There Was a Tabernacle Made
September 13th, 1959 @ 7:30 PM
FOR THERE WAS A TABERNACLE MADE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-13-59 7:30 p.m.
Will we turn now to the Book of Hebrews, chapter 9? The Book of Hebrews, chapter 9: we shall read together the first fourteen verses – Hebrews 9:1-14. The ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, and we read together the first fourteen verses. Together:
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 showbread, 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 mercy seat 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.
But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people:
The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.
Which was a figure for the time when present in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience–
Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances imposed on them until the time of reformation.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building.
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
And the text is in the second verse: "For there was a tabernacle made" [Hebrews 9:2]. As I said this morning, in these last three weeks I have poured over this Book of Hebrews; and with all the help that I could find, I have sought to prepare in these services on God’s Day messages that would lead us into the very Holy of Holies of God.
There are depths to the Word. There are great spiritual realities. They are as real as the stars that shine in the sky, as the ground – the earth – upon which we walk. We do not realize them. For the most part, we are childlike in our perception of the great spiritual revelation of God, but there’s no need for us to continue like that.
I could not describe to you how much, how blessedly much, these last several days have meant to me as I have stood in the presence of the great King Himself and have found in these Holy Scriptures the revelation of those truths, those realities, those great spiritual blessings that He has in His hands for those who will just look, who will just listen, who will open hand and heart to receive them.
Now the messages that I have for us, I pray we may attend upon with spiritual minds and spiritual eyes and spiritual hearts. They are not easy. These things are, for the most part, new to me; but they are meaningful. They are in the Word. They are of God, and they were revealed to us and writ large on the sacred page that we might enter into them, that we might be giants unto our Lord. So we begin tonight in a series that I pray shall make this sacrifice of Christ and the true sanctuary made without hands [Hebrews 9:24] meaningful to us who stand in the service – you, I, who stand in the service as priests unto our God [1 Peter 2:9].
"And there was a tabernacle made" [Hebrews 9:2]. Then he describes it, and the furniture in it, and the services – the ceremonial, the rituals – that were offered unto God through it, and then speaks of the shadows who found their materialities – their substance, their antitype, the ultimate thing that it sought to reveal – found it in the person and ministry and sacrifice of our Lord.
"And there was a tabernacle made" [Hebrews 9:2]. In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Exodus, Moses ascended into the top of the mount in three stages. First, God called for him and Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders to come up into the mount [Exodus 24:1]. There at the foot of the mount was an altar made and blood was shed [Exodus 24:4-6, 8]. And under the aegis, the protection, of the sacrifice of that blood, those elders with Moses entered up into the mount that burned with fire [Exodus 24:9], and there they feasted with God. They ate; they drank; and they looked upon God Himself [Exodus 24:10-11] under the blood.
Then in the second stage, God called to Moses to come up higher [Exodus 24:12]; and taking Joshua with him, the two ascended into the burning glory [Exodus 24:13-15]. Then on the seventh day, the voice came out of heaven calling Moses alone [Exodus 24:16]; and leaving Joshua behind, the man of God ascended to the very apex of the mount that burned with the glory and the fire of heaven [Exodus 24:17-18]. And there for forty days and forty nights, God revealed to Moses the plan, the pattern, of the tabernacle [Exodus 24:18-27:21].
The tabernacle was the revelation to Moses of the plan of grace whereby God would save His people for while the people were dancing at the foot of the mount around the golden calf, God was revealing to Moses the pattern of the tabernacle on the mount [Exodus 32:1-8]. While the people were resting on their promise of perfect obedience – in that twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Exodus, all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which God hath said we will do" [Exodus 24:7] – while they were resting on that promise of their perfect obedience and while they were full of confidence of their own self-righteousness, there at the foot of the mount, God who knew what was in man and the frailty and the sinfulness and the depravity of human nature, God was revealing to Moses the plan of grace which is found in the tabernacle of the pattern on the mount.
