The Sanctuary for the Holy Nation
Samuel Lesson #152
October 30, 2018
“Father, we are so very grateful for all You have provided for us in our spiritual lives, and supplied for us in our physical material existence.
“You have given us everything necessary for life and godliness. You have provided that which we need to fulfill Your plan and purpose for our lives.
“Father, let us not take anything You have provided for us for granted, but let us realize that all that we are and all that we have comes from You and that should drive us to deeper levels of gratitude and humility.
“Not focusing on what we have because we have done something to achieve it, but what we have because in Your kindness and in Your goodness You have given it to us.
“Father, as we continue to think about worship and how it has worked and developed in the Old Testament we pray that You would help us, not only to understand what happened in the ancient world, but why You have revealed this to us and how it is an example to us.
“That by studying and reflecting upon what happened in the Old Testament it should expand, deepen, and enrich our own understanding of worship in this dispensation.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles to Exodus 25. You can follow along with some of the things there as we go forward. Tonight we are going to be looking at the sanctuary for this holy nation that God called into existence, this kingdom of priests that God brought forth, this nation of Israel.
I have on the table down in front a full model of the tabernacle with all the pieces of equipment. To the side there are some larger pieces of furniture. This was done by the Good Seed people.
There’s a large model of the bronze altar, a large menorah, a large ark of the covenant, and other items. You can see what these items looked like along with the pictures that we have in our study.
I want to remind you, as I did last time, that what we’re teaching here in the Old Testament is brought over, in terms of principles and underlying doctrine and teaching, to relate to the Church Age believer.
In the Old Testament God tells Israel as a nation to “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16 brings that over and applies it to the church.
One of the things that may come up for some is, “Well, why are we studying this, we are in a different dispensation?” In 1 Corinthians10:3 Paul says, “These things happened to be an example for us.”
He’s talking about all these things surrounding the Exodus, which would include God’s revelation of Himself at Mount Sinai, the revelation of the tabernacle, and all of the related ritual.
Sadly, we live in a world today where there are pastors, and Sunday School teachers, and just everyday folks who have a dismissive attitude when you talk to them about something in the Old Testament. The attitude is, “Well, that’s in the Old Testament,” and “That was part of the Mosaic Law.”
Even though we may not be under the Mosaic Law, and even though we are not going to a central sanctuary bringing animal sacrifices that we are slaughtering because of our sin, we can learn a tremendous amount.
What we see in the patterns of Israel is related to talking about and revealing these types, or pictures, for us of what is true about the individual believer’s spiritual life.
For example, what we have looked at in our flyover in Exodus is the redemption event that took place at the Passover. The Passover is a picture of God providing life where there was death. The sacrifice of the lamb, that was without spot or blemish, to take the place as a substitute for the firstborn in each family, is a picture of redemption.
Israel crossing over the Red Sea is a picture, in combination with what happens at the Red Sea, of their new position as a priestly nation, as a holy nation, as a nation or kingdom of priests.
This is the context in which God tells them that they are to “be holy, for I am holy.”
I keep belaboring this because it’s hard for us to get it into our thick heads, and with the language, the word “holy” is such a holy word. It just drips with theological “holier than thou” sort of ambience that it’s picked up over the years that really divorces it from its original context.
In the Bible the opposite of holy is not unrighteous. The opposite of righteous is unrighteous. The opposite of holy is the word that is usually used is “profane”, but that’s not really a good word today because we think of profane in terms of some sort of verbal profanity. What profane means is common.
You can see an example of this in a Jewish home. They may have a separate set of dishes for Shabbat. Those are set aside for that special purpose of observing their Sabbath dinner. They are not the common everyday dishes. They are holy, not because they’re morally pure, there’s something magical, or special, or spiritual about them. But they are set apart for a purpose.
The same thing is true for all of the furniture in the tabernacle and later in the temple. It was holy, not because there was something special or magical about it, except that it was made for the purpose of serving and worshiping the Lord.
It had a special meaning and typological or representational value. It was significant for that, and it was unique and distinct and wasn’t supposed to be used for everyday life functions.
That’s what holy means. We are not supposed to live like everybody else, like the unbelievers, like the pagans. We are supposed to think and live differently. We think differently and that impacts the way the way we live.
As Israel came out of Egypt, as the Exodus took place, they went to Mount Sinai. We have used this map over the last few lessons.
Traditional Sinai is down in the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. There’s debate over exactly where the biblical Sinai was located. There are others who think that it was somewhat further north in the Sinai Peninsula. I’m not going to get into that debate because there’s a lot that goes on there.
