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The Purpose of the Wilderness Tabernacle: The Plan of Salvation

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Tamara is a Bible student who loves mining the treasures in God's Word and sharing its teachings and applications with others.

The Tabernacle was a microcosm of a heavenly temple. Model at Timnah park in Israel

The Tabernacle was a microcosm of a heavenly temple. Model at Timnah park in Israel

Moving Through the Tabernacle From the Human Perspective

Jesus told His disciples after His death that the Salvation plan was foretold in the Law of Moses. The undertaking began with the instructions for constructing a place for God and man to meet through a sacrificial system.

Then He (Jesus) said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

— Luke 24:44-45

The Tabernacle arrangement and priesthood, including its sacrificial system, pointed forward to its fulfillment of the meeting of God with humanity in the Lord Jesus Christ.

This article will revisit each furnishing from the priest's perspective, who moved towards God's presence on behalf of the people.

The Exodus account records the order of spaces and furnishings from God's perspective, starting with the Tent of Meeting's holiest space. We will begin this study from the sinful human end with the approach to God from the least holy place, outside the gate.

From both aspects, we see a holy God who makes a way to meet with humans polluted with sin through a sacrificial system, all of which point to His one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was the perfect and complete sacrifice, making it possible for us to meet with God and be restored eternally to Him.

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

— Hebrews 9:24-27

The Tabernacle, in its entirety, therefore, is the horizontal schematic of God's plan of salvation. The Psalmist presents this horizontal perspective of God's work of salvation through Christ in terms of east and west.

As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

— Psalm 103:12

Moreover, God's One and Only Son at the cross fulfilled this in its vertical form.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

— Ephesians 3:14-19

The following sections will also serve as a brief review of the furnishings.

Blueprint of the Tent of Meeting spaces

Blueprint of the Tent of Meeting spaces

The Gate of the Court

There was only one entrance into the Tent of Meeting, as shown by the purple line in the diagram above, located on the structure's far right.

Notably, the opening was on the east side of the complex. Moving east is the pattern of all subsequent Biblical exiles and types of departures that move away from God, His will, and His presence. (Genesis 3:24, 4:16, 11:2, 13:11, 29:1). The eastern entrance illustrates a type of return or repentance.

Immediately following His temptation in the wilderness, Jesus's ministry began with the following message.

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

— Matthew 4:17

This kingdom concept takes us back to God's original plan of dwelling with humans in the very first temple that was imaged in the form of a garden. The first humans failed in the required mission to love and be loyal to the God who provided their paradise. The failure resulted in a broken relationship with God, a disconnect between heaven and the earth, and a move in the wrong direction. Another human is, therefore, necessary for reconnection and restoration.

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The gate, as a pattern of salvation, links us to Jesus, calling Himself the door and the only way to access the Father in the book of John.

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved . . . I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

— John 10:9, 14:6

He became a man and "tabernacled" among us for this reason.

In the beginning, was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning . . . And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.

— John 1:1-2, 14

In his book The Tabernacle, the Priesthood and Offerings, Henry Soltau offers this reflection for those who would draw near to God through the "appointed doorway" and seek to understand God's method of salvation in the Tabernacle.

". . . within, every object proclaimed life, peace, righteousness, acceptance, and nearness to God."1

The Veil of the Court Gate

A type of veil, in front of the one and only entrance, hid the Tent of Meeting's contents from an outside view. It comes with the idea of a protected sacred space.

Although the linen fence around the entire structure was white, the gate's linen fence was embroidered with blue, purple, and scarlet, always listed in this order. All the colors are significant to Christ and the way into God's presence through Him.

The blue represents His heavenly origin, the scarlet His humanness in being clothed in sinful flesh (Romans 8:3) yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). The middle color, purple, is a combination of blue and red, indicating the reuniting of heaven and earth through the fellowship of God and humans as it was supposed to be in the Garden in Eden.

