The Tabernacle as a Literal Building
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Exodus, chapter 25. You will remember that the key verse to the book of Exodus is found in chapter 15, verse 13. That verse divides the book of Exodus into three divisions. The first statement, “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed,” refers to God's leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, having redeemed them. The second statement, “Thou has guided them in thy strength,” refers to God's guidance of the children of Israel through the wilderness. The third section of the verse, “thy holy habitation,” introduces the third division of the book.

The Holy Habitation

The story of this holy habitation will be found in chapters 25-30, and then is resumed in chapter 35 and continues through chapter 40. The holy habitation to which Moses refers is the Tabernacle which is described by way of introduction in the first nine verses of chapter 25:

Exodus 25

1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
3And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,
4And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair,
5And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood,
6Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,
7Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.
8And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
9According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

Notice particularly verses 8 and 9:

Exodus 25

8And let them make me a sanctuary [a holy habitation]…;

The suggestion that God gave Moses was that all the things which are mentioned in these verses and at which we will be looking in detail in their proper places in reference to the Tabernacle, all of these things were to be used to make a sanctuary–a holy habitation–for one express purpose, that God might dwell among the people.

Built According to a Pattern

According to verse 9, this holy habitation was not to be thrown up at random; it was not to be done at the whim of Moses and those who were with him. It was to be very meticulously arranged “according to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” God gave them a pattern, and they were to make it exactly as God had said.

In the first portion of the Tabernacle material, chapters 25-31, the pattern is presented. In the second section, from chapter 35-40, the building was constructed. But notice this difference, and we will refer to it later: The pattern as it was presented in the first section began with the Ark of the Covenant and went to the altar of burnt offering on the outside; but when they began to build the Tabernacle, they began to build on the outside and finished up on the inside.

Think about why that may have been a necessity. Before we begin our study of the Tabernacle, I would like for us to have some introductory thoughts about it, because if you are not familiar with it or have never engaged in a study of it, all the details may be confusing.

Importance of the Study

It is exceedingly important for us to study. There are individuals who say, “Why bother with that old thing? It is not even in existence.” One reason we bother with it is that so much of the Word of God is devoted to it. Perhaps you have not realized it, but there are fifty chapters in the Bible that are devoted to a discussion of the Tabernacle. Think about it–fifty chapters! More than the book of Genesis, more than the book of Exodus, is devoted to the study of the Tabernacle.

You may like to know how those chapters are arranged so that you can look for them in your Bibles. In the book of Exodus, thirteen chapters are devoted to a discussion of the Tabernacle; in the book of Numbers, eighteen chapters; in the book of Leviticus, thirteen chapters; in the book of Deuteronomy, two chapters; and in the New Testament, in the book of Hebrews, four chapters are devoted to a discussion of the Tabernacle. Since this is true, there is reason for us to spend time seeing what the Word of God has to say about the Tabernacle.

The Literal Building

As we pursue our study, we will find that the Tabernacle is presented in a threefold way in the Word of God. It is important for us to understand that, because as we study the details we will want to consider the settings in which we find them. I would like to suggest, first of all, that the Tabernacle is presented in the Word of God as a literal building. Get that picture in your minds, because we will be talking about types and about symbols, and we would like for you to remember that it was a building, literally built, literally used.

It was called a “tabernacle” because the word “tabernacle” simply means “a dwelling place,” and that was why it was built–as a dwelling place for God. Up to that time, God had had no certain dwelling place among His people. It was called a “tent” quite often to indicate that it was never intended to be a permanent building. It was never set upon a permanent foundation. It moved as the children of Israel moved from place to place.

The general purpose of the Tabernacle is indicated by various names which it is called in the Word of God. Notice some of them with me. In chapter 29 of the book of Exodus, verse 42, in speaking of things related to the Tabernacle, God said:

Exodus 29

42This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations [now notice] at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.
43And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.
44And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar:…

It is referred to here as “the tabernacle of the congregation.” If you have a marginal reference Bible, or if you have one of the later translations, you will find another phrase suggested for the Tabernacle of the Congregation. It is “tent of meeting.” That is literally a more accurate translation of this phrase, and it suggests the real purpose of the Tabernacle. It was a place where God met man.

