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The Tabernacle – Part 1 (Exodus 25)

“In any study of the Tabernacle, there is not much to say that has not already been said. “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) has definite application to treatments of the Tabernacle. Therefore, the desire for novelty has not entered into the making of this thesis. Rather, the works of others have been drawn upon copiously, and most of this thesis is a restatement that constitutes a revision of previous works.” [1]

Dr. J. Vernon McGee opened the preface to his outstanding booklet on the Tabernacle with these words of explanation and I would like to open my own treatment of the study of the Tabernacle with a similar annotation. To pretend or imply in any manner that the concepts comprising the commentary which will follow over the next few posts in this study has originated with this writer or is the product of my own spiritual insights would be dishonest and a grave disservice to the spiritual giants whose shoes may never be filled. The revelations which were shared through their own writings and preaching were doubtlessly obtained through tireless prayer, unwavering dedication to the study of the Word, and a closeness to the Spirit of God the likes of which few will ever attain. With this in mind, I gratefully acknowledge the works of many others who lived in times past for their service and ministry without which I would have very little to say concerning the portion of Scripture wherein we now find ourselves. That they could see figures and symbols of the Lord Jesus Christ within the blueprints of the Old Testament Tabernacle is, to me, utterly amazing. That they took the time to record their insights for the rest of us is a great act of Christian love and service to the Lord at its finest.

Symbols, Types, And Figures In The Tabernacle

“Nothing [in the Book of Exodus] may be dogmatically asserted to be a type without explicit New Testament authority; and all types not so authenticated must be recognized as having the authority of analogy, or spiritual congruity, merely.” Dr. C.I. Scofield [2]

A “type”, theologically speaking, is something that symbolically represents something else in the Bible. Usually, types are things in the Old Testament that point toward the Lord Jesus Christ and His work. Sometimes referred to as a figure in the KJV, many persons and things from the Old Testament are specifically referred to as types of Christ (e.g., Adam in Rom. 5:14, or Isaac in Heb. 11:19). We will see in this study that many of the details of the furniture of the Tabernacle are also types of Christ, yet we do well to consider Dr. Scofield’s words of warning before we get into the specifics. Although many believe (as I do also) that every single hook and thread of the Tabernacle is there for a specific reason and they all point toward the Person and work of Jesus Christ, it can be easy to get a little carried away and begin to insist on interpretations as bona fide doctrines. Unless we have the direct authority of Scripture, we can only suggest the meanings, interpretations and symbolism present and must never become dogmatic or divisive. While I am firmly convinced of the accuracy of the symbols and types we will explore, I am in no way prepared to argue or debate for their veracity.

Having said that, we should now consider that there does exist a Scriptural basis for interpreting the details of the Tabernacle as typical and for suggesting a figurative interpretation of its furniture. 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 makes it clear that the persons and events of the Book of Exodus are recorded for our learning. The Apostle Paul tells us twice (vv. 6 and 11) that these events were examples given for our own admonition. Likewise, the writer to the Hebrews calls the Tabernacle itself a symbol of something which would later be fulfilled in Christ (cf. Heb. 9:8-11). Therefore, it is not without merit to suppose that every detail given of the Tabernacle and its furniture is rich with meaning and symbolism and that its specifications and details are not given in order that we might better understand Hebrew architecture, but that we might better understand the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior. After all, the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write but a single verse about the creation of the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1) and 15 chapters about the construction of the Tabernacle (Ex. 25-40). There must be a great deal more importance to it than the mere mathematical dimensions and properties of an enormous tent.

The Materials

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution. This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze, blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair rams’ skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood,  oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece.  Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.” (Exodus 25:1-9)

Gold speaks of Deity, or the manifestation of God. Silver refers to redemption or atonement. In Exodus 30:11-16 , half a shekel of silver is enumerated as atonement money to be given as an offering for the redemption of the souls of each adult Hebrew. The Tabernacle would rest upon sockets of silver, just as the life of the Christian rests upon the atoning work of redemption in Christ. The curtains of the doors were suspended from silver bands and hooks (Ex. 27:16-17), thus the way of access to the Presence of God was through redemption and atonement.

Brass/bronze speaks of judgment. The bronze altar (Ex. 27) and the bronze serpent (Num. 21:6-9) refer to sin judged and point directly to the Cross of Christ.

Blue, purple, and scarlet find their symbolism in the Person of Jesus Christ. Blue denotes the heavenly origin of Christ while purple speaks of His royalty as King and Descendant of David. Scarlet represents the spilled blood of sacrifice poured out on Calvary.

Fine linen speaks of personal righteousness, intertwined in the Person of Jesus Christ (Ex. 26:1), the only Righteous, and present in the hangings of the court of the Tabernacle, reminding any who would approach the Holy Place of the righteousness that God requires of those who would approach Him. Only through the Gate of the Court (Ex. 27:16) could God be approached; through the righteousness of Christ we find our access to God, never through our own. For He is that Door through which man must come to God (John 10:9).

The Skins Of Animals speak of sacrifice. Ram’s skins dyed red represent the blood of lambs and calves sacrificed for the atonement of sin; yet they looked further toward the Blood of Jesus Christ which alone is sufficient to cover the transgressions of man (cf. Heb. 9:11-14).

Lord willing, I would like to begin looking at the specific furniture within the Tabernacle next time, starting with the Ark of the Covenant.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible  (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[1] Quotation taken from “The Tabernacle: God’s Portrait of Christ” by: Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Property of Thru The Bible Radio Network www.ttb.org

[2] Taken from “The Scofield Reference Bible” (Old Scofield edition) notes by: Dr. C.I. Scofield © 1909, 1917, 1937, 1945 Oxford University Press, Inc.

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