We can learn by the ear. We can learn far better with the eye. When a child is first taught, he learns by symbol and by picture. So these Israelites were childlike in their untutored, unknowing appreciation of the deep spiritual truths of God. So God taught them with shadows. God taught them with symbols. God taught them with pictures and with types, and for fifteen hundred years, God prepared our humanity for the great reality of Jesus Christ. He gave them a language by which they could understand the deep spiritual truths of heaven, and He gave them shadows and pictures that when the substance came we might enter into the deep mysteries of the spiritual nature of God.
So "there was a tabernacle made" [Hebrews 9:2] – very simple thing. In the burning sands of the wilderness, make an oblong [Exodus 26:15-30]. Make it forty-five feet long, fifteen feet wide; and where you have drawn the rectangle of the tabernacle on the sand, place a series of silver sockets [Exodus 26:19-21, 25]. Then in those hollowed out silver sockets, fetch the boards – the planks – fifteen feet tall, covered with pure gold, and set them in the sockets [Exodus 26:15-29]. Bind them together with three bars of gold running from end to end [Exodus 26:29]. It must face the east [Exodus 26:22].There erect five pillars of gold [Exodus 26:37]and over them spread a beautiful and rich and heavy curtain [Exodus 26:7-14].
Then take other curtains and spread over those golden planks: beautiful colors, beautifully embroidered, the mysterious design of the cherubim worked in them [Exodus 26:31-32]. Then on the outside of the tabernacle, make a court of curtains [Exodus 27:9-18] to shadow and veil the activities of the priest. Then on the inside of the tabernacle itself, thirty feet back from the door, put a veil [Exodus 26:31-34, 27:21]. One place will be a cube fifteen feet this way, this way, and this way; and the front, the holy place [Exodus 26:33-34], will be thirty feet by fifteen. That is the tabernacle. And that in every dimension, in every hue, in every part, in every color, is a type and a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ [Hebrews 10:19-20].
John 1:14: "And the Word was made flesh and, skēnoō, tabernacled among us." Colossians 1:19: "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness [katoikeo] tabernacle." The tabernacle was the dwelling place of God among men [Exodus 25:8] and a type and a picture of the body of our Lord, God’s dwelling place among men. Every part, every dimension, every color of the tabernacle was a picture of our Lord. The wood represented His humanity [Exodus 26:15; Isaiah 53:2]; the gold represented His deity [Exodus 38:24; Matthew 2:11]. The fine linen represented His purity and righteousness [Exodus 26:1; Revelation 15:6]. The blue represented the color of the firmament, His heavenly presence [Exodus 26:1; John 3:31]. The scarlet represented His sufferings [Exodus 26:1; Hebrews 9:26], and the purple represented His kingly glory [Exodus 26:1; John 19:2-3].
Now, the great end of the tabernacle was, oddly enough, to house the furniture. The great and abiding spiritual realities we find in the furnishings of the tabernacle. They were of two kinds: out in the court and on the inside beyond the veil. These furnishings on the outside in the court had to do with sin, and the furnishings on the inside of the veil had to do with fellowship and communion with God. We cannot approach God until first sin is dealt with [Psalm 66:18]. And in keeping with that great transition from the dealing with sin in the court and the communion and worship of God on the inside beyond the veil, you will find a radical difference in the furniture.
Now we begin with the furniture. The first thing that you saw when you entered the court was the brazen altar, the great altar [Exodus 27:1-8, 29:10-12] – the altar at each corner of which was a horn to which they tied the sacrificial animal [Psalm 118:27]and to which one ran in refuge and sanctuary holding to the horn of the altar [Exodus 21:12-14; 1 Kings 1:50, 2:28]. And on that great brazen altar was offered the sacrifices for sin: the sin offering [Leviticus 4:1-35], the trespass offering [Leviticus 5:1-19], the whole burnt offering [Leviticus 1:1-17], and the peace offering [Leviticus 3:1-17].
And the altar is the cross. The first thing that you enter and see is the altar, and the first thing we do in our approach to God is to confess our sins at the cross of Jesus Christ [1 John 1:9]. We cannot go beyond until first we are atoned for in the sins of our lives [Isaiah 59:2]. The altar is the cross. There the sacrifice was made. The offering was poured out in behalf of our sins [1 Peter 2:24].
