The Judeo-Christian Scriptures devote a great deal of space to the description of the Tabernacle. We see in Exodus 25-40 and the Book of Leviticus detailed descriptions of the Tabernacle’s structure, priesthood, furniture, and offerings. There are at least 7 references in the Bible to God’s solemn charge to Moses that he should make all things according to the “pattern”, which was shown to him on Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:9,40; 26:30; 27:8; Numbers 8:4; Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5). Why this emphasis?
I think that there are 3 main reasons. First of all, the Israelites needed to learn that they just couldn’t approach God in any way they pleased. God is holy (Exodus 19:10-25) and His people must concecrate themselves, and God must make atonement for their sins if they are to have fellowship with God. The last two reasons for the exacting descriptions of the Tabernacle are because of its symbolic and typical significance. Note the following chart from Baxter’s “Explore the Bible in One Volume”:
There is also a remarkable parallel which exists between the Tabernacle furniture and the Gospel of John. John is being like a tour guide, leading us in the same order as found in the Tabernacle. He is leading us to the great spiritual realities which the seven articles of furniture in the Tabernacle typified.
- Brazen Altar – Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36)
- Brazen Laver – I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5)
- Table of Showbread – Jesus is the Living Bread from Heaven. (John 6:33, 35)
- Candlestand – Jesus is the Light of the World. (John 8:12; 9:5)
- Altar of Incense/Prayer – Fragrant Prayers in the Name of Jesus (John 14-16)
- The Ark – We’re taken through the veil into the Holy of Holies to glimpse Jesus’ High Priestly ministry. (John 17; Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34)
- Mercy Seat and Shekinah – Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them. (John 20:22) The very life of God becomes imparted to the blood-bought believers by the Holy Spirit.
J. Sidlow Baxter writes: “How wonderful is all the correspondence of order between the long-ago Tabernacle in the wilderness and John’s new pen-and-ink of testimony!”
This is no accident, instead, it is by divine design. Let us give thanks to God for our wonderful Saviour, Jesus, in whom we have all these 7 Divine provisions – from the altar of Atonement to the Holy Spirit Shekinah! This is the good news of Jesus, Pastor John.