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 sev