Tag Archives: Tabernacle

Numbers 1-2:

Israelites still at Mt. Sinai:
The Book of Numbers comes from the two “numberings” of the first and second generations of Israelites in the wilderness.  Numbers details the two generations wanderings, geographical and spiritual, in the wilderness of the Sinai.  The first part of the book (ch. 1-25) details the first generation in the wilderness, and the second part of the book (ch. 26-36) details the second generation in the wilderness.  The book ends (ie, the 40 years) with the Israelites at the plains of Moab at the doorstep to the Promised Land.

The Census:
The Book of Numbers opens up with a census of the people for “all the men in Israel of twenty years or more who are fit for military service.” (Num. 1:3)  Israelis arrayed in a war camp arrangement.  It is in the midst of the desert wilderness surrounded by enemies that want to kill them.  They will have to defeat enemies to take control of the Promised Land. Thus, a census is done in part to determine the number of fighting men to comprise the army of Israel.  After polling all twelve tribes of Israel: “The total number of the Israelites of twenty years or more who were fit for military service, registered by ancestral houses, was six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty.” (Num. 1:45-46)  Or: 603,550 military age men.  This seems like a very large number, especially if including women and children, which would put the camp of Israel up into the 1-2 million. Scholars debate the veracity of this number and if it should be smaller or not.

The Levites Exempted:
Yet, the amount of attention paid to the Levites and the Levitical system, the change from the Covenant at Mt. Sinai to the Levitical system and law, due to the sin of the Golden Calf, suggests there is need for caution. The Levites camp directly around the Tabernacle acting as a buffer between the “lay tribes” and Yahweh.  The Levites mediate the interaction now between Israel and God.  After the Golden Calf incident, the firstborn sons of Israel were “laicized” and now the Levite men alone are the royal priesthood.  The Levites are exempted from the census and military service.  The Levites are in charge of the “Dwelling” with all “its equipment and all that belongs to it.” (Num. 1:50)  “They shall therefore camp around the Dwelling.” “Any layman who comes near it shall be put to death.”  Only the Levites are to approach to the Dwelling (the Meeting Tent).

The War Camp:
The Israelites are arrayed in a military style war camp, surrounding the Meeting Tent to the north, south, east and west.  Each tribe is camped “each in his own division, under the ensigns of their ancestral houses” surrounding the Meeting Tent. (Num. 2:2)  The Tabernacle is in the center.  Four groups of three tribes are at each cardinal point.  To the east are Judah, Isaachar, and Zebulum; to the south are Reuben, Simeon, and Gad; to the west are Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin; and to the north are Dan, Asher, and Naphtali.  The war camp of Israel is a similar array to the Egyptian war camp as the Egyptian army surrounded the tent of Pharaoh in the middle. There is a certain amount of optimism with the Israelites as they are arrayed in a military camp prepared for conquest.

Leviticus 11-15:

The Cleanliness Code:
Clean and Unclean is different from Holy and not Holy. Cleanliness is the measure of suitability of something to be in the presence of God.  Holiness is the measure of the presence of God itself.  Something can be “clean” and “common,” not necessarily “holy.”  If something is “unclean” then it is needs to be made “clean,” and then, it can be “holy.”  The state of cleanliness is the suitability of something to be in the presence of God.  To be “unclean” does not necessarily mean someone has sinned or committed immorality.  It is a ritual status, not a moral status.

