Hebrews Lesson 124 May 1, 2008
NKJ Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
NKJ Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Galatians 3 – Paul says some interesting things about the Law. The Galatians were plagued by a problem. These Judaizers (Jews who were trying to merge the new Christianity with the observance of the Old Testament Law) were following along behind Paul. They were saying basically that all those things that Paul said were fine and good and "It's great that you trust Jesus as the Messiah, but that's not really enough. You need to have the second blessing. That only comes when you have circumcision and you follow the Mosaic Law".
It's just an early form of the same kind of theology that you pick up down through the ages. The current manifestation is in the charismatic Pentecostal camp; but, man always tries to add something to the grace of God, to help God out by some type of synergistic work: that God may start the process, but gosh we just need to help Him out. If we don't help Him out in the process of salvation, then at least we have to help Him out in the process of maintaining our salvation.
So Paul really had to deal with all of these false ideas and false teachings that these Judaizers were communicating to the Galatians. So he has an extensive discussion of the purpose for the Law.
In the middle of that (almost right smack in the middle of Galatians 3), he talks about this purpose. He says in Galatians 3:24:
NKJ Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
The word there is "pedagogue". In Greek culture a family (usually a wealthy family) would hire a tutor who was a slave; but his goal was to discipline and to instill discipline and rigor into a young child and to teach him everything he needed to learn in order to be able to function effectively when he became an adult. Once he reached the proper age, then he assumed the responsibilities of adulthood and he was no longer restricted by the more rigorous rules and regulations set down by the pedagogue. So Paul uses that as a point of comparison to understand the role of the Mosaic Law in history.
Behind this lies an approach to the history of mankind and man's understanding of God's revelation of Himself and salvation that pictures man in the Old Testament dispensations as being like a child. He's like a child because he has insufficient revelation and an inadequate understanding and because he doesn't have the Holy Spirit and all these other factors that come into that dispensation.
So Paul says:
NKJ Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Ultimately that is a purpose of the Law - is to direct the attention of people to Christ so that in the Law they see the need for Christ. They understand that they are sinners. More specifically within the Law, the ceremonial law, all the rules and regulations related to temple worship, tabernacle worship, the sacrifices and offerings - that all these elements ultimately point to some aspect of the person and work of Christ. So he says:
NKJ Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But after faith has come we're no longer under a tutor. The idea is that once we get to a point in revelation truly in terms of the accumulation of doctrine (Faith here is used not just in terms of trusting, but it is used in the sense of what we trust: that body of knowledge that we have), we're no longer under a tutor.
NKJ Galatians 3:25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Paul says in Romans 10:
NKJ Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Now that doesn't mean that we throw out the Old Testament. It's really sad because there have been so many great and wonderful Bible teachers. But somehow along the line, people got this idea that you don't really need to know the Old Testament and that somehow the Old Testament just pertains to Jews and the Old Testament just pertains to the old dispensation.
"But it doesn't really unpack the mystery doctrines of the Church Age and it doesn't really deal with all the doctrines God revealed to the Apostle Paul so let's spend all of our time studying Pauline epistles."
I could name you a dozen Bible teachers and that's all they did. They never taught the gospels. They never taught anything in the Old Testament. They never taught Proverbs. They never taught Genesis. They just focused everything on teaching the Pauline epistles and Hebrews primarily. Every now and then they might step out of that. But Paul was viewed by many dispensationalists as being the one who has the greatest grasp on the Christian life for today so that's all we're going to study.
You can't understand Paul (as you well know) unless you understand the Old Testament background. There is a context for everything. When you get into especially the book of Hebrews (as we've seen) you just can't understand what the writer of Hebrews is trying to communicate to these former Levitical priests who are now believers because the writer of Hebrews uses so much language and he refers to so many Scriptures that come out of the Old Testament and weaves them together to encourage them and help them understand all the tremendous things that we have in Christ as our High Priest. But you can't even understand the concept of what a high priest is if you don't understand what's going on back in Leviticus and back in Exodus.
We've come in our study of Hebrews 9:1-4 to an overview of the tabernacle. Last week (the last lesson), we took our time and I walked down here and did an overview of all the different pieces of furniture that are in the Tabernacle. We looked at that and talked about their general basic function.
Starting this week I want to start zeroing in a little bit more on all of the details that we have in the tabernacle. So we're going to look at its construction. We're going to look at all the different materials that are used. We're going to look at its dimensions. We are going to look at each piece of furniture in detail and what it was used for.
