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Tabernacle Types Of

 

Tabernacle Types Of

Our Relationship With Christ Jesus

And Ministries In The Body Of Christ

 

 

 

1.  Why Study The Tabernacle In The Wilderness?

2.  General Layout And Court Of Reconciliation

3.  Tent Of The Meeting

4.  Holy Place

5.  Holy Of Holies

6.  Tabernacle Types Of Ministries In The Body Of Christ

7.  Some Other Types

 

 

 

 

1.  Why Study The Tabernacle In The Wilderness?


 

Hebrews 9:9 “It [the first tabernacle] was symbolic for the present time ....”

 

Hebrews 3:2-6    “He [Jesus our High Priest] was faithful to Him [God the Father] Who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house.  For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.  For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.  Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things that were to be spoken later;  but Christ was faith­ful as a Son over His house Whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end"


 

These passages introduce a powerful Biblical type:  us, the believers, the Body of Christ, are a house or a temple to contain Christ, with parallel details in the "Tabernacle in the Wilder­ness" that was built by Moses according to strict instructions he received from God.

 

Comparisons of the many details of construction of Moses' taberna­cle and the priesthood functioning therein, with the Body of Christ and the interpersonal relationships between us and Christ our High Priest and between one another, are among the most re­warding Bible studies I have done.  Every detail of that Taberna­cle in the Wilderness, without a single exception, has some sig­nificant typological meaning for the Body of Christ today.

 

Several books are available for those who wish to pursue such studies.  The three "oldies" most useful to this author were: Soltau (The Holy Vessels and Furniture of the Tabernacle - 1851) on the Tabernacle's instruments; Soltau (The TABERNACLE - The Priesthood and the Offerings - 1855) on the Tabernacle priesthood; and Cornwall (Let Us Draw Near - 1977) on how it speaks to our personal relationship with Christ.  Some current publications are:  Varner (The More Excellent Ministry - 1988), an anointed study of the ministries performed by the priesthood, which are types of our functioning today within the Body of Christ; Varner (The Priesthood Is Changing - 1991), an anointed study of the priesthood which served in the Tabernacle that are types of our ministries today;  and Hanby (The House That God Built - 1993), an excellent general introduction to the types of the Tabernacle.

 

Most of those details of Moses' tabernacle are found in Exodus Chapters 25 through 31 and 35 through 40.  Hebrews Chapter 9 is devoted to how Christ our High Priest is typified by the High Priest and the priesthood associated with Moses' taberna­cle. 

 

2.  General Layout And Court Of Reconciliation

 

The tabernacle in the wilderness describes in great detail three areas of truth pertaining to the Body of Christ under the New Covenant:  (1)  the Person, Nature and Ministry of Christ Jesus our High Priest;  (2)  the three stages of growth of a believer in Christ and the processes He puts a submissive believer through to "perfect" or mature or sanctify him;   and (3) the nature, functions, and various minis­tries of His church.  Here we study the three general "areas" of the Tabernacle;  we suggest they speak of our personal holiness before God as we mature in our sanctification.

 

A sketch of the general layout of the Tabernacle is given in the following diagram.  The three general areas are:  (1) the courtyard, i.e., the 50x100 - 10x30 = 4700 "Holy of Holies" or "Holy of Holy Ones".

                 



square  cubits[1] en­closed within the outer curtain or "fence" but that is not within the "tent";  (2) the initial 10x20 = 200 square cubits in the "tent";  and (3) its final 10x10 = 100 square cubits.  Those three areas are known respectively as:  (1) the "inner court" or "court of reconciliation";  (2) the "Holy Place" or "Holy Habitation";  and (3) the the outer boundary of the tabernacle area was a linen "fence" or wall, five cubits in height and rectangular in outline, 50 cubits by 100 cubits, the center 20 cubits of the Eastern end being open to form a "gate" of entry.  Hence its total surface area (includ­ing this "gate") was 1500 square cubits, the number of years of the Old Covenant Law.  It was supported by a total of 60 posts, all spaced 5 cubits center-to-center.  The posts were of "shittim wood", a native "acacia" wood that grows all twisted and knotted, set in sockets of brass - actually a form of bronze that typifies Christ's judgment on satan, i.e. the brazen serpent of Numbers 21:9.  “Shittim” in Hebrew  means "to turn aside; depart"; it typifies sinners who have turned aside from their sins and fol­lowed Christ.

