This chapter describes the holy furniture that stood inside the Tabernacle. All these items were made by God’s command, and strictly according to the pattern which He gave to Moses. And every detail of these pieces of furniture represented something about Jesus and the Gospel. The Israelites couldn’t see these details as clearly as we may, with the light of the New Testament to help us; but thoughtful believers among them, even in the days of Moses, knew that the Tabernacle was intended to teach them to look forward to good things that were yet to come. In this manner, the Gospel was preached to the people of Israel; and surely many of them took great pains to understand it. As we consider these pictures and foreshadowings in the Tabernacle, let us thank God for the clear teaching that He has given us in the New Testament.
The first piece of furniture mentioned in this chapter was the Ark of the Covenant, which represented Jesus in His Person and in His offices. The Ark was made of wood, and it was covered inside and out with pure gold. The wood, which grows out of the ground, represented His human or earthly nature; and the gold, covering and strengthening the wood in every part, showed His Divine and heavenly nature that sustained His Manhood. The perfect obedience of the Man Christ Jesus was the righteousness of God Himself, for our Redeemer was both God and Man in one Person.” And therefore, He was perfectly fitted to stand between God and Man, for He had the nature and the feelings of both.
Two golden cherubim stood upon the mercy-seat (which formed the “lid” of the Ark), bending over it from either end. Perhaps they represent the redeemed children of God, who are joined to Christ. They rest in Him; they look toward one another with brotherly love; and they bend over the blood-sprinkled mercy-seat as the foundation upon which they stand – that is, upon the sacrificial death of Christ. And the fact that the cloud of God’s glory shone above the mercy-seat in the Tabernacle reminds us how the heavenly Father looks down with pleasure upon sinners who are ransomed through the blood of His Son!
The next piece of furniture that we read of is the showbread table. Again, the table shows us the Person of Christ, as being both God and man; for the lowly wood was covered and made precious by pure gold. And the loaves of holy bread that were placed upon the table represent Jesus in His work. They teach us that just as natural bread, which is prepared by kneading and a hot oven, is the staff and support of our natural life; so also, Jesus, in His suffering and death, is the food of our souls. He is the Bread from heaven; and if we feed upon Him by faith, we shall never die, but have everlasting life! Twelve fresh loaves of bread were placed upon this table every week – one loaf for each tribe of Israel – and each loaf was more than enough to feed one man. This reminds us that in Jesus, there is more than enough to supply everyone and every need; there “is bread enough and to spare” in our Father’s house. Jesus said, “I am the Bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”
Another furnishing that was made for the inside of the Tabernacle was the golden lampstand. When we hear that this lampstand was set in the Holy Place to give it light (for there were no windows nor sunlight there), we will quickly see its spiritual meaning. We will think of Him Who is the Light of the world, the Light of life, and the Light of His Church. The stately golden shaft of the lampstand rose in the midst of its branches, blossoming into buds and flowers, and towering above them all; and the pure oil flowed from this shaft into each lamp. Thus this piece of furniture makes a beautiful picture of Jesus as the Center and Head of His Church, and the Source of her light and life and fruitfulness, by the Holy Spirit flowing into her from Him. His blessed Spirit dwells with His people – cleansing and teaching them; gradually making them more like their Savior; and bringing forth the buds, flowers, and fruits of Christian graces and good works, to the glory of God. If we wish to live and work and shine for Jesus in this dark world, we must always be seeking grace, strength, wisdom, faith, and love from Him. His Spirit can supply everyone, according to his or her need, out of the fullness of Christ.
In the altar of incense, again, we have a picture of Jesus. It seems as if the Holy Spirit was never weary of showing us pictures of Him and the perfection of His character and work. In this golden altar – with its clouds of perfumed incense always arising and filling the Tabernacle with its sweet fragrance – we see Jesus in heaven, as the High Priest of His people. He offers continual prayers on their behalf, which the Father accepts and delights in for the sake of His well-beloved Son. No bleeding offering was laid upon this golden altar – only pure incense with its pleasant aroma breathing sweetness all around. This reminds us that Jesus, having died once, dies no more! No other sacrifice is needed, and there is no sin offering in heaven. Christ’s offering was made on earth, once and for all and forever. It can never be done again; and it does not need to be, for it is amply sufficient. And now He carries on His work in heaven – pleading the merits of His death on behalf of all who come to God through Him!
Heavenly Father, we come to You now – resting all our hopes of pardon and peace upon our Savior’s death. We hate our sins, and want to put them away and lead holy lives. Hear us, we pray; and bestow forgiveness for the past, and strength for days to come, because Jesus bore away our burden of guilt when He died on the cross! Amen.
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