Category Archives: Bible Study

Posts related to something specifically from the Bible.

The Gates of Jerusalem

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

In the previous post in this series, we looked at the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, as directed by the prophet Ezra and others.  Around this same time in history, the city of Jerusalem was ruins. The Babylonians had laid siege to the city when they attacked, and when they made their way in, they destroyed more than just the Temple. They also had demolished much of the city’s walls and gates. The man put in charge of rebuilding these walls and gates was none other than Nehemiah.

My lesson attempted to link the rebuilding of these gates and the city wall as a type of the restoration occurring today in God’s Church (which began with the Reformation). Since, as I mentioned before, I want to be sure to stick to using Scripture to interpret Scripture, I’m afraid I can’t agree that this Old Testament event is a Biblical type of a New Testament event. What we can use this lesson for is a very good illustration.  I’ve included the image below (borrowed from here) as a reference, so you will be able to see what I’m talking about as I discuss each gate in the city wall – click the image to view it full size.

The Levels Of Jerusalem

When the Bible talks about the city of Jerusalem, it can actually be talking about 1 of 3 different cities. These 3 levels that the “City of God” is described as are:

  1. The Natural Jerusalem – This is the natural, earthly city, which in some ways models the heavenly Jerusalem. (Perhaps structurally or functionally, more than righteously)
  2. The Heavenly Jerusalem – This is the original City, a spiritual location (but just as real), of which we become citizens at the point of our salvation.
  3. The New Jerusalem – In the future, God will re-create the heavens and the earth, and this new city will be at the center of everything.

These cities are compared and contrasted throughout the Bible. Often, the spiritual condition of the people in the natural Jerusalem is described by God using spiritual illustrations.  The walls and gates of the city seem to be especially important in this spiritual illustrations.  For example, in Ezekiel 13, God condemns false prophets by saying “You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the LORD.” (v. 5)  What God is saying is that these so-called prophets are not helping Israel by their false prophecies…they’re trying to help themselves. This was written at a time when the walls of Jerusalem were standing strong, prior to the Babylonian invasion.  God continues by saying,

Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”  Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When itfalls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the LORD.

Interestingly, these walls were torn down shortly thereafter by the armies of Babylon. But on a spiritual level, God also tore down the walls that the Israelites were building for themselves, which were making them feel secure. They had given up the relationship they had with God, who was their Defender, and secured for themselves new walls – spiritual walls – that were really nothing more than flimsy, broken walls covered in whitewash.

The Gates of the City

The natural Jerusalem was surrounded by thick walls, designed to protect it against the assault of its enemies. This was the norm at this time, as most major cities were protected in this way. With walls surrounding the city, it was important that there be gates to allow for movement into and out of the city at different points. The natural Jerusalem had 12 gates, most of which had been demolished during the Babylonian attack (along with the walls). The prophet Nehemiah was put in charge of rebuilding the city’s walls and gates, and the description of the rebuilding of the walls and gates are described in Chapter 3 of the book bearing his name. Each gate had a specific purpose, and each can serve as an illustration of a significant spiritual truth, even for us today.

