Monday, March 30, 2009

The Tabernacle in the Wilderness

For millenniums people have bowed the knee in worship to non-existent gods, to idols, to images. Regretfully, we who “serve” the only True God seem to have forgotten that He is to be the sole object of our worship. We allow ourselves to become involved with a multitude of church activities, but that does not exempt us from our furthermost purpose. And that is to enter into an attitude of worshiptoward the God who made us for Himself and for His own good pleasure. Some say, “Well, we’ll have plenty of time for all that when we get to heaven!” Understand, God could have created us as some sort of celestial beings to do His biding. But no, we are finite creatures who have been equipped with a will,that we might choose to worship Him: though sometimes our fellowship be found in suffering. But how many of us would dare to say as Paul, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and thefellowship of His sufferings?” Phil 3:10. This earth is to be the proving ground for faith, for worship. We are not clones; we are the workmanship of God, whom He has purposed to make His sons!

Where are the Davids who will cry: “O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: When I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches. Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after Thee: Thy right hand upholdeth me” Psalm 63:1-8.

If we would enter into a spirit of worship then let us allow the Spirit of Worship to enter us, to reveal Him who is “altogether lovely!” Song of Solomon 5:16.

It never ceases to astound me that men would choose rather to believe some of the unsubstantiated teachings of others than to believe the record that God Himself has given in His Word. We shall endeavor to present some classic examples in this study.

From the very beginning the Tabernacle was known to be in the realm of the supernatural, and Divinely so. Moses was upon Mount Sinai by Divine appointment for forty days and nights. The glory of God covered the mountain. “And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel” Ex. 24:17.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering” Ex. 25:1,2. But God Himself had purposed an offering that He would make: “For God so loved the world that He [willing gave with His heart] His only begotten Son” John 3:16a.

And here was the purpose of the offerings: “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” vs. 8. But God would provide His own Tabernacle for a dwelling place: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” John 1:14.

The design and building of the Tabernacle was totally of Divine planning: “According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the Tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it” vs. 9. “The pattern that God gave to Moses only prefigured the Tabernacle that He Himself would “build”: “the first tabernacle was yet standing: which was a figure for the time then present. . .But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect Tabernacle,not made with hands” Heb. 9:8b,9a,11. Here the scriptures clearly identify the Tabernacle in the wilderness as a pattern for He which should follow; that the Son of God should condescend from the portals of glory; that God might tabernacle among men in this wilderness of sin called earth.

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a young virgin, a believer, when He would tabernacle among men: “Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. . .The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and thepower of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” Luke l:31,32a,35. (The Highest, Jehovah-Elyon- supreme God, possessor of heaven and earth.)

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” John 1:14.

Isaiah chapter fifty-three begins with a question: “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Surely none would deny that the chapter speaks of the Lord Jesus; of His suffering and death on the cross. The second verse says, “For He [Christ] shall grow up before Him[God the Father] as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground.” From this we should understand the chapter beginning with the birth of Christ. This sheds much light on verse one.

“Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” For starters, the report is this: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:10,11. “To Whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” “To shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” It is to “wise men from the east. . .saying, Where is He that is born king of the Jews?” Matt. 2:1,2. The testimony of the shepherds: “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, [fulfillment of prophesy] which The Lord hath made known unto us” Luke 2:15. Now the angel said, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” The good news was presented to a few but is to be known by all people! And what shall they do with it? “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” Luke 2:17.

What about the “arm” of the Lord in Isaiah 53:1? It is defined as: help, might, power. It is to sow, plant, conceive seed. The discerning mind should recognize this two-fold definition to reveal Jesus as the God/man. The might and power of the Eternal God sowed, planted, conceived seed in the womb of a believing servant, a virgin named Mary!

The call to build a Tabernacle

While in Egypt, the lives of the children of Israel were made “bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field” Ex. 1:14. This hardly qualified any for the task that God had in mind - and in the middle of the wilderness, to boot! One might train for many years in a single specialized field and yet not attain an excellence or superior degree of expertise. What shall these “unlearned” people do?

Shall God commission any of His servants to a work and not be able to put the means and the abilities needed upon them?

