The Tabernacle in the Wilderness

by Keith Cook

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The Table of Shewbread
Exodus 25:23-30
"And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was she wed thee in the mount".

THERE were only three items of furniture in the 3O feet x l5 feet x l5 feet high Holy Place. They were the Table of Shewbread, the Seven-branched Lampstand, and the Altar of Incense. Each of the articles and their several symbolic lessons will be considered separately.

The Table of Shewbread
The Table was located over against the North wall, or the right hand side of the Holy Place as one entered through the entrance curtains (Exod. 40:22). It was "on show" before Yahweh continually (v.30), and the faces of the Cherubim looked upon it. It was the Table "of the faces" (the literal signification of "shewbread").

It was made of Shittim wood, covered with gold, and measured 2 cubits long by 1 cubit wide by 1-1/2 cubits high (i.e. 3 feet long by 18 inches wide by 2 feet 3 inches high). It had a gold crown (Heb. "Zare" - Moulding of wreathen work for holding together) surrounding its upper surface, beneath which was a gold border. It was carried by means of Shittim wood, gold-covered staves that were inserted into gold rings located on the two sides (or the 4 feet or legs) that were at the four corners of the Table (v.26).

Elsewhere in the Tabernacle, crowns are mentioned in relation to the Alter of Incense and Mercy Seat (Exod. 37:26; 25:11; 37:2). There would be some relationship between them.

The idea of the wreathen work (Sept. version says twisted wreath) is to suggest the double strength (Col. 2:19) provided for holding together those who are used by Yahweh in His Ecclesia.

Upon the Table were placed two rows or piles of unleavened bread. (Lev. 24:5-9 where "row" in v.6 is maraketh in Heb. meaning "piles"). Each pile consisted of 6 cakes of unleavened bread, twelve in all, twelve representing the twelve tribes. Each pile was topped with a bowl of pure frankincense placed there for a memorial (v.9).

The Children of Israel, at weekly intervals, provided the ingredients for the unleavened loaves; they brought them as a memorial sacrifice or meal offering (Lev. 24:5) symbolizing the dedication by the whole nation of the fruits of their labor. There were implicit instructions given as to the making of the loaves (v.5; Lev. 2:5), or "cakes", which were baked with oil. "Cake" in Heb. is Kawlan or "to be punctured or wounded". The flour was "fine flour", the result of the work of the Israelites - offered freely as an offering, then subjected to fire.

This procedure was followed each week when the cakes were changed (i.e. removed) upon each seventh day (Lev. 24:8), the day which was the sign of the covenant between Yahweh and Israel (Exod. 31:16,17). This regular changing reminded Israel that Yahweh was shewing them that His covenant needed to be remembered and to be renewed on their part with such regularity. Through their priests, Israel thus also confessed their obligation to total dedication to God's service, in the place and after the pattern which He showed them through Moses when he was on the Mount. They gave their weekly labor to Him and dedicated to Him the fruit of their labors.

The old shewbread cakes were eaten by the priests in the Holy Place (Lev. 24:9). They were God's representatives to Israel and in turn represented Israel before God in their acts of service in the Holy Place. In this manner Yahweh shewed His acceptance of them by fellowshipping them. This was the Table of Yahweh and it was His food (Lev. 21:6). Of all the offerings that were made by fire, this, to the priests, was the "most holy".

The pure frankincense was placed in two of the golden vessels that belonged to the Table of shewbread (Lev. 24:7), and then placed upon the top of the two piles of cakes. Frankincense was a white fragrant gum - it was obtained by cutting the frankincense tree. From the cut there emerged tear-shaped drops of the liquid. It became a very important and valuable feature of the Tabernacle, and restrictions were placed upon its use.

Many features of the Table of Shewbread and of the unleavened cakes foreshadowed the work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The following describes some of them:

1. The Loaves were made from flour, a product of the earth; an ingredient brought as an offering by the Israelites (Lev. 24:5,6; Lev. 2:5,6). So the Lord partook of Adamic nature (Luke 1:32).

2. Having been finely ground, the flour was baked with fire and subjected to "the fiery trial" of Divinely-allowed testing. The word "cake" in Lev. 24:5 is from the Hebrew Kawlan which means to be "punctured" or "wounded". How the life and experiences of the Lord fulfilled these significant expressions! Isaiah 53:5-7 foretold the same things of him. The thorns, nails and spear left just those kind of physical marks.

3. They were baked with oil (Lev. 2:5,6). Oil is the Scriptural symbol of the Spirit-Word. it was the education by his Father's Word and his absorption of it into his mind and life that contributed so much to the acceptance of the offering he made. Oil is also the symbol of anointed dedication an evident characteristic in his life and service offered to his Father.