Where God Met Man

We speak of meetings today–of Gospel meetings and revival meetings, etc. When we use those terms, we usually think of a group of people meeting together. But when the phrase, “the tent of meeting,” was used, it was not a matter of a group of people meeting together, because the Tabernacle was not designed as a meeting place for a large group of people. It was called “a meeting place” because at that place God met man.

That was the only place at which God could meet man. Now, God meets man today in many different places, but in the day of which we speak there was only one location for God to meet people, and that was in the Tabernacle. So it was called “the tent of meeting,” a place for God to meet man, and not for men to meet one with another.

Tabernacle of the Testimony

Turn, please, to the book of Numbers, chapter 9, verse 15, for another name for the Tabernacle:

Numbers 9

15And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.

You will notice there in that verse it is referred to not as “the tent of meeting,” but as “the tent of testimony.” Of course, we wonder why. We sometimes say that a place has a good testimony. We mean by that that the people who fellowship there bear out in their lives the teachings and principles of the Lord Jesus Christ. But that was not the reason that this Tabernacle was called “the tent of the testimony.”

Go back to the book of Exodus and notice chapter 25, and you will find a verse, along with another, which will help us to understand why this was referred to as “the tent of the testimony.” Please notice verse 16; there Moses was instructed:

Exodus 25

16And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.

Now the Ark, as we have learned in our study, was one of the pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle. Here we are told that Moses was to put into that Ark the testimony. Now, what was the testimony that Moses was to put into that Ark? Notice chapter 31 of the book of Exodus, verse 18:

Exodus 31

18And he [ God ] gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Into the Ark of the Testimony, or the Ark of the Covenant, as it is also called, was placed the two tables of stone along with Aaron's rod that budded and a little pot of manna; but it is called “the Ark of the Testimony” because it contained the two tables of the law. So the Tabernacle was referred to as “the Tabernacle of Testimony” because in the Tabernacle was placed the law of God. In chapter 17 of the book of Numbers, you will find another name as far as our translation is concerned. It is referred to there as “the Tabernacle of Witness.” The Hebrew word for “witness” and “testimony” are exactly the same, so it could just as well have been translated “the Tabernacle of Testimony” which results into the mere statement that the tabernacle had two names, the Tabernacle of the Congregation or the Tent of Meetings, the Tabernacle or the Tent of Testimony.

Now if you will look at chapter 40 of the book of Exodus to emphasize the literalness of this building, you will discover the date on which the Tabernacle was finished. In Exodus, chapter 40, verse 2, we read:

Exodus 40

2On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.

Notice “on the first day of the first month.” Read this verse in the light of the entire chapter, and you will find that the Tabernacle was completed on the first day of the first month, the month of Nisan, in the second year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt. They had been wandering about in the wilderness without any dwelling place for God until the second year after they had left the land of Egypt.

Size of the Tabernacle

As we study the Tabernacle in detail, we will find what kind of building it was and what kind of furniture it had. We would like to introduce it to you briefly so that you may realize that this was a literal building.

The building itself was not very large. It was fifteen feet wide and forty-five feet long. That should not be difficult to visualize. There are dens or family rooms in some homes today that are as large as that. I want to emphasize that because, remember, it was not a building in which the nation of Israel could congregate; it was never so intended.

I emphasize it because the so-called critics of the Word of God are quick to point out the size of the Tabernacle and to say, “Why, that could not possibly have been real. Why, that is a very small church today!” That is certainly true, but it was large enough, because the congregation never went in in a body; only the representatives of the congregation went in to do their mediatorial work in behalf of the children of Israel.

