Tonight we need to ponder how the Tabernacle God intricately designed and described, as well as the four Temples God’s Word describes, fit into God’s great plan of the Ages. To understand we need to remember that:
The heartbeat of God’s Word is worship.
The only thing God seeks is worship.
The purpose of salvation is worshiping the God of Heaven.
So, to start with—is your heart the heart of a worshipper?
Always remind yourself that the tabernacle, which God instructed Moses to construct, covers more chapters (Exodus 25-40) that any other object in the entire Bible. That means that the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, are powerful lessons to guide us in our pursuit of deepening our fellowship with the Lord. As we open to Exodus 25:1-2, 8-9:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. 3 And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze; 4 blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; 5 ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; 6 oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; 7 onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. 8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.
Like no other building, God exactly dictated His plans for this structure, because the:
TABERNACLE SHOWS HOW TO
ENTER THE PRESENCE OF GOD
Of what possible importance could an old, dusty animal skin tent in the midst of a nomadic, wandering migration of people camping across the Sinai’s trackless desert have in this ultra modern 21st century life in which we live? Can a tent constructed 35 dim centuries ago give any light to the dark, sin-stained path we often must tread? Join me as we look at the tent and its meaning and find strength in Christ for our lives today.
If we were to top a hill in the wilderness of the Sinai peninsula 3,400 years ago we would first see one of the largest encampments of people ever on the planet. There were 603,000 families who came out of Egypt. So on a lookout spot we would see a huge encampment, because the minimum size campground to hold the Camp of Israel was at least 81 square miles just for 603,000 fighting men and their families! All the flocks and herds would have taken more space.
That is the equivalent of a square park containing solid rows of tents from:
• VanKal on the west to
• Sprinkle on the east, from
• West D in the north to
• Center Street in the south.
That would put us today, sitting at CBC, in the middle of the Camp. And that is where the tabernacle was originally placed, right in the center of an 81 square mile campground!
The Exodus march out of Egypt, that numbered 603,000 families or about three million people, was an amazing feat. Most of us can’t picture huge numbers. Here is a way to do so:
• If the three million Israelites walked in a line five people wide, they would have stretched for over 225 miles in length (that’s from here to Gaylord, MI just south of the Mackinaw Bridge).
• If they traveled at 50 people wide they would have stretched for 22 1/2 miles in length (or 2/3rds of the way from here to Battle Creek).
• Just to put our world’s population into a missions perspective; our world of 6 billion+ would make a line of people marching past CBC at 100 wide by 45,000 miles in length! Walking at a normal pace it would take just short of two years for the entire line walking 24/7/365 to get past our building.
Another amazing fact about the miracle of the Exodus and Wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel: to feed three million people would take 1300 boxcars of food each day or a train 9 1/2 miles long!
Big Camp + Little Tent
= Approachable God
But tonight we are looking for something in that 81 square mile camp, it was called the Tabernacle. In the center of the camp, with smoke slowly rising from the altar, and with the 12 tribes in an ordered arrangement around it around. Looking intently we would note a long, black, unattractive tent of porpoise skins. But when we traveled through the loud, smelling and busy camp and made it to the tabernacle we would find a much different sight.
• When we came inside, we would find ourselves surrounded by shining gold:
• Looking up to the curtained roof, we see the wings of the cherubim woven in; blue and purple and scarlet and fine twined linen.
• The light of the golden candlestick would softly shine and reveal all the beauty within.
So it is with Christ Himself. The natural man, beholding Him, sees no beauty that he should desire Him. But to those who know the Lord Jesus Christ, His beauty satisfies their souls.
The Tabernacle teaches us so much about the wonders of our Matchless God.
This is a journey into the presence of God. We enter God’s presence by way of His Tabernacle, God’s tent of Meeting. As we examine this incredible structure, we will see how every point of the God’s Tabernacle points to Jesus.
The first and primary lesson we learned about the Tabernacle was where God placed it. In the center of the Camp, with smoke slowly rising from the altar and with the 12 Tribes in an ordered arrangement around it around. Looking intently we would note a long, black, unattractive tent of porpoise skins.
But when we traveled through the loud, smelling and busy camp and made it to the Tabernacle we would find a much different sight. When we came inside, we would find ourselves surrounded by shining gold: looking up to the curtained roof, we see the wings of the cherubim woven in; blue and purple and scarlet and fine twined linen. The light of the golden candlestick would softly shine and reveal all the beauty within.
Going back outside, if we were to draw a straight line from the center of the tabernacle’s gate of entrance to the mercy seat in the center of the holy of holies, we would see a picture of salvation and God’s wonderful plan for us.
