word "lavo" meaning "to wash." This speaks of the daily cleansing we need everyday from sin and the defilements of the world. The priests, if they saw hands or feet dirty, and did not wash, were struck dead... These were made of the copper mirrors of the women... We need to daily come to the Word of God, and look within, and see the reflection coming back of ourselves... so we may seek forgiveness for our sins, shortcomings, and find a cleansing from God.
This altar of brass speaks of judgment upon sin... Sin was judged at this altar. The sacrifices were placed upon it, and the cost of a life for sin was illustrated. There was a terrible smell about this ugly altar... Jesus is the only Answer to the ugliness of sin... The Lamb of God has now paid the price of sin upon the cross, which this altar represented.
There were four horns, one each at the corners of this altar, and this speaks of power... The preaching of the cross is the "power of God..." (Romans 1:3, I Corinthians 1:18).
There were two staves that were used to carry this altar, and this speaks of the gospel message of Jesus our Lamb being carried to the whole earth. The "two" speaks of the two parts of the gospel message.... the death of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ... (I Cor. 15:3-4).
The fire upon this altar was to never go out, it had been started by fire from heaven, and was never to be started with fire from any other source... This speaks of the heavenly choice of which sacrifice to accept... God made the choice, and He accepted it with fire... We cannot substitute any other sacrifice...
COLORS IN THE TABERNACLE
This is the color of heaven, speaking of the heavenly nature of Christ Jesus. Jesus existed before His incarnation as a babe in the manger of Bethlehem.
This is the royal color, and speaks of the kingship of Jesus. He voluntarily humbled Himself to temporarily become a man, but He is now restored to His heavenly throne, and will soon come to rule and reign on earth.
This speaks of the suffering and sacrifice of Christ Jesus. The dye to make this color was made by crushing thousands of a special type of worm... It reminds us of the great sacrifice Christ paid.
\White typifies righteousness. We have a Savior Who was tempted, but did not sin.
BUILDING MATERIALS IN THE TABERNACLE
This refers to the humanity of Jesus.
This refers to the kingship and deity of Christ. The wood was covered with gold in the tabernacle, showing the divine glory that encompasses each Christian, the humanity which Christ Jesus took upon Himself when He came to earth.
When Israel left Egypt, each male (20 years and older) were required to pay a tax of a half shekel of silver. This silver was used to make the sockets for the boards, and the chapiters for the pillars. This silver represents the redemption paid for us by our Lord... (I Peter 1:18-19)
The brass was really copper, and was a type of judgment. The serpent upon the pole in the wilderness spoke of the judgment of sin (Numbers 21). Jesus took our sins upon Himself. The pillars were brass (which held up the outer curtain which separated man from entering into the tabernacle, except by the one way, the gate... The altar of burnt offering was brass, speaking of the judgment of sin before we can approach God's presence... The laver was brass, speaking of the constant need of judging ourselves by the Word of God, and cleansing our failures with the "washing of the water by the Word..."
NUMBERS IN THE TABERNACLE
The number one, signifies unity... There was one way to get into the tabernacle... as there is one way to reach heaven... i.e. Jesus. There was one door to the Holy Place, showing that there is one way to come into fellowship and worship, i.e. Jesus. There was one veil into the Holy of Holies, showing that there is One alone Who gives us access to God... Jesus.
There are three divisions of the tabernacle (court, holy place, holy of holies). There are three metals used, three doors, three kinds of light (fire by night above the tabernacle, fire of the golden lamp stand, and the shekinah glory fire...) Three is the number of the Trinity.
Five is the number of grace... the altar was five cubits by five cubits, the altar spoke of judgment, but the five spoke of God's grace.
Seven is the number of perfection or completion. There are seven pieces of furniture in the tabernacle. There were seven stems to the lamp stand. The completeness of the plan of salvation is shown by the seven pieces of furniture.