  1. The Sheep Gate (3:1) – The first gate to be restored; Led to the sheep market where lambs were sold for Temple sacrifice. This was also the gate Jesus went through as He carried His cross to Golgotha to be crucified.
    Possible Illustration: The Sheep Gate represents the experience of salvation made available to the cross. The first gate to be restored is the first spiritual gate to be built in our lives – the blood of Christ on the cross is the perfect sacrifice for our sin.
  2. The Fish Gate (3:3) – One of the main entrances to Jerusalem; Where the fish merchants brought fish to market (often from other cities and territories)
    Possible Illustration: The Fish Gate can represent our witness, the Church reaching out to the world.
  3. The Jeshanah (Old) Gate (3:6) – The location where the elders of the city would discuss and issue judgment on disputes
    Possible Illustration: The Old Gate represents the eldership (leadership) of the Body of Christ, the Church.
  4. The Valley Gate (3:13) – This gate led to the Hinnom Valley, outside of the city walls. This valley is where Solomon erected high places for a foreign god (to whom children were sacrificed by fire). It was rendered ceremonially unclean by Josiah, who spread human bones over it (see 2 Kings 23). Because of this, it became the garbage dump of city. Because of its history of human sacrifice, it was given the name Gehenna, or Lake of Fire, and was used by Christ as an illustration for hell itself.
    Possible Illustration: The Valley Gate represents what we’ve been taken out of: the fires of hell, by the grace of God.
  5. The Dung Gate (3:14) – The path where garbage was removed from the city (out into the Hinnom Valley).
    Possible Illustration: The Dung Gate represents the removal of the spiritual dung in our lives – both the shame and the glory of the old life.
  6. The Fountain Gate (3:15-19) – The gate in most ruin; Associated with many locations inside the city (see map), but also the primary access point to the Gihon Spring, the city’s main water source.
    Possible Illustration: The Gihon Spring represented the life source of God Himself, and the Fountain Gate represents our access to that spiritual spring.
  7. The Water Gate (3:26) – Opened up to Solomon’s Temple; Location where the people gathered to hear the Word of God read to them by Ezra.
    Possible Illustration: Water often represents the Word of God. In this case, the Word of God was read at the Water Gate, and it represents the Word of God being restored and our lives being renewed by it.
  8. The Horse Gate (3:28) – The gate the king’s chariot passed through on its way into the city.
    Possible Illustration: Horses represent discipline and war in Scripture. This gate may represent the restoration of spiritual discipline in our lives.
  9. The Inspection (Muster) Gate (3:31) – The Hebrew word translated Inspection or Muster, miphkad, means “appointment, mandate, designated spot, mustering, the numbering in a census”
    Possible Illustration: The Miphkad was the Temple site itself – the designated spot for the Ark of the Covenant. This represents the physical church today – the appointed place of meeting together regularly.
  10. The Ephraim Gate – No repairs mentioned; Ephraim means “double fruitfulness.”
    Possible Illustration: We are to bear much fruit (see John 15) – this “gate” is not restored in the Church, but is fulfilled.
  11. The Gate of the Guard – No repairs mentioned; Where special guards were placed, who were not simply recruited, but appointed in a lineage, just like the priests
    Possible Illustration: The gatekeepers were those who devoted their lives to ushering others into the presence of God. Again, this isn’t a spiritual gate that needs restoration in our lives today, but that need fulfilling.
  12. The East Gate – No repairs mentioned; The gate that Jesus went through as he entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives (where He spent each night the week before His crucifixion)
    Possible Illustration: This gate represents both the coming of the Lord (as He will return to the Mount of Olives from where he ascended to Heaven)

As you can see, each gate illustrates a different aspect of the finished work of the Cross of Christ, outworked in our experience through the Holy Spirit.

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The Restoration of the Temple

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

In the previous couple of posts, we’ve looked at the Tabernacle as an Old Testament type (for a definition of type, see the first post in this series). We discussed how the Tabernacle was a type of Jesus, in that just as the purpose of the Tabernacle was to serve as a dwelling place for God among His people, Jesus also had the fullness of God dwell in Him (see Colossians 1:19). We also discussed how the Tabernacle was a type of the Church – in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul writes “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”  Today’s lesson looked at the Temple(s), which were the permanent forms of the preceding tabernacles built by Moses and David. The Temple was a type of the same New Testament figures – Jesus and the Church – but the lesson elaborated on how the destruction and restoration of the Temple served as a shadow of the fate of the Church, even in today’s time.

A Snapshot of Church History

Today’s lesson pointed out that the history of the Church can be divided into 4 stages:

A Glorious Birth

The birth of the church is described at the beginning of Acts.  Acts 4:31-35 describes a lot of what made the birth of Church so glorious:

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

So we see that, as the lesson put it, “the Church of God was birthed in the power of the Holy Spirit and had a dynamic impact on the community of that day.”

A Period of Decline

Even during the first century, a great deal of doctrinal error had crept into the Church. The number of letters written by the apostles to correct these errors in the New Testament serve as proof of that. This period of decline continued to spread throughout the Church, reaching rock bottom during the Dark Ages. The lesson pointed out that, at this time in history, “the Church was hardly recognizable as the same holy, dynamic company birthed by God on the Day of Pentecost.”