4. The loaves were unleavened. Leaven is the Scriptural symbol of sin and error. But Jesus did no sin (T Pet. 2:22); he knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21); in him is no sin (1 John 3:5) so that he developed a character which was truly unleavened in the sight of his Father.

The symbol is not a reference to the actual flesh or body of Christ of which we do not literally partake. Rather it is the symbol of the food of Yahweh which He has provided in His son. This is the "truth which is in Christ Jesus", because he was "The Word made flesh" (John 1:l4). As we partake, in faith and belief, of the Father's doctrines that were taught by him, so we partake of him.

He was provided as the "bread of life" (John 6:48) or the "life giving bread". He elaborated this doctrine in life-giving principles in John 6:31-58 and, in v.63, lie explains how we may "eat" of him - "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit (pneuma - breathings or declarations) and they are life."

In verse 27 the Lord showed that being the food of Yahweh, the bread of Cod (Lev. 21:6; 24:5-6) for the fellowship of others, required an energetic application. He warns and encourages that it requires work. "Labor" (Gk. Ergazomai) - to work, to energize. "Meat" (Gk. Brosis is a verb, not a noun) -eating or partaking. He is saying, in effect, "l)t)n't put work or effort into taking part in that which perishes or destroys. Rather put effort into taking part in that which will cause your survival unto eternal life which the son of man will give."

5. There were twelve unleavened loaves placed upon the Table, each one representing a tribe in Israel. In this way Israel was represented in the Holy Place. The record of the character and life of the Lord has been made for us and shown to us by twelve disciples. The number twelve represents Israel and signifies to us the Hope of Israel. Israel's hope for the restoration of the Kingdom (Acts 1:6) is centered upon their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. So also is our hope in him. When the hope of Israel is fulfilled it will be seen to operate under twelve thrones (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30). Divine fellowship in the Ecclesia is based upon an Israelitish foundation. Our salvation is Jewish in character (John 4:22; Rom. 9:4; Acts 28:20; 26:7).

6. The bread was closely associated with the frankincense that was placed on top of each of the two piles. Associated with the teachings of the Lord which gives life to those who believe them, was his life-offering in dedication and service that rose up daily before his Father as a sweet-smelling savour (Eph. 5:2). It was also a symbol of prayer, as we shall see a little later. The son was daily in touch with his Father in this way, spending many of his nights in the mountain-top in close seclusion with Yahweh.

We too, are called to dedicate our lives and service to Yahweh in a similar fashion. Paul, in Romans 12:1-2, calls upon us to "present our bodies as living sacrifices... our reasonable service", so that we, like our Lord, will be "a sweet-smelling savour" (Eph. 5:2) - a fragrant reminder to God of His own son_ as He sees us in the Holy Place Ecclesia partaking of His food of truth.

The frankincense was placed upon the loaves "for a memorial" (Lev. 24:7) "An offering made by fire unto Yahweh".

In addition to this use, it was employed elsewhere in the terms of the Law of Moses. For example, as holy perfume before the Mercy Seat (Exod. 30:34-36); as a perfume (v.37); it was added to certain offerings (the sin and jealousy offerings excluded it - Lev. 5:11; Num. 5:15). The perfume was strictly forbidden to be used for personal reasons (Exod. 30:37); i.e. for fleshly motives.

The fragrance that the Father enjoyed in His own Son was to be seen in the purity of mind, life and character - "an offering made by fire" indeed - produced by affliction (Eph. 5:2).

We are to be imitators of the Lord; so that, as the Father sees us He is reminded of His only begotten Son (2 Cor. 2:15,17). Our close association with the "Bread of Life" and our partaking of him, helps to reproduce similar characteristics in us.

7. The unleavened loaves were replaced each Sabbath (Lev. 24:8). The replaced loaves were eaten by priests (v.9) in the Holy Place. Of all the sacrifices offered, this weekly meal was the most holy and the most important to the priests. The reason for this can be readily understood when it is remembered that the priests were holy unto God (Lev. 21:6), because they offered by fire unto Yahweh, and also because it was the "bread of God" that they offered.

Therefore, on this one special occasion in each week, the priests gathered around the Table of Yahweh and He fellowshipped them by their partaking of His bread. They represented the twelve tribes (through the twelve loaves) before Yahweh for this purpose. And it took place on the Sabbath - the symbol of the Covenant (Exod. 31:16,17) made with Israel.

The weekly renewal of the unleavened bread represented a constant renewal of that covenant with Yahweh by the priests who acted on behalf of the people who had declared at Mt. Sinai, "all that Yahweh hath said, we will do". In response, He declared: "Ye are My people".