Of course, the first major piece of furniture that we will come to is the brazen altar. I'm not going to take it in the order it's revealed in Scripture because in Scripture it starts with the Ark of the Covenant in the middle and works out. But we're going to take it from the perspective of the Jewish worshipper who is coming to the Tabernacle and what he would see for the first time and what he sees as he goes in. So we're going to take it from the outside in. We'll probably spend 5 or 6 weeks going through all these different things and then connecting them to what's going on in the New Testament.
When we look at the brazen altar for example, what goes on at the brazen altar? Well, you have all the different – you have the burnt offerings, peace offerings and all the different offerings and sacrifices that are given that are described in the first 7 chapters of Leviticus. So we'll go through those to try and understand what they are saying about the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are going to step back and have our little overview picture here of the layout of the tabernacle. We're going to go through each one of these things to see how it communicates to us because even though the tabernacle and the sacrifices and offerings and all of the ritual were designed for the Jews during the Old Testament period; all of these things pictured something about the person and the work of Christ. So as Paul says the Law was designed to be a tutor to bring us to Christ. As we studied these things, the focal point is Christ in the Tabernacle. It will give us perhaps a little more in-depth understanding of just what all of this is about and how it teaches about what Christ did on the cross.
So we're going to start with 11 reasons why it's important to study the Tabernacle.
- The Tabernacle depicts a variety of aspects of God's redemptive program which is progressively revealed through the Scripture.
This is one of those concepts that a lot of folks don't understand when they begin to read the Bible. God reveals things of Himself incrementally. He reveals things about sin incrementally and about the solution for sin incrementally. If you think about the problem of sin, when Adam and Eve were in the garden and He first warned them that there was a penalty that if they ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they would die. He doesn't really spell out what that death is. Actually it's not until you get into some things in the New Testament that you begin to understand that it's not a physical death. It's a spiritual death. Ephesians 2:1 says that you were born dead in your trespasses and sins. But if we're dead; we're also alive. So we have to understand that there are different categories of death there. But we don't really unpack that nuance until there is more revelation.
When Adam ate he didn't die instantly so what do you thing they thought?
"Hmm, maybe we're not going to die."
Then God shows up walking in the garden and they run and hide. They know that something's not right. Then after God meets with them He explains all the different consequences of sin; and then He clothes them. In that act of clothing them, He clothes them with animal skins which means He has to show them how to take a animal (and I'm sure that He took a lamb) and He shows them how to cut its throat. That must have been quite a sight for them because they may have been 20 or 30 years in the garden and they've never seen death. Now they see this animal die and they've got to learn to kill the animal. They have to learn how to skin the animal and how to treat the skin so that they can use it so it'll be nice and soft and supple so that can work with it and use it to make clothes. God has to teach them all of that. Of course the verse just says that He clothes them with animal skins. But in order to do that all of these other things have to be done. They're all in the background of that particular verse. In that, He probably taught them about sacrifices: why it was necessary and the impact of sin. So they have their own little Bible class there.
Then we have in Genesis 4 the episode with Cain and Abel. Abel brings the right sacrifice and Cain brings the wrong sacrifice. Then the next time we really see an emphasis on sacrifice is when Noah gets off the ark. When Noah gets on the ark, he is taking 7 of every clean animal on the ark, which means that there is an extra one for sacrifice. He builds these altars when he gets off the ark and he sacrifices these animals there as God makes a covenant with him.
Then we get to Abraham and we see that Abraham somehow has a finer understanding of altars and sacrifices and he's doing more. We're not given any more explanation, but we see that when he goes places he builds an altar and he prays to God. There is a sacrifice and he dedicates the area to God as he moves through the land that God has promised him.
So we work our way through Genesis and we understand that there are patriarchal sacrifices, the patriarchal priesthood, and the Melchizedekean priesthood.
Then we come to Exodus and God calls out His people from slavery in Egypt. He redeems them nationally as He brings them out through the Red Sea into the wilderness to Mt. Sinai where He gives them the Law. In the Law now He is going to give them a much more intricate sacrificial system and a much more intricate understanding of the different manifestations of sin and the consequences of sin. So it's progressive.
