Monday, August 22, 2011

Does God Lie?

I have a friend - I'll call him "Al" - who has asked me some challenging questions lately.  I love these questions because they really make me dig into the word and into the very nature of God Himself.

Two questions came up this week.

One was regarding the account of Yeshua visiting the gentile region of Tyre and Sidon in Matthew 15 and Mark 7 (the only time He ever ventured away from Israel, other than His journey into Egypt as an infant).  A gentile woman begged for His help with her daughter who was demon-possessed.  In Matthew 15:23, He even ignored the woman, and His disiples encouraged Him to send her away.  In the next verse, He replied “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”    It sounds harsh, does it not?   Why would he say that?  Did He have no intention of providing a means of salvation to the gentiles as well as the Jews?

The next question from Al came from Exodus 32, beginning at verse 7.  And the LORD said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves (emphasis Al's)  Why is God calling them Moses's people?  And in verse 10, God says to Moses, "Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.”  The reaction from Moses was to intercede for his people; and to remind God of His promises, and to point out that His name would be tarnished among the Egyptians if He destroyed the Israelites.

What is going on in these scenarios?  Did God change His mind?  I discussed this with the kids tonight, and this is what we concluded:

Regarding the gentile woman:  The fact that Yeshua ended up healing the woman's daughter, in spite of what He said, tells us that something was going on beyond the face value of His statement.  He was about to expose His disciples to a great faith, and He was also preparing them for the near future, in which salvation would be offered to the gentiles.

I believe He was actually sharpening Moses in Exodus 32. And look at the incredible insight He was able to get out of Moses - Moses was able to articulate very well why God shouldn’t do what He was saying He would do. And in fact, if God DID do what He was suggesting, He would have had to break His promise, and therefore be a liar… He promised in Gen 49:10 that the scepter would not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes. Destroying the tribe of Judah would have wiped out the messianic line, and we’d all be toast.

Throughout scripture, God says or does seemingly outrageous things in order to teach a lesson or to test one's faith. Remember Abraham and Isaac?  That would be a subject for an entire post on its own ... we'll save it for another day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Amazing Lineage of Yeshua the Messiah

I have been digging into the reasons why the lineage of Yeshua the Messiah is different in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.  At first glance, it looks like the scriptures contradict themselves.  Fortunately, that is not what is going on.  There are several interesting things that I gleaned from this study.

First, let's consider the lineage of Matthew.  Matthew 1:1 lists Yeshua as “son of David, son of Abraham.”  Taken at face value, the verse makes it look like David is Yeshua’s father and Abraham is His grandfather.

In the Jewish mind, the word son could be applied to one who was not a literal, first generation son, as is commonly understood today. It could mean a descendant; which could be a grandson, great grandson, or son of a more distant generation.  The custom of skipping generations can be called "genealogical abridgement."

This happened in Matthew – not every generation was listed.  Let’s look at one in particular:  In verse 11, Jeconiah is listed as the son (or descendent) of Josiah.

However, the name of Jehoiakim was not mentioned in Matthew’s gospel.  Jehoikaim was the second son of King Josiah (1 Chron 3:15).   Further study shows that Jeconiah was then Jehoiakim’s son (1 Chron 3:16, Jer 24:1, Jer 27:20).  Josiah was Jeconiah’s grandfather.

Then I discovered something important about Jehoiakim.  In Jeremiah 36:30, he is cursed by God:  Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.”  In other words, none of his children will ever sit on the throne of David!   This is one reason that there had to be a virgin birth!  Because of the curse on Jehoiakim, Joseph’s seed was ineligible to bring forth Yeshua son of David, because Joseph was descended from Jehoiakim.

So that brings us to the lineage written in the gospel of Luke.  Joseph is listed as son of Heli, whereas in Matthew, he was listed as the son of Jacob.  An unlikely source gives us a critical clue:  The Jerusalem Talmud indicates that Mary was the daughter of Heli (Haggigah, Book 77, 4). Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli!  Luke could rightfully call Joseph the "son of Heli" because this was in compliance with use of the word "son" at that time - there was no expression for "son-in-law."

Matthew’s gospel, written primarily to Jews, emphasized Yeshua’s descent from Abraham through Judah and King David.  Although Joseph was not Yeshua’s biological father, he was His legal father, and that gave Him the legal right of inheritance.  However, His geneology can be traced back to King David through Mary, literally fulfilling the promised Seed.