The Food Laws:
At the beginning of the world, Adam and Eve were vegetarians.  After the Flood, God allows Noah to eat any kind of animal (except flesh with the blood in it – Gen. 9:3-4; “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Jesus supersedes this injunction with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist).  Now, here in the Mosaic epoch, God further restricts what animals are to be eaten and not eaten. The so-called “food laws” tells the Israelites what are “clean” animals that you can eat, and “unclean” animals that you cannot eat.  God then tells Moses which animals are clean and which are not clean.  The first category is the ruminants, or beasts of the field, such as cows and sheep. There are three conditions to eat of a ruminant.  Those are: it has hooves, it is cloven-footed, and it chews cud.  If it does not meet all three requirements, then it is unclean.  Unclean ruminants include: the camel, the badger, the hare, the pig (which is one of the most well-known and most identifiable “non-kosher” Jewish foods, ie, no pork or pork products).  One of the archeological indicators of Israelite settlements was the distinct lack of swine or pig bones found. Then come the water animals, which must have fins and scales to be clean.  Any water creatures that lack fins and scales are deemed unclean and they may not eat them (“is loathsome for you”).  Next, are the birds and creatures of the air.  Basically, the birds of prey that eat dead flesh are considered unclean, such as the eagle, vulture, osprey, crows, gulls, hawks, owls, buzzards, storks, and bats, etc.  Next, are the unclean flying insects, only the grasshopper, locust or cricket is acceptable.  John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and ate locusts (Mt. 3:4)  Finally, “all creatures that swarm on the ground are loathsome and shall not be eaten.” (Lev. 11:41)

Why Food Laws?:
There are five or six main explanations for the food laws. None are comprehensive or totally persuasive in and of themselves.  It is probably a combination of these reasons that God issues the food laws.  (1) Hygenic theory.  This is theory that these unlcean animals are bad for humans and not healthy, such as pork for spreading trichinosis.  This theory is popular today, although is probably not very consistent.  Every species if not properly cooked could contain parasites.  (2) The Aesthetic theory: the animals are unclean because they’re repugnant to humans.  By way of analogy, if it is repugnant to humans it is probably repugnant to their deity. If it can be sacrificed and offered on our table, it can probably be offered to the deity.  If it is not on our table, then it cannot be food for God either.  (3) Ethical theory: God restricted eating animals as a means for the Israelites to grow in self-control and limit their violence and shedding of blood. (4) Anatomical theory: This suggests that these animals represent “anomalies” within their species.  They’re misfits, and as outliers, they are unclean.  Any animals that lack the specifications of their category or are a “mixing” of categories or species are deemed unclean.  (5) Cultural theory: There is a cultural aspect to this as well.  The Israelites are culturally, as a people in a particular place and time, repulsed by certain animals and practices.  This is incorporated into some of their food laws.

(6) Cultic or Liturgical theory:
This is probably the most persuasive and logical of all the explanations.  Animals deemed unclean were associated with pagan rituals and sacrifices.  They were prominent in pagan cults and the most common animals sacrificed in pagan rituals (ie, the pig in Canaanite sacrifices). Thus, a prohibition of killing and sacrificing certain animals would be a means to separate Israel out from the surrounding pagan populations.  A way of being “set apart” and holy, as much of Leviticus is concerned about the distinctiveness of Yahweh and His people, the Israelites.  On the other hand, acceptable animals to sacrifice, such as the bull and the ram, are representation of Egyptian gods like the bull-god Apis and the cow-god Hathor.  Yahweh commanding the Israelites to sacrifice bulls and rams is a means to distance the Israelites from the pagan idolatry that they were immersed in for 400 years in Egypt.  It is an attempt to de-Egyptianize the Israelites.  In a broader sense, it is an attempt to de-Canaanize and de-paganize the Israelites through regular, and daily, sacrifice of pagan-gods.  Similar prohibitions found in Leviticus against offering honey, and boiling a kid in his mother’s milk, ritual shavings and mutilations were all about distancing the Israelites from pagan practices.  The food laws are another aspect of being distinctive, set apart, and holy.

