The Tabernacle in the Wilderness

by Keith Cook

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The Most Holy Place
Exodus 25:10-22; 26:1-6; 37:1-9
"Having therefore, brethren, liberty to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us" (Heb. 10:19-20).

BEYOND the Veil was located the very centre of Yahweh's dwelling place with His Ecclesia in the wilderness: the Most Holy. Our illustration on p.89 depicts the Most Holy Place, its structure and furniture. The structure formed a perfect cube, being 10 cubits wide by 10 cubits long by 10 cubits high (that is, approx. l5 feet x l5 feet x l5 feet). It therefore was only half the area and cubic size of the Holy Place. It was a continuation of the Holy Place structure.

The Holiest of all was constructed of walls on the North, South and West sides consisting of Shittim wood boards, gold covered, as were seen in the walls of the Holy Place. The Eastern Wall and opening was the beautiful Veil which separated it from the Holy Place. Its roof or covering was comprised of the fine-twined linen curtains (earlier studied) skillfully embroidered in blue, purple and scarlet.

Inside the Most Holy was to be seen one article of furniture only: the Ark of the Covenant which was covered by the Mercy Seat and the Cherubim (Exod. 25:10-22; 37:1-9).

There was no provision for the entrance of light from outside, nor by such means as the Lampstand that illuminated the Holy Place. The only light was that which shone from above the Mercy Seat and between the two golden Cherubic figures: a light which indicated the presence of Yahweh for it was here, He said, that He would meet with His people (Exod. 25:21 ,22). This was the Shekinah glory (Psa. 80:1).

Two people only, of all the sons of the tribes of Israel, entered the Most Holy Place. They were Moses and Aaron.

The Significance of the Most Holy Place "Whither the forerunner is for us entered" (Heb. 6:19,20)

Yahweh's plan for this earth and for His chosen creatures, will introduce a condition of perfection. This central place of the Divine dwelling place, being avube, conveyed that idea to Israel. Its ultimate provision still belongs to the future.

The Apostle Paul draws upon the concept, writing:

"Ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth and height: and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-19).

The Lord Jesus Christ, after his resurrection, entered into the perfect state when he ascended to His Father in His dwelling place in the heavens (Heb. 8:1:9:12; Acts 7:55). He had manifested Divine characteristics, truth and faith during his probation. That manifestation became the basis for the Divine nature now shared with its Giver. There he is continuing the life and work for which, by grace, he was provided.

Having entered as the "forerunner" he has opened the way into the holiest (Heb. 10:2t)) as our High Priest (Heb. 6:20), our "hope" (v.19) and our intercessor (Heb. 7:25). He figuratively took his blood of the Atonement to the Mercy Seat, the Throne of his Father, and now he awaits the set time to he given the Kingdom when he shall return as Ruler (cp. Luke 19:12).

Into this future state comparatively few of the human race will enter; fewer even, than the many who have entered into God's purpose (i.e. the first entrance into the Sanctuary); fewer also than those who have entered the Ecclesia through Christ, the door. Though many served in the Ecclesial Holy Place, two only entered The Most Holy. The Lord's parable (Matt. 25:2,3) of the five wise and five foolish virgins gives a dramatic illustration of this aspect of the matter. The five foolish had it in their power to have sufficient oil of the knowledge of the Word of God but, at the coming of Christ, were found to be without it. Therefore they will not be able to gain an entrance into the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Those who will obtain an entrance into the future state of perfection will have done so because they will have progressed acceptably through the stages of personal and spiritual development typified by the Tabernacle, after the following pattern:

  1. Attracted by God's righteousness, they separated themselves and approached Him through Christ by baptism; figuratively, they entered the Outer Court;
  2. Here they submitted to mental changes in their thinking and attitude concerning the things of Yahweh and His truth, by offering themselves as a sacrifice, and by being cleansed in His Word of Truth.
  3. Entering into a condition of dedication, they underwent moral changes in life and character to the degree to which they ate of the true Bread of Life; understood the Word of Light and manifested it; offered up pleasing and acceptable service in the Ecclesia; figuratively they progressed through the Holy Place.