Yahweh has provided us with life-giving bread (John 6:35-51): God's only begotten Son. We partake of that bread when we masticate the "Truth which is in Christ Jesus". He is the basis of our fellowship with his Father. Of all the offerings and sacrifices we may make to Yahweh, none areas important, or as holy, as partaking of this Christ-bread i.e. his teachings and his character. But the "eating of the Truth" in him can only be done with labor and toil, with care and diligence, just as Israel ground the seed-grain into fine flour.

The apostle John (1 John ~:1-3; 2:24) perceived the holiness and importance of true fellowship between the Father or His son with His other children. The week-by-week memorial in bread partaken, is a symbol of that, as well as a renewal on our part of the covenant into which we entered in Christ at our baptism. And we keep the feast in sincerity and in truth; not only the weekly breaking of bread, but the constant partaking of the truth in Christ.

8. The Table of Shewbread not only comprised the Table of the Lord; but also acted as an altar in the Ecclesia upon which was placed constantly a burnt offering (the bread) for fellowship. It was a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ who provided, in the days of his flesh (shittim wood) the spiritual food (unleavened bread) necessary for fellowship and spiritual offering by his priests. Associated with it was a manifestation of his Father's character and glory (gold) which culminated in him being granted (or covered) with the pure gold of the Divine nature.

The staves told Israel that this table in the wilderness tabernacle was a temporary arrangement by which they were expected to learn certain lessons which directed them to the one through whom they could have Divine fellowship. Later their children refused the spiritual food and crucified the "Table": i.e. the one who brought the food to them. They perished as a consequence.

In these "shittim-days" of our wilderness sojourn, we are to be, in certain respects, as the table of the Lord, for we are to bear the Divine spiritual food of unleavened truth. In that regard, we are to remember that we are ever in His presence, and are to manifest His glory and character: the gold of our faith in Him. Nevertheless, this present-day essential arrangement is but a temporary one, and wilt be superseded later by the more perfect revelation of full glory in Him.

The Seven-Branched Lampstand
Exodus 25:31-40
"The lampstands are the seven ecclesias" (Rev. 1:20)

OPPOSITE the Table of shewbread stood the golden seven-branched lampstand and its instruments. It was made from one piece of pure gold (v.31), and was beaten into the shape of the pattern shown to Moses. Its design embodied a central stem with 6 branches (three on each side) which proceeded out of the stem (v.32). Each branch incorporated the same characteristic features of the central stem, with three sets of bowls, knops and flowers (v.33). The central stem differed in that it had four sets (vv. 34-35). The total weight was one talent (v.39) or approx. 130 lbs.

On top of the stem and each branch were golden lamps (v.37) totaling seven. Their lights were produced by burning pure olive oil (Exod. 27:20). The olives were supplied by Yahweh but Israelites had gathered and crushed them (Lev. 24:1-2), and had extracted and purified the oil so produced. An old custom for doing so was to cause the oil to pass through the heat of boiling water.

It was the duty of the priests to dress and replenish these lamps twice daily (Lev. 24:1-4; Exod 27:21) so that the lights shone forth powerfully and continually. To "dress the lamps" (Exod. 30:7-8) means "to cause to brighten up." Apart from the lights of the Lampstand, the Holy Place was a place of darkness, for due to the construction of the Tabernacle, all natural light was excluded. And apart from the continuous dressing of the lamps and replenishing of the oil the lights of the Lampstand would cease their shining. However, so long as it gave out adequate light the place was illuminated, enabling the priests to perform their daily service in the Holy Place.

"I am the Light of the World" John 8:12
In the Spiritual darkness of Yahweh's Israelitish Ecclesia, the Lord Jesus Christ was raised up as a "body prepared" and identified with the "Lampstand" (Rev. 1:12,13,20). The golden qualities of pure faith were wrought in him into a Divine shape through the fire of affliction, and the "beating" of trial (Isa. 53:4,5). A suitable vessel was thus perfected containing a supply of the oil of Yahweh's truth which shone forth powerfully as a reflection of his Father's character (2 Cor. 4:6).

This was the glory seen in the "face of Jesus Christ". Through him Yahweh caused His light of truth and salvation to shine for all to see (Matt. 4:16; Luke 2:32; John l:4,5,9,~4; 8:12; 9:5; 12;46, etc.). The people "who dwelt in darkness" and "saw that great light", were those who heard and recognized his teachings as being his Father's Word of Truth expressed and displayed.

Jesus found it necessary to constantly replenish his supply of "oil". His use of Scripture showed how he meditated therein. The light shone out powerfully in the darkness of heresy and unbelief, because he daily replenished the oil by resorting to fellowship and communication with that Great Source of Wisdom and Truth and Light: his own Father in the heavens.

