THE OLD TESTAMENT HOUSE OF THE LORD: SEVEN (EXCERPT OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION)
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Seven” is taken from The Tabernacle of the Congregation, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries)
Table of Contents
The Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ
The History of the Christian Church
The Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ
Quite a few books have been written on the subject of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and all that we have read do an excellent job of portraying the Person and work of our Lord and Savior, Christ. Christ comes forth from these portrayals as the King of kings and Lamb of God that He is. They leave no doubt that Christ is Lord of all and that He alone is the Redeemer of all people, the Savior of the world.
The portrayal of the Lord Jesus as the fulfillment of the Tabernacle symbolism has been covered so thoroughly, so devoutly, that we will only touch on it.
In our view, the Tabernacle of the Congregation reveals Christ more perfectly than does any other type in the entire Scripture. The seven furnishings, and all the other parts and details seen individually and as a whole, present the Lord Jesus in His majesty and His redemptive work. The interpretation that views the Tabernacle of God Almighty as representing Christ is particularly accurate because Christ is the eternal dwelling place of the Father.
As we behold the holiness, the glory, the beauty of the Tabernacle in its bleak surroundings in the wilderness of Sinai, the Lord Jesus Christ steps forth as the holy Son of God in the dark world in which we exist. The construction and the priestly ordinances teach us that Christ is utterly holy.
The Glory of the Presence of God resting on the entire structure, especially on the Holy of Holies, portrays the Glory of the Almighty God that abides on Christ without measure. The breathtaking beauty of the blue, the royal purple, the crimson, and the sparkling-white linen states that here is the King of kings, mighty in authority and power, righteous in all His judgments.
Standing out boldly against the backdrop of this heavenly array of color and beauty is the Altar of Burnt Offering with its basins of blood and its burning sacrifices. Then we discover that the King is also the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The extraordinary vision is before us of One who redeemed us out of slavery through means of His obedience, suffering, and death but who now rules with all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth. The Lamb who was slain is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
The Ark of the Covenant, with its atonement cover, the Mercy Seat, speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ. The wood of the Ark represents the Son of Man and the gold portrays the Son of God. The Mercy Seat and the Cherubim of Glory reveal that the fullness of the Glory of God abides on Christ eternally.
The Table of Showbread, including its cups for the drink offering, is a portrayal of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. The Lampstand is the seven-fold Holy Spirit who abides on Christ without measure.
The Altar of Burnt Offering is His death on the cross of Calvary. The perfume arising from the burning incense on the Altar of Incense is the fragrance of Christ that must be mixed with the prayers of the saints through the Holy Spirit if our prayers are to be acceptable to God.
The water of the Laver is the Word of God (Christ) that comes to us in instruction, teaching us to put away the filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
The covering of rams’ skins dyed red speaks of the blood of Christ that is the covering on the sins of our flesh so we may be accepted of the Father.
The Veil separating the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place is the flesh of Christ that was broken for us so we may be able to enter with boldness into the Presence of God and find strength and wisdom to help us in our struggle against sin.
The morning and evening lambs offered as burnt offerings, continually bring to our remembrance the offering of the Lamb of God, whose perfect consecration and innocent life made it possible for Him to please the Father on behalf of mankind.
The high priest was a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the priest ministered at the Altar of Burnt Offering, at the Altar of Incense, the Lampstand, and the Table of Showbread. The high priest especially revealed Christ on the annual Day of Atonement as he, with the blood of animals, made an atonement (reconciliation) for the Tabernacle and the nation of Israel. Christ is our High Priest who bears each of His people on His heart and continually makes intercession for us before the Father in Heaven.
Everywhere we turn in the Tabernacle the royal authority and power of Christ, and the atonement made by Christ for us, are pictured in the colors, the material, the design, and the activities. The Lamb of God was slain obtaining eternal redemption for us; and so there was much silver, signifying redemption, in the Tabernacle.