Ritual Purity and Impurity:
Ritual purity is not about sin.  It is about fitness to occupy sacred space.  A sin offering is about “decontamination” or “purification,” not sin.  A guilt offering is about making reparation.  For example, Mary making an offering after the birth of Jesus is not about sin, but about becoming ritually pure.  Something or someone becoming ritually impure has to do with (1) coming into contact with death; or (2) a loss of “life.”  These issues stem around: childbirth, leprosy, emission of semen, menstruation, and marital intercourse (loss of semen).  These focus on the loss of “life fluids,” such as blood, water and semen.  These are fluids that produce life.  To lose life, is to be less than “whole.”  God did not make us originally to not be whole, but to be whole and complete.  God is wholeness and completeness.  Thus, if someone loses their life fluid by one means or another, that renders them not whole, or in Levitical terms, ritually unclean, impure.  Sexual activity and the loss of bodily fluids then renders one ritually impure.  Having a baby, or menstruation and the loss of blood, also renders one ritually impure. This is not about sin, but about fitness for sacred space.  Anything outside of the “normative, creation natural order” renders one ritually impure.  A person must be “whole” to enter into the perfection of the sacred space of the Tabernacle.  The Tabernacle is the new Eden.  It is the perfection that God originally intended in the Garden of Eden.  It is God’s dwelling place.  God is perfection, and wholeness, and life itself.  For one to enter His space, one must be whole and in an “ideal form” of wholeness and completeness.  To have lost “life” fluids or to have touched death, is to be less than fully whole and fully full of life, or in a word, imperfect.

Skin Diseases:
Skin diseases and leprosy also render an individual ritually impure and unfit to enter the sacred space of the Tabernacle. General skin ailments, not just Hansen’s disease (ie, leprosy), renders one ritually impure. There is no sin in skin disease, but one is not “whole,” as God had originally designed humanity. Something in the body is amiss. It is not as the original creation order. God is not admonishing against any particular sin, but teaching an object lesson about the perfection of God. The Tabernacle is the new Garden of Eden; a place of perfection, and a place for man to be like God had originally intended; whole and complete; full of life, not death.

Cedar Wood, Scarlet Yarn, and Hyssop:
Leviticus repeatedly tells the Israelites to purify people and places by using “cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop.”  This purification and atonement is reminiscent of the wood of the Cross; scarlet yarn hearkens to red blood of Christ; and the hyssop branch that they used to annoint the Passover lamb’s blood to the door and the hyssop branch to give Jesus a taste of the “4th cup” of wine, or vinegar, on the Cross before He died.  In short, these have connotations of Jesus’ Cross.  We are made clean through the Cross of Christ.

God is Distinct, Set Apart, Holy:
Through the purity laws, God is reminded His people that He is perfect and holy.  He is set apart, distinct.  In contrast, humanity is imperfect.  God is wholeness, completeness, perfection, and life itself.  The ritual purity reminds humanity of reverence to creation-order, and reverence for life itself.  We are less than perfect, but should reverence the normative life as designed by the Creator.  The Tabernacle is not a place for incompleteness, death, less than ideal form or imperfection.  It is a place for the otherness of Yahweh. Man can prove his loyalty to Yahweh by adhering to His ritual purity regulations.  God comes to dwell with man again in the new perfect location of the Tabernacle, the new Eden.

Leviticus 8-10:

Gradations of Holiness:
Only the priests could enter in beyond the altar.  Sacred space could not be polluted.  Leviticus offers many “object lessons” reflecting the holiness and distinctness of God.  The sanctity of the presence of God is reflected in the symbols and objects of the Tabernacle.  The farther one goes into the Tabernacle, the higher the gradation of holiness and sanctity of the sacred object and the sacred space.  Once the Tabernacle is consecrated it is no longer called the Tabernacle, but now the “Tent of Meeting” or the “Meeting Tent.” Now, God will meet with His people. The name change is due to the fact that it is now an active, sanctified and consecrated sacred space, where God will commune and fellowship with His people, Israel.

Consecration of Aaron as High Priest, and his sons:
The ordination ritual of the Levitical priesthood followed certain steps: (1) washing of water; (2) vesting of Aaron the High Priest; (3) Anointing with oil on the priests, Tabernacle, altar and sacred objects; (4) vesting of Aaron’s sons; (5) Sacrifices for ordination; (6) Ordination banquet of flesh and blood sacrifices.

