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Saturday, August 22, 2009

(25) The Tabernacle, Part 4, Exodus 25-31

Last time we talked about a special place that we hold value. But sometimes even within that room there are objects that have special stories that only you will understand. When you look at that certain object you get a feeling that no one else will get because it is the most sacred of all possessions you have. Many things can be moved. You can change a room around and rearrange items but this object can not and will not be moved. This is what the Holy of Holies is all about.
The last section of the Temple (Tabernacle) is the Holy of Holies. This was the inner most part of the sanctuary, the place where God resided or resides in the case of a Christian. There are three main objects in this room; the Veil, the Ark, and the Mercy Seat.
The Veil. The veil was a sign that there was something secretive hidden behind it that only special people could see. Just like a Bride in a wedding, the only one who can see behind the veil is the husband. There was an appointed time for someone to see her. In the tabernacle behind the veil was the Ark. The Ark was the sacred possession. Inside it were other objects that showed how important the Jewish people were to God. Most famous of these things was the Ten Commandments, the law. As a Christian we know the Law to be Jesus. God hid Christ in a safe place until His appointed time, such as the Bride. Christ is God the Father's most valued possession, a part of Himself that He sent to be with His people. When Jesus was crucified, scripture says that the Veil was torn in two. Sacrifices under the old law were always cut in half and separated. The space between them is called the path of death. On one side is life, the other side is death. The veil was split in two as the new path of death, the new law. To get to Christ at the end of our lives, we have to pass through the path of death by going through the split veil; the symbol of Christ's sacrifice. This says that we accept Christ as the sacrifice. We pass through His flesh (Hebrews 10:19-20). Josephus says that horses tied to both ends could not tear the veil apart. So imagine what the priests thought when they saw this non-tearable item being ripped from top to bottom!
When it split it opened up a way for us to approach the throne of God, or the Mercy Seat, without any shame. The seat was located on top of the Ark. This is the place where God would appear in the time of the Old Law. This is also where the sacrifice for atonement was done (Leviticus 16:15). When Jesus poured His own blood onto the earth, there was no more need for a physical Mercy Seat. We can go directly to Him. No matter what we have done His Mercy Seat is always there willing and waiting for those who want to receive it (Hebrews 9:14-16).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

(24) The Tabernacle, Part 3, Exodus 25-31

Do you have that special place where you go to that you keep all of the things that are valuable to you? Maybe it's your den. or family room. Maybe it's your own room that no one else really goes into. Maybe it's only as small as that special chair that no one else is allowed to sit in. This place usually holds something special to you; a memory or a feeling. When someone enters into that special place they come into your presence. Many times the people that want to go into these places have to have special permission from you. You become the one that those around focus on and that is why it is even more important to you. The ones who you love can now share in your thoughts and feelings. This is what the inner most part of the Tabernacle was all about, the Holy Place.
Inside the Holy Place were the following items: a golden lamp stand, a table of showbread, and an altar of incense.
The lamp stand of course is a symbol of light. It was placed in this room because if you make it here you are always in the light (sh'kinah) of God. It doesn't mean that you have made it to the full presence of God but close enough to see Him and want more. This may also be a reference to us being a light to the world since we are in Him and He is the light (Leviticus 24:1-4, John 8:12). We are also to be witnesses. We are supposed to keep the wicks clean and ready to burn. This is an ongoing task. If we let the wicks burn up then what use is our light? We put people in darkness by our actions. A daily worship of God means to be constantly ready to burn the light for others to see.
The showbread may perhaps mean communion with God. It was right near the presence of God because it is the step before you meet God. As with today's communion, before we take it, we need to have been through the rest of the "tabernacle", i.e., the outer courts and inner courts. We need to examine ourselves in the basin and clean ourselves before we partake of the showbread. Once we have taken communion we are ready to see the full image of God, for we have been united in His blood (John 6:35).
In Part 2, we talked about a fragrance being like a new born baby. The scriptures talk a few times about the aroma going up to God. Symbolic or not, just like for us, smell is the strongest thing related to memory and it brings either pleasure or a stench. Our prayers and praises rise like incense. They can either be pleasurable to God or cause Him to turn away from us due to our "stench". This turning away from us means His ears will not hear our words (Pslams 66:18). This altar of incense (our heart) is a place that needs to give off a beautiful aroma (Leviticus 16:12). This aroma can also be a "sinner" turning from his old ways, a heart that is new is like a new born baby. A heart that is repentive is like a new born baby. A heart that is sincere is like a new born baby.
This Holy Place was a place that only those whom God chose to close to Him could go. The ones who can share with God his own heart like David did so long ago.

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