Christ is able to redeem to the uttermost those who come to God through Him. He rose triumphantly from the grave, leading captivity captive. He is coming again soon as King of all kings and Lord of all lords. However, to the saint He already is King and Lord.
The Tabernacle of the Congregation proclaims: “Christ died for your sins and you are saved by His blood. Repent, and believe the good news. The King has come down from Heaven and redeemed you. Now you are free to serve Him forever.
“He is absolutely holy and righteous, and He has made provision for you that you may partake of His holiness and righteousness to the salvation of your soul. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who refuses so great a salvation shall be judged.”
The History of the Christian Church
The order in which God gave to Moses the directions for the construction of the Tabernacle, for the establishing of the Aaronic priesthood, and for the related necessities pertaining to the Law of God, the Tabernacle, and the services of the priests and Levites, seems to be generally symbolic of the history of the construction of the Christian Church and of the Church’s ministry. This order is found in Exodus, Chapters 25-31. God looked down on the drab wilderness called the earth. He then determined to build for Himself a sanctuary in order that He might dwell among men.
His first step was to designate the materials to be used for His sanctuary; and since God’s temple is to be a living temple made from people, the first requirement was the setting aside of all the various humans in whose personalities the Holy Spirit would place the “blues,” “purples,” “scarlets,” and “linens.”
Some of the materials come from Heaven and some from the earth. Thus we have the creation of the Church, the ekklesia, the called-out from the peoples of the earth—called out to be the Church, the Temple of God.
Therefore the first step in the history of the Christian Church, as symbolized by the account in Exodus, was the setting aside of the materials—the election of those who are to compose the Temple (Exodus 25:3-7; Romans 9:11; II Timothy 1:9).
In order for an edifice to be constructed there must be a cornerstone and a foundation. Since the building is to be the everlasting temple of God Almighty, exceeding care must be taken that the cornerstone and the foundation are laid with the greatest of precision. Therefore the second step was the designing of the Ark of the Covenant.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Ark of the Covenant—the cornerstone and foundation of the Church (Exodus 25:10). In Him is the Law of God (the Ten Commandments); resurrection life (Aaron’s rod that budded); and the Divine body and blood that are the life of every person who will be saved (the memorial jar of manna) These are the contents of the Ark of the Covenant.
The Mercy Seat (atonement cover; lid of atonement, or reconciliation) was placed on Christ, with the Cherubim of Glory (Exodus 25:17). The fullness of the Glory of God rests on Him who was born of a virgin in a manger so many centuries ago; who grew up in Nazareth, and then ministered for three short years. Three short years; but the history of the earth is measured in the years before and after His birth.
The Table of Showbread was set forth next (Exodus 25:23), because Christ gave His precious body and blood for the life of the world. Apart from His body and blood no man, woman, boy or girl on the earth has any eternal life whatever. This world is the valley of the shadow of death. We are surrounded by those who are living in spiritual death. But those who choose to partake of Christ have eternal life already.
The golden Lampstand was fourth in order (Exodus 25:31). The Holy Spirit was poured out on the first Pentecost, and from that point the disciples were filled with the Divine Life shed forth by Him who has ascended to the Father, His blood having made the eternal atonement upon and before the Mercy Seat in Heaven.
The curtains and coverings followed, in the description in Exodus, because they portray the grace of God that abides on the Christian believer (Exodus 26:1-14). The linen curtain speaks as follows: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
The black goats’ hair curtain declares: “The body is dead because of sin.”
The covering of rams’ skins dyed red replies: “God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiation [appeasement; atoning sacrifice] through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission [forgiveness] of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”
The covering of badgers’ (porpoises’ skins) answers: “Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Christ.”
This is the Christian disciple—born again and having the righteousness and Life of Christ in his inner man; still in a mortal body of sin and death but having the sin and death covered by the blood of Christ. The saint himself is protected by the whole armor of God: truth, righteousness, the preparation of the good news of peace, the helmet of salvation, the Word of God, and Spirit-filled prayer (Ephesians, Chapter Six).
