4. Seeing Jesus in the Tabernacle
Then the LORD said to Moses: "Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month.
Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain. Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps.
Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the covenant law and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.
Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it.
Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence.
Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.
Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
5. Seeing Jesus in the Tabernacle Feb 1, 2015
About 6 years ago, Diane and I were invited to go to the CBM global staff conference in New Delhi, India. And while we were there, we had the opportunity of visiting what has to be one of the most beautiful buildings ever built. Almost 400 years ago, Shah Jahan, the emperor of the Mughal empire was grief-stricken by the death of his wife, and he ordered that a mausoleum be constructed to house her tomb. It took thousands of artisans 16 years to build what is now known as the Taj Mahal.
But as magnificent as this building is, there was another even more amazing structure fashioned in the middle of the Sinai desert more than 3000 years ago. The tabernacle which Moses built was not beautiful or awe-inspiring by human standards. Many other buildings have had more impressive architecture, more elaborate design.
But what was unique about the tabernacle was that it was the only physical structure ever built on earth designed entirely by God himself, and as we will see this morning, was like no other structure for a number of significant reasons.
In the book of Exodus, we read the incredible story of how God called Moses to bring the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and eventually lead them into the promised land. But as Pastor Adrien said last Sunday, for 40 years they wander in the desert of Sinai. And while they are there, God commands them to build a tabernacle or a large tent, which would house the Ark of the Covenant containing the stone tablets upon which He had written the Ten Commandments. The importance of the tabernacle is underlined by the fact that 15 chapters of the book of Exodus (almost the entire 2nd half of the book) are devoted to describing the pattern by which the tabernacle would be constructed. Then another 15 chapters in Leviticus & Numbers describing the various sacrifices and offerings that were to be made in the tabernacle.
But this morning I want us to see how this tabernacle was designed by God in order to point the way ahead to his much bigger plan, which was to send his son Jesus Christ to the world to bring us out of slavery to sin and into eternal life.
Throughout this series we are looking at various ways in which we can see Jesus foreshadowed in the OT, many centuries before he was born. One of the ways in which we can see Jesus in the OT is through what is usually called Typology or the study of “types”. This term comes from the Greek word “τύπος” which means “an imprint, a pattern, a representation” of something else. It’s where the English word “type” as in “typewriter” comes from. When you hit a key on a typewriter, it forms the pattern or imprint of that letter on the page.
For eg, Thomas said “Unless I see the “typos”, the imprint of the nails in his hands… I will not believe” (John 20:25)
In the Bible a type is “an event, a person, or an object in the OT which foreshadows a pattern of spiritual truth which is later fulfilled in the life of Christ in the NT’. For eg, Paul writes in Romans 5:14 that “Adam was a “typos (a pattern, or a representation) of the one who was yet to come”, ie of Christ.
And you can find all kinds of these “types” of Christ embedded throughout the OT. For eg, a couple of weeks ago we saw that when Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice, God provided a ram to be killed in place of Isaac. The ram was a “type” of Christ, because it presents a picture of how Christ would also one day be offered as the lamb of God sacrificed for us
But perhaps the most important type of Christ in the OT is the Tabernacle in Exodus. Hebrews tells us that the tabernacle which Moses built there in the desert was a type or a copy of the true tabernacle in heaven. Speaking of the priests in the tabernacle:
“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." (Hebrews 8:5)
And so the tabernacle gives us this amazing picture of the way that Jesus, as our great high priest went into the true tabernacle in heaven on our behalf to secure our salvation for us. So how does the tabernacle as it is described in Exodus, present this picture of Jesus?
1. Dwelling place of God. The tabernacle was to be the place where God would be present among his people. “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” (Exod 25:8)
Earlier we read in Exodus 40:34, how after the tabernacle was completed “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” Now this same cloud had already made its appearance several times already in Exodus, leading the people through the desert, and resting on Mt Sinai when Moses received the 10 commandments.
It was a visible sign of the presence of God in the midst of the people.
When David writes in Psalms 26:8 - “Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” He was referring of course to the tabernacle, and later the temple, where the presence of God was manifested through the cloud.