A Period of Restoration

Even during the Dark Ages, there were individuals who were true believers, carrying the Church through that dismal time in history. God began to use some of these people to begin to rebuild the foundations of the Church. This time in history is known as the Reformation, and is hallmarked by men such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and Ulrich Zwingli. The Church remains in this period of history, though most theologians believe we are nearing the end stages.

A Glorious Finale

In the (hopefully near) future, Christ will return in all His glory, bringing with Him a new time period for the Church.  Paul writes of this in Romans 8:18-23:I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

The lesson summarizes by saying that it will be at this time when “God will bring His plan for the Church to its climax. As the Church becomes the Temple God has designed her to be, the earth will indeed ‘be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’ (Habakkuk 2:14)”.

The Restoration of the Temple

After putting the Ark in the new tabernacle, David had fully intended to build a permanent Temple for the Ark of God’s presence to reside.  Unfortunately for David, God would not allow it to happen. He instead chose David’s son, Solomon, to be the one who would have the Temple built. Solomon built the Temple and furnished it with many lavish fixtures, surely making it one of the great wonders among any building in the world at that time (see 1 Kings 6-7). The general structure of the Temple, though, was identical to the tabernacle(s) that preceded it – it contained an outer court with the brazen altar and laver, and an inner court, which was made up of the Most Holy Place (where the Ark was kept) and the Holy Place, which held the table of the bread of presence, the lamp stand, and the altar of incense.

Over the next couple hundred years, the nation of Israel went through many trials and periods of turning away from God. God allowed the Temple to be plundered and thrown into disarray by foreign nations, and each time it was repaired and brought back to service in periods of revival under Joash and Josiah.  Eventually, around 587 B.C., the Babylonians totally destroy the Temple and take all of its sacred furnishings to the temples of Nebuchadnezzar’s gods, and all of the people into exile in Babylon. Seventy years later, a remnant of about 50,000 people returned to Jerusalem, and under a decree of protection from King Cyrus of Persia, and they begin to rebuild the Temple.

New Testament Fulfillment

As it’s outlined in the book of Ezra, the Temple was rebuilt in 4 stages.  Today’s lesson attempted to link the 4 stages of the rebuilding of the Temple to the restoration of the Church (the Reformation and beyond). Whether this is a theologically and Biblically sound thing to do, I can’t say. I can say that I don’t find any New Testament references saying that the rebuilt Temple is typical of the current or future Church.  All the same, allow me to summarize the points of the lesson, and preface by saying that this may serve as a better illustration than a Biblical type.

The Altar of Sacrifice (Ezra 3:1-6)

The first part of the Temple to be rebuilt was the altar of sacrifice – the brazen altar in the Temple’s outer court. The altar of sacrifice represented the people’s relationship with God, so by building it first, it demonstrated the need for a restored relationship before all else.  In the restoration of the Church, the first thing to be restored was the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Interestingly, this is the very essence of the spiritual meaning of the guilt and sin offerings that were given upon the altar of sacrifice. So we can see that the budding Reformation began the same way the new Temple did – through restored relationship.

The Foundation of the Temple (Ezra 3:7-13)

In the restoration of the natural Temple, after rebuilding the altar of sacrifice, the Israelites laid the foundation for the new Temple. The lesson attempted to link this foundation to the foundation mentioned in Ephesians 2:20: “…you are…fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (emphasis added)  It says that the “modern ministries of apostle and prophet” are this foundation, in that “the prophets spoke and stirred the people, and the apostles acted on the word of the Lord and directed the work.”  I immediately wanted to know exactly what these ministries might look like today, so I referred to my trusty old Got Questions site for answers. While the office of apostleship is closed (those hand-picked by Christ), the gift of apostleship lives on (though it’s best to NOT use the term apostle, to avoid confusion).  The gift of apostleship describes those who are enabled by God to carry the Gospel message with God’s authority.  Therefore we could say that the original Apostles (represented today by the Bible, maybe?), as well as those who continue to work today to spread the Gospel throughout the world (missionaries, perhaps?) are this foundation.  I don’t find this to be a strong argument, but at least it makes sense. In the end, the best connection I can think of is that, with the Reformation, came a returning to the true foundation of our faith – Jesus Christ.

The Rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 6:14-16)

After the foundation was laid, the natural Temple itself was rebuilt. According to the lesson, this corresponds to the Church today: “…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5). The Church is being built slowly, as person after person comes to faith in Christ and becomes a living stone in this, the spiritual Temple of God. This Temple has yet to be finished, but the construction continues.

The Worship in the Temple (Ezra 7:1-20)

After the Temple was fully restored, worship was re-instituted according to the original plan outlined in the Law. Likewise, in the future, after Christ’s return and after the Temple that is the Church is complete, we will worship God as we were originally intended, offering all the spiritual sacrifices that please the Lord, as the Israelites offered the physical sacrifices listed in Ezra 6.

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The Sacrificial System

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

When I was in college I worked part-time for an attorney’s office. One of my various tasks was to take the law book updates that came in daily and to insert them into the books. It wasn’t a hard task – the pages were numbered systematically, so it was usually as simple as finding the pages by page number, pulling out the old ones, and inserting the new ones.  The hard part came when you had to actually read through a part of a page for some reason. It turns out that law books can be extremely boring reading (at least, for a non-lawyer).   Unfortunately, when it comes to reading the Bible, the Old Testament Law is sometimes the same way. We decide we’re going to read the Bible, we start in Genesis, we do well until the end of Exodus, then we call it off 1 or 2 chapters into Leviticus. Number and Deuteronomy never really had a chance.  Even so, there is a lot of benefit to understanding the Old Testament Law, and by skipping through these few books, we miss out of some of the richest Biblical typology to be found.

Today’s lesson from the Online Bible College was over the Biblical typology of the sacrificial system instituted in the Law of Moses. The lesson starts out by making the point that, regardless of whether you are reading the Old Testament or the New Testament, you will find one common question being answered: How can a sinner live in fellowship with a holy God?  In the very beginning of Genesis, with Adam and Eve, we see sin and death enter the world and the huge divide arise between God and humanity. And from that time, the greatest need of humanity is to find a way back across that divide. But humanity couldn’t ever bridge the gap – only God could do that, and the way He demonstrated is “bridge” was through blood sacrifice.

We see the recurring redemptive act of blood sacrifice throughout Scripture, even before the Mosaic law was put into place. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God clothed them with the skins of animals (requiring the animals’ deaths). When Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to the Lord, Abel’s blood sacrifice of an animal was accepted, while Cain’s offering of “fruits of the soil” were not. When Noah left the ark after the Flood, he built an altar and offered burnt offerings to the Lord. Altars were built and animal sacrifices were offered by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And my lesson points out that, though it is clear that sacrifices “were understood to be required by the Lord, Israel is later explicitly instructed by God to offer blood sacrifices, firstly as a part of the Passover ceremony, and then secondly as part of the code of Mosaic Law.”

Once the Law was handed down from God to Moses, a system was put in place to ensure proper sacrifices were made. There were 5 main sacrifices listed in the Law:

  1. Guilt offering (Leviticus 5:14-19) – a mandatory animal sacrifice to atone for the acts of sin committed by a person
  2. Sin offering (Leviticus 4:1 – 5:13) – a mandatory animal sacrifice to atone for the sinner (the internal, sinful nature of a person)
  3. Fellowship offering (Leviticus 3; 7:11-21) – a voluntary animal sacrifice offered as an expression of thanksgiving to God
  4. Grain offering (Leviticus 2; 6:14-23) – a voluntary offering of the first-fruits of one’s possessions or wealth (not animals)
  5. Burnt offering (Leviticus 1) – a voluntary animal (or grain) sacrifice, as an offering of worship to the Lord

Notice that some of the sacrifices were mandatory, while others were voluntary. The guilt and sin offerings were compulsory because they deal with the sin barrier between a person and God.  Interestingly, these two are not described as producing an “aroma pleasing to the Lord.”  The other 3 sacrifices are all described as “pleasing to the Lord,” and were more positive in nature.

