Sun, Jul 13, 2008

CHRIST IN THE TABERNACLE! PART 3 EXODUS 25-30

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
CHRIST IN THE TABERNACLE!
PART 3
EXODUS 25-30

            This morning we are in part 3 of our study, “Christ in the Tabernacle!” and we are looking at how this portable worship structure that God instructed Moses and the children of Israel to build in the wilderness is a picture of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  In fact, Paul picks up on this in Hebrews chapter 9 as he speaks of the tabernacle and its furnishings being symbolic of what was to come, Jesus Christ!  Beginning in verse 9 of Hebrews chapter 9 we are told, It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience — concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  Hebrews 9:9-14.

            Thus, as we look at the tabernacle and its furnishings we can also learn of Christ and the work He has done for us. You see, in Exodus 29:43-46 the Lord said, And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory. So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests. I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.  In other words, the tabernacle was to be the place of fellowship with God but more importantly and in a much deeper and intimate way, Jesus Christ, who tabernacled among us, brings us to God in a way that the Old Testament people could never enjoy. He is the mediator between God and man, the bridge-builder and thus, through Him we can boldly come into the presence of God the Father!  God desires that kind of relationship with us.

            In our studies so far we have looked at the tabernacle and its furnishings and have seen they form a picture of a cross. We saw the tabernacle and the camp of Israel set up in such a way that once again, if you were to look down from above, it would form a cross with God dwelling in the middle of both these crosses!

            Last time we looked at the white linen fence that surrounded the tabernacle with one gate to get in on the east side. And we saw how Jesus is the only way to enter into salvation, to come to God the Father.  This morning, as we enter through the east gate, we come to the first two of the seven furnishings of this tabernacle, the brazen altar and the brazen laver. Before we get to these two furnishings this morning, let me share with you this story because it is really what we will be focusing on this morning. We are told:

            At the close of a Gospel service an intelligent-looking man came to the minister and said, “I do not see any necessity for the blood of Christ in my salvation. I can be saved without believing in His shed Blood.”

            “Very well,” said the minister, “how then do you propose to be saved?”

            “By following His example,” was the answer. “That is enough for any man.”

            “I suppose it is,” said the minister. “And you propose to do just that in your life?”

            “I do, and I am sure that that is enough.”

            “Very well. I am sure that you want to begin right. The Word of God tells us how to do that. I read here concerning Christ, ‘Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.’ I suppose that you can say that of yourself too?”

            The man became visibly embarrassed. “Well,” he said, “I cannot say that exactly. I have sometimes sinned.”

            “In that case you do not need an Example, but a Saviour; and the only way of salvation is by His shed Blood.”

- The Chaplain

            With that as our background, let’s begin looking at two of the seven furnishings of the tabernacle, the brazen altar and the brazen laver that were located in the outer court of the tabernacle.

THE OUTER COURT
 

THE BRAZEN ALTAR

            As you entered through the east gate, the only door into the tabernacle, in the outer court, the first thing you would see is the brazen altar. This was the place where the animal sacrifices were made to atone for sin.  Just as you couldn’t enter the tabernacle through any other way or place besides the east gate, you couldn’t go any farther into the tabernacle without first stopping at the altar of sacrifice.

            The brazen altar was a box like structure that measured some 7½ feet square and 4½ feet high. It was made of acacia wood over laid with bronze and had metal grates for the sacrifices to be burned upon.  Keep in mind that bronze is the metal of judgment. Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for altar is MIZBEACH and it literally means “killing place” or “slaughter place.”  The altar was easily accessible, it was obviously visible and it was unmistakable for what it was for and what took place upon it – the death of the innocent animal, the shedding of his blood to cover the sin of man!

            Without the altar Judaism is hopeless. It is helpless. You see, the Law could only show man’s imperfection. And Judaism had nothing to solve the problem of sin apart from the shedding of blood. Paul said in Hebrews 9:22, And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. The satisfaction for sin is only provided by the blood sacrifice, which was seen ritually speaking by the blood of the animals.

            But again, this altar is a picture, it is a type of what was to come, Jesus Christ. The brazen altar is a type of Christ, our substitution and sacrifice for sin! Paul, in Hebrews 13:10 tells us this, We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.  You see, Jesus Christ is the brazen altar and apart from him you have no right to partake of eternal life. He alone sacrificed His life, shed His blood, not to cover our sins, but to take them away!  So what was a ritual sacrifice with the shed blood of the animals is now fulfilled completely in the shed blood of Jesus Christ!

