Summary: We cannot fully understand the New Testament without first understanding the Old Testament. This message looks at the Tabernacle as the Old Testament pattern of Worship www.gracecommunity.com
We come to a place in our study of worship that we must move into the Old Testament if we’re going to understand the New Testament and our proper stance in worship today. You cannot fully understand why we worship without first understanding the origins of worship. It would take months of sermons to exhaustively study worship in the Old Testament. For the purpose of our study, we don’t have that kind of time. So we are going to talk about it this morning and examine Old Testament worship practices from the perspective of the Tabernacle. It is here we find our blueprint to what should be our pattern of worship today.
The New Testament cannot exist without the Old Testament. Everything in the Old Testament pointed to the coming of Christ and the establishment of his Kingdom. The Old Testament contains over three hundred prophetic passages that refer to the first coming of Jesus the Messiah. Forty-eight of these prophecies refer specifically to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. All of them published during and eleven-hundred-year period that ended four centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
I want you to have a clear picture of what worship would have been like in Old Testament times. If we only approach worship based on our feelings or preference, we will be off course in our approach to worship. This is why the modern church today is so far off base in our worship. We’ve largely abandoned Scripture as our guide. When we return to the pattern of worship revealed in Scripture, we begin to understand what pleases God in worship, rather than basing worship on our own preferences.
So in order understand the Old Testament and the tabernacle, we’ll go to the New, and we’ll be looking at most of Hebrews Chapter 9 this morning
I. The Holy Place of Worship
Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things, we cannot now speak in detail.
In C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy The Chronicles of Narnia, four children discover an attic wardrobe that seems normal enough from the outside. But creeping inside, they discover an entire world that was hidden from their view, the world of Narnia with the White Witch and Aslan the lion-lord. What seemed mundane on the outside turned out to be filled with mystery.
The ancient people of Israel also had a normal-looking structure that contained things of great significance. It was the tabernacle God commanded them to build in the time of Moses. This tent structure did not seem like much from the outside. But once inside, one was confronted with holy things—indeed, with the holy God himself.
If we were to rebuild the Tabernacle today, according to God’s construction plans in Exodus 25-30, it would cost over 13 million dollars. Israel’s Tabernacle was a portable tent that was the center of their worship prior to the Temple. It was built with specific instructions and all the tribes of Israel were camped around it in a designated and orderly formation. Compared to structures like the Temple, the Taj Mahal, or other shrines the Tabernacle was modest and appeared insignificant, but its purpose can not be understated.
Approaching the Tabernacle, you would first notice the brilliant white walls that formed the courtyard. The white linens proclaimed the holiness of its function. The enclosure was 150 feet long by 75 feet wide. When a worshiper entered the courtyard, he was immediately in front of the Altar of Burnt Offering. This is where the sacrifices were done and it was as far as the layman could go. The worshipper would enter the courtyard with the sacrifice, and place his hands on the heave of the offering (Lev 1:4).
Behind the altar was the bronze laver, an enormous washbasin for the cleansing of the priests (Exodus 30:20-21). Directly behind the Laver was the actual Tabernacle that housed the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The Tabernacle was 15X45 built with gorgeous tapestries of blue, purple, and scarlet yarns and overlaid with layers of animal skins.
Inside the Tabernacle were the two rooms with walls of gold. The outer room was the Holy Place. Inside the Holy Place were the lampstand, the table of the showbread, and the golden altar of incense. All of the furnishings were covered in pure gold.