The point is that while they were there this is when they became positionally sanctified.
We looked at this in Exodus19. God appears as almost a storm cloud, dark clouds. There is lightning and thunder. There’s an earthquake and it’s wasn’t a pleasant place to be.
The people had to be cleansed. They have to go through a two-day cleansing process, washing their clothes, washing themselves; a ritual cleansing picturing the fact that a sinner must be cleansed before they come into the presence of a righteous God.
We see this pattern that you’ll see all the way through. It is at the very core and center of the idea of worship. It’s designed to teach us how incredibly majestic God is, that He is righteous. His standards are so beyond anything that we can imagine, and we fall so very, very short of those standards. We are absolutely unworthy to the point where it should bring us to despair.
How in the world can we even approach anything related to God because we are so corrupted by sin?
That’s where grace comes in. Grace comes in because it shows that on the one hand, all through this, man is totally corrupt. Every one of us is spiritually dead, unworthy. It is impossible for us to do the least little thing that gets any kind of approbation from God.
God does everything for us. This is the essence of the mindset, the mental attitude, of worship, recognizing that when we come together to worship God, we are worshiping this majestic righteous God Who is absolutely perfect.
We have no right whatsoever to come into His presence, but in His grace He has provided a means to do that. It is a free gift and all that is involved in providing that free gift so that we can come into His presence. This is the essence of what we are talking about. God defines how His creatures should come into His presence.
In human viewpoint people think, “I determine this on my own: what makes me feel religious; what makes me feel like I’m close to God; what makes me feel accepted by God.”
That’s the standard, but it is a subjective standard. The only objective standard is what God describes in His Word.
When we come face-to-face with the God of the Exodus, it is the same God that we have in the New Testament. We should respond with fear and awe, like Isaiah.
In Isaiah 6:5, he is falling on his face before God, crying out, “Oh woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips.” “I have no right to come into Your presence.”
And then God is the One, as pictured by the cherub, Who brings the burning coal to touch Isaiah’s lips and to cleanse him from sin. God does everything. He’s the one who cleanses us from sin.
We see that God defines how the worshiper comes into His presence. His righteousness defines the standards of His character. To worship Him we must conform to His character, and we can’t do that on our own.
Every aspect of worship in the tabernacle and temple is designed to teach that and reinforce it over and over again.
We may not go through all those steps and all those processes today because all of the things depicted different facets of what Jesus did on the Cross, but Jesus did that one thing on the Cross, He pays for our sins through His substitutionary death. We just accept that and we are positionally cleansed.
When we confess sin we are experientially cleansed. Both positional and experiential cleansing are depicted over and over in different ways through the ritual of the tabernacle.
By studying the tabernacle, we come to a greater realization of what it is that we are doing and why we are doing it. We go through this because it teaches us that what God’s righteousness requires God’s grace provides.
That should lead us to great joy and thankfulness. But we dare not come into the presence of God, when we come corporately to worship, without recognizing this.
This is why, on Tuesday or Thursday night, and on Sunday morning, we always start with confession. We need to make sure that that which we are doing is acceptable to God, and it has to be done according to His standards.
In Exodus 19:6 He says to the nation Israel, “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
In Exodus 24 when Moses sprinkles them with the blood from the sacrifice, that sets them apart positionally. That’s analogous to what happens when we trust Christ as Savior. We are identified with His death, burial, and resurrection.
The New Testament says we are placed in Christ and that is our new position; that is our new identity. But we still have to grow, that’s our experience. We have to grow and we have to mature and develop.
As I go through this series on worship, I’m taking time with this because there are a lot of things that I’m saying and bringing out that are different, they may not be categorically different, but they are refinements on things that we have been taught before.
We need to perhaps change, modify, and strengthen our own personal understanding of what it is that’s taking place when we come together to worship God, or when we are worshiping individually.
We must understand that this is not to be taken in a trivial manner. It’s not something that’s common; it is uncommon; it is distinct, it is holy. We need to recognize how solemn and serious worship of God really is.
Historically evangelicals have lost this significance. Not all, there are still some churches that have more of a liturgy, more of a ritual, but they have lost the meaning.
In other evangelical churches they have brought it down to where Sunday mornings are basically pep rallies for Jesus. Not the Jesus of the Bible, but some Jesus that they’ve invented in their heads, so that makes it a form of idolatry.
What has happened is that with the pressure of the world system, along with an increasing attitude of informality in our culture, we’ve lost a sense of respect for authority, respect for other people.
We’ve lost respect for the fact that other people have different views than we have, or that other people can respect us even though our views may be different from them.
