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HIS GLORY REIGNS
Sep 11 2009 08:00AM
The tabernacle of Moses is one of the most remarkable phenomena of Scripture and one that has always fascinated
me. It is described primarily in the book of Exodus, chapters twenty-five to thirty, and thirty-five to forty. The fact that
God dedicated about twelve chapters of the book of Exodus to the tabernacle indicates to me that it must have
Every time I study the tabernacle I am left with a deep desire for holiness and for communion with God. That is the
result it has on me, and I am sure it is one of the main purposes for which this account is presented in Scripture.
The Way into the Holiest
The way into perfection, to maturity, to completeness, and to fulfillment is the way into the holiest, which unfolds in
Hebrews as in no other book of the New Testament. Here we see that it is scriptural to use the tabernacle as our
pattern in seeking God. Indeed, the very phrase "the way into holiest" (Hebrews 9:8) is taken from the type or pattern of
law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he
was about to make the tabernacle: for, SEE, saith he, THAT THOU MAKE ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO THE
PATTERN SHEWED TO THEE IN THE MOUNT."
Right there in verse five are the words that indicate that the tabernacle is our example, or "the copy and shadow of the
heavenly things." It is a material reality that reflects an unfolding spiritual truth. Then, in Hebrews 9, it is mentioned
heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these; For Christ is not entered into the holy places made
with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:"
The tabernacle reveals for us a pattern of the way into the holiest, into the presence of almighty God. It is not a matter
of groping, or speculating, or simply doing what we please or think. There is an absolutely prescribed way of access
into the holiest, and it is revealed to us in terms of the various divisions and the various items of furniture along the way.
The tabernacle was a structure consisting of three main sections: the outer court; the Holy Place, behind the first veil or
curtain; and the Holy of Holies, behind the second veil or curtain. It was a triune structure: one structure with three
areas. This structure was significant in many ways. It depicted the nature of God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It
depicted the nature of the heavenlies - Scripture refers to Paul being caught up into the third heaven (see II Corinthians
12:2). It also depicted the nature of man - body, soul, and spirit.
One way to distinguish these three areas was by the kind of light that was available. In the outer court the light was
natural: the sun by day, the moon and stars by night. In the Holy Place behind the first veil, the light was artificial. It was
provided by a seven-branched lampstand. But in the Holy of Holies, behind the second veil or curtain, there was no
natural light and no artificial light. The only light was supplied by the supernatural presence of almighty God indwelling
that small area within the tent. That presence of God that brings light is known in Hebrew as the shekinah, meaning "to
dwell" - the visible glory of God. It was the only source of light there in the Holy of Holies, the third area of the
tabernacle. It was the manifest indwelling of almighty God in the midst of His people.
These three sections of the tabernacle correspond to many aspects of our experience, but I want to relate them to the
three areas of human personality - the body, the soul, and the spirit. As I said, we worship God not with the body or with
the soul, but with the spirit. So, the outer court corresponds to the body. The Holy Place corresponds to the soul. And
the Holy of Holies corresponds to the spirit. It is only in the spirit that we relate to God in worship; therefore, the ultimate
area of worship is the Holy of Holies behind the second veil.
So how does a person progress into worship? By following the pattern found in the progression in the tabernacle from
the outer court into the Holy of Holies.
The Outer Court
When approaching the tabernacle, one always began in the outer court. Likewise, when approaching God, we always
begin in the physical, natural realm. This area relates to the body and to the life of Christ in the days when Jesus was
on earth. He walked the streets of Galilee and Jerusalem as a human being who could be seen, touched, and heard by
the natural senses. Thus, in the outer court we receive revelation through the natural senses, or through human
In the tabernacle's outer court, the first object one would see was the great bronze altar. A teacher once told me that all
sides were covered in polished bronze, so the moment you approached and looked at it, you saw yourself. This altar
was where all of the sacrificial animals were slaughtered and offered to God. For us, the bronze altar represents
Christ's sacrificial death on our behalf. It speaks of the blood that He shed, so that we might be redeemed and
reconciled unto God. That is the starting point. We cannot by pass the cross. Only when we begin at the cross and
receive the benefits of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf - the benefits of His shed blood - can we move on in our
progression of worship.