Priestly Ordination:
Aaron is girded with a tunic, a sash, a robe; they placed an ephod on him; a breastpiece on him, with the “Urim and Thummim” in it; a mitre on his head, attaching a gold plate, a sacred diadem on the front of the mitre over the forehead.  To enter into sacred space requires sacred attire. Over his forehead was inscribed: “Holy to Yahweh”.  The High Priest was the representative of the whole nation of Israel.  You do not enter into the presence of God in shoddy attire, so God in fact instructed Moses and Aaron how the High Priest was to dress in His presence.  The High Priestly attire in fact sounds a lot like the attire worn, later by Bishops and the Pope.  This is not coincidental.  The priestly vestments of the Old Covenant Levites are carried over into the New Covenant episcopal garb.  In the rite of ordination, the High Priest was anointed with oil and consecrated from head to foot.  They threw blood on the altar (God), on the people (Israel), and on the priests. This harkens back to the Sinai Covenant (Ex. 24) where they performed similar rites.  At the end of the ordination and consecration rituals: “And fire came forth from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat upon the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” (Lev. 9:24)

Urim and Thummim:
These are mysterious stone objects placed in the breastpiece of the High Priest.  They were apparently used as a divination device to discern the will of God.  (ie, Thummim means “innocent” or “yes” and Urim means “curse” or “no.”  It was a subjective and imprecise process.  1 Samuel 14 shows Saul casting them down to try to discern God’s will. This was a time before there were any scriptures.  For 13 months they stayed at Mt. Sinai.  There was no Old Testament, Torah, and certainly no New Testament.  There were not yet any prophets or kings.  This was an early stage of God revealing Himself to His people and revealing His will.  The Thummim and Urim would progressively give way to more divine knowledge with the Scriptures, and the prophets, and eventually to the very Word of God’s Incarnation with Jesus Christ, who will be face to face with His people.

Banquet of Flesh and Bread:
This theme of “flesh and bread” is carried throughout the Old Covenant and into the New, preparing Israel for the arrival of the Eucharist, the flesh of Christ hidden under the appearance of bread.  “Boil the flesh at the door of the tent of meeting, and there eat it and the bread that is in the basket of ordination offerings, as I commanded, saying, ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat it’” (Lev. 8:31)

Deaths of Nadab and Abihu:
Two of Aaron’s sons offered “strange fire” or “profane fire” before the Lord that had not been authorized. Because they did not follow protocol, “fire therefore came forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed them, so that they died in His presence.” (Lev. 10:2)  Being in the presence of God is a fearful and dangerous thing, something we should not take lightly.  Church, in the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ, is a holy thing. It is the new sacred space.

Leviticus 1-5:

The Tabernacle:
Leviticus means pertaining to the Levites, that is, the book is primarily about the cultic regulations of the Levitical priesthood.  Yahweh will now have moved from Mt. Sinai to the Tabernacle.  The Tabernacle is in effect a portable Mount Sinai.  Just as Mt. Sinai was a successor to the Garden of Eden, now the Tabernacle is a new kind of Eden.  The Tabernacle is sacred space.  It is the dwelling place of God, where man can interact again with God, as in the original blueprint of Eden.  But, sacred space requires sacred actions, sacred objects, sacred vocations, and sacred procedures.  All of this would require consecration and sanctification to be ritually fit in order to be in the presence of God.  To be ritually impure in the presence of God is a death sentence.  The presence of God is a dangerous thing.  We are to have a holy fear of being in the presence of God. It is something awesome and something sacred. Leviticus introduces the sacrificial system and the notion of sacrificial atonement, thus preparing the way for the idea later ultimately, of Christ’s sacrificial atoning death.

The Five Offerings:
To prepare the priests and the people, five different ritualized sacrificial offerings can be made at the Tabernacle, as a means of atonement: (1) the Burnt Offering (2) the Grain Offering (3) The Peace Offering (4) The Sin Offering (5) the Guilt Offering.

(1) The Burnt Offering: (“holocaust”) was offered by someone seeking access, fellowship, and communion with God.  This is not about sin, but about ritual purity.  The hands were laid on the animal’s head to signify the transferal of a symbolic identity as the offerer.  It was a way to approach God and be protected from His divine wrath. Proximity to God is dangerous and fearful thing. [contrast this with the “go boldly” before God in the New Testament, ie, Heb. 4:16.  No gift necessary to access sacred space; we are the temple of God now.  That is why it is so necessary to live a holy life. We are “set apart” sacred space and temples of God.]  Nothing of the burnt offering is ever eaten, but is entirely consumed in fire and “goes up” as smoke to God.  The entire animal is given to God as a representation of the offeror’s complete self-donation to God.