All of this has been lost, and it reflects the fact that we have a church culture that has lost its respect for the righteousness of God and His holiness, that He is completely distinct.
We’ve lost that sense of awe and fear that is at the heart of worship. And with that then, we’ve lost the distinction between the holy and the profane.
Many churches refer to the auditorium as a sanctuary. But somewhere along the line people started saying, “Well, that is not a sanctuary, every believer is a sanctuary. God the Holy Spirit dwells in us and that makes us the sanctuary.”
I’ve heard this from lots of different people; it’s just a part of evangelicalism. I’ve heard it from many different people across the theological spectrum. At the root of that is a misunderstanding of what holiness and sanctuary mean, as if it’s something mystical.
What we have here, because we’re all believers and God the Holy Spirit has made us a temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are individually a sanctuary.
If we individually, as believers, are a sanctuary, what are we when we come together corporately? Do you think we lose that? In fact, we are going to see in Ephesians 2:21 Paul talking about the whole body together, not just individually, growing as a temple to God. That is stating something different than the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
When the corporate body comes together there is something unique and distinct about that; it is very much a part of what worship is.
As a result of the loss of formality and respect that it is the result of pressure from the culture, as a result of losing the distinction between holy and profane, we have also slipped into popular forms of worship that are designed to make what we do on Sunday morning comfortable to the unbeliever.
That’s at the very core of contemporary Christian music; it’s at the core of contemporary Christian worship. It’s at the core of the whole church growth movement that produced these generic evangelical churches that are exploding and are so very large.
They’ve lost all of these things, which is very, very, tragic. I’m not sure how much we can do to recapture it. You can’t recapture it by artificial means, which is very popular today.
I’ve talked to people we all know, who have been in this church and moved away to other places. They say, “Well, I got invited to this or that church, and I’ve heard you talk about this, but we saw it.”
Turn down the lights when it’s time to pray, play the certain kinds of music that’s supposed to generate this worshipful thinking. The walls are painted dark. There are fog machines blowing smoke.
You know, make of it what you will, blowing smoke at the congregation, which is what comes out of the pulpit.
All of this is supposed to create a dramatic effect that will cause people to worship. What’s forgotten is that worship cannot be manipulated externally. I can’t do it; you can’t do it. I can’t go into a soft voice, talk in a dramatic tone, and try to create something. That’s fraud.
Worship is going to take place between your ears and it’s going to be dependent on your volition and the mentality you bring with you to church on Sunday morning, or on Tuesday or Thursday night.
By looking at these things, even the reading of the things I read from some different writers in terms of their devotions, we are given an example of how far we’ve fallen as a culture.
Read Lancelot Andrews, some Puritan devotions, or some of these other devotions, and you realize they were living and thinking about God at a higher plane than we do.
There was something profound about how they thought about God. And that’s why I read that, to impress you with their thinking about Him.
It’s the same thing with some of the hymns we read. I’ve been asked this so many times, “Why don’t we write hymns like we used to?”
Hymns like that are not written today because we don’t have the spiritual life that we used to have. We don’t have people who are richly walking with the Lord that can produce that kind of response.
By looking at things like the tabernacle we can come to understand what God is teaching us.
The tabernacle teaches us this unique place of worship that was distinct from anything else in Israel.
As I pointed out last time the term mishkan means a dwelling place. It’s comes over in the Greek word SKENOO. The letters skn are the core consonants for the word, and it’s fulfilled. Everything in the tabernacle has a fulfillment in Christ. It points to what’s going on now in the Church Age.
That’s why we can go back to it and say, “This isn’t just something interesting historically. When I think about and meditate on what’s happening there, and how that’s fulfilled in the New Testament, it enriches my own concept of worship.”
John 1:14, “And the Word [the LOGOS, God Himself, eternal God, the Second Person of the Trinity] was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
The word dwelt among us is SKENOO, it means to live or dwell in a tent.
“… dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth.”
The glory there isn’t like the Shekinah that showed up as depicted in this portrait of the tabernacle where it’s the brilliant light. The glory that we see many times displayed by Jesus in John is His miracles, His everyday life, the way He treated people. It’s not what James, Peter, and John saw on the Mount of Transfiguration.
I pointed out last time that inside the walls around the tabernacle everything is different from what goes on in the rest of the camp.
There are three and a half million Jews. They are living their lives, washing their clothes, cooking, building campfires, or cleaning up, doing all of the daily routines.
But that’s not what’s happening in the middle of the camp. It is set apart. That’s the meaning of holy; it is set apart from everything else that is going on around it.