You go through the altar, through the laver, through the door; you pass the table of showbread on your right hand and the golden lamp stand on your left; through the altar of incense, through the veil, to the ark, covered by the mercy seat, in the holy of holies. This is the true pilgrim’s progress from the camp outside to the immediate presence of God.
Old Testament worship centered first on the tabernacle and then after 500 years, on the Temple. Divinely designed liturgy was carried on for 1,500 nearly unbroken years in the way Moses was told by God to do it on Mt. Sinai.
Then, from his incredibly vast inheritance, Solomon built a Temple (known as the First Temple).
In 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar took what was left of the gold and destroyed the First Temple completely.
In about 19BC King Herod the Great vastly expanded and lavishly adorned the Second Temple started by Zerrubbabel in 520BC. This Temple became a magnet for the wealth of the Jewish people so that by AD 70 it there was so much gold, that the Roman conquerors tore apart the Temple stone by stone the scrape off and recover the wealth.
A Third Temple is the one that Jesus, Daniel, Paul, and John all saw and described a fully functioning Temple in Jerusalem during the Tribulation period.
There is also a Fourth Temple that is during the Millennium that Ezekiel describes at great length in Ezekiel 40-48.
So, all four of th
ese very trustworthy witnesses, saw a place, a temple that is in use by Jews worshipping God in the Tribulation period; and then Ezekiel adds to this an eyewitness description of the 4th Temple built when Christ rules and reigns on Earth in the Millennium. These 4 Temples, two yet to come should make us ask why? Why would God commission the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temples; and why would He ever build one after the Cross in the final Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ?
The answer is that both the Tabernacle and all the Temples are incredible pictures of salvation through Christ alone. Please turn with me to John 1:14, as we see that the purpose of God was for all to see Christ!
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
The word “dwelt” in John 1:14 is literally “tented”. Christ’s incarnation is called tenting. So in every sense, the Tabernacle was a pre-incarnational picture of God tenting among mankind. The Tabernacle is God wanting to dwell with His people and making a way for them to seek and find Him.
THE TABERNACLE WAS GOD’S PORTRAIT
OF CHRIST “TENTING” AMONG US
Every detail of the Tabernacle, every piece of furniture, color and placement were all engineered to point to Christ. Jesus came to reveal God the Father. The past Tabernacle and Temple, and the future Temples of God in Jerusalem are all designed to point us to Christ. Here is a simple sketch of Christ in the Tabernacle and Temple.
1. THE TABERNACLE IN THE CENTER OF CAMP: GOD WANTS US LIVING IN HIS PRESENCE.
2. THE BRAZEN ALTAR AS THE FIRST OBJECT THROUGH THE DOOR: GOD WANTS US COMING TO HIM (The Doctrine of Satisfaction)
3. THE LAVER OF BRASS AS THE NEXT OBJECT: GOD WANTS TO CLEANSE AWAY OUR SINS (The Doctrine of Sanctification)
4. THE GOLDEN LAMPSTAND MADE THE HOLY PLACE VISIBLE: GOD WANTS US WALKING IN HIS LIGHT
5. THE TABLE OF SHOWBREAD ON THE RIGHT: GOD WANTS US NOURISHED BY OUR SAVIOR
6. THE ALTAR OF INCENSE AT THE DOORWAY TO THE HOLY OF HOLIES: GOD WANTS US PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT
7. THE VEIL SEPARATING THE HOLIEST OF ALL FROM EVERYTHING ELSE (which was torn): GOD WANTS US BOLDLY ENTERING HIS PRESENCE
8. THE MERCY SEAT COVERED WITH BLOOD: RESTING IN HIS SACRIFICE
9. THE ARK OF THE COVENANT: TRUSTING HIS PROMISES
So every detail of the Tabernacle, every piece of furniture, color and placement are all engineered to point to Christ. And Jesus came to reveal God the Father.
The past Tabernacle and Temple, and the future Temples of God in Jerusalem are all designed to point us to Christ.
Key to the New Testament church was awareness that God was with them, leading them. We must emphasize that they were not imagining this. God was truly present. And the realization that he was physically in their midst had a massive impact on the their exercise of faith.
Maybe we are in such a hurry on Sundays we don’t pause in our hearts, and look upward into the face of God? How could we start? Try these simple steps:
• STOP: When you come in, find a seat and then immediately stop everything else, lift your heart before the Lord right from your seat, and offer to the Lord a prayer reflecting on how much you love and adore Him.