(2) The Grain Offering:  also called the “Cereal Offering”.  It was an unbloody sacrifice consisting of some form of grain, possibly baked as a cake or not.  The “minhah” expressed a sort of communion between the offerer and God in the form of a “meal” presented to God.  It was made of “fine flour” with frankincense. Unleavened and with no honey. Leaven is puffed up with pride and sin. Honey is associated with pagan sacrifices. Thus, the grain offering should be unleavened and without honey, disassociating it from pride and paganism. It should contain salt. The grain offering with salt (Lev. 2:13) is like a “covenant of salt” (Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5), which is a binding covenant.  It absorbs more blood of the animal, and more importantly, breaking the covenant is like a land plowed over with salt, that is, no grain will grow. The land becomes unusable.  Thus, the covenant of salt is binding and forever.

(3) The Peace Offering:  This was an offering of “thanksgiving” or being personally thankful to God.  It represented a state of communion between God and the worshipper, a joyful sacrifice. The fat of the animal was offered to God, but the priest and the people ate the rest of the animal in a celebratory feast, accompanied with grain offerings with it.  It was a communal meal with God.  There existed a state of well-being between the offerer and God.

(4) Sin Offering:  (“hattat”) This is a sacrifice to restore communion with God through the forgiveness of sins; a “purification offering.”  The sin offering serves to cleanse the worshipper from ritual uncleanness, by inadvertent moral or ritual violations. This is for unintentional violations. This was offered on behalf of the congregation’s sins on whole.  Blood was applied to the sanctuary to maintain ritual purity against defilement. The priest ate the fatty offering. The sin offering did not cover all sins, only a purification offering for inadvertent transgressions and retain ritual purity.  This did not apply to immorality, or willful sins.  “Purification offering” would be a better title.  The offering is to “cleanse” “purify” and “to decontaminate.”  The blood is applied to decontaminate the sacred space; ritual purity.  The Virgin Mary’s sin offering (Lk. 2:24) is for ritual purity, not immorality or culpability as some Protestants argue.  Decontamination for inadvertent ritual violations.  Deliberate sin, on the other hand, there was no remedy or sacrificial offering; the sinner would be “cut off” or killed.  The blood was sprinkled seven times on the Holy of Holies and Mercy Seat (once a year on the Day of Atonement by the High Priest) and on the “horns” of the Altar and outside the Tabernacle. [Again, this is in contrast to Jesus and the New Covenant, where all is cleansed; all is forgiven; all sacred space is cleansed; made into new creations – something totally foreign to the Levitical old covenant system.  Christianity is radical: can be cleansed of all sins, even deliberate grave sins; No restrictions. God sees the perfection of the Messiah, not your sins.]

(5) Guilt Offering:  (“asham”) This could also be called a “Reparation” or “Restitution” Offering.  The guilt offering makes reparation or restitution to God for the damage done by sin. Whereas the sin offering deals with forgiveness of sin, the guilt offering deals with reparation for sin; forgiveness and reparation respectively.  In the Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation, we deal with these notions too: forgiveness and absolution, but also, penance and making amends.  The two ideas go together in the Old covenant system too.  This is “compensation” for something, such as a breach of faith unintentionally (ie, like misusing sanctuary property by accident).  The guilt offering would be “a ram without blemish” foreshadowing the sacrifice of Christ, who was without sin. Guilt/Restitution offering was done by someone who was repentant, but it did not absolve a person of immorality. Rather, it gave the person a chance to make amends.  Knowingly, defiant sin is not addressed by the sacrificial system of the Levites. For those (murder, rape, breaking the Ten Commandments), no restitution was possible, only banishment or death penalty. [We have it much better in the New Covenant, where we are truly forgiven in Christ by His Cross.  His blood covers our sins; God the Father only sees His son, not our sins; a radical notion to the Old Covenant Israelite.]