Then when Jesus shows up, John the Baptist says:
NKJ John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Any Jew who had any understanding has been properly prepared by all of the ritual to immediately understand who the Lamb of God must be and what its function is within the ritual system.
Then after that in I Corinthians Paul says that Christ is our Passover. So you see how things unfold progressively down through the ages and down through the dispensations. So the Tabernacle is designed by God to depict a variety of aspects of what Christ is going to do on the cross. We can understand redemption; we understand atonement; we understand covering and cleansing; we understand the need for a substitutionary atonement; we understand different sacrifices related to salvation and other sacrifices related to ongoing fellowship with God. All of these different things are there as part of God's plan of redemption and they are pictured in very graphic ways.
- The second thing we learn from the Tabernacle is it teaches about the sinfulness of sin, Every time you read about the Tabernacle and you read about the ritual laws and the dietary laws and you get over into Leviticus and Numbers and you read about all the different things that can make a person ceremonially unclean - if you stop and think about it and read through it sometime (We'll take a little time to go through some of these.), you'll wonder how could a person really go through the day without doing at least a half a dozen things that would render him ceremonially unclean. See what God is teaching is the pervasiveness of sin and that if all these different things can make you unclean where you can't come in the presence of God. That's designed to teach you how pervasive sin is in our lives and get us to pay a little more attention to how much sin there really is and what has to be done in order to solve the sin problem. We live a rather antiseptic life because I doubt that anybody here has ever – some of you men have probably been out hunting, maybe some of you ladies have. I know at least one lady here who's rather dangerous and has threatened numerous herds of exotic animals around the world, but most people haven't ever killed an animal. They have never slit the throat of an animal and watched the blood leak out as the last beatings of the heart. They've never hung an animal up. They've never skinned an animal or butchered an animal or gone through any of those processes. So it seems somewhat antiseptic to us and somewhat academic to talk about sacrifice. Now we talked a few weeks ago in the Kings series on just how much blood there was and how much meat and how much intestinal sludge there was when Solomon dedicated the Temple and sacrificed 120,000 sheep and 20,000 or so bullocks and what was involved there. This is very, very messy. But to realize that every time you committed a sin or infraction of the ceremonial law, you have to go to the Tabernacle. And before you can worship God, you have to bring an offering depending on how much money you have. There would be various things that you could bring from a lamb to a calf to just a bird (if you were very poor and you couldn't afford a lamb or calf). It reinforces the idea that every time I do something, something has to die. Every time I break God's law, something has to die. We have to go through this whole process every single time. What that reinforces for us is how horrible sin is and what it does. So the Tabernacle teaches about the sinfulness of sin and how it permeates everything. One of the things within ritual law has to do with leaven. There is the Feast of Unleavened Bread that's a week long. It occurs at the beginning of the Jewish ceremonial calendar in the spring at the same time that you have Passover. One of the things that's taught there is to remove all the leaven from the house because leaven – just a little bit of leaven can permeate an entire lump of dough. Leaven is different from yeast. It's similar; but it's different. It permeates everything in the same way that yeast does. And so it shows how a little bit of sin can infect and hurt everything. So that's another very visual lesson.
- The third thing the Tabernacle does is it depicts aspects of the Person of Christ. We looked at all the furniture. It is made of acacia wood and then it's overlaid with pure gold. All of this is to depict the hypostatic union – that Jesus Christ is true humanity represented by the wood and He is undiminished deity represented by the pure gold. If we look at the tremendous amount of gold, silver, and brass that's used in the Tabernacles, it's a little over a ton when you add it all up. It's quite a bit. But all of this is designed to teach certain things about who Jesus Christ is. The sacrifices taught different dimensions to His person.
- The Tabernacle depicts aspects of the work of Christ. The most important has to do with the fact that it's substitutionary. It is amazing when you think about what the Scriptures do in the Old Testament to prepare Israel for a Messiah who will be a substitute when you look at Isaiah 53 in light of all the sacrifices.
Then we get into the early church and for those of you who have been in the History of Doctrine class on Monday night, we went through and realized that nobody has a really clear articulation of the atonement until the early 11th century, about 1000 when Anselm comes along and he writes a theological treatise called Cur Deus Homo (Why the God-man?) That's the first clear development of the fact that the atonement is substitutionary. Now, that idea is there in a rather naïve or generic form going all the way back to the early church fathers. But, it's never really explained. They talk about "Well, Jesus died for us"; but they never tell you what that means or what they mean by it.