Six Pieces of Furniture

There were six pieces of furniture within this tabernacle, which was divided into two rooms–one called the Most Holy Place and the other, the Holy Place. It would be wise to fix these pieces of furniture in your mind, because we will be reading about them in the sections I have suggested, and they may be mentioned without explanation.

Beginning at the innermost recess of the Tabernacle–the Most Holy Place–we call your attention to a piece of furniture which was called the “Ark of the Testimony.” As we will see, it was a chest-like affair, and on the top of it was a mercy seat overshadowed by two cherubim. It was one piece of furniture; its purpose we will notice later.

When we come to the second room of the Tabernacle–from the inner to the outer–the Holy Place, you will find on one side a seven-branched golden candlestick. On the other side it a table of shewbread–a table with a little rim around it upon which were placed loaves of bread. You will find also what is referred to as the golden altar, or the altar of incense, upon which burned continually day and night, the fire never dying out. When you come from that second room into the 75 x 150 foot courtyard, you will find a laver; it is a brazen basin in which there is water so that the priests may wash their hands as they carry on the various activities involved in the worship of the Tabernacle. Beyond the laver, by the door of the courtyard, there is the altar of burnt offering. There are six pieces of furniture in all in this building, each of them very significant; we will be learning the significance as we go along.

Many people who study the Tabernacle, even if they are able to tell you it size and its furniture and its significance, find it difficult to answer the question, “What happened to the Tabernacle? Where is it now? How did it finally end?” I do not believe that a consideration of this literal Tabernacle is good unless we think about the history of the Tabernacle and its practical use.

A Portable Building

Turn, please, to the book of Joshua, chapter 18. One of the words used in connection with the Tabernacle was “tent,” which indicated that it was not a permanent building. It was a portable building; it was meant to be moved. As the children of Israel traveled about through the wilderness, and during their subjugation of the land of Canaan, everywhere they moved, the Tabernacle moved. They erected the Tabernacle for the number of days they were to be in a certain place; then they moved on. The trumpets were sounded, and the Tabernacle was taken down and carried with them until it was time to erect it again.

Eventually they were in the land of Canaan in peace, and the Tabernacle was erected at a place that proved to be reasonably permanent. This is found in chapter 18 of the book of Joshua:

Joshua 18

1And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

Shiloh was the resting place for the Tabernacle for quite some time. The children of Israel ceased to move about; they settled down in the various portions of land that were allotted to them according to tribes, and they came to Shiloh when it was time to worship each year. This proved to be the dwelling place for the Tabernacle until the time of the judges.

Ark of the Covenant Moved

If you will turn to the first book of Samuel, chapter 4, you will find that the Tabernacle, or Shiloh as the place of the Tabernacle, began to deteriorate and sometimes the Tabernacle was moved:

I Samuel 4

1And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.
2And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.
3And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? [ Notice this statement particularly ] Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

So they did go to Shiloh and get the Ark, which was a grave mistake; they should have moved the entire Tabernacle. They were never to be moved separately. When they moved the Ark into the camp, the Philistines noticed the commotion. They recognized the Ark as the presence of God, and they said, “The gods that destroyed Egypt are among the Israelites,” and they were very much alarmed. But they were turned back only temporarily, because the presence of the Ark was by the will of man, not by the will of God. In verse 10, we read:

I Samuel 4

10And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
11And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

The chapter goes on to tell how a messenger went back and told Eli the Philistines had taken the Ark of God. It was such a shock to Eli that he fell over backwards from the place where he was sitting and broke his neck and died.

God's Presence In the Ark

Chapter 51 of I Samuel describes what happened when the Philistines took the Ark home. They placed it in the temple of their god, Dagon, because they recognized it as a holy instrument. But God's presence, you will keep in mind, was in the Ark. As soon as they placed it in the temple of Dagon, a great stone god, he fell off his pedestal and broke into many pieces. This so frightened the Philistines that they wanted to get rid of the Ark. They did not want it around any more, and they started the Ark on a journey to its own country.

I Samuel 6

1And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.

