Monday, March 31, 2014

Lessons from the Tabernacle of the Wilderness Pt. 5 by Chris White

“Then you shall make its lamps seven in number; and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it.”
                                                               Ex. 25:37

The golden lamp stand was the only source of light inside the darkened tabernacle and its seven lights were kept burning 24 hours a day continually being refilled by the priests.  The lamp stand itself was made of pure gold and only the purest of olive oils were burned to create its light.  From the entrance of the tent, the lamp stand stood on the left side of the holy place casting its light on the table of showbread and the altar of incense.  As this touches the Christian it reminds us that Jesus said “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life (Jn. 8:12).”  The Lord Jesus is the pinnacle of God’s revelation and thus the purest and greatest light for the human soul.  As the oil was replaced everyday and the light was kept burning 24/7 we are also reminded that we need the Lord’s illumination of our minds and hearts continually.  The light of the lamp stand highlighted the showbread and the incense altar which in turn remind of Christ’s provision for our needs as through His presence and His intercessions before the throne of God.  It is worth noting that the very first thing God created in the material world was light itself.  As light is the precondition to life in this world, so the knowledge and revelation of God are the preconditions of our salvation.  God’s provision of Jesus Christ is the light of the Gospel and the source of life for all men.  Next time: The Altar of Incense

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lessons from the Tabernacle of the Wilderness Pt. 4 by Chris White

“And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times.”
                                                                                                                Ex. 25:30

The table of the bread of Presence or the show-bread was fairly diminutive in size measuring 3 feet in length, 1.5 feet in width, and standing 27 inches tall.  It was made of wood and overlaid with gold.  Its purpose was to display 12 loaves of bread, garnished with incense, representing the 12 tribes of Israel.  These loaves of bread were an offering before the Lord and as they were replaced, the old ones would be eaten by the ministering priests of the tabernacle.  Unlike a food offering to the god of a pagan temple, the table of the bread of presence really is a food offering from God to us.  Jesus said “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst (Jn. 6:35).”  The baked loaves on the table look forward to the sacred offering Christ would make on the Cross that we might eat of Him and receive real, eternal life.  It is worth noting that as there was a loaf for each tribe rather than one large common loaf.  The Lord’s sacrifice on the cross was not a general one but a personal one for you and me.  God brings us into one family but every family is composed of unique individuals with their own story and their own need of redemption.  Bread is also a specified form of nourishment.  God selected this particular form over all others to represent His Son.  In the same way, while there are endless religious messages floating around the world today, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only one that reconciles a person to God.  It is His appointed means of nourishment.  Finally, if the show-bread represents Christ, the table of show-bread points us to our mission as a Church and individual Christians.  It is our job to display Jesus Christ to a world that is literally dying of spiritual hunger.  Next time: The Lampstand

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lessons from the Tabernacle of the Wilderness Pt. 3 by Chris White

“And there I will meet with you and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in the commandment for the sons of Israel.”    Ex. 25:22

The ark of the covenant was essentially the throne of God on earth that furnished His kingly presence chamber in the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies or the Holiest Place.  This presence chamber was not open to the Israelites or priesthood.  Only the high priest could attend the holiest place and that only once a year to bring a blood sacrifice in atonement for the sins of the nation to God.  The ark itself was a box made from a common wood found in the desert and overlaid with gold.  The lid was known as the mercy seat and it was made of pure gold.  At each end were cherubim facing one another reminding us of the angels that surround God’s throne in heaven and minister to Him in purity and holiness.  Inside the box were the table of the 10 commandments, the rod of Aaron, and a pot of manna.  Each of these speak to how Christ would fulfill with His life that which humanity cannot do in his fallen nature.  Man cannot keep the law of God except in fits and starts because he is enslaved to sin.  The manna pot is testimony to God’s provision in the wilderness, but also a testimony to our failure to do God’s will.  Israel’s disobedience to God made a short purposeful pilgrimage into 40 years of wasted time until a generation passed.  Finally, Aaron’s rod speaks to God’s appointed leadership and our rebellion against it.  We resist submission to authority because we desire autonomy.  But these three things were surrounded by the gold overlaid box which is a type of Jesus Christ—fully human as seen in the common wood, fully God as symbolized by the gold.  Christ was able to fully keep the law, fully obeyed the will of God, and was fully submitted to the Father.  As Christians we are joined to this life and forgiven for the failures of our old life.  The mercy seat was made of solid gold and was therefore imperishable unlike the ark.  On top of this seat blood was sprinkled for the sins of Israel each year.  Just above this seat was the shekinah or presence of God.  What this pictures quite perfectly is standing between a holy God and a fallen, condemned humanity is an imperishable covering made possible by the sacrificial death of the God-Man Jesus Christ.  Next time: The Table of Showbread

