The first 11 chapters of the Bible describe the creation of the universe, the creation of the Earth, the fall of man, the pre-flood civilization and its destruction, the flood, the covenant made with Noah, and the beginning of the Jewish people starting with the call of Abraham. There are 50 chapters that describe God’s dwelling place on Earth. So, by comparison, there obviously must be much that is important, and a lot of lessons to be learned from the Mishkan.
REASONS FOR THE MISHKAN
TO ENABLE GOD TO DWELL WITH MAN
The Mishkan was necessary so that God might dwell among His people. Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I might dwell among them (Exodus 25:8).
God has always taken the initiative to dwell on Earth. God took the initiative to dwell with the first humans in the garden of Eden, when He came to Earth to walk in the garden in the cool of the day.
God took the initiative to dwell in the Mishkan. It was not the Jewish people’s idea. It was not Moses’ idea. It was God’s idea. God took up residence in the Mishkan for 400 years. Then Solomon made the First Temple in Jerusalem and the Shechinah dwelt there. God dwelt in the First Temple, that Solomon built and was destroyed by the Babylonians. God dwelt in the Second temple that was rebuilt by Zeruvavel and enlarged and beautified by Herod.
God took the initiative to dwell among us when Messiah became flesh and tabernacled among us. The fulness of God dwelt in Messiah Yeshua, who is the very dwelling presence of God. He is Immanuel – God With Us.
God took the initiative to dwell in the Messianic Community, which is His body. It might surprise you to know that He wants to be with us more than we want to be with Him! I think if you will reflect on your own situation for a minute you will realize that He was seeking you long before you started seeking Him. In fact I would go so far as to say that we would never have sought Him, were it not for Him seeking us first. We love because He first loved us. The Shavuot after Yeshua rose from the dead He sent His Spirit, to take up residence in us. We have the incredible privilege of having Messiah in us, the hope of glory. We are the Temple of the living God. God took the initiative to live forever in us! One day in the New Jerusalem, when we have our glorified bodies, after our resurrection, the tabernacle of God will be among men, and He will dwell among us, and we shall be His people, and God Himself will be among us. He will see Him face to face, and have perfect, unlimited, direct access to Him at all times, forever and ever. That is the glorious hope that we look forward to.
TO SHOW THE NEED TO APPROACH GOD ON HIS TERMS
The Mishkan taught us that the Creator has high standards for fellowship, and that God won’t lower them for us. Man in his fallen state cannot approach the Presence of God directly. Sin has affected our relationship to God. A person would be killed if he tried to go into the Kodesh HaKodashim – the Most Holy Place. There is only one way to reach the One God, and that is on His terms, not on our terms.
TO SHOW THE NEED FOR A GOD-ORDAINED PRIEST
The Mishkan enabled God to dwell on Earth among sinful people. It also kept almost all of humanity out and away from the direct presence of God. It was a barrier that kept out unlawful approach. Gentiles remained outside the Mishkan. Israel could enter the outer court. Only the priests could enter HaKodesh, the Holy Place. Only the High Priest could enter Kodesh HaKodashim, the Holy of Holies, the Most Holy Place, and only on Yom Kippur. Then he could only approach the presence of God with the blood of a sacrifice, and when clouds of incense covered the Kaporet, the Ark Covering, hiding the Shechinah from him. Can you imagine what would happen to someone who believed that he didn’t need a mediator, and therefore tried to go directly into God’s presence in the Most Holy Place? We need to approach through a God appointed, God-ordained mediator, through a cohen, a priest. This is virtually a forgotten concept among the Jewish people. That’s what living without the Temple for 2,000 years has done to us. Messiah Yeshua is that God-ordained Mediator today.
TO SHOW THE NEED FOR A SACRIFICE
Sacrifice took place at the bronze altar in the outer court. The High Priest could only enter the Most Holy Place with the blood of a sacrifice. Without the shedding of blood there is no atonement. Apart from the final sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua you are not meeting God’s requirements for fellowship with Him. Where is your sacrifice today?
TO TEACH PRINCIPLES OF TRUE WORSHIP
The Mishkan was mashiached, anointed with oil and blood before the people could use it (Leviticus 8:10-11). The priests were mashiached, anointed, before they could serve. They were washed with water, clothed with their special priestly garments, anointed with oil on the lobes of their right ear, thumbs of their right hands, and big toes of their right feet. Oil and blood was sprinkled on them and their garments. Yeshua was the ultimate Anointed One, the Messiah, overflowing with the Spirit of God. He was anointed to serve God. Like the priests of Israel, like Yeshua, we must be mashiached, anointed, for service and for worship. We need the oil of His Holy Spirit. We need the blood of the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua which cleanses us from all sin. We need the water of the washing of God’s Word if we are going to minister effectively, serve God, and worship Him in spirit and in truth. Are you anointed? Do you have God’s Spirit? Are you being washed by His Word? Are you atoned for by Messiah’s blood?
TO POINT US TO MESSIAH
The pieces of furniture point us King Messiah:
The Bronze Altar: Messiah’s sacrifice for atonement.
The Keeyor: The Bronze Wash Basin: Messiah’s cleanliness.
The Shulchan: The Table with a golden rim around it with the Lechem Panim – the Bread of the Presence: Messiah the Bread of Life.
The Golden Menorah with Oil: The light of God’s Holy Spirit that comes through Messiah.
The Golden Altar with Incense: Messiah’s highly priestly ministry of prayer and intercession for God’s people.
