A Pattern for Worship
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Diagram of the Tabernacle of Moses
We were created to worship God! We have no greater purpose in life. To enter into His presence should be our greatest ambition. To come into the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies; to encounter the presence of holy God is where we want to be. This pattern of worship from the Tabernacle, brings us into His very presence. You were created for this!
Imagine, a repentant sinner enters the Tabernacle of Moses, and walks forward. With
each step he takes, he literally comes closer and closer to the
presence of God manifested "in the cloud over the mercy seat"
inside the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16:2 ESV).
There is a Pathway to the Presence of God
You Must Reach the Holy of Holies
Key to Five Step Pattern for Worship Diagram Above
Enter - Worship is a place we enter. The Entrance Gate of the court was the only way in, just as Christ is the gate and the only way into heaven (John 14:6; 10:9) To enter worship, we begin by praying and singing praises to God. We draw near to Him by yielding to Him.
Sacrifice and Confess - The Altar is a place where we confess our sins. Jesus has come to be our perfect sacrifice. Without burnt offerings on The Bronze Altar there was no way to approach God. Without Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, we would remain separated from Him for all eternity.
Cleansing and Forgiveness - The Laver symbolizes our cleansing from sin. It was here that the priests washed their hands and feet before entering the holy place. With thanksgiving and praise, we too must be cleansed by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) before entering The Holy Place.
- Set Apart - The word "holy" simply means "set apart". The Holy Place and The Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies) were places that were set apart from all other places because the presence of God was uniquely present there. At this step in our worship, we have sacrificed and confessed our sins. We have been cleansed and forgiven and now we are set apart (holy) (Psalm 4:3; Leviticus 20:26). Inside the Holy Place you will find The Menorah also called the golden lampstand. The menorah symbolizes Jesus, as the light of men (John 1:4). The Table of Showbread symbolizes God's presence in our lives. Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35). The Altar of Incense is where we intercede on behalf of others. The sweet fragrance of intercession in the holy place represents our worship to God.
Encounter with God - Our ultimate goal is an encounter with God. Finally we are ready to enter The Holy of Holies. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies and only once a year. But now, Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 2:17) and we can come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) as often as we desire. Here you will find the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. Remember the plea of Moses, "Show me Your glory!" (Exodus 33:18). In the Holy of Holies we are left speechless as we bask in the wonderful radiance of God's glory. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20)
The Tabernacle of Moses
In Exodus 14, Moses rescued the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, and he led them into the desert. God was with them. They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. God gave Moses detailed instructions to build a portable sanctuary in the wilderness where they could worship Him, and He would dwell, and a place where people could gather to offer sacrifices. This sanctuary is called "the Tabernacle." The Tabernacle was a provisional place of worship.
The entire tabernacle courtyard was enclosed by a fence of linen curtains, and a 30 foot wide gate. Once inside the courtyard, a worshiper would first come upon the Bronze Altar for burnt offerings where animals were sacrificed. Not far after that was a Bronze Laver or basin filled with water, where the priests performed ceremonial purification washing of their hands and feet.
The Tabernacle was divided into two parts, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place, also known as the Holy of Holies. All Israelites could enter the courtyard of the tabernacle to bring sacrifices to the altar, but that's as far as they could go. Only the priests could enter the Holy Place, and only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and only once a year, on the Day of Atonement. Israel's sins were covered for another year when the high priest sprinkled blood from the sacrifices, onto the Mercy Seat (See Leviticus 16).
Within the Holy Place, was the Table of Showbread, the Altar of Incense, and the Menorah, also called the Golden Lampstand. The Most Holy Place housed only the Ark of the Covenant. God's "shekinah" presence rested with the ark in the Holy of Holies.
The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden box overlaid with gold. On top were two cherubim facing each other, with their wings touching. The lid is the Mercy Seat. Inside the Ark of the Covenant, were the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, a pot of manna, and Aaron's almond wood staff.
The Tabernacle and everything in it had symbolic meanings. The tabernacle was a foreshadowing of the perfect tabernacle to come, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:1-5). The tabernacle is a glorious picture of Jesus. The courtyard, including the altar, laver and the posts that held the linen "fence" were made of bronze, but the only metal inside the tabernacle was gold. The bronze symbolizes sin, and the gold symbolizes God. God designed the ark to symbolize His Son, Jesus, with the wood representing His humanity. The gold, which completely covered the wood, represents His deity.
The Courtyard Consisted of the Courtyard Fence, the Entrance Gate, the Bronze Altar and the Bronze Laver.
The Courtyard Fence (Exodus 27:9-16) of fine white linen around the tabernacle presented a barrier to those whose acts were not righteous before God, making sure that they would not have access to the courtyard. The fine white linen symbolizing righteousness.
The Entrance Gate (Exodus 27:16) of the court was the only way in, just as Christ is the gate and the only way into heaven (John 14:6). Jesus said: "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved." (John 10:9).
