Sun, Jul 20, 2008

CHRIST IN THE TABERNACLE! PART 4

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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 4
EXODUS 25-30

            This morning we are in part 4 of our study, Christ In The Tabernacle! As we have seen, this portable worship structure that God instructed Moses and the children of Israel to build is not only a picture of the throne in Heaven but it is also a picture of the person and the work of Jesus Christ. Thus, God is very specific in how this tabernacle and its furnishings are to be built and our focus this morning will once again be in Exodus chapters 25-30, but understand that there are over 50 chapters dealing with this portable worship structure, the tabernacle in the Bible, including several more chapters at the end of Exodus!

            Arthur W. Pink, in his book Gleanings In Exodus, had this to say about the tabernacle and what it portrays for us. He wrote:

            Probably the outstanding lesson taught us through the Tabernacle was the way in which a sinner might approach God. First of all, he was most forcibly reminded that sin had separated him from God. The Tabernacle was God’s dwelling place, and it was enclosed, being encircled by walls of pure white curtains. This at once taught Israel the holiness of the One who had come to dwell in their midst; they were shut out and He was shut in. Their sinfulness unfitted them to enter His holy presence. O my reader, have you ever pondered the ineffable [beyond words] holiness of God, and realized that your sins have placed you at a guilty distance from Him?

            But though the sanctuary of Jehovah was enclosed, there was a door through which the Israelite might enter the outer court, though further he might not advance. There, within the outer court, stood the Tabernacle proper, with its two compartments, surrounded by walls of wooden boards, and only the priests were allowed therein, and they but in the first chamber – the holy place. Beyond, lay the holy of holies, where the Shekinah glory, the visible representation of God’s presence, resided between the cherubim on the mercy-seat. Into this compartment none ever entered save Moses the mediator, and Aaron the high priest one day in the year.

            Marvelous is the progressive order of teaching in connection with the various objects in the Tabernacle. At the brazen altar sin was judged, and by blood-shedding put away.  At the laver purification was effected. In the holy place provision was made for prayer, food and illumination; while in the holy of holies the glory of the enthroned King was displayed. The same principle of progress is also to be seen in the increasing value of the sacred vessels. Those in the outer court were of wood and brass; whereas those in the inner compartments were of wood and gold. So too the various curtains grew richer in design and embellishment, the inner veil being the costliest and most elaborate. Again, the outer court, being open, was illuminated by natural light; the holy place was lit up by the light from the golden candle-stick; but the holy of holies was radiated by the Shekinah glory of Jehovah. Thus, the journey from the outer court into the holy of holies was from sin to purification, and from grace to glory. How blessedly did this illustrate the truth that “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18).

- A. W. Pink, Gleanings In Exodus, p. 187

            So let’s being our journey and see what the Lord has for us this morning. We have seen the white linen fence that was 150 feet long running east to west and 75 feet wide running north to south, and we said that this spoke of the purity, the holiness, the righteousness of Christ. The only entrance into this tabernacle was through the east gate that measured 30 feet wide and 7½ feet high and was made of white linen and embroidered with blue, purple and scarlet needlework.

            This door, of course, speaks of Jesus Christ and the only way to heaven, the only way to God the Father is through Him – THE DOOR! What is interesting to me is that as you entered into this outer court of the tabernacle you were covered or clothed, in a sense, by the white linen fence or we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. That is what Paul said 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. Or as The Living Bible puts it, For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God's goodness into us!

            As we continue on the first furnishing that we come to is the brazen altar, which was located in the outer court. As we have seen, this speaks of the sacrifice that Christ has made for sin, once and for all sin and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Thus, without appropriating His finished work on the cross of Calvary into our lives, we are still dead in our trespasses and sins!

            Once that has taken place in our lives, the sacrifice received, then we can approach the brazen laver, which was also located in the outer court.  The picture here is that we have been washed as white as snow by the blood of Jesus Christ, positionally speaking but we must also have that daily cleansing of His Word working with His Spirit in our lives, not for salvation, but for sanctification, in a practical sense we are not perfect!

            Now that we have entered in by Jesus, received His atonement into our lives by His sacrifice, His shed blood, that we are washed, we are clean and we can enter into the holy place and the holy of holies. It is a place of communion, of fellowship, of service, of interacting with God!

            Now, 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.

            That is going to be our focus this morning; the holy place and we will look at one of the furnishings that were located in the holy place, the table of showbread.  The tabernacle proper or this tent measured some 45 feet long running east to west and 15 feet wide running north to south and it was 15 feet high.  Within this structure was the holy place and that measured 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. Behind this was the holy of holies and it measured 15 feet long and 15 feet wide, thus, giving you the dimensions of 45 feet long and 15 feet wide.