The Apostle Paul used this pattern in Romans 5:1-2, where he explains our present progress towards perfection thus: -

  1. "Justified by faith" -- The Outer Court.
  2. "Access... into this grace" -- Holy Place/Ecclesia (Eph. 1:3; 2:6).
  3. "In hope of the Glory of God" -- Most Holy Place/the Perfect glorious future. See also 2 Pet. 1:4-8; 1 Cor. 15:50-54; 1 John 3:1-3; Rev. 3:12.

A Lesson that the Tabernacle teaches is found as a theme that runs through its structure: -
Outer Court Holy Place Most Holy Place
Mental preparation thenMoral application before Physical perfection
Changed minds then Changed characters beforeChanged bodies
Separation then Dedication before Glorification
Reconciliation then Reformation before Exaltation

That people will be granted an entrance into the perfect state of the future, is one of the lessons of hope and grace associated with the Most Holy Place. Therein will be seen the same kind of "boards" making up the structure of that place as are to be seen in the Holy Place of the Ecclesia. The shittim wood of selected human nature, shaped according to the divine pattern, and clothed upon with the gold of a tried faith. Their Godlike characters and their silver foundation of redemption, make them a fit Dwelling Place of the Deity. In that setting they will be "beyond the veil", each one a "pillar" in the Kingdom (Rev. 3:12). The eventual removal of the veil of the flesh will result in the Holy Place becoming the Most Holy of the Kingdom.

The Prophecy Of The Most Holy Place
When the Apostle John penned the words of Rev. 4:1-5, "a door was opened in heaven", the spirit surely was expressing in slightly different terms, a symbolic counterpart of the idea of an entrance into the Most Holy Place of the future Kingdom of God via the Veil, "Seven lamps...burning before the throne".

At that time, the saints will have replaced the veil of human nature with Divine glory. The throne of Yahweh's Kingdom will be established in the midst of the encampment of the elect (Rev. 20:9), which will then comprise the Most Holy Place. The multitude of the redeemed will be gathered into One (Christ our mediator), and they will comprise the throne of Yahweh's glory, the Cherubic messengers of His realm, and the King-priests of the age. They will have attained the state of perfection, being sharers of the divine nature (cp. 2 Pet. 1:3,4).

The four-square encampment of the saints (Rev. 7:9-11), will comprise the Temple, Tabernacle, or Dwelling Place of Yahweh (Rev. 11:1915:5-8) from whence will be manifested His presence, glory and truth.

Inside The Most Holy Place
Within the Most Holy, beyond the Veil, there stood only one item of furniture: the Ark of the Covenant. It contained the two tables of the Testimony (or the 10 commandments). Later the Golden pot of Manna and Aaron's Rod that budded, were added.

IT is proposed to first study the physical details and characteristics of each item; then examine their significance in relation to their application to the Kingdom age (i.e. the future Most Holy state).

Ark of the Covenant (Exod. 25:10-16; 37:1-5)
The Ark (Heb. Arown - "gathering") was made of five pieces of shittim wood overlaid within and without with pure gold (v. 11). It measured 39 inches (1.143m) long, 23 inches (.685m) high by 2 feet 3 inches wide (v.10); Its sides appeared to he held together by a gold wreathen crown (Heb. Zare "border binding" v. 11).

At each of the four corners there was a foot. The R.V. renders "corners" (v.12) as feet (cp. Psa. 74:1-3 with its reference to the tabernacle with Ezek. 43:7 and its reference to the future Temple, and Isa. 60:13).

Each foot was fastened to the corner or side of the Ark by means of a ring (v.12); Heb - Tabaath, a seal or a sinking into. No doubt they were first cast in the earth. This would require the piercing of the feet and sides for the purpose of securing the one to the other.

It had staves, also made of gold-covered shittim wood (vv. 13-15). These were left in permanently (Exod. 25:15). They were adjusted for use when the Ark was to be conveyed from place to place (Num. 4:5-6,11). By this means the bearers became connected with the Ark for that brief period.

There is some evidence to suggest that two Arks had been made. In Deut. 10:1-5 Moses recounts to Israel the experiences associated with the giving of the commandments upon the two tables of stone: v.3 records that he made an ark; in v.5 he draws their attention to the fact that he put the tables into the ark as commanded, and then states "and there they be". But the two tables, at that moment, were in the gold covered Ark of the Covenant within the Most Holy Place.