The Aron: The Ark, which contained Aaron’s Rod that budded, a Golden Jar with manna, the Two Tablets of the Ten Commandments. This told us that the only way to the presence of God was through with a priest, with valid leadership, with God’s laws and with His miraculous provision.
The Kaporet: The Ark Covering: Two cherubim with wings spread upward, covering the Ark. This is where God’s presence was manifested. Messiah is the place where God and man meet.
What was not there: any piece of furniture to sit down on and rest. The priests were always on duty. They were always working. Their job was never completed. That is in contrast to Messiah, our High Priest who sat down at the right hand of God. He completely satisfied God. He finished His priestly work.
THE ORDER OF THE PIECES OF FURNITURE TEACH US ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF SALVATION
Entering the outer court was the bronze altar, then the bronze wash basin, then the curtain to the Holy Place, then on the left the golden menorah, on the right the gold table with 12 loaves of the Bread of the Presence. Straight ahead was the Golden Altar of incense, then the Veil of the Kodesh HaKodashim, then the Aron. Inside the Ark was the tablets with the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s Rod that budded, and the Golden Jar of manna. Above the Aron was the Ark Covering with two cherubim with outstretched wings. That is where the Shechinah was manifested on Earth. Above the tent was the pillar of cloud or the pillar of fire.
The order of the pieces of furniture teach us about the progress of salvation. First comes salvation, then sanctification, then spiritual nourishment, understanding, intercession, and finally fellowship and intimacy in the very presence of God.
THE MISHKAN WAS MADE ACCORDING TO A HEAVENLY PATTERN
The Mishkan was made according to a heavenly pattern. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so shall you construct it (Exodus 25:9). There is a Mishkan in Heaven from which the earthly one was patterned. The earthly things are copies of heavenly ones. Revelation 11:19 mentions God’s Temple in Heaven and that it has the Aron, the heavenly Ark. Revelation 6:9 mentions the heavenly Altar of Sacrifice. Revelation 8:3 mentions the Golden Altar of incense that is before the throne of God. Revelation 4:5 mentions the seven Menorahs burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Revelation 2:17 talks about heavenly Manna. Manna was in stored in a golden jar in the Aron, the Ark.
THE NAMES OF THE MISHKAN
Names are important. They tell us different aspects about the Tabernacle.
1. Mishkan: Tabernacle (Leviticus 1:1) It was the dwelling place of God on Earth. In the Mishkan the Shechinah, the glorious dwelling presence of God, was manifested. This name reminds us that we now have the incredible privilege of being the dwelling place of God on Earth. We are the Temple of the living God, and He has taken up residence in us.
2. Mishkan HaEdut: The Tabernacle of the Testimony or Witness: (Exodus 38:21). The Mishkan HaEdut declared God’s name, God’s reality, to the world. God came to witness to the world through the Mishkan HaEdut. The coming of Messiah is same thing. Again God came to witness to the world about His reality. Yeshua is the greatest witness to God’s character and reality. We now are the Mishkan HaEdut, the Tabernacle of Testimony on Earth. According to 1 Peter 2:9 you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Are you proclaiming His excellencies? We are to carry on that work in the world.
3. Ohel: Tent. The Ohel was not a permanent building. He condescended to us, He came down to our level. God wanted to walk with His people through the wilderness. God dwelt in a tent with Israel who were tent dwellers. He became a pilgrim with us when we were pilgrims. He will come to our level and dwell with us in our situations, our wildernesses. Life is often like the wilderness, and the Ohel reminds us that God wants to be there with us through everything.
4. Ohel Moed: The Tent of Meeting (Exodus 27:21, Leviticus 1:1). This name emphasizes that this was that place of meeting, where communion and intimacy would take place between God and humanity.
5. Ohel Adonai: The Tent of the Lord (1 Kings 2:28). Emphasizes God’s ownership, God’s house, God’s place. This is not a man-made building. The focus is towards God. The Ohel Adonai is fraught with the purposes of God. In the Lord’s tent you do things the Lord’s way.
6. Mikdash: Sanctuary (Exodus 25:8). A place that was set apart, separate place. It was a holy place for a holy nation. We are to be holy and reflect God’s holiness. Our standards are to be different from the world’s. A holy God is to be found with the holy people Israel. Other nations had their shrines, their temples, their religions. But there was only one place on Earth where God’s true presence could be found. Other religions, apart from the true revelation found in Israel, will not bring you into God’s presence.
MATERIALS OF THE MISHKAN AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE
Silver Redemption, redemption money
Shittim Wood, Acacia Wood, Nations are compared to trees.
White Linen Purity, robes of righteousness, the righteous deeds of God’s people
Blue The color of the sky, of Heaven
Purple The color of royalty
Scarlet Blood, Sacrifice
Oil The Holy Spirit
We move from bronze to gold the closer we get to God. The metals for the outer court were silver and bronze. Moving into the Holy Place the metals were silver and gold. Finally in the Most Holy Place, the Kiporet, the actual place where God manifested Himself, was made of pure gold. There was a progression from bronze to silver to gold, from judgment to redemption to the presence of God.
To an outside observer the Mishkan itself might not seem very impressive. He would see the white linen surrounding the outer court. He would see the outer covering on the top of the Holy Place made of porpoise skin. The Mishkan looked bland from outside, but beautiful and full of meaning from the inside.
