Exodus 25:8–9 (NKJV) — 8 …Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.
Introduction: God dwells in a sanctuary and a tabernacle. The former is a place of holiness and the latter a dwelling place – where God chose to dwell among His people. When we read about the tabernacle and its furnishings, we must remember that it was designed by God – the only building ever designed by God. That gives this build great significance; more so than any man-made structure.
We should know that if God included all this information about the Tabernacle, then it must be important. We should also know that all of the information does not come with the explanation we sometimes desire. Since this is true, then we should be careful not to make the Bible say what it doesn’t say.
We do not know why God chose the metals He chose to construct the furniture and why He chose the colors He chose for the materials that made up the tent. One commentator explained, “The ark was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold within and without. Wood speaks of [Christ’s] incorruptible humanity, and gold His Divinity. Two materials, yet one ark; two natures yet one person, the God-Man.” (Example cited by Ryken – not supported by him)
In my humanness I like that interpretation. The only problem is that it is so arbitrary. I’m imposing upon the text what I want it to say. Here’s the thing: It is true that Jesus is the God-Man (two natures and one person), but that’s not taught by the composition of the Ark.
So, how is that we relate the Tabernacle with Jesus? One way is to read our New Testaments. The Tabernacle is a shadow of heavenly things (Heb 8.5). It was symbolic …of the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation (Heb 9.9, 11).
A second way is know how the Tabernacle functioned in Moses’ day. The text tells us that God would show Moses the pattern of the tabernacle and its furnishings. Accordingly, Moses and the people were to construct the tabernacle just so. The tabernacle and its furnishings teach us much about God and His Son. John 1.14 states that Jesus Christ, the Word, became flesh and dwelt among us. He dwelt or literally pitched His tent among John and the people of his day.
Jesus tabernacled among men. Israel found access to God through the tabernacle; today, believers find access to God through Christ, the Tabernacle of God. Since the Spirit of Christ dwells in us, we have become the tabernacles of God. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Cor 6.19).
Transition: Exodus 25.10-40 provides the pattern for building three pieces of furniture within the tabernacle: The Ark of the Covenant, the Table of the Showbread, and the Golden Lampstand. From each of these, we understand more clearly what Christ accomplished for us…
The Ark of the Covenant (25.10-22)
Exodus 25:10–22 (NKJV) — 10 And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and shall make on it a molding of gold all around. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side. 13 And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 14 You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them. 15 The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you. 17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. 20 And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. 21 You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. 22 And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.
There are four elements connected with the Ark’s construction that point to God’s power, holiness, and sovereignty. However, God still desired this sanctuary to be a place where He would meet with His people.
1. Rings – The rings demonstrated that the point of contact was strictly limited. God would have Israel carry the ark just so. One day Israel under King David’s leadership would forget this important detail in the Word of God (see 2 Samuel 6).
2. Cherubim – These angels represent the holiness of God. Psalm 99.1 states, “The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim.” Lucifer (Satan) was the anointed cherub who covered (Ezek 28.14). God created Him; He dwelt upon the holy mountain of God, walking back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. The position and privilege of these angels is great.
3. Commandments – The Testimony refers to the commands written by the finger of God upon stone tablets. They became the basis of God’s covenant with His people. This covenant would be broken repeatedly; therefore, the commands separated the people and became a tool of their condemnation.
4. Mercy Seat – This is where God meets man – in the sanctuary because of the mercy seat. It is the seat of God’s forgiveness and cleansing. The Greek version of the OT (LXX) uses the word hilasterion for mercy seat. 1 John 2.2 uses a form of this word for our English word propitiation (hilasmos) in referring to Jesus Christ. “The mercy seat was for the Israelites temporarily what Jesus Christ is for all people permanently: the place where God found satisfaction” (Constable).
The Day of Atonement was marked by sacrifice and the sprinkling of blood upon the top of the Ark – the cover. This atonement was necessary in order to turn aside the wrath of God for violating His Law. God looked upon the blood and forgave the sin of the people. Thus, the ceremony became an instrument of reconciliation (at-one-met; Tyndalism along with Shewbread later).
The blood sacrifice was absolutely necessary (see Heb 9.22; 9.11-12). “According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission …Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
Christ provides the greater spiritual tabernacle not made with human hands; not of this creation. God cannot be approached in any other way. His sanctuary in Heaven cannot be violated by sinful man. Jesus said that one must be perfect to enter this tabernacle, but none of us are. We need Him to be our propitiation. God made it just so! He is approached accordingly! To obscure the clear picture of who God is with sensual, base forms of worship is akin to carrying the ark with a new cart.
God is looking for new innovations in worship; these detract from His holiness. But rather, God wants us to understand who He is and what He has done in sending Jesus to be the atonement for our sins. That is when we may draw near because God made it just so!