Exodus 35-40:

Building of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting:
Moses tells the Israelites this is what the Lord has commanded: “Take up among you a collection for the Lord. Everyone, as his heart prompts him, shall bring a contribution to the Lord. . ”  Thus, all the materials for the Tabernacle were gathered from donations from among the people.  God also calls expert artisans (Bezalel and Oholiab, etc. ) to work on the construction of the Meeting Tent.  Once the Tabernacle “mishkhan” is later consecrated and sanctified, it is no longer referred to as the Tabernacle, but now, the “Tent of Meeting” or “Meeting Tent.”  God will now dwell with His people, meet and have fellowship with them.  The people brought so many contributions that they had more than enough and Moses had to tell them to stop bringing contributions.  Yahweh dictates to Moses all of the specific materials and dimensions for the construction of the Tabernacle.  It is a heavenly blueprint that images the Tabernacle from Heaven.  “The veil was woven of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined, with cherubim embroidered on it.” This is the veil in front of the Holy of Holies that is later torn when Jesus dies on the Cross.  The inner sanctum of the Holy of Holies of Yahweh is made accessible to all peoples through the death of Christ.  For now, the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat of Yahweh will lay hidden behind the veil in the Sacred Space of the Meeting Tent. The other Sacred objects, such as the Ark, the Table, the Altar of Incense, are often made of “acacia wood” and covered in gold, signifying Christ and the Incarnation.  The Altar of Holocausts is made with acacia wood and plated in bronze.  The Courtyard also has the bronze laver for washing.  As one enters the Tabernacle they proceed from “bronze” objects into objects covered with gold to “pure gold” as sanctity and Sacredness increases deeper into the Tabernacle.

The Meaning of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting:
The Tabernacle will be a “new Eden,” where God will once again dwell with His people in a Sacred Space.  The Edenic Outpost of the Tabernacle will be an outpost of sanctity and holiness in a sea of chaos, desert, and wilderness.  The Cherubim on the Tabernacle harken to this idea of the Cherubim guarding the Garden of Eden.  The Menorah in the Tabernacle harkens to the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden too.  The same colors decorate the veils and curtains: violet, purple, scarlet, and white. Different materials (gold, bronze, wood) show varying gradations of sanctity and holiness in the Tabernacle. The deeper one goes into the Tabernacle the deeper one goes into holiness and Sacred Space.  Only the High Priest can go behind the Veil to the Mercy Seat and Ark of the Covenant (the footstool of God) once a year on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”).  This is the most holy place in the Sacred Space of the Tabernacle.  There are varying zones and gradations of Sacred Space around the Holy of Holies.  They also have varying degrees of Sacred objects and priests of varying Sacred Status that can access varying zones of the Sacred Space at specific Sacred Times (Feasts, Festivals, Sabbaths), all governed by specific policies and procedures dictated by God.  Yahweh is distinct from us.  There is an “otherness” to Yahweh.  Being in the very presence of God is dangerous.  Hence, breaking any of these rules or regulations or procedures can, and would, very likely lead to someone’s death.  One must be “whole” and sanctified and consecrated to enter the Tabernacle, and only at the proscribed times and with the proscribed actions.  Anything else risks the ritual purity of the Sacred Space and the presence of God leaving, and quite possibly the life of the offending person.   Ritual purity is crucial to maintaining the Sacred Space of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting.  This has nothing to do with immorality or sins, but is about “ritual purity” and being able to access the Holy Place of God.  To maintain this relationship and fellowship with God, one must follow God’s rules, be obedient to His requirements for the Covenant.  Then, God will bless the people and dwell with them.  Breaking the rules, will result in God cursing them, and leaving His people (as happens later in Israel’s history).  For now, it is all about re-establishing this “outpost of Eden” in the midst of the Israelites and progressing on God’s mission to sanctify His “firstborn son” of Israel.  This plan will lead Israel to proclaim Yahweh to the nations, drawing the Gentiles back into Covenant with God.  This is fulfilled obviously with the coming of Jesus, the Gospel and the New Testament.  The Tabernacle at Mt. Sinai, however, is the first step.   The Trinity also lay hidden in the Tabernacle from the Courtyard (which is Christ) to the Holy Place with the tongues of fire Menorah (which is the Holy Spirit) to the Holy of Holies (which is God the Father).  The three zones in one Tabernacle reveal the three persons of the Trinity of the one God.

