The Tabernacle as A Place of Worship
One month after the Israelites, the twelve sons of Jacob left Egypt, God gave them the instructions to build a place of worship, a sanctuary or mostly called a tabernacle. In Exodus 25 God said: “And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them”.
Tabernacle means tent, a place of dwelling or sanctuary. It was a sacred place where God chose to meet His people the Israelites during the 40 years they wandered in the desert under Moses’s leadership. It was the place where the leaders and people came together to worship and offer sacrifices. God himself acted as the architect, so let’s call the Israelites the carpenters. God always gives the plan, the plan for the heaven and the earth, the plan for the ark, the plan for one’s life. The plan for the tabernacle was given to Moses.
The resources God himself provided while they were leaving Egypt. When the Israelites left Egypt, God gave favour to his people in the sight of the Egyptians. God said to them specifically that they will not go empty; But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour and of them that sojourn in their house jewels of silver and of gold and raiment that they shall put them upon your sons and upon their daughters; and it was a prophecy that they shall spoil the Egyptians. However when they needed to start the construction of the tent, they had what was needed on ground. God also gave them the wisdom and skill for this holy building to become a wonder. So God dwelled among His people in the tabernacle in the wilderness. He appeared as a pillar of cloud over the tabernacle by day and a pillar of fire by night in the sight of all Israel. It was an unmistakably powerful visual statement indicating God’s presence among them.
God simply wanted to restore back fellowship and relationship with humanity. In the desert, He said you will be able to meet with me but you will have to do some sacrifices. The meeting with God will cost something to the Israelites from the time they enter the gate to the time they go from there forgiven or atoned. We need to know how to proceed, in a protocol order, from the gate to the Most Holy place to the Holy of holies.
The Gate or the Door
There was only one gate by which people could enter into the tabernacle courtyard. The one and only gate is a representation of Christ as the only way through which one could fellowship with God and worship Him. To do this, one must enter in through the gate to the place where God dwelled. Jesus said in his famous statements:“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He also said: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”He also emphasized,enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is ‘the gate’ and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
The hanging for the gate of the court was needlework of blue, purple, and scarlet and fine twined linen: and twenty cubits was the length and the height in the breadth was five cubits, answerable to the hangings of the court. The different colors in this scripture will have specific interpretation for us. The blue is heaven, Jesus came from heaven, he gave his blood which is scarlet and purple is the color of royalty, no one come to the Father except the Holy Spirit draws him. Through the blood of Jesus we enter ‘The Gate’ of Heaven and become part of the royal Family of God.
The laver, or basin, was a large bowl filled with water located halfway between the brazen altar and the Holy Place. Although God did not give specific measurements for the Laver, it was to be made entirely of bronze. The priests were to wash their hands and their feet in it before entering the Holy Place.
The laver is a symbolic to nowadays baptism and the washing away of sin before entering the presence of God. If we don’t acknowledge that we are sinners and repent, if we are not in a sanctified position we are not allow in the Holy place with God.
Jesus Christ so loved humanity He gave himself for us so we can be reconciled and be holy unto our Creator. This is why we are cleansed by the washing with water through the word so we are presented as a radiant church to Himself without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish but holy. This is why we have the right to draw nearer to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled with blood to wash us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Altar of Incense
Also known as the golden altar or the inner altar; this three foot high altar was the location of regular incense offerings. Every morning and evening when tending the light of the menorah the priests would offer a mixture of frankincense and other aromatic gums. On the Day of Atonement the high priest would sprinkle blood on the horns of this altar
The practice of repentance and thanks giving is ultimately to enter into the spirit realm of God where no human activity is. A heart prepared to give thanks to God for what Jesus did on the cross. All the glory goes to Jesus for divine grace and undeserved favour. We need to understand grace, it’s not human self-righteousness and sacrificial deeds – it’s Jesus righteousness and deeds only.
Esther has to be purified with different kinds of perfumes before she could go to the king. A complain attitude doesn’t have access before the Ancient of days but a praise-full life before we go to the King of kings can give us great favors before God.
Moses received the commandment to instruct the children of Israel that they bring pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. The golden lampstand or candlestick was placed at the left side of the Holy Place. It was made of one piece of pure gold. The lampstand had a central branch from which three branches extended from each side, forming a total of seven branches. Seven lamps holding olive oil and wicks stood on top of the branches. The priests were instructed to keep the lamps burning. The lampstand was the only source of light in the Holy Place. Jesus, the true light that gives light to every man, came into the world so that man could see God and not live in spiritual darkness anymore. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus Christ came into the world as the light, so that no one who believes in him should stay in darkness.”
Jesus is represented by the main branch of the lampstand, and we as believers are represented by the six branches that extend from original branch. Having believed, we are now living as “children of light” who draw our source of light from Jesus, the true light. Jesus calls us “light of the world” and commands us to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”. The branches also represent a picture of Jesus description of our relationship with him: “I am the vine, you are the branches, apart from me you can do nothing”. Also let us consider pure gold as a representation of the deity and perfection of Jesus Christ, and seven is the number of completeness in the Bible. The believer is made complete by the perfection of Christ.
Table of Showbread
The table of showbread was a small table that stood on the right side of the Holy Place. The priests baked the bread with fine flour and it remained on the table before the Lord for a week; every Sabbath day the priests would remove it and eat it in the Holy Place, then put fresh bread on the table.
