Wednesday, November 10, 2021 Evening Service
Tabernacle: Lesson 2
The Plans for the Tabernacle
That I may dwell among them in Exodus 25:8 gives us two things:
- It foreshadows Revelation 21:22 when there will be no need to make a sanctuary for God to dwell among us.
- It points out the fact that God cannot dwell (John 14:16) in a body of flesh (Colossians 2:11) unless the soul inside that body of flesh has been cut loose from the flesh itself (Colossians 2:12-13). The souls that are stuck to the flesh in the Old Testament (see Genesis 2:7, Ezekiel 18:4, 1 Samuel 26:21) are defiled when the flesh is defiled (Leviticus 22:6), for they are joined to the flesh as man and wife are joined together (Romans 7:1-4). God will not dwell in an unclean place (see Exodus 33:3), so when the camp is defiled, the Tabernacle is moved outside the camp (Exodus 33:7-8), exactly as Jesus Christ removes Himself from Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1) in the New Testament.
Most of the things God described to Moses were to be measured in cubits.
A cubit is an ancient measurement for length. It was originally the distance from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger.
It needs to be understood that ancient measurements were not “set in stone” like our measurements are today. Today we have entire organizations whose job it is to set exactly what an “inch” is or what a “foot” is. Measurements were not standardized like we have them today until very recently.
For instance, see how the lengths of a yard and a foot were determined. A yard was originally the length of a man’s belt or girdle, as it was called. In the 12th century, King Henry I of England fixed the yard as the length of his arm. A foot was originally set by Charlemagne, and it was repeatedly shortened by kings in order to increase their tax revenue (if your house is taxed by square footage, and you use a shorter foot, then your house will have more square footage and you will pay more tax).
A cubit usually ranged from 17.48 to 20.83 inches, but the Romans had a cubit being 47 inches.
Overview of the Tabernacle
The Tabernacle is called “the tent” (Psalm 78:60), “the tent of the congregation” (Exodus 40), “the tent of the testimony” (Numbers 9:15), “the tabernacle of witness” (Numbers 17:7-8), the “sanctuary” (Exodus 25:8), “the temple of the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:9), the “habitation” of the Lord (1 Samuel 2:29), etc.
At the highest level view (if you were in an airplane flying over), the Tabernacle had two parts:
- The Courtyard
- The Tent
The Tabernacle was a tent in a rectangular courtyard formed by a wall of curtains.
Everything was portable, nothing had a foundation in the earth. Everything had rings that staves were put through so that priests could carry the equipment of the tabernacle on their shoulders when camp was moved.
If you looked down at the Tabernacle from an airplane, you would see a big tent and a curtain fence around it.
Today we’re going to talk about what is inside the tent.
The inside of the tent is split into two sections by a curtain wall. When you first enter the tent you find yourself in the Holy Place. In the Holy Place is the golden candlestick, the table of shewbread, and the golden altar. At the far end you would see a thick curtain (called a veil). Behind that curtain is the Holy of Holies, which has the Ark of the Covenant inside. The first thing mentioned in the instructions for the construction of the tabernacle is the furniture, and the first item to show up clearly is the ark: a reference to the place where God will “meet” with the children of Israel; it matches the throne of Revelation 4:2-6 – cherubims and all. The moral in this “order of importance”:
- Unless God Himself initiates the action, we cannot approach unto Him.
- Salvation begins with God Himself as its “author and finisher” (Hebrews 12:2), and all work of reconciliation must proceed out from God to man, not in the reverse order.
- As an ark saved the human race (Genesis 6-9), so now an ark is used as a meeting place of communion for the nation of Israel (Exodus 25:22). In both cases, the Lord Himself had to give the instructions for the building of the Ark: it was a supernatural revelation both times.
The Ark is found in the innermost part of the Tabernacle. This is where God’s presence will reside.
Made of two materials:
- Shittim wood
These show the two natures of Jesus Christ: man and God. Jesus was “made of a woman,” He called Himself the “son of man,” He got tired and thirsty, He was tempted. He was God manifest in the flesh.
The Ark was a box made of shittim wood, covered inside and out with gold, not like the “whited sepulchres” of the Pharisees (Matthew 23:27). It had a “lid” called the mercy seat made of pure gold. It had a crown of gold around the top.
It had four rings to carry it, representing the four Gospels.
The “crown of gold” suggests that we are dealing not only with a Redeemer and Saviour (the Kingdom of God), but an earthly ruler (the Kingdom of Heaven). The “rings” and “staves” were for carrying the Ark. The staves were left in the rings (Exodus 25:15) even after the Ark was deposited in the Holy of Holies. It is not until 1 Kings 8:8 that these staves are removed from the Ark. This passage clearly shows us that Solomon’s reign was a type of the Millennial reign of Christ, and when Christ returns to this earth, His reign goes right on out into Eternity.
“The staves” of Numbers 4:6 are an additional pair.
Short history of the Ark
The nation of Israel has no Ark until AFTER they have apostatized and gone back into Egyptian idolatry (chap. 32). The Lord gives them time to break all Ten Commandments (chap. 32) before He lets them build a “mercy seat.” You can be certain that when they built it, they knew what it was for!
The Ark remained in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1) after the conquest of the land. It was captured, temporarily, by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4-6) and was brought up from the house of Obed-edom by David in 1 Chronicles 13 (cf. 2 Samuel 6). Solomon placed it in the Temple in 1 Kings 8, but there is no record of Shishak or Nebuchadnezzar getting their hands on it. In Revelation 11:19, we can assume that it was raptured before the destruction of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar. Notice the mobility of the ark as it flew across the desert (see Numbers 10:33-36).