The Symbolism of the Tabernacle

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I am always a little sad when I hear people talk about Old Testament law as something to be avoided. I know there are those who avoid reading Exodus-Deuteronomy because they find it tedious and stifling with all its minute details and repetition.

I’m a little saddened by that because they are missing out on all the exciting stuff!

There is so much symbolism hidden in these books, that it really does strip away all the stifling nature and leaves you in awe of God’s incredible creativity. But more than that…you see how history had to have been planned by God, because how else could you see such clear pictures of Jesus in small details.

For example:

Exodus 26-40: The temple.

I have always found these chapters so incredibly boring.

There are so many little details that you can’t help marveling at how detail-oriented God really is. And it occurred to me as I read these chapters over the past two weeks that God must care about the little circumstances of our lives, if He could give such attention to the type of thread that was used to make the temple curtains.

But what I was struck by most was how much symbolism we see in the Tabernacle.

 

For example:  Exodus 26-40: The temple.  I have always found these chapters so incredibly boring.  There are so many little details that you can't help marveling at how detail-oriented God really is. And it occurred to me as I read these chapters over the past two weeks that God must care about the little circumstances of our lives, if He could give such attention to the type of thread that was used to make the temple curtains.  But what I was struck by most was how much symbolism we see in the Tabernacle.

 

The Symbolism of the Tabernacle

Around the temple was a courtyard where the people gathered. They were not allowed inside the Tabernacle, because that was reserved for the priests who wore special garments. God was very specific about this.

The Israelites had rejected God at the mountain and requested that God not speak directly to them. I contend that had they not rejected God, the Tabernacle would have looked much different!

As the priests entered the Tabernacle, they were first greeted with the  altar of sacrifice. On this altar they brought the animal and grain sacrifices – this is important to know because there is a second altar that has a completely different purpose. After that, there was a Laver that was filled with water so they could wash themselves before entering the holy place. There was a “holy place” and then the “most holy place” where only the High Priest could enter.

Beyond the laver was a curtain that led into the holy place where on one side there was the table of showbread, on which were 12 loaves of bread representing the 12 tribes of Israel. This bread was to remain in God’s presence and only be eaten in His presence.

Opposite that was the golden lampstand that was to never go out.

And then just before the second curtain was the altar of incense. On this altar they were never to offer sacrifices or burn anything other than the special incense – a recipe that God had given to them.

Beyond that curtain was the Ark of Covenant that held the 10 Commandments, a jar of manna and Aaron’s staff that had budded. God dwelt in the Ark. The Ark literally contained the very presence of  Almighty God.

 

[Tweet “But Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection changed all of this!”]

When Jesus’ died, the curtain was torn in two, opening the way for mankind to freely enter God’s presence! No longer was The Most Holy Place reserved for the High Priest only, all could freely enter because Jesus – by this single act – fulfilled the temple!

His blood offered the sacrifice for sin. No longer do we have to sacrifice animals on an altar to cover our sin, no longer do we have to bring sacrifices of thanks or literally offer our first fruits. Our relationship with God is personal – He is our friend. His blood has literally removed our sin opening the door to a personal relationship with Him as a friend talks with a friend.

His Word daily washes us, as we read and meditate on it.  And as we daily feast on the bread of life, we have fellowship with Him in His presence.

The Holy Spirit that filled our hearts on the day of salvation brings light to our hearts and lives as a testimony of His presence that is ever transforming us into His likeness. And our worship and fellowship is sweet incense to the Father!

We literally become holy, as He makes us holy. God’s presence that dwells in us literally makes us holy.

Not by what we do or don’t do. We are made righteous and holy by the blood of Jesus that grants us full and complete access to the Father! We are accepted in the beloved and are made holy by His blood!

 

As I read Exodus 35-40 this week, I was astounded by what I saw. In what for many are mundane verses, I saw something so living and deep that it has transformed my prayer life. It has completely altered how I look at my relationship with Christ.

 

This post is part of the Blogging Through the Bible series. Check out these other great posts from Genesis
Becoming a Godly Wife
Rosilind
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4 Comments

  1. I have to say that I completely agree that there’s so much “exciting stuff” in the Old Testament. It’s often buried a bit beneath some layers of details, symbolic language, and hard-to-pronounce names. It takes some digging…some pondering…and perhaps even a bit of background study. But it’s so worth it as we uncover the priceless nuggets below the surface. Thank you for this lesson about the tabernacle, and for linking up with us at Grace & Truth.

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