Then not long after Anselm (and I mean within 20 or 30 years), you have Abelard that came along. Abilard had this idea of the atonement that "Well, it wasn't substitutionary at all. This idea that Christ would have to bear the penalty of other people – well, that is a rather primitive concept." What he is doing is demonstrating the satisfaction of God's morality, God's righteousness. It's not the propitiation idea. It's more a moral example that we are to follow. That's not at all what the Scripture teaches. When you go back and use that Old Testament example of the lamb and of somebody bringing the lamb and putting their hand on the lamb's head and then reciting their sins, it's a very clear picture of substitution. And then they cut the lamb' throat. Then the lamb dies. That's a clear picture of substitution. But they get away from that. So Anselm introduces this moral example view of the atonement.
Then you go through another two or three hundred years and you have these different competing ideas in the Roman Catholic Church. Then you go into the Reformation Church. The main idea of the Reformation Church is it's a substitutionary atonement for about 100 years. Then there's a guy that shows up in Holland by the name of Hugo Grotius. Grotius says, "Well it's not quite the moral example of Abelard; it's more the idea that God hates sin so He's going to exact punishment to show how much God hates sin, to show God's righteous judgment of sin. That's why Jesus had to go to the cross." It is a picture for us of how much God hates sin and to thus motivate us not to sin.
But of course the problem with both the Abelardian view of the atonement and the Grotian view of the atonement is that some sins really aren't paid for. Nothing is actually paid for. So under both of those systems, if people commit certain sins or do certain things then they can't get to heaven and there's no redemption. It also impacts your understanding of sin because sin isn't so bad that somebody has to pay the penalty for it. You're not really spiritually dead; you're just spiritually weak.
So these ideas really infect and impact the way people think down through the centuries. Grotius's view affected an evangelist in the early part of the 1800's named Charles Grandison Finney. Finney is always thought by most of the evangelicals to be this great evangelist. He wasn't because he didn't believe people were born spiritually dead. He didn't believe in a substitutionary atonement so nobody was really saved. I doubt that he was saved on that basis. But this permeates evangelicalism – starts to permeate evangelicalism in the 19th century all the way down to the present.
On Monday night I read a little newspaper article that Connie had found and sent out that was dealing with this guy McLaren who is one of the leading figures in the emergent church movement. He's teaching a workshop up at Willow Creek which is the flagship of the church growth movement up in Chicago. He's talking about the fact that Jesus just died, like the Chinese students in Tiananmen Square to demonstrate the injustice of it all. See once you understand the Grotian view of the atonement and the Anselmic view of the atonement and the Abelardian view of the atonement; you realize that this guy doesn't believe in substitutionary atonement at all. Therefore he has got a crummy view of sin and he's got a poor view of salvation. He doesn't even think that Jesus is coming back. We don't need to worry so much about how Jesus is coming back or when He comes back. Yet this is what is steamrolling and truly steamrolling evangelicalism today coming out of this emergent church stuff. But if you stick with the Tabernacle and the pictures of the Old Testament you understand what is going on when Jesus is hanging there on the cross and it starts getting dark and God is putting our sins on Him because you've got that understanding from the Old Testament.
- The fifth thing – the Tabernacle shows how a righteous God can solve the problems of sin. This is a question that so many people have. How can God do that? How can God save somebody like Adolph Hitler or Saddam Hussein or Jeffrey Dahmer? We see it depicted in the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle. So it shows how a righteous God can have His character satisfied by a substitutionary sacrifice.
- The priestly ministry in the Tabernacle reveals how sinful people can approach a holy God with acceptable worship. What do they have to do? When they come into the Tabernacle, the priest had to wash his hands and wash his feet. It's a picture of cleansing even though at the initiation point of priest's ministry he is washed from head to toe which pictures salvation and the positional cleansing that we have in Christ which is a legal cleansing.
I had a conversation today with an old friend of mine who is a lawyer now. He has started a little home church in his home and lives up in Navasota. He is a lawyer up there; and he was a camper of mine years ago at Camp Peniel. He's got this little home church and he is a lawyer up there and he's teaching the Bible and having a great impact on about 20 or so people that are coming to his house every Sunday morning. So we were talking about what he was going to teach this Sunday.