Four Sides of the Bronze Altar
The bronze altar had four sides, representing four distinct provisions of God made through the death of Jesus on the
cross. The first one is forgiveness of past sins. That is essential. When your sins are unforgiven, you cannot progress
any further. This is also stated in Romans:
remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;" (Romans 3:25)
The next side represents the taking away of sin. There is an important distinction between sins in the plural (sinful acts
that have been committed), and sin as a spiritual power (an evil, corrupt, enslaving force that causes you to sin, or to
commit sinful acts). Sin is the source of sins. When we deal with sins, we are only dealing with the branches of the
tree. That does not deal with the trunk that feeds all of the branches of sins. In II Corinthians, it says,
him." (II Corinthians 5:21)
There is an exchange that occurs. Jesus was made sin, with all our sinfulness, so that in return, we might be made
righteous with all His righteousness. That is not sins, but sin that is dealt with there. We read in Hebrews,
hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." (Hebrews 9:26)
Christ only suffered once because by that suffering, He did everything that every needed to be done.
The third side of the altar is our old, corrupt nature - the rebel that is inside each one of us. "...that our old man is
crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed." (Romans 6:6). The Greek here is in the past tense. It is a
historical fact. It is true whether you know it or not. But if you don't know it you won't benefit from it.
should not serve sin." (Romans 6:6)
Sin was rendered inoperative; it no longer was capable of asserting itself. The only escape from the slavery of sin is
through the death of the old, sinful nature. The old man is such a hopeless case that God has no remedy for him. God
cannot send him to church or teach him the Ten Commandments or make him religious. God merely executes him.
That is the only solution for the old man - the old Adam.
The mercy of God is that the execution took place in the person of Jesus on the cross. When Jesus died, our old man
died in Him. If you know that, and place reliance on it, it works. But if you do not know it, you cannot place reliance on
it, and it will not work. If you know it, but do not place reliance on it, it still will not work. It is the knowing and relying that
makes it work.
The fourth side, which is the place where we offer ourselves to God, is the burnt offering. This was a gift that was
offered to God, to be totally consumed in the flames of the altar. If you study the order of the offerings in Leviticus, all
of which are symbolic of Jesus, you will find that the first offering spoken of is the burnt offering because the initiative is
not with man or the sinner, but with God (see Leviticus 1:3). Only because Jesus was made a burnt offering on the altar
of God's will on the cross could any of the rest take place at all. If Jesus had not been willing to say, "O my Father, if
this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done." (Matthew 26:39), then all the rest would
never have taken place.
You will find, in the unfolding of the tabernacle, that we progress in the reverse order from that of Scripture. The Bible
begins with the ark and moves outward. That is because the initiative in salvation and redemption is from God, not from
man. If God had not been willing, nothing would have ever happened. If Jesus had not been the initial burnt offering on
the cross, there would have been no salvation for you or me. But for us, the order is reversed. We must have our sins
forgiven; sin has to be done away with, the old nature must die or be crucified, and then we will be able to offer
ourselves as an acceptable burnt offering to God. This is brought out in Romans 12:1 which begins, "I beseech you
therefore, brethren, ..." The word "therefore" refers to the entire unfolding of gospel truth that preceded in the previous
What does God require of us after all that has been dealt with?
acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1)
Until you have been on these three sides of the altar, you cannot present yourself as acceptable unto God. Then God
says, "I want your body." Few Christians realize this. God wants our entire bodies. In the old covenant, the bodies of
the animals that were slain were placed entirely upon the altar. God says, "I want your body on the altar in exactly the
same way - with one exception. Not dead, but alive.