Like the Mishkan, Yeshua looked plain from the outside. He had no beauty that we should desire Him. Only after we are spiritually renewed do all His wonder and glories and mysteries start being revealed, that He is beautiful and dazzling beyond human understanding.
THE POSITION OF THE MISHKAN
God wants to be in the very midst of His people! God not only came to Earth, but He came to dwell in the very center of His people! Israel was in the center of the nations. The Mishkan was in the center of Israel, whether we were at rest or on the move. The Tabernacle was in the very middle of the tribes. It was further surrounded by the tribe of the Levites. In the book of Revelation Yeshua is seen in the center of the golden Menorahs, which are His congregations. He is in the middle of His people today. He is dwelling with us right here, right now.
PILLAR OF CLOUD AND FIRE ABOVE THE MISHKAN
The Cloud covered the Mishkan by day and a pillar of fire hovered over the Mishkan by night. God’s Shechinah was with us day and night, never slumbering nor sleeping. The Shechinah was Israel’s guide. The pillar of cloud lead us by day. The Shechinah was Israel’s source of light. It provided light for the people by night. The Shechinah declared God’s presence and approval on Israel. Any of the nations could come and see that God was with us. The Shechinah was Israel’s protection. One day the Shechinah will be restored to Israel. The Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. And there will be shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and from the rain (Isaiah 4:5-6). Without Yeshua you don’t have God’s guidance. You don’t have His light shining on you, You don’t have His protection or shelter, and you don’t have God’s presence and approval over your life.
HOW THE MISHKAN WAS FINANCED
The Mishkan was made from the freewill offerings of the people. It came from the back wages of 400 years of slavery in Egypt without pay. The Jewish people plundered the wealth of Egypt when we left. That provided the materials for the building of the Mishkan. The people had a heart to give so that they eventually had to be restrained from giving because there was more than enough! This was unusual, generous giving that sets a pattern for giving. God wants people to give voluntarily as His Spirit moves on their hearts. You should be going somewhere where you can give generously to build up the dwelling place of God. There is something out of order when a person isn’t giving voluntarily, willingly, generously, when the desire to build up the Mishkan of God isn’t there. Not giving or giving little to build up your New Covenant Community? You need to do some soul searching and ask yourself why. Get it straightened out.
THE OUTSIDE CURTAIN
Let’s start with the outside and work our way inward. From outside the Mishkan you would see a simple white linen curtain surrounding the entire enclosure. It was seven and a half feet high, too high for a person to climb over. It was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide.
The white linen represents righteousness, indicating that the court was encircled with the righteousness that God demands. No person could scale the wall of righteousness on his own. God is holy, and man is sinful. God was shut in away from us so that sinful man couldn’t approach Him directly. You just can’t waltz into the presence of God whenever you wanted to. None of this new age nonsense that we are gods. The wall of righteousness barred everyone from entering. It was a barrier that kept out unlawful approach. You can’t come to God any way you choose – you can only come God’s way.
The white linen curtain was supported by 60 pillars of shittim wood that were set in bronze foundations. Bronze represents judgment, and this is a warning what anyone would have experienced who tried to climb over the wall. Other bases for the pillars for the Mishkan were made of silver or bronze. God had His dwelling place built on silver and bronze foundations, not sand. This holds true for us as well. The ideas, theories, philosophies of men are always changing, like the shifting desert sands of the Sinai. Don’t build your life on them. You need to build your life on that which is solid, reliable, lasting, eternal. Silver is the metal of redemption. Bronze is the metal of judgment. Build your life on the bronze of Messiah’s judgment and the silver of His redemption.
THE OUTER GATE
Even though the curtain of righteousness kept the people away from God, Israel could approach in God’s prescribed way, through the eastern gate. In order for any man to enter the court of the Mishkan he had to come through that one and only gate. Sinful man was prevented from approaching God unless it was through the one gate in the East. East is the direction that looked to the Garden of Eden, which is a symbol of Heaven. East is the direction that looks to the sun rising. Synagogues in the western world are designed so that the Aron in the synagogue faces east towards Jerusalem, where the Temple should be.
The outer gate was 30 feet wide and seven and a half feet tall. It was an accessible gate: It wasn’t bolted or barred. It was relatively easy gate to enter. It wasn’t an intimidating door like some doors can be. It was attractive. It was a blend of beautiful colors that was very inviting. You almost wanted to enter that gate.
The gate was made up of fine white linen, with blue, purple and scarlet material woven into it. Blue is the color of Heaven. It speaks of Messiah’s divine nature and origin. Yeshua comes from Heaven. Purple is the color of royalty. This tells us that Messiah is the King. Scarlet is the color of blood. This talks about Messiah’s sacrifice. White symbolizes Messiah’s perfection and righteousness. To enter God’s dwelling place you must accept Messiah’s sacrifice. You must acquire His righteousness. Know that He is from Heaven. Make Him your King. He is an attractive gate. Its easy to enter Him to go to God. All you have to do is believe in Him. He is the gate, the door, the only way to salvation. He is the way, the truth, and the Life; no man comes to God except by Him.
THE OUTER COURT
The court was an oblong 150 feet by 75 feet and 7 ½ feet high. It wasn’t huge, but it was adequate for the purposes of God. It was simple, not ostentatious. In the outer court there were two pieces of furniture, both made of bronze. Bronze is the metal that speaks of judgment.
BRONZE MIZBEACH (ALTAR)
Entering through the outer gate the first thing that was seen was the bronze altar, which was directly ahead. It was the largest piece of furniture. It was the place of sacrifice and judgment. But it was also a place of God’s grace and mercy. Judgment and mercy met together in the bronze mizbeach.
