The First Tabernacle

Hebrews 9:1-6

 

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.

And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.

I think the book of Leviticus is one of the hardest books to read in the Bible.  Many would say First Chronicles, with the listing of name after name after name, is the most difficult.  Leviticus is blood, blood, blood.  Who wants to read that?  Consider that the first chapter explains the burnt offering; the second brings the meat offering; the third, the peace offering; the fourth, the offerings for sins of ignorance: the fifth and sixth, the trespass offering.  Then the offerings are made to consecrate Aaron and his sons in 6-8.  Blood, blood, blood.  Every day, every hour, blood was offered on the altar.

Before this, in Exodus, Moses is given the instruction on how to build the tabernacle where these sacrifices would be made.  God is very specific with Moses.  He gives him a verbal picture of exactly how this tabernacle must be constructed, all the way down to the type of fabric and wood to be used and the number of holders for the curtains.  God is very specific and tells Moses several times to make sure he builds it according to the pattern he was given – no deviation.  Moses collected all the materials from the people, God gave the skills to certain men to accomplish the task, and the tabernacle was built.  His all happened immediately after the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea, and that tabernacle would serve the people all 40 years in the wilderness and many more years in the Promised Land.  Hey were even given very specific instruction on who would carry the materials from place to place (the Levites), and how to take it down and put it up.

There were three parts to the tabernacle.  There was the general tabernacle, where all the people would bring their sacrifices.  This part of the tabernacle contained the altar and the Laver, where the priests would wash the blood from their hands before administering the next offering.  Hi was more like a slaughterhouse than a place of worship it would seem to us.  The next part was the Holy place, where the able of shewbread, the candlesticks and the alter of incense were placed.  And finally, behind a thick veil, was the ark of the covenant, which represented the very presence of God.  He pattern was clear to Moses, and everything was done according to the pattern.  Once the tabernacle was complete, Moses was given the ordinances in Leviticus.  Blood, blood, blood.

There are some denominations today who say we should just pay attention to the New Testament. After all, this is where Jesus walked the earth, taught, performed miracle, was buried and rose again.  This is where Paul writes so many letters explaining biblical principles we should live by.  His is where Peter, James and John all wrote to us and told us the disciplines that we should practice to become disciples of Jesus.  And also tucked in there is the book we are now studying, Hebrews.  No one needed a deeper understanding of the price Jesus paid than the Jews.  The Gentiles were easy to preach to because they only had false gods they believed in, and none of those false gods could stand up to the power of the Gospel message.  But the Jews served the same God as Paul was preaching.  Hey already knew this God of all Gods and had to be convinced even more that Jesus was truly the Messiah and that their system of sacrifices was no longer necessary.  This was extremely hard for them to accept.

Leviticus is essential to each one of us understanding the price that Christ paid, not just for the Jews, but for all of us. We could take days, weeks, even months explaining the significance of each offering and each part of the tabernacle, and all the feasts and the ordinances that had to be followed.  It is well worth the study to do this, but I am not going to go that deep here in this blog.  I will save that for you to do.  But I highly recommend you do, or you will never know the extent of what Jesus has done for you.  Always remember that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood (Leviticus 17:11).  Always remember that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  There is none righteous, no not one (Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3).  These words are not for just the Jews, but for all of mankind.  We all need a blood sacrifice to atone for our sins, and Paul here is pointing us to that blood sacrifice, Jesus himself.

The priests on a regular basis went into the first part of the tabernacle to make perform the ordinances of all the sacrifices., Day after day, they slaughtered rams, lambs, cattle and doves making atonement for the sins of themselves and the people.  Day after day, smoke rose up from the tabernacle and the aroma wafted through the air.  Like a giant bar-b-que, the smell drifted throughout the camp of Israel, reminding them constantly of their need for atonement.  This was ongoing.  This was continual. This was commanded as part of the covenant between God and the Hebrew people.

It is essential for our understanding of why Jesus had to die to understand these things.  We need a good understanding of the necessity of a blood sacrifice and what it represents.  Without this, we merely can accept Jesus as our Savior, but will never recognize Him as Lord, because we never will recognize fully what he has done for us.  When Jesus said He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17), this is exactly what he was talking about.  He was saying that He came to fulfill all the sacrificial requirements of the law, He became our burnt offering, our meat offering, our sin offering, our peace offering and our trespass offering.  Jesus Christ is our Redeemer!

This is the service of the priests on the first part of the tabernacle.  It was done as a service to God and a service for the people. Once the tabernacle was complete it went on every day for every soul in the camp.  Ongoing slaughter, ongoing fire, ongoing smoke, ongoing aroma, ongoing blood.  Not a pretty picture in all actuality, but a horrifying scene for most.  This is why Jesus had to pay a horrifying price.  Oh, the depths and the riches of Christ’s love for us. 

Jesus paid it all. 

All to Him I owe. 

Sin had left a crimson stain. 

He washed it white as snow.

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