THE TABERNACLE – THE COVERINGS

            There were four coverings on the tabernacle proper.  The outer covering was made of badger skins or more likely porpoise or dolphin skins, maybe even sea cow skins. Thus, this outer covering was not very attractive to look at.  It was very drab, dull, it was kind of a bluish gray coloring.  That is interesting to me, because as we have read in Isaiah 53, For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Isaiah 53:2-3.

            Again, we have talked about this, but the appearance of Jesus was nothing special.  He was fully flesh and yet fully God, but His humanity was average in the sense of His appearance. People were not drawn to Him because of His beauty! And the reality is, He is unattractive to the world as they look at Him from the outside and they see His holiness, they see God’s standard of righteousness, which is perfection and only found in Christ compared to their sin.  Also, this outer covering protected that which was inside, it was exposed to the elements; the rain, cold, sun, heat and-so-on, just as our Lord was exposed to these things in this body of flesh! And it is once we are IN Christ that we too are protected, safe within His arms from the elements that are out there!

            The next covering, underneath the porpoise skins was ram skin that was dyed red, and this pictures for us Christ’s death as a sin offering.  He was and is the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world! Paul put it like this in Romans 5:6, For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  He made atonement for our sins by shedding His blood for us!  Thus, there is security under the blood even though you couldn’t see this covering, it was still there!

            Under this covering of the ram skins dyed red was a covering of goat hair and it speaks of Christ being the sin-bearer for us as the goat was used as the sin offering.  Our sins were laid upon Jesus and thus, they were transferred to Him and by His shed blood He paid the price for our sin.  On the Day of Atonement the priest took two goats. One was slain on the altar and the blood poured out at the base of the altar, speaking of Christ sacrificing His life, His blood for us.  Then the live goat, after having the sins of the people transferred to it as Aaron placed his hand on this animal, this goat was then sent out into the wilderness never to be seen again. It shows a picture of how our sins were cast as far as the east is from the west to be remembered no more!  (See Leviticus 16:19-22).  Again, you could not physically see this covering, but it was still there.

            The inner covering made the inside roof of the tabernacle, even though they hung down nearly to the floor, the gold boards made up the walls of the tabernacle and covered the walls.  This white linen curtain was embroidered with blue, purple and scarlet color with figures of cherubim overshadowing both the holy place and the holy of holies. This is a picture of Christ in all of His glory, His perfect righteousness and the only way anyone could see this beauty was to be IN Christ and come through the door by the way of the blood!

            Thus, this covering of this tent was a picture of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Inside was a picture of His beauty, His righteousness, the fine embroidered linen. Next was a covering that spoke of Jesus being our scapegoat, the one who made atonement for our sins, the goat’s hair.  Next was the covering that spoke of Jesus being our sin offering, the rams skin dyed red.  And lastly we see the humanity of Christ, which we see in the porpoise skins.

THE TABERNACLE – THE BOARDS, THE SOCKETS, THE PINS AND THE ROPES

            But there is more. Giving stability to these coverings was 48 boards made of acacia wood and covered with pure gold.  Each board was 15 feet long and 2 feet wide. Those boards had two projections on the bottom end that would fit into silver foundation sockets. There were 100 of these sockets made of silver, each weighing 100 pounds or so and the boards were held upright by five horizontal bars of gold covered wood. These silver sockets were made up of the atonement money given by the children of Israel who were 20 years old and up, ½ shekel each, the ransom money! (Exodus 30:13).

            Here is the picture that the Lord is painting for us.  The Acacia wood speaks of Christ’s humanity and it was covered with gold, which speaks of His deity. You see, fully man and yet fully God. And as the Scriptures tell us, God became flesh and dwelt or tabernacle among us. Thus, sliver is the metal used for ransom; Christ was sold for 30 pieces of silver. God’s redemptive work of salvation is the bases for our salvation just as these silver foundation sockets were the foundation for the tabernacle! Peter tells us in I Peter 1:18-19,knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. And Paul tells us in I Corinthians 6:20, For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

            The ropes and the pins make this tent even more secure. Now those bronze pins or nails or stakes were driven down into the ground, speaking of the death of Jesus Christ, but not completely driven in. You see, if part of it is not above ground, it would be worthless. Thus, the death of Jesus Christ could not save a single sinner. Here is the good news! Just as that nail was not driven all the way into the ground, our Lord was only dead for 3 days and 3 nights, rising from the dead on that third day!  So it is not only the death of Jesus, but also His resurrection from the dead that saves us just as these pins were buried, but not completely!

            And the cords, I believe just as they secured the tabernacle, we are made secure in Christ by His infinite love for us.  In John 15:13 we are told, Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.  And Jesus said in John 18:9, “. . . ‘Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.’  What a precious love the Lord has for us and we truly don’t deserve it!