 

The "fence" was of fine-twined linen, that typifies the righteousness of Christ, and was supported by the posts with rods and hooks of silver, that typify our atonement by Christ that enables us to lift Jesus up before the world.  The "gate", 20 cubits wide, was on the Eastern end, immediately outside of which was camped the Tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe.  Furthermore, 2000 cubits further east (i.e., "outside the camp"), the altar of the Red Heifer Sin Offering (Numbers 19:1-10) and the ash pit (where the ashes of all burnt offerings were deposited) were located.  This speaks of Christ's crucifixion on Calvary and burial in a cave, all on the Mount of Olives[2].

 

In the general layout we see three areas within this enclosure, a courtyard and two compartments of a "building" called the "tent of the meeting".  In the King James version of the Bible, these are called the Court, Holy Place, and Most Holy (Place) or Holy Of Holies.  The Hebrew word for Court means an enclosed place of congregation and protection, and reminds us of the "green pastures" of Psalm 23.  The Hebrew for Holy Place  (Exodus 29:31 for example) means holiness of standing, holy stature, holy way of living.  And the Hebrew for Most Holy (Place) or Holy Of Holies (Exodus 26:33 for example), means holiness of the holy ones or holiness of holy presence.  (The English word "place" used here is very misleading.)  This etymology of the Hebrew words suggests the same three levels of holiness as characterized by our three stages of Christian growth:  carnal, soulical and spiritual.

 

At the Eastern entrance to the Court was a altar at which animal sacrifices were burned.  The carnal Christian is typified by any of the rank-and-file Israelites who entered the court to offer sacrifices at that altar.  The sacrifices we offer is Christ, as our sin-forgiver, ransomer, reconciliator by virtue of His dying for our sins.  Indeed, the altar of the "burnt" or ascent offering is located immediately upon entry of the court through the "gate".  Here we have a holiness of reconciliation, i.e., of hope, as­surance, anticipation of a yet-to-be-completed salvation.  Hence we call this the Court Of Reconciliation.

 

If we as carnal Christians seek to grow in Christ unto royal priesthood, however, we must reckon our flesh crucified with Christ (Romans 6)  - the only way the flesh can be "cleansed" or sanctified.  This is typified by the priests washing their own hands and feet at the laver, a large basin or reservoir of water located further in the court before the "tent of the meeting".  The obvious type is that of water baptism.  The shape and size of the laver was not specified in Exodus:  there is no set "pattern" for Christian water baptism; only the requirement is that we submit to it as a watery grave of burial of our self-nature and from which we rise in resurrection to life in  Christ.  (Since Solomon's  temple laver was known  to be rectangular, we show that here.)

 

3.  Tent Of The Meeting

 

The "building" or "tent of the meeting" located further in the court, was of very substantial construction.  Its North, West and South walls were formed out of upright boards or planks of dimen­sion ¼ cubit thick, 1-½ cubit wide, and 10 cubits high (that's approximately ½ foot thick, ½ yard wide, and 20 feet tall)!  Hence the outer dimensions of the construction were 10 cubits in width by 30 cubits in length by 10 cubits in height.  The total number of boards was 48, all alike, each set in a socket of silver (that again typifies our atonement by Christ on Calvary).  The boards again were made out of "shittim wood", but here with two addition­al details:  (1) sawed and planned and worked smooth (in type, we having been purified by the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus as our sanctifier);  and (2) overlaid with Gold (typifying the preciousness of Christ).

 

This awesome wall of boards was covered by a total of four cur­tains or coverings, that also formed the ceiling/roof of the tabernacle.  The innermost part (the part of the structure called the "tabernacle") was seen only by the priests who entered.  It was of linen, with patterns of blue, purple and scarlet;  linen typifies the righteousness of Christ, and the colors typify both the divinity (blue) and humanity (scarlet) of Christ blended (purple) into One.  Taches of gold (typifying the preciousness of Christ) joined the sections of this curtain together.  It was draped 1 cubit down from the top in the Eastern or "door" end;  on all other sides it hung down to within 1 cubit of the ground (i.e., within reach of but never actually touching those of earth).

 

The next layer, completely covering and overhanging this inner "tabernacle" layer, was of "goat hair" (actually fine-textured leather of goat skin).  It was called the "tent".  It typifies Christ as our "scapegoat".  Christ's righteousness and our refuge in Him is completely hidden from view except to those who first accept His sin-forgiveness and atonement.

