February 17, 2019

In this issue: What the Tabernacle Meant by Roger Lindsey

PDF Bulletins Index Home
What the Tabernacle Meant Graphic

"They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, 'See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.'"
Hebrews 8:5

The word of God (and His Creation as well) is filled with things that point to spiritual and eternal things. The case is magnified in the Lord's instructions concerning the making of the Tabernacle, that is the tent that Moses was commanded to make in order that God might dwell among Israel (Exodus 25:8).

This was a copy of a heavenly thing. It is not until the revelation of God's word is complete that we see clearly what the Lord was saying to us by causing this tent to be made.

The diagram used in this article shows the layout of the Tabernacle and the things associated with it.

It faced East and there was a wall of curtains all around it with only one entrance by way of a curtain that hung across the door opening.

There were three divisions of the structure, the outer courtyard, the Holy Place behind the veil at the entrance of the Tabernacle proper, and the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place) behind another veil. It was in this last section, the Most Holy Place, that the Ark of the Covenant was placed. On top of the Ark was a lid with golden Cherubim covering it, called the Mercy Seat. This was the exact spot within the Tabernacle where the Lord said he would meet with Israel (Exodus 25:22).

This is the only part of the structure that is clearly explained in the New Testament. The Hebrew writer tells us:

"For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf."
Hebrews 9:24

In other places the Hebrew writer lets us know that Jesus is now our High Priest. Unlike the high priests of the Old Covenant who could only enter behind the second veil of the Tabernacle, the copy of heavenly things, once a year, and only with the blood of animals, Jesus abides forever as our High Priest in the true Holy Place, that is heaven, having entered with his own blood inside the second veil.

Having then this piece of the puzzle supplied for us, it is a fairly simple matter to determine what all the other pieces mean., beginning from the other end, so to speak, we can connect all of it to our Lord in heaven.

The Altar of Burnt Offering

Since it was the place where the animals were sacrificed, we can easily see that today this represents the offering of Christ, once and for all upon the cross thereby putting an end to sacrifice for sins. He has once offered himself for sins and there is no more need for animals to be sacrificed. The Hebrew writer tells us that it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins anyway (Hebrews 10:4). In fact, it would be the grossest of blasphemies to begin again to offer animals as a sacrifice for sins and count the blood of Christ as insufficient!

The Laver (Water Basin)

In this can be seen the command we now have to be baptized, buried in water, in order that we might have our sins washed away (Acts 22:16). Having believed in the One who sacrificed himself for our sins, repented of our lawlessness against him, made a confession with our mouths of our faith, we are then to be buried with him in baptism, an act which puts us into him where we begin a new life (Romans 6:1-5; Gal. 3:26-27; 2 Cor. 5:17).

At this point we have been ushered into the body of Christ, the church, where all spiritual blessings reside. This is what is represented by the Holy Place inside the first veil.

The Holy Place

In this Holy Place, the church, the body of Christ, we have access to the Head who is already in heaven. We are connected to him just as our physical body is connected to our head, and without the head the body would die.

In this favored place, the centerpiece of all God's plans, we have several indescribable privileges, foreshadowed by the things that were in the Holy Place in the Tabernacle.

First, it was and is only accessible to priests. All of us in Christ are priests (Rev. 1:6), and have the privilege of being in the Holy Place of God, not just to visit once or twice a day, but to abide permanently (John 15:4-7).

In this capacity we have access to the Bread of Life (the table of showbread) which is Jesus himself. It is symbolized every time we take the Lord's Supper.

We live in the Light of Life (the golden lampstand) abiding in the light of his word and the life of his presence.

The altar of incense can be seen as emblematic of our access to God through Jesus Christ in prayer. John notes the incense that rose up before the throne of God in his vision was "with the prayers of the saints." What a blessing to have the ear of the living God!

All of this takes place in the body, which is attached to the Head who has already gone into heaven to prepare a place for us, to atone for our sins as our High Priest with his own blood, to make intercession for us, and ultimately to welcome us into his home.

How can we not be astounded by this image, commanded to be built nearly 1500 years before the birth of the One who was its fulfillment, and now 3500 years before our own time.

How can we not be enthralled with the thought of being a part of his body, the only thing on this earth that will live eternally with him in heaven!

Where ever the Head is, the body will surely follow! ~

Roger Linsey

Bulletins Index