Slides 9, 10, 11
That’s the purpose of looking at these pictures, to point out that this is a distinct place of operation.
When we look at this schematic we see that it is one hundred fifty feet long, that’s fifty yards, which is half of a football field. From top to bottom it is seventy-five feet.
In the center is the real dwelling place that is called the holy place. The Bible refers to this literally as the holy of holies, which is just a way of expressing the superlative. It’s the most holy place, but we’re used to the term holy of holies.
As I pointed out last time, when you look at it, as you walk through the one entry, which pictures that there is only one way to God, what is right there separating you from the presence of God is the altar. That visually teaches that there has to be a death, there has to be a blood sacrifice to come into the presence of God.
This is the place of sacrifice. It’s described in Exodus 27:1–8 and Exodus 38:1–8. The priest constantly serviced it, and they were to keep the fire going day and night.
This was to be a perpetual reminder that man is separated from God, but also that there is a provision made that is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
The altar itself was made with acacia wood, a really hard dense wood. There are acacia trees all over the Middle East today. It indicates the perfection of Christ in His humanity because it is the wood that is least susceptible to rotting and to penetration by bugs and termites and that sort of thing.
It’s covered with bronze and the bronze depicts the fact that it can withstand judgment. Jesus as the God Man could withstand the judgment of sin.
The priest ministered there and kept the fire going around the clock.
The second thing we looked at last time was the bronze laver. I hate belaboring this, but I get questions, I get people asking me this all the time. How do you defend the confession of sin when 1 John 1:7 says that the blood of Christ continuously cleanses us from all sin?
There are people on the radio who say you don’t have to confess your sin. That statement makes 1 John 1:9 redundant.
What they don’t understand is that 1 John 1:7 is what happens at the bronze altar. That is positional. What happens at the laver is experiential.
When the priest is first anointed, he is bathed from head to toe, a picture of complete washing and cleansing from sin. He doesn’t ever get washed from head to toe ceremonially like that again.
That is what Jesus is talking about when He talked to the disciples in the upper room in John 13 when He says, “But all of you have been washed.” He uses a different word in the Greek, which means a complete washing, but you still need to be cleansed. You still need your hands and feet washed, like the priests. The hands represent what they did, and the feet represent where they went.
The laver is described in Exodus 30:17–21. It’s never described exactly; there are different artistic representations.
It’s designed to teach the principle of cleansing every time you go before the Lord.
John 13:8, “Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If I do not wash [NIPTO in the Greek meaning to wash a part of the body] you, you have no part with Me.’ ”
The word for part is a technical term for a designated part of an inheritance. In other words, “You’re not going to have any role with Me in the kingdom.”
In John 13:10, “Jesus said to him, ‘He who is bathed …’ ”
Notice the difference between washed and bathed. Washed is partial, bathed is getting a full bath. Those who are already saved are completely cleansed.
“ ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean.’ ”
As you approach the holy place you see that the boards are made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. This again is a picture of the hypostatic union, the God Man.
When you look at the underside of the coverings, what do you see? You see cherubs, because remember what we studied at the beginning of this series, that the tabernacle is a representation of what happened at the Garden of Eden.
At the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned, God restored that relationship. First with the sacrifices, that’s the brazen altar.
Then what did He do? He kicked them out of the Garden so they wouldn’t have access to the Tree of Life. He set an army of cherubs to guard the Garden so that man could not return.
Cherubim guard the sanctuary—reminiscent of the sanctuary of God in the Garden of Eden. The cherubs are embroidered on the inside of the lowest level.
There are six layers of coverings. When you were in there and looked up you would see that between you and God in Heaven are the cherubs.
There’s something blocking man’s relationship with God.
When we get inside the holy place we see that the veils have a representation of the cherubs on them.
What’s between you and the holy of holies where God dwells? Cherubs on the veil.
All of this is designed to teach and remind us about what happened in the Garden of Eden—why there is no longer access to God.
Here we see it depicted in the background. That is the veil that was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died on the Cross.
That pictures the fact that now there is an opening, an access to God because the sin penalty has been paid in full.
Inside the holy place there are three articles of furniture. There is the golden menorah. Menorah is the Hebrew word for lampstand or lamp. That’s on the left.
On the right there is the table of showbread.
In the tabernacle and in the first temple, against the veil, there is the altar of incense.
In the second temple, according to the Mishnah, and according to things in the Talmud, there were actually two veils there.