Its position was just within the gate. It was easily accessible, unavoidable, unmistakable. It wasn’t inside the Tabernacle, but inside the outer court. That tells us that we must deal with the sin problem, with the problem of God’s judgment, before you can go any further, before you have real fellowship or communion or intimacy with God. It barred the way to the Holy Place where God’s presence was. No further approach was possible apart from the altar of sacrifice. You must leave the outside desert, you must come to the end of your old life, enter the outer court, and take the first step in a new walk with God. That takes place at the bronze altar of sacrifice.
The Mizbeach teaches us that without the shedding of blood there is no atonement – only the bronze of judgment and the fire of God’s wrath. Sacrifice is essential to true Jewish worship. That might have been changed by rabbis, but it was never changed by God. Adam and Eve, Abel, Noach, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, the priests and prophets of Israel all offered sacrifices for 2,000 years. A Judaism without a sacrifice is incomplete.
The Mizbeach taught us the principle of a substitute. That was where the sacrifices were consumed, satisfying the claims of God against sin. Sin must be dealt with, either in person or through a God-ordained substitute. Humans weren’t burned on Israel’s altar like they were in other nations. Instead God commanded us to bring the best, healthiest, purest animal substitutes. They were meant to prepare us for the final Substitute – Messiah Yeshua. Sin must be punished, it must be atoned for. You can bear the eternal consequences of your sins yourself, or you can find a God-ordained substitute.
The sacrifice must be a blood sacrifice. The animal had to be killed, its blood poured on the side of the altar. It is not enough to view Yeshua as a good teacher, a virtuous philosopher, a rabbi, even a prophet. We are only reconciled to God by personally accepting His death on the cross. Messiah’s sacrifice is absolutely essential. Those who try to bypass the cross will never have fellowship with God and eternal life.
Just as God sent fire from Heaven to ignite the first pile of wood on that bronze altar, Messiah’s death was no accident. Don’t put all the blame for the death of the Messiah on all of the Jewish people. It was not a strange or man made fire that fell on Him. It was God’s fire from Heaven that consumed Him. The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief. The Son of God laid down His life. It wasn’t taken from Him. There was no strange mixture of humans works in the God’s plan of salvation. In a very real sense, Messiah’s death by designed and accomplished by God.
The fire on the altar was to be a perpetual fire, one that would never to go out. God’s judgment is always there apart from Messiah. And Messiah’s final sacrifice is eternal.
THE HORNS OF THE ALTAR
The Mizbeach had four horns. Horns are symbols of power and authority. They pointed to the four corners of the earth. We are to carry that powerful message to the four corners of the Earth. Take the Good News with you wherever you go. Speak of Messiah’s death when you go to work, when you go to school, when you leave home, and when you return home. There is power in Messiah’s sacrifice, power in the cross, power in the Good News Message of Messiah’s death. The cross is the power of God for salvation.
Sacrifices were bound to the horns of the altar. In a spiritual sense we are to be bound to the horns of the altar. We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God. God wants more than our money. He wants our total devotion. He was all of us and everything that we have and are. Bind yourself to Messiah.
The horns of the altar were a place of mercy. Criminals would flee to its horns for mercy. Each one of us is a criminal that need to flee to the altar to receive mercy. Clinging to the Good News about Messiah is the place where every human being, the Jew first, but also the Gentile, will experience God’s mercy, and where nothing will harm him. Are you holing onto those horns?
THE BLOOD WAS POURED OUT ON THE ALTAR
Blood is holy. It was treated special. It was not burned. Instead it was poured out on the side of the altar. It is the blood by reason of the life it contains and represents, that makes atonement.
The blood of bulls and goats could never full take away man’s sins. One man is more valuable than all the bull and goats in the world. The rivers of blood that were poured out on Israel’s bronze mizbeach for 1500 years were a symbol of Messiah’s blood that was shed on the cross. That blood is the most powerful, valuable substance in the universe!
We have atonement by His blood: In Messiah we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses. (Ephesians 1:7). We have justification by His blood: Having been justified (made and declared righteous) by His blood we shall be saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9). We have sanctification by His blood: We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Messiah Yeshua (Hebrews 10:10). We have cleansing by His blood: if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Yeshua His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). We have peace by His blood: through Messiah God reconciled all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20). We have victory by His blood: and they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11). We have a better relationship with God, a new and eternal covenant, by His blood: This is blood of the new covenant. The blood of the eternal covenant.
It was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with the blood of bulls and goats, but the heavenly things themselves were cleansed with better sacrifices than these. Yeshua brought His own blood to Heaven and offered it in of God’s Heavenly Temple.
BRONZE KEEYOR (WASH BASIN)
Next we have the Keeyor. It stood between the bronze altar and the Holy Place. It was made from donations of the bronze mirrors of Israel’s women. It was used to wash the feet and hands of the priests. Priests had to wash their feet and hands before entering the Holy Place or ministering at the bronze altar. Hands and feet represent our walk and our works, the works of our hands.
A priest had to wash each time before he ministered. Those who minister for the Lord must be clean! Messiah our High Priest was perfectly clean all the time. Now we are priests, and as priests its essential that we keep clean. It doesn’t matter if we are going inside the Holy Place to minister to the Lord and His people, or going back to the bronze mizbeach, ministering to those still in the world, telling them the Good News about Messiah’s death. We must deal with sin before we come into God’s presence or try to minister. A life that is spiritually unclean prevents true worship or ministry from taking place. We must first go to the Word and make sure we are spiritually clean. You can’t bypass the altar and the washbasin and expect the blessing of God’s fellowship in the Holy Place. Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who may stand in His Holy Place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.
