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Invitation to tabernacle with God

Do you desire a deeper walk with the Lord? Whenever such longing pulls on your heart, be reminded again of the well-known invitation from James 4:8 – Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. This verse contains wonderful keys that can guide us in what is needed for such a closer walk with the Lord.

Through the Tabernacle in the Old Testament, God revealed to Moses how He wanted Israel to draw closer to Him. Now, in Jesus Christ, we have a New Testament model of how to draw near to God. In the Old Testament, God provided His people with a physical ‘Tabernacle’ layout of drawing near to Him. But now, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, this tabernacle is alive in you and me! Each ‘station’ of the Tabernacle invites us into a deeper relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ who gave His life for us on the Cross.

 

Jesus is the true Tabernacle

John 1:14 tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt [Gk. σκηνόω] among us,” and the Greek translation of “tent of meeting” is σκηνὴ μαρτυρίου (Exodus 33:7). In other words, when Jesus became the God-man he ‘tabernacled’ among us. And of course, Jesus spoke about “the temple of his body” (John 2:19, 21), and Paul taught that because we are united to the risen Messiah “we are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Consider the following descriptions from the different stations and items found in the Tabernacle as you take time in personal prayer.

 

Turning away from the world

The entrance to the Old Testament Tabernacle faces eastward. For them, to draw near to God they had to turn their backs on the ‘sun’ and the ‘sun-god-worship’ of Egypt. In the same way, drawing near to God means we have to turn away from the things of this world and set our course towards following Him.

 

Three parts

The Tabernacle consisted of the Outer court, the Holy place and the Holy of Holies. With the Holy Spirit now indwelling us, it can be likened to the way man is put together: body, soul and spirit. The meaning of these three parts in the original writings is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’. Through His life, death on the Cross and resurrection, Jesus replaced the Tabernacle of Moses by giving Himself as the Way (to the Father), the Truth (from the Father) and the Life (forever with the Father).

The surroundings of the Tabernacle was made of fine white linen – symbolic of God’s righteousness and holiness. Jesus is the One who opens the door to God for us.

(Read: Exodus 25-40; Matthew 7:13-14; John 1:14, 14:6; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

 

  1. The Outer court (Way)

This symbolises our physical bodies.

The brazen altar is where sacrifices were brought. It was made of copper (God’s judgment on sin). Only the blood (symbolic of life) of an animal could cover and reconcile man with God. Christ died for our sins; “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (1 Corinthians 15:3, John 1:29). Jesus is now our resurrected High Priest who paid the ransom for our sins with His very own life by sacrificing His own body for us. When people receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, their sins are likewise removed before God.

(Read: Leviticus 4, 17:1; John 1:9, 29)

 

The laver of washing was made of polished copper. Here priests washed themselves before entering the Holy place. The mirror – a symbol of introspection – would show any remaining impurities. This shows us that God is not only interested in the forgiveness of our sin, but He also wants us to be cleansed from unrighteousness daily and to live holy lives before Him.

(Read: Romans 6:1-6; Hebrews 10:1-10)

 

  1. The Holy place (Truth)

This part symbolises the soul of man, representing the will, mind and emotions.

The lampstand (Menorah) was made of one piece of solid gold formed into the shape of an almond tree in the full bloom of life by beating or hammering it. It was the only light in the inner sanctuary and was kept burning with pure olive oil.  John 1 depicts Christ (Jesus) as both light and life. “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” Jesus, as God in the flesh, gave us eternal life as well as the light or revelation to comprehend and know God.  The oil is symbolic of the baptism, the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit in and through our lives.

(Read: Matthew 3:11; Acts 10:38; 1 Corinthians 12; Hebrews 1:9; Galatians 5:22-25; Revelation 1:20)

 

The table of showbead symbolises the ‘will’ of man. The 2 sets of six loaves of unleavened bread (one for each tribe of Israel) was eaten by the priests on the Sabbath. In the New Testament believers break the bread and eat it in the fellowship of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16-21). Without ‘bread’ the covenant meal cannot exist, neither can fellowship be established.

 

The golden altar of incense was the tallest piece of furniture in the Tabernacle, representing the affections of man. This was not for burning a sacrifice but incense. Setting our hearts, minds and affections, as well as our adoration, praise and worship upon and towards the Lord of our lives. It also refers to our priestly place of prayer with the Lord Jesus. Every believer is called to a life of prayer and worship.

(Read: Exodus 30:22-23; Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8, 8:3)

 

  1. The Holy of Holies (Life)

This is a place of true encounter between the Living God and symbolically represents the spirit of man. Depicted in the relationship between God and Adam, and God’s journey with the nation of Israel, His deepest desire throughout Scripture is to dwell and fellowship with man. The curtain was torn when Jesus was crucified so we will forever have access to His very presence, no longer worshipping at a distance. Jesus made a way for us!

The Holy of Holies only contained the ark of the covenant. The only visible light here was the manifest presence of God between the wings of the two cherubim that rested on the mercy seat of the ark. Today Jesus’ blood on the mercy seat speaks of everlasting life and manifests His eternal glory resting upon us. The ark contained three items, all symbolic for what we need to walk with our Heavenly Father:

  • Two tables of stone on which God wrote the 10 Commandments. This represents Jesus as the Word who has set us free from the curse that the Law brought.
  • Aaron’s staff with the almond blossoms. This represents the power of the Resurrection. Jesus triumphed over death and gave us eternal life, forever now serving as our eternal High Priest.
  • The golden pot with manna foreshadows the covenant meal Christ instituted.

(Exodus 20:1-17, 25:22; Numbers 17:5; Matthew 3:17; John 1:14,18; 6:51; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 3:1-2)

 

God’s promise remains the same, from the beginning to the end

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God”. (Revelation 21:3).

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