The Type of the Tabernacle


The Type of the Tabernacle

April 12th, 1960 @ 12:00 PM

Hebrews 9:2

For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
Related Topics: Ritual, Sin, Symbol, Tabernacle, Worship, 1960, Hebrews
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Hebrews 9:2

4-12-60    12:00 p.m.



These messages this year are built around the theme, "Five Emblems of Grace."  They are pictures, they are types, they are portraits of the great revelations of God, the truth of God, as God reveals it in His Holy Word.  The first was yesterday, The Blood of the Passover; tomorrow, The Serpent of Brass; Thursday, The Breaking of Bread; Friday, The Sign of the Cross; and today, The Type of the Tabernacle.

When Moses, the man of God, ascended the holy mount, he went up by three stages.  On the basis of the blood, which was shed in sacrifice on the altar of earth, at the foot of the mount, "He, and Abihu, and Nadab, and the seventy elders went out into the presence of God" [Exodus 24:9-10].  Then Moses left Aaron and Hur and the seventy elders behind, and called of God to go up higher, he ascended with his minister, Joshua [Exodus 24:13].  Then, on the seventh day, even Joshua was left behind, and Moses reached the top of the mount and entered into the blazing glory of the presence of Jehovah God Himself [Exodus 24:15-16].  And there on the top of the mount, the Lord showed to Moses the pattern of the tabernacle [Exodus 25:9].  I wonder what it was, this heavenly pattern that God took from the courts of glory and laid before Moses, the man of God.  For forty days and for forty nights, Moses stood there in the presence of the Most High, as God outlined for His servant the minutest details of the construction of this holy tabernacle [Exodus 24:18].

It’s a remarkable thing as you look at it in the pages of the Book.  There is one verse, and one verse only, dedicated to the creation of the heavens and the earth [Genesis 1:1].  They are two chapters allotted to the re-creation of the destroyed and submerged earth [Genesis 1-2].  There are nine chapters allotted to the story of the entire human race, from Adam to Abraham [Genesis 3-12].  But there are fifteen chapters, from Exodus 25 to 40, that are dedicated to the delineation of the construction of the tabernacle – like you take time and time to teach a child, whereas a few words would command a whole army.  God intends to convey to us something more than the mathematical measurements of a lifeless structure.  God is outlining here the infinite plan of grace and redemption.  Herein we have the finest portrait of Christ to be found in the Old Testament.  God sent a picture before He sent the person.

The author of the Hebrews, the epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament, accepts the typology of the tabernacle to present the things of Christ.  The theology of the tables of stone is condemnation and judgment, the fury and the wrath of God upon human sin [Exodus 20:1-17], but the theology of the tabernacle is grace and glory in Jesus Christ our Lord [Exodus 25-40].

For you see, while God was showing to Moses the pattern, and the type, and the plan of the tabernacle on the holy mount, the people were down in the valley, dancing naked around the golden calf [Exodus 32:19, 25].  They were standing upon their promise of perfect obedience, "All that thou sayest will we do" [Exodus 19:8].  And they were confident in their own goodness, "We will obey the commandments of God." 

But the Lord Jehovah, who knew what was in man, while the people were dancing around the calf of gold, God was outlining to Moses on the top of the mount the plan of the redemption of grace and the forgiveness of sin.

In order for God to speak to us, He first must teach us the language of heaven, and we learn best by picture and symbol, things we can see.  So the Lord embodied the great infinite thoughts of glory in substance, in material reality.  He placed them in a type, in a form, in a manner, in a plan that spoke to the human heart for the years and the centuries before God finally revealed the actual person He adumbrated in the type and in the symbol.  For fifteen hundred years, the worship of the people of the Lord centered around this beautiful ceremonial.

Now the building of the tabernacle itself:  choose in the wilderness an expanse of sand, and mark out an oblong space forty-five feet long, fifteen feet wide, and along the outline lay a continuous base of silver, hollowed out to hold boards.  Then fetch the boards of Achaia wood, overlaid with pure gold, and place them in those channels of silver, always facing the east, on the east place five golden pillars, and from the pillars, beautiful folds of a gorgeously wrought curtain.  Then, thirty feet back, another veil, another curtain, making the Holy Place thirty by fifteen, and the Holy of Holies a cube, fifteen by fifteen.  Then over it all place four curtains, for the ceiling and for the side as they drape down.  The first curtain, gorgeously wrought, a fine-twined linen in blue and purple and scarlet, interwoven with cherubim.  Then above that, a curtain of goat’s hair.  Above that, a curtain of rams’ skin dyed red.  Then above that, a rough curtain of badgers’ skin to shield it from the weather.  Around it all lay a curtain for the court, to hide the movement of the priests inside, and that is the pattern from heaven. 