Then the next out in the court – the second piece of furniture – is the laver: the bowl for washing and for cleansing [Exodus 30:17-21]. In Titus 3:5: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration . . . " The Greek is: "by the laver of regeneration." The altar is the cross. The laver is the washing of the Holy Spirit, the regeneration of our hearts. In Ephesians 5:26: "That He might sanctify us and cleanse us with the washing of water by the Word." The Greek is: "That He might sanctify and cleanse us with the laver of water by the Word."
Christ died for our sins. That’s the altar. Then the laver is the washing of our souls by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit and by the washing of the Word of God. In John 15:3 He says to His disciples, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." And in the thirteenth chapter of John, Jesus, when He attempted to wash Simon Peter’s feet: "Lord, Thou shalt not wash my feet" [John 13:8]. And the Lord says, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me." Then Simon Peter said, "Lord, not just my feet, but my head and my hands" [John 13:9]. And the Lord replied, "He that is washed needeth not, save to wash his feet" [John 13:10]. Having been regenerated and washed, having been saved by the power of God, all we need is the daily washing of our feet from the stains of the wilderness journey [1 John 1:7-9]; and that is the laver of the washing by the Word.
Then we come out of the court into the holy tabernacle itself, and there the furniture greatly changes. These out here have to do with our sins. On the cross He died to save us [1 Peter 2:24]; and in the washing of regeneration we are cleansed [Titus 3:5]; we are clean [1 John 1:7].
Now we enter into the holy place in fellowship and communion with God. When we enter beyond the door of the tabernacle, to our left and on the south side [Exodus 26:35] is the seven-branch lampstand made of pure and beaten gold [Exodus 25:31-40], every part of which had felt the stroke of the hammer – a picture of our Savior who came to enlighten our hearts and our souls under the bruising of God [Isaiah 53:5; 10] – every part beaten with the hammer, made of one piece [Exodus 25:31].
And that beautiful lampstand: we know its form from looking at a picture of it on the base relief of the Arch of Titus that took it to Jerusalem in his triumphal procession – a seven-branch lampstand with a tall centerpiece and six branches which is a picture, in the first chapter of the Revelation, of our Lord and His churches [Revelation 1:20]: our Lord the tall centerpiece, and His people, the six branches, identified as one with Him [Revelation 1:12-13].
And in the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah, we have a vision whereby the prophet saw the seven-branch lampstand and two olive trees pouring golden oil into the lamps [Zechariah 4:1-3, 11-12], and he said, "I don’t know what it means" [Zechariah 4:4-5, 13]. And God said, "This is the word of the Lord: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ saith the Lord" [Zechariah 4:6].
That lampstand with its golden pipes and the oil burning, that is a picture of the Holy Spirit of God feeding the churches of Christ as Jesus walks in the midst of the seven-branch lampstand [Revelation 1:12-13]. And even the golden snuffers and the trimmers in the hands of the priest [Leviticus 24:3] to make the flame more beautiful and livid is a picture of the Spirit of God as He trims our lives to make us better to illuminate this darkened world [John 15:2, 8, 16].
Then on the right was the table of showbread [Exodus 25:23-30]. There were twelve loaves upon the table, and they were sprinkled with frankincense [Leviticus 24:5-9], made of fine flour, crushed and beaten, without leaven: a picture of our Lord who is the manna from heaven, the Bread of Life [John 6:35], and bruised and crushed and beaten – fine flour, like the crushing and bruising of our Savior [Isaiah 52:14, 53:10], and covered with frankincense acceptable beautifully unto God. And there were twelve of those loaves like there were twelve of the jewels on the breastplate of the high priest [Exodus 28:15-21]. They represented the people of God. And there, once again, you have that mysterious and inexplicable union of Christ and His people. Like the seven-branch lampstand, our Lord in the midst and the six branches on either side, yet all of them one; so it is with the bread: representing our Lord, the Bread of Heaven [John 6:41], but also representing His people. In the first Corinthian letter, in the tenth chapter, Paul spoke of that:
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
For we, being many, are one bread. We are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one Bread.