I was going through some things and I said, "Well, what this really pictures here is positional truth." I said, "Now a lot of people have a hard time understanding positional truth because positional truth is this abstract concept and people need a concrete image of it."
That's what baptism does. Water baptism is what we were talking about. That's a picture of the abstract realities that occur at the instant of salvation in terms of our being identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
I said, "That's positional truth."
He said, "That's an easy concept. I deal with that every day in the courtroom."
He said anybody who goes into the courtroom has a legal standing before the judge in the courtroom. That is your position in the law. That is positional truth.
I thought, "Well, I had never thought of positional truth as a courtroom concept."
It is one of those other things that reinforce the idea that I always talk about that we have justification and forgiveness - all these concepts are legal, everything that God is within a courtroom framework.
So God has a way of cleansing us experientially as well as positionally. Positionally relates to our legal standing before God in relation to justification and ongoing cleansing has to do with the ongoing cleansing of sin based on that positional reality.
- The priestly ministry in the Tabernacle teaches the necessity of being cleansed of sin before serving, worshipping or learning about God. It was something that they had to do day-in and day-out.
I can hear somebody now saying, "Well, that seems so mechanical."
When I first went up to Preston City and I was teaching (I had been there about 6 months), there was a lady (and I won't explain who she is because then some people would know who she was. She wasn't from Houston. She was from another part of the state.)
She said, "Well, I want to hear some of your tapes." So I sent her some stuff.
She said, "You do that stuff that you have confession every time you have Bible class. That's so mechanical."
I said, "Well, let me explain why that's done. When you're teachings somebody anything (whether you are teaching them music, whether you are teaching them athletics, baseball, football, hockey whatever it is whether you are teaching dance whatever it is that you are teaching) when you're initially teaching anybody anything, you go through the mechanics. The mechanics are frequently very uncomfortable. People don't just naturally take to those mechanics. Take somebody who is taking dance. They're taking ballet and they're 4 years old or 5 years old and they have to stand a certain way and they have to hold their feet a certain way that would break my legs. They have to stand up on their toes and do all these things. It's not natural. It's not normal. We don't normally do that. But they have to learn. After they practice it and do it over and over again, then it becomes natural.
I remember (I guess I was about 7) when I was taking piano lessons, the same kind of thing. I had to hold my fingers a certain way. I couldn't do this and I couldn't do that. Don't let your hands go flat. You just have to learn the mechanics. Then you have to play technique exercises which is boring because that had no tune to it whatsoever. But, you have to do these mechanical things so eventually when you're playing a song you've mastered the skills so that you can produce something that has beauty and has art to it. Same thing in football, you go out and a guy tries out for a football team in junior high. You've got to go to two-a-day practices. You've got to learn how to bend over, how to hit the blocking dummy and all these kinds of things that you have to do to learn the basic mechanics. You have to practice them over and over and over again so that people learn what they are supposed to do and how to do it. Once you practice it, it becomes a skill, it's something embedded in your lifestyle.
But the reason I always start by going through confession is you are teaching it by example and it's not a mechanical process. Teaching mechanics isn't mechanical. So, people often misunderstand that. That's what they did in the Old Testament. Every time they went in day-in and day-out, you always had these priests washing their hands, washing their feet. How mechanical. But it was to teach the principle that before you can come into the presence of God, serve God, worship Him do what He said to do, sacrifice; you've got to be in right relationship with Him.
- The priesthood is foundational to an understanding of Christ's priestly ministry because the patterns that we see in Hebrews that talk about the priesthood and the high priesthood help us to come out of the Old Testament Aaronic priesthood. Even though Jesus has a Melchizedekean priesthood, the concept, the pictures in the Old Testament help us understand that the role of the priest especially when you see him on the Day of Atonement bringing in the blood, putting it on the Mercy Seat that that is a picture of what Christ did as our High Priest.
- Understanding the role of Israel's priesthood enables Christians to understand their own role as believer-priests. We're currently believer priests in the Church Age; but when we are the raptured, resurrected, rewarded believers that return with Jesus at the Second Coming we're going to rule and reign with Him as priest-kings under His high priestly ministry in the Millennial Kingdom. We're going through a training ground now, a training stage in our time in history in our time on the earth in preparation for what's going to happen in the future so that we're living today in the light of eternity, or should be. The more we come to understand what Israel's priesthood was doing, and why they were doing it, the more it helps us to understand who and what we are as believer-priests and who and what we will be when we are priest-kings ruling with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom.
