Tabernacle Types and Shadows

“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt (Gr. Tabernacled) among us, (and we beheld his glory)” Jno. 1:14

The most wonderful structure ever erected by man on this earth was not the Taj Mahal of India that is sometimes called a dream in white marble; nor was it the Temple of Diana in Ephesus called one of the seven wonders of the world because of its gigantic pillars; neither was it St. Peter’s at Rome with its magnificent dome; not even the Temple Solomon built at Jerusalem which was entirely covered with gold, but the Tabernacle which Moses built in the wilderness) when the children of Israel were out of Egypt and were on their way to the Land of Promise. The wonder of this building is judged by the place the God of Heaven gives it and its teaching in His Word. God is the Architect of the heavens the glory of which is beyond man’s highest conception, but He tells us much more of the Tabernacle which He calls “the pattern of things in the heavens” than He does of the stars which are the glory of the universe.

To look at it from the outside the Tabernacle had neither form nor comeliness; it was just a heap covered with badgers’ skins. There was nothing whatever to make that structure highly esteemed of men. There was no architecture no coloring, no adornment, not even a single window to let in the light of the sun. Who could have conceived that that shapeless tent was God’s ordained and erected meeting place between Himself and His people, and that it contained the most precious treasures this world had ever seen? But so it was; the glory was all on the inside. Like the New Jerusalem that building had no need of the sun nor of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of the Lord did lighten it and the Lamb was the Light thereof.

What was the peculiar glory of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness? In the first place every detail of the structure was given to Moses by God Himself. How many curtains and their color and size; how many loops and how many cords and how they were fastened together, all was dictated to Moses and all is written in the Scriptures. The number of upright boards standing in silver sockets with the number of bars holding them together is also given. God did not even leave the selection of the pegs to Moses. The materials used in the making of the curtains and how they were to be embroidered with cherubims and wreathen work was told in detail. There was not the slightest detail of material or construction left to the choice of Moses. Then the furniture of the holy and of the most holy places was described in the minutest way possible. The candlestick had seven branches constructed with described adornments and was of pure gold all beaten out of one solid talent of the precious metal. This was characteristic throughout, every single part was the subject of God’s most particular commandment how it should be made and who should make it. This then is the first remarkable fact of the Tabernacle: it was God’s building; He designed it, He described it; He told by whom and how it should be put together, and the structure was for Himself.

Another great and most important wonder of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness was this: it was God’s great shadow lesson of Christ. The whole Tent and every part of it revealed precious things of the Person and work of Christ. The Old Testament abounds with types of the Lord Jesus and of His work for us both on earth and in heaven. The word “tabernacle” is used of our Lord in His life in John’s Gospel, chapter one and verse fourteen. This one reference reveals what is found to be true everywhere that the Tabernacle Moses made was a type of our Lord, without form or comeliness among men, but filled with the glory of God, His honored dwelling place on earth. Look at that “Carpenter of Nazareth,” that “Stranger of Galilee”: how He was cradled in a manger at His birth; how He lived unnoticed and unknown in a village without a reputation for thirty years; how He was “despised and rejected of men” because He did not cater to the world in any of its ways of wisdom or power and yet remember that He was divinely acknowledged as God’s beloved Son in whom He was well pleased: then look at the tabernacle in the wilderness with its common exterior and hidden glory and remember that God said to Moses, “There will I meet with thee” (Ex. 25:22), and see how perfectly they fit each other as the shadow and the substance.

The third peculiar glory of the Tabernacle is this: it shewed in type the only way of approach to God; the only ground upon which a guilty sinner could be accepted by God. The mercy seat in the most holy place of the Tabernacle was sprinkled with the blood of a sin offering before the Lord. All the way in to that dweling place of God was sprinkled with blood. This seemed to repeat again and again, “Without shedding of blood (there) is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). Here are the inspired words of the epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament speaking of this fact: “Moreover he (Moses) sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood (there) is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the pattern of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 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: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others: for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time with-sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:21-28).