Every part of it, every piece of it eloquently speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is a tent, it is a tabernacle.  God’s people were living in tents, and in the tents cast in the wilderness, God cast His tent among His people.

We live in a body, in a house of dust and clay, and the Bible refers to this house as "this tabernacle" [2 Corinthians 5:1].  And our Lord came down to dwell among men in a tabernacle of dust and of clay, of flesh and of blood.  In the first chapter of the Gospel of John and the fourteenth verse, "And the Word was made flesh, and skēnoō among us" [John 1:14].  The Greek word for "tabernacle" is skēnē.  And the Greek word for "to tabernacle" is skēnoō.  "And the Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us."  God cast His tent, God made His dwelling place among men in the same kind of a house, in the same kind of a tent that we dwell in.  It is temporary, it’s not permanent.  That trackless wilderness in the burning sand is not our home.  The home is in heaven [Philippians 3:20]. 

The patriarchs confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth [Hebrews 10:13], seeking a city which is yet to come [Hebrews 11:10].  This house is not our home.  Our home is in heaven.  The old-time hymn says it so right:

I am a stranger here,

Heaven is my home;

Earth is a desert drear,

Heaven is my home;

Sorrows and dangers

Stand round me on every hand;

Heaven is my fatherland.

Heaven is my home. 

[adapted from "I’m But a Stranger Here," Thomas R, Taylor, 1836]



It’s a tent.  And every color, and every dimension, and every part speaks of the love, and grace, and glory of Jesus.  Outside of it is very rough, a rude, crude covering of badger’s skin.  It’s a picture of His humiliation.  Isaiah said, "And there is no beauty that we should desire Him.  He is uncomely, and despised, and rejected of men" [Isaiah 53:2-3]. 

The covering of goats’ hair, the scapegoat that takes away the sin of the world, and the rams’ skin dyed red, the blood, and the scarlet, and the crimson of His life poured out on the ground, and then this beautiful inside, everything you see made of gold.  And that curiously wrought curtain of fine-twined linen, His perfect righteousness.  And the blue, the color of the firmament, and the scarlet of His sufferings, and the purple of His kingly glory [Exodus 26:1-37]: look at it on the outside, so rough, so unattractive.  Look at Jesus on the outside, so poor, so humble, so despised, spit upon, crowned with thorns, rejected, hung between two thieves, crucified Himself as a malefactor [Matthew 27:29-38], no beauty that we should desire Him [Isaiah 53:2], but come inside the tent.  For those who had eyes to see, the Son of God, the glory of heaven itself, for "The Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father" [John 1:14].  He had been inside the tent!

The tabernacle was made for the furnishings.  Strange thing, the most important part of it are the articles of furniture.  When we build a house, we build a house and then put the furnishings in it.  God did the opposite.  He built the house in order to accommodate the furnishings.  And the great revelation of Jesus is found not only in the curtains themselves, but in the articles of furniture they separated and shielded in two parts.  The outer court, all the furniture was made of brass, speaking of judgment [Exodus 27:1-19].  And on the inside of the sanctuary, everything was made of gold, speaking of communion with God and worship in His presence [Exodus 25:10-40].  Always first, the judgment to deal with our sins: brass.  Then beyond, the forgiveness of our sins, approach into the divine holy presence of the great Creator of heaven and earth.

On the outside, in the court, were two pieces of furniture, a brazen altar, an altar of brass called the altar of the burnt offering, called the great altar [Exodus 27:1-8].  There were the sacrifices offered unto God.  It was immediately at the gate into the court.  And when one entered, you always had to pass by that great altar.  It had a horn at each corner, and to the horns were tied the animals of sacrifice.  And when a poor sinner came to worship God, he brought his sacrifice, tied the sacrifice to the horns of the altar, put his hands on the head of the innocent victim, confessed over his head the sins of his life, and the victim was slain instead of the sinner.  His blood was poured out, and his body was offered up unto God.  It’s the sign of the cross, the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins [Leviticus 4:27-35].

Then beyond the brazen altar is the laver of brass for the washing and the cleansing of the soul.  That Greek word for that lutron is used in the New Testament, the exact word for that laver.  In Titus 3:5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He hath saved us, by the lutron of regeneration," by the washing, the laver of regeneration.

Or Ephesians 5:26, "We are cleansed, we are sanctified by the lutron of the word," by the laver of the word, "by the washing of the word."  There is a cleansing in the cross of Christ.  There is a cleansing in the power of regeneration in the Holy Spirit.  There is cleansing in the word of God.