            Now we can enter into the first part of this tabernacle, the holy place!  Remember, this part of the tabernacle proper was 30 feet long and 15 feet wide and 15 feet high, and like I have said it was called the holy place. We need to understand that people were not allowed to go in and out of the holy place. In fact, only the priests could enter in. Now, once again that is interesting to me because in Revelation 1:4-6 we are told, John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 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, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  Also, in I Peter 2:9-10 Peter tells us, But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.  Thus, we can enter in by the blood of Jesus Christ, He has cleansed us by His blood and that is the only way we can enter into the holy place as priests. With that said, let’s begin looking at the furniture that was located in this room known as the holy place!

THE HOLY PLACE – THE TABLE OF SHOWBREAD

            As you entered into the holy place, on the right side before the veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies was the table of showbread.  This table of showbread was 3 feet long, 1 foot wide and 2 feet 3 inches high. There were four rings placed on the four corners of the table of showbread and poles were placed through these rings so that when it was time to move it would not be carried by human hands but lifted by these poles. This table was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold!  Once again it portrays the humanity and the deity of Jesus Christ!

            On this table of showbread were 12 loaves of bread, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and they were flavored with frankincense. Interestingly enough the wordshowbread literally means “bread of faces” and the idea here is that the priests would eat this bread before the face of God. This table of showbread also had a crown or molding all around the outer edge to keep the loaves of bread safely upon the table to prevent them from falling upon the ground and becoming defiled!

            Once again we see a beautiful picture of Jesus Christ emerge out of this table of showbread. In John chapter 6 we are told, And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. . . . Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.  I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.  This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.’" John 6:35, 47-51.

            Just as physical bread is needed to sustain our physical bodies, spiritual bread, the partaking of Jesus you might say, is needed for our spiritual bodies to be healthy and to grow.  You see, apart from partaking of this spiritual bread, we are spiritually dead. Now, the big question is, how do we partake of Jesus? Do we actually eat His body and drink His blood?

            The Roman Catholic Church tells us that in communion the priest turns the wafer and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, they call it transubstantiation, and thus you are actually partaking of the body and blood of Jesus! This idea comes out of John chapter 6 and beginning in verse 53 we are told, Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.  This is the bread which came down from heaven — not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.’ These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. John 6:53-59.

            It sounds legitimate, that maybe the wafer and the wine do turn into the body and blood of Jesus, at least Jesus seems to be saying that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood! In fact, this teaching of Jesus troubled many of His followers and they left Him because of it!

            Folks, first of all, even if we go to the night of the last supper when communion was instituted, Jesus was still alive and nowhere do we see Him pour His blood into a cup and tell them to drink it down. Nowhere do we see Him cut His flesh and tell them to eat it!  In fact, the drinking of blood in the Scriptures is forbidden; it is something the pagans did. Also, the Scriptures do not permit cannibalism either!

            Then what is going on here?  If you read on Jesus makes it very clear when He says in John 6:62-63, What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?  It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. What does the flesh profit, according to Jesus? Nothing, absolutely nothing! It is the Spirit that gives life. So Jesus is not saying that we must physically partake of his flesh and blood, but spiritually speaking we need to!

            Let me explain. In John chapter 1, starting in verse 1, we are told, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. . . . But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-5, 12-14.  In other words, Jesus is the Word of God, thus, as we study, read, meditate upon God’s Word, we are, in a sense, partaking of Jesus!

            Thus, this table of showbread is not only symbolic of spiritual food, but it is also the place of fellowship. Remember I said that the Hebrew word for showbread literally means “bread of faces” or that as the priests gathered together to partake of this bread, they were eating it before God, before His face, it is the place of FELLOWSHIP!

            Listen to what M. R. DeHaan had to say regarding the table of showbread and what is being practiced in the church today. He does not pull any punches here and he is right on. This is from his book, The Tabernacle and he wrote:

            The basis and center of this fellowship was the table of showbread. Around this table the priests gathered daily. Since the table and the bread are Christ, all true fellowship must be around the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were to feed on Him as the Bread of Life, flavored with the frankincense of the Holy Spirit. The sustaining food of the believer, then, is the Word of God, both the living Word, and the written Word, the Bible and the Holy Spirit, represented by the bread, the Word, and the frankincense, the Holy Spirit.  No wonder that the most solemn and meaningful exercise of the assembly of God’s people is the occasion when we gather around the table of the Lord, as members of one body, and remember His death in the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup.

            Remember also that the bread on the table with the frankincense was the only thing placed upon the table as the food of the priests. This is all that is necessary for health and for life. There were no sauces and spices and pickles and olives and fancy salads or pie alamode; just bread. We have drifted far, far away from this simple formula today. Instead of believers coming together to fellowship around the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, without all the extraneous paraphernalia, and just to feed on His Word, we have too often turned our services into a carnival. The Word has been pushed aside into a secondary place. Instead, we have an hour and a half of preliminaries, with singing of silly choruses and empty spirituals, and joking and laughing and horseplay.