The Brazen or Bronze Altar (Exodus 27:1-5) was the place of sacrifice. Without the altar there was no way to approach God. The covenant with Yahweh was a blood covenant. An innocent animal representing the sinner took his place on the altar. This sacrifice represents the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Calvary. It is the atonement that Christ made for our sins. Christ is our Passover Lamb. With the arrival, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus has come to be our perfect sacrifice, taking away our sins once and for all. (Hebrews 10:11-12)
The Bronze Laver or Basin (Exodus 30:17-21) was filled with water. It symbolizes our cleansing from sin. It represents purification. It was here that the priests washed their hands and feet before entering into and coming out of the holy place.
Within the Holy Place Was the Menorah, the Table of Showbread, and the Altar of Incense. All Were Made of Gold.
- The Menorah or Golden Lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40) was the only source of light in the Holy Place. It burnt olive oil day and night and was never to be put out. It symbolizes the One who revealed the Father to us - Jesus - the light of men (John 1:4); the light of the world (John 8:12). The Menorah also represents the illumination of the Holy Spirit living in us: bringing understanding of the Word and enabling us to live as the light.
- The Table of Showbread (Exodus 25:23-30) was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. The wood speaks of Jesus' humanity and the gold of His deity - Jesus the God-man. The 12 loaves of bread representing the 12 tribes of Israel, was placed on the table symbolizes God's presence in our lives. He is the Bread of Life (John 6:35).
- The Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1-10) also made of Gold represents intercession. We intercede for others. Jesus lives to ever intercede for us. The Altar of Incense represents to us the worship of Jesus Christ. God is our high priest and mediator. It was only on the basis, of His one sacrifice on the altar of the cross, that worship is made possible. It is also carrying God's heartbeat for the lost, lifting up our prayers and releasing great power from heaven. (Revelation 8:3-5) Let's continue winning the world for Jesus, one prayer at a time.
- The Second Veil, the one separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies represents the flesh of Jesus' body. Jesus' flesh was torn and cut just like the veil was torn from the top to the bottom (Matt. 27:51). The moment Jesus died on the Cross, God immediately ripped open the temple curtains and man was able to stand before Holy God. It was a picture of heaven rushing to embrace humanity.
The Most Holy Place (The Holy of Holies)
We are now ready to enter the Holy of Holies. We have been cleansed, we have been purified, we have brought our sacrificial offerings before holy God, offerings of praise, offerings of worship, and offerings of intercession, and now, we are ready to enter the presence of God in the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies.
The Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-22) contained the stone tablets of the ten commandments, a pot of manna, and Aaron's rod. Only once per year could a High Priest enter the Holy of Holies. The Ark with the Mercy Seat is where God meets with men. It represents our meeting place in this life and the place of our eternal salvation. The Ark was assurance that God was dwelling among His people.
The Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:17-22) was the lid or covering of the Ark of the Covenant. The Mercy Seat is where the blood was sprinkled. This was a sacrifice of atonement. Jesus Christ is now the Mercy Seat (Romans 3:25). The Mercy Seat is a place of mercy. It means to cover sin, cancel, or cleanse.
The Two Cherubim (a type of angel, Exodus 25:18-20) on top of the Mercy Seat represent the judgment of God. God's judgment upon Israel was averted because of the blood-sprinkled Mercy Seat. It was important to have the cherubim have their wings spread and facing one another, symbolizing the angels' attention and readiness to do God's will.
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) on stone tablets were given by God to Moses to share with all the Israelites soon after they left captivity in Egypt. Remember that God had made a covenant with Israel, but the people had broken it. In God's grace, He renewed it and ordered that it be placed in the ark.
A Golden Pot Containing the Manna (Hebrews 9:4) was a in the ark as a remembrance of God's provision (Exodus 16:32-33).
Aaron's Rod was the third item placed in the ark. It sprouted buds and blossoms and bore ripe almonds in a single night, authenticating God's choice of Aaron for the priesthood (Hebrews 9:4).
Please watch the video below. It's an excellent illustration of the Tabernacle and how it relates to the coming Messiah. It exemplifies the Tabernacle as a pattern for worship. It gives a clear visual and audio understanding of the Tabernacle you just read about. This will bring everything into focus for you. Please watch!
The Tabernacle and the Messiah
The Tabernacle of Moses served as the Sanctuary for Israel for over 400 years. It was the place where the Lord communed with His people and taught them about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. This video was brought to you by Messages of Christ.
You've come this far. You've learned all about the Tabernacle and how it is a pattern for worship. You've learned how the Tabernacle points us to the coming Messiah. Please take a few more minutes to thank God and worship with the song below, Take Me In.
Take Me In
Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the Priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
But it's only found in one place
Take me into the holy of holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me into the holy of holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am
Take Me In (to the Holy of Holies), by Catherine Mullins
"The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26)
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