Priestly Vestments:
The priests and High Priests vestments are similarly described with similar colors and materials.  Violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and “fine linen.”  Gold is threaded into the Ephod.  The names of the twelve tribes are also inscribed into it.  The breastpiece is filled with four rows of precious stones, twelve in all, matching the twelve tribes of Israel. The High Priest is the representative of all of Israel.  He is the intercessor and mediator before God for his people Israel.  He alone can enter the Holy of Holies once a year.  He has consecrated Sacred Status, who can enter the Sacred Space, on a specific Sacred Time, and perform Sacred Actions. Bells of pure gold are sewn into the bottom of the garment.  Later, Jewish tradition holds that the bells are there partially to know when the High Priest is performing the priestly actions in the Holy of Holies, and if he is struck down by Yahweh for making a mistake, then they would know. Supposedly a rope was tied around his ankle too so they can drag him out if he dies while in the Holy of Holies, since no one else could enter there within.  As the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Atonement one can imagine the bells ringing, just as the bell rings three times at the consecration of the Eucharist in the Catholic Mass.   The other priests also wear “tunics of fine linen” just as Jesus wore a seamless tunic as He was brought to the Cross and crucifixion.  Jesus sacrifices Himself as both priest and victim.  The plate of gold on the head that says “Holy to the Lord.”

Tabernacle Completed:
“Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished; and the people of Israel had done according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so had they done.” (Ex. 39:32)  Then, they brought everything they had made and presented it to Moses.  “And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. And Moses blessed them.” (Ex. 39:43)  Then, the Lord has Moses anoint and consecrate everything to Him to make it holy:  “Then you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture; and it shall become holy.  10 You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar; and the altar shall be most holy. 11 You shall also anoint the laver and its base, and consecrate it. 12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water, 13 and put upon Aaron the holy garments, and you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest.” (Ex. 40:9-13)  After they had did all that Yahweh commanded, the Tabernacle was finally erected, consecrated, and finished, just as God had instructed. “So Moses finished the work.” (Ex. 40:33)

The Glory Cloud of the Lord Fills the Tabernacle:
Now, God dwells again with His people, just like again at Eden.  The microcosm of Eden is complete.  The Restoration has begun, first with Israel.  Yahweh leads His people Israel, and Israel has fellowship with their God.  “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.” (Ex. 40:34-38) Thus, ends the book of Exodus, the Lord stays with the camp of the Israelites throughout their wanderings in the wilderness.

Exodus 30-31:

Tabernacle Sacred Objects:
The Altar of Incense: made of acacia wood and plate it with “pure gold.” Again, humanity of wood and pure gold of divinity, just as Christ is one person with two natures, human and divine. Census tax: “a half shekel” is given for contribution to the Lord.  “The rich need not give more, nor shall the poor give less, than a half-shekel in this contribution to the Lord to pay the forfeit for their lives.” (Ex. 30:15)  The bronze laver: the bronze laver shall have water in it, and Aaron and his sons “shall use it in washing their hands and feet.” This is reminiscent of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper.  “When they are about to enter the meeting tent, they must wash with water, lest they die.”  (Ex. 30:20) The anointing oil:  “take the finest spices” (myrrh, fragrant cinnamon, cane, cassiall, olive oil) and “blend them into sacred anointing oil.”  It shall be used to consecrate the meeting tent, the ark, the lampstand, the altar and the laver.  “When you have consecrated them, they shall be most sacred; whatever touches them shall be sacred.” (Ex. 20:29) The oil is also used to anoint and consecrate Aaron and his sons as priests.  The Catholic Church also uses holy chrism in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick. “The incense shall be treated as most sacred by you.”  The Incense: mix in storax, onycha, balbanum and “pure frankincense”.  “Gold, myrrh and frankincense” used here in the Tabernacle, are the same three precious items the magi brought to Jesus, Mary and Joseph at Jesus’ birth. (Mt. 2:11) Jesus is the new Tabernacle, dwelling amongst His people.  The Sabbath: God tells Moses again to keep the Sabbath holy, and “as something sacred. Whoever desecrates it shall be put to death.”  Keeping the Sabbath is serious business!  “Anyone who does work on the sabbath day shall be put to death.” (Ex. 31:15) “When the Lord had finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave him the two tablets of the commandments, the stone tablets inscribed by God’s own finger.” (Ex. 31:18)