Entertainment has taken the place of worship; singing and music instead of preaching; and then a fifteen-minute sermonette, highly spiced and sensational, in order to keep people awake after all of the wearying entertainment. And we wonder at the worldliness and the shallowness of Christians today. We have substituted or added pickles, olives, radishes, and highly seasoned extras, and we relegated the Word of life to a side dish, which few will touch.

The assembly of the saints should be first of all a time of worship and devotion and feeding and feasting upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and not a matter of shallow entertainment. It is a sad thing indeed when a Bible-teaching service or prayer meeting is attended by only a handful of worshipers, while a high-powered entertainer, a musical night, or moving pictures will draw packed houses. Instead of gathering around the person of Christ and feeding upon His Word, we are today regaled by cowboy stunts, ventriloquism, magic tricks, and western movies. Oh, for a return to the good old days when folks went to church not to be entertained and amused and tickled, but to worship the Lord, and to feed upon His Word, and prepare for service through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

- M. R. DeHaan, M.D., The Tabernacle, pp. 93-95

            Folks, he wrote those words back in 1955, I wonder what he would say today! And maybe these words have offended some of you this morning. Maybe they have rubbed you the wrong way.  Sorry, but that is a good thing and maybe you need to be awakened from your spiritual slumber, you apathy, your lethargy! The bottom line is this, if you come to worship the Lord when you feel like it, whenever you want, if other things get in the way of your fellowship with God, then you are wrong!  Think of it like this.  Why did Jesus die for you?  Some would say to keep us out of Hell or to bring us to Heaven, the same thing. That is true but that is not really why He died for you! Christ died for you so that you can have fellowship with Him!  Peter put it like this in I Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit. Why did He die for us?  Peter makes it clear, that He might bring us to God to restore that broken fellowship that we had with God!

            When did man’s fellowship with God get broken? It was in the Garden of Eden after man had sin. You see, prior to sin entering this world Adam fellowshipped with God, they walked in the Garden together. But, when sin entered the picture, that fellowship was broken and thus, God became flesh, He dwelt among us, died for our sins to restore that broken fellowship with the Father. Paul puts it like this in I Timothy 2:5-6, For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

            Thus, what is keeping you from fellowshipping with God? Are you just too tired? Really, do you stay up for Monday night football and make it to work on time the next day, which is probably much earlier than when you have to get up for church! Are you just too busy for God, I know you would not put it that way, but if you don’t fellowship, isn’t that the reason? Maybe you have too many extracurricular activities to attend, especially in the summer. That is interesting, you won’t miss them but you are too busy for God!  Folks, you need to examine your own heart and see if there is anything keeping your from fellowshipping with Him. It is as Paul said in Hebrews 10:24-25, And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”  God died for you so that you can fellowship with Him!

            Also, this was not only a place of fellowship, but it was a place of service. You see, there were no chairs for the priests to sit down on. Thus, they were to eat standing up.That means that the house of God, the holy place was not a place of entertainment, relaxation but a place of work and service. They ate the bread standing up or on their feet, ready to go about the business of serving the people!

            Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 11:26, For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. Thus, we are to be about the Lord’s work, we are to keep ourselves holy before Him. You see, when He comes will He find us feeding upon Him? When He comes will He find us feeding on His Word?  May you come and feast upon the Bread of Life, enjoy that fellowship and service with Him and for Him!

            We have covered a lot of material this morning and next time we will look at the altar of incense that was also located in the holy place and then we will look at that seven-branched oil-burning lamp. We have seen how the coverings of this tabernacle portray the person and the work of Jesus Christ. We have seen how the boards, the sockets, the pins and the ropes picture the person and the work of Jesus Christ. And now, in the holy place, we have seen how the table of showbread portrays the person and work of Jesus Christ. Let me conclude with these remarks for you to think about.

            The table of showbread symbolizes fellowship with God. It is the place of service before Him. It shows a gesture of friendship, as inviting a friend to share a meal. The table in the tabernacle shows God’s desire for fellowship with us. Jesus was a friend of publicans and sinners because He sat and ate with them at the table. God wishes to satisfy our hunger. God’s salvation is likened to a banquet with the table spread for royalty. The world has no interest in us, but almighty God desires that we are before Him in fellowship. And it is out of that fellowship that service is performed!

            Remember what Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Won’t you come to Him and fellowship with Him, the Bread of Life! In John 6:35 we are told, “And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’ The Amplified Bible puts it like this, Jesus replied, I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me will never thirst any more (at any time). May you partake of HIM – THE BREAD OF LIFE!

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