[1 Corinthians 10:16-17]
The bread represented the Lord. The bread also represented God’s people. "We are one bread and one body" [1 Corinthians 10:17]. That mysterious union between Christ and us, Paul saw in the table of the showbread. The table of the showbread was on the right, on the north side [Exodus 26:35].
Immediately in front of the inner veil was the golden altar of incense [Exodus 30:1-10]. In the eighth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, the sainted John saw that golden altar of incense in heaven: "And the angel there, with the coals from off the altar and the incense burning," and he says, "these are the prayers of the saints, ascending up before God. And the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar" [from Revelation 8:3, 5]. And he continues. He saw that golden altar in heaven, and there, John says, in figure and in type, as the angel burned the incense on the golden altar, in the loving merit and grace of Jesus Christ, our prayers ascend unto God [from Revelation 8:4]. "He ever liveth to make intercession for us" [Hebrews 7:25], and our prayers are heard because of His merit, His grace, and His worth.
Then is that inner veil [Exodus 26:31-37]. That inner veil is a picture so the Book of Hebrews says in the tenth chapter and the twentieth verse. That veil is a picture of the flesh of Jesus Christ, and it is through the rent veil that we enter into the Holy of Holies. Until Christ died, there was a barrier, there was an obstruction, there was a curtain, there was a veil that shut man out from God [Exodus 26:31-37; Leviticus 16:2-31]. But when Jesus breathed his soul into death, an unseen and mighty Hand took that curtain at the top and tore it from top to bottom [Matthew 27:50-51] signifying, the author of Hebrews says, "That we now have through the death of Christ a new and living way into the presence of the Holy of holy of God" [from Hebrews 10:19-22].
Then on the inside, in the Holy of Holies, there was the Ark of the Covenant [Exodus 25:10-22], the ark of the testimony [Exodus 26:33]; and in the ark, the Ten Commandments of God [Exodus 25:16]. How could a man stand in the presence of the holy God and those terrible, righteous commandments and we have sinned in His sight? How could a man stand? "The great day of His judgment has come, and who shall be able to stand?" [Revelation 6:17] Every commandment of God condemns us. "He that sins shall die" [Ezekiel 18:20]. "The wages of sin is death" [Romans 6:23]. And there is that holy and righteous God with His commandments and His tables of stone and the judgments of God upon our sin.
There is something else covering the commandments, covering the righteous judgments of God. There is a propitiatory, translated in our Bible "a mercy seat," beaten out of solid gold, and the cherubim with their wings toward each other and their eyes looking down [Exodus 25:17-22]. That covering the mercy seat was the place of the propitiatory where the high priest once a year drew aside the veil and with the blood of atonement offered unto God the confession of the sins of the people and poured out blood as token that life had been shed, a penalty had been exacted [Leviticus 16:12-16].
"The wages of sin is death" [Romans 6:23]. Death had been offered and the blood poured out unto God. Here in the Bible, that word is used again and again. It is just that you do not see it in our English translation. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" [Romans 3:23]. You have. We have. "But God hath set forth Jesus, a," you have it translated "a propitiation" – that’s the same word "a mercy seat" – "God hath sent forth Jesus to be a propitiation, a mercy seat, to declare the righteousness for the remission of sins that are passed, all that we’ve done, and through the forbearance of God, all that we shall ever do" [from Romans 3:25].
A covering for our sins: you have that same word so many times. Here in the second chapter of First John: "He is the propitiation" – He is the mercy seat – "for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" [1 John 2:2]. In the judgments of God, we’re condemned [John 3:18]. In the righteousness of God, we’re all sinners [Romans 3:23]. In the holiness of God we’re all unclean, and no man can stand in His sight and no man can approach His holy presence [Romans 3:9-19]. "And the soul that sins shall die" [Ezekiel 18:20], and, "The wages of sin is death" [Romans 6:23]. And a man is shut out from the presence of God [Isaiah 59:2] had it not been, had it not been God made a way [Romans 5:8].
