THE OLD TESTAMENT HOUSE OF THE LORD: ONE
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: One” is taken from The Tabernacle of the Congregation, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries)
Table of Contents
This book has to do with the Tabernacle of Congregation described in the Old Testament. We trust that the Lord Jesus will give the reader the Spirit of understanding and revelation, renewing your mind in Him; and that He will feed you with His holy body and blood so Christ may be formed in you.
Although there are references to the Tabernacle of the Congregation in several places in the Scriptures, particularly in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, a good place to begin studying is the Book of Exodus, starting with Chapter 25 and going through to the end of Exodus.
Two Guidelines for Interpreting Bible Symbols
Two guidelines should be kept in mind when interpreting scriptural symbols, or types, as they are called. The first guideline is this: look at the symbol in a general way, and then turn away and allow the Holy Spirit to cause the main truth to rise to the surface. Look at a scriptural type out of the corner of your eye, so to speak.
Do not focus too long on specifics, trying to force an interpretation from every detail. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for understanding. The spiritual truth will rise from the general shape of the facts.
One should not pursue a type too far. For example, the wilderness wandering of the Israelites is a type of the Christian discipleship. But we should not take each kind of shrub and animal found in the Sinai wilderness and apply it to some part of the Christian experience.
The Passover lamb of Exodus, Chapter 12 is a type of Christ. But we cannot apply each part of the animal, or its disposition, to our Lord Jesus except in the manner specifically set forth in the Scripture. The Lord Jesus is not always lamblike in behavior.
Christians are compared to a flock of sheep, in one setting, and to a fierce, disciplined army, in another setting.
The second guideline for interpreting scriptural symbols is as follows: there should be a direct New Testament reference for every interpretation of a scriptural type. We must always compare Scripture with Scripture. In many instances the writers of the New Testament emphasize the significance of Old Testament types and shadows.
When we state that the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering of the Tabernacle represents the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, and that He was offered there for our sins, there should be teaching in the new Testament stating that Christ is the offering for our sins. Of course, there is such teaching.
If we claim that the black goats’ hair tent over the Tabernacle represents sin in our flesh, and that the rams’ skins dyed red over the tent signifies that the blood of Jesus justifies us in the sight of God, then there should be statements in the New Testament declaring that the blood of Christ keeps us free from condemnation. There are such statements.
The types of the Scriptures are not intended to be rigid symbols that a student can pursue, building from them a system of interpretation. Rather, types provide for us a momentary glimpse, as it were, of a particular spiritual truth. In another setting, or at another time in our own Christian experience, the Holy Spirit may reveal to us a different spiritual application of the same set of material facts.
Perhaps the most effective way in which to gain understanding of the Kingdom of God from the scriptural types and shadows is to approach the Scriptures in a reverent, obedient attitude, looking always to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and knowledge in the things of Christ.
To summarize: (1) Do not force the interpretation of a scriptural symbol or type in a detailed manner using an intellectual approach; and (2) Make sure you have New Testament statements for your beliefs. Ask guidance from the Holy Spirit of God.
All teaching that proceeds from the Holy Spirit is pure, peaceful, gentle, full of compassion and good fruits. The Holy Spirit always brings us to Christ and always creates in us love, joy, peace, and purity of conduct, speech, and thinking. The Holy Spirit never leads us into fear, gloom, or despair.
Get ready to march victoriously with us through the study of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, with the Lord Jesus Christ at the head, bringing each of us to total dominion over everything in our lives that is keeping us from the fullness of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Seven Forms of the House of God
The Tabernacle of the Congregation was one form of the dwelling place of God. The house of God can be found in seven forms in the Scriptures:
1. Moses’ tent, which was pitched far off from the camp (Exodus 33:7-11). This tent is termed “the Tabernacle of the congregation” (Exodus 33:7); but according to our understanding, it is not to be confused with the actual Tabernacle of the Congregation that was set up later (Exodus 40:17). Not much is said about Moses’ tent except that it was the place where the Lord talked with Moses. It served until the Lord enabled the Israelites to construct a tabernacle in keeping with the pattern He had in mind.
2. The Tabernacle of the Congregation (Tent of Meeting), which is the subject of this study. It was the structure that had the linen fence, the Altar of Burnt Offering, the golden Lampstand, the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy and Most Holy Places, and the rest of the elements with which many Christians are familiar. Chapter 40 of the Book of Exodus tells about the setting up of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
Although we use the term Tabernacle of the Congregation because of its frequent use in the King James translation of the Scriptures, the Tabernacle was not a tabernacle, or dwelling place, for the congregation of Israel. The Tabernacle was the dwelling place of God, a tabernacle for the Lord. And the Lord did dwell in the Tabernacle.
When referring to the congregation of Israel, the term Tent of Meeting is preferred. The Israelites gathered at the Tent of Meeting for a meeting with their Lord. But the Israelites did not dwell, or tabernacle, there.
The Tabernacle, which the King James refers to as the Tabernacle of the Congregation, actually was the place of God’s residence on the earth. This was especially true of the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place) of the Tabernacle.