Salvation starts at the altar. A new life, and new walk with God starts there. It is a fresh start. But as we continue to live in the world we experience sin problems along the way. We get dirty again. We need additional cleanness, separation from the world, holiness, sanctification. We don’t need to be saved again. But we need the washing that comes from the Word of God. He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, and is completely clean (John 13:10). When you sin you don’t need to be saved again, but you do need to wash your hands and feet. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your Word. Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth. Messiah sanctified the Messianic Community, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. You are clean because of the word I have spoken to you. God has provided daily cleansing from the daily defilements of life by His Word. We need to read the Word every day and allow it to convict us of sins and wash and cleanse us.
THE HOLY PLACE: HA-KODESH
Now we get to the Holy Place. It was 30 by 15 by 15 feet. It had four sets of coverings and three pieces of furniture, all made of gold. The Holy Place speaks about the spiritual fellowship we can have with God.
There were four sets of curtains that covered the Tabernacle. The immediate covering was made of white linen with purple, scarlet and blue material with cherubim woven into the design. Then there was a covering of goats hair, then a covering of ram’s skins died red, then finally on the outside the outer covering was made of porpoise skins.
The porpoise skins were durable. They protected the Mishkan from the onslaught of rain, sun, and sand. To an outside observer the Mishkan might not seem very impressive. He would see the white linen surrounding the outer court. He would see the outer covering on the top of the Holy Place made of porpoise skin. The Mishkan looked bland from outside, but it was beautiful from the inside. Like the Mishkan Yeshua looked plain from the outside. He had no beauty that we should desire Him. Someone observed that God’s wrath fell on Him, storms of judgment on His head. The scorching sun of Hell’s fury spent its rays on His body. Only after receiving Him as Lord and being spiritually renewed do all His wonder and glories and mysteries start being revealed.
The inmost tent covering was made of the white linen, with the blue, purple and scarlet material. It was also decorated with the design of Cherubim. The presence of Cherubim in the material of the Holy Place, those angelic beings who guard the throne and the holiness of God, symbolizes the presence of God.
THE VEIL TO THE HOLY PLACE
Regular Jewish people couldn’t enter the Holy Place. Only the priests could enter through the veil to the Holy Place. This veil was made of white linen, with blue, purple and scarlet material. There were no cherubim on this veil like there were on the veil to the Most Holy Place. The veils to the Holy Place and Most Holy Place were twice as high as the veil to the outer court, signifying an even greater spiritual experience. There is an ascending level of spirituality the closer you get to God’s presence.
THE GOLDEN MENORAH
As we enter the Holy Place, the first item of furniture on the left was the golden menorah. It was made of 125 pounds of solid gold. With gold at $1500 an ounce, its value today would be $3,000,000!
The Golden Menorah gave light for the priests to minister in the Holy Place. It tells us that Messiah is the Light of God, the Light of the world.
It had seven branches, seven being the number of completion, perfection. It speaks of the complete sufficiency Messiah and the Spirit of God to bring truth and understanding. The seven branches represent the sevenfold Spirit of God. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
This world is in deep darkness. We are confused about God, truth, salvation. We need light to see clearly into the spiritual world. Those without the Spirit of Messiah are in darkness. The light they think they have isn’t light – it’s actually darkness. Do you need wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and the fear of the Lord? Then you need the Spirit of the God to light you up. Keep your eyes on Yeshua. Walk in the light as He Himself is in the light. A New Covenant Community must radiate His light, truth, purity.
The oil in the menorah is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Messiah had the Spirit. He was mashiashed, anointed with the Spirit. That is what makes Him HaMashiach – the Messiah, the Anointed One. Yeshua was nourished by the Spirit of God. We need to too.
The menorah burned continually. This was the first Ner Tamid (Eternal Lamp). For those not familiar with synagogue architecture, that is the light that is always kept burning in synagogues. Believe in Yeshua, and you will always have God’s light shining on you and through you!
THE GOLDEN TABLE WITH THE BREAD OF THE PRESENCE
On the north, on the right side of the Holy Place there was a table made of wood and gold. On it there were 12 loaves of bread, two rows with six loaves in a row, with frankincense on each row. Every Shabbat new bread was put out and the old bread was eaten by the priests. The table and bread speak of God’s provision. God will provide for the spiritual and physical needs of His people. Eating together has always represented fellowship, friendship. God wants fellowship with us. He want to be intimate with us, so that He and us are actually friends. God called Abraham His friend. Do you have that kind of relationship with God. Is He your friend? The Bread of the Presence speaks of Messiah as the Bread of Life. We need to constantly feed on the Bread of Life, have fellowship with Him, be intimate with Him as we would a friend. Yeshua calls us friends if we do the things that He asks us to.
THE GOLDEN MIZBEACH
It was the smallest piece of holy furniture. It was the piece of furniture closest to the Most Holy Place. It is not the number or length of prayers, but the reality behind it. Prayer is a behind the scenes ministry, but it is closest to the throne of God. God is only a prayer away.
The Golden Altar points us to Messiah, our High Priest who constantly intercedes for us before the throne of the Father. He is in Heaven interceding for us.