Luke’s gospel, written mainly to Greek believers, placed less emphasis on the descent from Abraham, Judah, or King David; and focused more on the lineage going all the way back to Adam and to God.  Luke is thus demonstrating that eligibility for membership in the kingdom of God is offered to all people of the world through Jesus, the Messiah of Israel.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Tabernacle Elements and the Feasts: Perfect Parallel

God has placed amazing patterns all throughout scripture.  They are there, just waiting for us to discover them!  As I mentioned on my last post, you will often notice how He uses certain numbers over and over again.  Twelve.  Forty.  Three.  Seven.

I think my favorite is seven.  The seven days of creation.  Seven times around the walls of Jericho.  The seven elements of the tabernacle.  The seven feasts of the Lord.  Seven represents completeness.  (And as a side note, I grew up in a family of seven daughters).

Now that we have taken a close look at the tabernacle, let's take a look at how the seven elements of the tabernacle line up beautifully with the feasts of the Lord.  Stay with me... this is so awesome!  The feasts of the Lord are split into three sections.  The first three - Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits - all take place together, in an eight-day period.  There is a break, with the fourth, Shavuot, happening fifty days later.  These are the spring feasts.

  1. The Feast of Passover and The Altar.  Passover was fulfilled by Yeshua as He sacrificed His life for us on the cross.
  2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread and The Laver.  Yeshua, our sinless Savior, was buried and wrapped in linen.  After we receive Him, we are baptized and begin our sanctification - the lifelong process of being "cleaned up" by our Savior.
  3. The Feast of Firstfruits and The Table of Showbread.  The Messiah rose on this feast, and has now become our Bread of Life.  We celebrate with Him by commemorating the breaking of the bread.
  4. The Feast of Shavuot and The Golden Lampstand.  Fire came to rest on the heads of the apostles the day of Shavuot, or Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit was given to the believers.  This feast is also called Feast of Weeks, as it takes place seven weeks after the Feast of Firstfruits. 
Yeshua fulfilled all four of these spring feasts with His first coming.  The next three feasts, which take place in the fall, will be fulfilled when He returns.
  1. The Feast of Trumpets and The Altar of Incense.  The altar featured a horn at each corner, representing the day when the trumpets blast and the Lord will gather His people from the four corners of the earth.  Revelation 8:2-3, in context of the Lord's return, says:  "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  Matthew 24 says, "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
  2. The Day of Atonement and the Mercy Seat. This represents the salvation of national Israel, when God reveals Himself to His people and gives them mercy.  Zechariah 12:10 fortells of that day:  “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.
  3. The Feast of Tabernacles and the Ark of the Covenant.  This is a beautiful picture of God dwelling with man when He returns to set up His kingdom on Earth.  The ark made of wood represents man, and the gold which overlays the wood symbolizes Almighty God Himself - God and man dwelling together.   Jewish people celebrate this "Feast of Booths" by building and living in temporary shelters, looking back to the time of dwelling with the Almighty in the wilderness.  If you would like to have a better understanding of how the Jewish view this feast, I suggest you rent the movie "Ushpizin" and watch it with English subtitles.  It was filmed by Orthodox Jews in Israel, and is a story set during the Feast of Tabernacles.  I love this movie!
Now I wonder, does the shape created from the placement of the elements in the tabernacle strike anyone as a coincedence?   Check this out:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Tabernacle: A Foreshadow of Messiah Part 7 - The Holy of Holies

Inside the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies was separated from the Holy Place by a veil.  Only the high priest was able to access the Holy of Holies, and only once per year on the Day of Atonement.

The veil was woven with fine white linen, blue, purple, and scarlet threads.  If you have read my earlier posts on the tabernacle, you know that these colors are symbolic of the righeousness, sonship, kingship, and sacrificial nature of the Messiah.  Also woven into the veil are cherubim (angels), symbolic of the very presence of God and of guarding His throne.

The veil was torn from top to bottom at the very moment of the death of Yeshua (Jesus).  No longer are we kept from the throne of God Almighty, and no longer is the Holy of Holies restricted to the high priest.  Yeshua Himself has become our High Priest, and we have been given direct access to Him.

Behind the veil we find the ark of the covenant.

The atonement cover, called the mercy seat, was the lid for the ark. On top of it stood two cherubim at the two ends, facing each other. The cherubim, symbols of God’s divine presence and power, were facing downward toward the ark with outstretched wings that covered the atonement cover. The whole structure was beaten out of one piece of pure gold. The atonement cover was God’s dwelling place in the tabernacle. It was His throne, flanked by angels. God said to Moses:

“There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.” (Exodus 25:22).

