“Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.
The Tabernacle was the center of Jewish worship in the Age of Israel. The Mosaic Law authorized regulations for worship. When you have regulations which include animal sacrifices as part of worship, you need a structure, which was called the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was constructed so Israel could understand invisible things of God (doctrinal things).
The Tabernacle of Israel was a building authorized by the Mosaic Law and provided a place of worship for the nation of Israel. The people gathered at the Tabernacle on holy days. And there was one Person whose Shekinah Glory lived inside the Tabernacle: Jesus Christ. The rituals and furnishings of the Tabernacle portrayed of the Person and the work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christ is the personification of the Tabernacle that now exists in Heaven.
The regulations portrayed many spiritual truths, doctrines, functions, actions, promises of great things to come and blessing for those who understood the types and images depicted by the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was a way to teach doctrine and to teach principles related to grace. The analogies often related to the function of the Levitical priesthood. The Tabernacle was located in the center of the settlement, and was there to depict the most important function in life – learning Bible doctrine. Everything about the Tabernacle was significant. The Brazen Altar represented Christ bearing our sins on the Cross. The Laver represented Rebound. The Holy of Holies represented the Throne Room of God and Christ at the right hand of the Father.
“For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lamp stand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the Holy Place.”
In verse two we begin a list of some of the greatest teaching aids that have ever existed. The Tabernacle was the greatest collection of Bible doctrine before Bibles were actually printed. Any believer could understand all facets of the Tabernacle: every article that went into its construction, everything which had significance. And, it was all the Jews needed to go from spiritual babyhood to spiritual maturity.
God’s grace has always been operational, in every dispensation, as we can clearly see in His dealings with the nation of Israel. The study of types in the Old Testament certainly helps us to have a better understanding of the Dispensation of Israel and should cause us to appreciate the Age of Grace in which we live. As a nation, Israel was a failure for the most part, but there was always a “remnant according to grace” that understood the typology and responded to God and His Word in a positive way.
“Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the Ark of the Covenant covered on sides with gold, in which a golden jar holding the manna and Aaron’s rod which budded and the tables of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the Mercy Seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.”
The Tabernacle was divided into two large rooms. There was a great wall of white cloth that went around the area of the Tabernacle. Inside was the outer court and there was a brass altar and a brass laver. The brass altar spoke of the Cross and the brass laver spoke of the Rebound Technique. Inside the first curtain (veil) there was a golden lamp stand and a table of showbread. Just in front of the second curtain there was a golden altar. Then, inside the second curtain was the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat, and within the Ark was Aaron’s rod, the tables of the Law and manna; all guarded by golden cherubs. This was the greatest collection of Bible doctrine that ever existed outside of the completed Canon of Scripture.
This Golden Lamp stand spoke of Christ as the light of the world. It was the only light in the Holy Place. Remember the Tabernacle did not have windows and all of the light in the Tabernacle came from the inside. The Table of Showbread spoke of Christ as the written Word (the Bread of Life).
There were twelve loaves of bread which represented the twelve tribes of Israel. With all twelve loaves of bread on the table it meant that God intended for there to be unity among the tribes, but this unity was based upon their attitude toward Bible doctrine. The Table of Showbread represented Christ as the Bread of Life. The twelve loaves on the table represented God’s way of thinking. God’s way of thinking is Bible doctrine, divine viewpoint. The bread could not be seen without the light shining on it. The light shines on the table or you do not see the table and the bread. By analogy, you must be a believer in Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit before you can understand God’s way of thinking. God’s way of thinking was understood by the bread, which represented Bible doctrine, and the bread is made to be eaten. You must take in Bible doctrine on a consistent basis in order to understand God’s plan for your life.
All of the rituals of the Old Testament were meaningless unless they had doctrine resident in their souls. That was the purpose for the Tabernacle. Specifically this speaks to the royal family in 67 AD — Jews living in Jerusalem who were dabbling in the images and not embracing in the reality, who actually were going into the Temple where they had replicas of these very things, the Golden Lamp stand and the Table of Showbread. But these things are obsolete. They were living in a new dispensation that interrupted the Age of Israel, and were now part of the Royal Family of God. What a tragedy for members of the Royal Family to be living in images and types when God had provided them the reality in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Being spiritual royalty is dependent upon a relationship with someone of royalty. For believers it is their relationship with Jesus Christ that makes them royalty. Christ actually has a number of royal titles and a royal family. As the Son of God His royal family is God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. As the Son of David His royal family is the line of David. As the King of kings and Lord of lords His royal family is Church Age believers. It is this unique Church family that we have the privilege of being a part of as Christians. This royal family, that we now belong to, has an honor code. And believers are expected to follow the code. Adherence to this honor code brings magnificent blessings and rewards to the believer. Failure to adhere to this honor code brings misery and shame to the believer. This honor code is clearly taught by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12 through 16.
“Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.”
The Levitical priesthood could enter the Holy Place, but not the Holy of Holies. The only exception was the high priest once a year on the Day of Atonement. The high priest could not enter at any time that he wanted to. There was a specific day on which he entered and for the rest of the time the second curtain or veil was also forbidden to the high priest. The day specified was the Day of Atonement. The high priest could enter the Holy of Holies on that day according to certain prearranged specifications. He had to spend seventy days in purification rites. He had to follow the principles of Leviticus 16:14-18.
There were three times the high priest entered Tabernacle on the Day of Atonement: a) he entered with incense — Leviticus 16:13. b) he entered with the blood of a bullock for his own sins — Leviticus 16:14 c) he entered a third time all the way into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the sacrificial goat. There were two goats on the Day of Atonement, the sacrificial goat and the scapegoat. One was sacrificed (the Cross) and one went out alive (the Resurrection). The blood of the goat was sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat for the sins of the people — Leviticus 16:15. This was done once a year and it portrayed the strategic victory of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross and resurrection was portrayed by the goat that they turned loose.
“The Holy Spirit signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol of the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshipper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.”
The Holy Spirit signifying this refers to the teaching ministries of the Holy Spirit. The first was when He provided the information to the human authors of Scripture which was recorded in the various books of the Bible. Second, the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit provided information for the function of the intake and application of doctrine, as per John 14:26; 16:12-14; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16; I John 2:27.
The Holy Spirit signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed means that entrance into the Holy of Holies for believers was forbidden until Christ was crucified and the veil of the Temple was torn in two.
The Greek word for symbol means placing one thing alongside another in order to illustrate or to explain. The Tabernacle was designed to communicate doctrine to the Jews of the Age of Israel, especially the doctrines of Christology and Soteriology. The function of the Levitical priesthood and the various objects of furniture, and the animal sacrifices, were all images pointing to the reality. In this dispensation we have the reality. For example, a priest functioning in the Holy Place was an illustration of the royal priesthood’s function in the Christian life. The Table of Showbread was a picture of Bible doctrine in the soul. The Golden Lamp stand was a picture of occupation with Christ. The Holy of Holies was a type of the Throne Room of God, and the shedding of animal blood was a type of Christ bearing our sins. So, all of these things were images pointing to something in our dispensation.
The Greek word for perfect is “teleioo,” which means to complete, to finish, to accomplish, to bring to an end, or to reach a goal. Here it refers to reaching the goal of spiritual maturity. The animal sacrifices could not make the one offering them a spiritually mature believer. Types and rituals couldn’t do it. Types can teach doctrine but the ritual of those types could not bring anyone to spiritual maturity. They could only teach doctrine which could bring a believer to spiritual maturity. In other words, the believer in the dispensation of Israel could not reach maturity except in the same way that we do, and that is through the intake of Bible doctrine. The rituals taught doctrine and a believer could learn doctrine and benefit, but if you simply went through the ritual for the sake of the ritual it would not bring you to spiritual maturity. The types could never replace doctrine. Observing rituals does not produce growth in the spiritual life. It is learning and applying Bible doctrine that makes a believer spiritually mature.
Perfect in conscience is used because the conscience is the part of the soul where norms and standards are stored. Your conscience is “clean” only by the work of Christ, Who is the reality of the types and rituals of the Law. And it is learning doctrine that guards and influences the conscience, which in turn influences the norms and standards.
Everything related to the types and rituals had to follow exact regulations. For example a priest was not to go into the Tabernacle without washing first (the Laver). There were also regulations regarding the preparation of the animal sacrifices. There were actually hundreds of sanitary laws within the Mosaic Law regarding food and drink. Following these regulations either inside the Tabernacle or outside the Tabernacle could not bring a believer to spiritual maturity any more than observing Communion can in this age. The rituals were designed as teaching aids so a believer could develop a relationship with God through knowledge of Bible doctrine.
These rituals and regulations were imposed upon believers until a future time when Christ would remove them. Until the time of reformation is not a correct translation of the Greek words “xairos”or “diorthosis.” They should have been translated, “until the dispensation of a new order.” The time of the new order is the dispensation of the Church Age, which interrupted the Age of Israel.
A dispensation is a period of human history expressed in terms of divine revelation. Dispensations are both the divine outline of history, as well as the time categories of history. At the same time the dispensations are the divine interpretation of history and therefore God’s plan for man related to time. The believer’s orientation to time in history is vitally necessary for understanding God’s plan and God’s purpose for his life. In every dispensation God administers His plan through specific agencies or stewards. That means that each dispensation must be understood by the believers in that dispensation in order to understand the Word of God.