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The Tabernacle as a Type of Jesus Christ

Dr. John R. Sampey said, "A type may properly be defined as a person, institution, or event in the old dispensation which was designed to prefigure a corresponding person, institution, or event in the New."

The Old Testament institutions and ceremonies were powerless to save the souls of men. They were devised as types of Christ and the different phases of effectual salvation (Cf. Hebrews 7, 8, 9, 10). The Tabernacle and later the Temple typified the places and the manner in which Jehovah met with His people and dealt with their sins. They were a type of the Incarnate Christ and His ministry for men. The priesthood typified the one and only perfect priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Offerings, Feasts, and Ceremonies all typified things having to do with redemption through the Messiah and the life of the redeemed. The Old Testa­ment people were a type of the New Testament people of faith. The places of the Old Covenant were typical of spiritual places or conditions. Even the land was a type of salvation to come through the Christ. The following are some of the main types found in the Tabernacle. 

The HIGH PRIEST was by divine appointment (Exodus 28:1; Heb. 5:4-6; 7:20-24). Only the High Priest could make atonement (Lev. 16:1­3; Heb. 7:27; 6:20; 8:3; 9:7, 12, 24-28; 10:12; 13:20; 2:9; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Ex. 28, 29; Lev. 8; Num. 3, 8; cf. Heb. 5, 7, 9). Jesus was the Great High Priest offering up Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sin debt.

The key to the TABERNACLE is Christ (Exodus 25-27). It sym­bolized the dwelling place of God in the midst of His people. As a type of Christ, it symbolized the meeting between God and man (Heb. 9:21-24; 2 Cor. 5:19; Col. 2:9; Heb. 10:5; Rev. 21:3; Jn. 1:14 2:13-22). The tabernacle is a symbol, picture and prophecy of the man in whom God should become incarnate. It is also a symbol of the Body of Christ, the Church (Col. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:13; Rom. 12:5; Eph. 2:21, 22).

The GOAT HAIR TENT COVER (Exodus 26:7ff) completely covered the Taber­nacle. It is a symbol of the complete way in which the sacrifi­cial death of Jesus covers the Body of Christ. Because of the death of Christ, and our acceptance of it, God cannot see our sins (Lev. 9:15; Num. 28:22; Isa. 53:10; Heb. 9:10, 14, 26, 28; Eph. 5:2; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Jn. 1:9; Ps. 32:1).

Two COVERINGS OF THE TABERNACLE consisted of (1) ram's skins dyed red, and (2) a covering of porpoise or badger which was dull bluish, or gray in color and had no comeliness or beauty. It was nothing to be desired and was despised and rejected for coverings by men. It is a picture of Christ to all who do not come by way of the Cross (Isa. 53:2, 3).

The GATE to the Tabernacle was the only entrance. It was accessible, attractive and well supported. Christ is the only gate into the presence of God (John 10:7, 9; 14:6; Eph. 2:13; 1 Cor. 2:2; Heb. 10:19-20).

The BRAZEN ALTAR (Exodus 27:1-8) is a type of Christ our sacrifice (Jn. 1:29). The sacrifice stands at the entrance of man's approach to God. Man has no access to God except as a sinner atoned for by blood. All who pass through the door must pass by the bloodstained altar or not at all. The Mizbeach - "slaughter place," just within the gate was easily accessible, unavoidable and unmistakable.

LAVER OF BRONZE (Exodus 30:17-21) symbolizes Christ our cleanser which cleanses from defilement (Eph. 5:25-26; Jn. 17:17). It denotes spiritual renewal. We have daily cleansing from defilements of life, and it is accessible only through our Priest. We are continually cleansed by Christ through the Spirit and the Word (Jn. 15:3; 1 Jn. 1:6-9).

HOLY PLACE  was the first room the priest entered and contained three pieces of furniture: Table of Presence, Menorah or Golden Lampstand, and Altar of Incense.

The MENORAH or LAMP STAND OF PURE GOLD symbolizes the presence of Jehovah as the source of life’s entertainment, and God's leadership. Christ is our Light (Jn. 8:12), and denotes spiritual illumination (Exo. 30:7-8; 27:20; Phil. 2:15-16; Prov. 4:18; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 1:18; 5:13; Matt. 5:14-16). The Holy Spirit gives illumination to the believer.

BREAD OF THE PRESENCE lit. "face-bread," symbolizes the presence of the LORD as food of life. Jesus is the "Bread of Life" for every believer (Jn. 6:35). He is our spiritual sustenance.

ALTAR OF INCENSE (Exodus 30:1-10) was a perpetual adoration of the LORD. Christ is our intercessor who is always making intercession for us (Jn. 17; Heb. 7:25; Rev. 8:3-5). It also symbolizes the wor­ship of the believer (Jn. 4:21, 23); and prayer of the saints (Rev. 8:3, 4; Ps. 141:2; 1 Tim. 2:1-5).

The VEIL in the Temple (Exodus 26:31-35) separated the Holy of Holies, or Most Holy Place, and the Holy Place. It is a type of Christ's body (Heb. 10:20; Matt. 27:51). The door into God's presence was opened to man when Christ died and rent the veil (Jn. 10:9). The unrent veil shut man out from the typical presence of God. The rent veil changed at once from a barrier to an open way into the Holy of Holies (Heb. 9:20, 26; 10:10, 12, 14; Eph. 2:4-6; Heb. 4:15, 15).

HOLY OF HOLIES was entered only one day of the year on Yom Kip­pur, the Day of Atonement. It represented God's dwelling place (Heb. 9:24). It symbolized the human body of Jesus (Jn. 2:19-­21), and the body of believers (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19). In 2 Corinthians 6:16 it symbolizes the local church, and Ephesians 2:21 the universal church consisting of all believers in Christ.

The ARK OF THE COVENANT (Exodus 25:10-16) contained the Law, manna and Aaron's budded rod. Christ had the Law in His heart and came to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17, 18). It is another symbol of God being with His people. Just as the Ark of the Covenant contained God's testimony to Israel, Christ is God's testimony of man.

The MERCY SEAT was the gold lid or cover on top of the ARK of COVENANT (Exodus 25:17-21; Lev. 16:13-16). The Mercy Seat is the cover, the covering or removal of sin by means of expiatory sacrifice. It is the Old Testament throne of grace. Justice and mercy met there, and the blood of the innocent sacrifice cleanses away all sin. Christ is that covering for sin (Heb. 9:5; Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:2). He is the Mercy Seat.

THE GLORY, MY GLORY is the Shekinah. "Glory" describes Yahweh’s self-manifestation, His transcendence, or His presence with men (Ex. 33:18-20; 34:5-7; 14:19; 40:34, etc.). It is a type of His dwelling in heaven (Heb. 9:24; Ex. 40:34-35). He is looking down upon the Mercy Seat, seen guiding Israel, was not in the second temple, and reappeared with Christ (Matt. 17:5; Lk. 2:9; Jn. 1:14; Rev. 21:3; Heb. 1:3; Jn. 17:5; 2 Pet. 1:16, 17; Acts 1:9; Mk. 14:62; Rev. 14:14).

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Title:  Tabernacle as a Type
Series:  Christ in the Old Testament

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2007. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

Unless otherwise noted “Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries for ten years. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Honduras.

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