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Typology: The Tabernacle and Its Furniture (1)


This evening I came upon a few very good articles on Bible Typology; ‘Types and Shadows’ , written by numerous authors/teachers.. As I read them in the coming days, I thought someone else might be interested, so plan on posting at least a few more, and a few links to others. One of the early bible study groups I attended was led by a great bible teacher who took us into the types and shadows revealed within the study of the Tabernacle and its furnishings, so that’s where I started reading this evening. Its a fascinating study, to ‘see’ Christ, and all to do about Him and God’s wonderful plan, spelled out in the Tabernacle and its furnishings.

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From Shadows of Good Things, Or the Gospel in Type. By Russell R. Byrum (1922)

Part (1)

(Exodus 25—27, 30, 35—38, 40)

God always desired to come near to his people as every loving heart craves intimate association with those it loves. He desired to commune with men, the exalted creatures made in his own image, who are able to serve him from choice and to reciprocate his love. When God created men he prepared a place deep in their hearts that he alone could fill. During the time of Adam’s holiness, God doubtless often came to beautiful Eden in the cool of the day to commune with him. And ever since man’s sin separated him from God, God has sought to draw as near to man as His holiness and man’s sin would allow. Though the holy God could not dwell in men’s sinful hearts, yet he decided to dwell among his people Israel when he led them out of Egypt. Therefore he ordered Moses to build him a suitable dwelling, becoming to his dignity, that he might tabernacle among them.

No house like this was ever built before. It was not extraordinary in the same respect as are some buildings. It could not compare for vastness with the temple of the sun at ancient Heliopolis; for this house of Jehovah was no larger than a small two room cottage. Neither were its walls built of glistening marble or imperishable blocks of granite as was the temple of Diana at Ephesus or the Parthenon at Athens, for it was a light, portable building.

It was principally peculiar because it was to become the abode of the invisible, infinite God of all the universe among his people Israel. He whom the heaven of heavens can not contain, the one who inhabits eternity and whose presence fills remotest space, was to specially dwell there, to set his name there and there to exhibit his glory. [20]

Therefore he gave full specifications for it himself. It had a divine architect. This was important; for it was to be, not merely an abode, but an instrument for divine worship then and a type of the grandest realities men’s minds have ever known. Though so small a structure, yet it must be of quality in keeping with the infinite dignity of Him who was to dwell there. It has been estimated by William Brown that it cost one and one half million dollars. It was literally covered inside and outside with plates of gold. Also all of its furniture was either of solid gold or overlaid with gold.

How God made known to Moses what the nature of his dwelling should be we are not told further than in the description in Exodus 25—30. From Heb. 8:5 it seems God showed him a pattern of it in Mount Sinai; but whether this was a mental conception of it from the oral description such as an architect might have of a structure before he draws his plan on paper, or whether it was shown to Moses in a vision or otherwise, we do not know. The important point is that it was designed by God as a whole and in minute details. Also Moses was warned against any deviation from God’s specifications. This was essential to its usefulness as a type.

Its Names

Inasmuch as the name of a type is given by God with direct reference to that which is symbolized or typified, the meaning of the names of the tabernacle should first receive attention. Of the various terms used to designate God’s ancient dwelling place, the one employed in the first mention of it to Moses is given in Exod. 25:8 and is translated “sanctuary.” This word is full of meaning and is probably the most comprehensive term used to designate the tabernacle. It is said that the original Hebrew word is never used to describe the temples of heathen deities, but only to describe the sacred abode of Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, whose name is holy. Holiness is the most prominent idea connected with the tabernacle and its service. To make people holy was the great purpose of God’s [22] revealing true religion. Then they were made ceremonially holy, now actually holy. Holiness is peculiar to the religion of Jehovah. Therefore he designated his dwelling place as a sanctuary. The term is used of the tabernacle as a whole, of the holy place, and also of the holiest place. Though the tabernacle represented these various degrees of holiness, yet it was all holy because of the awful holiness of Him whose glory was manifested in the thrice holy place beneath the outstretched wings of the cherubim.

The next word used in Scripture to designate that first house of God is the one translated “tabernacle.” It is probably the most common name of it. Its sense is “to settle down” or “to dwell.” It expressed the grand truth that the infinite God had come to dwell among his people. “Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them,” were the words in which he first commanded the making of the tabernacle. It was the first statement of the wonderful truth afterward included in the name given to Christ, “Immanuel.” which means “God with us.” The term “tabernacle” is used of the curtains, the boards, and of the entire structure.

The third important Scriptural name of the tabernacle is one translated “tent.” It is the one used of the common tents such as those in which the patriarch Abraham or Lot dwelt. It expresses much less of spiritual significance than does “sanctuary” or “tabernacle.” It has been supposed to have value to us as indicating somewhat as to the structure of the tabernacle. It seems to be used especially of the coverings of goats’ hair, rams’ skins, and badgers’ skins which were over the upright framework of boards. Therefore it is sometimes called the “tent of the tabernacle.” Some interpreters have understood this to teach that the tent was therefore separate from and over the tabernacle; but probably this does not positively prove more than that it was a cloth covering whether a flat roof over the framework or a separate tent with a ridged roof.

Another descriptive designation of the tabernacle very expressive is “tabernacle of the congregation.” The [23] Revised Version renders this “tent of meeting,” which is much better. The idea is not the meeting of the people with each other, but their meeting with God. “At the door of the tent of meeting before Jehovah, where I will meet with you, to speak there unto thee” ( Exod. 29:42 ). There at the brazen altar in the presence of the pouring out of the blood of sin offerings the holy God would meet sinful men and speak to them.