The Stem and The Branches
As Yahweh's Lampstand, however, he would not be complete without branches. He was the central stem of the lampstand of his "Body" (Rev. 1:13). He explained this by a simple natural illustration. He described himself as the vine or the stock, and likened his disciples to the branches (John. 15:1). It was an illustration drawn from an Old Testament parable. Significantly, at the feast of Tabernacles, when the vintage had been gathered in, Israel sang at the winepress (Girtith) the words of Psa. 8():14-17 prophetic of the vine of John 15:1, the Son of Man made strong by Yahweh. Accordingly, the Lord called his Father the llushandman

In the verse before us (John. 15:1), Jesus described himself as the true vine. He includes his disciples in the description, for they were his "branches". He is a vine which has developed into many branches and he and his branches, as members of his one body, constitute the complete vine (I Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:12-16). His branches, or members, are extensions &)f himself for the purpose of bearing fruit in themselves for the pleasure of the Husbandman.

The branches of his lampstand-body, being identified with him, are identical in function and purpose, and therefore like him in their compliance with the Divine "pattern". They are of the same material as he was and are influenced by similar experiences. Those things that helped to develop the Lord Jesus Christ, as the central stem, will be experienced also by his member-branches, if to a lesser extent. Like him they must also pass through the "fiery trial" of affliction (1 Cor. 3:13; Pet. 1:7; 4:12). Thus they are able to become Light-bearers of Divine truth. This is done in conjunction with the other members of the one body (1 Cor. 12:12-13,27).

The Hebrew word for Lampstand in Exod. 25:31 is in the feminine gender. It signifies a gleaming frame. We are reminded of the description of the bride of Christ (Psa. 45:13), and recognize in the union of marriage a beautiful illustration of the one body.

The Seven Branches

The seven branches represent completeness. Christ's "body" is now being completed by the "grafting in" of its selected members. This is the background of Rev. 4:5 where a complete Ecclesia is represented as "seven lamps of fire" witnessing for Divine truth.

Isaiah 11:1-2 presents an interesting description of the seven branched lampstand. First (v.1), the central Rod, the Lord Jesus Christ, is represented, termed "The Spirit of Yahweh". Then there is described the branches issuing forth from him thus:

The Spirit of Wisdom
The Spirit of Counsel
The Spirit of knowledge
The Spirit of Understanding
The Spirit of Might
The Spirit of the Fear of Yahweh

These are the "golden" qualities which saints, as branches, must manifest in the "pattern" of their characters. The full development requires considerable discipline, affliction, or "beating" to produce it. The trial of faith is essential to that end, but it will be found, at the coming of (Christ, worthy of praise, honour and glory (1 Pet. 1:7).

The purpose of the unity we have in Christ as described by Isaiah (Ch. 11:1 2) is for the present and ultimate extension of Divine truth and character throughout the world. Yahweh commenced this work in His son, by planting a "seed" (Psa. 80:15) and watering it, so assisting it to develop into the true vine, bringing forth pleasant fruit to the delight of his Father.

Branches spread out from this vine which have much in common with it. Nevertheless, as branches, they arc dependent upon what the central stem can supply. There is greater capacity inherent in the Vine Stem that enables it to be the bearer of all the branches and their fruit.

How important it is to follow the exhortation of the Lord (John 15:4) that the branches should "abide in him". This does not express the idea of "resting" but of drawing on him, and expending oneself to produce fruit (Gal. 5:22; Col. 3:16). That involves the labor of study and application of God's Word (Psa. 119:97). In the symbology of the Lampstand it relates to the storing of oil in our vessels. But oil alone is not light. It needs to have heat applied to it to produce illumination. When the heat of effort and energy is applied to the labor of learning God's Word, Truth will become light in us (Eph. 5:8,13; Phil. 2:15). That is the purpose of the Word (Psa. 119:105,130). Saints are exhorted to shine as lights by its use (John 12:36; 1 Thess. 5:5). The means God has chosen for the manifestation of His light in these days of darkness, is first in the illumination of our minds. He has "shined in our hearts (minds) to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" (2 Cor. 4:6).

His Truth is in us as in "earthen vessels" so that the light emanating from each will be recognized by contrast to be more than that of mere fleshly learning. Hence, an otherwise dark place is lightened as it was in the days of our Lord in Israel.

Such a "shining" is not possible if we are in fellowship with the darkness of unbelief and error that exists in the world outside the Ecclesial dwelling place From such there must be separation (2 Cor. 6:14; 1 Pet. 2:9; 1 John 1:7). No natural light was able to penetrate the Holy Place from outside. So the wisdom of this world; the "natural" "religions" of its people; the so-called knowledge of its learned (religious or otherwise) must be excluded from the Ecclesia. The Word of Truth in teaching and practice actively manifested by living and faithful believers, is the light which now "shines in a dark place" (2 Pet. 1:19)

The light produced in the lampstand was neither perpetual nor spontaneous as was the light which was to be seen between the Cherubim in the Most Holy Place. That light was a symbol of the light that belongs to our future state of perfection. Meanwhile, the light of the Ecclesia today, like that in the Holy Place, requires constant, daily renewal of oil from the inspired Word.

