THE TABERNACLE IN THE WILDERNESS
I think to start
at the beginning we should look at the tabernacle, or Temple in the
Wilderness, as a road map of the simplest, total expression of
Christianity, to be found in the Old Testament. Christianity from
beginning to end.
The Tabernacle was
the shadow cast by the word of God to be fulfilled in the time of the
promised Messiah. Beginning in the time of Moses, its rites and
rituals have pointed the people of the tribes of Israel directly at the
Messiah. After the rejection of Jesus, the Jews continue as they were,
under the law, awaiting their Messiah right into the present day.
It wasnt until
that time that God revealed His fail safe program, the Church, to whom
He passed along the meaning of the rites and rituals of the Jews, as
promises to a whole new breed of civilization; neither Gentile nor Jew,
but new creatures in Christ, that make up His body, the Church, whom
against not even the gates of hell shall prevail.
Since those rites
and rituals, better known as the feasts, were passed along to us, the
Church as promises, I think that its an important thing for Christians
to know and understand. It is the basis for our Christian beliefs on
the one hand, and a trail to follow, leading from the past, directly
into the future. And, since we are in the future now, because we have
arrived at the time described in Daniel, as the end time, we can use
hindsight to view the Christian promises, through the substance and
shadow of their original Jewish meaning and see our way even more
clearly than were able the Jews. But, the structure itself is a lesson
in the geography of the landscape of Christianity.
So, for the
serious student, and the seekers of truth, its paramount to understand
the roots of our Faith, which really all began with the Temple in the
Wilderness, The Tabernacle. It is the simplest, total expression of
Christianity, to be found in the Old Testament. Lets start with the
Temple in the Wilderness.
You dont have to
be confused about what it means to come to God if you pay attention to
the simple road maps that Gods given.
If you wanted to
come to God, in the Old Testament, you met him where He said you could
meet him. The tabernacle is both a type of Christ and a type of the
total Christian journey, which takes us from outside of Gods presence,
into his presence.
Now, Christ is
that meeting point. But from the Old Testament type of Christ, the
meeting point, you can get all you need to know to work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling.
But, if you wanted
to get to God, then you met him where he said he was. Here and here
alone, in that tabernacle, hidden behind, at the outset, on the outer
fringe, a white linen fence, seven and a half feet high. And, God was
there, and thats the only place you could meet him. Inside that court
yard, was a tent. And the tent consisted of a holy place and a holy of
holys. Three pieces of furniture in the holy place, one in the holy of
holys, two in the outer court, and one door.
Now, if you wanted
to come to God, thats where you went. And the drama of what God was
communicating, made clear, geographically, that every man starts
outside, away from God. Separated from His presence. And the only way
you could meet him was to meet him where he said he was.
Now, you came to
this place, and the first thing you were confronted with is this white
linen fence, the symbol of Gods holiness, without which, scripture
says, no man will see God. You cant get to him, without holiness.
The fence was
supported by oblong blocks of brass. And, there was a brass chain from
each post running to a brass peg in the ground outside. From youth on,
every child of Israel was taught that brass symbolizes judgment. It was
on the horns of the altar, where death for sins occurred. The picture
was graphic. Everybody starts outside, and the brass pegs and the brass
blocks taught a simple truth: remain outside, and judgment was your
lot. Look up, the top of each post was crowned with silver, and from
post top to post top, all the way around this fence, no matter which
direction you went, ran a silver chain.
Now, all the
silver in the tabernacle was made from the silver half shekel, given as
redemption money, by the males in the tribe, every year. In contrast to
brass, which always symbolized judgment, silver, symbolizes redemption.
The price being paid to redeem lost inheritance, restore freedom, and
restore life was paid in silver.
Follow that silver
chain, either direction, it led to one door, only one, through which you
could walk. The curtains of that door had four colors in it. Blue,
scarlet, purple and white. Blue, for the eternal nature of Christ, as
revealed and founded in the gospel of John, who began at the beginning.