On the other hand, Exod. 27:1 shows that Bezaleel (Heb. In the shadow, or under the covering of Au) made the Ark that answers the description contained in Exod. 25:10-16. Into that Ark were placed the tables of the Testimony, which, apparently, were housed in two arks one inside the other, no measurements being given for the ark made by Moses.

The Lord Jesus Christ is now within the Most Holy Place of his Father's presence, as our Ark of the Covenant that was made through him. This necessitated his sacrifice and the piercing of his feet and side (John 19:18,34; Psa. 22:16). All that work was provided by Divine Grace (represented by the numeral 5). In him, inferior human nature was covered by the gold of faith, for it had been tried "in all points like unto his brethren", and is now, by grace, covered by the "golden" Divine nature of his Father.

Many other humans are being gathered into him by grace (Eph. 2:8) + They are expected to put off fleshly carnality in favour of a Christ-like faith that covers them with a richness of character that is pleasing to Yahweh. Their lives are hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3; Heb. 2:10), as they await the full manifestation of glory (Rom. 8:23).

Provision is made for members of the body of Christ, the Ecclesia, to be held together by the bonds of faith (i.e. the crown of gold). The principle has been, for many, one of practical experience during present Ecclesial times. It has been found in our fellowship (the golden crown upon the Table of Shewbread). Fellowship can only exist properly where proved and tried faith is evident. It is again found in our service and prayers (the golden crown upon the Incense Altar). Acceptable service and prayer must also evidence faith that has been tested and proved in these areas.

The crown was of "wreathen work", suggesting that a struggle was involved. The bonds with which men and women of differing dispositions are bound together in unity, are not automatic so as to take everyone into its embrace. Rather they must be worked at earnestly by all who are affected by them. Paul, in Eph. 4:16, emphasized the contribution which each member takes towards the effectiveness of those bonds. In Col. 2:19 he explains it as being "knit together" (as a weathen band would be). In these references "band" is a word that denotes a uniting principle as a band of union. But it also denotes an impediment to individual freedom (Col. 2:19 "bands" Gk - Sundesmos).

Not only are we bound together by faith in the oneness of the body of Christ, but we are attached to him, and identified with him, by a kind of "seal" (Exod. 25:12 "rings" Heb. Tabaath "seal" (see John 6:27; 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30). Upon the basis of, and by virtue of, the Lord's sacrifice, we become related to Christ and become bearers of his truth and character, In the Kingdom age of the Most Holy state, many will become permanently associated with him as bearers of his name and nature.

As we have seen, the Ark of the Covenant contained three articles (Heb. 9:4):

  1. The Two Tables of the Testimony;
  2. The Golden Pot of Manna;
  3. Aaron's Rod that budded.

It is now proposed to study each item separately and then relate them to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the Kingdom age; that being their significant context.

The Contents of The Ark
The three sections of the Tabernacle (Court, Holy Place and Most Holy) represented three stages in the life of the believer: Preparation, Walking in the Light, Sharing the Glory. In order to attain unto the latter it is necessary to consider and apply the principles set forth in its furniture, including the contents of the Ark.

The Tables of the Law (Exodus 25:16; 31:18)
THE ten basic commandments of the Law were inscribed on two tablets of stone, and delivered unto Moses (Exod. 34. See also the Law of Moses by R. Roberts, pp.103-104). They were also known as The Testimony" (Heb. eduwth, "witness"), or the "Tables of the covenant" (Heb. 9:15; ep. Exod. 34:10).

The Law was designed to make manifest the reality of sin, and to educate and discipline the people in preparation for the future inheritance promised in the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Mosaic covenant was accepted by the nation in the terms: "All that Yahweh hath spoken we will do and be obedient" (Exod. 24:7). It therefore governed the relationship between Yahweh and His people; and also between the members of His family

The Tables of the Commandments were the first items to be placed inside the Ark, thus indicating that the Divine Laws and Precepts are of first importance. The original stones were Divinely provided and engraved by the hand of Yahweh (Exod. 24:12).

Later there was given to Israel another manifestation of Divine Law and Truth-The Word made flesh (John 1:14; 14:16; 15:1; 17:26). He was the "Logos", the mind, thought, intelligence of Deity (Read Eureka Vol.1 p.314). The stones given to Moses pointed forward to him whom Yahweh provided, being His only begotten son obedient in all things, his character engraven by his Father's hand (Zech. 3:9). Therefore he displayed his Father's truth, law and character. He became the basis of the "new covenant" by which a true, faithful family is being gathered together and developed, to the honour of Yahweh.