That helps make sense of what the writer of Hebrews describes when he says that the altar of incense is behind the veil. The Scripture in Exodus puts it in front of the veil. If there are two veils and it’s in between them, then both are correct. So there seems to be two veils in the second temple.
On the left is the golden menorah, the golden light stand. The passages are in Exodus 25:31–40 and Exodus 37:17–24.
It’s made out of solid gold, which tells us that it represents deity because God is the light of man. He is the source of illumination. He is the source of revelation. This depicts God as the One Who illuminates our thinking with the light of His revelation. It is a stylized tree, so it takes us back to life.
We covered this earlier when we talked about John 1, Jesus is the life, the Word is the life, the LOGOS is the life, and the life was the light of men. Those ideas of life and light are brought together in Jesus in John 1.
This slide is a picture from the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, which is located down in the southern part of the Negev, probably about fifteen or twenty miles north of Eilat.
I think this is a more accurate representation because at the top there are little menorah, little lamps. If you go to Israel, you can buy replicas or antique oil lamps and that’s what these look like. It has these oil lamps on top.
Along the bottom are various almond blossoms. The reason for the almond blossoms is that the almond tree is the first tree to bloom in the spring. It represents newness of life. There is the idea of life and light both combined within this menorah.
The priests would have to trim the wicks and refill the oil every day, so they had to constantly keep that light on. The light was on inside the holy place twenty-four/seven. It is a picture of the fact that the Creator is the one who provides light.
In Psalm 36:9 we read, “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”
See how life and light are combined together in this psalm? We think of them as separate categories, but in God they are interrelated and interdependent. Life and light go together. It is through the light of God’s Word that we see and understand light. We are illuminated to the understanding of the world around us.
We can learn a lot through empiricism and rationalism. But we don’t ultimately know unless we have the light of God’s Word giving us that frame of reference to interpret empirical knowledge.
Here’s another stylized version of the menorah. I have several Jewish publications on the mishkan that have some tremendous artwork. People have made replicas of the furniture that are quite sophisticated. This is a picture from one of those books.
We learn in the New Testament that the fulfillment of this is in Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world. He is the one who reveals the way to the Father in John 8:12 along with Isaiah 49:6.
In John 1:9 he says He “was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.”
That’s important. That is a function of common grace that there is a level of illumination to God’s existence and to truth that comes because Jesus Christ has been incarnate.
In the New Jerusalem at the end of history the Lamb will be the light for the whole world, Revelation 21:23.
This should remind us that just as the menorah illuminates the temple, we as believers are to illuminate the world. We are to shine forth as lights in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation according to Philippians 2:15.
That is part of our worship, to be the light reflecting the light of God to the world.
When we get into Revelation 1:20 and Revelation 2:1 there is a reference to the seven lampstands that represent the seven churches described in Revelation 2 and 3. The church is depicted as a lampstand. It’s the role of the church through its service to God that is a light to the world.
As you go into the holy place, the light of the menorah is on the left. The table of showbread is on the right. This is a picture of God’s provision of, not only physical nourishment for Israel in the wilderness because the twelve loaves of bread represented God’s provision, the manna in the wilderness, but it also represents His Word.
The twelve loaves were baked every week, one for each of the tribes of Israel. The bread signifies that communion with God is the source of life. That intimate fellowship with God is the source of life.
Jesus said, in quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 in Matthew 4:4 that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
That’s another argument for the fact that it’s not just idea revelation in the Bible, it is verbal, every word. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
The table of showbread represents God’s provision of everything that sustains us in life. The passage where it’s described is Exodus 25:23–30 and Exodus 37:10–16.
Jesus says that He is the real antitype; He’s the One that the table of showbread points to. He is the fulfillment of the provision of manna that God made for the people.
In John 6:32–59 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.”
Notice that both the light represents life and the bread represents life. Jesus said He is this provision. He is the living LOGOS: in the beginning was the LOGOS, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with us, and the Word was God.” And He is the written LOGOS.
1 Corinthians 2:16 Paul says that, “we have the mind of Christ.” We have the written Word and the living Word, represented by the bread.
Eating the bread is a picture of faith. This is what Jesus confused people with when He said you need to eat My flesh and drink My blood.
He was speaking metaphorically. To eat something, you take it in to be part of your body. To nourish your body is a picture of faith, that we are accepting Jesus. And He becomes a part of our life and nourishes it as the source of nourishment for us.
What we learn from this is that God provides everything. Peter put it this way in 2 Peter1:3, “seeing that His divine power has provided for us everything related to life and godliness.”
That’s the picture of the table of showbread, and because God has given us everything, we should serve Him with everything that we have.