Transition: The Ark of the Covenant reminds us of our need for mercy to draw near to God. It points to Christ as all these articles do. Now look at the second piece of furniture…
The Table for the Showbread (25.23-30)
Exodus 25:23–30 (NKJV) — 23 You shall also make a table of acacia wood; two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its width, and a cubit and a half its height. 24 And you shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold all around. 25 You shall make for it a frame of a handbreadth all around, and you shall make a gold molding for the frame all around. 26 And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings on the four corners that are at its four legs. 27 The rings shall be close to the frame, as holders for the poles to bear the table. 28 And you shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be carried with them. 29 You shall make its dishes, its pans, its pitchers, and its bowls for pouring. You shall make them of pure gold. 30 And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.
The Table for Showbread had similarities with the Ark:
· Made of acacia wood and covered with Gold
· Crowned with molding
· Rings and poles for carrying
The bread remained before the Lord always in that fresh bread was baked each Friday. On the Sabbath the priests ate the old bread and set the new bread on the table. The bread was round and unlike what we think of when we say, ‘loaf of bread’.
The table was important because it became the setting for the bread of the Presence. The table was made to hold the bread.
Bread was a basic staple for Israel. Undoubtedly, there were twelve loaves because there were twelve tribes. Certainly, the bread was a reminder of God’s presence and provision for Israel. It was showbread in the sense that it showed God what Israel needed and showed Israel that God could provide it.
The act of eating a meal in this culture signified intimacy and fellowship. “The host undertook solemn responsibility to serve and protect his guest while they enjoyed the meal. Thus God invites Israel to share a meal with Him and enjoy His protection” (Vern Poythress quoted in Ryken).
That the bread speaks of Christ cannot be doubted. Jesus is called the Bread of Life. God knows what we need; we must trust Him to provide it. Whether the needs are physical or spiritual, we must look to the Bread of Life for the sustenance that we need. Moses taught that God humbled Israel, allowed them to hunger, and fed them with manna …that He might make them know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD (Deut 8.3).
Jesus said to His would-be disciples: “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world …I am the Bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst …I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John 6.32-33, 35, 51).
They blanched, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” Many of these so-called disciples ended up leaving Jesus and never returned and walked with Him again. Then Jesus asked the twelve a penetrating question, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter answered for them: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Transition: The Ark illustrates how sinful man reaches a holy God. The Showbread pictures all we need is found in Christ alone. He is sufficient to feed us physically and spiritually. Finally, notice the third piece of furniture…
The Golden Lampstand (25.31-40)
Exodus 25:31–40 (NKJV) — 31 “You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. 32 And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side. 33 Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower—and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand. 34 On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower. 35 And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand. 36 Their knobs and their branches shall be of one piece; all of it shall be one hammered piece of pure gold. 37 You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it. 38 And its wick-trimmers and their trays shall be of pure gold. 39 It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils. 40 And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.
Judging from the fact that the Tabernacle was covered with a lot of material, it must have been quite dark underneath. The golden lampstand solved this problem. When trying to figure out what the lampstand looked like, we may have a bit of a problem. Not all the measurements are cited. To get an idea of what it resembled, you need only think of a modern menorah. That gives you a good idea of what the lampstand looked like.
All of it was hammered from a 75 pound talent of Gold. A central shaft broadened out to a base; flanked on each side by three branches for a total of seven lights in all. One commentator said that it may have stood five feet tall (Ryken). A flower-cup held each of the seven lamps.
While the lampstand provided practical light for the priests, it also taught that in the presence of the Lord there was light. He is the Light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1.5). The Lord is my Light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27.1)
But along with light, there is also life. This is represented by the figure of the almond tree blossoms. It reminds us that In Jesus “was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1.4). Remember that the lampstand was fashioned in the form of a stylized plant or tree – connoting life and fertility.
There have been times that I’ve gone home and the house is dark. Everyone is in bed and no lights were left on. I’d rather return to a home that has at least one light on for me. God made is so that there was always a light on in His tabernacle – the place where Israel came home.
As Wesley writes in the Christmas hymn: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, “Life and Light to all He brings.”
Jesus is the Life
John 6:47 (NKJV) — 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
John 10:10b (NKJV) — 10b …I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
John 17:3 (NKJV) — 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
John 17:3 (NKJV) — 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Jesus is the Light
Isaiah 9:2 (NKJV) — 2 The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.
Isaiah 49:6b (NKJV) — 6b …I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.
John 1:9 (NKJV) — 9 Jesus is “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.”
John 9:5 (NKJV) — 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
Jesus is the life and the light because we are dead and dark. But now that we are children of light, we walk as light in a sin-darkened world! Jesus Christ shines through us so that He may call His followers out of the darkness and into the light!
Jesus said that we are the light of the world. He said that we should let our light shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven. The world has no light other than the ne we hold before them. Christ shining in and through us!
Conclusion: There is no need for the sun or moon in Heaven. Why? The Lamb of God is the Light of God illuminating it. The Ark of the Covenant reminds us of the mercy of God found in the blood of Christ. The Table for the Showbread reminds us of the physical and spiritual sustenance found in Christ alone. We must feed on Him! The Golden Lampstand points to the Light and Life found in Christ alone!
Hymn: Hark! The Herald Angels Sings (93)