Purple is also the color of royalty. Christ's fulfillment of these colors is representative of His Lordship over all of heaven and earth.

. . . every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever . . . for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings

— Revelation 5:13

The white linen surrounding the court represents God's pure, righteous requirements, which Christ fulfilled on our behalf by coming in the flesh.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

— Romans 8:2-4

This righteousness, expressed in the language of a covering garment granted to us, is discussed in the book of Revelation.

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her, it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints (those in covenant with Him).

— Revelation 19:7-8

Isaiah, the prophet, explains where the garments of His covenant one's righteous acts are derived.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.

— Isaiah 61:10

Righteousness is only possible through what Christ did for us. He was buried wrapped in a linen cloth, speaking of His righteous work accomplished.

Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.

— Mark 15:46

The connection with the work of God, in His Son Jesus Christ, and the Sacred space wrapped in linen illustrates this perfectly.

"gates were places where business transactions took place in the ancient world."

"gates were places where business transactions took place in the ancient world."

The Purpose of Ancient Gates

The Tent of Meeting entrance through the court gate is the only one of the three veiled openings referred to as a gate. The passages into the following two sacred spaces are referred to in the original Hebrew text as "openings."

. . . for the gate of the court shall be a hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework.

— Exodus 27:16

The gate is significant because gates were places where business transactions took place in the ancient world.

A transaction occurred at the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." Adam and Eve sold themselves to sin. Isaiah links this concept with his exhortation to God's people, who continued to stray from Him.

Behold, for your iniquities, have ye sold yourselves.

— Isaiah 50:1

It was an adulterated case of insider trading in the garden event, as expressed in the book of Ezekiel.

You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
Till iniquity was found in you.

“By the abundance of your trading
You became filled with violence within,
And you sinned;
Therefore I cast you as a profane thing
Out of the mountain of God . . .

. . . “You defiled your sanctuaries
By the multitude of your iniquities,
By the iniquity of your trading;

— Ezekiel 28:16-18

There was a debt to be paid before anyone could move toward the presence of the holy God.

For the wages of sin is death;

— Romans 6:23

Altogether there were three progressive thresholds to pass through into the presence of God. According to Hal Warren at Bible Blogs

The Jews referred to the entrance of the outer court as “the Way, the entrance to the Holy Place as “the Truth” and the entrance to the Holy of Holies as the “the Life” (John 14:6. 1 John 2:23).

Once again, this reiterates that the only way to understand truth and experience life is through the sacrifice of Jesus.

"The innocent animal was considered a substitute that pointed to the innocent human who would qualify to fulfill this necessary obligation."

"The innocent animal was considered a substitute that pointed to the innocent human who would qualify to fulfill this necessary obligation."

The Altar of Sacrifice in the Outer Court

The contamination of sin exempted any human from eligibility to pay the debt. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that the price was so costly that it could not be expressed in monetary terms.

“You have sold yourselves for nothing,
And you shall be redeemed without money.”

— Isaiah 52:3

The innocent animal was considered a substitute that pointed to the innocent human who would qualify to fulfill this necessary obligation. The sacrificial animal reminds the sinner that his own life does not qualify.

Those that trust in their wealth and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

none of them can by any means ransom his brother, nor give God an atonement for himself;

(for the ransom of his soul is so costly, and stops short of the eternal cost)

that he should still live forever and not see corruption.

— Psalm 49:7-9 (Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, Jubilee Bible, and paraphrasing on my part based on original translation)

At the gate, an innocent sacrificial animal was presented to the priesthood in place of the sinner. Before Christ, the animal would symbolically bear a man's sin and suffering for it on the altar of sacrifice. This symbolism illustrates Christ, our High Priest, who represents us before the Father doing all that was required to secure the debt owed. (Hebrews 9:24-28)

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us . . . who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree (the altar), that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness.

— I Peter 2:21-24

The animal was slaughtered, its blood poured out, and the pieces were arranged on the altar's grate by the attending priests representing the life of Christ that would be poured out for us for the redemption price.