- The sacrificial system within the Tabernacle teaches the great importance God placed on the need for a blood sacrifice to atone for sin. It had to be death. It does demonstrate how much God hates sin. Grotius got it part way right. God hates sin. But he had such a low view of sin that what Christ did on the cross isn't doing anything for anybody else. But that was not what was initially taught in the tabernacle system of sacrifices.
- We come to point number 11. The Levitical sacrifices give Christians a greater understanding of God's view of the various degrees of sin in the Old Testament. There are different sacrifices for different sins. There are sins of omission and sins of commission. Even though the ultimate penalty for sin is death in terms of experiential penalties, there are differences because the consequences, the results of different personal sins vary.
- Then we come to our 12th point. A good grasp of the Tabernacle is necessary to understand more than half of the book of Hebrews. If you don't understand what's going on with the Levitical priesthood, if you don't understand all the different offerings and sacrifices and if we don't understand the nature of the high priestly ministry as a substitutionary ministry, then we can't grasp the basic message of Hebrews. Everything in Hebrews is built and assumes that the readers understand Exodus and Leviticus and the whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament.
So this is why it's important to study the Old Testament and to study the Tabernacle. So we get into the Tabernacle and just by way of continued introduction I have 5 points I want to try and cover tonight. The first has to do with nomenclature. The nomenclature helps us to understand the nature of the Tabernacle. Why is it called what it's called? With God, God doesn't name things just to name things. There's a connection between its name and its inherent reality.
- It's called a sacred residence, a sanctuary, or a holy place. All of these derive from the word "to be holy" - both the verb and the noun, which means a place that is set apart. All these different words that we have in English—sacred, sanctuary, holy—all come out of Latin words that translate the Greek and Hebrew words.
- These names are given to us in the next chart.
a. The first word is miqdash which is from the Hebrew qadash noun. It has an "m" in front of it which is related to the formation of the noun. It means a holy place. It emphasizes that this is a place of distinction, a place that's been set apart.
b. Then a second word that is used is the verb shakan. Now turn with me while we're here back to Exodus 25:8. God says:
NKJ Exodus 25:8 "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
That's the word miqdash. The word there for dwelling is Hebrew verb shakan which comes into Greek as skene and is where we get the word Skekinah, meaning the dwelling or the indwelling of the God. So these are the first two words.
c. Then a third word that's used is the word hamishkan. See we had miqdash from qadash and now we have another noun formed on shakan: hamishkan, which means the dwelling place. These are the two words that are used as synonyms for the Tabernacle. Miqdash emphasizes that it is a distinct and a unique place that is set apart to the service of God. Hamishkan indicates that it is the place where God dwells, where we have the localized presence of God on earth that He who is infinite has taken up a dwelling place on the earth.
d. Another term that is used frequently in the Old Testament is the term "the tent". It occurs 19 times just as "the tent". It's also found in various other expressions as the tent of the testimony, because you have the testimony of the Law that resides there Numbers 9:15; tent of the Lord, because the Lord dwells there I Kings 2:28-30; house of the tent, I Chronicles 9:23; and the tent of meeting, because this is where Moses would go to meet God. That's used over 130 times such as in Exodus 33:7. So the tent is a key reference for this. This indicates its temporary nature. The tabernacle was the mobile home that God lived in before He got a permanent house.
- Then we come to the 3rd point. In Exodus 25:9 we have the word hamishkan again. It indicates the entire tabernacle not simply the holy place itself including the holy place and the Holy of Holies; but it also included the outer court inside of the hangings. But in Exodus 26:1 it refers only to the tabernacle proper which is the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. In the Greek in the New Testament we find that the writers use two different words to describe the tabernacle or the Temple. They use one word to describe the inner holy place and they use another word to describe the entire Temple structure. It's that word that describes only the inner part that is the word used in I Corinthians 3:16 when Paul says:
NKJ 1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
It's not talking about the outer precincts where anybody could go; but only the inner precinct which has been set apart, sanctified positionally and is the place where the pre-incarnate Christ dwelt in the Old Testament.
Exodus 25:9 says:
NKJ Exodus 25:9 "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.
So, God shows to Moses a pattern, a model that He built it on. Now when we get into Hebrews it seems there is a heavenly tabernacle that the earthly tabernacle is patterned on.
