Sermon for Sunday, December 12th, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
Old Testament reading:
[Exo 27:1-8 ESV] 1 “You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. 2 And you shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. 3 You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans. You shall make all its utensils of bronze. 4 You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze, and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. 5 And you shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net extends halfway down the altar. 6 And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. 7 And the poles shall be put through the rings, so that the poles are on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. 8 You shall make it hollow, with boards. As it has been shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made.
New Testament reading:
[Heb 8:1-7 ESV] 1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
[Mat 27:51-54 ESV] 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
[Exo 26:1-37 ESV] 1 “Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them. 2 The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall be the same size. 3 Five curtains shall be coupled to one another, and the other five curtains shall be coupled to one another. 4 And you shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set. Likewise you shall make loops on the edge of the outermost curtain in the second set. 5 Fifty loops you shall make on the one curtain, and fifty loops you shall make on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite one another. 6 And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to the other with the clasps, so that the tabernacle may be a single whole. 7 “You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; eleven curtains shall you make. 8 The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. The eleven curtains shall be the same size. 9 You shall couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent. 10 You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set. 11 “You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together that it may be a single whole. 12 And the part that remains of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remains, shall hang over the back of the tabernacle. 13 And the extra that remains in the length of the curtains, the cubit on the one side, and the cubit on the other side, shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on this side and that side, to cover it. 14 And you shall make for the tent a covering of tanned rams’ skins and a covering of goatskins on top. 15 “You shall make upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. 16 Ten cubits shall be the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. 17 There shall be two tenons in each frame, for fitting together. So shall you do for all the frames of the tabernacle. 18 You shall make the frames for the tabernacle: twenty frames for the south side; 19 and forty bases of silver you shall make under the twenty frames, two bases under one frame for its two tenons, and two bases under the next frame for its two tenons; 20 and for the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side twenty frames, 21 and their forty bases of silver, two bases under one frame, and two bases under the next frame. 22 And for the rear of the tabernacle westward you shall make six frames. 23 And you shall make two frames for corners of the tabernacle in the rear; 24 they shall be separate beneath, but joined at the top, at the first ring. Thus shall it be with both of them; they shall form the two corners. 25 And there shall be eight frames, with their bases of silver, sixteen bases; two bases under one frame, and two bases under another frame. 26 “You shall make bars of acacia wood, five for the frames of the one side of the tabernacle, 27 and five bars for the frames of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames of the side of the tabernacle at the rear westward. 28 The middle bar, halfway up the frames, shall run from end to end. 29 You shall overlay the frames with gold and shall make their rings of gold for holders for the bars, and you shall overlay the bars with gold. 30 Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain. 31 “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. 32 And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. 33 And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy. 34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place. 35 And you shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle opposite the table, and you shall put the table on the north side. 36 “You shall make a screen for the entrance of the tent, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework. 37 And you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia, and overlay them with gold. Their hooks shall be of gold, and you shall cast five bases of bronze for them.
A major subject of Biblical theology is called typology. [REPEAT: Typology]
There are various types (or prophetic symbols) of the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New Testament.
Baptism, for example, in First Peter 3:20-21, is said to correspond to the flood of Noah. In that theological language then, the flood is called the type and Baptism is the anti-type.
But in the vast majority of cases it is Jesus Christ who is the anti-type. In him is the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophetic signs.
Sometimes it is an Old Testament person who is said to be a type of Christ. David, as shepherd and king, was a type of Christ who was to come, the Good Shepherd and the King of Kings. And Job, that man of suffering, was a type of Christ who was to suffer on the cross for the sins of His people.
But there are many types that are not persons but objects. You might think of the snake on the pole in the wilderness that the people are to look up to in order to be healed. And this is a type of Christ on the cross who we are to look to for ultimate healing from our sinful nature.
I mentioned some of the types last week as we look at the furnishings of the temple. The Golden Lampstand was a type of Christ, the Light of the World. The Ark of the Covenant, containing the word of God, was a type of Jesus Christ, the Word of God. And the bread on the Table for Showbread was a type of Christ, the Bread of Life.