So the priests gave them instructions about taking two cows to haul the cart upon which the Ark was placed, and about sending various monetary offerings back with the Ark along with various animal offerings, that the God of Israel might be appeased. You understand that it was not the priests of Israel who gave them this advice; it was the priest of their own evil god.

I Samuel 6

14And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD.
15And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD.

After they had performed their sacrifices at getting the Ark back, the Bethshemites did not want the Ark with them, either. This is an indication that people never want the presence of God if their hearts are not right; they are uncomfortable in the presence of God. So, in verse 21:

I Samuel 6

21And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjathjearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.

I Samuel 7

1And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.
2And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

The Ark remained in the house of Abinadab for twenty long years. It was finally brought down to the city of Jerusalem by David, who built a Tabernacle for it. That leaves us to say what happened to the original Tabernacle. There is nothing in the Bible that tells us what happened to the building itself. Archaeologists have uncovered pieces of what they believe to be the building of the Tabernacle at Shiloh, and they believe that the Tabernacle was destroyed when the Philistines invaded the land, as we read. The Bible does not say that, and we do not suggest it as authoritative.

Table of Shewbread At Nob

If the Philistines did destroy the Tabernacle, another one was constructed in the country of Nob, for in the country of Nob we find mentioned another piece of furniture which had been in the original Tabernacle. Look at I Samuel, chapter 21, verse 1:

I Samuel 21

1Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?

David was not yet on the throne; this happened while he was a wanderer because Saul was not willing to surrender the throne.

I Samuel 21

2And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place.
3Now therefore what is under thine hand [ David said to the priest ]? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present [ or whatever food is here ].
4And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread [ that is, the bread that was on the table of shewbread ]; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.
5And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.
6So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.

You realize that the only thing that was there in the land of Nob was the table of shewbread, according to this account; there is no mention of the building. Yet in the Gospel of Matthew, when the Lord Jesus Christ was talking about His right to do what He did on the Sabbath day, He said to the Pharisees, “Have you never read how David, fleeing for his life [and he was referring to this incident] went into the Tabernacle and took the bread that was dedicated to God (Matthew 12:4)?” Think with me: If the Tabernacle was not destroyed at Shiloh when the Ark was taken by the Philistines, then for reasons that are not given in the Bible, it was moved to the land of Nob. If it was destroyed, as evidence seems to indicate, then another Tabernacle was built to house the remaining pieces of furniture–the table of shewbread and the other pieces of furniture which had not been destroyed.

The Brazen Altar In Gibeon

Turn with me to the second book of Chronicles for the last mention of the Tabernacle in the Word of God. It was during the reign of Solomon. David had gone on to be with the Lord. His son, Solomon, was reigning. You remember that when David built the tent to house the Ark of God that had stayed in Kirjath-jearim twenty years, he also wanted to build a more permanent house for God, and he even told Nathan the prophet who approved it until God changed Nathan's mind. God said to David, “You cannot build My house. You can gather the materials, and your son, Solomon, can build it.” We find in II Chronicles, chapter 1, the preparations that were made for eventually building the house of God:

II Chronicles 1

1And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly.
2Then Solomon spake unto all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and to the judges, and to every governor in all Israel, the chief of the fathers.
3So Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon [ notice the location, for the Tabernacle had evidently been moved from Nob to the land of Gibeon ]; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness.
4But the ark of God had David brought up from Kirjathjearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.

You see how far away these people have gotten from God? There was to be only one central place of worship. The Ark of the Covenant now was at Jerusalem, and the Tabernacle with the other pieces of furniture, particularly the altar of burnt offering, or the brazen altar, as it was called, was in the land of Gibeon. For we read in verse 5:

II Chronicles 1

5Moreover the brasen altar, that Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the LORD: and Solomon and the congregation sought unto it.
6And Solomon went up thither to the brasen altar before the LORD, which was at the tabernacle of the congregation, and offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it.
7In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee.