The boards were described next, portraying the fellowship of believers standing shoulder to shoulder, the Body of Christ (Exodus 26:15). The members of the Body of Christ are all the same “height”; and while there are anointed ministries among them, yet in the Body of Christ they are all equal brothers in the Lord. There is no priest among them, or master. God is the Father of each, and only Christ is exalted as Lord and Master of the Church, the Body of Christ.
The five bars that served to strengthen and align the sides of the Tabernacle reveal the resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus plus the four major types of ministry to the Body that flow from Him—the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, and the pastor-teacher (Exodus 26:26). The purpose of the ministries of the Church is to build the Body of Christ (Ephesians, Chapter Four), just as the purpose of the five bars was to bind together in strength the boards that formed the sides of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
The partitioning Veil, forever rent because of the offering of Christ, speaks to us that by prayer we now have access to the Throne of God (Exodus 26:31). The piercing of the flesh of Christ opens the way for us into the holiest of all. By His broken body and shed blood, each person who will believe may enter boldly into the Presence of God and find forgiveness, Divine Virtue, strength, and wisdom to help in time of need, as he struggles against sin, seeking to obey God in all matters.
The “door of the tent” signifies the entrance that we have into the holy elements of the Church, the Body of Christ. Within are the Communion service—the body and blood of Christ; the manifestation of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit; and the Spirit-empowered prayer and praise that bring us into the Presence of the Father (Exodus 26:36).
The fence and the gate of the Courtyard are described next in order, portraying the boundaries of the Kingdom of God (Exodus 27:9-19). Every person who will enter through the gate, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, is redeemed (the silver on the fence pillars) and has the righteousness of God (the white linen of the fence).
Everyone outside the gate is lost in the darkness and bondage of sin and death. Everyone inside is saved, redeemed, having God’s own righteousness applied to him. The good news of the Kingdom is to be preached in every place throughout the world so multitudes can be brought into the Courtyard of the Tabernacle. The only way to God is through Christ on the cross.
The olive oil, the fuel for the Lampstand, is mentioned at this point because it is by the Holy Spirit abiding in each believer that the testimony of Christ is presented to the world and people are brought into the Kingdom—into the Courtyard, to speak figuratively (Exodus 27:20). The Holy Spirit is the One who brings the knowledge of God to the earth. He is the Spirit of truth. He always testifies of Christ and shows to us the things of Christ (John 15:26; 16:7-15). The Holy Spirit, the olive oil of the Lampstand, dwells in the members of the Body of Christ (John 14:16,17).
The passages that follow in Exodus describe in detail the garments of the high priest, and the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Exodus 28 and 29). Christ is our great High Priest and He is revealed in His glory and beauty by the high priest of Israel, showing forth the holiness and Glory of God Almighty to Israel, and bearing on himself all of Israel before the Lord God.
Christ sanctified Himself for our sakes, and we are enabled by His virtue to sanctify ourselves so we also may serve as priests, bringing the Glory of God to people and bearing them up in intercession before the Lord.
The Altar of Incense comes next, in the Exodus account, and it has to do with the power in prayer of the saints as they prepare the way for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to the earth (Exodus 30:1; Revelation 8:5). As the Life of Christ is being created in the believers the Holy Spirit is coming upon them; and the authority, power and intensity of the cry coming up from the earth to the God of Heaven will finally attain the degree of purity and strength needed to bring back the King.
God has been waiting for this moment since the day when He had to withdraw from mankind because of sin in the earth (Genesis 4:26). In the last days, the Spirit-empowered supplication and adoration of the saints, thoroughly mixed with the incense of Christ Himself, will ascend to the Throne of God with such compelling holiness, righteousness, and persistence that God will command the seven angels to sound. When the last trumpet sounds the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever.
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15).