This is another stylized version of the table of showbread. This again comes from the same book I have on the on the mishkan.
The third piece of furniture is the altar of incense. This is a picture from the Tabernacle in the Wilderness in Israel. Notice in this picture it has the four horns of the altar and they have been painted red to signify blood.
After the sacrifice was made out on the bronze altar, the blood from the sacrifice was brought in and dabbed on the horns of the altar.
Effectual prayer is based upon the fact that the sacrifice has been made opening the way to God. You can’t just pray to God apart from having the application of that sacrifice.
That’s why we make the statement about prayer: that God doesn’t listen.
By listen, I don’t mean that God is unaware, but He doesn’t actively engage in answering prayers of unbelievers because they do not enter into the heavenly temple in terms of their prayers because they haven’t trusted in Christ as Savior.
The sacrifice on the bronze altar hasn’t been made for them so there’s no blood applied to the altar of incense. That’s the connection.
This is also picture of the fact that Jesus is our High Priest who constantly intercedes for us. That is made possible because of the sacrifice that Christ made on the Cross.
The altar of incense is described in Exodus 30:1–10 and Exodus 37:25–29. It is a small altar, about a foot and half square and it’s only about two and a half feet high. There was a special recipe for the incense that was supposed to be burned there; it was holy. The recipe wasn’t known to everybody.
At one point we know that the sons of Aaron, Abihu and Nadab, brought “strange fire”, as the text in Leviticus 10:1 says. No, they just brought profane incense. There was nothing bad or wrong about it. It just wasn’t what was prescribed by God. So, God disciplined them with the sin unto death.
It was this incense that would continuously go up twenty-four/seven to God, a symbol of the continual prayers for the saints. Once a year when the high priest entered the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement, he would bring a censer from the bronze altar with incense in it.
It would fill up the room with smoke so that when he opened the veil and went into the holy of holies and the ark of the covenant, he was in a fog chamber. He couldn’t clearly see what is there. He would apply the blood because the ark of the covenant is the footstool of God.
Here we have a depiction of the ark of the covenant that is in the Tabernacle of the Wilderness, Exodus 25:10–22 and Exodus 37:1–9.
The term “ark” simply refers to a box. It was a wooden box made of acacia wood and covered with gold. That represents the hypostatic union. The lid, the covering, is made of solid gold and the cherubs on top were all of one solid piece of gold.
This would have been worth quite a bit, so if the Babylonians captured it, it would have been melted down for some purpose.
This is how the ark is traditionally displayed, where the rods for carrying it go from left to right. Can anybody think of a problem with that? Well, to carry the ark the priests were to pick that up, but only the high priest could go into the holy of holies.
And so it is believed that in actuality they would have to turn the ark sideways so that the poles would stick out the back and the front. When it came time, what would happen is that they would take the veil down, the veil is still between them and the ark, and they would put the veil over the ark.
Then they would have the rods coming out in front and coming out in back and then they could pick it up and they could transport it. Otherwise they have to go in in some way on the sides before they could put everything down. That’s just one of the things that people wonder about.
Here are a couple of other representations. That is a picture of the model of the ark that we have down on the table in front of the pulpit.
This was another depiction of the ark of the covenant that I think is really well done. It has the helmets on the cherubs indicating they are part of the hosts of the Lord, which are the armies of the Lord.
There are three things in the box. The Law, the Torah, the Ten Commandments, and they were broken.
Remember in Exodus 32:19 Moses came down from the mountain after the Law had been given to him. The people had convinced Aaron to build a golden calf and they were worshipping it.
He threw down the tablets, they broke, and God gave him a second set. The broken tablets are in the ark to remind people of their sin. They have literally broken the Law.
Aaron’s rod that budded is in the ark. It relates to a rebellion that occurred among the priests. They complained that Aaron was getting all the privileges just because he was Moses’ brother, an early act of nepotism, and that God really hadn’t chosen him. It was just Moses showing favoritism to his family.
So, God said, “Okay, this is what you do. Everybody has to bring his staff into the tent. Put them inside the tent and in the morning [remember the staff is made from dead wood] the one that has sprouted forth blossoms and buds is the one that is My chosen.”
The next morning the only staff that had sprouted green leaves and blossoms and buds was Aaron’s rod.
And there was a bowl with manna in it, which represented God’s provision. But He provided the manna because everybody was grumbling and complaining.
These three things represented the sin of the people, and it is all covered by what is called the mercy seat.
Technically the term in the Old Testament, the Hebrew, is kapporeth, from the term kaphar, which means the place of cleansing. It is often translated atonement, but that’s at-one-ment, a term that is made up in English to describe this.