You know the rest of the story. Solomon could have asked for anything in the world on the basis of that offer, but he asked for wisdom, and that pleased God. This is the last time we find a mention of the Tabernacle, the literal Tabernacle upon the earth. Immediately after this, the temple was constructed.

Spiritual Significance of the Tabernacle

So you should be certain that when you read about the Tabernacle in the Word of God, you are reading about a literal building. But if that is all, you have missed the point of these fifty chapters in the Word of God. The Bible very plainly declares that the Tabernacle was meant to portray certain things to us. It is good for us to know about the literal building, because the picture will never be clear if the literal building is not clear. But the Tabernacle was also meant to do two other things.

The New Testament places the emphasis upon this, more than the Old Testament. I will not suggest that the Israelites necessarily knew the typical significance of the Tabernacle. I do not know whether or not they knew. But I do know that the Spirit of God was pleased to have the writers of the New Testament comment upon the Tabernacle and to emphasize its spiritual significance.

The Tabernacle In Heaven

The first thing I would like to suggest is that this literal building was presented as a replica of the Tabernacle in Heaven. Chapter 25 of the book of Exodus, verse 9, tells us that the Tabernacle was built according to a pattern. Turn, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 8, and you will find in verse 5 that the pattern by which Moses built the Tabernacle was the pattern of a Tabernacle in Heaven. We read in verse 5:

Hebrews 8

5Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he [ God ], that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

Notice the word “example.” That is a picture; that is a replica; that is an image. Notice the word “shadow.” That is a figure that is cast by the real thing. The real Tabernacle, the original Tabernacle, was in Heaven; and the one that Moses built upon the earth was just a shadow of the one in Heaven. Have you ever wondered what Heaven is like? Oftentimes we talk about the street of gold, the river of the water of life, etc. I wonder if any of us has realized that Heaven as it is now–not as it will be throughout all eternity, but as it is now–has a Tabernacle? It does.

Will you turn with me to the book of Revelation and look hurriedly at several references that indicate to us that there is in Heaven a Tabernacle of which the one on earth was a replica. In chapter 13, we find in verse 6 one of the descriptions of the Antichrist:

Revelation 13

6And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle,…

“Well,” you say, “maybe there was a tabernacle on earth.” No. Notice:

Revelation 13

6…his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

One of the things that the Antichrist will do is to blaspheme the Tabernacle which is in Heaven. You may be thinking, “How will he know anything about it; he won't be able to see it.” The people on the earth during the Tribulation will be able to see the Tabernacle in Heaven when God rolls back the heavens as a great scroll. They will be able to look up into the heavens and see it for themselves. In chapter 15, notice verse 5:

Revelation 15

5And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
6And the seven angels came out of the temple,…

In other words, “temple” and “tabernacle” are used interchangeably in the book of Revelation. If you read the word “temple,” you are reading about the Tabernacle of the Testimony. There is a definite statement that the Temple of the Tabernacle, or the Tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened.

Tabernacle Furniture In Heaven Described

Turn back to chapter 11 of the book of Revelation, verse 19:

Revelation 11

19And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament [ or the ark of the testimony ]: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

So there is one piece of furniture that is brought to our attention in the book of Revelation–the Ark of the Testimony. Turn, please, to chapter 6 of the book of Revelation, verse 9:

Revelation 6

9And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

The word “altar” in the original text refers to the altar of burnt offering, or the brazen altar, as we mentioned in connection with Solomon's sacrifice in II Chronicles.

Then notice in chapter 8 of the book of Revelation, verse 3:

Revelation 8

3And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

The golden altar is the altar of incense, one of the six pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle. These are pieces of furniture that are definitely described in the book of Revelation as being in the Tabernacle in Heaven. Notice what I am saying, please–Heaven as we know it now. This Tabernacle will not be in the eternal Heaven. The eternal Heaven, not the Heaven that we know now, is described in chapter 21 of the book of Revelation:

Revelation 21

1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;…

As he continued to describe the new Heaven that is to come down upon a new earth, in verse 22, John said:

Revelation 21

22And I saw no temple [I like to use the word ”tabernacle”; it makes me feel better] therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

The Tabernacle in the wilderness literally came to an end one day, and the Tabernacle in Heaven will also literally come to an end. So you see, even to the most minute detail the Tabernacle is presented as a pattern for the Tabernacle on the earth.

