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Discover the Book - June 13, 2009

  • 2009 Jun 13

Christ The Tabernacle Is Camping With God


The Tabernacle is God's photo journal documenting salvation. It is not an after thought, it is His premeditated explanation of what Jesus would do perfectly on the Cross. The Tabernacle is the clearest portrait of Christ and His redemption to be found in any part of the Old Testament. While God only uses one verse to record Creation (Genesis 1:1), and two chapters (Genesis 1-2) to explain it, He takes 15 chapters (Exodus 25-40) to explain the construction of the Tabernacle and 27 more to describe it in action (Leviticus). This task was so important that God did not depend on the ingenuity of craftsmen to follow a blueprint, He actually came into them through His Spirit (Exodus 31:1-6) and guided each step of their work. 

Before God sent a Person named Jesus Christ, He sent a picture called the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle is a photo album of the most detailed explanation of salvation in the Old Testament. The Tabernacle is the ABCs of Christian Doctrine, it is a systematic Theology that Paul actually uses in Romans to explain salvation. In the Old Testament the Tabernacle is the dwelling place of God. In the New Testament the Church becomes the dwelling place of God. 

The key to the Tabernacle, then, is Christ. In the volume of the Book it is written of Him. As a whole and in each of its parts the Tabernacle foreshadowed the person and work of the Lord Jesus. Each detail in it typified some aspect of His ministry or some excellency in His person. Proof of this is furnished in John 1:14: "And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us" (R. V. margin). The reference here is to the Divine incarnation and first advent of God’s Son to this earth, and its language takes us back to the book of Exodus. Many and varied are the correspondences between the type and the anti-type. We take leave to quote from our comments on John 1:14.

  • The order in which the Tabernacle and its contents are described is most significant. The first thing mentioned is the ark (25:10) and last comes the brazen altar (27:1). Thus it will be seen that the order is from the interior to the exterior. It is the order of sovereign grace, God coming from His throne right to the outer door where the sinner was! How this reminds us of the Incarnation; the sinner in his sins could not go from earth to heaven, so God in the person of His Son came from heaven to earth, and died the Just for the unjust "that He might bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18). From the Brazen Altar to the Ark and Mercy Seat is the pathway of faith. From the Mercy Seat to the Altar of Brass is the pathway of grace.
  • The second description of the Tabernacle, where we have the record of its manufacture and set up, there is a notable variation. Instead of beginning with the contents of the holy of holies where Jehovah dwelt, we have described the Tabernacle and curtains of the outer court, which the common people saw. Here the order is from without to within—the experimental order, the order in which Divine truth is apprehended by the soul. This same twofold order may be seen in the Epistles to the Romans and Ephesians. In Romans it is the sinner going in to God; in Ephesians, God coming out the sinner. Such is the double teaching in the twofold order of the description of the Tabernacle.
  • The placement of each piece of the Tabernacle points to Christ. Marvelous is the progressive order of teaching in connection with the various objects in the Tabernacle.

*       At the brazen altar sin was judged, and by blood-shedding put away.

*       At the laver purification was effected.

*       In the holy place provision was made for prayer, food and illumination. In the holy of holies the glory of the enthroned King was displayed.

*       The same principle of progress is also to be seen in the increasing value of the sacred vessels. Those in the outer court were of wood and brass; whereas those in the inner compartments were of wood and gold. So too the various curtains grew richer in design and embellishment, the inner veil being the costliest and most elaborate.

*       Again, the outer court, being open, was illumined by natural light; the holy place was lit up by the light from the golden candlestick; but the holy of holies was radiated by the Shekinah glory of Jehovah.

*       Thus the journey from the outer court into the holy of holies was from sin to purification, and from grace to glory. How blessedly did this illustrate the truth that "the path of the Just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18).

1.  The Tabernacle was dictated by God Himself. No less than seven times are we informed that Moses was commanded to make the Sanctuary after the pattern of it which was shown him in the Mount—see Exodus 25:9; 25:40; 26:30; 27:8; Numbers 8:4; Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5. Nothing was left to man’s wisdom, still less to "chance"; everything was to be in exact accordance with the Divine model. Does not this teach us that everything concerning Christ and His people has been wrought out according to the eternal purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will! May Divine grace enable us to rest there in perfect peace and Joyous worship.

2.  The Tabernacle was made to be temporary. Like when our blessed Lord tabernacled here among men. His stay was but a brief one—less than forty years; and, like the type. He abode not long in any one place, but was constantly on the move, unwearied in the activity of His love.

3.  The Tabernacle was for use in the wilderness. The wilderness strikingly foreshadowed the conditions amid which the eternal Word tabernacled among men at His first advent. The wilderness-home of the Tabernacle unmistakably foreshadowed the manger-cradle, the Nazareth-carpenter’s bench, the "nowhere for the Son of man to lay His head," the borrowed tomb for His sepulcher. A careful study of the chronology of the Pentateuch seems to indicate that Israel used the Tabernacle in the wilderness rather less than thirty-five years!

4.  The Tabernacle was unattractive outwardly. Altogether unlike the costly and magnificent temple of Solomon there was nothing in the externals of the Tabernacle to please the carnal eye. Nothing but plain boards and skins. So it was at the Incarnation. The Divine majesty of our Lord was hidden beneath a veil of flesh. He came, unattended by any imposing retinues of angels. To the unbelieving gaze of Israel He had no form or comeliness; and when they beheld Him their un-anointed eyes saw in Him no beauty that they should desire Him.

5.  The Tabernacle was God’s dwelling place. It was there, in the midst of Israel’s camp, that He took up His abode. There, between the Cherubim. upon the mercy-seat He made His throne. In the holy of holies He manifested His presence by means of the Shekinah glory. And during the thirty-three years that the Word tabernacled among men. God had His dwelling-place in Palestine. 

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