. . . according to the law, almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood, there is no remission.

— Hebrews 9:22

The sacrifice was the first of a two-part cleansing process that took place in the outer court.

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.

— Revelation 1:5-6

"The Brass Altar had to do with God's judgment of our sins. The brass laver was for self-judgment and cleansing."

"The Brass Altar had to do with God's judgment of our sins. The brass laver was for self-judgment and cleansing."

The Brass Laver in the Outer Court

After entering the gate representing Jesus, the way to the Father, and after the sacrifice was made, the next place of visitation was the brass laver, the second of only two items in the outer court. The altar and Laver represented a type of cleansing before entering the Holy Place, where the only metal was gold.

Brass in Scripture symbolizes judgment. It was only in the outer court of the Tent of Meeting that this metal was used. The issue of sin had to be judged before entering the Holy Place.

The Brass Altar had to do with God's judgment of our sins. The brass laver was for self-judgment and cleansing.

The brass for the Laver was obtained from the looking glasses of the women of Israel. Both the brass and water's reflective qualities were for self-examination.

In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, self-judgment is mentioned in connection with the "Lord's Supper" and how it was observed. Interestingly, the New Testament institution follows the Old Testament pattern. The Bread Table was the next visited station in the Tent of Meeting after the Laver, which also included wine.

. . . whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (die). For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged..

— I Corinthians 11:27-31

This self-examination was no light matter, as is seen in the verse above concerning the observance above. A similar warning is also issued in the Exodus instructions concerning this furnishing.

“You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die.

— Exodus 30:18-21

"Lest they die" is mentioned twice in the above account, which connects us to the iniquitous garden event.

of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

— Genesis 2:17

In Hebrew, the phrase "surely die" is expressed by repeating the word "die" twice and could imply two deaths. As it applies to humans, a second death is mentioned four times in Revelation, creating a book-ending theme with the beginning and the end. The last of the four uses of "second death" uses garden imagery depicting the faithful and true overcomers contrasted with those who practice evil and won't experience it.

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

— Revelation 21:6-8

Paul's letter to the Corinthians concerning this topic, which includes Laver and table of bread themes, begins in the chapter before it and discusses the Old Testament illustration. The Laver's connection to Baptism and the Table of Bread are alluded to here.

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized (laver) into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink (table of bread/wine). For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Paul goes on to discuss for what purpose we should be examining ourselves.

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come . . . The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.

— I Corinthians 10:1-19

Henry Ironside, an early 1900"s theologian, explains this further connection with the Laver and the Table of Bread and connects this with baptism laver concepts.

"It is one thing to profess to be a Christian, it is one thing to participate in the ordinances of Christianity, to have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, to take part in the Supper of the Lord Jesus Christ given up to death for us; it is one thing to be associated outwardly with the people of God and to seem to have fellowship and communion with them, but it is another thing to prove genuine by going on with God, by living for God, and by bearing a faithful testimony right on to the end . . .

He distinguishes our part in the relationship, including acknowledging sin and choosing to separate ourselves from it.

John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”. . . Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

— Matthew 3:1-6

John then scolds the Pharisees for not acknowledging their need for repentance and refusal to change. They did not examine themselves. They assumed that all they needed was to be related to Abraham. Similarly, Christians can fall into this trap and think our ticket has been punched because we prayed a sinner's prayer.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

— Matthew 3:7-9

Isaiah gives us this application of the Laver.

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil.

— Isaiah 1:16

The writer of Hebrews warned against this dangerous assumption and presumption of living carelessly for ourselves and trying to mix it with communion with Christ.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

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 God; (The Brass Altar of Sacrifice)

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. . . (The Brass Laver)

. . . For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries . . .

. . . Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

— Hebrews 10


Foot Washing

Both water and copper also have cleansing properties. It was here that the priests were required to wash their hands and feet.

