The design for the Tabernacle of Moses (or Tent of Meeting) was given to Moses by God while on Mount Sinai and it is based upon the Tabernacle in Heaven (Hebrews 8:5.Exodus 25:40). This Earthly tabernacle was to prophetically point the way to God the Father through Jesus; therefore, no error was allowed in its construction. Furthermore, the building of the tabernacle reveals the ultimate desire of God our Father - to live amongst us His children (Exodus 25:8). Oh, the joy of God when He became flesh and dwelt amongst His people - Emmanuel (i.e., God with us)! (John 1:14)
The tabernacle was constructed by the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai in 1445 BC just eleven months after the Exodus from Egypt. It was central to Israel’s worship and sacrificial system for 485 years. After the conquest of Canaan it was set up at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1) and remained there until about 1050 BC. It was built from the free-will offerings of the people (Exodus 35:5). The people brought too much for the temple so God had Moses stop them from bringing anymore offerings for this tabernacle (Exodus 36:3,5,6,7). What a good problem to have!
The specifications were exact concerning every detail of that Tent, the various instruments of service, and the surrounding wall of boards. Everything was planned to make it possible to take it down and re-erect it with speed. Israel was to be on the move toward the Promised Land!
The presence of the LORD was visibly with them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 40:38). The tabernacle, or tent, was to be peculiarly the place where the Fire rested. All this was GOD’S plan, fitted to the revelation He was giving of Himself. The Tabernacle that Moses constructed contains many prophetic pictures of Jesus including how we are to approach and relate to God (Hebrews 8:1-5).
The Old Testament tabernacle had three distinct sections: the Outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. This article will show the similarities between our spirit, soul and body (1) and the three sections of this tent or tabernacle.
Just as there is only one way into the tabernacle, even so Jesus Christ is the only way to God our Father (John 10:9. Matthew 7:13,14). The Jews referred to the entrance of the outer court as "the Way, the entrance to the Holy Place as "the Truth" and the entrance to the Holy of Holies as the "the Life" (John 14:6. 1 John 2:23). Note that the entrance is from the East which is where the Sun rises – the Sun of Righteousness or the Daystar (i.e., our Sun is a star that shines in the day)(Malachi 4:2. 2 Peter 1:19). Even though it may seem that your life is in spiritual darkness - remember to look to the East - as the “Son” will rise again! To enter this gate then represents realizing that you need to be saved from sin and seeking Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord.
The Outer Court represents the BODY of man (2 Corinthians 5:4). It was surrounded by a 7.5-foot tall fence enclosing an area 75 feet wide by 150 feet long. In the center of this court was located the tent or tabernacle containing the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The outer court being open to the sky received the natural illumination of the Sun and Moon. Here we learn our first truth - the tabernacle shows us that we are separated from the manifest presence of our holy God; however, there is a way into His presence.
The outer court contained the brazen altar and the Bronze laver.
In order to reach the Holy Place (the first room in the tent) you must pass the altar. It is centrally located in the outer court standing 4.5 feet high and 7.5 feet square. The altar stood raised on a mound of earth, higher than its surrounding furniture. The altar was made of wood from the acacia tree and overlaid with bronze (symbolic of judgment on sin - Numbers 21:8,9). Each of the four corners of the square altar has a horn (symbolic of strength - Psalms 18:2) that was used as a place to tie down the sacrifice. It has a grate inside to support the sacrifice. The covering grate for the altar was made latter from the censors used in the rebellion of Korah (Numbers 16:38,39). The fire on the altar was to be kept burning at all times and the daily sacrifices were offered (Leviticus 6:8-13).
It was here that lambs were sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people. That, is blood or life had to be shed for a person's sin (Leviticus 17:11. Hebrews 9:22). When a person sinned, they were to bring a lamb to the priest who would kill it as a sacrifice for their sin(s). The entrails of the lamb were burned and God said that this was a sweet smelling offering. Blood was wiped on the four horns of the altar signifying the power of the blood to atone for sins even to the four corners of the Earth (Psalms 18:2. Luke 1:69). The lamb’s blood was then sprinkled by the High Priest on the Mercy Seat with the entrails of the lamb being burned.This consuming of the sacrifice's flesh produced a stench that God called pleasant. The only thing sweet smelling about burning flesh is the purification of our souls.
