Imagine this stark imposing Mountain in the middle of a rocky desert, Mt. Sinai, surrounded by a thick dark cloud of smoke, loud clapping thunder and violent lightning. It is here, that Moses met with God to receive not only the ten commandments, but also the entire Torah. The Torah is the first 5 books of the Bible. Moses received this instruction directly from God Almighty. The Bible tells us that when Moses descended the Mountain, his face literally “shone” so much so that the Israelites were afraid of him. Moses had to literally cover his face after meeting with God because of the fear that was induced by his shining face. WOW!
Contained within the instruction that Moses received from God was an incredibly detailed and specific plan for the building of the Tabernacle. A Tabernacle is a temporary dwelling place. The Tabernacle was going to be the place where God could dwell among His people. God walked directly with man in the Garden of Eden, but after the fall, and sin entered the world, God could no longer walk directly with man. This is because God is Holy, and man’s flesh is filled with sin; therefore, if a person clothed in human flesh came directly in contact with a Holy God, he would “burn up” and immediately die. God had a plan for the Israelites to build this Tabernacle so that He could dwell safely among them, Tabernacling with them in the wilderness.
The details of the Tabernacle that God gave Moses were incredible! The Building materials were very specific, the furniture had to be specifically placed, everything had to be perfect. When I first read this account in the Bible, I thought…why does it really matter how the furniture is placed? Why did the Ark of the Covenant (the box that held the 10 commandments) have to be made of acacia wood over-layed with pure gold? Where did the Israelites get the gold?
Well, when we ask questions, God gives us answers…and HE never ceases to AMAZE!
The key to understanding all of these seemingly pointless or tedious details is to recognize that the entire Old Testament is about Jesus. From the camping of the Israelites in the wilderness in the shape of the Cross, to the Tabernacle, the Temporary dwelling place of God, all these details point to Jesus. Because God was willing to take on the likeness of human flesh, fully human in every way except for the sin that is in the flesh, God could then walk among man, fully human yet fully God. The Tabernacle was a shadow of God dwelling with mankind. The Ark of the Covenant, the box that held the 10 commandments, also points to Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God, the Commandments of God, made Flesh! The Ark had to be made of acacia wood….a common, yet very sturdy and durable wood, representing Jesus’ humanity. The wood had to be over layed with pure gold….representing Jesus’ Divinity…God. The Israelites had these very special and precious materials because God had them “plunder the Egyptians” when they left Egypt (Exodus 12:36)
Below we are going to discuss how the furniture in the Tabernacle that accompanied the Israelites during their sojourning in the Wilderness is also a picture of Messiah Jesus and is even spelled out in the 7 I AM statements in the book of John (New Testament). I AM is the actual Name of God, YHWH (means I AM), or the “One who has breath”, the Ever existing One!
ARK OF THE TESTMONY/COVENANT
Exodus 40: 1: Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 3 You shall place the ark of the testimony there, and you shall screen the ark with the veil.
Exodus 40:20: Then he took the testimony (ten commandments) and put it into the ark, and attached the poles to the ark, and put the mercy seat on top of the ark.
tfj: Think “Raiders of the Lost Ark”….The Ark of the Testimony contains the Word of God (The ten commandments). This “piece of furniture” was not represented in the seven I AM statements of Jesus in the book of John because the Ark pictures that which already existed…
John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Notice also that God had Israel place the MERCY SEAT on top of the Ark! This represents the MERCY of God who gave His only Son to be the Sacrifice for the sin of all mankind!
THE VEIL to the HOLY OF HOLIES
Exodus 26: 31 “You shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen; it shall be made with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman.
The veil is a picture of the separation between God and man because of sin. After man “fell” into sin in the Garden, God placed Cherubim with flaming swords there to guard the way to the Tree of Life. The veil also pictures the Body of Christ prepared by God where Jesus would dwell among men. The body of Jesus was a “veil” that hid the inner glory of His deity. The unrent (untorn) Veil shut man out from a holy God. It declared the separation from God because of sin. Something happened in the Temple (similar to the Tabernacle, but fixed in Jerusalem) the very moment that Christ died on the cross. Mark 15:37-38 tells us when He died, “Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”. Jesus’ death on the cross tore the veil that represents the separation of man from God. Jesus’ death on the Cross gave mankind A NEW AND BETTER WAY to Tabernacle (dwell temporarily) with God.