The Golden Altar had four horns. Horns are a symbol for power. There is power in prayer. Our prayers can have a powerful effect on things at the four corners of the world and beyond.
Incense was offered up on it every morning and afternoon. Among the Jewish people, morning and afternoon have become the traditional times to pray. This reminds us of the importance of our prayer life. We are to devote special attention to prayer. We need to pray at frequent intervals. Each child of God is to spend time in prayer, bringing his needs, the needs of others, and prayers of thanksgiving and blessing to God that will ascend like a sweet smelling incense before His throne.
THE MOST HOLY PLACE: THE KODESH HAKODASHIM
The Most Holy Place was a perfect cube, 15 by 15 by 15. God is a God of absolute perfection. He is a God of order, law, symmetry and design. He is the author of all the laws, order and beauty found in nature. There was one veil to enter the Kodesh HaKodashim, and there was only one piece of furniture in it. ordinary priests couldn’t enter this room. Only the High Priest could enter the Kodesh HaKodashim, the Most Holy Place, and only on Yom Kippur. Then he could only approach the presence of God with the blood of a sacrifice, and when clouds of incense covered the Kaporet, the Ark Covering, hiding the Shechinah from him. Otherwise even he would die.
Dividing the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was another veil. It was made of white linen, with blue, purple and scarlet material. Cherubim were woven into the design of this veil. Cherubim were not on the veil in the outer court, or on the veil to the Holy Place – only on the veil to the Most Holy Place, because Cherubim close to the presence of God.
The veil kept all men away from God except one man on Earth, the High Priest of Israel! Why would a God who wants to have fellowship with us want at the same time to keep us away from His presence on Earth? He knew that until the death of His Son we could not stand coming into His presence. He is so holy, so pure, so powerful, and we are so unholy, so impure, and so weak compared to Him that we would die in the presence of God.
The veil represents Messiah’s body. The moment Messiah Yeshua died the veil was torn in two from top to bottom. That means that the way to God’s presence was not available for mankind until Messiah died. Human beings are now invited to boldly come before the God’s throne of grace. That incredible privilege was not possible before Messiah’s death. The veil was divinely ripped from top to bottom – not just a little hole was made to peek through. This also holds true for Yeshua’s death. It pleased the Lord to crush Him. Some Jewish leaders tried to get rid of Him, the Romans actually killed Him, yet it was God’s plan that He be killed. He was delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.
THE ARON (ARK)
There was only one piece of furniture in the Kodesh HaKodashim. It is also called the Aron, which means Ark. It was a box with a special lid on it. Most people start building their dwelling place with the house plan in mind. Then they add the furniture. Not with God and the Mishkan! If you read the account of the design and building of the Mishkan, God started with the Ark first, the very center where His Presence would be manifest on Earth, then the rest of the Mishkan followed from there. The lesson is that if we put God in the very center of our lives, everything else will fall into place. Leave God out, or put Him last, and we will find that things just won’t come out right.
THE KAPORET (COVERING FOR THE ARK)
“Mercy seat” is the anglicized name of for the Kaporet, which simply means “covering”. It was the covering for the Ark. The Kaporet was made of solid gold, which is a symbol of Divinity. Two cherubim with outstretched wings were on top of the Ark Covering. Cherubim guard the throne of God. They protect the untainted and absolute holiness of God. This was God’s throne on Earth. It is a symbol of God’s throne in Heaven, from which the King rules the universe.
The Kaporet is a symbol of holiness and also that of grace. This where God manifested His presence on Earth, where God spoke to Moses, where God met us, and where the blood was sprinkled, where God atoned for us year by year. Being placed on the top of the Ark of the Covenant showed that God could cover the Ark containing the Ten Commandments which all of us violated, and show mercy. There was a way in which God could cover man’s great sin of breaking His laws so He could be merciful to us. He did that by the sprinkling the blood on the Kaporet once a year. When the High Priest sprinkled blood for his own sins, and then blood for the sins of the people, Israel was covered for another year of atonement. The sprinkled blood made it possible for a holy God to dwell among a sinful people. Because God looked ahead to the final sacrifice of Yeshua, and He was completely satisfied with His finished work, and there He was able to dwell from His throne on Earth in the midst of sinful man.
THE THREE THINGS INSIDE THE ARK THAT TESTIFY
The Ark is also called the Ark of the Testimony. An Aron is an ark, a chest, a closet. This Aron contained three things which testified about God’s plans for man’s relationship to Him: the Two Tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s Rod that budded, and a Golden Jar with manna inside.
THE TWO TABLETS OF THE TESTIMONY: THE 10 COMMANDMENTS
The Two Tablets are also called the Tables of the Testimony. They were the tablets of the Ten Commandments that Moses received from God on Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments are in the heart of the Torah. The tablets of the commandments were in the center of the Aron, which is the center of God’s dwelling place on Earth. The Ten Commandments in the Aron testifies to us that the demands of the Torah have to be met – not bypassed. If you violate God’s laws, or try to circumvent them, or go around them, or ignore them, you are in serious trouble. The Two Tablets of the Testimony demonstrate that God is a God of morality and law and justice. His laws are of central importance to Him. If we are going to have any kind of relationship with God it will only happen on the basis of His laws and principles. No other way. If you don’t like His laws and principles and morals, then you have problems.
