We want to take a closer look at the tabernacle, (tent of meeting) to understand more about who Yeshua (Jesus) is. Yes, the tabernacle will give us much insight, because everything in the tabernacle speaks about Yeshua and it will show us how to pray. So why did God want Moses to build the tabernacle?
Exodus 25:8 tells us, “Have them construct a sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among them.” The Hebrew word for Tabernacle is Mishkan which means to dwell.
We want to start off by saying that the tabernacle was built according to a vision that was given to Moses when he was on Mount Sinai. The earthly tabernacle represents the tabernacle in heaven as Exodus 26:30 tells us, “Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to its plan which you have been shown on the mountain.”And again in
Hebrews 8:5, “ They (the priests) serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” Today, Yeshua our Great High Priest is in the heavenly tabernacle making intercession on our behalf as Romans 8:33-34 tells us, “Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Messiah Yeshua is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
The tabernacle in the wilderness was a huge tent. It had to be a tent because as the people moved from place to place, the tabernacle also had to be moved. The Tabernacle was 150 feet by 75 feet, that is about half the size of a football field.
When the people settled in their own land then there came a king named David that had a heart for building a permanent dwelling for God. God told David that he would not be the one to build it, but his son Solomon.
The tabernacle was divided into three areas, the outer court, the holy place and the holy of holies.
The Outer Court
The outer court was a big area and many of the priests worked there. This is where the altar was placed for the sacrifices. The word in Hebrew for this altar is mizbech (miz-bake) which means slaughter and so it is often referred to as the altar of slaughter. It was made of acacia wood and covered with bronze. It was 7 ½ feet long and 7 ½ feet wide and it had 4 horns , one on each corner.
People today do not understand why God had the people bring bulls and lambs for offerings. You see when man sinned, it separated him from God. So the people had to have a way in which they could approach God. Hebrews 9:22 tells us, “And almost all things are cleansed with blood, according to the Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” They need their sins forgiven so that they could be right with God. So how does this point to our Messiah?
First, we want to look at another story. God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Issac to see whether Abraham would be faithful to God if he offered his son whom he loved. Now God really didn’t want Abraham to kill his son, He only wanted to see if he would be faithful to Him. Genesis 22:9-14 gives us the end of the story, “When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Well, it was at this very spot that God our Father did provide the sacrifice of His Son for us, so that now we can draw near to God by the shed blood of Yeshua. On the day of Atonement the High Priest lays his hands on the animal and symbolically, put as it were, all the sins of the people on his head and then the animal was then sacrificed.
This represented our Messiah when He took all of our sins upon Himself. So now when we not only confess our sins, but actually repent of them, which means we no longer freely commit that sin, we have been forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Yeshua our sacrifice, as Hebrews 9: 13-14 tells us, “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
The next item that was in the outer court was the laver.
The laver was a huge basin of water also made of bronze.
Exodus 38:8 tells us, “Moreover, he made the basin of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.”
It was used by the priests who would bathe themselves in the laver when they were ordained. Afterwards this ceremonial basin was used by the priests before coming to God, but now, they would just wash their hands and feet. The word laver comes from the Latin word lavatorium and in English we know it to be lavatory. As we draw near to God we too, must be washed clean. That means we must examine ourselves Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Examine yourselves! Or don’t you know yourselves—that Messiah Yeshua is in you? Unless of course you failed the test.”
We must come before God in prayer humbly, that is repentant. Remember, sin separates us from God. So you see, when we come in the Name of Yeshua, after examining ourselves and repenting of our sins, then we can draw near by His sacrifice, washed in His blood, that makes us righteous before God. Then we are robed in His righteousness, referring to the priestly garments, as we too, are priests before the Lord as 1 Peter 2:9 tells us, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” And now we are ready to enter into the inner court.
The Inner Court
As we enter into the inner court, the first thing we see on our right is the table of showbread.
This table was 3 feet long and 1 ½ feet wide. The table was made of wood and covered with gold.It had rings on its corners to insert the carrying poles. On this table sat 12 loaves of bread which were placed there at the beginning of the week, till the end of the week on the sabbath. It is said, God would perform a miracle, week after week. When the priests ate the bread on the sabbath it was still as fresh and warm as when it was placed on the table at the beginning of the week. In Hebrew Bethlehem means “house of bread.” We know that Yeshua was the Bread of Life as John 6:35 tells us, “Then Yeshua declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” We also know that He was born in the house of bread…Bethlehem, Luke 2:4.
When Yeshua taught His disciples to pray, He said, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
This table of bread was also called the Table of Presence. So when we come in prayer we must come in the name of Yeshua, and draw near by His sacrifice, washed in the blood and robed in His righteousness and the first thing we do is come to feast at His table. For Yeshua is our food and drink. He is the bread of life and the well of salvation. We are to eat of Him as He tells us in John 6:56, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.”
