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Friday, February 29, 2008

The Tabernacle and its importance


A Brief History

The Tabernacle is the portable sanctuary which was erected in the wilderness and accompanied the Israelites on their wanderings after the Exodus. It was attended by the Levites. The Tabernacle represented the indwelling of YHVH (Shekinah) in the midst of the community and was modeled on the heavenly sanctuary. The architect was Bezalel. Its layout symbolized the Creation, the structure of the cosmos and the future history of the People of Israel up to the Messianic age[1]. The tabernacle was replaced by the Temple in the time of King Solomon.

Why it is important to understand the Tabernacle

An Overview

An understanding of the Tabernacle is imperative to the understanding of the redemptive work of Messiah so that one may serve in there successfully. Work in the Tabernacle is a full time twenty four hour process. As we learn our responsibilities within the Tabernacle we see that it is an on going repetitive cycle moving from the altar to the laver.

At the entrance, The Way haDerech, one meets with Messiah and begins the journey of getting to the place of perfect fellowship with YHVH in front of the Holy of Holies. From the entrance one arrives at the Altar of Sacrifice, where justification takes place, the place of sacrifice where we lay down the things of our former way of life.

From the Altar one continues to the Laver for sanctification (holiness), prior to entering the Holy Place.

It is my understanding that Yeshua redeems and grants man, together with Him, access to the Holy Place. It is here, in the Holy Place, where the priests serve and where glorification takes place[2].

The Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant (which consisted of the two Tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod and a portion of manna) and the Mercy Seat of YHVH.

The Layout:

The entrance, The Way (ha-Derech)

Yeshua said: I am the door[3] and I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; whosoever comes through Me will have everlasting life[4]

The Altar of Sacrifice (Mizbeach)

This is where one repents of and departs from the ways which are unacceptable to YHVH; the place where one realizes one is unable to pay the price for transgressions as the penalty is certain death[5].

There are two types of sacrifice: Olah and Korban

  1. Olah – derives from the Hebrew root word ‘ayin’, ‘lamed’, ‘hey’ and forms the base word meaning to raise up or exalt. This is associated with praise and thanksgiving.
  2. Korban – derives from the Hebrew root word ‘kuf’, ‘resh’, ‘bet’, meaning to draw close to. Therefore the purpose of the korban is to draw close to YHVH.

Yeshua was the ultimate Sacrifice (Korban) on the tree. He set man free from the law of sin at work in the body[6].

The Laver (Kiyor)

From the Altar of Sacrifice one continues on to the Laver. It is a basin made from copper mirrors donated by the women, polished to a shiny finish and filled with clean water. The water of the laver implies not only physical washing, but also washing in the Word of YHVH. After having repented of and departed from ways that are unacceptable to YHVH, one is able to refresh oneself at the Laver. One needs to wash in the Word, the water of the Laver, until one no longer sees oneself in the reflection, but the reflection of Yeshua. A process of radical transformation (holiness) takes place here when we take the likeness of Messiah upon ourselves. From the Laver we enter the Holy Place, a place that only priests are permitted to enter.

The Holy Place (hamakom haKodesh)

It is closed off behind a curtain (parochet) and comprises of the Menorah, the Table of Shewbread (Shulchan hapanim) and the Altar of Incense (Mizbeach haKtoret).

The Menorah – represents light, revelation knowledge, after having washed in the Word at the Laver. Yeshua is the light of the world[7]. We, His followers are to be bearers of His light[8]. The Menorah is Israel’s National symbol. It symbolizes Israel is to be a light to the Nations[9]. The Torah is to go out from Zion[10]. The Menorah leads to The Table of Shewbread which supplies sustenance; gives satisfaction while receiving revelation knowledge at the Menorah. Your word sustains me[11]. The Table of showbread leads to The Altar of Incense which symbolizes a sweet fragrance of praise and worship to Abba, YHVH, after having been sustained at the Table of Shewbread and received revelation through the Menorah.

One needs to approach the Altar of Incense with humility and submission to YHVH as this is as close as we can get as humans the YHVH. It is a place that can only be approached after having completed the previous steps of preparation. Nadav and Avihu, Aaron’s sons offered strange fire and they died as a result[12]. They needed to take the coals from the Altar of Sacrifice (where repentance takes place) and place these on the Altar of Incense. This indicates to me that man cannot rush into the Holy Place without having repented at the Altar of Sacrifice and carrying the coals from there through to the Altar of Incense. In other words the coals of the Altar of Incense are a symbol and reminder of the redemptive work done at the Altar of Sacrifice.

The Holy of Holies

Entrance into the Holy of Holies is reserved for the High Priest and only once a year on Yom Kippur when he enters to atone for the sins of the Nation of Israel. The services in the Holy Place take place 24 hours a day. The Book of Life is opened at Rosh Hashanah

(New Year) and is closed after Yom Kippur.

There are three curtains in the Tabernacle. The first at the main entrance, the second at the entrance to the Holy Place and the third here at the entrance to the Holy of Holies. The three curtains mentioned are ‘yirah’, parochet’ and ‘kela’. It is my understanding that the curtain which was torn was not the curtain to the Holy of Holies, but the ‘parochet’, the curtain into the Holy Place[13].

Until today A Jewish father will rent his garment when his child dies.


As we are now called to be a holy nation and priests[14] in the order of Malchi Tzedek through the atonement of Yeshua, we need to know how to serve in the Tabernacle that now resides within us. We need to be wary of ‘strange fire’, serving in the way that we want to, but rather to be sure and serve YHVH in the way that He calls us, released from the law of sin but in obedience to Him.

May you be encouraged, as you look at the glorious things in the Tabernacle, the Ark etc. that you will also see the equally important things that hold the Tabernacle together: the pillars and posts, boards and curtains, staves, sockets, bars, hooks, couplings, clasps and rings. These are the things that anchored the Tabernacle together against the winds in the Wilderness! We too are uniquely grafted instruments, manufactured for a divine purpose in the Tabernacle of our King! Eric Wesch.

[1] Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend - Alan Unterman

[2] Rom.8:30; Rom.4:24,25

[3] John 10:9

[4] John 14:6

[5] Rom. 6:23

[6] Rom. 8:2

[7] John 9:5

[8] Matt. 5:14

[9] Is. 49:6

[10] Is. 60:1-3

[11] Heb. 1:3

[12] Lev.10:1,2

[13] Matt 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45

[14] 1Pet. 2:9

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