And now, having been cleansed, having been forgiven, we enter into the sanctuary itself.  To our left, on the south side, is the seven-branched lampstand, beaten out of pure gold, on every part of which the hammer strokes had fallen.

In the first chapter of the Revelation, the seer on Patmos turns to hear the voice that speaks unto him and being turned, he sees our exalted, glorified, risen Christ Jesus, walking in the midst of the seven-branched lampstand, walking in the midst of His churches [Revelation 1:12-13]. 

On the base relief of the arch of Titus in the Roman Forum many of you have seen, is the picture of the seven-branched lampstand that Titus carried in his Roman triumph after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  And there you can see it perfectly, with the three branches coming out on either side and the great, tall standard in the middle – the seven-branched lampstand; Christ in the midst of His people, Christ in the midst of His churches.

To your right is the table of showbread, twelve loaves thereon, all the twelve loaves made of fine flour, beaten, without leaven, covered with frankincense – the bread of life for our souls.

Then in the center, before the veil, the golden altar of incense and of prayer, sprinkled by blood of atonement, with coals taken from off the great brazen altar, there did Isaiah see the Lord, high and lifted up [Isaiah 6:1], and there did the priest Zechariah see the angel Gabriel standing on the right side and announcing the great day of redemption had come [Luke 1:11-19].

Then the veil itself; the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews says the veil is the flesh, the body of our Lord which, torn and rent, we go through into the presence of God [Hebrews 10:19-22].  In the sacrifice of Jesus, in the breaking of His flesh, in the wounds of His body, in the pouring out of His life, we have access unto God.

And then finally, we’re in the secret place of the Most High, into the Holy of Holies, in the presence of the great God Himself, open to view through the rending of the veil, through the breaking, the tearing of the flesh of the Son of God [Matthew 27:51, Hebrews 10:20].  There is the ark of the covenant.  Inside of it, the Ten Commandments, the tables of stone that all of us have broken, all of us, and then covered over with the mercy seat and the cherubim [Exodus 25:10-22], the symbols of grace and forgiveness, looking full upon the offering of atonement; covered over, our sins and the commandments we have broken.  And there we worship God in the name, in the sacrifice, in the wounds, in the blood, in the suffering of Jesus our Lord.


Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? 

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?"  Elisha A. Hofman 1878]


That’s the top of the tabernacle. 

Now may we pray?  Blessed, blessed Savior, Oh, how unworthy we feel when we approach the holy, divine presence of God. 


Woe is me!  for I am undone;  I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the glory of the Lord of hosts.

Then the seraphim took a coal, burning from off the altar of sacrifice, laid it upon my lips, and said, This hath touched thy lips; thine iniquity is forgiven.

[Isaiah 6:5-7]


In the blood of that cross, in the sacrifice of that day, in the love and mercy of Jesus, we have forgiveness of sins and access to the throne of God [Hebrews 10:19-22]. 

Come boldly, come boldly.  Lay at the very throne of God Himself the petitions of heart and life, and receive grace to help in time of need [Hebrews 4:16].  O, blessed, blessed God.  O, blessed, blessed type.  O blessed, blessed Jesus, we praise Thee forever and forever, in this world, and with the angels and saints of glory in the world that is to come.  Amen.



Dr. W.
A. Criswell

Hebrews 9:2,
Exodus 25-40



I.          Introduction

A.  Three
stages by which Moses ascended into the holy mount (Exodus
24:1, 9-11, 14, 16)

There God showed Moses the pattern of the tabernacle

B.  There
are fifteen chapters dedicated to the tabernacle

1.  Something
more than mathematical measurements of a lifeless structure – a picture of

Author of Hebrews accepted typology of tabernacle to present Christ


II.         The tabernacle – every part speaks of
our Lord Jesus Christ

A.  The form – a tent

1.  God
made His dwelling place among men

2.  Temporary
– heaven is our home(Hebrews 11:10)

B.  The

1.  Outside
a crude covering of badger’s skin – a picture of His humiliation(Isaiah 53:2-3)

2.  Inside
everything is made of gold; the colors of the fine-twined linen

3.  For
those who had eyes to see, the Son of God(John


III.        The furniture

A.  The
outer court

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)

The sanctuary

1.  To
the left, the seven branch lampstand(Revelation

2.  To
the right, the table of showbread, the twelve loaves of fine flour

3.  In
the center, before the veil, the golden altar of incense and prayer

The veil – represents the flesh of our Lord

In the tearing of His flesh we have access unto God

C.  The
Holy of Holies – the secret place of the Most High

1.  Open
to view through the death of Christ

2.  The
Ark of the Covenant which contains the Ten Commandments

a. Mercy seat upon the