Hence we are encouraged to give daily attention to the reading and meditation of the Word (Psa. 119:97), because it is our only source of enlightenment and we are in constant need of it.

The Lampstand light was seven fold; a symbol of completion. It gave out light that was perfect for the purpose intended of it. That purpose, for this present day, is to be seen within the Holy Place Ecclesia. Like the golden Lampstand that reflected every gleam of light, each member of an Ecclesia is called upon to co-operate in providing a general illumination and reflection of the Divine revelation in word and character. Just as the illuminated walls and furniture of the Holy Place made it an enlightened place in which the priests were able to perform their tasks, so the Ecclesia is a place of light and beauty and glory in which Yahweh's servants, the Ecclesial "priests", are enabled to serve with joy and gladness in the light of Yahweh's truth revealed and reflected in every member.

Do we individually contribute in that way within the Ecclesia in today's wilderness wanderings (1 John 1:7)?

The Lampstand Prophecy
The Lampstand was prophetic of Yahweh's purpose in Christ and his bride. That is revealed in Rev. 1:10-13,20. It is a prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ manifested in the midst of the Ecclesia. It is represented as a seven-fold revelation, the perfect body of Christ for the purpose of complete manifestation of Divine Truth, to the glory of Yahweh (Numb. 14:21; Isa. 43:7). The great light that will shine in righteousness and judgment within and without of the perfected Ecclesial-tight body of the Kingdom age, is the central stem of the future lampstand: the Lord Jesus Christ. He already has been perfected and glorified with the "gold" of Divine nature.

The branches of the Light-body, the members of his Ecclesia through the ages, await the time of their glorification when they, too, will be made suitable vessels for the eternal display of Yahweh's truth and judgments in the earth.

The Altar of Incense
Exodus 30:1-10
"There was given unto him much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar" Revelation 8:3

THE remaining article of furniture in the Holy Place stood before the Veil which separated it from the Most Holy Place. It was an altar made of shittim wood, foursquare, measuring one cubit x one cubit x two cubits high; i.e. approx. 1 foot 6 inches x 1 foot 6 inches x 3 feet (45 cm x 45 cm x 90 cm). It was overlaid with pure gold, had a horn in each of its four corners, and was edged with a crown of wreathen gold. It was carried by shittim wood, gold-covered staves (see Exod. 30:1-10; 37:25-28).

Incense was burnt upon the altar each morning and evening, at the same time that attention was given to the lamps upon the seven-branched lampstand (Exod. 307-8). This was a regular part of the daily service performed by priests in the Holy Place.

The incense was compounded of four ingredients (Exod. 30:34-36), according to strict Divine instructions (vv. 37-38). It comprised three sweet spices, stacte3 onycha and galbanum, mixed in prescribed proportions with pure frankincense.

Stacte was also known as Balm of Gilead which was well known for its healing properties. It was extracted from the bark of the Storax tree which was a very showy tree when in bloom, its flowering being orange in color.

Onycha is believed to have come from a shell mollusk which, when burnt, gave off a very distinct perfume. Perhaps the Israelites had gathered the shells when they had returned to the Red Sea on their way from Egypt to Mt. Sinai.

Galbanum was a fragrant, resinous gum, yellowish-brown in color. Frankincense was the fragrant white gum which was expelled from the frankincense tree when the tree was cut. The frankincense was exuded in the shape of a tear-drop. When burnt it gave a somewhat balsamic odor.

Every morning and evening (Exod. 30:7-8) Aaron, at the time of trimming the lamps, took coals from the Altar of Burnt Sacrifice in his golden censer, and a quantity of incense from the Holy Place and approached the golden Incense Altar. Facing the Veil he placed the censer upon the altar and poured some of the incense upon the live coals. Thereupon the incense vaporized and ascended as an invisible aromatic cloud that filled the Holy Places with its sweetness (see Lev. 16:12-13).

Lessons For Israel
The Incense Altar was another miniature of the four-sided encampment of Israel with its four standards. This one, however, was located in the Holy Place and thus was closer to the presence of Yahweh. Furthermore it was very much smaller, as if to suggest that here it represented a smaller encampment.

By it Israelites were daily reminded that the nearest they could approach to Yahweh was at the Incense Altar, and then only through their appointed priests. The Veil prevented closer contact with Yahweh. The incense reminded them that any approach to God must be acceptable to Him, a sweet fragrance, devoid of strange fire or strange incense.