- Hebrews 10:20: “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;”
- John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The 7 I AM STATEMENTS IN THE BOOK OF JOHN
1. The Bronze Alter
Exodus 25: 27 “And you shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; the altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits.
Here we see the alter in front of the doorway, where the animal sacrifices took place. The alter represents Sacrifice. The soul that sins will die…but God, in His mercy, instituted the substitution principle…The blood of the innocent in place of the blood of the guilty.
- John 10:11: “I AM the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
2. The Bronze Laver
Exodus 30: 18: The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 18 “You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing; and you shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it.
The word “laver” means a bath or wash basin containing water for the purpose of washing. The Jewish priests were commanded to continually wash their hands and feet during tabernacle service. The laver was placed between the door of the Holy Place and the altar.
The laver is a foreshadowing of our Baptism in Christ. Baptized with water – our sins are buried with Christ and we are raised to New life by the Holy Spirit. The Laver represents the seal of the Resurrection. The Laver is to be placed and then filled—We must first Receive Jesus dying for our sins, and only then can we be filled with the Spirit (water is a metaphor for spirit). We come to the Laver defiled, washed by the water of the Word and made clean, yet the water never becomes defiled!! We have a constant and endless stream of water available to purify the soul of the believer
- John 11:25:Jesus said to her, “I AM the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
3. The Door
Ex 26:36-37 “You shall make a screen for the door of the tabernacle, woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver. And you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold; their hooks shall be of gold, and you shall cast five sockets of bronze for them.”
The only way into the courtyard of the Tabernacle was the a narrow 30 foot gate. This also relates back to the “enter the narrow gate“. By dying on the cross for the sins of the people (sacrifice), Jesus Christ became the door by which we have access to the Father. We, God’s people, cannot enter through the door (Jesus) until our sins are paid for by Jesus’ Sacrifice on the cross.
- John 10:7: So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I AM the door of the sheep.
4. The Table of Shewbread
Exodus 40:4: You shall bring in the table and arrange what belongs on it;
Like the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of Shewbread (also called Table of Presence) was also made of acacia wood over-layed with pure gold. The purpose of the golden table was to hold 12 cakes of bread made of fine flour. They were placed there in two rows of six, each loaf representing one of the tribes of Israel (Lev. 24:8).
- John 6:35: Jesus said to them, “I AM the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
5. The Golden Menorah
Exodus 40:4: …. and you shall bring in the lampstand and mount its lamps
The symbol here is the Menorah which was the only source of light in the Tabernacle and burned constantly to illuminate the way of worship.
- John 8:12:Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I AM the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
6. The Outer Court
Exodus 40: 8: You shall set up the court all around and hang up the veil for the gateway of the court.
The court kept the Holy Place separate or apart from the world. The Garden of Eden was also set up separate from the world, but where there was no possibility to re-enter Eden, there is a means of Access to the Tent of Meeting. Moses instructed Israel to hang up the veil at the gateway (outer court). This is a different veil from the one that separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. There was only one way into the outer court from the outside world. This outer veil represents Jesus as the ONLY way into the Holy Place – Father. There is ONE path to God.
- John 14:6:Jesus said to him, “I AM THE way, and THE truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
7. Anointing the Tabernacle and all of the furniture
Exodus 40: 9 Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and shall consecrate it and all its furnishings; and it shall be holy.
Now, comes the anointing of all the furniture in the tent, Aaron the High Priest, and also the sons of Aaron. The anointing oil is the work of the Holy Spirit, which flows in and around every piece of furniture, every article, the High Priest, and the sons of the High Priest (representing the believer in Yeshua Jesus). In the New Testament, we see that everything that connects to Jesus, the Vine, is ALIVE and bears fruit.
- John 15: 1: I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned