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The Feast of Tabernacles

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.

This post in this series-within-a-series is over the last major festival in the Jewish religious year – The Feast of Tabernacles. As we discuss in the first post, the Feast of Tabernacles was actually made up of 3 sub-feasts spread out over many days. These include:

The Feast of Trumpets (see Leviticus 23:23-25; Numbers 29:1-6)

The Feast of Trumpets was actually just one day, the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish religious calendar. It was a special Sabbath, where the Israelites were not allowed to do any work. They would come together in a “sacred assembly”, where a special burnt offering would be made, and trumpets would be sounded as a call to prepare for the upcoming Day of Atonement.  For those who might have heard of it before, this is the day known as Rosh Hashanah.

In Scripture, the sounding of trumpets represented the voice of prophets, calling out the Word of the Lord. In the case of the Feast of Trumpets, the trumpet blasts were used to call Israel to awaken, to repent, and to prepare for the Day of Atonement. In fact, the 10 days between this day and the Day of Atonement were often called “the ten days of awe,” and were intended for the Israelites to spend time in self-inspection and repentance.

The Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 23:26-32; Leviticus 16)

On the tenth day of the month the Israelites held their most holy day of the year – the Day of Atonement (also known as Yom Kippur). It was also a special Sabbath, and the Israelites were not allowed to work, but beyond that, they were also required to fast (“deny themselves”). On this day, special burnt offerings were made for the people, and even more intense rituals were carried out. For instance, part of the ceremony involved 2 goats. The priest would cast lots for the goats, and one goat would be sacrificed, while the other would be released into the wilderness. Prior to it’s release, the High Priest would lay his hands on the second goat – called the scapegoat, or Azezel (meaning “an entire removal”) – effectively transferring the sin of the nation of Israel to it. When the goat was released, it symbolized the total removal of sin from the nation. After this part of the ceremony, the High Priest would continue by cleansing the sanctuary by the sprinkling of blood, and would enter the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle (or later, the Temple). This was the only day of the year that anyone was allowed to enter this inner part, as God promised that any other time of the year, the person would die.

The Feast of Tabernacles (see Leviticus 23:33-44; Deuteronomy 16:13-17; Numbers 29:12-35)

During this time of year, the nation of Israel would begin it’s fruit harvest, reaping grapes and olives (except on the regular and special sabbath days). On the 15th day of the month, the actual Feast of Tabernacles would begin, as a celebration of the “gathering of the produce of [their] threshing floor and winepress.” The festival lasted 7 days, with the first day being a special Sabbath. No work was performed that day, and a “sacred assembly” came together make burnt offerings and to present the “choice fruit” before the Lord. For 7 days, the whole nation would live in booths (small tabernacles or tents), which is why the feast is also sometimes called the Feast of Booths.  On the last day, the day after the 7 day festival, another special Sabbath was held and no work was to be done.

New Testament Application

The Feast of Trumpets served as a heralding of the judgment of God. One source I read said,

The massive blowing of the shofar (trumpet) on the first day of the seventh month was understood by the Jews as the beginning of their trial before the heavenly court where books would be opened and the destiny of each individual would be decided. The trial lasted ten days until the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when God would dispose of their sins in a permanent way.

In this perspective, it’s not hard to see the parallel between the trumpets sounding here and the trumpets mentioned in the book of Revelation 8. Here, in the last days, trumpets also sound as a heralding of the judgments of God. The final judgment is described in Revelation 11:18:

The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

Interestingly, just like during this Feast, where the Day of Atonement followed the judgment of God, similar events are described in the end times. Right after describing the final trumpet judgment in Revelation 11, it says “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.”  Just as the Israelites had their sin removed on the Day of Atonement (the day the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place in the presence of the ark of the conventant), we too have had our sins removed by the sacrifice of Christ.

Finally, the Feast of Tabernacles commemorated for the nation of Israel how they lived in booths (tents) in the wilderness, and how God dwelt with them in the Tabernacle of Moses. It also reminds us of how God dwells with us through Jesus (“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. – John 1:14), and through the Holy Spirit within us.  Also, just as the Feast of Tabernacles was to be a time of joy, so shall we be joyful in the New Heaven, after the judgments and atonement has been realized at the end of the age.

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The Feast of Weeks

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 past couple of posts, we’ve been looking at the Feasts of Israel and the Biblical typology that they represent. Yesterday we took a closer look at the Passover feast – today we are going to look at the Feast of Weeks.

Just as the Passover festival served as a commemoration of the Jewish exodus from Egypt, the Feast of Weeks served as a reminder of another important event that occurred not too long after that.  Exodus 19 describes the arrival of the Israelites at Mount Sinai:

In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

God then commanded the Israelites to celebrate this event with the Feast of Weeks (see Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10, 16).