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Un, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship” Exodus 31:1-5. Though it be overlooked by many as not very important, yet may this be seen as a notable miracle! It certainly qualifies as gifts of the Spirit as defined in I Corinthians chapter twelve! This fellow was from the tribe of Judah, called, filled with the Spirit, had not a few, but seemingly all the gifts of the Spirit to perform the building of the Tabernacle where God would dwell among men. Almost sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it!

Here are the materials that would make up the Tabernacle and its furnishings: “gold, and silver, and brass, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goat’s hair, and ram’s skins dyed red, and badger’s skins, and shittim wood, Oil for the light, spices, for annointing oil, and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate” Exodus 25:3-7. And these are listed in a specific order, as we shall see as we continue into this brief study of the scriptures.

“And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it” Ex. 25:10,11. This is a bit unusual according to our way of thinking! Who would build a house from the inside out, first making the inner furnishings? What! Buy furniture first and then build the structure around it? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” Isaiah 55:8.

Shittim wood. It was the basic structure of the Tabernacle. But first it would be used to make an ark.Being overlaid with gold inside and out, the wood was not visible to the eye. The Spirit of God overlaid a virgin-born baby with Himself, inside and out; the wood portraying His humanity. But this scene was visible only to he who was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place. We saw Him, the Tabernacle, from theoutside: “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” “and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised and we esteemed Him not”Isa.53:2a,3b. But now may we “come boldly to the throne of grace” by faith, where we “see Him.” “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious” I Peter 1:7.

And just how does the shittim wood compare to the humanity of our Lord Jesus? For starters, in its definition: Shittim, Heb. to pierce, to scourge. Need we be reminded of the scriptures which declare: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” John 19:34. Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged Him” John 19:1.

        The present day name is the Acacia tree. The Greek definition, imperishable. It is virtually unaffected by disease and insects. Does this not readily identify with our Lord? Do we not acknowledge Him as the perfect, holy, sinless Son of God of whom neither sin nor death nor the grave had any claim?

The Acacia tree grows in the desert and can survive in very dry soil. The bark is very gnarled and ugly. Again we see the parallel: “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” Isaiah 53:2.

The outward appearance of the bark is less than desirable, but not so the wood beneath. It is a smooth, fine grained hardwood. It is of such excellence that the Lord God would have it fashioned into the Ark of the Covenant which would abide in the Most Holy Place. As such, it portrays the excellences of the Lord Jesus as the Son of man. Again we quote, “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious” I Peter 2:7.

The Acacia has long pods, containers of much seed. Is Jesus to be seen here also? “His disciples came unto him, saying, declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, he that soweth the good seed is the Son of man” Matt. 13:36,37.

It has many long, sharp thorns protruding from its branches. This bears no difficulty to our understanding: “And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head” John 19:2.

The tree produces gum arabic. It is obtained by piercing the side of the tree; this is done at night. Gum Arabic is used in its raw state for many purposes, including medicinal. As a printer, I have used it for over forty years. In a day of high technology it remains the standard as the preservative and sealer for lithographic metal plates.

Let’s make the comparisons. “And it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour” Luke 23:44.

“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith there came out blood and water” John 19:34.

“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ” Jude 1. “Now He which stablished us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” II Cor. 1:21,22.

“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings” Mal. 4:2.

Returning to the subject of the ark, let us run a brief comparison with other scriptures.

Observe first of all its definition: Ark, Heb. arown, aron - in the sense of gathering; ark, chest.

“And the Lord said unto Noah, come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteousness before me in this generation. . .And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in” Gen. 7:1,16. None should deny that this ark is a picture of the Lord Jesus, our Ark.

In the account of Noah and the ark we are not told exactly what those rebellious unbelievers did when the rain and floods came, but we are given in the book of Luke a picture that may well parallel what happened.

“Then said one unto Him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And He said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. . .Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” Luke 13:23-25,27.

And there is a second ark.

“And there was a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river s brink” Ex. 2:1-3. Perhaps less familiar to some, yet little baby Moses in the ark likewise portrays the Lord Jesus.

There is yet another ark, though undiscerned unless we carefully compare scripture with scripture. Here we see another baby laid in an “ark.”