            Again, let’s look at the picture that is being painted for us.  You must come into a relationship with God the Father and that is only accomplished through Jesus Christ, the DOOR! Jesus said in John 14:6, “ . . . ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ Also, in John 10:7-9 we are told, Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.’

            But it does not end there. You must not only come through the Door, but you must also come to the brazen altar or the altar of sacrifice, for if His sacrifice for sin is not appropriated into your life, if you do not come to the altar, you are still lost in your sins. You can’t have Christ apart from His finished work on the cross of Calvary!

            Paul picks up on this in his letter to the Hebrews, as he is writing to Jewish believers. They understood the Law. They understood the sacrificial system. Listen carefully to what he says in Hebrews 10:1-4, For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

There is nothing wrong with the shadow, it is only limited.  Think about that for a minute. Your shadow can move as you move but it does have limits. It can’t grab something and pick it up. That is the point Paul is making regarding the Old Covenant and the animal sacrifices that were made.  The word for atonement in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word KOPHAR and it means “to cover.”  They could not take away a person’s sins but only cover them for a time, sort of a ceremonial cleansing and not an inward cleansing.  A shadow of what was to come and thus it was limited!

            If they could take away a person’s sins then those sacrifices would have stopped, the work would have been completed. But that was not the case and the sacrifices continued on, day in and day out!  In fact, during the time of Jesus it has been estimated that over 250,000 sheep were sacrificed during Passover and the blood of these animals would flow from the temple area through channels and into the Brook Kidron making the brook’s waters red!  It was a vivid reminder that their sin remained. It is as Paul said in Hebrews 10:4, For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Or as The Amplified Bible puts it, Because the blood of bulls and goats is powerless to take sins away. It did not have any power to take away, remove sin!

            The Old Covenant was a shadow of the New Covenant with the perfect sacrifice being Jesus.  Paul put it like this in Colossians 2:17 regarding the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. He wrote that they “. . . are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.  Thus, the Old Covenant could not perfect us, we were limited in our access to God but Jesus has come as the Mediator of the New Covenant built upon better promises, the promises of God, the faithfulness of God and not man!

            Paul goes on to say in Hebrews chapter 10, and we will pick up in verse 9, as he wrote, then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

            Thus, as God became flesh and dwelt among us, as He fulfilled the Father’s will, as He gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins, the Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant and in that our sins are paid in full, paid completely as He has sanctified us or set us apart by the shedding of His blood! Now that word sanctified or made holy is the Greek word, HEGIASMENOI and it speaks of an accomplished fact, not a progressive sanctification in a practical sense where God is still working in us. But in a positional sense that as God looks at us He sees us as perfect, He sees the finished product! That is what Paul is saying here.  Positionally in Christ we are seen as perfect now!

            In fact, we are told in Psalm 103:12 what God has done with our sin, As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.  Not only that, but in Isaiah 43:25 we are told, I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins. You see, our sin is no longer covered by the sacrifice of the animal, but it has been take away completely by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary!

            Let me explain it like this. There was a Sunday School teacher who asked her class a very difficult question, even for an adult to answer.  Her question was this, “Is there anything that God can’t do?”  Well, the children thought about it and one little girl spoke up and responded with this remark to the question, “He can’t see my sins through the blood of Christ!”  Exactly!  Perfect!  She is 100% correct with her answer and may we not forget that, because there are many adults who lose sight of that fact or don’t believe it! The sacrifice for sin was made and as John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus, “. . . ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ John 1:29.

            Back to what we have been reading here in Hebrews chapter 10.  Paul moves from the lesser - the animal sacrifices, to the greater – Jesus Christ.  These Jewish believers understood the ministry of the priests as they offered their sacrifices for sins.  These sacrifices were offered daily and repeatedly because they could not take away a person’s sins. And as they read this letter from Paul I’m sure they pictured this continual work of the priests in the temple.

            Then he moves to Jesus, the greater sacrifice, who not only shed His blood as the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world but He then sat down showing the work was completed, it was finished once and for all!  The priests never sat down because their work was never finished. Yes, Jesus still ministers in heaven for us as our intercessor but it is this ministry that flows out of His completed work.  Thus, He sat down at the right hand of the Father!