It is also called “the tabernacle of testimony,” because there in the holiest place with the sacred ark for a receptacle were deposited the divinely inscribed tables of stone, which were representative of God’s righteous law.

General View of the Tabernacle

That we may better understand the several parts of the tabernacle by viewing them in their relation to the whole, let us in imagination take a walk through the sacred precincts of the house of God and make a survey of it.

Here we stand in the midst of the camp of Israel before Mount Sinai, with the rough, rocky peaks of Horeb looming in awful grandeur on every side. Of the twelve tribes of Israel the tents of three tribes may be seen to the east, three to the north, and as many to the west and to the south. Fringing the great interior square thus formed are pitched the tents of the tribe of Levi, that thirteenth tribe especially holy, of whom are the priests and whose work it is to care for and serve the tabernacle. Immediately to the east of us dwell the priestly families, because the tabernacle door is to the eastward, and these ministers of the sanctuary must be nearest of all. In the great square thus formed is located the sanctuary. Literally, “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved” (Psa. 46:5).

From the eastern side of this square we face to the westward from the tents of the priests, and before us is the holy house, with its entrance on the east side, nearest us. First notice this high fence around the tabernacle enclosing a yard, called the “court.” This court you will notice is a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide. Or allowing eighteen inches for the cubit, which measure is supposed to have been originally derived from the length of a man’s forearm, from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, it is 150 feet long by 75 feet wide. It is as big as a large sized city building lot. The surrounding fence or wall is very peculiar in that it consists of hangings of fine linen suspended between posts, which stand five cubits, or seven and one half feet, apart. The fence is also five cubits, or seven and one half feet, high, so we can not see over it. These sixty posts are set in sockets of brass and have hooks and fillets of silver. But the entrance, which is thirty feet wide, including four of the spaces between posts, has instead of the common white hanging a much more beautiful one in gorgeous colors—blue, purple, and scarlet—the colors of royalty.

Passing through the entrance to the court and looking straight ahead of us, in the further end of the court we see the tabernacle itself, and immediately before us stands the large brazen altar, where expiation is made for sin, and between this and the tabernacle is a large brazen vessel called the laver, filled with water, in which the priests must always wash both their hands and feet before entering the dwelling place of God. We expect to come back to these to examine them more carefully later, so we shall pass on.

The tabernacle proper is not very different in size and shape from the common flat top, black goats’ hair tent of the average Arabian desert dweller as it has been constructed f o r thousands of years. Raising the beautiful hanging of blue, purple, and scarlet and passing between gold covered pillars we stand in the holy place, the first sanctuary, where we common people can never actually enter. It is as large as a large sized living room—a place of beauty and grandeur. The walls and ceiling are of the same fine linen and kingly colors as the hanging at the entrance, and are inworked with figures of cherubs in recognition of the presence of Deity.

Before us on the south side is the seven branch golden candlestick or lamp stand shedding its light round about. On our other hand is a table overlaid with pure gold. On [26] it are twelve loaves of bread, upon which is frankincense. Moving on we come to a beautiful little altar covered with gold. On this sweet incense is burned daily, morning and evening, for a sweet odor before Jehovah. Also on its horns are marks of blood, the blood of atonement sprinkled on it from the sin offering.

Now with trembling hand and bowed head we reverently lift the beautiful second veil and quietly enter the sacred inner room, the holiest place. Naturally all is dark, but we know we are in the presence of Him who dwells “in the thick darkness.” (1 Kings 8:12.) Here we stand in the awful presence of the Almighty God. We are before the “throne of grace.” This inner room is but half as large as the first, and its walls are covered with the same kind of beautiful hangings. The one piece of furniture is the chest like gold covered ark, containing the testimony, and over it serving as its lid the pure gold mercy seat with a golden cherub on either end stretching its wings out over the mercy seat like a golden canopy. Here above the mercy seat and under the shadow of the outspread wings of the cherubim the Shekinah light, the glory of the Lord, ever shines. From here Jehovah speaks to and blesses his people. Here also on the mercy seat once each year, on the great day of atonement, the blood of atonement is sprinkled. Here intercession is made for transgressors, and here mercy is extended to sinners.

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next: What the Tabernacle Typified

2 comments on “Typology: The Tabernacle and Its Furniture (1)

  1. PJ,

    Thank you for posting this series. I just got done teaching a rough overview of some of the ways the Law pointed us to Christ, using the feasts and offerings. If a person was to sit down and read the books of the Law (Exodus-Deuteronomy) with the intent of finding Christ in them, they would be greatly surprised to find these are much more interesting then people think they are.

    I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

  2. Thanks fourpointer…

    If a person was to sit down and read the books of the Law (Exodus-Deuteronomy) with the intent of finding Christ in them, they would be greatly surprised to find these are much more interesting then people think they are.

    O my yes!! I was very blessed to have as my first pastor a very good bible teacher in him as well. That was 28 yrs ago and he’s gone on to be with the Lord now..

    He taught our adult bible study and took us through the first 5 books of the bible (took him 3 years, lol) pointing out the types and shadows which point to Christ and to the coming new covenant. Looking back it was the richest bible study i’ve ever participated in; he had an absolute love for the word and it was impossible not to ‘catch’ that love and zeal from him.

    Its exciting isn’t it, when your eyes are opened to see these things in the Tabernacle, law and the feasts, etc…

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