Purple, the kingly role of Christ. The purple, as unveiled by Matthew,
who wrote to the Jews, that indeed, Jesus was the King of the Jews.
White, the purity of his perfect manhood, as revealed by Luke, who as
the historian, put together the perfection of our Lord. Scarlet, or
red, for the suffering servant Messiah, portrayed in Isaiah, but
expounded by Mark in his gospel.
written centuries before Christ came, contain all the clues. One silver
chain, led to one door. Walk through that door, which is Christ, and
youre on the inside of the fence. Immediately you are confronted by an
alter, which is the alter of burnt offering. At this alter, two kinds
of sacrifices were offered: the sin, and the trespass.
Trespass, is where
man usually starts when he talks about sin. A trespass, by definition,
is a thing you know about. I robbed, I stole, I killed, or the more
spiritual derivative of that, I hated, I desired what was not mine.
Sins that the church has been hung up on for years, were considered
trespasses by God.
Man has always
started out on the periphery, but the closer you get to God, the more
you are aware that you are not a sinner because you sin, but rather, you
sin, because you are a sinner. Theres something wrong with you.
Youre born out of fellowship with God, which is why I get angry with
Adam, who caused that, we inevitably find ourselves alienated and
against God. A condition of separation from God, that before the temple
in the wilderness, we couldnt do anything about.
The sin offering
was for that condition. The trespass offering was for the deed. And
the sin offering even embraced the sin of ignorance. Even in the Old
Testament, they had a sacrifice for the sins they didnt know about.
But, the message was the same in both cases. You were to bring a
sacrifice, and stand it in front of that alter. It had to be a pure
animal from out of the flock. Then you would lay your hands on it,
because God decreed that when you did that, all of your sins and
trespasses would transfer to the animal, and in so doing, you were
recognizing, as close to what the New Testament calls, that recognition
and request for forgiveness of sins. You recognized that it was your
sins that was going to go onto the animal, and it will be treated as we
deserved to be treated. For sin comes death. Blood contained the life,
so immediately after the transfer of sins, by the laying on of the
hands, the knife was drawn, the animal was slain, and in the sin and
trespass offering, the blood, containing the life poured on the ground,
and the carcass of the animal was taken outside of the camp.
At that instant,
even in the old testament, the believer stood justified. God looked at
him as though he was just like the dead animal with the life blood
poured on the ground. Payment by proxy or vicarious substitute had been
made for his sins. Its as simple as that.
the question is raised, how can the blood containing that life of an
animal stand in for a man? The same way paper money, worth nothing, can
be spent, and stand in for hard money, gold. Because the power that
redeems the money has on reserve, used to be, the hard money to buy up
the paper from the challenger who says intrinsically, that it has a less
than adequate worth. And as Romans says, in the counsels of heaven,
when man was created, God had his fail safe plan: The lamb slain from
the foundation of the earth, drawn from the bank of heavens life, one
worth enough to stand in for all of us, would one day, offer himself,
and buy up all this paper money, so to speak, because the surety was
there and the absolute commitment in the fullness of time to pay that
surety had been made.
God redeemed that
man with the life of that animal. You walk out now, redeemed, paid for,
with your sins laid on the animal. He dies, and all you have to do, to
effect the transaction, is to do what God said, if you did, the
transaction was complete. In the New Testament, its not the blood of
animals, it the blood of one Christ, Jesus is the propitiation, the one
who paid the price. In the New Testament, we dont lay hands on the
head of the sacrifice, we dont, Romans 9 says, ascend up and get him,
and bring him down, we dont have to descend down and get him and bring
him up. The words already nigh you, its in your mouth, speak it forth,
for with the heart man believeth and with the mouth confession is made
As God decreed a
plan involving the laying on of hands, for Old Testament transactions,
all you have to do, where ever you are, is believe that God laid on him
the iniquity of us all, and you step out from underneath, and stand
redeemed, by simply believing, and hanging the body in a act of using
the tongue. With the heart, man believeth and with the mouth confession
is made unto salvation.
inside! Inside the fence, covered with the righteousness of Christ.
