Tabernacle - A Parable of Christ

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 8, 2013 0 comments

I wonder how many of you out there have had experiences in your life that you realized later on were important because they taught you valuable lessons that were critical in those later circumstances. I know I’ve had those experiences with what I would say were “smaller” steps of faith that allowed me to trust God in ways that would help me later as I made big changes in my life that were based on faith.

Earlier today, I had a conversation with a man I met through the work that I do that was a perfect example of what I’m talking about. This man, who is getting ready to be the primary caregiver for his two grandchildren for about two months, was addicted to drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes many years ago. He overcame his addictions to the first two in 2002, but still continued to smoke cigarettes. The man relayed to me that his doctor told him very honestly in 2005 that his situation was very simple – either give up smoking or his life would likely be over in less than a year. This man told me today that he told the doctor immediately, “Then I’ll quit”. However, he said that, because he knew how difficult it would be, the first thing he did was get on his knees and ask God for strength through his battle. The man grinned as he told me that he hasn’t had a craving for nicotine since that day eight years ago!

Today, the man is on a list at the Cleveland Clinic waiting for a lung transplant. He currently has to be hooked up to an oxygen tank almost 100% of the time. He stated that, because he is a Christian, he does not fear death. However, he admitted he knows his health is going to get a lot worse before he dies because of his condition and he stated that process is what he fears. As we continued to talk about it, I reminded him of how God gave him strength when he asked for it in the past and that God will surely walk with him through anything he has to face in the future. The man smiled again and said, “I know it to be true”. His earlier experience in life taught him a valuable lesson that turned out only to be a symbol or foreshadowing of what was to come.

If you read Katie’s post from Monday, you learned a little bit about the tabernacle of the Old Testament and how it was a place for the people to meet and worship God. It was the place where gifts were offered and sacrifices made for the atonement of sins. It also reminded the Israelites of God’s presence with them. But like the rest of the Old Testament and all of its prophesies, the physical tabernacle was an example of what was to come. In Hebrews 9:9, the writer explains that the tabernacle is “an illustration for the present time indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper”. The Greek word used there for illustration is parabole, from which we get the word “parable”. Just like Jesus told his disciples parables in order to prepare them for something greater, the writer of Hebrews is saying that God gave Moses the instructions for the tabernacle to symbolize what was to come. It would only be through this “true tabernacle set up by the Lord” (Hebrews 8:2) that those who desire a relationship with him would be able to enter the Most Holy Place.

The Most Holy Place was the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle, where only the high priest was allowed to enter and only once a year on the Day of Atonement for all Israel. Jewish tradition suggests that the priest would try not to spend too much time there for fear that God might kill him because of his sin, and also that he would usually throw a party with his friends when he emerged from there and had not been killed. We don’t think like this in today’s churches because we have gotten so comfortable with being able to go to the Father anytime we want regardless of our sins and not fearing that he might demand our lives. But we must not forget the reason why we have gotten to this point.

Friends, that reason is Jesus Christ. I encourage you to read all of Hebrews 8 and 9 on your own time, but I will simply share that Scripture tells us that Christ entered the Most Holy Place ahead of us, paving the way for us. “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place ONCE FOR ALL by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12 [caps mine]). While the Old Testament tabernacle had a physical Most Holy Place, it is a mere parable of heaven. Because Jesus entered heaven and sits at the right hand of God by the perfect sacrifice of his own body and blood, we too can enter heaven by believing in that sacrifice and making him Lord of our lives. And not only was the tabernacle a parable of Christ in the sense that it leads to the Most Holy Place, but also in the sense that Christ is “Immanuel”, or “God with us”. The tabernacle included the presence of God, but Jesus Christ walked the earth and then promised the Holy Spirit for those that believe. So, next time you think you have to be somewhere else to connect with God and invest in your relationship with him like the Israelites did in regards to the tabernacle, remember that it begins with believing in Christ, the more “perfect tabernacle” (Hebrews 9:11), by faith and continues as you recognize his presence with you daily.