Even this kind of approach was a temporary one, as denoted by the removable carrying staves. Faith, however, looked for a permanent means of approach to Yahweh.

The High Priest represented the people at the Incense Altar, thus reminding them that sin and disobedience, and unprepared and unsanctified approaches, prohibit an individual personal presentation. It must be through the priest.

Even the High Priest's representative approach carried qualifications. His procedure from the light to the bread to the incense was stipulated; his covering was specified; the symbolic prayer he offered on their behalf was Divinely ordered and chosen by the significance of the ingredients. They represented the necessary qualities of healing truth; of sacrificial tears; of righteousness and acceptable fragrance.

The High Priest's twice-daily approach on their behalf must be understood in the same terms as Genesis 1: the "evening and the morning were the... day". The approach to Yahweh in this way required an all-day consciousness of His presence, and of their own need to approach Him constantly.

Because the Incense Altar was located outside the Veil, which was penetrated only on the Day of Atonement, Israel were to understand that, though they could approach Yahweh through the intercession of their High Priest, there must still be a sacrifice for sin that would enter into the very Presence in the Most Holy (Lev. 16:11-14).

When, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest entered the Most Holy, he took with him the sacrificial blood for sprinkling upon the Mercy Seat, the golden censer with its coals, and a supply of incense in his hand for the purpose of filling the Most Holy with its fragrance. This act of symbolic prayer was performed at the Incense Altar which was then accounted as being inside the Most Holy (by the repositioning of the veil. See Heb. 9:2-4). Accordingly, 1 Kings 6:22 (RV) describes the Altar of Incense as "the altar that belongeth to the oracle".

The high-priest's entrance into the Most Holy on the Day of Atonement foreshadowed Christ's ascension into heaven (Heb. 9:12). On that basis, Paul exhorted: "Having therefore liberty to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say his flesh... let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:19-22).

That being our privilege, let us daily use it.

Christ's Offering
There were many features connected with the Incense Altar that symbolised the Lord Jesus Christ as the meeting place between Yahweh and His people. He was, like the shittim wood, especially chosen human nature prepared by Holy Spirit conception, and birth of the virgin Mary. By the influence of the Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he developed before Yahweh, manifesting a faith that was purified by trial (ep. Matt. 4:1-10; Luke 4:1-3; Heb. 5:8-9), and revealing a character that reflected to the glory of his Father (John 17:4). He manifested this moral perfection as he served in the antitypical Holy Place: the Ecclesia. His obedience during his wilderness existence on earth finally led him to the cross, and through the sacrifice there made, to the glory he manifests in the Most Holy in heaven.

By these means he became the one in whom, and through whom, God's people can approach Yahweh in prayer. Israel had no direct communication with Yahweh. He had rejected them as a nation following their rejection of Him. But as many of them as were willing, were able to turn to Him through His son, by identifying themselves with him as the Altar. This required self-sacrifice, however, and few were prepared to offer an acceptable offering of that kind.

The service, and the character of the Lord, were beautifully typified in the Altar of Incense. His submissive obedience to the will of His Father was as fragrant incense to Him (Eph. 5:2): a pleasant and acceptable savour that has permeated the true Ecclesia throughout its wilderness wanderings to this day. As a result of his acceptable sacrifice in the antitypical Holy Place, the Father saw fit to raise His son from the dead and clothe him with His own eternal, immortal nature (Phil. 2:9).

The Gospel records provide ample evidence of Christ's use of prayer, of which incense is the symbol (Rev. 5:8). His prayers included the essential ingredients of acceptable supplication. There was the sacrifice of tears (H eb. 5:7), such as is graphically portrayed by Luke (Ch. 22:42-44). There was the fire of zeal manifested as the energy of dedication with which his prayers were offered. There was the element of healing as he pleaded for others in their sickness or death (John 11:41-44).

Yahweh's acceptance of His son's fragrant life and service was marked by his passing through the "veil" on the Great Day of Atonement, and, as our Great High Priest, moving into the Most Holy of His Father's presence (Heb. 9:11-12). He is there as the anti-typical Incense Altar through whom the prayers of all the saints are caused to ascend to his Father (Heb. 9:3,4,24).

Our Offering "We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ" 2 Cor. 2:15.
The pattern thus established by the Lord was followed by his disciples: the first century Ecclesia. In recording their practice, Luke in Acts sets it in the concept of the four-sided encampment of the Wilderness Ecclesia (Acts 2:42). He refers to the Lampstand ("apostles" doctrine"); the Table of Shewbread ("breaking of bread"); the Incense Altar ("prayers") and the Holy Place with these priestly duties ("fellowship"). All are appropriate illustrations of what our Ecclesias should now be, for that was the pattern then.