The penalty is paid, and the carcass of the dead animal is taken clear
outside the camp. The one that remains is now covered. The substitute
paid the price!
But, service is
involved, as the priest stays in the tabernacle area. There is a Laver
of cleansing there, which is the next piece of furniture. Its a golden
fount of flowing water in that outer court. Youre already covered, but
as you serve God, and dust gets on the hands, and feet, you are to bring
yourself to this Laver, and look at yourself in the mirror, and check
out your spots.
It was made from
the melted down mirrors and jewelry of the ladies in the camp, and it
was burnished and polished, and shaped in such a way that it would
magnify your image when you stood in front of it. It was the duty, of
all who worked in this outer court, to come to this Laver, repeatedly
and consistently to examine themselves, and wash and cleanse themselves
in its water.
Notice that it was
strictly their responsibility to come to the Laver to check themselves.
There was no one assigned to put the Laver in a wheelbarrow and bring it
around to any one who he thought might need to be cleansed!
You cant come to
God, and stand here, knowing that you ought to be a dead man, and he
died for you, and not want to please him, and his word clearly says,
that you, are periodically to bring yourself to the Laver. My Lord is
never against any individual who wants to bring himself to the Laver and
deal with his spots. Thats why I get upset when some bone head starts
telling me, or anyone else, to deal with my spots.
Repeatedly I have
taught, from this example, of the Laver, live your convictions, but
preach Christ! Get out of my face about my spots! Me and the Laver are
working it out! And, I know exactly where its at, I dont need a road
map form a casual observer. My job is to bring myself to the Laver. It
doesnt have a built in recording system that says, Hey Brother Sal,
you havent been here for a while, better get over here. It doesnt
leave much room for our fellows to say, have you noticed that Brother
Sal hasnt been over to the Laver lately. Thats my business, and
yours is your business, not my business. My business is to preach
Christ, and go to the Laver to get my spots cleaned, not to get your
The Laver is
there, and no one is going to get a special reward for bringing it to me
and beating me over the head with it. It stays put! You go to it!
And, what is the
Laver? Christ, the revelation of Gods will. The gold. Gold is the
symbol of spirituality, always, as brass is the symbol of judgment and
silver symbolizes redemption. You go to the Laver, and there is only
one measure, God. He has revealed his word, and the culmination of that
word is Christ. You bring yourself to that Laver, and standing along
side Christ, you let it measure you, not a fellow Christian or priest.
It, and it alone is the measurement. And when you go before the Laver,
youll see some spots, you cant live without them, you cant move
around without picking them up. But, there is water in the Laver. A
fount of flowing water. Well, who does the cleansing? You do, by
dipping your hands in the water. Whats the water? Peter, Paul, and
even James says the water is the Holy Spirit.
No prophecy of
scripture is for private interpretation. How do you get the Holy Spirit
in you to do the washing? Faith! Simple as that!
Well, I dont know
how to put my hands in the water. God gave you the formula. Faith and
he puts his spirit in you, and puts you in Christ! Only one way you get
the water to wash in regeneration. Having seen the spots in the word of
truth! Its a dry rub if you try to cleanse yourself. If you want the
water to wash you, you no longer go to a place. You Faith. Paul said
it to the Galatians. Receive you the spirit, by the works of the law,
or by the hearing of faith? Effort wont get it. As in the Old
Testament, it was simple, plunge your hands into the water. In the New
Testament, start Faithing! - Receive you the spirit, by the works of the
law, or by the hearing of faith?, it was a rhetorical question, it was
the hearing of Faith. Water does the cleansing. You deal with the
Laver about your spots, alone.