This Old Testament requirement is hinted at in a New Testament application at the scene where Jesus washes His disciples' feet. Peter initially protests in the embarrassment of his Lord stooping as a servant to cleanse him. But Jesus tells him he can have no part with Him if he doesn't humbly submit to this part of the process.

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 . . .

— John 13:9-10

This event occurs right before the "Lord's supper," just like the Laver before the bread and wine. During that supper, Jesus points out one that is among them that is not clean.

. . . but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”

— John 13:10

In the above verse, He spoke of Judas, who went through all the required motions yet betrayed Jesus to those who would deliver Him to death. Judas' fate was the same as those who refused to examine themselves sincerely and wholeheartedly commit themselves to Him through separation from known sin.

And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

— Matthew 27:3-4

In other words, he died.

The Altar of Sacrifice represented what God would do for us. The Laver represents our agreement with and response to what He has done.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
— James 4:8

The Table of Bread will be about fellowship.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth

— I John 1:16

God will have no fellowship with darkness, and He clarifies that our participation in darkness while trying to fellowship with Him cannot be.

. . . I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons

— I Corinthians 10:20-21

He asks us to deal with this before entering the Holy Place.

The Table of Bread represents the Communion Table.

The Table of Bread represents the Communion Table.

The Table of Bread and Wine in the Holy Place

The Heavenly Father's sacrifice of His One and Only Son to cleanse the sinner coupled with the cleansing self-examination, and the response of repentance from sin, it is now time for the priest to move forward into the sacred space called the "Holy Place" on behalf of the cleansed sinner.

There is a veil that covers the opening of this space. The sin issues were dealt with outside the Tabernacle in the Outer Court. They were not to be seen within the next hallowed chamber.

. . . You (Lord God, Holy One) are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness . . .

— Habakkuk 1:12‭-‬13

In reference to the "Holy Place," The word "holy" in Hebrew means to be set apart. The sinner set apart from his sin through the shed blood of Christ and his willingness to admit, submit, and commit to Christ, now may enter communion with Him.

Eating together in the ancient near east was a ceremony of acceptance. It frequently was centered around the agreement of two parties in a covenant. Christ's words at the communion meal seem to reflect this very idea.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

— Matthew 26:26-28

To partake of this table of fellowship with Christ includes the full awareness and appreciation of what He has done for us in his shed blood and broken body.

Fellowship with Christ included a fellowship in His sufferings, according to Paul.

I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

— Philippians 3:8-10

Much like the Brass Laver at this station, God desires reciprocation, evidenced by our loyal devotion and service.


The Menorah in the Holy Place

The Menorah, alone, illuminated the Holy Place. There was no other light source within the tabernacle proper. The Menorah symbolizes Jesus, the Word of God, the Light of the World. Jesus, in fact, declared Himself to be the "light of the world" as long as He was in the world.

Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world . . . As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

— John 8:12

This vessel's connection to the believers in Christ appears in the book of Revelation in John's vision, in that they become His lampstands in the world.

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man . . . and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

— Revelation 1:12-13, 20

We are to occupy as His representatives until He returns, reflecting the light of God's glory.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

— Matthew 5:14-16

Paul also gives us a practical application in his letter to the Philippians.

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

— Philippians 2:14-16

The Menorah also connects us with the truth of God's Word.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path . . .

. . . The entrance of Your words gives light

— Psalm 119:105,130

The Word of God and Light of the World, Jesus Christ, fill the life of His believers.

In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God . . . In Him was life, and the life was the light of men . . .

— John 1:1-5

The oil of the Menorah is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Cleansed from sin (Outer Court altar and laver) and in covenant communion with Christ (Table of Bread), the believer is to be filled with His Holy Spirit (Menorah).

Jesus was filled with the Spirit.

Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit . . .

— Luke 4:1

. . . As were Jesus's believers

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

— Acts 2:4

The Altar of Incense was linked with memory and emotion that was meant to connect us with God.