We run into several other phrases that are used based on the word tabernacle in the Old Testament. We have the phrase "Tabernacle of the Lord" in Joshua 22:19 and I Kings 2:28 and I Chronicles 16:39, indicating that it is YHWH who dwells in the Tabernacle. It's also called the tabernacle of testimony or witness in Exodus 38: 21, Numbers 1:50, 17:7-8, II Chronicles 24:6 and Acts 7:44, emphasizing the presence of the Mosaic Law there. …Tabernacle of the congregation because this is where the congregation would come in order to have fellowship with God and worship God. Exodus 27:21, 33:7 and 40:26. All of these terms involve the word "tabernacle of something" which indicates a different aspect of its function. Fourth is the Tabernacle of Shiloh. Shiloh is a title for Jesus. Psalm 78:60. Fifth, it is called the Tabernacle of Joseph in Psalm 78:67. Its' called the Temple of the Lord I Samuel 1:9 and 3:3. Remember they don't have Samuel as a young boy. There is still the Tabernacle; but it's called the Temple of the Lord in those passages. The House of the Lord in Joshua 6:24, I Samuel 1:7, 24. So all these give us different designations for the Tabernacle.
God comes along and He reveals to Moses that he is to build the Tabernacle and the key passages to understand this…there is a lot of repetition in this part of Exodus. I would never want to teach Exodus verse-by-verse because you have God revealing it and then building it and then it describes it a third time when they finish it. So it's a lot of repetition. But it shows the detail that is there in the historical accuracy.
In chapter 25 the focus is on the basic elements, the basic furniture within the Tabernacle. It starts off in the first 9 verses just to kind of give you a structure for these verses. In Exodus 25 God explains the need for the tabernacle and gives Moses and introduction and plan for starting the Tabernacle. It says that he is to take up an offering.
NKJ Exodus 25:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.
This was the first real building plan in history. It's based on freewill offering. It wasn't based on a mandated tithe, but a freewill offering. The material that they had was material that they had taken from the Egyptians that they were given by their Egyptian masters almost as if the Egyptians were bribing them to leave because they were tired of the judgments of God from the plagues. So they gave them gold and they gave them silver and all kinds of costly material. So from this they were to bring this material (the gold, the silver and the bronze, the material that they had) so that it could be used in the construction of the tabernacle. So we see these elements here.
NKJ Exodus 25:3 "And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze;
NKJ Exodus 25:4 "blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats' hair;
We'll look at that because the colors are significant. It's not just because God likes vibrant colors.
One of the interesting things is that people didn't normally dress because these are very expensive dyes – to produce the blue and the purple dyes and the scarlet dye. Only the very wealthy (only kings, usually only royalty) had clothes that were in these dyes. When you look at the high priest…Aaron was showing up in a $10,000 custom-made suit. I mean he was dressing well. It was impressive. When you came and looked at the Ark because most people dressed in the same basic colors, when you looked at the Ark and there is all this blue and purple and red it was like going from black and white TV to color TV. Some of you can't quite remember that. I don't know what the analogy…some of you are too young to know that there was even a time without color TV. But that's what it was like. It was like going from Eastern Europe or Russia in 1980 or in the early 90's when the wall first came down and then coming back to the West. It was like suddenly your eyes were returned to Technicolor. It was just amazing. It was so impressive to see the Tabernacle. In our culture where we have so many different colors and we get bored with the colors this year so all the designers come out with a new set of colors next year. Everybody has to wear all the latest colors and all the latest fads. Next year it is something else. We can't quite grasp how phenomenal it was so see all this color. It just blew them away. But it wasn't just for that purpose. It had other signification as well.
Then they brought various skins for the coverings over the Ark. Ram skins that were dyed red and badger skins. If you are using a King James or a New King James, it says badger skins. If you are using a New American Standard, it says dolphin skins. I think that maybe some other versions use different things. Actually nobody is sure what this word refers to. There are some guesses based on cognate languages that it is probably some kind of dolphin sea creature. But, we're not sure exactly what it was.
They were to bring oil for the light and spices for the anointing incense and onyx stone and stones to be put in the ephod and the breast plate.