 

The third and outermost layers (simply called "coverings") were for protection only.  The third was of ram's skins dyed red, typifying the outward aspect of the affliction and sorrow of Christ on the cross as seen by men.  The fourth or outermost layer was of "badger's skin" (the Hebrew word ThChSh actually means "hasten; come quickly", that typifies how all should come to the Temple of Christ, and also how our Lord will return when the last trump sounds.)

 

The entry into the "tent of the meeting", called the "door" or "curtain", consisted of 5 pillars set in sockets of brass (judg­ment) with tops of Gold (purity and preciousness of Christ).  Hung on these pillars was another curtain, of the same material and colors as the tabernacle curtain and veil, but without intricate embroidery in its patterns.

 

Two-thirds of the way back in this "tent of the meeting" was a vertical curtain, called the "veil", that totally separated the area into two "rooms".  This veil was of the same material (linen with patterns in blue, purple and scarlet) as the innermost cur­tain or "tabernacle".

 

The floor of the "tent of the meeting" was bare desert dirt.  Compared with the beauty of God's dwelling place (i.e., the Body of Christ), the world (earth) is utterly barren.

 

Of note is comparison of the cross-sectional areas of the gate into the court, this door or curtain, and the veil:  all three were 100 square cubits, typifying the perfection of Christ.  The same Christ is our entry into each stage of holiness.  But whereas the gate into the court was low (5 cubits high) and wide (20 cubits), both the door or curtain and the veil were high (10 cubits) and narrow (10 cubits).  Jesus said:  "Enter by the narrow gate;  for the ... way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small [pressured] and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

 

4.  Holy Place

 

Inside the first "room" of the "tent of the meeting", there were three items or articles of "furniture: a candelabra or lampstand, a table of "shewbread" (the actual Hebrew means "bread of faces"), and an altar of incense.  The lampstand provided light night and day by burning of oil, and it typifies the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus being manifested through us.  The table of shew­bread was a display of twelve loaves, typifying our "meat" and our "consecration" offerings of ministries of servanthood.  The altar of incense was used to provide a pleasant aroma (our thoughts and praises and prayers and intercessions unto God).  The orientation and position of the altar of incense was not given; here we show it central to the Holy Place because most attention was given to it by the priests.

 

The door was entered daily by all of the tabernacle priests, not just the High Priest.  Entry typifies the Baptism into the Holy Spirit, for the only light inside was that provided by the lamp­stand that typifies the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus manifested through us.  Hence, those priests who entered typify the soulical Christian of our second general stage of sanctifica­tion.  The soulical Christian, having accepted Christ now as sanctifier, now experiences partaking of Christ, both directly and through other believers.  The three items or articles of furniture denote that.  And the emphasis is in holiness and righteousness in our interpersonal relationships, in our behavior, in our life-styles.

 

5.  Holy Of Holies

 

A veil, with four pillars, separated the Holy Place from a smaller "room" called the Holy of Holies.  These four pillars typify the four views of Christ presented to us in the four Gospels:  saviour and judge, servant-bearer, man (our high priest), and divine (Son of God).  These pillars, like the boards, were also of highly finished "shittim wood", set in sockets of silver, with hooks of gold to hold the veil.

 

Behind this veil was a strange item, called the "Ark of the Coven­ant".  This was a box (made of "shittim wood" overlaid inside and out with gold), containing three items, and having a "lid" with two cherubim wrought in gold facing each other.  The items within the box were:  (1) a sample of the manna during the 40 years of wilderness wanderings of the Israelites;  (2) the two tablets of Law that Moses received (the second time) from God on Mount Sinai;  and (3) Aaron's almond rod that budded (Numbers 17:1-11).

 

All of this denotes the Presence of God among His people in a very specific way:  God as giver of His Covenant of atonement.  The Ark always contained the tablets of the Law, but only until Solomon's temple did it also contain Aaron's rod and a sample of manna.  Manna typifies Christ as our bread of life, and of His provision of our needs;  Aaron's rod that budded typifies our fruitfulness in ministry when it is Christ in us doing it; and the tablets of law typify God writing His law on our hearts.

 

The lid of gold cherubim, often called "mercy seat" (the Hebrew of which really means "propitiatory cover") typifies our total encom­passment in Christ. It means to cover, not to hide from view necessarily, but to render ineffec­tive.  All of this then typifies Christ in us rendering ineffec­tive the written law for us, He in us being our law, and also our self-struggles to obtain our provisions and to minister unto others, He in us doing all of these things.