New Testament Fulfillment

As you become more familiar with the sacrifices listed in the Law, it’s not hard to start putting the puzzles pieces together as to how the sacrificial system serves as a Biblical type of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, as well as the daily offerings and sacrifices we are called to give to this day.

The mandatory sacrifices of the guilt offering and the sin offering dealt with sin and sinners. The reason blood sacrifice was required was that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22).  Jesus’ death on the cross also dealt with sin and sinners – his shed blood was better than the shed blood of animals, in that He was a perfect sacrifice, totally without the blemish of sin. “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14). Because of the perfection of Jesus’ sacrifice, it was a once-for-all sacrifice – we no longer need to make this sacrifice for the atonement of our sin.

The voluntary sacrifices are repeated continuously under the New Covenant. Today, these would include:

  • Praise and thanksgiving (the fellowship offering) – “let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
  • Tithing and give money (the grain offering) – Paul speaks of this kind of offering when he said “I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18)
  • Our whole lives (the burnt offering) – Paul tells us what this looks like in Ephesians 5:1-2: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

As you can see, the New Testament does not do away with the need for the Old Testament. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. In Christ, the sacrifices required to be made have already been made. And in Him, we can continue to live in a way that offers the sacrifices God truly wants from us even today.

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The Tabernacle of David

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the Biblical typology of the tabernacle of Moses. We defined the word tabernacle as a dwelling, and showed how other translations used the word tent in its place. We determined that the tabernacle was God’s plan to dwell with His people, Israel, at that point in history.  Today’s post is going to continue looking at the tabernacle, but will focus on the tent erected on Mount Zion during the reign of King David.

Historical Background

Before we can look at the New Testament significance of the Tabernacle of David, we have to look at the historical background of why David had the tabernacle raised in Jerusalem in the first place. The tabernacle of Moses was still standing and in use in Gibeon, but as we’ll see, the Ark was not there.

In 1 Samuel 4, we read that about a hundred years before David came into power, the Israelites were at war with the Philistines. They weren’t faring well in battle, so they took it upon themselves to bring the Ark of the Covenant (which, as we mentioned yesterday, symbolized the presence of God) out of the Tabernacle of Moses and into battle with them. They figured that it would bring them victory, but in the end, the Ark was captured by the Philistines and taken back to their city of Ashdod. The people of Ashdod ended up being judged by God (they were afflicted with tumors – my lesson said these were probably hemorrhoids…eghh…), so they had the Ark sent to Gath, who in turn had it sent to Ekron. Each city having the same fate (hemorrhoids), they finally decided to have the Ark sent back to Israel. Once in Israel, the Ark made it’s way to Kiriath Jearim, where it stayed until the time of David.

After David had come into power, he decided to bring the Ark back into it’s rightful place – the center of Israel’s worship. He set up an Ark-moving party, and they started transporting the Ark on a cart back to Jerusalem. The only problem was, this was not the prescribed method of moving the Ark – God had commanded that it be moved on poles so that it would not have to be touched by the priests who carried it. Instead, as they moved the cart along, one of the priests put his hand on the Ark to steady it, and God immediately strikes him dead. This angers and confuses David, who probably thought he was doing the right thing by having the Ark transported back to it’s proper place. Instead, David has the Ark placed in the home of the nearest resident and goes back to Jerusalem empty-handed.

Three months later, David hears that the household where he had left the Ark was experiencing great blessing, so he is stirred to try moving the Ark again to the center of Israel’s worship. This time he is careful to move the Ark in the way prescribed in the Law, on the shoulders of Levites, and he offers the right sacrifices to the Lord as the Ark enters Jerusalem. And as we mentioned before, instead of taking the Ark to the existing tabernacle in Gibeon, David has a new tent pitched on Mount Zion especially for the Ark.

