When reading the Old Testament, many of the things that God instituted among the early Israelites were “types and shadows” of things to come. We know this because in the New Testament, the Apostles were always teaching about what these types and shadows were pointing to in the New Covenant. A great book for seeing some of these things is the book of Hebrews, where Paul expounds on many things. One for example would be the Passover lamb of the Old Testament. Paul teaches us that this lamb was a shadow that was fulfilled in Christ, who died in our place to cover our sins. The practice of slaughtering the Passover lamb was a “foreshadowing” of the slaughter that our Lord and Savior Yeshua would suffer on our behalf.
“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:7
Paul speaks about many of God’s laws being a “shadow of things to come.”:
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come” ~ Colossians 2:16-17
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” ~ Hebrews 10:1
These earthly commandments are a shadow of heavenly things to come. When Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt, God brought Moses up to the top of Mt. Sinai alone, and revealed to him heavenly things. He was then instructed by God to set up the tabernacle and organize the Israelites according to the pattern he was shown in the mount:
“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” ~ Hebrews 8:1-5
So Moses made the tabernacle and ordered the people according to these heavenly patterns he was shown. Today, I’d like to discuss the set-up of the camp of the Israelites, and the tabernacle. There are some amazing things we can draw from this heavenly shadow. First when observing the camp and how it was set up, we can see the instructions for the set up are found in Numbers 2:
“And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father’s house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.” ~ Numbers 2:1-2
The details of the camp are as follows:
The Tabernacle/Temple will be in the middle of the camp.
West of the Tabernacle:
- Tribe of Ephraim- 40,500 People
- Tribe of Manasseh- 32,200 People
- Tribe of Benjamen- 35,400 People
- TOTAL WEST CAMP- 108,100 People
South of the Tabernacle:
- Tribe of Reuben- 46,500 People
- Tribe of Simeon- 59,300 People
- Tribe of Gad- 45,600 People
- TOTAL SOUTH CAMP- 151,400
North of the Tabernacle:
- Tribe of Dan- 62,700 People
- Tribe of Naphtali- 53,400 People
- Tribe of Asher- 41,500 People
- TOTAL NORTH CAMP- 157,600 People
East of the Tabernacle:
- Tribe of Judah- 74,600 People
- Tribe of Issachar- 4,400 People
- Tribe of Zebulon- 57,400 People
- TOTAL EAST CAMP- 186,400 People
Take a look at the picture of the camp. What do you see? Most Christians will recognize that this camp is made in the image of a cross. As the Israelites moved about the wilderness, they camped in the shape of an ever moving cross! The tribe of Levi camped around the tabernacle area, as they were the priests and ministered to the tabernacle. What is even more interesting is what lies at the “heart” of the camp. This tabernacle/temple carries with it an incredible amount of foreshadowing, it is amazing.
The tabernacle at the heart of the camp and the heart of the cross, contained many signs and symbols that shadow the New Covenant. First there was an outer court. When you’d walk into the outer court, you would first encounter the altar made for sacrifices. If you walk a bit further past the alter, you will find the Laver filled with water. Continuing on you would go through the outer veil into the “Holy Place,” where three items sat- the Golden Lampstand (Menorah), the Table of Showbread, and the Altar of Incense. Then continuing on was another veil that no one was allowed to enter except for the High Priest once a year on the Day of Atonement. This veil led to the “Most Holy Place”, where the Ark of the Covenant sat. This Ark had within it the Ten Commandments on tables of stone, and the scrolls of the Law (Torah) on the outside of the Ark. This is the place where the Holy Spirit, and presence of God dwelt among the people. No man could go into the Holy of Holies or casually touch the Ark, or he would be struck dead. Why? Because sinful man could not come near a Holy God and live. Below is a detailed diagram of how the Tabernacle looked with all of its components:
Keep in mind again, this Tabernacle was at the “HEART” of Israel. It was located at the center of the “CROSS” of the camp. So we know that all of these items represent something, as they are a shadow of heavenly things. The design given by our Creator is significant in every way. Let’s take a look at the main components.
Altar for Sacrifice
As you entered the outer court of the Tabernacle, you would see the Bronze Altar. This altar was raised off of the ground by a mound of dirt. It was made out of the Acacia tree and overlaid with Bronze (usually symbolic of judgment on sin in the Bible). This is where the people would bring their animals that would be sacrificed to God for sin. You might ask, “why did they have to kill animals to cover sin?” The answer can be found in the Word:
“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” ~ Leviticus 17:11
“The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” ~ Hebrews 9:22
We know from the New Testament, that it is only through the blood of Jesus that any of us can enter into the tabernacle of God/The Kingdom. Jesus is our sacrifice for sin:
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” ~ Mark 14:24
“For you know that … you were redeemed … with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” ~ 1 Peter 1:18-19
“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” ~ Hebrews 9:13-14
“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. …By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. …And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” ~ Hebrews 10:10, 14, 18
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus is our altar:
“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” ~ Hebrews 13:8-14
The Brazen Laver (Basin)
After passing by the Sacrificial Altar, you’d find the Brazen Laver. The Brazen Laver was a large basin of water that was half way between the Sacrificial Altar and the Holy Place. It was entirely made of bronze, and the priests were to wash their hands and feet in it before entering into the “Holy Place.” This basin served as a reminder that the people needed cleansing before approaching our Holy God. If a priest would enter the Holy Place “unclean”, they would surely die.