 

6.  Tabernacle Types Of Ministry In The Body Of Christ

 

We continue to illustrate the types of the Tabernacle In The Wilderness in the second chart.

 

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Only the High Priest could enter behind the veil, and then only on one certain day of the year, the Day of Atonement (tenth of Tish­ri).  He typifies our entering into the very presence of God, but only after we have been purged through sanctification enough to withstand His awesome holiness.  If we as soulical Christians seek with our entire hearts to fellowship with God through Christ, then our soul powers (mind, emotions, will) must totally yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus.

 

 

Our Stages In Sanctification

As Illustrated In The

Tabernacle In The Wilderness


 

 

 

Three “Types” Of

      Believer      

CARNAL

[SARKIKOS]

SOULICAL

[PSUCHIKOS]

SPIRITUAL

[PNEUMATIKOS]

Area In Tabernacle:

Courtyard

Holy Place

Holy Of Holies

 

Stages Of Holiness

 

Hope

Assurance And

Reconciliation

Domicility

Righteousness

In Life-Style

Christ’s Divine

Presence

In Us

Christ As Entrance

100 Square Cubits

Gate

5 High, 20 Wide

Curtain

10 High, 10 Wide

Veil

10 High, 10 Wide

Light On Ministries

Natural

Artificial

Divine

Who Ministers

Men Alone

(Priests)

Men Plus

Holy Spirit

God Alone

Who Is Served By

        That Ministry

All Israel

(By Priests)

Priests

(By High Priest)

High Priest

(By God)

Seals Or Signets              On High Priest

Breast Plate

(Over His Heart)

Onyx Stones

(On Shoulders)

Gold Plate

(On Forehead)

Designating:

All Tribes

Loved By God

All Tribes

Borne By God

All Tribes

Holy Unto Lord

 


But until the veil was rent in twain from top to bottom on the completion of Christ's sacrifice and death on the Cross (Matthew 27:50-51), men could not on their own fulfill their part of the Old Covenant Law.  Hence, the Law had to be kept covered in the Ark and the Ark virtually inaccessible to the rank-and-file, lest they perished under those Old Testament Law terms.  But now, under the New Covenant of Grace, that

Old Testament Law has been ren­dered ineffective by the Presence of Christ Himself, and we have free access to God!  Hebrews 10:19-22 says it this way:


 

"Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience...."

 


Note here that although the veil typifies Christ on Calvary, it does not refer to basic salvation, i.e., to the forgiveness of our sins;  entering the gate of the courtyard and offering Christ as an ILH or "ascent offering" at the altar typifies that.  On Calv­ary afternoon, the veil was rent in two from top to bottom after Christ had died.  The veil being torn rather goes far beyond our forgiveness of sin;  it signifies our free access to intimate fellowship with God in Christ Jesus by virtue of the inner work­ings in our hearts by the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus.

 

Who ministers to whom in the three areas is also highly illustra­tive.

 

In the Court of Reconciliation, men (the priests of the Tribe of Levi) minister to all others of Israel, and minister according to Law (i.e., apparently without the anointing and presence of the Holy Spirit of Christ).  This is the place of ministry to those of the carnal stage of sanctification.

 

In the Holy Place, the High Priest (typifying Christ) ministers to the other priests (servants of His), and the priests minister to one another, as anointed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  This involves ministry of a mixture of God and man as Varner[3] suggests.  In the Holy of Holies, God does all ministering, and only to the High Priest (i.e., once each year on the Day of Atonement).  Now in the New Covenant, however, we (all believers) have the invitation to go through the (torn) veil directly into the Holy of Holies, to be ministered to directly by Christ Himself.

 

The two corner boards in the NW and SW corners were twinned, i.e. each were actually two boards tightly fitted together.  Exodus 26:23-24 and 36:29 in the Hebrew means "And they shall be twinned beneath, and together they shall be aligned upon its head to the same ring."  For the key "corner" ministries with most respon­sibility, Christ pairs or twins two believers into such unity they act as one!  For example, Paul and either Barnabas or Mark or Luke, Peter and John, etc.

 

The boards were held in place by horizontal bars, also of highly worked "shittim wood".  No specifications were given on the size of these bars, but they are also matured members of the Body of Christ, set in linking and strengthening and edifying and coordi­nating ministries such as teacher, prophet, intercessor, encourag­er, exhorter, etc.