Next comes the
curtain. We are in the Tent area, where Gods presence is going to
dwell. It consisted of four layers of fabric and skins. On
the outside, was badger skin, that ugly earthly animal. The best
illustration of how Jesus clothed himself in the tent of earthly human
flesh. And working through the skins, all of which teach the proof
of his redeeming work, and on the inside, looking out, again you see the
pure linen. The point being, once we go through this door, and the
sacrifice is offered, and the body carrying your sins is outside the
camp, we are encircled by the linen cloth quality of the fence, and here
we are totally encased with the nature of Christ. God looks at you
now in Christ and sees past the badger skin to the linen, as we are now
totally encased in Christ. Were now inside that area where the
service of God is being performed. The dead animal carrying the
sins is outside the camp where its never seen again, symbolizing that
those forgiven sins are never see again by God.
Enter the tent,
and over on the left is the golden candlestick. It consisted of a stem
and three curving branches on each side, making seven arms, and on each
a cup and a knop. And they were designed as flowering branches with a
cup at the top of each one of them, and a wick in each cup.
Early in the
morning, everyday, the priest would go and trim the lamps and fill them
with fresh oil to overflowing which made the lamp burn brightly. And,
were not left in doubt as to what that golden candlestick symbolizes,
its the Church, you and me, in Christ. And, what it teaches, is that
we have a light to shine. As He was the light of the world, He left the
task to us. But something very interesting, and too often forgotten by
those who would be a witness by standing in your face and lassoing you.
It was as a natural function of the branch in the vines. It flowered a
cup and knop at the top these cups were flowering with a wick.
Once the fresh oil
was in, the trimmed lamp, burned brightly, bringing light
automatically. Simple truth; you dont witness by knocking people down,
you witness by the out growth of Christs nature in you. This
implantation, to use a Biblical phrase, the gift of the Holy Spirit,
which God gives us by Faith, burns the dross. But, youre not as aware
of it, youre busy faithing. But as you begin to see desires change,
the Holy Spirit, is burning, as the scripture says, the dross. In
addition, that life in us maintained, which is maintained as long as we
have faith, causes growth.
Some of you have
probably changed more than you ever believed you could change, and you
didnt change because you shook yourself and said, CHANGE. You started
the life of faith and change outworked through you. Now why did it burn
brightly? The oil of the Holy Spirit. As water typified Spirit in one
context, oil typifies it here.
fresh oil in the cup. If the oil was there, the light was bright.
Didnt have to work at it. People noticed something. You talk about
charisma. Do you know where the word comes from? The gift of Gods
spirit. Some people can walk in the room and you feel their presence.
I firmly believe that if the Holy Spirit is abiding, it creates its own
chemistry! And that promise of God that He will abide is to a faither,
There is something different about the uncommon faithing man, placed in
him by the Holy Spirit. Let it firmly be established that when you
dwell in Christ, and his word abides in you, and the vine and the branch
are together, and the light of the Holy Spirit is there, you are a
witness. You dont have to work at it. You will be.
Well, how do I get
the oil in every morning? Same formula - FAITH gets the Holy Spirit in
God wont give it
to you for anything else! I repeat, receive you the spirit by the
works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Now, there is
another piece of furniture. The table of show breads. It consisted of
a table and twelve loaves of bread. And, they had to be replenished
every week. One loaf from each tribe, with frankincense. Its not
Christ, the living bread. He was the living bread from God out of
heaven. That was the manna, that came down from heaven.
calculated that God gave them fifteen tons of manna every day. But, out
of what He gave them, He expected they bring Him a loaf from each tribe
every week. It was an offering from the people out of their store to
Him. And, it had to be brought with frankincense. The symbol of joy,
cheerfulness and sweetness. They gladly would bring it every week.
Now to me, the
mystery is, when God rained down fifteen tons of bread, what did He want
with twelve loaves from them? Obviously, He didnt need it. But, He
wanted that frankincense demonstration that they recognized that He was
the provider. And, they gladly built a table, and provided it for Him
in His house.