The next verse continues,
that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:2)
Until you place your body upon the altar, you cannot discover God's will. When you do, your mind is renewed and the
will of God begins to open up for you. But you cannot make further progress until you have been to the four sides of
the altar. First, past sins are forgiven; then God takes them away. Next the old man is executed and the entire body is
placed upon the altar in total surrender to God. From then on, your body no longer belongs to you. You are not your
own; you were bought with a price (See I Corinthians 6:19-20).
The Bronze Laver
Next we find the bronze laver, as described in Exodus:
wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put
water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the
tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar
to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD: So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they
die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations."
So there was the tabernacle and the altar, and the laver was between them. Attendance at the laver was not optional; it
was absolutely required of every person who passed to and from the tabernacle. No one could pass the laver without
washing in it. If they did, the penalty was death. Tremendous importance was placed upon the laver.
The laver represents God's Word. Later in Exodus, we read,
which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." (Exodus 38:8)
Brass was taken from the brazen mirrors of the Israelite women who attended and worshiped at the tabernacle.
Remember, they had no glass at that time. The best mirror you could have was highly polished, smooth brass.
Therefore, we have three aspects of the laver: it came from mirrors, it was made of brass, and it was filled with water.
Each one of these qualities speaks to the Word of God.
First, the Word of God is a mirror:
God's Word does not reflect the external physical appearance. It shows the inward spiritual condition. If you want to
know what you are really like in the sight of God, look in the mirror. The longer I read the Bible, the more I begin to see
my imperfection, my flaws, and my inadequacies. When you look into a mirror, you can do two things. You can say that
you do not look that bad and simply walk away, doing nothing about it. Or, you can act on what you see, making the
necessary changes and adjustments; in which case, James said you will be blessed as a result of what you do.
Remember, it is not just the hearers of the Word who are blessed; it is the doers, the people who act upon it.
Second, God's Word is our judge. Brass always typifies divine examination and judgment. God sees you, there is
no thing hidden, all things are naked and open unto the eyes of the Lord. In John 12, Jesus said,
world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken,
the same shall judge him in the last day." (John 12:47-48)
First Peter tells us that God the Father is the judge (see I Peter 1:17). John tells us that the Father has committed all
judgment to the Son (see John 5:22). But in John 12, Jesus said, "I am not going to judge you. I have committed all
judgment to the Word."
And Judgment will be executed by the standard of the Word. It is the absolute standard of divine judgment, which gives
us the blessed opportunity to judge ourselves. "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." (I
Corinthians 11:31). We would not be judged by whom? By God. God says, "If you will judge yourself by looking in the
mirror, I will not have to judge you."
The third aspect of the laver is water, which is the Word of God as a cleansing agent.
and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not
having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)
The passage speaks of the cross where Christ sacrificed Himself. Here is the washing of water by the Word whereby He
cleanses and sanctifies that which He has first redeemed by His blood. Bear this in mind: Christ redeemed the church
by His blood so that He might thereafter cleanse and sanctify it with the washing of the water of the Word of God.
Sanctification, holiness, and the fulfillment of God's will depend upon the blood of the cross and the water of the Word.
Those who came to the brazen altar but did not wash in the laver were subject to death. You may be redeemed through
your faith in Christ's death on the cross, but if you do not wash in the water of the Word, you cannot be sanctified.
Jesus is coming for a church that has been made holy and glorious by the washing of water by the Word. That much is
very clear. Any believer who does not study the Word and submit to the Word and obey the Word and live by the Word
cannot expect to be ready for the coming of Christ,
the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth." I John 5:6)
Jesus came by water as the Great Teacher. But He is also the redeemer who had to shed His blood. Without the
shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins and no redemption (see Hebrews 9:22). He shed His blood so that He
might thereafter cleanse and sanctify with the washing of water by the Word. He came by the water and by the blood.
ENTERING THE PRESENCE OF GOD, by Derek Prince, Copyright 2007, Whitaker House.
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