 

7.  Some Other Types

 

Several other interesting types which parallel our three general stages of sanctification also follow.  Hebrews Chapters 9 and 10 are rich sources.  For example, the light, which typifies our source of understanding of what we're doing in our personal relationships with Christ (Ephesians 1:18-19), differs in each of the three areas of the Tabernacle.  In the court of Reconciliation only natural light existed.  Here we seek Christ and experience water baptism by the mental understandings we have acquired by hearing and reading the Word.  In the Holy Place, the light came from the burning of oil in the lampstand.  This typi­fies understanding coming from our being anointed by the indwell­ing Holy Spirit Who is "burned" through us as we minister to others.  We call this light "artificial"  - it involves a mixture of both human knowledge and divine revelation.  In the Holy of Holies, the only light was from the divine presence of God (in Christ).  No human activity at all was involved in producing it.

 

The Old Testament priests wore special garments while serving.  Our garments typify that with which we intimately cover our true selves, as appearing to others:  our attitudes that we convey, exude, make manifest to others;  our countenance.  That is, our garments identify what we are to others, including to God.  They are closely linked to the Hebrew concept KPhR, often translated "propitiation" and "atonement", but that has the meaning of "covering in order to render powerless and ineffectual".  So, our true self-attitudes must be rendered of none effect, and be re­placed by Christ-attitudes, in order for us to flow in both forms of ministry.

 

It is the inner-court (Holy Place and Holy of Holines) ministry garments (our countenance) that is the issue of our peace offering: sanctification unto Christ, righteousness as Christ, humility of Christ, waiting upon Christ[4], and worship unto Christ.  They are garments of peace and rest (no sweat);  i.e., totally without struggle in the flesh.  They are garments of total trust in and dependence upon Christ; they are garments in which we offer our "best parts" (fat) and "life" (blood); and they are garments of simply enjoying Him in His fullness.

 

It is the outer-court (Court of Reconciliation) ministry garments (our countenance) that is the issue of our "ascent" and "meat" offerings.  These are garments of walking in faith, aggressiveness in prayer and warfare, anoint­ed proclamation of God's word, and Agape love to people.  But we must first flow in inner-court ministries as a prerequisite for outer court ministries!

 

Note some aspects of the High Priest's inner court ministry garments.  On his chest close to his heart, he wore a breast-plate which includ­ed stones representing each tribe of Israel.  This typifies Christ's love for "all whosoever ..."  On his shoulders (that typify load-carrying or burden-bearing) he wore two Onyx ( meaning "those; their name/reputation") stones with all tribes' names engraved.  This typifies Christ representing all of us believers.  “Shoulders” also denotes lifting up in  intercessory prayer before God (and we do likewise for others).  But on his forehead (typifying his mind), only "Holiness unto the Lord" was present.  This teaches us how Christ alone should be ever central to our thinking, motivations, pray­ers, praise and worship!

 

There is tremendous power to our prayers, providing we first minister unto Christ in the inner court, in peace and adoration, as we offer ourselves as a ShLM unto Him.  Prayer is first ascer­taining what the perfect will of our Lord Christ Jesus is in and for specific situations, and then in our thoughts and actions indicating our identification with that Will and our willingness to flow in oneness with Him.  It is in the inner court with Him that we first ascertain His will, that we pray accordingly "in His Name".

 

But the necessity of inner-court ministries unto Christ, as a prerequisite to effective outer-court ministries unto people, cannot be overstated.  Praise is essential to the release of our faith unto victories through prayer.  This is because the power for victory requires our appropriating the glory of God.  Ever-increasing approximation to God in character, glory, and love, require our spending time with Him in praise and worship.  For praise and worship decentralize self, shift the center of our thoughts from self to Him, and dispel self-pity, defenses, hostil­ity, and all negative spiritual power that our thoughts radiate to hinder God's purposes.



[1]1  There were several different definitions of the cubit in use in ancient times.  The cubit used here was approximately 25 inches. It is remarkably close to 1.0x10-7 times the earth's polar radius.  The "English" foot was originally ½ cubit.

[2]2  That was the only geographic location in Jerusalem area which satisfied all these requirements, plus being the only place where the centurion, at the foot  of the cross, could visibly see the veil being torn, over half a mile to the west (Luke 23:44-47).

[3]3  Varner, Kelley, Unshakable Peace - The Life and Times of Haggai the Prophet, (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 1994), p. 195.  Copyright © 1994 by Kelley Varner.

[4]4    In Isaiah 40:31, "wait on the Lord" in the Hebrew means "to entwine one's life with the Lord".