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lessons from the Tabernacle of the Wilderness Pt. 2 by Chris White

“And there I will meet with you and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in the commandment for the sons of Israel.”    Ex. 25:22

It may seem odd to start with the Ark of the Covenant and not the tent and outer court but that is exactly where God started.  Man usually starts with a building and furnishes it later (providing he hasn’t run out of money first!) but God started his plan with the most important piece of furniture and then designed the building around it.  God works that way in us as well.  He starts with phase 1 which is renovating and creating a new heart within us and then works on the externals of our lives which is phase 2.  Now, unless you are Indiana Jones, most of us have no idea what an ark is all about.  Arks were a common furnishing in the temples of Egypt.  They were a throne with a covering and handles on it for the god (represented by its idol) to sit and be ministered to by his priests and be carried around if he was to be present for an outdoor function.  God wanted Moses to make Him an ark too but this would be different.  First, there would be no statue of God on the throne, but rather He actually would be present and visible as the Shekinah (pillar of fire, protective cloud).  Second, He didn’t need his priests to give Him a hand by carrying Him around.  He would move on His own and this would signal that the ark, the tent, and the whole camp were to follow Him around.  Once again, God’s action in using the ark in the tabernacle vividly shows us that He is a God who accommodates our frailty and humanity by using language and earthly things to help us understand Him.  He is a communicator because He is a God of love and relationship.  Next time: The Ark of the Covenant pt. 2

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lessons from the Tabernacle of the Wilderness Pt. 1 by Chris White

 “And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.  According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.”
                                                                  Ex. 25:8-9

I would like to begin this series on the Tabernacle of Israel with a question: why would learning about the tabernacle make me a better Christian?  In a general way, the tabernacle illustrates the fullness of our relationship with Jesus.  The tabernacle teaches us how God has approached man and how man is to approach God.  In the coming weeks this divine portrait of Christ will become more vivid as we take a closer look at its many furnishings.  We read in Exodus 25 that the tabernacle was a temporary sanctuary that was the center of Israel’s worship until Solomon built a permanent temple in Jerusalem 647 years later.   The tabernacle in the wilderness was most importantly not something Moses or the people initiated, but something God initiated.  Moses received the work order, the specific design, even the names of the building supervisors (Ex. 31) directly from God.  Moreover, the resources to fulfill this work had been provided by Him through the Egyptians as gifts to the Jews as they left following the final plague.  This tabernacle when finished was to be in the center of Israel’s massive encampment and would travel with them.  As this pertains to Jesus Christ let me point out three important things: first, Mt.1:23 tells us that Jesus will be called Immanuel or “God with us”.  God came to where is people were living and dwelt in the middle of them.  Second, the Israelites were tent dwellers and so God lived among them in the same fashion.  This points to Jesus’ incarnation, that He would dwell among us and live as we live, that He would redeem our existence.  Third, like the Tabernacle, Jesus is God’s provision and exclusive means of reconciling man to Himself (see 1 Tim. 2:5).  Our salvation begins and ends with God.  We cooperate with Him to be sure, but ultimately it is through His instrumentality that anyone is saved.  Next time: The Ark of the Covenant.