God had a plan, and the plan was that in His death [1 Peter 2:24], by His grace and mercy [Ephesians 2:8-9], the penalty of our sin should be taken in His own heart [2 Corinthians 5:21] – that the one that should die is God. The one that pays the penalty is the Lord from heaven. And if the blood of bulls and of goats sprinkled on the mercy seat allowed those people to approach into the presence of the Almighty, how much more shall the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, open up a way for us who trust in Him, who plead His merit and virtue, to enter into the holy presence of God [Hebrews 4:15-16] and someday to look full upon His face [Revelation 22:3-5].
Your great hymns are of that gospel.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed
Be of sin [the] double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Could my zeal no languor know,
Could my tears forever flow,
These for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone
In my hand no price I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.
["Rock of Ages," by Augustus Toplady, 1776]
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing pow’r?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
["Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?" by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1878]
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
["Nothing But the Blood," by Robert Lowry, 1876]
The way into the Holy of Holies, God taught us by picture, was through the blood: the expiation of our sin, the propitiation of the wrath of God in the death of His Son [1 John 2:2]. He taught it first by a picture, and in the fullness of time, its reality was in the death of our Lord for us. No man can enter into the presence of God save through the blood of Jesus Christ [John 14:6; Hebrews 9:22, 28].
Oh, oh, how in an hour of realization, how a man must feel to think that God in His grace gave His life for me. Had there been no other that ever lived, He would have paid that penalty for me. "This do in remembrance of Me" [Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24].
Do we have a song about the blood – our invitation? Let’s sing, "There’s a Fountain Filled with Blood." What’s the number of it? "There’s a Fountain Filled with Blood," and whatever the number is, let’s sing it. And while we stand and sing it – what is it? Number ninety-three? Number ninety-two? While we stand and sing that hymn, number ninety-two, somebody tonight who will turn aside from his own righteousness and look in faith to the righteousness of Jesus, would you come and stand by me? Somebody tonight, who will turn aside from his own goodnesses and will trust in the merit and favor and grace of our Lord, would you come? As the Lord shall lead the way, in the balcony around, in all this lower floor: "Here I am, preacher, tonight, trusting Jesus as Savior; my hope for heaven in Him," or, "Tonight, we’re putting our lives with you in the fellowship of this blessed and precious church." A family you or one somebody you, while we sing the song, would you come? While we stand and while we sing.
THERE WAS A TABERNACLE MADE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Hebrews 9:1-14, Exodus 25-40
A. Three stages by which Moses ascended into the holy mount (Exodus 24:1, 9-11, 14, 16)
1. There God showed Moses the pattern of the tabernacle
2. While the people were dancing around the golden calf, God was revealing to Moses the plan of grace(Exodus 24:3)
B. We can learn more easily by the eye than the ear
1. God taught the Israelites with symbols, pictures and types
II. The tabernacle – every part speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ
A. God made His dwelling place among men (John 1:14, Colossians 1:19)
B. The materials
1. The wood represented His humanity, the gold His deity
2. Fine linen represented His purity and righteousness
3. The blue, His heavenly presence; the scarlet, His sufferings; the purple, His kingly glory
III. The furniture
A. The outer court’s furnishings have to do with sin
1. Brazen altar of brass – altar of burnt offerings; a sign of the cross
2. The laver of brass – washing and cleansing(Titus 3:5, Ephesians 5:26, John 13:10, 15:3)
B. The sanctuary’s furnishings have to do with fellowship and communion with God
1. To the left, the seven branch lampstand(Exodus 25:36, 37:23,Revelation 1:12-13, Zechariah 4:1-3, 6)
2. To the right, the table of showbread, the twelve loaves of fine flour(1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
3. In the center, before the veil, the golden altar of incense and prayer(Revelation 8:3-5, Hebrews 7:25)
4. The veil – represents the flesh of our Lord
a. In the tearing of His flesh we have access unto God(Hebrews 10:20)
C. The Holy of Holies – secret place of the Most High(Romans 3:23, 25, 6:17)
1. Open to view through the death of Christ
2. The Ark of the Covenant which contains the Ten Commandments