When our daughter Sky was born, we were planning to have the delivery through natural childbirth. Nowadays this sort of thing is quite commonplace, but in our era it was considered to be quite an innovation. I was to be in the delivery room with Paula.
As Paula was prepped for the delivery, I was stopped by a door with a big sign which ordered, "KEEP OUT!" Before entering, I was required to go through an elaborate ritual. I had to put on the backwards paper pajamas. I had to spend five minutes washing my hands clear up to my elbows. Why? What was the necessity for all of this? After all, I was fairly well-dressed and sincere. What more was needed? Why did I need to go through all of this? It was because of something that I couldn’t even see. Something called GERMS.
There was a place in the Bible life that. It was a place that was restricted - a place with a big "Keep Out" sign. It was a place that only the high priest could enter and then only once a year and then only after an elaborate washing ritual. It was the Holy of Holies. It was the very presence of God. The big "Keep Out" sign was in the form of a great veil that separated this most holy place from the rest of the world.
THE EARTHLY SANCTUARY
Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.
For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place.
Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, 4 having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail. (Hebrews 9:1-5).
The Old Testament is very explicit as to how the elements of worship were to be composed. Worship in the Old Testament revolved around the Tabernacle. The word "tabernacle" simply means "tent." It was often known as the "tent of meeting." It was the place where God would come to meet man.
The regulations for the Tabernacle are given in great detail in Exodus 25-27. These three long chapters give detailed instructions as to the dimensions, the composition of the building materials and how they were to be put together. Then if that were not enough, Exodus 35-39 recount in even greater detail how those instructions were carried out point by point.
At first glance, this kind of repetition seems unnecessary. After all, Moses could have merely written, "God told us how to build the Tabernacle and we followed His instructions." That would have been one verse instead of the eight chapters which are devoted to this subject. Why such attention to detail? Was it merely filler that was needed? Was Moses getting paid by the word? Was this a homework assignment which required a certain number of pages? No, I believe that there was a special reason for this great detail. It is because the entire Tabernacle and all of the ordinances therein were a giant picture of Jesus. Let’s look at it.
There was a tabernacle prepared
And the Word became flesh and dwelt [literally "tabernacled"] with us... (John 1:14).
"I am the light of the world..." (John 8:12).
The table and the sacred bread
"I am the bread of life..." (John 6:35).
The second veil
Represented the body of Jesus.
A golden altar of incense
Represented prayers of intercession.
1. The Tabernacle.
The word "Tabernacle" simply means "tent." The Tabernacle was a portable meeting place - a place where God would meet with His people. It was first established while the Israelites were in the Sinai wilderness. As such, it had to be portable because the Israelites were constantly on the move.
Do you remember what happened when the Tabernacle was completed? The presence of God came and moved into the Tabernacle.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34-35).
Many years later, the Tabernacle was replaced by a more permanent structure. Although build to the same general specifications, the Temple was made instead of wood and stone. When it was completed, the same thing happened as had happened in the wilderness. The presence of God came.