(Inside the Tabernacles)
At the close of the previous chapter, God told us that the old covenant (which included the priestly service) was “ready to vanish away”. This would have been very difficult for many of the Jews to accept given that (based upon my best understanding) this covenant would have been in effect for at least 1300 years at the time of the writing of this book. But the priestly service of the old covenant and the tabernacle within which this service was performed were merely symbolic (examples, shadows) of the priesthood of Christ and of the true tabernacle.
1. Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
2. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
3. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
4. Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
5. And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
God gave Moses detailed instructions for building the tabernacle. It was called “the tabernacle of witness” meaning that it “spoke” of the things of God by its very form, materials, and the ceremonies with which it was associated.
Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness,
as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses,
that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.
The tabernacle represented heaven (where Christ is):
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands,
which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself,
now to appear in the presence of God for us:
The tabernacle was divided into two tabernacles. The first tabernacle (also called the holy place or the sanctuary) included….
The candlestick: This was the only light source and it witnessed of Jesus - the Light of the world. It was made of pure beaten gold, symbolic of Christ being beaten for us.
The table of shewbread: “Shew” means “a setting forth”. The bread (eaten by the priests) witnessed of Christ, the Bread of life.
The second tabernacle (also called the holy of holies) contained the following items:
The golden censer: I’m not yet sure what its significance is but it may have to do with Christ’s intercession for us.
The ark of the covenant: It contained the golden pot with manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the table of the covenant (the ten commandments). The lid of the ark was called the “mercy seat”. One of the most important truths witnessed by these symbols is that, because of Christ’s sacrifice, God’s mercy comes between him and the judgement that we deserve because of our failure to keep the law.
6. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
7. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
8. The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
9. Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10. Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
When Jesus Christ died, the veil that separated the two tabernacles ripped from the top to the bottom signifying that access to God (whose presence was in the second tabernacle) was now available through the sacrifice of Jesus. Praise God for that!