“…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” ~ Ephesians 5:25-27
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled [with blood] to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” ~ Hebrews 10:22
This was a shadow of the Water Baptism in the name of Jesus that would come in the New Covenant. Once we’ve repented to God for our sin believing in the Son, Yeshua/Jesus Christ, we are permitted to wash ourselves and cleanse ourselves with water for the remission of our sins. This act of baptism allows us access to the Holy Place.
The Golden Lampstand In The Holy Place
Continuing past the Laver, you pass through the outer veil into what was known as the Holy Place. The Holy Place was the first room in the tent of the tabernacle. The priests after washing in the Laver were permitted to enter this Holy Place, which included three items- The Golden Lampstand (Menorah), The Table of Showbread, and the Altar of Incense. The Lampstand could be found on the left side of the Holy Place, and was hammered out of pure gold. It consisted of one central branch, and three branches coming out of each side, providing for seven branches with seven lamps holding olive oil and wicks. Each branch looked like that of an olive tree, containing buds, blossoms and flowers- the center branch being most prominent. The priests were instructed to keep these lamps burning continuously.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. Outside the curtain of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the Lord from evening till morning, continually.” ~ Leviticus 24:1-3
These lampstands were the only source of light in the Holy Place, shining light on the Table of Showbread and the Altar of Incense. If not for the Lampstand in the Holy Place, the priests would have to dwell there in darkness. This light allowed the priests to be in the Holy Place and fellowship with God. How does this relate to us in the New Covenant. Jesus is the light! Jesus allows us to fellowship with God in light.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” ~ John 15:4-5
Jesus is represented in the center prominent branch of the Menorah. We are represented as “children of the light” in the less prominent branches:
“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:5
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~ John 8:12
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” ~ John 12:46
Also notable is the fact that this item was not gold plated, rather was made out of pure gold- representing perfection, and there are seven branches- representing completion.
The Table of Showbread In The Holy Place
The Table of Showbread was the second item found in the Holy Place, and was a table made from Acacia wood overlaid with gold. Sitting on the table would be 12 loaves of bread stacked upon each other, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. These loaves would be placed on the table and would remain for the entire week, until the Sabbath Day. On the Sabbath, the priests would enter the Holy Place and eat the bread from the table while in the Holy Place. They would bake another twelve loaves that day and place them on the table, to remain another 6 days until the next Sabbath. The emphasis here, is that only the priests could eat the bread, and it could only be eaten in the Holy Place, because it was holy. This bread was also called “the bread of presence,” as it remained in the presence of the Lord constantly. This table was a picture of God’s willingness to fellowship and “commune” with men. It can be related to an invitation to share a meal, an extension of friendship. This was fellowship with God, in His presence. Jesus later reveals, HE is the bread of life:
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. … Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” ~ John 6:35, 49-50
Jesus instituted the Communion of the New Covenant at the Passover meal with His disciples. The one and only Son of God would give all men access to fellowship and communion with God:
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.” ~ Matthew 26:26
All throughout the scriptures, we can see God’s willingness to fellowship with those that love and serve Him. We can even see this in Revelation:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” ~ Revelations 3:20
The Altar Of Incense In The Holy Place
The third item standing inside of the Holy Place was the Altar of Incense. This golden altar stood right in front of the sacred veil that led to the “Holy of Holies.” The priests were commanded to burn incense on the altar every morning and every evening by God. The incense was to burn continuously throughout the day and night as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. The incense was made of four equal parts of stacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense spices. This incense formula was only permitted to be used in the Holy Place, and was forbidden to be used by the Israelites in the camp. It was considered a Holy formula. What was this altar a shadow of? We can see what it represented in Revelation:
“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” ~ Revelations 8:3-4
The altar of incense represents the prayers of the saints that go before the throne of God. Side note- the throne of God, was the “Mercy Seat” of the Ark of the Covenant located in the “Holy of Holies.” The ultimate prayer before the throne of God came from Jesus himself in His last moments on earth, asking for protection and sanctification of the saints:
“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.“ ~ John 17:9-17
Now Jesus stands before the throne as our intercessor. he tells us that anything we ask in His name will be granted to us:
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” ~ John 14:13-14
You can see that Jesus is in all things, and is represented in all shadows.