Moses’ Tabernacle vs. David’s Tabernacle

As we talked about yesterday, Moses’ tabernacle had 3 compartments – the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place.  As you can see from this diagram from my lesson, David’s tabernacle had only one compartment, and this compartment corresponded to the Most Holy Place in Moses’ tabernacle:

In this new tent, the Ark was the only fixture inside, and David set up a new order of worship here. The tabernacle in of Moses, in Gibeon, was still in use. In 1 Chronicles 16, where it talks about David’s tabernacle, it mentions the old tabernacle by saying “David left Zadok the priest and his fellow priests before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place in Gibeon to present burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of burnt offering regularly, morning and evening, in accordance with everything written in the Law of the LORD, which he had given Israel.” (v. 39-40). At the new tabernacle, David set up many priests to serve before the Ark of the Lord. Their jobs included sacrifice, singing and music, thanksgiving, and guarding the door of the tent. Most amazingly, there was no veil! As my lesson put it, “people had daily access into the presences of God…there was a constant flow of people into the Tabernacle of David, bringing praise and worship before the Ark of the Lord.”

New Testament Fulfillment

David’s tabernacle serves many great illustrations with New Testament significance.

  • Open access into the presence of God. When Christ died, the veil in the Temple blocking the Most Holy Place from the people, ripped in two from top to bottom (see Matthew 27:51). Because of this, we have the authority to “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16).  This open access is illustrated in David’s tabernacle, where the people could enter God’s presence and worship Him freely.
  • Unity. One of the hallmarks of the reign of David was the unity of the nation of Israel. Throughout the times before David and much of the time after, the nation was split in different ways, but during his reign the nation was one. The tabernacle in Jerusalem served as the center of worship for this unified nation. This illustrates the unity that believers have in Christ, which Jesus prayed about in John 17: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (v. 22-23)
  • Our Life in Christ. One of the themes that can easily be seen in David’s returning the Ark to the center of Israel’s worship is joy. David and the people experience great joy in their rejuvenated worship before the Lord, with singing, dancing, and music. At the same time, the Christian life is described throughout the New Testament as a life of joy. This joy comes from doing what we were created to do, just as the Israelites were joyful in returning to what they were called to do – worship.

As a Biblical type, the tabernacle of David is only mentioned once in the New Testament. In Acts 15, James (the brother of Jesus) quotes the prophet Amos as saying “After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things that have been known for ages” (v. 16-17).  The context of this statement by James is a conversation between the leaders of the Church over whether Gentiles should be allowed to convert to Christianity. Therefore, what James is doing is referring to the great spiritual revival that happened in David’s time (represented by the new tabernacle) and comparing it to the spiritual revival that was occurring at that time with the great influx of gentiles into the Church. And with this new revival came all the things that we saw come with the return of the Ark to Jerusalem – open access to God, unity, and a joyful, purposeful life.

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The Tabernacle of Moses

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

I started a new course from Online Bible College this week, titled Types and Shadows. The lessons in this course discuss things from the Old Testament that model New Testament truths. An example would be Adam as a personal type of Christ – both act as representative figures, in that their actions have repercussions for all of humanity. Therefore a type is a model or some form of a foreshadowing element that points toward Jesus and the New Testament. Today’s lesson discussed the Tabernacle of Moses as a type of Christ and as a type of the Church.

What is the Tabernacle?

The tabernacle of Moses was the first tabernacle prescribed by God for the Israelites to build. In the King James Version, you actually see it called the “tabernacle”, while in the New International Version, it’s often translated “tent” (see Exodus 29:42). The Hebrew word translated “tabernacle” or “tent” here is ohel, which literally means “dwelling” or “dwelling place.” The purpose of the tabernacle, then, was inherent in it’s name – it was to be where God dwelt among His people. This is made evident in Exodus 25:8, where God tells Moses “…have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.”

This idea of God dwelling among his creation is not something that He talked about only with the tabernacle. In fact, in all of Scripture, we see that this was God’s desire from the beginning and is His desire in the end.  In Leviticus 26:11-12, in speaking of the tabernacle, God said “I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”  Interestingly, the Bible talks of God walking among his creation in Genesis 3, where it says “…the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (v. 8). And in Revelation 21, where it is describing the eternal setting in which God’s people will live forever, the Apostle John hears a loud voice say “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (v. 3). No doubt, dwelling with His creation is God’s goal, and the tabernacle was how He chose to do so as he formed the nation of Israel in the desert after they left Egypt.