“To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. . .And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger” Luke 1:27, 2:7.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea. . .there came wise men from the east. . .saying where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east. . .the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” Matt. 2:1,2,9.

Here we give the briefest of comparisons: the cave or stable, a little tabernacle; the manger, a little ark; in which was laid the Lord Jesus, the Ark of the Covenant in a body of flesh. The Word of God [the unbroken tablets, the ten commandments], abundant life [Aaron’s rod that budded], the Bread from heaven [golden pot of manna]. This is in direct comparison with the Ark of the Covenant which was in the Most Holy Place. God the Father was above the Ark between the cherubims, His seat, a Mercy Seat. As the Tabernacle was Jehovah’s dwelling place in the midst of the camp of Israel, so does the scripture affirm to us that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself” II Cor. 5:19.

“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. . .And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys. . .For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys” Exodus 40:34,36,88.

The wise men or kings likewise followed a “star.” This Light led them to the “Tabernacle not made with hands,” the Lord Jesus. This Light “went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” Matt. 2:9. The significance may be discovered through the definition given us of “it came andstood over.” It is histem, Gr. “to abide, appoint, bring, covenant, establish.” Any one with a basic knowledge of astronomy knows that stars are fixed; they do not move or lead or stand. At least their movement appears so slight as to be undetectable. If indeed they did, the sextant used by mariners in years gone by would have been totally useless! But we are not left without understanding. Just what, or should we say, Who, was that Light?

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” Isa. 60:1-3. And here we have it: an Old Testament picture of Matthew chapter two! The Light, the glory of God stood over the Tabernacle which housed the Ark of the Covenant and led Israel. Is it not reasonable that it should now lead Gentiles to His Tabernacle not made with hands; to the Ark of the Covenant, who is none less than Christ Himself? Not only may we identify the kings, the wise men, but a further portrayal as found in the Revelation at the glorious return of Our Lord to conquer His foes and set up the everlasting kingdom. “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He [Christ, the Tabernacle of God] will dwell [tabernacle] with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” Rev. 21:3.

A few comments might be in order at this point concerning the Tabernacle. It was in the wilderness; it was a temporary structure; it had no permanent foundation. It had no permanent dwelling place: a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night abode over it. When it moved, Israel followed. It was erected by Moses, a prophet. When Jesus came, fulfilling the picture of the Tabernacle, it was to a wilderness. His Tabernacle was also temporary: “A body hast Thou prepared me” Heb. 10:5. It had no permanent foundation: Jesus came on a pilgrim journey; to die, to ascend back to heaven. It had no permanent dwelling place: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head” Matt. 8:20. Jesus came the first time as a prophet; He was the Tabernacle “not made with hands.”

Christ will come again to “tabernacle” with men! But this time it will not be on a pilgrimage. “The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” Luke 1:32,33. The Tabernacle was made from the elements of the earth, but the New Jerusalem will descend “from God out of heaven” Rev. 21:2. The Tabernacle had “no beauty that we should desire Him,” but the Holy City will be “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” Rev. 21:2. The Tabernacle was a temporary structure but the Temple was made to be permanent. In the New Jerusalem “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” Rev. 21:22. The tabernacle had no foundation. The New Jerusalem has twelve! The tabernacle had one door; the New Jerusalem has twelve gates! The Lord was over the Tabernacle; a cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night. Of the New Jerusalem: “there shall be no night there! Rev. 21:25. “the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light thereof” Rev. 21:23. The high priest alone could enter the Most Holy place once a year, But the gates of the Holy City “shall not be shut at all by day - and there’s “no night there!” Rev. 21:25. In the Tabernacle, in the Most Holy place, God dwelt on the Mercy Seat. To Moses He had said, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” Ex. 33:20. The throne of Mercy is become the throne of Grace: Of the New Jerusalem, “the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve Him; And they shall see His face!” Rev 22:3,4.

Was Noah and his family “gathered” into the ark? Remember the definition: arown, aron, ark, in the sense of gathering. Listen. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” Matt. 24:37. We focus on the judgment, but we’ve apparently overlooked something else that will happen here!

“The Lord shall descend. . .the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” I Thes. 4:16,17. Noah and his family were gathered into the Ark? Then we shall be gathered into Christ. . . and He is God’s Ark! We sing “There’s Room at the Cross for You.” Someone might well write a song, “There’s Room in the Ark for You!”