When it is remembered that the Holy Place corresponds to our present Ecclesial associations; that the service we offer consists of fellowship and of manifesting the light of the knowledge of God's Word, we should readily see the important part played by Prayer in our acceptable offering to our Heavenly Father. That service, as it ascends to Him, must be a reminder to Him of the service, life and character, of His own son (Eph. 5:2; 2 Cor. 2:14-16-in which the word "savour" is better rendered fragrance). Notice, also, that there must be a "fragrance of knowledge" (v.14) the Lampstand; a "fragrance of Christ to God" (v.15) the Altar; "a fragrance of eternal life" (v.16) the Shewbread.

We are called (Acts 15:14; 1 Pet. 2:9) into the Ecclesia to present our spiritual offerings (I Pet. 2:5). Among these is the incense of prayer (Psa. 141:2). And those prayers are acceptable only if they are offered through the Christ-Altar. That is the nearest we can come in our approach to Yahweh. But it must be exercised in the spirit of the High Priest's routine which he carried out twice daily in association with the Lampstand and the Table of Shewbread.

The movements of the High Priest in the performance of his daily routine, reveal the pattern we need to follow: -

The privilege of prayer is to be associated with the reading and study of the Word, our Lampstand. But prayer is acceptable only when it is offered in faith and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then the ascending incense-prayer rises as one "voice" from the Ecclesial Altar and its horns (that is, of Christ and his member saints). This may be further illustrated by reference to Rev. 8:3,4; 9:13 where the angel, the Altar and the censer are all symbols of the saints.

A Prophecy Of the Golden Incense Altar
The references in Revelation show that altar to be the symbol of the saints of all ages whose faith has been tried and refined as pure gold.

The four horns and the four sides of the altar represent such faithful ones united in the hope of Israel (i.e. the four-sided encampment); they are the one chosen family of Yahweh.

The incense symbolizes the prayers that all the saints have offered, ascending as one voice before the Father in heaven as a "sweet smelling savour" of Jesus Christ, from the "altar" that is located "before HIS Throne".

In acceptance of, and response to, such prayers, Yahweh will avenge His own of their enemies (Luke 18:1-8); avenging His own elect of all ages (Rev. 6:10).

The prayers of the saints preceded the events of Rev. 8:3,4; 9:13 and give assurance that our Heavenly Father not only hears, but will also answer our prayers (see Eureka Vol. 2, pp. 354-360).

Isaiah presents an interesting prophecy in which Gentiles are pictured in the future bringing an offering of incense (prayer) to shew forth Yahweh's praises. He will accept them and thus glorify His Kingdom as His future dwelling place, the "house of His glory" (see Isa. 60:3,6,7).

The Veil
Exodus 26:31-33
A new and living way, consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh (Heb. 10:20).

THE details given are brief but important. The Veil was located at the western end of the Holy Place and separated the Holy from the Most Holy Place beyond, so that it was behind the golden Incense Altar It was suspended upon four gold-covered shittim wood pillars that have already been explained. Gold hooks were used to fasten it to these pillars and it was located immediately below the join in the coverings of the Mishkan, where the two sets of curtains were connected by gold taches (Exod. 26:3-6).

The Veil itself was a thing of impressive beauty. Made of the same materials as the Mishkan coverings and the entrance curtains to both the Tabernacle and the Sanctuary, it was resplendent in its blue, purple, scarlet and white colors (Exod. 26:31). But the white fine twined linen, which was beautifully interwoven by the embroiderer with the blue, purple and scarlet colours, now included the intricate weaving of cherubim (v.31).

The cherubim included the four faces (man, lion, ox and eagle) that represented the four sides of the wilderness encampment which have already been described. But, more than that fact, they also portrayed certain characteristics and functions. These were significantly placed within the Most Holy Place at the location at which the priest would arrive after performing the prescribed services of that Place.

It is suggested that the embroiderers wove each cherubim in such a manner that the curiously wrought work of art and beauty was to be seen on both sides of the Veil, so that they looked out upon the Holy Place and also upon the Most Holy Place. Thus the Shewbread was known as the "Bread of the faces" (Exod 25.30).

A Screen Hiding the Most Holy
So the Veil hung as the screen that hid from view the contents of the Most Holy Place. "Veil" in Hebrew, Poreketh, is in the feminine gender, meaning a separatrix (Dr. Strong) from the root Perek, meaning to break apart etc. Thus the Veil and Cherubim guarded and kept the way of life in much the same way as did the Cherubim in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24).