The Structure of the Tabernacle

The tabernacle had an absolute structure, and God was very explicit with Moses about every little detail. He told Moses, “make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Exodus 25:9, emphasis added). The reason for this was that the tabernacle was, as my lesson put it, “a mirror reflection of a heavenly reality.”  Hebrews 8:4-5 explains: “…there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ ”  (emphasis added). Whether the throne room of God looks exactly like what the tabernacle was commanded to look like, I can’t say. Physical realities and spiritual realities don’t always line up the way our finite minds might think. But we know that, in some way, every structural detail of the tabernacle models a spiritual reality in heaven.

These structural details include 3 main compartments and several fixtures spread throughout. This diagram comes from my lesson:

As you can see, the Outer Court contained the Brazen Altar and the Laver.  Inside of the outer court were two more areas, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (often called the Holy of Holies). These areas were curtained off so that those in the outer court could not enter or see in. The Holy Place contains 3 fixtures: the table of shewbread (also called the bread of presence), the lampstand, and the altar of incense. Between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was another curtain, or veil. The Most Holy Place contained the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Law on the stone tables, a golden pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded. Each fixture in the tabernacle had specific functions, and many of those functions have New Testament illustrations that correspond to them (but would not necessarily be considered a Biblical type, since a New Testament reference doesn’t exist).

  • Brazen Altar – the altar of sacrifice, where the Israelites offered sacrifices for atonement; illustrates Christ’s death on the cross, a sacrifice made once for all
  • Laver – a basin of water where the priests washed themselves before entering the Holy Place; illustrates New Testament baptism and, perhaps, the “washing with water through the word” (see Ephesians 5:26)
  • Table of Shewbread – the bread of presence was 12 loaves of continually replenished bread in the Holy Place, eaten only by the priests; illustrates the Word of God coming continually and daily into our lives
  • Lampstand – the menorah, a seven-branched lampstand, provided light in the enclosed Holy Place; illustrates that the people of God are to be the light of the world, and that the Holy Spirit is to fuel us as oil fuels the lampstand
  • Altar of Incense – table placed right in front of the veil into the Most Holy Place, where incense was burned before the Lord; illustrates prayers to God (see Psalm 141:2, Revelation 5:8, Revelation 8:3-4)
  • Ark of the Covenant – the small box in the Most Holy Place, covered by a lid with cherubim (guardian angels) statues on top; illustrates the presence of God with His people – truly dwelling among them

New Testament Fulfillment

As with all Old Testament types, the tabernacle and all of the fixtures within are fulfilled in Jesus.  Jesus himself likened his body to the Temple (a later, permanent form of the tabernacle – see John 2:19-22).  John 1:14, in speaking of Christ, says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Jesus, therefore, was God dwelling among His people once again. Jesus’ purpose was to reconcile God and man, so that God could once again and for all time dwell with His creation. On top of Christ fulfilling this type, we as the Church, the Body of Christ, also fulfill the type of the tabernacle. In Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul writes

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

My lesson summed this up by saying “As the Body of Christ, we are a spiritual Tabernacle that houses the presence of God, revealing his glory to the world.”

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Type Versus Illustration

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

As I was reading back over my previous lesson, and I read a few more resources online that I trust, I started to realize that I had not made a complete introduction to the concept of Biblical typology. While I think the definitions I wrote about in the introductory post were sufficient, one thing I didn’t talk about was the difference between an official Biblical type and a simple illustration. The reason it is important to differentiate between the two comes down to the rules of Biblical interpretation. Two of the most important rules of Biblical interpretation are

  1. Never read into Scripture, but always draw meaning out of Scripture, and
  2. Always use Scripture to interpret Scripture.

In doing this, we are less likely to mistakenly assign an Old Testament figure or event as a type of a New Testament truth.