• START: Then try to prepare for the worship service by opening to a Psalm or another passage to quicken your mind; and then go on meditate upon some words from hymns or worship songs and meaningfully ascribe them to God.
• SEEK: During the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, punctuate your time listening with short prayers asking the Lord to speak to your heart through His Word. Say things to Him like: ‘Speak Lord, Thy servant is listening!’
The Attitude For
Coming Before God
Great saints since have also experienced God’s presence. In John Bunyan’s church in Bedford, England, there is a poem framed in the wall of the anteroom from which the preacher exits to walk to the pulpit. It reads:
Enter this door
As if the floor
Within were gold,
And every wall
Of jewels, all
Of wealth untold,
As if a choir,
In robes of fire
Were singing here;
Nor shout, nor rush,
For God is near.
And so he is! This is what we need.
Series: What’s Next
This may be one of the most important studies we have ever undertaken, so feel free to trace these points and verses in your Bibles as we go along!
1. JEWS: God promised Abraham: descendants who would the chosen people of God; and property for them with clearly defined boundaries in Genesis 12:1; 13:15; 15:7, 18-21. Genesis 15:7 He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” He renewed that promise to Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 26:3-5), to his grandson Jacob (Genesis 28:13), and to their descendants after them forever (Leviticus 25:46; Joshua 14:9; etc.).
2. PASSOVER: God promised Moses that He would Divinely bring His chosen people of destiny to the Promised Land. Exodus 6:7-8 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.
3. ISRAEL: God stakes His future reputation on people He identified as His chosen people of destiny, the Jews, the descendents of Abraham, and He named them Israel. Deuteronomy 7:6-7 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. 7 The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;
4. CAPTIVITY: God promised to judge His chosen people of destiny if they forgot Him in the Promised Land. 2 Chronicles 7:20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.
5. DIASPORA: God promised to scatter His unfaithful but chosen people of destiny from the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 28:64 Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.
6. ANTI-SEMETISM: God promised a curse upon His unfaithful but chosen people of destiny as they wandered the world without their Promised Land. Deuteronomy 28:37 You will become a thing of horror and an object of scorn and ridicule to all the nations where the LORD will drive you.
7. CHASTENED: God promised to chasten His unfaithful but chosen people of destiny. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations (Hosea 9:17).
8. PRESERVATION: God promised to preserve His chosen people of destiny from annihilation. Jeremiah 30:11 “I am with you and will save you,” declares the LORD. “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”
9. REGATHERED: God promised to re-gather His chosen people of destiny back to the Promised Land. Ezekiel 36:24, 35 ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gat
her you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.”
10. ARMAGEDDON/BUDENSOME STONE: God promised to make His chosen people of destiny a source of fear for the whole world when they get back to the Promised Land in unbelief. God declared that in the last days before the Messiah’s second coming, Jerusalem would become “a cup of trembling…a burdensome stone for all people” (Zechariah 12:2,3).
11. THE TEMPLE: God has focused on 40 acres of land: As Solomon built the temple (1200×800 foot Temple Mount), God said: “I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there” (2 Chronicles 6:6). But long before this, God had first spoken through Moses: “There shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there, thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt-offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD” (Deuteronomy 12:11). Where is ground zero: This place was not just any place in Jerusalem; it was an exact spot, chosen by God. It was on Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1). This was the same spot where Abraham had, almost a thousand years before, prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:2). These 40 acres are only a short distance from Calvary itself. This spot, to the Jews and to God, is Jerusalem! And, amazingly, this one spot is the only spot in Jerusalem still controlled by Gentiles. It is on Mount Moriah that the Arabs have built their famous Dome-of-the-Rock, the second most holy place in the Muslim world. The Jews, for political or other reasons, have not yet dared to expel the Arabs from this site, raze it, and proceed to rebuild their temple, as they surely desire to do. It is apparently by this exceedingly slender thread, therefore, that the “times of the Gentiles” are still suspended.
12. God’s FUTURE PLANS/Millennium: God declared Israel, His Nation, would have a future agenda in God’s plan: In this context, we come to a remarkable prophecy made by Jesus Christ:
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:24).
Since the word “fulfilled” is the same word in the Greek as “finished,” this prophecy clearly means that the times of Gentile world-rule will be ended when Jerusalem is no longer under Gentile control. But this can only be accomplished when Christ returns to banish the Gentile nations from Jerusalem and to establish His own world-kingdom capital there. Thus, the restoration of Jerusalem to the chosen people is necessarily accompanied by the coming of their Messiah to reign there.
This is also clearly indicated in Zechariah 12-14 as well as other Scriptures.