Wednesday, November 17, 2021 Evening Service
Tabernacle: Lesson 3
Inside the Ark
- Tables of the covenant: the stone on which were written the Ten Commandments (when Moses went up on Mt. Sinia) - Deuteronomy 10:2
- The golden pot with manna - Exodus 16:33
- Aaron’s rod that budded - Numbers 17:1-8
- The Book - Deuteronomy 31:26
The first three represent the Trinity. They also correspond to what Jesus said of Himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” It is interesting that you could apply one to each of those, but you can also apply any of the items to any of the things Jesus said of Himself:
- The tables of the covenant represent God’s precepts, which give life, are the correct way, and are the truth.
- The gold pot of manna gave life in the wilderness, had a correct way of being handled, and God’s truth is spiritual food.
- The rod that budded received new life, it was a sign of who was the correct priest to follow (Aaron), and it was a sign that Moses was telling the truth (that God really had commanded him). Just like the Trinity, all three things are wrapped up in one another, and you can’t untangle them. They are the same, but distinct. Deuteronomy 31:26 indicates that the Decalogue on the tables of stone was the main “testimony,” but no man who compares the verse with Numbers 17:8-10 would fail to see that God “testified” in more ways than the giving of the Law.
Observe the beautiful typology of the three “testimonies:”
- God graciously feeds unsaved people and gives them a foretaste of “the powers of the world to come” (Hebrews 6:5) to get their attention. Paul calls this a “witness” (Acts 14:17).
- He then convicts of sin (John 16:8-11) by revealing His holiness (19:21), and brings the sinner to the end of himself (34:9).
- At this point, the resurrected high priests (Numbers 17:8-10) is revealed (Hebrews 3:1) to prove that there is “one mediator between God and men” (1 Timothy 2:5).
If this typology seems stretched, let the reader never forget that unsaved people who had no faith (Hebrews 3:18-19) were in the Israelite camp from the time it left Egypt (12:38) until it finished its forty-year pilgrimage in the desert.
The Book was put in later. God has magnified His word above His own name (Psalm 138:2).
By the time of Solomon, they had lost all but the tables of stone: 1 Kings 8:9.
On top of the Ark
The mercy seat sat on top of the Ark. It was made of a single piece of gold. The top of this “ark,” which is covered by the “mercy seat” (vss 17-19), is on an exact even level with the brazen grate in the sacrificial altar. The brazen altar had this barbeque grill hanging down inside it to the exact height (27:1), with the notation that it hung “even to the midst of the altar” (vs. 27:5). This means that God’s presence was pictured as being on the same level with the sacrificial fire of the burnt offering. No sacrifice, no presence. No shedding of blood, no remission (Leviticus 17). No shedding of blood, no redemption (Colossians 1:14).
The mercy seat included two cherubims kneeling over the ark with their faces downward toward it. The cherubims were made of the same piece of gold that the mercy seat was (vs 17, 19).
- There were five of them (Ezekiel 28:14-16 cf Ezekiel 10:1-15).
- There are now four (Revelation 4:6-9).
- The fifth one represented the reptile class, which is now missing (cf Ezekiel 1:10).
- They represent the creation: the wild beasts, the flying beasts, the domesticated beasts, and man (Ezekiel 10:14).
- They are connected with the throne of God (Revelation 4:6-7).
- They are connected with an unidentified flying object that will appear at the Second Advent (Ezekiel 1:4-5).
- They use four and six wings alternately (Ezekiel 1:6 cf. Revelation 4:8).
- When stationery, they have six wings (Revelation 4:8); when moving four (Ezekiel 1:6-12).
See that the cherubims of 1 Kings 6:23 are made out of OLIVE TREES, not gold, and they are not part of the mercy seat as we find them here. The moral lesson is clear: Christ will no longer be in the third heaven during the Millenium (typified by Solomon’s reign), for He has detached Himself from the “throne” (Revelation 3:21).
The cherubim are kneeling facing each other, and their heads are bowed so that they are “toward the mercy seat” (vs 20). From the other passages (Ezekiel 1:23), we know that the other two wings were stretched back to the sides of the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 6:27).
When the Jew looked at the Ark, he saw only the cherubim, and he had just been told NOT to bow down to them (20:4-5). The only thing, therefore, to which he could bow down was an invisible presence (Romans 1:20), which he was told was somewhere “between the two cherubims” (vs 22). Worshipping God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) is clearly taught in the very construction of the Ark and the “mercy seat.”
The Table of Shewbread
The table of shewbread would be about three feet long, two feet three inches high, and one foot six inches broad; it was made of wood overlaid with gold (as the Ark). It had the embellished ornamental “crown” around the top (as the Ark) and was equipped with rings and staves for mobility (as the Ark). The top of the table was even with the mercy seat and the altar of burnt offering (“a cubit and a half the height thereof”,” vs 23).
Instructions for the bread to be laid upon it are found in Numbers 4:7 and Leviticus 24:5-6. There were twelve loaves arranged in two rows of six in a row.
The table has “dishes… spoons… covers… and bowls” (vs 29) that go with it; and these are obviously for mixing batter, stirring the batter, and protecting the bread from getting stale in the seven days it is displayed.
Now what does the shewbread show?
- It shows that God will provide all twelve tribes with their daily bread.
- It shows that God does things by sevens (the loaves were baked weekly), and that the eighth thing has to be new.
- It shows the priests that they are dependent for their living on the twelve tribes; this is a constant reminder that their main calling in life is to MINISTER, “not to be ministered unto” (Matthew 20:28).
- It typifies the “Sixty-Six.” The bread which man must live by (Luke 4:4) turns out to be 66 books, which can only be understood in the light of the next object we are about to study – the Golden Candlestick. In the darkness of the Holy Place – there were no windows anywhere in the Tabernacle – the only light was the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10-14), and He is the only One who can “open our understanding” (Luke 24:45) that we might appreciate the “showbread” (2 Corinthians 3:1-12).
The “bread” comes on a GOLD service, which symbolizes its divine origin, even though it was baked by men (showing its human origin). Like Jesus Christ Himself – the eternal Word – the Bible has two natures.
Observe the “crown” showing up again (vs. 24). This makes three crowns for the ministries of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The Father’s crown (on the Ark) stands over the Decalogue given to Israel. The Son’s crown (on the Table) encircles “the bread of life” which “came down from heaven” (John 6:26-35). And the Holy Spirit’s crown (on the Incense Altar) leads us in prayer (Psalm 141:2) “with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).
Now observe how this order – Father, Son, and Spirit – was carried out in the first instructions given to Moses. It is the Ark, the Table, and the Candlestick.
The seven branches match the “seven Spirits” of Revelation 4:5 and Isaiah 11:1-2. The olive oil plainly comes from the “tree of life” (Romans 11:17), and this candlestick furnishes the only light inside the sanctuary (1 Corinthians 2:14-16), as it illuminates the “shewbread” (the Bible) and the Altar of Incense (prayer). It shines evening and morning (27:21), and when it goes out (1 Samuel 3:3), there is no revelation about “the word of the LORD” (1 Samuel 3:1, 7, 21). It is made of “one beaten work of pure gold” (vs. 36) since there is “one Spirit” (Ephesians 4:4), and although the dimensions are not given (Psalm 139:7-8), if we are to believe the figures of Bishop Cumberland (Clarke’s Commentary, pg. 434), taken from “a talent of pure gold” (vs 39), it was worth well over $826,000.
The almond tree cannot be hid (vs. 33), for it is the sign of the resurrected High Priest (Numbers 17:8). Christ was “declared to be the Son of God” (Romans 1:3-4) by the power of the Holy Spirit who raised him from the dead (Romans 8:11). The reference to the “flower” and the “fruit” (vs. 33) is unmistakable; it matches the “bell” and the “pomegranate” of 28:34 – profession and fruit, profession and fruit, etc. The “knop” (vs 31, 33-35) was like a knob. It was shaped like the pomegranate, and it is thought that the flower represented was the lily. The candlestick contained 22 almond-shaped “bowls” (vss. 33-34), matching the Jewish canon of the Old Testament and the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet! For Israel, there is no fruit (the “almond”) unless it comes from the oracles given to it by God (Romans 3:1-2).
“I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5). We can only bear fruit through Him, and He sustains and maintains us; not vice versa. The fruit is born by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and we are not to “quench” this Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). “The snuffdishes” and the “the tongs” (vs 38) are for trimming the lamps one at a time; at no time are all seven lamps to be extinguished (27:20). (There is a Roman picture of this candlestick on the Arch of Triumph [Titus], and it is pictured as being about three feet high, although it may have been larger.)
When the priest entered the Holy Place, the first thing he saw was the seven-pronged candlestick. Coming from broad daylight – the natural revelation of Solomon “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:3) – he was at first blinded by the darkness, and if he did not believe in “God shining in a dark place” (2 Corinthians 4:6), he would have turned around and walked out of the Holy pLace. You see, he could not see the bread – let alone EAT it (Luke 4:4) – until his eyes grew accustomed to the supernatural light from “the tree of life.”
The candlestick stood on the priest’s left (the south side) as he entered the Tabernacle. It was the ONLY light in the sanctuary, so once the flap of the tent closed behind him, the priest was abandoned to three resources: the word of God (the Table), prayer (the Incense Altar), and the Holy Spirit (the Candlestick). These turn out to be the three spiritual resources for the spiritual man; growth in grace (2 Peter 3:18) is determined by the use of these three means. God does not want the natural light of the natural man “under the sun” giving “light”.
“And look that thou make them” (vs 40). No substitutes or “facsimiles” or “reasonably accurate translations” will do. It is to be “after their pattern, which was shewed thee,” and when God shows an unsaved man the right Book and saves him with that Book and then calls him into the ministry with that Book, He does not intend for the man to alter that pattern and invent a “better one.” Any candlestick other than the one presecribed by Moses was “another spirit” and “another gospel” and “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4); the Lord would have never used it to “give light” on anything. The moral of the story is clear: if the Christian is to shine like a light in a dark world (2 Peter 1:19), he must consult the light fed with “olive oil” (1 John 2:27), and that light sheds light on the open Book (2 Corinthians 3:14-17).