But on the Day of Atonement it was lifted aside for the purpose of permitting the High Priest to enter the Most Holy, there to perform the representative task of sprinkling the sacrificial blood upon the Mercy Seat (Lev. 16:11-14; cp. Heb. 9:3-7). In performing this act it should be observed that the Altar of Incense was within the Most Holy (Heb. 9:3,4)-not that he had moved the Altar but rather that he would have caused the Veil to be draped on the Holy Place side of the Altar, thus including it in the Most Holy to facilitate the action described in Lev. 16:12,13.

The Significance Of the Veil
We need be in no doubt as to what the Veil represents. Paul interprets its meaning in Heb. 10:20. His interpretation is supported by the rending of the Temple Veil at the time of Atoning Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 27:51). The Veil, then, stands for the flesh of present mortal nature such as was possessed by the Lord in his natural days on earth. lt is this nature which stands between our present Ecclesial wanderings of these mortal days, and the significant glories of the future "Most Holy Place" state.

But Jesus was the dwelling place of his Father (John. 1:14), and he dedicated himself "as a living sacrifice" to the manifestation of his Father's character and truth (Heb. 10:20). Thus the colors of the veil, in an anti-typical way, were seen in the life and character of the Lord. The four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, fulfilling a function as counterpart of the four pillars which upheld and manifested the Tabernacle Veil, recorded and displayed the righteous (white) character of him who, in the days of his flesh (scarlet) manifested (purple) Yahweh (blue) to the people.

Wrought into that character, and therefore clearly displayed in his life, was to be seen the Divine Character (Heb. 1:3,4), that stood between Yahweh and His Israel-Ecclesia.

The Tabernacle Veil was made by Aholiab (Exod. 35:35; 38:23) whose name means, lent of his father; from Ohel as the Tabernacle tent, meaning to be clearly conspicuous. Aholiab was the embroiderer who skilfully interwove the threads that comprised the veil and the cherubic figures. "Embroider" is used only once elsewhere in scripture - in Psa. 139:15 where "curiously wrought" (Heb. raqam) is the word embroider and refers to the formative processes, beginning at conception, by which the Lord, as unique, became the "express image of His (God's) person". So the cherubic beauty and glory were associated with the son of man, God's only begotten son.

Bro. J. Carter's article on this subject, contained in Delight in God's Law pp.273 to 275 and Bro. Thomas' teaching in Eureka Vol. 1.p 101; and Phanerosis pp 65,66. is recommended for further study.

The Fore-Runner
When the Lord died on the "Day of Atonement" as an acceptable sacrifice, his flesh was "torn" (1 Cor. 11:24; Isa. 53:5,8 etc). But he rose by the power of a sinless life, and the grace and will of his Father; and thereupon went beyond the veil of the flesh to be clothed with the Divine Spirit-nature which was represented by the Most Holy Place.

In this sense he has become the "forerunner (Heb. 6:~,20). Gk: Prodomos. Having obtained eternal life (Heb. 9:12; 1 Cor. 15:45) he has been made perfect (Heb. 5:9), there being completed in him that state to which we are progressing (2 Pet. 1: 4-8; Heb. 6:1). The existence of the forerunner means that there are after-runners. He has opened the way for us (Heb. 6:20; 10:20) who, in faith, allow him who is our surety or "anchor", the hope in which we must trust and

hold in faith as onto the anchor-rope that binds us to him. He who has entered the Most Holy Place, as into a "City of Refuge" (Heb. 6:l8 cp. Num. 35), now awaits the Divine word and time to give a final pull upon the "anchor-rope", through the dividing wall of the veil, into the safety and permanence of eternal life in God's Kingdom. (Read Eureka Vol.3 p.284)

All of this arrangement is due to the grace of God. The Veil was suspended immediately below the join in the Mishkan coverings (Exod. 26:3-6). These coverings comprised two sets each of five curtains. "Five" numerically denotes Grace. The five curtains which covered the Holy Place represented that period of the Lord's life which he spent performing the priestly duties associated with the Ecclesia in the wilderness of his day. All that he was, did and said was by Divine grace; even his sacrificial cutting-off in death, at the veil. So also was his resurrection and his entering into the "Most Holy" state, denoted by the five curtains that covered the Most Holy Place. The link between the two states was faith (taches of gold) and Yahweh's purpose for His own remembrance and manifestation (loops of blue). Upon this basis we too, wht} have the Hope of the Most Holy kingdom ahead of us, must follow our High Priest.

So we have seen that the Veil is, and was, a division between:

  1. The Holy Place and the Most Holy Place;
  2. The old and new covenant;
  3. Our present service and life and our future glory;
  4. Our present fellowship and our future eternal companionship:
  5. The present Ecclesia in the flesh and the Divine nature/eternal life of the perfect future state.