The Ten Commandments point us to Messiah, who fulfilled all of God’s commandments. Torah is central to the person of Messiah. He is the living Torah. He kept it, He taught it, He loved it, He lived it, He fulfilled it. Now He wants to write His Torah on our hearts. Yeshua fulfilled the Torah – the Divine Teaching, and we are to fulfill it when we follow Him and walk as He walked. He makes us righteous and puts His righteous desires within us.
GOLDEN JAR OF MANNA
The Gold Jar of manna meant that God promised to supernaturally provide for His people. It was a sufficient portion. There was sufficient manna for all. There was no lack for anyone. It was a sustaining portion: 3,000,000 people without resources in a desert lived on it. It was a sure portion: we lived on it for 40 years. It was an available portion: it fell around the camp, within reach of all. It was a daily portion: it came every weekday. It was doubled on the sixth day, and none was to be gathered on Shabbat. Messiah is like the Manna. Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and died. But God sent us the True Manna out of Heaven, the Bread of God who comes down out of Heaven and gives life to the world. Yeshua is the miraculous, heavenly Bread of Life who is all-sufficient. He who comes to Him will not hunger. To him who overcomes, He will give him some of the hidden manna. He will forever miraculously meet all our needs. True spiritual nourishment comes only from Him. Yeshua is Heavenly Manna. He is sufficient, available, sure and sustaining. Don’t you want Him?
AARON’S ROD THAT BUDDED
There was a revolt against Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership in the wilderness recorded in Numbers 16-17. Their spiritual authority was challenged. Leaders of the tribes put their names on their rods, their symbols of authority. The rods were then put in front of the Aron. The next day Aaron’s rod miraculously budded, produced blossoms and bore ripe almonds. Aaron’s rod testifies that we need a lawful a priest to approach God for us. We can’t approach Him directly ourselves, and we can’t appoint anyone we want. We need to approach the infinitely holy God through a God-appointed, God-ordained mediator. This is virtually a forgotten concept among the Jewish people since the destruction of the Temple 2,000 years ago. Today, Yeshua is that God-appointed High Priest. Messiah didn’t appoint Himself. God appointed Him High Priest forever according to the order of Melchee-tzedek. He abides forever and holds His priesthood permanently. He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him. Is He your High Priest?
USING THE MISHKAN TO HELP US IN OUR WORSHIP
Yeshua came to draw us near to God, but too often believers revert to the old system in the Tenach where priest and people were separated. We prefer that others seek God for us, that others hear from God for us, and then tell us. We read books how others sought God. We listen to popular preachers tell us what they have learned of God and His Word. Too often we are like the Jewish people at the foot of Mount Sinai, who after hearing God speak, said to Moses: Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die. Too often our spiritual lives are based on second hand knowledge, second hand experience. But second hand food cannot satisfy true hunger for God.
One way to do this is through worship, using the order laid out in the design of the Mishkan.
LEAVING THE DESERT AND ENTERING THE OUTER COURT
The Jewish person who entered the outer court shut the world out. Find a place where you can shut the world out as much as possible, where you can be alone to concentrate on God. Make a specific time for God each day. This is a special period of time in which the believer shuts the world out, and shuts himself in to God. Maybe start with 15 minutes in the morning. Many believers have a tremendous struggle finding time to spend alone with God. But let me urge you to do everything you can to arrange your priorities so that you will be able to spend time with Him each day. If you are too busy for God, you are too busy. We can always manage to make time for what is important to us. You may have to give up some things that you enjoy, or it may mean giving up things that others think you should do.
START WITH THE BRONZE MIZBEACH
The bronze altar was the first thing inside the outer court. Its the place of judgment and sacrifice. It is a symbol of the cross. Begin each morning contemplating what the Lord did for you on the cross. Perhaps you can read a passage on the crucifixion in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, or Colossians 2:11-15.
Try to understand the full meaning of His sacrifice, the wonder of His love, the power of His meekness, His willingness to forgive.
The contemplation of the cross should erase fear that any sins of yours could be too great for His love to handle. At the same time the awful cost of what our forgiveness cost Him should forge a deeper commitment to live in obedience to His will.
Meditating on His sacrifice should propel us to want to run further inside the Mishkan to worship Him for His great love. Thank God for the once and final sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua that was offered forever.
No person was to appear before God without a sacrifice. Present yourself a living sacrifice in the spirit of Romans 12:1-2. Give yourself over to Messiah for that day as a living sacrifice in glad response to what He did for us on the cross.
Meditate on Romans 6:1-14, where the believer is told that he died with Messiah. Ask God for His help to die to self, and be alive to Him. Ask Him to help you to pick up your cross and follow Him that day.
THE BRONZE KEEYOR
Next we have the bronze keeyor. Priests had to wash their feet and hands before entering the Holy Place or ministering at the bronze altar. Hands and feet represent our walk and our works.
As we live in the world we experience sin problems. We get dirty each day. We need washing that comes from the Word of God.
We must deal with sin before we come into God’s presence. A life that is spiritually unclean prevents worship from taking place. We must go to the Word and make sure we are spiritually clean.
Yeshua instructed us that the one who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, and is completely clean. When you sin you don’t need to be saved again, but you do need to wash your hands and feet. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your Word. Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth. Messiah sanctified the Messianic Community, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. You are clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
God has provided cleansing from the defilements of life by His Word. We need to read the word, and allow it to convict us of sin. Ask God to reveal the sins you need to deal with. Then confess them. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You can’t bypass the bronze altar and the bronze washbasin and expect to have the further blessings of God’s fellowship. Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who may stand in His Holy Place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.