But this is really just the start of the typology in the tabernacle. There are types not only in the furnishings but in many other elements of the design of the tabernacle itself. It is those types that I want to look today as we look at “Christ in the Tabernacle.”
And as the number of types increases in our knowledge we’ll see more and more just how systematic and connected Scriptures is. And how connected God’s plan in Christ is. And this attests to the truth of Christ because the connections and fulfillments in Christ are so numerous that there can be no thought of coincidence. Clearly it is all in the plan of God.
Perhaps somewhere there is a complete list of Scriptures types. But I know that there would not be full agreement among theologians. We have to be careful when we declare something to be a type. Some have gone too far, seeing types where there are no types and stretching the word of God beyond its intended meaning. Then, some centuries ago the Anglican Bishop Marsh created the restrictive “Marsh’s Dictum” in which he said that types are only validly types if the Bible explicitly declares the to be so. Under this idea there might only be a few handfuls of types in all of the Scriptures. Marsh’s dictum has generally thought to have been too restrictive, and it has been argued by Patrick Fairbairn and others that we should accept not only the explicitly declared types but those also implied in the text. The whole process of determination can be a bit tricky and so we want to be careful. So as we look at the types of Christ in the tabernacle we’ll want to be careful not to extend beyond what the scripture says. There is much that is irresponsible in the interpretations of those who speculate abut meaning and make connections that are not there. The legitimate types of Christ are present throughout Scripture. We do not need to make up additional ones.
So let’s look then at the types of Christ in the Tabernacle
I. The Types of Christ in the Tabernacle
First there are those types I mentioned last week in the furnishings of the temple.
A. The Golden Lampstand
The Golden Lampstand is a type of Christ who is the light of the world. As the Lampstand shone light into the darkness of the tabernacle, so Christ provides the reasoning principle of the mind which enlightens every man who comes into the world.
[Jhn 1:9 ESV] 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
B. The Table of Showbread
Then the bread of presence on the table is a type of Christ who is the bread of life. While the bread provided sustenance for the priests, Christ provides spiritual sustenance to all who believe in him.
[Jhn 6:35 ESV] 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
C. The Ark of the Testimony
For the Ark of the Covenant or Ark of the Testimony there is the word of God written on the tablets of stone which are placed inside of it. This is a type of Christ who is the Word of God, who brings the message of salvation in the Gospel.
[Jhn 1:1 ESV] 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
D. The Mercy Seat
Upon the Ark was the cover called the Mercy Seat which, as it was sprinkled with blood, was a type of Christ who’s blood atoned for the sins of His people.
In Greek “mercy seat” is the same as “propitiation.” And so we see this type being born out in Romans 3:25 which says of Jesus:
[Rom 3:25 ESV] 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
E. The Sacrifices
Then we have the sacrifices. As animals were slaughtered, so was Christ slain for sins.
[Eph 5:2 ESV] 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
[Heb 10:12 ESV] 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
F. The High Priest
Another type is the High Priest. Not only was Christ the sacrifice so also was he the priest offering that sacrifice.
Hebrews 8:1 – “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.”
G. The Tabernacle and Presence of God
Then we have the very tabernacle itself. The very idea that God would dwell with his people. This is a type of Christ, Very God of Very God, who came and dwelt among us.
John 1:14 – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the on Son from he Father, full of grace and truth.”
H. The Door
Then there is the door. If you look at the plan of the tabernacle in detail you’ll realize it had but one way in, one single door. Here we have a type of Christ who is the one and only way of salvation. He said:
[Jhn 10:9 ESV] 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
II. Other Symbolism in the Tabernacle
In addition to the types of Christ in the Tabernacle there is much other symbolism.
The splendour of it all is an earthly reflection of the glory of the kingdom of God. If you think the gold and wood and silver and colored dyes on the curtains are impressive, just wait until you see heaven! The tabernacle, though wonderful, is but an earthly limited reflection of God’s great kingdom.
As for the colors themselves used in the tabernacle, meanings are commonly associated with them.
Gold often refers to kingship,
Silver to moral purity
White to holiness
Hyacinth to the blue heavens above
Purple to royal glory. This color especially, with its expensive dye, is not for ordinary purposes, but only for royalty.
Crimson to blood or life.