But in the NT, the apostle John writes in the prologue to his gospel:
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
The Greek word John uses for “dwelling” is “σκηνόω” (skenos) which lit. means “tent” or “tabernacle” And so John is making a direct connection between the OT tabernacle, and Jesus, who came to “tabernacle” or dwell among us. Who displayed the glory of God in our midst. What did Isaiah prophecy?
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means “God with us”
And when we get to Hebrews, we discover that the tabernacle Moses constructed in the wilderness was only a copy, or a picture of Jesus who becomes the true tabernacle, the dwelling place of God in our midst.
2nd the Tabernacle contained the Bronze altar where sacrifices were offered to make atonement for sin. “Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the Tent of meeting” (Ex 40:6)
An essential part of the worship in the tabernacle involved animal sacrifices, which were made on a special altar located at the entrance to the tabernacle. These sacrifices were offered according to a very defined schedule: Each day, 2 year-old lambs were sacrificed, one in the morning and one in the evening. Then on the first day of each month, there was an offering of 2 young bulls, a ram & 7 male lambs.
Then there were other special sacrifices offered on the Day of Atonement, at Passover and all the other feast days described in detail in the book of Leviticus. When the animals were brought to the tabernacle, they would be killed, their blood would be sprinkled on the sides of the altar, and then they would be placed on the altar as a burnt offering. All of these animal sacrifices were intended to make atonement for the sins of the people of Israel.
But when we get to the New Testament, we discover something very important about these sacrifices. Even though they were able to make the Israelites outwardly or ceremonially clean, they could never actually remove the guilt of their sin and make them right before God:
“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship… For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Heb 10:1-4)
And so like the tabernacle itself, these sacrifices were only a copy, a shadow of the reality which was still to come. They pointed ahead to the true sacrifice which would one day be made on our behalf.
“For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb 9:24-26)
3rdly, the Tabernacle contained the “Holy of Holies”
The tabernacle was divided into 3 sections: There was the outer courtyard where the altar was located. Then the inside of the tent was divided into 2 parts: The Holy place, which contained the altar of incense and the 7 branched lampstand. And then divided off from this part with a special curtain was “the Holy of Holies” where the ark of the covenant (containing the stone tablets) was located.
Lev 16 tells us that once every year on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, 2 goats were brought to the tabernacle. The one goat was called the “scapegoat”. The high priest would lay his hands on the head of the scapegoat, and confess all of the sin of the people and in so doing place all of their sin on this goat. Then it was led outside of the camp into the desert, symbolizing the removal of sin from the people of Israel.
The other goat was called the sin offering. The high priest would sacrifice this goat and then go behind the curtain into the holy of holies and sprinkle some of the goat’s blood onto the ark of the covenant. This was to make atonement for the sins of the nation of Israel for the previous year.
Again when we turn to the book of Hebrews, we discover that Jesus Christ is our true high priest, who entered heaven itself on our behalf:
“But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. “ (Heb 9:11-12)
And so everything that we read about the Tabernacle in Exodus is just a copy, a picture pointing towards Christ and his death on the cross.
And so as we come to the Lord’s table this morning, the Bible says we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, knowing that it was Jesus himself who became flesh and dwelt among us. It was Jesus who offered himself once for all time as the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. And it was Jesus who became our great High priest, who entered heaven itself and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, securing our salvation once and for all time.
Communion hymn - Before the throne of God above
Matthew 27:50-51 “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”
When we come to the Lord’s table, we are recognizing that it is through the shed blood of Christ, through his broken body sacrificed on the cross that we now have access into the very throne room of God. Just as the goat was brought to be sacrificed on the altar at the entrance to the tabernacle, so Jesus was offered up for us.
And at the very same moment that Jesus breathed his last breath on the cross, the curtain in front of the Holy of Holies was torn in two, signifying that Jesus, as our great high priest, had opened up the way for us to come into the very presence of God
And that’s what this table is all about.The elements we are about to receive, the bread and the cup, are symbols and signs to continually remind us of what Jesus did for us at Calvary
And so we remember how the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed…
Here is love