As we talked about in the first post in this mini-series over the feasts, the Feast of Weeks got its name from the fact that it was celebrated 7 weeks after the waving of the Sheaf of Firstfruits, during the third month on the Jewish calendar. The day after these 7 weeks (the 50th day) was also known as Pentecost (which is the Greek word for fifty). Many Christians are familiar with Pentecost and the events that occurred on that day after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven.  That story is found in Acts 2, where we find the 120 Christ-followers were all together in one place, when “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…” (v. 2-4).  It was here that God released His Spirit and placed it inside the believers at that time, just like He does today when we confess Christ as our savior and are converted.

So how does the arrival of the Israelites at Sinai, which is celebrated by the Feast of Weeks, relate to the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? My lesson pointed out 3 ways that God revealed Himself at Mount Sinai, and explained how the day of Pentecost in the New Testament paralleled that:

The Power of God

Exodus 19:16-19 describes God’s power being displayed at Sinai:

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.

In much the same way, as He released His Holy Spirit on the believers at Pentecost, there was wind, fire, shaking, and miraculous signs (like new languages being spoken).

The Law of Moses

It was here at Sinai that God gave the Law to Moses, writing His holy standard in His own finger on tablets of stone. At Pentecost, the Spirit of God entered the hearts of the believers, and God wrote His only standard on the tablets of their hearts.

An interesting parallel that my lesson pointed out was the number of those affected by the giving of this Law in each situation. In the giving of the Law at Sinai the people were held to a high standard, so that in Exodus 32, when Moses came down the mountain and found them running wild and worshiping the golden calf, he ordered the Levites to “go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.” (v. 27)  The number that died that day was about 3000.  At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit went back and forth through those who were near, and as Peter preached, “those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41)

The apostle Paul discusses this Biblical type in 2 Corinthians 3, where he says

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! (v. 7-9)

The Pattern of the Tabernacle

As we discussed in a previous post, the Lord gave the Israelites the instructions for building the Tabernacle of Moses along with the Law at Sinai. We concluded that the purpose of the Tabernacle was to provide a dwelling for God to be with His people.  At Pentecost, we see the birth of the Church, and as we discussed previously, this is now where God dwells, inside the hearts of His people by His Spirit.

In the end, the Feast of Weeks was a harvest festival just like the feast of Passover. Whereas Passover was celebrated at the harvest of barley, Pentecost was celebrated at the harvest of wheat. “And in this harvest,” my lesson pointed out, “we see a wonderful picture of the tremendous ingathering of redeemed lives that took place with the birth of the Church. Just as in the Sheaf of Firstfruits, [where] the firstfruits of the barley harvest was waved before the Lord, so on the…Day of Pentecost, the firstfruits of the wheat harvest was waved before the Lord. So the Church of Pentecost became a wave offering of firstfruits, representing the massive harvest of souls that was to come.”

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The Feasts of Israel

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.

Today we will continue to look at Old Testament types, shadows, and illustrations by beginning to discuss the feasts/festivals celebrated by the nation of Israel. Because there is so much to talk about here (my lesson today was almost double the length of my usual lessons!), I’m going to break these up into separate posts for each major feast. Today, in this post, I’ll introduce the feasts and discuss how they fit in Israel’s history and on their calendar.  Tomorrow we’ll look at Passover, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Sheaf of Firstfruits. Then the following post will discuss the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost.  The final post in this little series-within-a-series will take a look at the Feast of Tabernacles, including the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the actual Feast of Tabernacles.

Before you can gain an understanding of how the Feasts of Israel foreshadowed and illustrate New Testament events, you have to understand how the feasts were structured and the role they played in the history of the nation.  The structure of the feasts themselves is not hard to understand – there were truly 3 major feasts that the people of Israel participated in, with some minor sub-feasts (so to speak) being a part of the major ones. These feasts were:

  1. The Feast of Passover
    The Passover feast was really made up of 3 feasts – Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Sheaf of Firstfruits.
  2. The Feast of Weeks
    The Feast of Weeks stood on it’s own, and was also called Pentecost.
  3. The Feast of Tabernacles
    The Feast of Tabernacles was made up of 3 feasts – the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles itself. This feast is also known as the Feast of Booths.

The formal worship of the nation of Israel revolved around these 3 major festivals. When the Israelites left the slavery of Egypt, the Lord gave them a new calendar. He then prescribed the feasts and set every detail in place in relation to this new calendar (see Leviticus 23). Check out the image below of the Jewish Calendar with the festivals listed (with Hanukkah added…).

As you can see, Passover occurred in the first month, actually starting on the 14th day of that month. We’ll see in tomorrow’s post that preparation for this feast began a few days prior to that.  The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, fell in the third month. God told the people, “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:15-16).  The word Pentecost means “fifty” in Greek, so it’s easy to see where it got this name.  The final feast we’ll look at is the feast of Tabernacles, which was celebrated in the 7th month.

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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 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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