Gifts of the Spirit were given to two men (Bezaleel and Aholiab). They were filled with ability and intelligence to make the things of the tabernacle in accordance to God's plan. (Exodus 31:3-5) This shows that God will endow His priesthood with all the endowments of power that we need in finishing the plan of God for redemption of this world.
This tabernacle was to be serviced by the PRIESTHOOD. The Levites needed to be ordained to this ministry. There were four steps in consecrating them to the ministry. (Exodus 29:1-37)
1. Washing (vs. 4)
This shows that those who serve must be pure vessels...
2. Anointing with oil (vs. 7)
This shows that those who serve need the power of the Spirit...
3. Sacrifices (vs. 10-25)
There were three sacrifices in number.
First, a sin offering which represents our forgiveness of sins.
Secondly, a peace offering speaks of our reconciliation to the Lord.
Thirdly, a wave offering which shows that those who serve at the altar should live of the altar.
4. Anointing with blood (vs 19-21)
This shows that the blood still will keep cleansing us as we serve the Lord in our ministry.
As the priesthood served in this ministry, they were to wear garments "for glory and for beauty..." (Exodus 28:1-43). This made the priesthood of the tabernacle to be "marked men". This priesthood represented men before God, and God before men... We, as the priesthood of believers today, have a enormous, and very vital ministry...
THE OLD TABERNACLE WAS ONLY A TYPE
Moses had to follow a pattern... It was only a replica of something that already exists in heaven...
"And the TEMPLE OF GOD was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple, the ark of His testament; and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail..."
"And he (Antichrist) opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His TABERNACLE, and them that dwell in heaven..."
"And after that I looked, and behold, THE TEMPLE OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE TESTIMONY in heaven was opened... And the seven angels came out of the TEMPLE, having seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts (zoa) gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, Who liveth for ever and ever. And the TEMPLE was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; and no man was able to enter into the TEMPLE, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled..."
The old Tabernacle was only a type of what is in prophecy. God has a plan for the future. The tabernacle is only a figure of the reality to come.
"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures (Greek = antitupon = antitype = an exact representation of the real, but not the real) of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us."
In heaven is the real "tabernacle"... a place not made with hands... It is not part of "this building (creation)"...
"But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building."
The heavenly tabernacle has a heavenly ark, the throne of God... Upon it has been sprinkled the blood of Jesus Christ, and now it is a "throne of grace" forevermore... It is not "golden cherubim" that hover about the throne, but the "zoa", or living ones of Revelation 4 & 5, that fly about the throne..
As we enter into this heavenly tabernacle, we come first to the "bema", or judgment seat of Christ... This is the literal burnt altar, where the Lamb Who has become our sacrifice still sits to judge and offer rewards...
Then we pass through the cleansing water of the rivers that flow out of the New Jerusalem... The laver was a type of this cleansing....
Then we come to the inner shell of the Throne room, and we fellowship with others of the priesthood of believers... We may partake of the "bread" (as the table of shewbread), we walk in the light of the Lord (the golden lampstand), and we worship the Lord (the altar of incense).
The Holy of Holies was a representation of the top of the pyramid shaped New Jerusalem... There on that flat top, we find the throne of grace... the mercy seat... and we will find the three members of the Trinity...
In the earthly tabernacle, only a few could worship... and only on occasion... The Jews assembled near the tabernacle to worship... The priests and Levites were permitted in the outer tabernacle, and the High Priest could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year...
"...the priests went always into the first (room of the) tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second (room, the Holy of Holies) went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people."
The heavenly tabernacle is open to all God's people of all times.
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say His flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw nigh with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water... Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised."
The message of Paul in the book of Hebrews is that we need to choose whether we want to seek only an earthly tabernacle, or seek a heavenly one... Some wanted to return to the form of the Temple, the sacrifices, and still be a Christian... Those were only types, only shadows. Now we can realize the reality... and we would be foolish to desire only the former shadows...