The term Tabernacle of the Congregation is in such common usage that we have kept this name when referring to the structure built in the Sinai wilderness, according to the pattern revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. But the student should keep in mind that the correct terminology is Tent of Meeting, when referring to the congregation of Israel; and Tabernacle, when referring to the dwelling place of the Lord.
To be even more precise, the linen curtain that formed the ceiling of the Holy Place and Most Holy Place, and was draped over the gold-covered boards, was the dwelling place of the Lord, the actual Tabernacle. The goats’ hair Tent was then pitched over the linen material; and there were two more layers of material covering the Tent.
3. The Tabernacle of David, a tent that David set up in Zion, which was a city located on one of the hills within the area of Jerusalem. Inside the tent of David was the Ark of the Covenant, which had become separated from the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle of the Congregation because of the ignorance and wickedness of Israel.
David made a place for the Ark within a tent in his city, Zion, and placed the Ark of the Covenant there amid great rejoicing (II Samuel, Chapter Six). The remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation remained at Gibeon, at the “high place.”
Because the Tabernacle of David and the Ark of the Covenant are associated with the coming of Christ as king, and there is much prophetic significance surrounding the Tabernacle of David that has not been fulfilled as yet, James made reference to this particular form of the house of God at an important convention of the early Church:
Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. (Acts 15:14-17)
Perhaps the Lord will give us understanding concerning the fulfillment of the symbolism that has to do with the separating of the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and concerning the prophecy of Amos and the interpretation that James put on this prophecy during the convention of the apostles and elders of the early Church.
4. The Temple of Solomon, that followed the same general design as the Tabernacle of the Congregation but was greatly enlarged and made more elaborate with costly ornamentation. The Temple of Solomon suffered much at the hands of the nations that attacked a sinful Israel, after the death of Solomon. The Temple was destroyed because the invaders wanted the precious metals and jewels of the Temple and because the Temple was a rallying point and center of national pride for Israel.
The Temple was rebuilt after the captivity (Ezra 6:15), and again by King Herod in the first century B.C. It was Herod’s Temple that was standing during the ministry of Jesus and the early Apostles. The Temple of Herod was demolished by the Romans in 70 A.D.
5. Ezekiel’s temple, described in Ezekiel, Chapters 40-48. Although there are many detailed descriptions of the parts of Ezekiel’s temple, it appears that it is to be understood spiritually. There is a possibility that Ezekiel’s temple represents the Church of Christ during the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium). Yet it cannot be that the animal sacrifices will be restored, now that the one perfect Lamb of God has been offered as the eternal sacrifice for sin.
Perhaps the Spirit of God was presenting through Ezekiel a vision of the reign of Christ in the only terms in which the Hebrews of Ezekiel’s day, whose entire spiritual life was involved in animal sacrifices, could understand the wonders associated with the coming of Christ.
It appears that the Scripture is not clear as to the exact relationship between the spirit realm and the physical realm during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. We do not know, for example, whether the saints of God will rule in bodies on the earth, or as spirits from Heaven as Jesus rules us today; or—which seems most likely—in some combination of these two. The description of the Temple of God in the Book of Ezekiel has this half-heavenly, half-earthly quality. So perhaps it has to do with the Kingdom of God during the Millennium.
We do know that Christ and the saints will govern the earth for one thousand years. The Scriptures are clear concerning this rulership. But just how the saints are to rule is not described in detail. Perhaps Ezekiel’s temple shows some of the aspects that will be true during the Millennium, when there is a situation in which flesh and blood people are being ruled by saints who are living in resurrection life. It seems we will have to wait on the Holy Spirit for further understanding before we have more to say concerning Ezekiel’s temple.
We believe the Lord has revealed to us the meaning of Ezekiel’s temple. Let the reader judge.
It seems to us that the first chapter of Ezekiel, the vision of the Lord, refers not only to the Lord Himself but also to the image of glorified man—since man is made in the image of God.
The description of Ezekiel’s temple, beginning in Chapter Forty and continuing through the remainder of the book has to do with the construction of the inner personality of the saint. The stone tables and implements for the sacrifice refer to that which is created within the disciple so he always is ready to offer his sacrifice to God. The guard rooms emphasize the fact that the Christian always must post a guard against the enemy.
The repeated measurings are familiar to the saint who knows well how God keeps judging every thought, word, and action until the Divine standard is met. The water that flows in increasing levels indicates the progress of the believer in the Spirit-filled life until he or she becomes a tree of life, ready to bring God’s Glory to the multitudes found in the saved nations.
When one dances lightly on the text this type of truth seems to emerge. The name of the city for eternity will be, “The Lord is there.” This name can apply only to the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem.
In any case, there never will be another blood sacrifice that God will honor now that God’s own Son has died on the cross for our sins.
6. The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal dwelling place of God. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He is the Tabernacle, the Temple, of God. God the Father has His eternal abode in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Adam was created by the Lord God; but the Scripture never refers to Adam as the dwelling place of God. Christ is the dwelling place of God and we Christians also are referred to in the Scripture as the habitation of God (Ephesians 2:22).
