And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. Exodus 25:8-9 (KJV)
Exodus 25, 26 and 27 share the details about the tabernacle that God instructed Moses to build in the wilderness. In addition to being the place where the presence of the Lord dwelt, it was a picture of the work of Calvary and of the New Testament believer. It pointed to the finished work of the cross and to the pattern of worship. Let’s take a look at the primary areas of the tabernalce and the articles, or furniture, in each. We will discuss how each one applies to us and our worship.
In the same way that we are three-part beings (spirit, soul and body), the tabernacle was designed as a three-part structure (Outer Court, Holy Place, Holy of Holies). Upon entering the tabernacle, the first area was the Outer Court. This corresponds to the human body. The next place was the Holy Place and it corresponds to the soul. Finally, the place where God’s presence stayed was the Holy of Holies, which corresponds to the spirit.
The Outer Court
Brazen Altar: In the Outer Court, we find two pieces of furniture: the brazen altar and the laver. The brazen altar was the place where sacrifices were offered. It points to the cross and to our bodies as living sacrifices. As Jesus offered His body to God, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). Jesus died to give us life, and now we let Christ live His life through us to serve and worship God.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. I Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)
Our bodies are not our own. How we live demonstrates how much we offer our bodies to and for the Lord. The blood of Jesus has made us acceptable to God, enabling us to live holy, separated lives for Him.
The Laver: This was where the priests would perform ceremonial washing. It points to us being cleansed by the Word. As we go through our day, living in the world, we accumulate dirt and contamination from the world- even though we ourselves don’t sin. Our total man needs cleansing. As we need to take a bath or shower to clean our bodies, our souls and spirits also need to be cleansed.
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. II Corinthians 7:1 (KJV)
The Word of God is the perfect cleansing agent for the soul and spirit.
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, Ephesians 5:26 (KJV)
The Holy Place
The Lampstand: The Holy Place contained three pieces of furniture: The lampstand, the table of shewbread, and the altar of incense. The soul is made of the mind, will and emotions, which correspond to each pieces of furniture in the Holy Place. The first one is the lampstand, which symbolizes the mind. Our minds are to be renewed and illuminated to think like Jesus and to see Him. Jesus is the Light of the world and provides illumination by His Holy Spirit. In scripture, oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit, so the lamptand points to His work in illuminating our minds. As we study the Word, we receive illumination to see Jesus for Who He is: God and Savior.
The Table of Shewbread: This represents the will of the believer. As the bread was laid on the table, our wills are to be laid before the Lord in surrender. Jesus is the Bread from Heaven, and as we feed on Him through His Word, we live. We live not by bread alone, but by God’s Word. The more we feed on the Word of God, the more our wills will be strengthened to do the will of God.
The Altar of Incense: This points to our emotions. The incense was used in intercession and also represents our prayers. Christ is our great Intercessor Who prays for us. As we also offer up prayer to God, our emotions get involved. We feel the things that hurt God, and we pray to enforce His will.
Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer! James 5:16 (The Passion Translation, TPT)
The Holy of Holies
The Ark of the Covenant: This part of the tabernacle was where the presence of God was. It was off limits to everyone but the high priest who could enter one time a year. This part of the tabernacle represents the spirit of the born-again man, where God dwells. Within the Holy of Holies was a piece of furniture called the ark of the convenant, and on top of it was the mercy seat. The ark represents the presence of God, which is now in our spirits.The mercy seat, or the lid/seat on top of the ark, points to the mercy we obtain through the blood of Jesus. The blood was sprinkled by the high priest each year for the sins of the people. Jesus’ blood has paid the price for our sins. The mercy seat is now the throne of grace.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)
The Holy of Holies has been opened to all believers and we may access the very presence of God because of the blood of Jesus Christ. We can now worship in the Lord’s presence- worship in spirit and truth.
Through the design and construction of the tabernacle and its furnishings, we see Jesus; God’s redemption plan for man. In the tabernacle, man came to God in body, then soul, then spirit. Because of His finished work, we can enter God’s presence and worship Him with our spirits, souls and bodies.. In other words, we now worship from the inside-out.
What a blessing to not be limited to a physical structure for our worship- we can now worship God anywhere and anytime.