Fellowship Restored At the Brazen Altar

In the beginning of our discussion, I suggested that the pattern was given from the inside out–that is, from the Ark, out–and the building was from the outer gate, in. Why did they not build the Ark first? That was the first thing that was given in the pattern. I think the reason lies in the significant teaching of the Tabernacle. When God gave the pattern of the Tabernacle He spoke of the Ark, upon which was the mercy seat, the place where He was to meet man. At that time the people were in full fellowship with Him. But while Moses was on top of the mountain getting the pattern for the Tabernacle, the people were down at the foot of the mountain breaking fellowship; they were sinning. When the building was built, they had to start at the place where all broken fellowship must begin, at the brazen altar, the place of sacrifice. There is no way for fellowship to be restored other than by cleansing through the blood of Christ. The brazen altar was the place where the sacrifice was made. When the sacrifice was made, then the blood was taken in to the mercy seat on top of the Ark of the Covenant, and propitiation was made for sin.

Jesus, Our Advocate

Turn to I John, chapter 2, and notice, in line with what I have just said, a verse of Scripture:

I John 2

1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

The phrase, “little children,” is a bit misleading. You might think he is talking to some Sunday school scholars, but he isn't. The literal phrase there is “my little born-again ones”–you folk who have been born again, you folk who have come to know Christ as your Savior.

“These things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” Let us recognize that that is exactly what God wants. He does not want born-again people to sin. “I write these things to you that ye sin not.” That is God's standard. Let's not pull the standard down to fit our lives because we don't live up to it. Let's hold the standard high and say, “That is God's standard.” But God knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14); He knows that in all probability we will sin. So John said, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1).

“You little born-again people who have recently come to know the Lord,” John said, “don't sin. Live holy lives. But if you do sin, don't throw everything overboard. Don't quit and say, 'What's the use?' Remember, you have someone pleading your case. He is Jesus Christ. He is the advocate. He is the righteous One.”

The Propitiation for the World

Notice verse 2. This is what I want you to get:

I John 2

2And he is the propitiation for our sins:…

Look at the word “propitiation.” It is the very same word that in the book of Hebrews is translated “mercy seat.” The mercy seat was on top of the Ark of the Covenant. It was the place where God met man. What is it we are reading? That Jesus Christ is the mercy seat; He is the place where God will meet us; He is the place where God will take care of our sins. Our sins are done away in Christ. The sins of the Israelites were done away when the blood was placed on the mercy seat. Our sins are done away in Christ.

I John 2

2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The word “sins” is in italics, which means it is not in the original text. It does not say that He is the propitiation for the s-i-n-s of the whole world. Unsaved people have s-i-n. What is the Holy Spirit doing today? He is convicting men of s-i-n–not s-i-n-s. He is convicting men of s-i-n. Why? “That they believe not on Me,” said Jesus Christ. The sin that sends people to Hell is failure to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. But Christians have s-i-n-s. He is the propitiation for the s-i-n-s of Christians; He is the propitiation for the whole world.

There are some of God's dear children who believe that Christ died for only a certain designated group of people. That does not hold true in the Word of God. Here is a definite statement in the Word of God that Christ is the propitiation for the whole world. All of it! The word “world” here is the Greek word kosmos , which refers to a world of order and arrangement; it is always used in connection with the inhabited earth.

John emphasizes also in this first epistle, chapter 4, that He is the sacrifice for the whole world:

I John 4

14And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

There is the definite statement–not the Savior of a select group, but the Savior of the world–the cosmos, the inhabited earth. Thank God, He did not leave anyone out:

I John 4

15Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
16And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

I hope that all of you have taken advantage of the sacrifice of the Savior. He died for you.


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