One way to follow these rules of interpretation as it applies to typology is to only consider something a type when it is declared to be a type in the New Testament.  Admittedly, the OBC lesson I followed for my first post did not agree with this.  They quoted Moses Stuart as saying “Just so much of the Old Testament is to be accounted typical as the New Testament affirms to be so, and no more,”, but then explained that “by limiting the number of types solely to those mentioned by the New Testament writers, one severely curbs the richness of types and shadows found elsewhere in the Old Testament.”  They felt that sticking to only New Testament revealed types was too limiting, and as I read through the lesson the first time through, it didn’t jump out at me how dangerous this line of thinking could be. But after doing some reading elsewhere, I came to realize that by identifying an Old Testament figure or event as a type, even though it’s not identified in Scripture as being so, I am adding meaning to Scripture, and not drawing meaning out of it.

A good example is the story of Joseph. The Got Questions site explains “…many people see parallels between Joseph (Genesis 37-45) and Jesus. The humiliation and subsequent glorification of Joseph seem to correspond to the death and resurrection of Christ. However, the New Testament never uses Joseph as a model of Christ…”  My OBC lesson listed Joseph as a personal type of Christ, so it’s a great example of this kind of error.  But as GQ pointed out, “Joseph’s story is properly called an illustration, but not a type, of Christ.”

Why go on about this, you ask?  Perhaps there isn’t much reason to. But as I continued in my study, I felt I needed to make some clarification before continuing on in my posts here at WHITM.

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Types and Shadows

This is the first in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows.

I’ve tried to make it very clear on this site that I am far from being a theologian. I have no formal theology training, and my knowledge of the Bible only goes as far as my own personal study has taken me. But I still find all things theological very interesting, and I think my main spiritual gift is the gift of knowledge (if there truly is such a thing). The thing I love the most in my Christian walk is studying God’s Word, and learning everything there is to learn about Him. That is why I have been working through the courses at the Online Bible College – the courses here have allowed me to systematically study the Bible, and this is, as we say here in Texas, “right up my alley.”

For this reason, when I started going through a course titled Types and Shadows, I quickly realized that this was going to be one I truly enjoyed. The purpose of the course is to look at those things in the Old Testament that are types and shadows of things in the New Testament. These words are not necessarily ones we use on a daily basis, but the meanings should be pretty clear once we look at them closer:

Types

The word type is a theology word taken directly from the Greek wording written by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:11 – “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” The word translated examples here in the NIV is the Greek word tupos, which is literally the word type. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines it as “…a ‘model’ or ‘pattern’ or ‘mould’ into which clay or wax was pressed, that it might take the figure or exact shape of the mould. The word ‘type’ is generally used to denote a resemblance between something present and something future…”. Therefore, the things of the Old Testament that served as a “model” or “pattern” for the things of the New Testament would be considered types. These could be:

  • Personal types, where a person’s life and experiences typifies a New Testament truth
  • Historical types, where an historical event foreshadows a New Testament truth
  • Ritual types, where a ritual prescribed by Old Testament Law illustrates a New Testament truth

My lesson quoted the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia’s definition of type, which I really liked:

God in the types of the last dispensation was teaching His children their letters. In this dispensation He is teaching them to put the letters together, and they find that the letters, arrange them as they will, spell Christ, and nothing but Christ.

Shadows

The word shadow also comes from Paul’s writing, one example of which is Colossians 2:16-17 – “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (emphasis added). A shadow is basically the same as a type, in that it represents an Old Testament entity that foreshadows a New Testament truth.  I liked the way my lesson today worded it:

When backlit by the sun, an object will cast a long shadow. When you look at that shadow you can see the basic form of the object, yet the shadow only points to the object. It is not the object itself. In the same way, it can be said that the Christ of the New Testament casts a long shadow across Old Testament history, revealing himself in countless prophetic images.

Traversing the Tapestry of Types

There are many great examples of types and shadows throughout Scripture. Adam serves as a type of Christ, in that just as through Adam’s actions all of humanity was affected (sin and death), the same is true of Christ (though in righteousness and life) (see Romans 5:14-19).  Jonah’s experience in the great fish is a shadow of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. The list could go on and on.  I know that my course doesn’t cover all examples (nor would I write about them all, even if it did…the Internet is only so big…). But the following posts in this series will walk through several of the main types in the Old Testament, including the various tabernacles and the temple, the sacrificial system, the Feasts, and more. I encourage you to stop back by each day for the next couple of weeks as we traverse these types, and dive deeper into the personality of Him who is our God and our King.

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