By the way, it was
inside the curtain, and nobody but the priest could see it. If a
government agent came in to check on the use of the bread, God killed
him deader than a stone. Once when Caesars worm went in there to see
what those priests do with those offerings, God killed him dead on the
spot! If you wanted in there, you had to become a priest, and qualify
according to Gods standards. And, if they were a spy, Hed kill them
Gods not as
openly brutal today, but spiritual death is much worse. The point Im
trying to make is that this was a secret place. So, when some
bureaucrats come sniffing around, and asked, dont you want to know what
happened to your bread? That offering was given to God! That bread
belonged to the priests. The point is that there are a lot of people
that outline the Christian journey. You come to Jesus, and let Him bear
your sins. Come to the laver and get clean. Be a witness, the golden
candlestick. Go over to church and pray, but just dont bother me with
that table of show breads. But, God put in very high cotton, the table
Thats why I say,
that if I could ever get set free in the budget, I would still teach one
seventh of my time on giving. Thats Gods choice! Seven major pieces
of furniture in the Tabernacle, and one of them has to do with giving!
But, I would teach it from the frame that God was able teach it. He
didnt need their bread. I repeat, He gave them fifteen tons everyday!
They needed to give! It was part of His testament for sharing in His
Next to the
curtain, that was the equivalent of a veil before the holy of holies a
third piece of furniture. The alter of incense. The Psalmist said, let
my prayer be said before thee as incense O Lord. Jesus said that when
you pray, go to the closet and shut the door and pray to your father,
who heareth in secret. Nobody outside of that holy tent saw that alter,
God saw it.
Now, the laver of
cleansing had to have a fire burning on it constantly as a symbol of
prayer. It was lit every morning with fresh coals. But, you could only
light it with one fire. Two of the Old Testament characters were struck
dead, because they brought, what the Bible calls, strange fire. You
couldnt just take a coal off someones campfire, and light this alter.
You could only take a coal off this alter where the burnt offering,
another type of sacrifice, offered at the alter in the outer court, was
burnt, and the word is a liturgical word in the Old Testament, which
means to ascend for Gods pleasure.
You had to take a
coal from that alter, and only that alter, where the sins were taken
care of, where the substitute paid the price, and the literal life of
the burnt offering was ascending to God. You took a coal from that
alter and lit this fire.
You dont just
charge into Gods presence and say, give me this or that. You go back
and you stand for a minute in front of Calvary, to use New Testament
language, and you remember the basis by which you approach God. He died
for me. Id be dead otherwise. You take that coal. That kind of hard
attitude. Youve got to know youre a sinner to be able to understand
forgiveness. Just as that woman they criticized for the ointment in the
alabaster box, she said shes been forgiven much, thats why she loves
You start your
prayer life as a reminder, that my access to God is because while I was
yet a sinner, God commendeth His love toward me. And, while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us. Thats why I say, send every sinner to
me. Because I grew up in a Church where God would like you IF you were
perfect. All imperfection was embraced in His death. He loves you and
me as we are! Not our souls, you and me! He died for me. I dont have
to work too much to get to feel good toward God when I remember that.
That lights the incense. You light it in the morning, and it burns all
day. And that incense, which is an attitudinal frame of thanksgiving to
God for what He did for us is closest to the very presence of God
Once a year, on
the day of Atonement, you could part this curtain and enter in where the
Ark of the Covenant sat, in the holy of holies. The Ark of the Covenant
consisted of an oblong box made of acacia wood, a root out of the dry
ground, as the symbol of our humanity, covered with gold, as the symbol
of divinity, and the mystery of the incarnation is portrayed in that
type. The divine and the human merged into one.
In order to make
very clear that the box symbolized Jesus, inside the box were the
unbroken tablets of stone. The popular movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark,
should have done their research. The tablets in that box were not
broken! Moses broke the first commandments, the second ones were
unbroken, and were placed inside this box to prove that at the first
giving of the law, man broke it. Only in Christ was the law unbroken.
Also in the Ark was the high priestly rod of Aaron, which to prove his
priesthood, God worked a miracle. As that rod, through the darkness of
the night, from its deadness as a staff that had been used to walk
with, budded in the morning became the symbol of death and resurrection.