The Altar of Incense was linked with memory and emotion that was meant to connect us with God.

The Altar of Incense in the Holy Place

The Altar of Incense was located in the Holy place directly in front of the Most Holy Place curtain. It served purposes in both of these sacred spaces and provided a link between them.

Here, I would like to propose a possible pattern that applies to our approach to God. We must first understand the temple metaphor as it concerns us. Paul informs the Corinthian believers that they are temples of God when confronting the division and strife among the congregants due to their divided loyalties and apparent devotion to men rather than God.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

— I Corinthians 3:16-17

A second time, Paul discusses our bodies as temples in the context of sexual immorality in chapter six of Corinthians. The following scene connects us with the concepts of defilement in terms of self-serving desires and motives that lie beneath our loyalties toward anything or anyone but God Himself.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

— I Corinthians 6:18-20

Immediately following this, in chapter seven of Corinthians, Paul discusses the principles of marital faithfulness. In chapter eight, he discusses the topic of idols. Both idolatry and adultery lie at the heart of all temple defilement.

Chapter nine of I Corinthians addresses the topic of self-denial, completing the pattern by which we express our love, loyalty, and faithfulness to the Spirit of God who dwells within us.

All the furnishings in the Holy Place contained gold. Gold relates to pure faith tried by fire that results in Godliness.

. . . that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

— I Peter 1:7-9

In terms of us being a temple, the three spaces illustrate the three parts of our being. The Outer Court represents our flesh or body, The Holy Place represents our soul, and the Most Holy Place represents our Spirit.

The Holy Place and its three furnishings, depicting our soul, consist of our will, mind, and emotions.

The first station, the Table of Bread, inside the Holy Place, represents faith expressed in the decision of the will to follow Christ and finds satisfaction in doing the will of God.

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.

— John 6:35

Although the next portion of Scripture doesn't use the word bread specifically, it communicates the same connection with the sustenance of food, often expressed in terms of bread and the will of God. Jesus links doing the will of His Father with genuine satisfaction.

Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

— John 4

The Lord's prayer also couples together both bread and the will of God.

. . . Your Kingdom come, Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread . . .

— Matthew 6:10-11

The next furnishing, the Menorah, represents our mind. Paul speaks of the unbelieving mind as veiled and blinded and the Gospel as light in his second letter to the Corinthians.

. . . even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them .

— II Corinthians 4:3

The Altar of Incense represents our emotions. Our sense of smell has a direct route to our amygdala, which processes emotional stimuli as well as memory. Both are very connected.

Perfume and incense will gladden a heart . . .

— Proverbs 27:9

This station was also connected with prayer. Prayer and emotions are connected and often associated with joy or tears in Scripture.

. . . when he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one of whom had a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

— Revelation 5:8

The order in which these stations were visited reveals a protocol for approaching God. The Table of Bread, representing the will, tells us that we must decide to believe God's truth and directive and act willfully upon it. Once we submit our will to God's will, our mind, represented by the Menorah, will be enlightened and aligned with that decision to follow God's will as expressed in His Word. Our emotions portrayed by the Altar of Incense respond properly to God's will. This protocol leads us toward the presence of God.

We tend to work this pattern backward by visiting and consulting with our emotions first, which leads to our mind becoming clouded with our feelings, which inevitably dictates our will and decisions and ultimately moves us away from the presence of God.

The Altar of Incense reveals that God wants everything in order before emotional involvement occurs. We were created to experience deep, beautiful feelings grounded in our relationship with Him. Only in this prescribed order can we safely make these types of connections.

In Biblical courtship, there wasn't any form of physical contact that would provoke emotional connections before the wedding day. A covenant agreement was established, and protocols were followed a year before the event. Doing things this way was for the purpose of establishing faithfulness and commitment with proof of investment upfront. These agreements and promises established first made for a safe and stable environment to connect emotionally. God laid the groundwork for protecting this most precious union we could make.