In many places in the Law where kaphar is used it’s translated in the Septuagint with the words for cleansing. It’s the place where sin is cleansed, where God is propitiated and satisfied, as Paul says in Romans 3:25. The mercy seat represents atonement.
That brings us to then be the robes of the high priest and there are two different pictures here. They were quite elaborate. Everything, including the dyes that were used for his robes, was extremely expensive. Most people could not afford that kind of dye and they dressed in earthen colors.
When they went to the tabernacle and saw the high priest, he was decked out magnificently. No one else ever dressed in those kinds of garments.
His breastplate had costly precious stones, twelve of them that represent the twelve tribes of Israel, and they were inlaid in this breastplate of gold.
On his shoulders there were two onyx stones with the names of six tribes engraved on one stone, and six tribes on the other demonstrating that he was representing the twelve tribes of Israel. His royal blue garment represented his heavenly focus, his heavenly responsibility.
His headdress had a band around it that had “Holiness to the Lord” on it. He is set apart and sanctified unto the Lord.
This is a picture of the breastplate. That’s from the model there. They aren’t going to have a breastplate of solid gold.
At the foot of his garment there were alternating bells and pomegranates. The Jews believe that the pomegranate was the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. So, the pomegranate represents sin.
There is speculation about what the bell is for. There are a lot of theories, but one is that the bell was to call attention to the priest. When the priest is walking through the tribes everybody hears. They hear his garments move and they hear those bells jangling and they know the high priest is there. He can’t sneak up on anybody.
A pomegranate bell has been discovered in the excavations of the Temple Mount. I may be wrong here, but I think this occurred when the Palestinians were building an underground mosque under the Al Aqsa mosque and doing an illegal excavation.
In taking all the dirt out they were taking it to a place and just dumping it. There were archaeologists who were sifting through that and I think that is where they uncovered one of these little pomegranate bells. The bell was discovered but I may be mistaken as to what the occasion was.
Slides 36, 37
This is the high priest who is fulfilled in Jesus Who is our High Priest.
This is what would happen at the tabernacle. And then when worship came along, we had the sacrifices.
I want to talk a little bit about the sacrifices and just summarize them. They are described in Leviticus 1 through about Leviticus 7.
The order in which they are described in Leviticus is not the order that you would bring them to the tabernacle or to the temple.
The very first sacrifice that was brought was called the purification offering. Sometimes it is translated as the trespass offering.
These five sacrifices speak of what is necessary to bring the worshiper into complete fellowship with God.
It starts with this first offering and then it ends with the peace offering where the worshiper sat down and had a meal with God, which is a picture of close communion and complete fellowship.
All of these fit together, but all of them are fulfilled in what happens at the cross with Christ.
The first sacrifice, the purification offering, sometimes is translated in Scripture as the sin offering. It emphasizes the people’s need for purification, for ritual cleansing, and for cleansing from sin.
This is described in Leviticus 4:1 all the way through Leviticus 5:13.
It is described again in Leviticus 6:24–32. It was designed to cover any ritual defilement, an in the case of a mother who gives birth to a child, she is ritually defiled.
I think that it’s because part of the curse of sin was that a mother’s pain would be increased in childbirth. Because it’s associated with the curse, she’s ritually defiled.
She didn’t have anything to confess, but just as Mary had to bring a sacrifice, this would be true of any mother.
There were various other things that resulted in ritual uncleanness. If you touched a dead body you were defiled, things like that. They are not sins but they are associated with something that’s the result of sin.
So, the purification offering would cover any defilement, or ritual impurity, or sin that had been committed unknowingly. The worshiper would have to put his hand on the sacrifice, confess his sin, and he would be ritually forgiven.
Later, during the Roman times, the rabbi allowed worshipers to go to the temple once a year instead of the three required by the Law. The reason was there were so many Roman soldiers in the neighborhood that if everybody left their home or farm for two weeks they might come back and have lost it.
So, they limited things for a practical reason. But if you were out in the fields like David, out with the sheep, and you commit a sin, you can confess it there according to Psalm 32:5.
You can confess your sin, but eventually when you went to the temple, you would have to bring a sacrifice for that sin. It’s like the beginning to the end. You do the everyday confession, but those aren’t brought to fulfillment until the next time you go to the temple. At that time you would bring a sacrifice and that would complete the deal.
Confession is always linked with the payment for sin in the sacrifice of the animal.
No forgiveness would be granted just on the basis of sacrifice. You had to confess your sin and there had to be a sacrifice. If the defilement were for a non-sin issue, you wouldn’t have any sin to confess. You would just bring the offering.
