- Exo 27:1-8 – The altar
- Exo 27:9-15 – The court of the tabernacle
- Exo 27:16-19 – The gate of the court and utensils
- Exo 27:20-21 – The oil lamp
A Pattern for Life
God’s instructions to Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle and all its parts were very precise, defining the material, shape and size. It was the prescription for encountering God. Each of these elaborated details had a symbolic meaning and related in type to the fulfillment of our redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Symbolism of Objects
These objects represented different aspects of our relationship with God in a symbolically encoded message. Understanding all the elements of the message is not an easy task and leaves us wondering as there could be more than one interpretation. This is the difficulty always encountered when we try to communicate spiritual truths in physical ways. What we produce is always representation, not the real thing.
New Testament Interpretations
Many verses of the New Testament explain the symbolism and typology of Old Testament elements of worship. In this way, the Holy Spirit establishes the continuity between the Old and the New Testament. We can use these scriptures to obtain some understanding.
It is interesting that even if not defined in the Old Testament, the Rabbinical Tradition interpretation of some of these symbols corresponds to that given in the New Testament. Possibly the most interesting is that the Tabernacle/Temple is the figure of a man.
How Far Should We Go?
However, I have seen different authors extending their interpretation to elements beyond those given in the Bible. They presented different plausible interpretations for the same objects showing that their conclusions were rather subjective.
Examples of Interpretations
In any case, Jesus is always at the center of all symbolism. A few of the interpretations of these symbols follow.
- Tabernacle – Dwelling of God, Man as dwelling of God. Jesus as God with us.
- Showbread – Symbols of God’s provision. Jesus said that He was the bread from heaven (John 6:31-33, 50-51, 58), feeding on Jesus
- Manna – same as Showbread
- Laver – The cleansing of word of God (Eph 5:26, 2 Pet 3:5)
- Lamp – Spirit of God (Psa 18:28), Word of God (Psa 119:10, Pro 6:23)
- Oil – Anointing of the Holy Spirit (Lk 4:17, Isa 61:1)
- Gold – Kingship, Glory, God
- Silver – Redemption, the price of a soul
- Veil = The blindness of man
- Brazen Altar – The judgment on Calvary
The Changing Dwelling Place of God
We must also consider that some of the components of the tabernacles were determined by the need to have a mobile place of worship and were changed when the Tabernacles became the Temple after the settlement of the Jews in the Promise Land.
Philosophical Representations of Spiritual Truth
The difficulty of expressing spiritual truth is also encountered when trying to explain spiritual truths in philosophical, logical ways. The large quantity of documents published on this does not fully describe the simplicity of the Gospel. This is because spiritual reality entails things beyond the mental realm.
We Connect to the Spiritual Kingdom with Our Heart
I do not want to imply that these forms of communication are useless. However, they are limited because spiritual truths must be spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:13-14) by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. In that revelation, we “know” the truth experientially through the heart and not logically, through the mind (John 7:16-17).
To enter the kingdom you must receive it as a little child (Lk 18:17).
Prayer of Faith
Thank you Father for the revelation You have given us. Jesus paid for my sins. I am forgiven. The Holy Spirit dwells in my heart and guides me. You never leave nor forsake me. I am transformed by Your power as Your Word enters my heart. I am delivered, healed and blessed.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!
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