But the Israel of Christ's day rejected the "chief cornerstone," even though he had been engraven by Yahweh's hand.

The significance of the Tables of the Law extend still further. Paul (see 2 Cor. 3:3) contrasted them with the effect of Yahweh's Word upon the fleshy "tables of the heart" (or mind), a reference drawn from Prov. 3:1-4 and Icr. 31:33. The constant passage of Divine truth, read, heard, understood, believed and repeated, passing through the brain tissue, becomes a law in the thought processes of our mind that flows out in words and actions (cp. Psa. 119:97,99); a manifestation in us of the revealed mind of Yahweh.

Furthermore the Tables of the Testimony were a prophecy of the kind of people who, in the future time of their inheritance, will become the revealed Word of Yahweh's Truth throughout the world. They are described in Rev. 12:17; 19:10 as those who did "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ". They are described in the day of their exaltation, as those who have "his Father's name written in their foreheads" (Rev. 14:1; 22:4). They were "sealed doctrinal" in such a manner that the truth, understood and believed, was faithfully practiced.

The Golden Pot of Manna - Exod. 16:32-34
"He gave them the bread from heaven to eat" John 6:31
The Manna was small and round - as small as the hoar frost (Exod. 16:14), as the coriander seed; its color (or eye) as the color of bdellium (Num. 11:7)

Into a Golden Pot for which neither size, capacity nor dimensions are given, was placed a measured amount of manna. It was a selected quantity taken from the food with which Yahweh daily fed His people in the wilderness (Exod. 16:12-22). It was Yahweh's food (Psa. 78:24,25), the food of angels, but Israel needed it each day and they were given very explicit instructions concerning its gathering and use. When these were nor strictly observed they either hungered, or the manna corrupted.

It was first provided after the glory had been seen (Exod. 16:10), and flesh had been eaten in the evening (vv. 12,13).

Moses later explained to the Israelites that the manna was given to them so that they would know that "man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Yahweh" (Deut. 8:3). And that "word" needed to be partaken of every day: "in the morning" after the rising sun had drawn up its covering dew. It was food for the morning of the new day. It was from this food that the measured omer (approx. 1 pint) was placed in the Golden Pot which was later placed in the Ark (Heb. 9:4). It was preserved throughout the wilderness journeyings and possibly for some time afterwards.

A Type of Christ
Jesus declared: "My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven" (John 6:32). The manna and the golden vessel point forward to the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a "vessel" truly "meet" for his Father's use. His faith was tried in every way; his love was such as to east out every fear; his perfect obedience unto death ensured his resurrection. One of the results of all this has been that Yahweh continues to gather into him as many as He chooses so as to have them enter the perfect "Most Holy" state of the future age.

Jesus declared of himself in John 6:57, "As the living Father bath sent me... so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me". He was given to Israel to "eat" in the "evening" of the Mosaic age, after they had seen Yahweh's "Glory" manifest in the flesh (John 1:14). He was the "true bread" out of heaven (John 6:50,51,58). He was the "Logos", the spirit of Deity, the true bread given as life-imparting spiritual food (see Eureka vol.1 p.311). He declared: "ifanyman eat thisbread, he shall live in the Aion" (John 6:51). His teachings are food that will produce eternal life (John 6:47-53). He was corruptible like the daily wilderness manna; but he is now incorruptible like the ArkIManna, being hid in God (at the right hand of power), concealed from human eyes.

He is waiting to be revealed in the morning of the new day, sent forth as Yahweh's food in the Kingdom. That apocalypse will be associated with a numberless host which the rising sun of righteousness will draw to himself in resurrection as the dew of the morning.

Meanwhile, his word (his expression of his Father's truth) has been preserved and is incorruptible for it "liveth and abideth for ever".