The Brazen Altar represents the cross of our Lord Jesus (Hebrews 13:10-13). Jesus poured out His blood (1 Peter 1:18,19. Hebrews 9:13,14. Hebrews 10:10,14,18) - His life - on the cross to pay for our sin (1). It was at 3:00 PM that Jesus, God's lamb, died on the cross which is the same time that the priest in the temple offered up the lamb on the Day of Atonement (John 1:29. 1 John 2:2). This is our call to follow Jesus’ example and empty ourselves of self (Luke 9:23. Romans 12:1). We must pour out (i.e, give up) our life that we might have His life. We are to be living sacrifices (i.e., alive to God but dead to sin) (Romans 6:11.Galatians 2:20).
The death of self takes place during the fiery trials of life; however, only if we submit to God (1 Peter 4:12). The pain we feel during trials comes from the release of our own weaknesses. No more self will – no more pain (Isaiah 48:10). Furthermore, the death of self will leads to the resurrection of Christ’s will in our lives! However, only desiring to lose your life will not save it. You must truly lose your life in Christ in order for it to save your life (Luke 17:33).This cannot be done in our ability but only as we submit to God’s plan for our lives. It is a slow and often painful process that is priceless in its result! We must decrease at the cross in order for Jesus to increase. That is, in order for us to get to know in whom we have believed (2 Timothy 1:12) we must first decrease.
This was a circular bowl made from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 38:8). It was located before the entrance to the Tent of the Holy Place so that the priests could wash themselves after sacrificing the lambs.
This shows that even after becoming a Christian we must be cleansed continually from sin by the Word of God (Ephesians 5:25-27). Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified by the Word (John 17:17). The Word of God is also referred to as a mirror in the Bible (James 1:23-25). If we look intently into the Word of God it will expose the sin and defects in our lives. However, we must take action upon what is revealed or it will not do any good. It is not enough to just confess our sins. We have not repented (Greek - to turn around 180 degreee from the sin) until we have confessed and forsaken our sins (Proverbs 28:13. 1 John 1:6-9). That is, we are to regret sinning against a Holy God and not just simply regret the consequences of our sinful actions (Psalms 51:1-4. 2 Corinthians 7:9,10). As believers we are freed from the guilt of sin (Romans 8:1). However, there is still a need for daily cleansing from sin (John 13:10. 1 John 1:10).
As a priest unto God we have our bronze laver - the Word of God revealed by the Holy Spirit - available for our cleansing, our sanctification (Revelation 1:6). Furthermore, this cleansing is only found in the Word Himself – Jesus our Savior, Lord, and King! (John 1:1,14).The Promises of God in His Word cause us to have victory over lust and thus escape from the corruption that is in the world due to sin (2 Peter 1:4). Furthermore, Satan is overcome by the blood bought Word of God in the hearts and mouths of Christ conformed believers (Revelation 12:11).
Figuratively, we enter the Outer Court via Jesus the door when we desire to become Christians. However, if we do not lay down our lives we will remain in the outer court – it is our choice. Many Christians in the church today spend their whole lives walking about the outer court without ever entering the tabernacle. They are enjoying the view of the tabernacle but have not decided to give up their life so that they can have His life. Realize, simply "desiring" to save your life - even if not acted upon - will keep you from losing it (Matthew 16:24,25).
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose" - Jim Elliot
A person in the Outer Court that has accepted Jesus as Savior (i.e., identified with the message of the Brazen Altar) has been baptized in the Holy Spirit (1) and thus is part of the Body of Christ (i.e., they are Born Again, Saved, a Christian, etc). However, because that have not yielded their life to God at the Bronze Laver (Romans 12:1) they have not started to "know Him" (Philippians 3:10) through study of the Word of God at the Bronze Laver leading to being cleansed from sinful thoughts and habits (John 17:17. 2 Peter 1:4). Therefore, they remain Phase Zero Christians. Those that choose to lay down their lives and rid themselves of a lifestyle of sinful desires by the study of the Word of God (symbolized by the Bronze Laver) will become Phase I Christians (1) and will be enabled to progress into the Tabernacle.
To be continued...
- The Tabernacle of Moses Series:
(1) Left click on underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.