The prescription of spices in the incense was exclusively used to meet with God to create an unadulterated experience with Him.

It was also only to be ignited by fire from the sacrificial altar, telling us that our passion and experience with Him should be rooted in nothing else but the precious work on the cross in His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.


The Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Space

It is in the Most Holy place that the presence of God could once again meet with humanity.

. . . And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.

— Exodus 25

Communication and relationships are restored in this place. It is at the Altar of Incense that we speak with God. It is at the Ark of the Covenant that God speaks with us.

The Menorah illuminated the Holy Place, but the only light source in the Most Holy Place was the glory of God Himself.

The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light,
And your God your glory.

— Isaiah 60:19

This furnishing also looked forward to an eternity of dwelling with God for the believer.

. . . And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal . . . But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

— Revelation 21:10,22-23

The Holiest Place that housed the Ark of the Covenant was a perfect cube and the Holy City in Revelation.

The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal

— Revelation 21:16

J. Preston Eby makes some interesting observations concerning the shape of this structure in terms of final fulfillment.

"There are only two cubes described in scripture. One is the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament Tabernacle and the other is the New Jerusalem. The perfect cube in the Holy of Holies finds its fulfillment in the City of God. A cube is the most perfect figure, being equal on all sides (finite perfection). It is the most comprehensive and holds the most. Nothing contains as much as a cube. It speaks of perfection and fullness. It was in the Holy of Holies where God was met and the High Priest was in His presence. It is God's presence that is perfect and fulfilling and nothing can contain as much as His presence does. It is in His presence that we want to be."

It was considered the innermost chamber, which can connect us to the human body, and the innermost chamber is our hearts.

Inside the ark were the tablets of the covenant. The writer of Hebrews links the same idea of these tablets written on our hearts and the fulfillment of God's presence with us.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

— Hebrews 8:10

Through Christ's perfect fulfillment of each protocol and prescription, God dwells with us and lives in our hearts through faith.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

— Ephesians 3:14-21


Concluding Thoughts

The Ark of the Covenant and God's throne are connected and symbolic of rest. In the Ancient Near Eastern world, when a great king had defeated his enemies and established his kingdom, he took his seat on the throne as a symbol of victory.

Then King David rose to his feet and said, “Hear me, my brethren and my people: I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made preparations to build it.

— I Chronicles 28:2

In his book The Tabernacle, the Priesthood and the Offerings, Henry W. Soltau observes no chairs or places to sit in the Tabernacle. Yet, Christ is seated in the Heavenly Tabernacle. This is related to His completed work and is given four mentions in the book of Hebrews.

  1. His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. — Hebrews 1:3
  2. Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens — Hebrews 8:1
  3. 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. — Hebrews 10:11-13
  4. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. — Hebrews 12:1-2

Soltau's commentary explains what Christ's enthronement, typified in the Tabernacle, means for the believer.

". . . other priests had to stand daily and yearly. No seat was provided for them . . . for their work was never finished. Sins were never put away. The worshipers were never purged . . . But our High Priest has sat down on the right hand of God for atonement has been made to God. God's will has been accomplished. God's holiness has been forever satisfied. God's indignation against sin has been forever appeased . . . Thus the fact that Christ is seated at the right hand of God is the sure ground of peace to the soul of the believer."

In Conclusion, every detail of the Tabernacle speaks volumes about such great salvation the Father has bestowed upon us through His one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.


1"The Tabernacle: The priesthood and the Offerings" by Henry W. Soltau (1805-1875). copyright 1972 Kregel Publishing. The original copyright date is unknown.


© 2019 Tamarajo


Tamarajo (author) on November 24, 2019:

Hi Bill,

The artist is Catherine Mullins.

I agree, His Word is infinitely amazing. Every single detail of it.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

God bless


William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on November 24, 2019:

As usual, a very detailed piece, Tammy. It amazes me how much God has packed into His Word. Thanks for the study. I really liked the video. who is singing?

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