The ark typifies the person of Christ: the ark in which Noah and his family were delivered; the ark in which little Moses was preserved; the ark within the Most Holy Place. Were not the two tables of stone in which was written the law preserved within the ark? In fulfillment of this type our Lord speaks of Himself: “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, 0 my God: yethy law is within my heart” Psalm 40:7,8.

The ark speaks of the person of Christ and then His works: first, of who He is, and second, of what He has done.

“Today in evangelistic circles, the emphasis is placed on what the Savior has done for us, rather than on what He is in Himself. Scripture ever reverses that order. Note how in the typical ritual on the day of atonement, the high priest first entered the holy of holies with his hands full of sweet incense (Lev. 16:12), before he took in and sprinkled the blood (vs.14) God would first be reminded of the fragrant perfections of Christ’s person, ere that which spoke of his redemptive work was placed before him! Mark the order in the announcement of the Lord’s forerunner “Behold the Lamb of God” (first his person) which taketh away (second his work) the sin of the world” (John 1:29). So with the apostle Paul, “I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ (His person) and Him crucified” (His work)” (I Cor. 2:2).”

Arthur Pink

Ye are not under the law, but under Grace.

Where then is the law to be found?

It is inside the Ark of the Covenant.

It is under the Mercy Seat.

It is under the Blood.

It is safe; it is unbroken, and shall remain so.

If the breaking of the tablets of stone show

forth man’s disobedience in breaking the law,

shall not the obedience of One show forth the

fulfilling of the law; hence the preservation of

the second set of tablets of the law?

Where then is Grace to be found?

He is sitting between the Cherubims;

above the Mercy Seat.

Ought not the heart of man be found as the

residence of the God of all Grace?

Shall we not look for the day when our hearts

truly become as the Ark of the Covenant:

that they contain the unbroken law of God?

The Coverings of the Tabernacle

“And fine linen, goats’ hair, ram’s skin dyed red, badger’s skin” The “roof” of the Tabernacle was made up of these four coverings, the fine linen being the innermost.

“Thou shalt make the Tabernacle of ten curtains of fine twined linen” Ex. 26:1. It is fine linen. it is not just a covering for the Tabernacle; it is a very part of it. “Of fine linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet.” And what is the significance of the “Fine linen?” In Revelation 19:7-8 is the definition of the Spirit: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”

For further proof let us compare scripture with scripture: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. . .for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” Isa. 61:10.

“Of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet”

The embroidery in the veil and the first layer of covering over the tabernacle was in blue, and purple, and scarlet, always given in that order. The blue depicts the heavens. From heaven came the Word, the Light, the Life. The scarlet reveals, first, the humanity of the Savior. He is the “second or last Adam” whose name means red. Second, it is the color of sin: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” Isaiah 1:18. Also the word crimson is used as an alternate, as, “And he made the veil of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen” II Chron. 3:13. Third, it is the color of blood. “And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” I John 1:7. “And almost all things are by the law PURGED with blood; and without the shedding of blood is no remission” Heb. 9:22. Understand, we are cleansed, we are purged from sin, and that “through the blood of the everlasting covenant” Heb. 13:20. Notice, it is by the law! The everlasting covenant is a legal, lawful, binding contract between God and Himself. He gave the offering Himself. He was (in the Person of His dear Son) the offering. He presented it to Himself. And He Himself accepted the offering! “Salvation is of the Lord!” Jonah 2:9.

Blue reveals the Deity of Christ; scarlet, His humanity, and purple shouts aloud that this God/man is King of kings and Lord of lords! We look therefore unto that day of blessing when He shall rule Heaven and earth!

Colors play an important part in the revealing of our Lord. Let us demonstrate. What will be the result if we pour blue paint and red paint into a clear glass container? It will become purple you say. In the book of Philippians chapter two and verse six Jesus is to be found “in the form of God,” He is “equal with God.” That’s the heavenly color, blue. He “took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” This is portrayed by red, scarlet, crimson. Now we have blue and red, God and man, made one. You know the results. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. .every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” And that’s purple! That’s the color of Majesty; of a King!

No comments: