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of the Tabernacle
Scriptures speak of two tabernacles: one coming down from heaven and the other made by man under the guidance and direction of Yahweh.
The Earthly Tabernacle
During the ancient Israelites journey towards the Promised Land after the first Passover, they were required to make sacrifices at a tabernacle they built soon after they left.
The tabernacle (sometimes referred to as the sanctuary) and the courtyard’s construction is recorded for us in the book of Exodus, chapters 25, 26, 27, 30 and 38. It took the Israelites nearly a full year to construct the tabernacle.
And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month that the tabernacle was reared up, Ex. 40:17.
A cloud and a pillar of fire were used to tell the Israelites whether they were to stay where they were or to pack up and move out.
And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of Yahweh was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys, Ex. 40:36-38.
In their travels, the tribe of Levi was given the responsibility of caring for the tabernacle. They had to set up, take down, and care for the tabernacle as the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness of Zin, Num. 1:50-53 NIV.
The tabernacle and the courtyard have some 9 major components. The courtyard has four and the tabernacle or sanctuary has 5. The total listing is (1), the outside wall; (2), the gate; (3), the brazen altar; (4), the laver; (5), the table of showbread; (6), the candlesticks; (7), the altar of incense; (8), the Ark of the Covenant and (9), the mercy seat. We will only look at the significance of each without going into detail of the construction of each.
The Outside Wall
And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side, Ex 27:9.
The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass, Ex. 27:18.
The translation “fine twined” comes from the Hebrew shesh (shaysh) (OT:8336); or (for alliteration with OT:4897) sheshiy (shesh-ee’); for OT:7893; bleached stuff, i.e. white linen or (by analogy) marble: KJV - blue, fine ([twined]) linen, marble, silk. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
The Old Testament Strong’s #7893 is shayish (shah’-yish); from an unused root meaning to bleach, i.e. whiten; white, i.e. marble. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
To find out what is the significance of the wall being made of fine twined (bleached) linen we need only go to Rev. 19:6-8.
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for Yahweh Elohim omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Here the words “fine linen” is translated from the Greek bussinos (boos’-see-nos) (NT:1039); from NT:1040; made of linen (neuter a linen cloth): KJV - fine linen. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
And, the Greek #1040 is bussos (boos’-sos); of Hebrew origin [OT:948]; white linen: KJV - fine linen. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
The Hebrew #948 is buwts (boots); from an unused root (of the same form) meaning to bleach, i.e. (intransitive) be white; probably cotton (of some sort): KJV - fine (white) linen. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
The word “white” in Rev. 19:8 is translated from the Greek lampros (lam-pros’) (NT:2986); from the same as NT:2985; radiant; by analogy, limpid; figuratively, magnificent or sumptuous (in appearance): KJV - bright, clear, gay, goodly, gorgeous, white. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
The following four Scriptures found in Revelation indicate that those who overcome will be clothed in fine white linen:
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels, Rev. 3:5.
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Yahweh, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled, Rev. 6:10-11.
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Rev. 7:14. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, Rev. 19:14. Just as a person is surrounded by the clothes (robe) they wear, the tabernacle and the courtyard is surrounded by curtains made of fine twined bleached white linen. And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles, Rev. 15:6.
Pure is the translation of the Hebrew katharos (kath-ar-os’) (NT:2513); of uncertain affinity; clean (literally or figuratively): (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
Therefore, the fine twined, white, pure bleached robes signify that within the courtyard lies righteousness. Similarly, we shall be made the righteousness of Yahweh if we remain true to Him.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of Yahweh in him, 2 Cor. 5:21.
With the curtains surrounding the courtyard there certainly must be an entrance. This entrance is called the court gate and was on the east side of the courtyard.
And he made the court: on the south side southward the hangings of the court were of fine twined linen, an hundred cubits: Their pillars were twenty, and their brasen sockets twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. And for the north side the hangings were an hundred cubits, their pillars were twenty, and their sockets of brass twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver. And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits, their pillars ten, and their sockets ten; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver, Ex. 38:9-12.
One will notice that the east side is not mentioned because in verses 13 – 15 more detail is given as the east side of the courtyard contains the only gate which allows entrance into the courtyard.
And for the east side eastward fifty cubits. The hangings of the one side of the gate were fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three. And for the other side of the court gate, on this hand and that hand, were hangings of fifteen cubits; their of pillars three, and their sockets three, Ex. 38:13-15.
The court gate lies in the middle of the east side of the courtyard and through this gate only members of the tribe of Levi were allowed to enter under the Old Covenant.
When an Israelite brought a sacrifice they brought it to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, the court gate, where they had to sacrifice it themselves. The closest they could get to the sanctuary is the court gate.
After the sacrifice was killed by the Israelite, Aaron’s sons from the tribe of Levi took control.
The word “gate” in Ex. 38:15 is from the Hebrew sha` ar (shah’-ar) (OT:8179); from OT:8176 in its original sense; an opening, i.e. door or gate: KJV - city, door, gate, port (X -er). (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Yahshua unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Yahshua unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture, John 10:1-9.
Here Yahshua is telling everyone that He is the door which leads to everlasting life. Because of Yahshua’s life, death and resurrection we can now enter into the courtyard spiritually by accepting Yahshua’s sacrifice.
And the hanging for the gate of the court was needlework, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, Ex. 38:18a.
These four colors (scarlet (red), white, blue, and purple) are used in many parts of the tabernacle besides the gate to the courtyard. See Ex. 26:1 and Ex. 39:2, 5, 24 and 29.
As we have seen before, white symbolizes purity or holiness.
And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles, Rev. 15:6.
And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin, 1 John 3:5.
As Yahshua knew no sin He was certainly pure and holy.
The blue hangings point to things which are heavenly and righteous.
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven, John 3:13.
As we see Yahshua came from the heavens and was righteous as He knew no sin.
The purple color signifies kingship.
Scarlet is the color of blood.
But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water, John 19:34.
Yahshua’s blood was shed for the remission of our sins.
The Brazen Altar
In Lev. 1:1-5 we read that after the Israelite killed a sacrifice, the sons of Aaron took the sacrifice, placed it upon the altar and offered it as a burnt sacrifice unto Yahweh. The brazen altar was used for this purpose. Just as the Israelite spilled the blood of the sacrifice when they killed it, we don’t have to stretch our imagination to understand that we, by our sins, caused the death of Yahshua.
Sacrifices of many kinds were placed on the brazen altar as Ex. 40:29 reads:
And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as Yahweh had commanded Moses.
Slaughter it in Yahweh’s presence at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Take some of the bull’s blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest of it at the base of the altar, Ex. 29:11-12 NIV.
This brazen altar was placed just inside the gate to the courtyard on the east side.
The significance of the brazen altar being used as the location where sacrifices were made unto Yahweh is that by Yahshua shedding His blood for us we have a means of obtaining everlasting redemption.
The purpose of the brazen altar was to burn the sacrifices made to Yahweh. The laver had a completely different purpose. The laver contained water.
Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein, Ex. 30:18.
The priests were to wash their hands and their feet whenever they were to enter into the tabernacle (sanctuary) or when they were to perform their duties of burning sacrifices upon the brazen altar.
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 Yahweh: So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations, Ex. 30:19-21.
The Tabernacle (Sanctuary)
The tabernacle was placed at the west end of the courtyard opposite the gate of the courtyard. It was broken into two parts: the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (sometimes called the Holy of Holies). The Holy Place (sometimes referred as the sanctuary) contained the Table of Shewbread, the Candlesticks (Lampstands) and the Altar of Incense. The Most Holy Place contained the ark on which was placed the mercy seat. It was on the Day of Atonement (the fifth annual Sabbath) that the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies to see if the sacrifice was acceptable to Yahweh.
The gate leading into the Holy Place was of the same colors and their significance was the same as was for the gate leading into the courtyard.
And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework, Ex 26:36
Between the two parts was placed a veil of the same color.
And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the veil the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy, Ex. 26:31-33.
Also, this veil separating the two parts of the tabernacle had a different relationship with Yahshua.
Yahshua, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many, Matt. 27:50-53.
On the Day of Atonement was the only time when someone was allowed entry into the Holy of Holies. Now, with this veil being rent in two it means that Yahshua’s death allows mankind to have access into the Holy of Holies.
Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Yahshua, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of Yahweh; 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, Heb. 10:18-22.
The Table Of Showbread
The bread which was placed on this table has many names, depending on the version of the Bible. It is called “showbread” in the KJV, NKJV and the ASV; the “bread of Presence” in the NASB, NLT, RSV, NASB and The Living Bible; and “sacred bread” in the Today’s English Version.