If the sin is willful or premeditated it’s either directly forgiven by God, or it was taken care of on the Day of Atonement each year. In the sacrifice the blood represented the death of the animal as a substitute and that represented a substitute for spiritual death.
That’s fulfilled for us in Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and it’s also seen in 1 John 1:7–9.
1 John1:7, “The blood of Christ continuously cleanses …”
That’s the positional basis for forgiveness.
1 John1:9 is stating to confess sin.
Second, there would be the reparation offering, which is sometimes called the trespass offering.
Jesus talks about this in Matthew 5:23–24 when He says, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled [go take care of the situation, be restored] and then come and offer your gift.”
This is described in Leviticus 5:15–6:7, and also in Leviticus 7:1–6.
This is the word that is used in Isaiah 53:10, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him.”
That is the Servant, the Messiah.
“He has put Him to grief when You make His soul an offering for sin.”
That’s the word for reparation offering. Reparation was to take care of all of the things in which God is defrauded: all of the gifts, all the service, all the obedience, everything is taken care of by this.
The idea of it being a reparation offering is more clearly seen in Numbers 5:6–7. Any person who sinned against another person, for example, if you stole money, or embezzled money, or something like that, then you would have to go and pay that back, and then you would bring this particular offering.
You have the initial offering, the purification offering, and then you have the reparation offering.
And then the third offering they would bring, and this is for everybody, any time they went to the temple. They had to bring these three offerings.
Going to worship at the temple was costly; it cost you something. It was a reminder that salvation would cost God something.
The burnt offering was where the whole bull or the lamb, or a bird in some cases, was totally consumed.
This is described in Leviticus 1 and also in Leviticus 6:8–13. It was a sign of dedication to God and represented the total removal of the sin barrier, and that the individual is totally dedicated to God. Everything went up in a fire.
It was also a memorial. It was to say to God, “Remember me now.” Saying to God remember me doesn’t mean just think about me on occasion or recall me to mind.
When the thief is on the cross next to Jesus and he says, “remember me when You come in Your kingdom”, he’s not just saying have nice thoughts about me, recall me in Your mind.
He is saying, “Do something about it and let me get into Your kingdom.”
So, the idea in saying, “remember me”, when Jesus says to remember Him in the Lord’s Table, it is not just to think about Him, but to think about what our obligation is, to walk in obedience to the Lord, to serve Him.
That’s the idea here, to call upon God to remember the individual sinner. The idea is to call upon God to remember and to act on our behalf. This is a part of worship.
The last two I’ll cover very quickly.
You have the dedication offering for which you would bring a handful of flour and incense and it is burned on the altar as a token of the worshipper’s dedication to God, and that he is calling upon God also to remember him and to act on his behalf.
Hebrews declares that the greatest dedication offering was that of Jesus on the Cross in Hebrews 10:5–7 which quotes from Psalm 40:6–8.
The last one is the peace offering. Communion with God is secured, the payment of the sin penalty completed, and the worshiper experiences the fullest rapport with God.
He is at peace with God and now he can celebrate and have a banquet, have a meal and enjoy that fellowship with God.
That’s all truncated, squeezed together for us and we have peace with God because of what Christ did on the Cross. This becomes our basis for worship.
I’ve now gone through this because next time I want to come back and look at the two major events of worship in Israel, which are the Passover and the Day of Atonement.
We are going to jump ahead to the building of the first temple. We won’t go into the history of the ark; we’ve done that many times. Then we’re going to look at what happens with the Passover in Josiah’s time when he rediscovers the Law.
That sets the stage for understanding the background for everything said about worship in the New Testament. When Jesus is talking to the woman at the well, when you have all these other statements about worship, He is talking to the Jews and all of this is in the background.
When those Jews go into the Church Age and they talk about worship, this is their frame of reference. This is what they’re talking about. Now we have a greater capacity for being able to understand what the New Testament is talking about and what happens on the Cross to enrich our whole concept of worship.
“Father, thank You for this time we had to study through this material. To think about what You provided in the Old Testament, for the pictures, for the way in which it gives us visual representations of what happened at the Cross.
“For the way it enriches our understanding of all that was needed to provide salvation for us that we might have peace with You, be reconciled with You, and be able to rejoice now that we are at one with You.
“For the way it helps us understand our justification as well as our sanctification, what You’ve given us in our position in Christ and also provisions for our daily walk.
“We pray that we might take the time to reflect more profoundly about our personal worship of You. In Christ’s name, Amen.”