Continuing with the order of presentation in Exodus, the tribute silver is mentioned (Exodus 30:12). The collecting of the tribute money from each Hebrew male informs us that the great strength of the Church of Christ comes from the authority and power of the redemption of Christ in each believer, in that the silver was used for the foundation of the Tabernacle boards and also for the hooks and supporting rods of the fence.
Each member of the Church makes his or her own contribution to the Body of Christ and to the Kingdom of God. We are built up by that which “every joint supplies.” Each believer will add to the whole Temple of God the strength and beauty of the redemption given to him by the Lord. The silver speaks to us also of the redemptive Jubilee that will come to us with the appearing of our Lord from Heaven.
The Laver is now presented, representing our cleansing by the Word of God, and also the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus who shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation (Exodus 30:18). The Lord is judging and washing His people. He will, at His coming, complete the work of removing sin from His Church, and then through the Church will judge and remove the power and effects of sin from the entire earth.
The holy anointing oil reminds us that the Holy Spirit must be on every part of the Church of Christ, or else that activity, person or thing will not be accepted in the work of the Lord (Exodus 30:25). All that we are, all that we do, and all that we say must have the anointing of the Lord, or nothing of eternal value can be accomplished in the Kingdom of God.
Music has played a large role in the Christian worship services. Some of this music may be anointed. The part that is not anointed is useless as far as the creation of the Kingdom of God is concerned. It pleases the soul and flesh but does not build up Christ in the listeners.
The holy anointing oil brings to our minds also the exceedingly great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is to take place during the Day of the Lord. The Holy Spirit in that day will anoint each Christian so he can bring the unsearchable riches of Christ to the ends of the earth. The thousand-year Jubilee will witness an unprecedented outpouring of God’s Spirit that will increase until the Glory of the Lord covers the earth.
The incense is the Personality of Christ (Exodus 30:35). It is to be “seasoned with salt” and “beat very small,” meaning that the Nature of the Lord Jesus will be worked into the nature of each member of the Body of Christ. Then the saint will be able to call on God, through the Holy Spirit, and the fragrance of God’s beloved Son will be in the prayer and worship as it ascends before the Throne of God Almighty.
Bezaleel and Aholiab were mentioned next (Exodus 31:2,6). It seems as though these two men should have been mentioned earlier in the order of presentation, not at the end of this symbolic pattern. It may be noticed, in connection with the placing of the names of the two builders toward the end of the order presented in Exodus, that the construction of the Tabernacle was presented in two sections: (1) Exodus, Chapters 25-31, in which God laid out all the things to be done; and (2) Exodus, Chapters 34-40, in which the covenant was renewed and the work begun on the Tabernacle.
Perhaps the order of presentation reveals to us that the current era of Church history is, to a great extent, a time of gathering materials and giving the directions for the “Tabernacle” (the Christian Church, the Temple of God). It may be true that the actual work of putting together the Temple of God will begin in earnest when the Lord Jesus returns.
If it is true that the coming into full maturity and unity of the Church, the Body of Christ, has not occurred as yet, and is associated with the return of the Lord, then we would expect to find Bezaleel and Aholiab, the symbols of the actual construction of the Tabernacle, appearing toward the end of this particular order—which is, in fact, where they do appear in the Exodus account.
The last direction to be given is that concerning the Sabbath day (Exodus 31:13). The entire thousand-year Kingdom Age will be a Sabbath, a holy period, in which the Lord will bring to maturity His work in the earth. It will be a time of redemption and restoration of inheritances, especially for the Church of Christ, but also for all the peoples of the earth who will receive Christ as King and Lord.
The new heaven and new earth, which will appear after the final judgment, will be the ultimate fulfillment of the Sabbath covenant. God will have His perfect rest in the earth through His tabernacle, the new Jerusalem, the wife of the Lamb. Each member of the Body of Christ will celebrate eternally his own rest in the Presence of the Father and of the Lamb. Every person living on the earth will abide under his vine and under his fig tree, so to speak, living a happy, fruitful life under the rulership and priestly ministry of God in Christ in the Church.
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Seven”, 3381-1)