Of course, He meant figuratively, because when we eat at the Table of Presence, we eat in the light of His Word, which we will see next. As we look to the left of the inner court we see the Menorah.
The menorah is a 7 branch candelabra . It was made of 125 pounds of pure gold. Remember all of this is what Moses saw in his vision on the mountain. As we see in Exodus 25:31-36 that the menorah was very detailed and must have been very beautiful. “ Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.” The menorah was the only light in the tabernacle and that light was never to go out as Exodus 27:20-21 tells us. Only pure olive oil was to be used to light the lamps. To get pure olive oil you needed to crush the olives. This was a picture of the Messiah as we read in Isaiah 53:5. The Messiah was also crushed. The word Messiah means the anointed one. Those who were anointed were anointed with olive oil. The menorah represents God, for God is light. Yeshua said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” You begin to see a picture of the inner court or sometimes referred to as the sanctuary, the Bread of life, the Word of God, the Light of life, the Word of God. Yeshua is the Word made flesh and He is the Light of the World. When we feast at the table of God, we feast in the light of His Word. When we reach the inner court in our prayers we come to feast in God, we eat of His Word which gives us light. When we pray we should always pray using Scripture. We need to quote it and pray using it in our prayers. Next we go on to the Altar of Incense.
This is our last stop in the inner court or the Holy Place. This altar sat in front of the veil that led to the Holy of Holies. The priest would come to this altar twice a day. There was a special incense that they used and this could not be replicated and used for anything else. It was sweet smelling and the smoke went straight up to heaven. The coals from the morning and evening sacrifice which also had to burn continually on the altar of sacrifice was taken to burn the incense. This represents the prayers of the saints. We see in Revelation 8:3-4, “Another angel came and stood at the altar with a gold incense-bowl, and he was given a large quantity of incense to add to the prayers of all God’s people on the gold altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense went up with the prayers of God’s people from the hand of the angel before God. “
2 Corinthians 2:15 says, “ For we are to God the sweet aroma of Messiah among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
You see Messiah, the anointed one of God, is the sweetness of the incense and we, when we come in prayer in His name and draw near by His sacrifice, washed clean in His blood and robed in His righteousness, feasting at His table in the light of His Word, then our prayers become a sweet aroma of Messiah going up to Him.
Now that we have gone through the tabernacle in prayer, we come to the last part of the tabernacle and that is the holiest place, it is where the Ark of the Covenant sits, the presence of God. In front of the Ark of the Covenant was a veil. It was this veil that tore when Yeshua died on the cross as Matthew 27:50-51 says, “And Yeshua cried out again with a loud voice, and gave up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.” This now allowed man to enter into the presence of God. Before Yeshua’s death only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement.
Let’s look at what the writer of Hebrews 9:1-7,says about the tabernacle and especially about the Most Holy Place. “Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.”
So what was this Ark Of the Covenant and what made it so holy? In Hebrew the word would be “Shekhinah” The divine dwelling presence of God. It represented the throne room of God. Revelation 4:8 gives us some insight into the throne room of God. “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”
Isaiah 6 tells us what he saw when he got a glimpse of the throne room of God.
“ I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Yes, the God of us all, the Creator of all things, is Holy, Holy, Holy, and He tells us that we too must be holy as Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “ But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.””
Isaiah when seeing the angels cry holy said this, verses 4-7, “ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
We can not come before God with unclean lips, or hearts, or conscience, because God is holy. So when we enter into His presence through prayer we must take those steps leading up to this point. That is why the tabernacle was constructed in this manner. Today we do not need to sacrifice an animal to draw near to God and yet, we just can not barge into His presence as many people think they can. We must enter in with devout respect yes, but also with a humble and contrite heart, full of repentance and washed in the blood of Yeshua. Then we can come with that confidence that He will hear our prayers.
God has not changed, He is still holy and today, this very moment the angels are still crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy. The tabernacle was the sanctuary and our churches and synagogues represent the sanctuary of God. We can not enter in casually or commonly, but holy. Today’s churches allow people to come in with their coffee, their phones and other things that distract us from true worship of the One Holy God. If we want God in our midst then we must create a holy environment for God to dwell amongst us. The death of Messiah did not change that, for God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Even when we pray over our meals, we are asking God to be amongst us. How do you think we should act? How should our conversation be? Today, we are the tabernacle of God as
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
How about you? Can you say that you are honoring God with your body?
Today, we have a drug problem, an alcohol problem, and even a pornagraphy problem. People live together like a married couple, but are not married. Our eyes and ears are seeing things we should not see and hear. Instead of praising God with the fruit of our lips, we curse God using His name in vain. Our incense before God is not sweet. This study is to open our eyes and see that there is a way to pray, and our Messiah made that way so we can approach God in holiness and godliness, so God will hear and answer us, in our time of need.
Like the Psalmist writes in Psalm 18:18-20, “They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support .He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has rewarded me.”