            Now, let me ask you this question. “How long are you perfected in Christ?”  Paul tells us forever which tells me we are secure in our salvation.  John makes that point in

I John 5:13, These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  And Jesus tells us in John 5:24, Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”  Yes, positionally we are sanctified, practically, on a day-to-day basis we are being sanctified or growing in the Lord as Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:23-24, Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

            And it is because of what Christ has done that we can boldly come to the Father. Paul, in Hebrews 10:19-22 tells us, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

            Now God has given to us the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world, Jesus and people even today mock His finished work by trying to offer for themselves some kind of sacrifice to God.  But Jesus said, “It is finished!” You see, the work was completed and He sat down at the right hand of the Father having paid in full the penalty for our sins!  God became flesh and He dwelt among us to save us from our sin!

            Tragically, there are some today who see the cross of Calvary, the shed blood of Christ as crude and offensive, they see it as barbaric! They can’t believe that a holy and righteous God, a good God would do something like that.  Lighthouse Trails Publishing had this to say regarding this growing trend to downplaying and doing away with the blood sacrifice as something that God did not require!  They write:

            “Liberal theologian and pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick said the doctrine of the blood atonement was a slaughterhouse religion,and he said it was ‘precivilized barbarity.’ In his 1922 sermon Shall the Fundamentalists Win?, he stated:

It is interesting to note where the Fundamentalists are driving in their stakes to mark out the deadline of doctrine around the church, across which no one is to pass except on terms of agreement. They insist that we must all believe in the historicity of certain special miracles, preeminently the virgin birth of our Lord; that we must believe in a special theory of inspiration that the original documents of the Scripture, which of course we no longer possess, were inerrantly dictated to men a good deal as a man might dictate to a stenographer; that we must believe in a special theory of the Atonement that the blood of our Lord, shed in a substitutionary death, placates an alienated Deity and makes possible welcome for the returning sinner; and that we must believe in the second coming of our Lord upon the clouds of heaven to set up a millennium here, as the only way in which God can bring history to a worthy denouement. Such are some of the stakes which are being driven to mark a deadline of doctrine around the church

What this line of thinking is saying is that while Jesus' going to the Cross should be looked at as an example of perfect servanthood and sacrifice, the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death on the Cross is barbaric and would never happen. Thus, Fosdick (and those who adhere to this reasoning) rejects Christ as a substitute for our penalty (the wages of sin is death - Romans 6:23).”

And that doctrine of denying the sacrifice that Christ has made for us is sweeping across churches in America and around the world through the teachings in the Emergent Church movement.

            Folks, I think G. Campbell Morgan had it right when he said, “There is nothing cruel and offensive I see in the cross with its blood – except your sin and mine.”  That is the reason God became flesh and dwelt among us, to pay in full the penalty for our sins, that perfect sacrifice, once for all and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, NONE!Thus, Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5:21, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

            Yes, you must come through the DOOR, Jesus Christ and you must come before the brazen altar, the place of death that was made holy by the shedding of the blood just as the cross, a place of death but it too was a place that would bring forth eternal life through His sacrifice.  It is as we are told in Isaiah 53:4-7, Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.  THE BRAZEN ALTAR – JESUS CHRIST!

THE BRAZEN LAVER

            As we continue on in our journey we have entered through the door – Jesus Christ! As we move into the outer court we first come to the brazen altar or the altar of sacrifice – Jesus Christ the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world. The next piece of furniture we come to in the outer court is the brazen laver where the priests would wash themselves before they served the Lord.

The priests, as they entered the ministry were to be washed at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, so all could see.  Talk about a humbling experience, but this was a one time washing and from then on they would only need to wash their hands and feet before they served the Lord at the brazen laver. Every Christian must first be washed, not by himself but by the Lord and it is only after we humble ourselves before Him. Revelation 1:5 tells us what the Lord has done for us, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. It is then we don’t need the total body washing but that daily cleansing as we serve the Lord.

            In John 13:6-10, as Jesus is washing the disciples feet, we are told, Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, are You washing my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.’ Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’

            Christ washes us first as white as snow but we do need that daily cleansing, not for salvation but to wash away that dirt we pick up in the world. And that is done by God’s Word as Ephesians 5:26 tells us, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word. And by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Titus 3:5-6 tells us, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Also, in Hebrews 10:22 we are told, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. And Jesus said in John 17:17, Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  Thus, to serve the Lord you need to be saved and then you need that daily cleansing of His Word and His Spirit!

