Why Do We Need to Know This?
Do we need to know this in order to receive forgiveness of sin? No. Do we need to know this to have a relationship with Christ? No. Do we need to know this in order to receive insight from the Holy Spirit? No. Is there something to be gained from understanding the Tabernacle and the Temple? ABSOLUTELY!
I accepted Christ as my personal Savior when I was a child. Over the years I have had encounters with God. I’ve have had visions. I’ve spent time in intimate communion with Jesus. It was all wonderful and none of it was based on my understanding of the Tabernacle. However, when I began studying the Tabernacle in my mid-twenties a deeper understanding of my Savior and Redeemer, the atonement and the work of the cross began to unfold.
The Tabernacle became a foundation upon which more understanding and insight has been built. It was the platform upon which my understanding of Christ grew and became more solid. It gave me a context that has not only widened my understanding but has been the scene where spiritual understanding has grown. It actually helps me to understand spiritual things better. I hope that through sharing what I have learned about the Tabernacle it will bless you in some way.
Studying the physical Tabernacle gave me a place to put spiritual experiences and scriptural understanding, kind of like an organizational system. It put things in the right place. What I understood relating to the atonement which is ours through Christ has since rested upon what I learned about the high priest and the atonement as it relates to the services and ministry of the Tabernacle. The grid work actually anchored what I had accepted by faith.
As modern, Western, American gentile believers in Christ, we can gain much in the way of understanding of the Tabernacle. This isn’t limited to Christ as our Redeemer and the work of the cross but there is much more to be gained by a study of the Tabernacle and its ministry. Just as I believe it is beneficial to have the foundational grid work of the Hebraic roots of Christianity, I believe having the foundational grid work of the Tabernacle is equally as beneficial.
1 Corinthians 3: 10-17 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
In the context above Paul very pointedly addresses the foundation which he has laid which is Christ and in the same breath points out that we are God’s temple. I take that to mean that a part of the foundational understanding of Christ in the mind of the Apostle Paul included an understanding of the Temple. Having said that it follows that having an understanding of the Temple is necessary.
In order to get that understanding we start with the physical structure. Knowing the physical structure is just the beginning. Once we have a rudimentary concept of the physical structure our understanding of spiritual things can be added to it. The Tabernacle/Temple is merely a structure. But it is a structure which housed the dwelling presence of God. Since we as believers are a temple of the Holy Spirit as Paul states, knowing the role and ministry of the Temple/Tabernacle will help us to understand our role in housing the presence of God. We have a physical body which houses the presence of God just as the Tabernacle and the Temple were physical structures which housed the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
First the Physical then the Spiritual.
The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. (1 Cor. 15:46) In order for us to understand spiritual things we start with first understanding the natural things. Jesus spoke in parables which were stories of natural things which on a deeper level revealed spiritual truths. The Tabernacle/Temple being a parable works the same way. There are great spiritual truths to be revealed through the Tabernacle/Temple. Gaining access to these spiritual truths necessitates an understanding of the physical structure.
In Part 2 we will look into the spiritual experiences of the Apostle John and the Prophet Ezekiel which show that there is a spiritual dynamic which relates to the physicality of the Temple.