Perhaps we are not amazed with colors in our modern world. But consider the desert-traveling Israelites. The color palette of nature is wonderful, but limited compared to our modern dyes and inks. As they walked through the desert, the Israelites didn’t have colorful billboards beckoning them to stop for cheeseburgers and pocket knives. So when they went into the tabernacle and saw the colors of God’s design it surely was astonishing. Colors rarely seen.
So will heaven be astonishing for us.
And of the designs in the tabernacle, the Cherubim (or angels) sewn into the curtains again remind one of heaven where God’s angels reside.
D. The Location of the Tent
Now the tent was to be in the center of the people. The tribes surrounded it. R. C. Sproul explains that in antiquity when other people groups moved, there was a central tent as well. And who lived in that central tent? It was the king. Well, Israel did not have a King other than the Lord. So the location of the tent points to God being in charge.
This is not an exhaustive list of symbols and types in the Tabernacle.
But there is one more tabernacle reference in the New Testament that I want to look at in greater detail. That is, the veil or curtain.
III. The Torn Veil
There are a number of curtains in the tabernacle, but when “the veil” is spoken of it is in reference to that curtain dividing the holy place from the most holy place, the holy of holies. There no one can go, but for once a year a priest as mediator of the people enters in. The veil is what separates the people from God who dwells in the holy of holies.
It symbolizes our sin. Isaiah 59:2 says “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.”
The way to God was veiled off. But Christ breaks the veil for us to enter in.
[Heb 10:19-22 ESV] 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
The removal of the veil of separation was shown in a physical way when upon the death of Christ, we read in Matthew’s Gospel:
[Mat 27:51-54 ESV] 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
This is not the tabernacle, but its replacement in now the 2nd temple in Jerusalem.
The curtain, which in ancient sources was said to be 4 inches thick, was now torn in two! The symbol of the division between God and Man is now done away with. And with the symbol gone so also gone is that former reality. A new reality is upon us where we have direct access to God through Jesus Christ. And no longer can anything keep us from God. No veil can be raised. Christ has once for all won the victory.
Of great interest regarding the Gospel accounts of the curtain being torn in two are related accounts from ancient Jewish sources. While the sources do not say that the curtain was torn in two, they tell of a number of other strange occurrences at the temple 40 years before the fall of Jerusalem. Well, 40 years before the Fall of Jerusalem was Jesus’ death. The timing matches. Well, what happened according to these Jewish sources? They say things such as that the gate was closed at night but found open in the morning. And that central light of the lampstand went out.
This should lead any Jew to ask the question – what happened at that time? The New Testament tells us what happened. Christ died on the cross. The symbols of old were no longer needed. The greater reality has come. God even saw it fit that the physical temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed and those practices of sacrifice ended. There is no reason for the end of the sacrifices but for Jesus Christ, the once for all sacrifice for the sin.
It is because of Christ that we don’t celebrate Jewish feasts and festival. We have something better.
And it is for this reason that I am merely a pastor not a priestly intermediary making sacrifices for you. We have a better priest, a better intermediary, a better sacrifice, we have all things in Jesus Christ. Nothing has changed the world more than the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. The Old Covenant is now passed and the promised New Covenant is upon us.
Application: Seeing Christ in the Tabernacle
Next time you read this Exodus 26 passage – perhaps again later today if you get the chance — read it and see Christ in it.
the tabernacle is not boring
the tabernacle is not irrelevant
Rather it is fascinating and relevant because Christ is fascinating and relevant above all else.
As you read of the tabernacle and its design reflect then on how it prophetically addresses Jesus Christ. How it points you to him, your savior.
Application: Access to God is Yours
Access to God is your. You can draw near to God because the veil of separation is now removed. God was on one side – holy and pure, and man on the other – sinful and corrupt. But Jesus Christ has reconciled us to God. God dwells in our hearts and one day we will dwell with God in heaven.
So if you feel distant from God, know that He is not distant from you. The Lord loves you, Christian, so that you may pray directly to God, that you may read His word, that you may join in fellowship with His Church, that you may know peace, and that you may pursue holiness.
Praise be to God, Father Son and Holy Spirit who does all these things.