The Ark Of the Covenant In The Holy Of Holies
The famous Ark of the Covenant was a large chest made of Acacia wood covered with Gold. There were two parts to the Ark- first the container portion that would hold three items- the Ten Commandments of Stone, Aaron’s rod that had budded, and the cup of manna. On the back of it sat a copy of the Law/Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy). Sitting on the top of the container, was the Atonement Cover, also known as the “Mercy Seat.” On top of the Mercy Seat were two Cherubims with outstretched wings towards each other. The Ark of the Covenant was also known as the actual throne of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is where God would instruct his people from through the High Priest. It was also a very Holy Place, and man could not just enter casually. The common sinful man would be struck dead by God for coming into His presence.
“…the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark.” ~ 2 Samuel 6:2
“O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.” ~ Isaiah 37:16
“There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.” ~ Exodus 25:22
“Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.” ~ Leviticus 16:2
Above the Ark appeared at times an unapproachable light known as the Shekinah Glory. Paul speaks of this light:
“Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:16
This is such an important place. It contained the Law of God, His earthly throne, even His righteous judgment. There are many miracles recorded around this Holy Ark in the Old Testament that make it evident that God was present. The problem under the Old Covenant that we see over and over again, is that the Israelites had cold hearts, and the law of God was not in their hearts. Because of this and because of the sins of the people, no man could enter into the presence of God without being struck dead. Man was separated from God’s throne and His law by a veil.
The Veil Of the Holy Of Holies
To understand the New Covenant of God, requires an understanding of the significance of the Veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. The priests were not permitted to go beyond this veil, without being struck dead. The High Priest would pass through this veil once a year on the Day of Atonement, to present the blood of the sacrifice for the sins of the people. The High Priest had to go through a huge ordeal of ceremony prior to entering that place. Why was this place so restricted? Because the new creation had not yet come. Men were circumcised in their flesh as a sign of the covenant, but as we know from scripture, their hearts were not circumcised. They constantly continued to sin, and their hearts were cold towards God and each other. The law of God did not live in their hearts. Sinful man cannot enter the presence of a Holy God.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh— Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.” ~ Jeremiah 9:25-26
The old creation didn’t work. Men were constantly doing works of the flesh in order to keep the law, but never really kept the law out of love for God, and love for neighbor. Their hearts were cold. For this reason Jesus died, to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world, and also to become the firstborn of a new creation. This new creation would obey God, and would have righteous works carrying out His will from the heart. This new creation and New Covenant involved not a circumcision (removal/cutting of the foreskin of the penis) of the flesh, rather it involved a circumcision of the heart. Ezekiel prophecies of the New Covenant:
“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.” ~Ezekiel 11:19-21
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” ~ Ezekiel 36:25-27
Now back to the veil of the Holy of Holies. The problem with men in sin, was that they were not circumcised in their hearts. The law of God was not written there. The law remained behind the veil, beyond the reach of man. It was impossible to fulfill God’s law using the old man. Then came the day that Christ died, and if you’ll remember, the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom exposing the Holy of Holies. This was a shadow of the circumcision of heart of the New Creation. What an amazing work done by the hand of God! Just as the veil of the tabernacle was taken out of the way, so the veil of flesh standing between man and God was torn and removed. This new creation has God’s law now written in the heart, and we obey it from the heart! We walk in a new “Holy” spirit, with newness of life!
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” ~ Jeremiah 31:31-34
“In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” ~ Colossians 2:11-13
The veil represents the foreskin of the heart, and it was ripped, circumcised, so that our heart not only has the law of God written there, but we also now can stand in the presence of the Holy God of Israel, our Creator. He now lives in us, walks with us and talks to us.
When you repented for your sin and were baptized with water in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins, you then received the Holy Spirit, a new spirit. You became a new creation. You received a new heart that is circumcised. This new heart loves God, and loves men, and happily obeys and fulfills the commandments and ordinances of God out of this new supernatural love, just as Jesus did. To become this new creation, we first had to die to our sin in the baptism/become crucified with Christ. We have to crucify the dead works and sins of our flesh, so that we can rise to new life in Christ:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” ~ Galatians 2:20
Take another look at this symbol of the tabernacle in the desert. Take a look at the camp that resembles a cross. Take a look at the heart of the cross where the tabernacle was located. Imagine yourself on this cross, crucified with Christ. This Holy Tabernacle, this temple of God, is now what your new heart looks like. You’ve been covered by the blood of Jesus at the sacrificial altar, you’ve been cleansed at the basin/Laver with water through baptism in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins. You’ve entered the Holy Place where you have constant access to Jesus, light, communion with God, and constant prayer, intercession, conversation and interaction with Him, and at the very heart of the tabernacle, you have God’s law written on your heart, just as it was written in and around the Ark of the Covenant. The very “Holy Spirit” of God now dwells in your body (the temple), just as it dwelt over the Ark of the Covenant. When you become crucified with Christ, this is the heart that you receive. This is the heart of the new creation. Place yourself on the cross with Christ and meditate on this new heart you’ve been given by the grace of God!
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” ~ John 2:19-21
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19
“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:16-18