7. The new Jerusalem, the seventh and final form of the house of God. The new Jerusalem is the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the glorified Christian Church (Revelation 21,22). When each member of the Body of Christ has come into perfect union with the Head, Christ, and when the members of the Body are filled with the Glory of God and flow together in perfect unity, then the Head and the Body will be the perfect and eternal house of God, the Temple of God, the dwelling place of God and the Lamb forever, ages without end.
Do you think you can remember the seven forms that the house of God has taken? Here they are again:
- Moses’ tent.
- The Tabernacle of the Congregation.
- The Tabernacle of David.
- Solomon’s Temple.
- Ezekiel’s Temple.
- The Lord Jesus Christ.
- The eternal Temple of God, Christ—Head and Body, the Lamb and His Wife, the new Jerusalem.
We may use the term house of God today to refer to a building in which Christians assemble for worship and ministry. However, this is only a figure of speech because God lives in the worshipers themselves, never in the buildings in which they assemble.
But in the seven forms of the house of God we have just mentioned, God actually placed, or shall place, His glory there. The Israelites could behold with their eyes the Glory of God resting on the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
In our study of the second of the seven houses, the Tabernacle of the Congregation, we must grasp the fact that the Tabernacle literally was the house of God. The Creator, God Almighty, actually dwelled between the cherubim in the Holy of Holies. God spoke to Moses there and Moses spoke directly to God.
Anyone who dared to enter the Holy Place, other than the priests in the strict observance of their appointed duties, would have been slain instantly by the glory of the Presence of the Lord.
Do you begin to feel the awesome holiness of the house of God? The Presence of the Lord in their midst set the Israelites apart from every other nation on the earth.
Enumeration of the Parts to be Studied
We will be going over several areas of study: the general plan of the Tabernacle, including the materials used; the seven pieces of furniture; the boards, sockets and bars; the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies; the Veil; the linen curtain; the tent; the coverings; the door; the gate; the linen fence; the work of the priests and Levites; the order of Israel on the march; the history of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; and the history of the Ark of the Covenant.
These physical elements will be interpreted as referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the Christian disciple, to the Body of Christ, and to the Kingdom of God.
Six Areas of Study of the Tabernacle
We have just listed the several aspects of the Tabernacle of the Congregation that we will be examining. We will be working with these several aspects in six general areas of study, as the Holy Spirit helps and guides us. The six areas will be explained further as we proceed:
- The physical description of the parts, furnishings and details of the Tabernacle. This is the factual knowledge of the object or incident in the material realm. The people, objects, and history of the Old Testament were real people and actual things and happenings. We will include, in some instances, a brief comment on the significance of the items.
- The Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of the types and symbols of the Scriptures reveal the Person and redemptive work of the Lord Jesus, and the Tabernacle and its parts are no exception.
- The history of the Christian Church. The order in which God gave to Moses the directions concerning the parts of the Tabernacle provides a history, in type, of the developing of the Church.
- The redemption of the believer. The maturing of the Christian is an orderly process. The order of the seven furnishings, commencing with the Altar of Burnt Offering, typifies the seven fundamental aspects of the plan of salvation as a person moves from total chaos of personality all the way to the Throne of God.
- The Body of Christ. There is a Divine plan for bringing to perfection the Christian Church, the Body of Christ. The order of the seven furnishings, commencing with the Altar of Burnt Offering, portrays the growth of the Christian Church from collections of saved believers to the Body of Christ, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb.
- The Kingdom of God. The design of the Tabernacle reveals the plan for the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Can you say from memory the six areas of study we encounter as we begin to work with the parts of the Tabernacle of the Congregation?
- The physical description
- The Person and work of Christ
- The history of the Christian Church
- The plan of salvation
- The Body of Christ
- The establishing of the Kingdom of God
The Tabernacle of the Congregation is one of the major (if not the major) types of God’s dealings with us in His plan of redemption. The people and incidents of the Scriptures really existed and took place on the earth. There are other great allegories in literature in which spiritual concepts are conveyed, such as Pilgrim’s Progress, which are not true historical accounts. But the holy Scriptures set forth an accurate record of actual people, places and happenings.
The Tabernacle of the Congregation was a large tent set up in the wilderness region between Egypt and Canaan. That area is a hot, desolate countryside.
At the time of the setting up of the Tabernacle, approximately fifteen hundred years before Christ, there were two or three million Israelites, plus a mixed multitude, following Moses on the pilgrimage from Egyptian slavery to the land of milk and honey. Exodus 12:37 informs us that there were six hundred thousand men on foot and their families.
They were flesh-and-blood people who brought along their struggling animals, sheep, goats and cattle, some of which were to be offered later by the priests on the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering. It was a hot, messy, smelly undertaking overshadowed by sacrificial death, like our own Christian life. But then there was the Glory of God before them and with them, just like our own resurrection life in Christ.
The Israelites could see the cloud going before them during the daytime marches, and the pillar of fire directing the way at night. The pilgrimage of these millions of people remains one of the most significant and astonishing events of world history.
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: One”, 3088-1)