Those who, responding to the Grace of the Divine calling, have entered into the body of Christ (Col. 3:3,4) will, after the intervening night, be as dew upon the ground in the resurrection morning (Isa. 26:19). They will have seen Yahweh's manifested Glory in His son and will have "eaten" of his "flesh". This manna is now concealed, sleeping through the night of death, waiting to be revealed in the "morning" when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams (Mal 4:2-See Eureka Vol. I, pp. 309-3l4). That "manna" will be like the bread which Israel was given to eat: it was concealed in the watery substance which evaporated as the result of the sun's warmth. But when it will be apocalyptically revealed in the new day it will be as food for the nations, as the people partake of the teachings of the incorruptible bread (the saints). It will be the food of faith that will result in eternal life for the "ages of the ages

The "prophecy" of the manna also relates to those who, today, form part of the multitudinous host who are members of the One Body of Christ. They all wait in faithful patience for the Sun's rising so that, by his coming and presence, he will reveal them in glorious splendor by acting upon them with the healing beams of immortality (Phil. 3:20,2~; 1 Cor. 15:45 in which the words "a quickening spirit" are also rendered, "a life-giving spirit"). Those who "eat" of him today, will then partake of spiritual food which is incorruptible (John 6:57; Rev. 2:17). It is therefore necessary for us to eat daily of the "manna" of the Word of Truth. That which we partake of today will not "keep" until the morrow. We need to "eat" again tomorrow to sustain the spiritual man during this wilderness experience.

To neglect, or refuse, to eat of the Lord's life-giving truth, is to perish, as Israel would have done had they refused it in the wilderness. Later they did reject Christ's teachings and, for this rejection of the Divine "food ", they perished both individually and nationally in the retribution of AD 70 (see Hosea 4:6).

Aaron's Rod that Budded (Num. 17:2-11)
Following the rebels' challenge against the position and authority of Aaron, Yahweh instructed Moses to implement a procedure that was designed to show the people that Aaron was His choice as High Priest. This was through the budding of an almond rod, the symbol of death and resurrection, the token of Divine selection (cp. Rom. 1:3-4).

The rod (Heb. mattah, a branch or extension) has been considered to be a branch of the almond tree which is the first to awaken after the long night of winter. It was a branch which Yahweh had made and which He later caused to live again and to produce fruit.

An "ecclesial" dispute had developed in Israel and the issue was whether the High Priesthood was an appointment based upon human selection or upon God manifestation. So that an authoritative answer should be given, Yahweh called together the Levites, as the symbols of all the firstfruits in the nation (Num. 17:2-4,6,7). During the night, Yahweh indicated His choice and made judgment in the matter that had troubled Israel. His power operated upon Aaron's Rod, granting it new life so that, miraculously, it blossomed and brought forth fruit. ln the morning His judgment and selection were manifested before the nation (vv. 5,8,9). That revelation dispelled the murmurings of God's people. Under the circumstances His authority could not be challenged.

This branch was then taken (v.10) and placed again within the Most Holy Place, in the Ark (Heb. 9:4). It constituted a token for the remembrance of the people. As Aaron typified the High Priest, the rod pointed forward to the confirmation of his appointment by his resurrection. Inside the Most Holy Place in heaven there is one who was raised up as the "Branch", or "the rod of the stem of Jesse". Heis Yahweh's firstborn, the "only begotten" (John 3:16), who was brought into His Father's house at 12 years of age (Luke 2:49).

Israel was in rebellion against its God Who displayed His wilt and word before thcm in the very name that Jesus bore. Yet they rejected him, declaring "We have no king but Caesar." But he was made "the firstfruits" of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-23) and was displayed before Israel in power. The power that had caused Aaron's rod to bud now caused this Branch to bring forth fruit. The Branch which Yahweh had "made strong for Himself" (Psa. 80:15), had now become the "man of His right hand".

This choice by Yahweh of High Priest for His people, was confirmed by his resurrection (Acts 2:24; 10:40; Phil. 2:8,9; Heb. 7:15,16; 8:1). He was raised from the dead as "the Rod, the Branch" (Isa. 11:1); and then elevated to the right hand of Yahweh (Psa. 110: 1,2). But as the branch of Aaron produced flower and fruit, sobas Christ (Acts. 15:14; 1 Pet. 2:9). His people "were once dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1) but have been "quickened together with Christ" (v.5). Now "hidden with Christ" (Col. 3:3), they await the revelation at the judgment seat when divine power will be manifested in them in the bestowal of eternal life

While we await the "morning" of the new day, there is to be developed in each saint the "fruit of the spirit" (Gal. 5:22,23). However, the fullness of its beauty will not be fully seen until the light of the New Day shines upon it.