Only the priests could eat the bread, and it could only be eaten in the Holy Place, because it was holy. The table and the bread were a picture of God’s willingness to fellowship and communion with man. It was like an invitation to share a meal, an extension of friendship. Eating together often is an act of fellowship. God was willing for man to enter into His presence to fellowship with Him, and this invitation was always open. Jesus came to call sinners to Him, make them right with God, so that they could enjoy everlasting fellowship with God.
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.”
God so desires our fellowship that He was willing to come to earth from heaven as our “bread of life” to give eternal life to all those who would partake in it. At Jesus’ last Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus described Himself as bread again: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Jesus’ broken body is our only access to fellowship with God. Today, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, or communion, to remember this important truth. Today, as in the day of Moses’ tabernacle, God still desires to have fellowship and sit down for a feast with His people.
Golden Altar of Incense
God commanded the priests to burn incense on the golden altar every morning and evening, the same time that the daily burnt offerings were made. The incense was to be left burning continually throughout the day and night as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
The incense was a symbol of the prayers and intercession of the people. God wanted His dwelling to be a place where people could approach Him and pray to Him. “…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7)
Since we have been forgiven of our sins through the blood of Christ we also come boldly in prayer in Jesus’ name. When we pray in Jesus Name we are praying based on the work He has done and not on our own merit. It is in His powerful name that we are saved and baptized and in His name we live, speak and act. “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. As John saw in the book of Revelation; He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Holy of Holies
Within the Holy Place of the tabernacle, there was an inner room called the Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place. Judging from its name, we can see that it was a most sacred room, a place no ordinary person could enter. It was God’s special dwelling place in the midst of His people. During the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness God appeared as a pillar of cloud or fire in and above the Holy of Holies.
Whoever entered into the Holy of Holies was entering the very presence of God. In fact anyone except the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies would die. Even the high priest, God’s chosen mediator with His people could only pass through the veil and enter this sacred dwelling once a year on a prescribed day called the Day of Atonement. So the presence of God remained shielded from man behind a thick curtain during the history of Israel. However Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross changed that. When He died the curtain in the Jerusalem temple was torn in half, from the top to the bottom.
Only God could have carried out such an incredible feat because the veil was too high for human hands to have reached it, and too thick to have torn it. Furthermore it was torn from top down, meaning this act must have come from above. The torn veil illustrated Jesus’ body broken for us, opening the way for us to come to God. As Jesus cried out “It is finished!” on the cross, He was indeed proclaiming that God’s redemptive plan was now complete.
God’s presence was now accessible to all, shocking as this may have been to the priests ministering in the temple that day. It is indeed good News to us as believers because we know that Jesus’ death has atoned for our sins and made us right before God. We can now boldly enter into God’s presence, the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”
Ark of the Covenant
Within the Holy of Holies, shielded from the eye of the common man was one piece of furniture comprising two parts: the Ark of the Covenant and the atonement cover or “mercy seat” on top of it. God commanded Moses to put in the ark three items: a golden pot of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written.
God said to Moses: “Every year, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement”. Bringing burning incense to shield his eyes from a direct view of God’s glory, he sprinkled blood from a bull onto the atonement cover for his and his household’s sins then sprinkled blood from a goat for all the sins of Israel. God promised that when He saw the blood, it would cover over man’s sin.
Through Jesus’ blood, our sins have been covered over. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see our sin, but the provision: His own Son. Jesus lay down His life for us as an innocent sacrifice so that God would look on us and see His perfection.
The atonement cover was God’s throne in the midst of the Israelites. God is on His throne today in heaven and Jesus our high priest is at His right side. When we come to God now we approach a throne of grace.
The pot of manna: Manna the bread from heaven in itself did not impart life. But Jesus told us that He is the true bread from heaven. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.’”
Aaron’s budding staff: Jesus didn’t reject God’s authority. Instead He submitted Himself to the Father’s will and died on the cross. “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” But He came back to life like Aaron’s budding rod, the firstfruits from the dead. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
Third, the Ten Commandments: Jesus didn’t reject God’s right standard of living. He lived a sinless life and obeyed God’s law perfectly, becoming our perfect sacrifice and intercessor. His sacrifice instituted a new covenant that was not based on the Law.
Worship According to Grace
Jesus is the Word of God that was made flesh who came to tabernacle with us. Now we have grace to meet with God as often as we want to offer our worship. In the Old Testament, worship is sacrifice of animal but in the New Testament God gave himself as a living sacrifice so we can be reconciled with him. We can encounter God and His Holy Spirit through worship.
When we say we are going for a worship service, we are going to meet God, we are going to see the face of God. Just as the general in an army, well-dressed will go before his king to tell him about his victories and various conquests. When we are going to give adoration to God, we are going to kiss the King of kings. We are going to thank Him for everything he has seen us through, for every victory he gave us through the week. On the first day of the week we must be in the spirit and prepared to give reverence to the One and Only God. Only the victorious ones can really love God to reach him in climax.
The ones who make it in worship are the happiest and the most powerful ones. They are the ones that God remembers. Our faith in God determines how well we will do in worship.
We must have the faith, that forever we’ll be able to make it in worship. Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father. Now is the time to worship in spirit and in truth.”
For the Father is seeking such to worship Him. Worship is being with God; being with God in the closest place. How can you please God in worship? Love God with all your might for who He is.
Be focus and precise as an arrow ready to shoot. Make sure you reach and touch God through worship. When we reach the culmination with God in veneration it means we totally believe. As in the tabernacle, we need to be well prepared to reach the height of faith in worship in the Name of Jesus.