All in Lord's Day Morning
Such was the significance of the Ark of the Covenant that it is no exaggeration to assert that the remainder of the Tabernacle complex existed to house it and give it meaning. That is to say, there was no need for a Tabernacle if the Ark didn't exist, and there was no reason for God to have provided additional furniture if He had no place for an Ark. The Ark was primary, principal and prominent within the Tabernacle.
Having cleared the outer Courtyard and the first compartment we are now ready to move into the Holy of Holies. This was where the Ark of Covenant resided, and the remainder of our articles will survey various aspects of that central piece of furniture.
In our consideration of the Brazen Altar or the 'altar at the door,' we saw that there were two altars within the Tabernacle complex. Inside the first partition stood the Golden Altar, or the Altar of Incense, or as scripture occasionally refers to it, 'the altar before the Lord.' This last description is instructive, and it is to its position that we turn first.
As we noted before, within the tent of the congregation, there were only three pieces of furniture. These were the Lampstand, the Golden Altar and the Table of Shewbread. It is to the latter that we now turn our attention in our meditation on the Tabernacle.
To some this may be the title of a catchy song, to others, love conjures up ideas like ‘falling in love’, a ‘happily ever after’ or mere feelings, but how does the Bible speak about love?
According to Hebrews 9, the first article within the tent was the candlestick. But before we move inside to explore its beauty, we will first make some general observations.
As we advance through the courtyard, we next approach the Brazen Laver. In moving past the Altar, we are already beyond the furniture that was available to the common man. The Altar, while attended by the priest on behalf of the offerer, was where a man came to bring his sacrifice. But the Laver, despite its courtyard location, was only for the use of the priest in readiness for service.
Having addressed the fatherhood, transcendence, holiness and omnipotence of God, we now address His sovereignty – “thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth”. His will is supreme to our own, his interests trump ours and our desires are to align with his.
At the gate of the taberbacle compound, stood the altar, sometimes referred to as the Brazen altar or ‘the altar...at the door’ (Lev 4:7). It is to this item that we turn to first, as we move our way inwards towards the holiest of all. This will commence our investigation of the typical purpose of the tabernacle.
In our last article, we noted that there was both a historical and typical purpose to the Tabernacle. Typically it functions as a 'shadow of heavenly things' (Heb 8:5) and 'the good things to come’ (Heb 10:1). This theme will be the purpose of the rest of this series, but for now, we are interested in its historical purpose, a 'figure for the time then present' (Heb 9:9).
What do you think about the Tabernacle? Do you think about the Tabernacle? There is much discussion among Bible interpreters about how to handle this interesting Old Testament structure. Some are accused of going too far. They see ‘types’  of Christ in almost every detail and feature given in the Exodus narrative. Others are criticised for making too little of it. They consign it to a contextual and historical meaning only. That is, they refuse to accept that it has any relevance to believers of this age. As always, the answer lies somewhere between the two. We do not have the liberty to make what we want out of the Tabernacle, but neither do we have permission to ignore it completely. Scripture tells us how to approach the Tabernacle today, and it is to that which we will turn in this series focused on this glorious Old Testament type.
The Lord Jesus having addressed God’s fatherhood, transcendence and holiness now appeals to his omnipotence. Having addressed God’s person he desires that God shows his attributes – God’s interests are first on this prayer list.
The differentiator pitting the Christian faith against all other world religions is that we have a Saviour who predicted and performed His own bodily resurrection. We worship a Saviour who once was dead, but now is alive forevermore. The one thing that Satanic forces, Jewish leaders, human minds and Roman power wanted to prevent was this very resurrection, or at least a staged version thereof. Yet in the wisdom of God, all opposition to the purposes of God worked in God’s favour to help prove the truth, “He is not here: for He is risen” (Mt 28:6a). We can examine this together in Matthew 27:66 and revel in the wisdom of God.
The Lord having started his prayer addressing the Fatherhood and transcendence of God, now addresses the holiness of God. In a day and age where everything is common, and God’s name debased, let us remember that God is separate, other and categorically different.
The Old Testament is full of passages that are anticipatory of the coming Messiah. Some are obvious and overt–Psalm 22, 69, and Isaiah 53–others are more subtle and nuanced. Proverbs 8 is the latter. Using the style of its poetic genre, Solomon personifies wisdom to give it character. He attributes to an abstract concept, specific and personal characteristics. 'Doth not Wisdom cry?' (8:1, KJV) asks Solomon, 'At the entrance of the doors, she cries out' (8:3, NASB) he continues.
This week we are posting Hannah Burlingham’s beautiful hymn ‘On His Father’s throne is seated’ reminding us of the current lofty position occupied by our Saviour, granted by the Father. This is contrasted in verse 3 to the Cross given to Him by man. Well might we sing again this morning, ‘This world’s judgment stands recorded. God’s own justice satisfied!’
Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones once said that “prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when, on his knees, he comes face-to-face with God”. To varying degrees and at different times in lifewe have all experienced the thrill of ‘face-to-face’communion with God. Yet often in our lives, and just like the disciples here, we need to be reminded and helped in this vital spiritual exercise. Today we say with them; “Lord, teach us pray” (v 1).
Two words stand out in Luke’s account of the people’s reaction to the greatness of the Lord Jesus, as demonstrated in the healing of the demon-possessed boy: amazement and wonder.