Exodus 25- 27:

The Tabernacle:
The presence of God moved from Mount Sinai to the Tabernacle. This is where Yahweh would reside with His people now. So, commenced the building of the Tabernacle, as dictated by God. The Tabernacle intensifies Mt. Sinai as Moses was initially “not able to enter the tent of meet.” (Ex. 40:35). The Tabernacle completes Sinai too, as Mt. Sinai is the marriage, now the couple, Yahweh and the Israelites, must live together in their new relationship. The Tabernacle is the “principal bridgehead in the Old Testament to the doctrine of the Incarnation.” God once dwelt in an edifice, but later, in the person of Jesus Christ. This begins with the Tabernacle. “They shall make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst.  This Dwelling and all its furnishings you shall make exactly according to the pattern that I will now show you.” (Ex. 25:8-9)  Moses is show by divine revelation what God’s sanctuary, or Tabernacle, should look like.  “You shall make an ark of acacia wood..” The building of the Ark of the Covenant.  It shall be wood covered in gold, symbolizing Christ.  Christ is earthly, human, made of wood, but covered in the divine, made of gold.  He is perfectly human and divine.  The Ark should have two cherubim on them, and “between the two cherubim on the ark of the commandments, I will tell you all the commands that I wish you to give the Israelites.”  (Ex. 25:22). The Mercy Seat of Yahweh, where God dwells in the Tabernacle in the midst of the Israelites.  The golden table for the Showbread.  Again, it is made of acacia wood and plated with pure gold, representing Christ’s combined humanity and divinity.  Yahweh commands showbread to be present before Him “always.”  The Lampstand or Menorah, made of pure gold.  The lampstand is shaped like a tree with branches.  Christ is the vine and we are the branches.  We can do nothing without Him.  He is the light of the world. This is the symbolic “Tree of Life.”  The Tabernacle itself is a type of the Garden of Eden.  The Tree of Life grows in the Garden of Eden.  The Tabernacle is made with “fine linen” representing the purity and righteousness of God.  The sheets shall have “violet, purple and scarlet yarn.”  Purple representing the color of royalty, a king.  Scarlet representing sacrifice, blood and atonement. The Tabernacle is covered in “goat hair” and “ram’s skin dyed red.”  Christ is the most humble, and simplest of persons.  The Holy Tabernacle of God is covered in simple goat hair, just as the divinity of Christ lay hidden in a frail human form. Christ is also the sacrificial ram of God whose blood is spilled in atonement of our sins, thus the red dye. The Tabernacle walls are also made of acacia wood and plated with gold.  Christ, in His “golden” purity and divinity, is crucified on the wood of the Cross. Again, the pattern of wood overlaid with gold.  The Veil.  It too shall be made of “woven violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined, with cherubim embroidered on it.” The same colors for kingly royalty, sacrifice and atonement, and righteousness and purity. It separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies with the Ark.  Also, the construction of the Altar of Holocausts, made with bronze (which is generally used for sacrificial atonement offerings) and the Court of the Dwelling. Oil for the lamp is also made of “crushed olives.”  Jesus’ spirit was crushed on the Mount of Olives on the night of His betrayal and arrest. So too, our pride and egos must be crushed by the stone of Christ, so we will become the purest of oils burning for the love of Christ.