And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying, And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before Yahweh. And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto Yahweh, Lev. 24:1, 5-7.
In verse 7 the word “bread” is a translation of the Hebrew “lechem”, Strong’s #3899, and Strong’s #3899, by itself or in combination with Strong’s #’s 6440 or 4635, is translated as “shewbread” , “bread of the Presence” or “sacred bread” depending on which translation one is reading from.
No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto Yahweh, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of Yahweh made by fire, Lev. 2:11.
The Hebrew word “lechem” means food, especially bread. Since the showbread was offered as a memorial offering made by fire and no offering made to Yahweh was to contain leaven, then the showbread must have been unleavened.
The significance of the showbread is the spiritual substance it represented. Yahshua tells us in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.”
And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that Yahweh hath commanded; The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light, Ex. 35:10, 14.
The NIV Bible renders “candlestick” as “lampstand.”
The lampstand that is for light with its accessories, lamps and oil for the light, Ex. 35:14, NIV.
“Candlestick” or “lampstand” is the translation of the Hebrew menowrah (men-o-raw’) (OT:4501) or menorah (men-o-raw’); feminine of OT:4500 (in the original sense of OT:5216); a chandelier: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
It is now easy to believe that the “candlestick” or “lampstand” is used to provide light in the Holy Place of the tabernacle/sanctuary.
In Luke 2:25-32, Simeon called Yahshua “a light to lighten the Gentiles.” And, Yahshua, Himself, tells us in John 8:12 that He is “the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
The Altar Of Incense
And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it…Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before Yahweh throughout your generations. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon, Ex. 30:1 7-9.
The fire which was used to burn the incense came from the brazen altar. This, then, implies that the fire was strange. What is meant by “strange fire”?
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before Yahweh, which he commanded them not, Lev. 10:1.
“Strange” is the translation of the Hebrew zuwr (zoor) (OT:2114); a primitive root; to turn aside (especially for lodging); hence to be a foreigner, strange, profane; specifically (active participle) to commit adultery: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
Any use of the brazen altar other than what Yahweh would allow would produce a “strange fire.” And, using this fire to burn incense on the altar of incense would produce “strange incense.” Specifically, “zuwr” means to commit adultery, that is, false worship.
How is incense related to Yahshua? We read in Rev. 8:3 and 4 that incense is related to prayers.
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before Yahweh out of the angel’s hand.
And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you, John 16:23
Prayers, related directly to incense by the Scriptures, is our way of communicating with Yahweh. And, as John 16:23 says we are to pray in Yahshua’s name. The use of any other name constitutes “strange fire.”
The Ark and the Mercy Seat
The Ark of the Covenant was the central part of the sanctuary. The Levites were given the task of transporting the Ark.
That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, Deut. 31:25.
The tables of the covenant, the golden pot which contained manna and Aaron’s rod which budded were placed in the side of the ark.
Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of Yahweh your Elohim, that it may be there for a witness against thee, Deut. 31:26.
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant, Heb. 9:4.
The mercy seat, placed on the top of the ark and covered by the wings of the two cherubim, was the location from which Yahweh would commune with the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.
And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel, Ex. 25:22.
The phrase “mercy seat” is the translation of the Hebrew kapporeth (kap-po’-reth) (OT:3727); from OT:3722; a lid (used only of the cover of the sacred Ark): (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
The Hebrew kapporeth comes from the Hebrew kaphar (kaw-far’) (OT:3722); a primitive root; to cover (specifically with bitumen); figuratively, to expiate or condone, to placate or cancel: KJV - appease, make (an atonement, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, purge (away), put off, (make) reconcile (-liation). (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
The significance of the ark and the mercy seat is that we have a New Covenant relationship with Yahweh which was made possible through Yahshua’s shed blood.
But Messiah being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to Yahweh, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living Yahweh? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth, Heb. 9:11-17.
By knowing and understanding the relationship of the tabernacle and the courtyard with Yahshua Messiah gives us a better idea of how perfectly Yahweh does things. Even though this earthly tabernacle’s location is not known today, we must still realize that in the end “the tabernacle of Yahweh is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and Yahweh Himself shall be with them, and be their Elohim,” Rev. 21:3.
-Elder Roger G. Meyer
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