THE GOLDEN MENORAH
The menorah provided light inside the Holy Place. Yeshua is the light of the world. Think about the life and the teachings of Yeshua. Ask God to help you to keep your eyes fixed on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith.
The oil that the menorah burned speaks of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit illumines the Word of God to us. Before you read the Word in a perfunctory way, ask God to have His Spirit illumine His Word to you.
Ask the Father to be filled with His Spirit, to be given the gifts of the Spirit, as the Spirit wills. Pray to manifest the fruits of the Spirit. Ask to be filled with the Spirit, anointed with the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, burn with the Spirit, dwell in the Spirit.
THE GOLDEN TABLE WITH THE BREAD OF THE PRESENCE
The 12 loaves of the Bread of the Presence speak of God’s provision for His people. Yeshua is the Bread Of Life who reveals the presence of God. He is our bread, that which sustains us. Thank God for His provision of Messiah. Ask Him for your daily bread, both physical and spiritual, for you and your family.
Just as the menorah lite up the table and bread, thank God for His Spirit who reveals truths from the Scriptures about the Person and work of Messiah, which enable us to know Him more intimately.
THE GOLDEN MIZBEACH OF INCENSE
The golden altar of incense was closest to the Most Holy Place. It filled the Holy Place with a sweet smell. Our prayers are like sweet smelling incense that ascend as a delightful aroma before God.
This is the time for intercession for others. Each child of God is to spend time in prayer, bringing his needs, the needs of others, prayers of thanksgiving and blessing to God that will ascend like a sweet smelling incense before His throne.
Pray using the psalms, pray using the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s prayers, other prayers in the Bible, use the Siddur, which are full of wonderful prayers, like the Amidah, use your own written prayers, your own spontaneous prayers.
Make a prayer list and consistently pray for the needs of others. Pray for your congregation. Pray for the individual members. Pray for me and Martha. Pray for Israel and the Jewish people, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, pray for our governmental leaders, on the city, state and federal level.
Pray for leaders of the church everywhere, pray for the Messianic Jewish movement, pray for the Church, for its holiness, purity, faithfulness, Messiah-likeness, for a return to its Jewish roots. Pray for the missionaries everywhere, that God would bless, strengthen, encourage, support them, that He would bless the work of their hands. Pray for yourself and your own needs.
THE MOST HOLY PLACE – PURE WORSHIP
Next we go into the Most Holy Place, because there is no longer any veil keeping us out. Remember the words of Hebrews 10:19-20: We can have confidence, boldness, to enter the Most Holy Place because of the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way, which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is His flesh.
Now we proceed into the very presence of God. Inside the Kodesh HaKodashim was the Aron which contained three things which testified about God’s relationship to man: the two tablets of the covenant, Aaron’s rod that budded, a golden jar with manna, a lid and two cherubim with outstretch wings.
The Two Tablets of the Testimony testified that God is a God of law and justice. If we are going to have any kind of relationship with God it will only happen on the basis of His laws. If you don’t approach Him on His terms then you are deceiving yourself. Thank God for His Torah, that Yeshua fulfilled the Torah, and we do when we are united to Him.
The gold jar of manna testified that God would supernaturally provide for His people. God will forever miraculously meet all our needs according to His riches in glory through the Messiah. True spiritual nourishment and provision comes from Him. Yeshua is that sufficient, available, sure and sustaining heavenly manna. Thank God for Him.
Aaron’s rod testifies that we need a mediator, a priest to approach God for us. Yeshua is that mediator today. He is our lawful, God-appointed, God-ordained High Priest. And because He is, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him. It was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, undefiled, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. We have such a High Priest who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of majesty in the heavens. We can thank God for Yeshua our High Priest.
The Kaporet, the Ark Covering, was where the blood was sprinkled on Yom Kippur. It was here that God said: I will meet with you, and I will commune with you. It was from here that God spoke to Moses. Here we can be still and know that He is God. We can listen silently as He speaks to us. Prayer is not just us speaking, but His speaking to us as well. It is a two way conversation. When we are quiet, He may show us things that He wants us to do. I find my most creative times are when I am silent before God. My minds starts getting all kinds of creative ideas about things to do, and things left undone that I should have done.
This is the time for pure adoration and worship. No matter how feeble, how inadequate or stumbling our efforts, we are to praise Him. We can recall His many wonderful attributes, mentioning them before Him, expressing our awe for the beauty of His holiness, our wonder for the mystery of His Three-In-One nature, His amazing self-existence, the mindbogglingness of His eternity and His infinitude. We can contemplate His immutability, that He never changes but is the same, yesterday, today and forever. We can praise Him for His omniscience, that He knows everything, His omnipresence, that He is everywhere. We can recite His eternal faithfulness, His blessed goodness, His steadfast justice, His abundant mercy, His amazing grace, the perfection of His righteousness, the glories of His judgments, the awesomeness of His power, the greatness of His wisdom, the splendor of His Kingdom, the infinity quality of His love. We can mention His names to Him, naming them before Him and praising Him for the revelation of Himself in each one.
When it is time to leave remember that we are not leaving His company because we are leaving His throne room. He is always with us. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. We can boldly come before His throne of grace in any time of need.
We have enjoyed a wonderful private time of communion – now we have the opportunity to engage in the business of the day with Him still with us. The tasks of the day should be easier, as the knowledge of His forgiveness, the water of His cleansing, the glow of His light, the satisfaction of His food, the aroma of the incense of prayer, and the joy of His presence continue throughout the day.