NKJ Exodus 25:8 "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
He gives these initial instructions on how to get the material and what to build it from and to lay it out, and then starting in 25:10 he begins to describe the different pieces of furniture that will be in the Ark. In 25:10-16 he describes the Ark of the Covenant. Then we come out from the Holy of Holies to the Holy Place and he describes the Table of Showbread, then the golden lampstand and then he gets into verse 26 and he describes the 6 different layers of curtains that are going to be there rather than …four different layers of curtains that are there. The first layer is described in 26:1-6. It's a linen that is dyed scarlet, blue and purple again. Then there are the images of cherubs embroidered into the linen. But the people on the outside won't see that; you'll only see it on the inside as you look up. This is what the priests would see on the inside is this blue, purple and red fabric with the cherubs embroidered in it. So he is looking up and seeing the cherubs. Part of the purpose of the cherubs relates to the holiness of God.
Then in 26:7-10 it describes the second curtain made of goat's hair. This is a rugged fabric that will protect the linen that's underneath. Then on top of that you have the ram's skins dyed red. Ram's skin dyed red is a picture of atonement: something covered in blood. Then on the outside it's covered with porpoise skins or badger skins or whatever it was. It was designed to provide a waterproof, watertight covering on the outside of the Tabernacle.
Then in 26:15-30 there are intricate details about the boards and the sockets. You have some sockets of gold, some of silver, some of bronze. Then in 26:31-35 it describes the inner curtains of the tabernacle, the inner veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place, and then the outer screen is in 26:36-37.
Then it goes out and talks about the brazen altar in 27:1-8 and in 27:9-19 we get into the outer courtyard and the hangings that surrounded the courtyard which would keep people out of the outer courtyard.
As we get to that – once again the hangings are made of fine woven linen. This was a very prized linen that was made out of Egyptian flax. Again it was very expensive and only the wealthiest of people (usually only wealthy royalty and aristocracy) had access to this kind of linen. So there would be hangings in the court of fine woven linen 100 cubits long on one side. It describes all the details there. Then it describes the colors that are woven into these various hangings.
As we go through this and get down to the garments of the priesthood in chapter 28 and it begins to describe all of the uniforms for the priest, his coverings, his ephod, his breastplate, all of these different things. One of the things that we continue to run into is these same colors keep showing up again and again and again. That tells us that there must be some sort of significance for these colors.
Now there is one that's usually translated blue – at least in the King James it's translated blue. Some translations translate it purple; but it's more of a bluish purple. This is a bluish purple that was used to dye many wool garments. It was an expensive dye that came from the crushing of certain species of shellfish. As they crushed these mollusks, they would take the secretions and then from that they would create these dyes. So they would use the pupura lapillus from the Atlantic Ocean was the one that came and was used for this bluish purple dye. Then there was a second one from the murex snail that was also known as the fiery horn snail or the Turk's blood snail and it produced more of a reddish purple.
The dyes were not always exact in the ancient world. Often you had families who were…that was their job. That was the family business and each family had their own recipe for making the different dyes. So you would go to one family and their color of purple would be a little bit different from the next one's color of purple. It just depended on how they mixed the dyes. So you had one that was more of a bluish purple and one that was more of a red purple. The argaman is one that was derived also from the crushing of a mollusk. It was used to develop this dye which was typically used of royal purple and so was considered to be extremely rare and extremely expensive.
Then you had a third dye that was used – a third color – that was used here. That's the color of red. There are two different words used to describe two different reds. One is the word that we see in some of these passages here which is usually translated scarlet. It tended to be a little bit more of an orangey red. Then there was a redder red that was used the word towla which is the word sometimes translated crimson. We see both of these words used synonymously in Isaiah 1:18
NKJ Isaiah 1:18 " Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet,
That's the first word shaniy.
They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
So the red pictured death. It pictured blood. Of course this is a picture of the atonement that was needed to cover sin. Then the reddish purple was the color of royalty. This would speak of the kingdom of God and the royalty of God as the king who ruled over Israel. Then the bluish purple would speak of heaven. It would speak of the heavenly source of God and God's ultimate domain as the ruler from heaven so that every time you looked at the Tabernacle and saw these colors they would be a reminder of something that was totally different in the first place. In the second place it spoke of these different aspects, the royalty, the kingdom, the home of God in heaven and then the need of bloodshed to cover sin.
So that gives us a basic introduction to some of these elements. Next time we'll come back and start looking at the basic structure of the Temple and the furnishings. We'll start getting into the offerings and the sacrifices.
Let's bow our heads in prayer.