            And listen carefully to what David tells us in Psalm 119:9-11, How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.  You see, it is as I have said. First there is that positional sanctification that comes into our life by faith but then, on a daily basis, there is that practical sanctification where the Lord is cleansing us by His Spirit and His Word!

            Now we don’t read anything of the brazen altar until Exodus chapter 30 and in Exodus 38:8 we are told, He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.First of all it was made from the mirrors of the women and J. H. Brown makes these comments regarding this. He wrote: “They handed over those things that were used for self-gratification, those things that in some measure ministered to the gratification of the flesh.”

            So as you went to wash you would see your reflection in the laver. That is interesting to me because James 1:21-25 tells us, Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

            In other words, it is not just knowing God’s Word, but as we look into God’s Word it shows us what is in our hearts and what needs to be removed and thus, we can apply the Word of God to our lives.  It is the application of the Word of God and that is where we often fall short! We know what God has said, that is good. But then we must take it the next step and apply that to our lives. It is not just looking and seeing, it is then acting upon it and doing what God desires, it is seeing the dirt and washing it off!

            One other point here and that is there are no dimensions given for the laver, we don’t know how big it was, we don’t know how much water it held, we don’t know the size of it! Now that seems kind of strange since God is so specific about all the other furnishings.  Why doesn’t He give to us the dimensions of the brazen laver? Because, I believe the work of the Holy Spirit, the water, is immeasurable, you can’t give a size to it, you can’t limit the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to cleanse us through His Word! Remember what we read in Titus 3:5, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. That is why there are no dimensions to the brazen laver, because the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is immeasurable!  THE BRAZEN LAVER – JESUS CHRIST!

            So picture in your mind what we have seen so far.  First of all we have come to God the Father through the DOOR, JESUS CHRIST! There is no other way to come to God the Father except through this one door, all other ways are unlawful before God, they will not be accepted!

            Then, as we enter through the east gate, this door, we first come to the brazen altar located in the outer court, the cross of Jesus Christ you might say. You see, without appropriating the shed blood of Christ, our sacrifice, Jesus Christ into our lives, we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. The sacrifice was made, the blood was shed, and thus, there is the remission of sins through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

            It is then and only then that we can approach the brazen laver, also in the outer court, and receive that spiritual cleansing, we are sanctified in a positional sense, we are saved, and then that daily cleansing needs to take place, that sanctification process in a practical sense where God is cleansing our lives. We need that daily cleansing!

            Now, after the laver, the washing we are prepared to enter into a personal and close relationship with Jesus Christ as we enter into the holy place and then ultimately into the holy of holies!

            Let me close this morning with this for you to think about, as we will deal more with this in our next study.  The holy place was a special location where the priest served. No longer will you find brass, which speaks of judgment. Now you will see gold and all kinds of glorious colors. It symbolized a time of personal fellowship with God. It was very drab looking on the outside, not much to see.  Its exterior was covered with badger or porpoise pelts. From an outsider looking in it was not very appealing. This also is a picture of Christ for in His humanity he was nothing special, not a Rock Hudson or George Clooney type you might say. In fact, in Isaiah 53:2 we are told, “ . . . He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.”  He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.

            However, inside the holy place was a different story. It was beautifully lit with the oil-burning lamp and everything was gold plated and purple, scarlet, and blue cloth was all about.  It speaks of royalty, majesty, sacrifice, and deity.  It also illustrates for us the Christian life. From the outside looking in, the Christian’s life appears boring and drab.  But once you enter into the holy place by the blood of Christ then you realize that there is far more to it than what appears from the outside. You realize that it is a place of beauty. It is the place of service, we are made holy – BY THE SACRIFICE (THE BRAZEN ALTAR) and we areSANCTIFIED, CLEANSED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE WORD OF GOD (THE BRAZEN LAVER) to be a special instrument and ready to be used by God in His service in the holy place. It is there that we commune with God!  But before you can, you must enter in through Jesus, the door. You must appropriate the shed blood of Christ into your life, the brazen altar. And you must be cleansed and then daily washed the brazen laver.  If you have done that, then you are ready to enter into the holy place, that intimate fellowship and service with God!

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