The rod was a symbol of the high priestly work of redemption, and the
rod that budded as a symbol of Christ was also kept therein. Thirdly,
there was a cup that kept the manna, the symbol of the living bread.
Each of those three thing were Gods exclamation points to say, if you
cant get it from the dimensions (which I havent explained), if you
cant get the message from that incarnate union of acacia wood and gold,
let me make it clear, the unbroken tablets, the budding rod, and the cup
of manna is to say once and for all, that is Christ!
On the top of the
box was a solid block of gold. Carved into it, the Cherubim. When man
sinned, the Cherubim with flaming swords, were stationed at the entrance
to kill all that came into the garden of Eden. Eden means heart of
God. All who came into Gods presence were to be slain. These
Cherubim now sit with folded wings beholding this area of the solid gold
block, no longer with swords, theyre at peace. And the solid gold
block is the symbol, as gold always is, of divinity. It was that work
of Christ at Calvary, where He atoned. Cappereth is the name of this,
called the mercy seat sometimes. It literally means covering. We are
In a terrible old
picture in the Old Testament when the Ark came back from the Philistines
it went to a village and they lifted the gold lid and peeked in and God
instantly killed 50,000 in that city, to teach drastically the point,
that any man who looks on Gods standard of unbroken law, without the
covering atonement, with nothing between us, you die. But between us,
and the perfect law of God, kept by Christ, is the mercy seat, the
covering atonement, that which Christ did which covered us.
And the high
priest would stand in front of that Ark of the Covenant, and what was
called the Sheckinah, a bright light of Gods presence would settle down
on the mercy seat, and the high priest would then talk with God,
represented by the Sheckinah, and bring all the sins of the people
before him, and they would be forgiven, in that case for a year.
Before the high
priest went in and parted the curtain he brought the blood from the
sacrifice for sins. He would sprinkle it seven times on the ground
where he would stand. He only stood in
because the life of the substitute had been spilled and he stood on the
merits of that price having been paid and he sprinkled seven time on the
mercy seat. And, if the blood of the sacrifice that was given was
acceptable, he was not slain.
He had bells sewn
on the bottom of his robe, and a rope tied around his ankle leading
outside the holy of holies, and if they could hear the bells still
tinkling, then they knew that the propitiation had been accepted and
they had a year of grace by which God had forgiven all their sin, there
was a new beginning. If the blood was not acceptable, the priest was
slain, and then, not hearing the bells, they could use the rope tied to
his ankle to drag him out of there.
Christ sat down after doing it, and once for all, past, present and
future, He covered every sin. His sacrifice was that sufficient. The
high priest stands there on the merits of the slain lamb, and God and
the priest commune without barrier.
Now, there is no
clearer roadmap of Christianity than this. I dont care what our
background is, we start outside. Theres only one door, Christ; One
Sacrifice, Christ; One Laver, Christ; One Life, anointed by the Holy
Spirit, Christ. He accepts our gift and we bring the recognition of his
sacrifice and from a heart of gratitude can praise him in our own
private prayer life and fill the atmosphere with thanksgiving that if
God never does anything else for me, He died for me. We stand in His
presence on the shed blood of the outpoured life and between us and
Gods standards is the covering atonement, and our faith in Christs
shed blood covers us! What else is there? God says, thats all we
Isnt it amazing
how we can stand here today, and with 20/20 vision, look back and see
exactly how God built Christ into the scriptures, just so we could
verify for ourselves that Christianity was part of the plan created
before the foundation of the world.
Do you have any
doubt that God also built into that plan of Christ, the completion of
the Age of the Church? But, just as the knowledge of the Church wasnt
divulged until it became necessary, doesnt mean that it wasnt there,
just waiting for its time. Because it was. And now, in these last
days, the plan for the closing of the age that became necessary by the
Jews rejection of Jesus, is revealed in all its glory. The Rapture is
written into the plan, just as surely as Christ was written into the
Tabernacle in the Wilderness. God gave us His word on it.
Go on to Class I of the Rapture Series
Shadows of things to come