The fact that the mercy seat was made of pure gold is a representation of Almighty God.  The mercy seat was God’s throne in the midst of the Israelites. God is on His throne today in heaven and Yeshua, our high priest, is at His right side. When we come to God now, we approach a throne of mercy and grace.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

The ark itself was a chest made of acacia wood, overlaid with pure gold inside and out. It was over 3 feet  long and over 2 feet wide and high. God commanded Moses to put in the ark three items: a golden pot of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written.
  • The manna represented the bread of life that was given to sustain the Israelites in the wilderness.  Today, Yeshua is our Bread of Life.
  • The rod of Aaron had budded with almonds and blossoms, symbolizing God's choice of the Levites for the priesthood.  We are reminded that Yeshua has become our high priest.
  • The ten commandments represented the standard of living that was given to the Israelites.  The presence of the commandments is there to remind us that Yeshua fulfilled the requirements of the law while on earth.
As I study God's word, I am continually amazed at how He reveals the story of redemption through the tiniest details of scripture.  The ancient scriptures are like a giant gold mine, with nuggets of truth just waiting to be excavated and enjoyed.
Patterns can be discerned over and over again.  There is a reason that we see certain numbers used over and over again.  Seven.  Twelve.  Fifty.  Three.  Twenty Four.  My next post is going to talk about the amazing parallels between the seven Biblical feasts and the seven elements of the tabernacle, so stay tuned!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Tabernacle: A Foreshadow of Messiah Part 6 - The Altar of Incense

The golden altar of incense was placed in the Holy Place, in front of the curtain that separated it from the Holy of Holies.  It was smaller than the brazen altar - about a foot and a half square and about 3 feet tall.  It was made from acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold.  There was a horn protruding from each of the four corners of the altar.

The incense burned in the altar of incense was a specially-prescribed recipe from God himself.  He called it holy and commanded that it was not to be used anywhere else (Ex 30:37).  Incense represents the sweet fragrance of accepted prayers offered up to God.  Only the priests, as intercessors for the people, were allowed to burn the incense in the holy place.  Reference to incense occurs frequently throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament). Look at this scripture and see a wonderful description of prayer wafting up to heaven:

“May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” (Psalm 141:2)

Unfortunately, there are dozens and dozens of instances in scripture where Israel burned incense to foreign idols. 
Incense is a physical symbol of intimate worship.  No wonder the Lord God was very incensed with them for offering their worship to other gods.

It is interesting to note that reference to incense is only made twice in the New Testament.  The first occurrance is when the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah during his service in the temple with the news that his wife would give birth to a son.  Luke 1:9-11 tells us:

So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division,  according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.  And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.  Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

Later, in the book of Revelation, we read "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.  (Rev 8:2-4) 

The golden altar of the tabernacle is a foreshadow of the Messiah, who is now our intercessor before God the Father. During His days on earth, Yeshua prayed for the believers. Just before He was betrayed and sentenced to death, Yeshua interceded for His disciples and all believers, asking God to guard them from evil and sanctify them by His Word, and that they may see God’s glory and be a witness to the world (John 17:1-26). Today, Yeshua still is our high priest at the Father’s side, interceding for God’s people:

“Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Tabernacle: A Foreshadow of Messiah Part 5 - The Golden Lampstand

Directly across from the Table of Showbread is the golden lampstand, located along the south wall of the Holy Place. 

The golden lampstand, or menorah in Hebrew, was seven-branched and made of solid gold.  The lampstand had a central branch from which three branches extended from each side.  Seven lamps holding olive oil and wicks stood on top of the branches. Each branch looked like that of an almond tree, containing buds, blossoms and flowers.  The priests were instructed to keep the lamps burning continuously.

The oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, as is the fire. 

Light is a common theme throughout scripture.

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:  “Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually.  Outside the veil of the Testimony, in the tabernacle of meeting, Aaron shall be in charge of it from evening until morning before the LORD continually; it shall be a statute forever in your generations.” (Leviticus 24:1-3)

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”(John 8:12)

"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness..” (John 12:46)

Yeshua is represented by the main branch of the lampstand, and we as believers are represented by the six branches that extend from original branch. Having believed, we are now living as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) who draw our source of light from Yeshua, the true light. He calls us “light of the world” and commands us to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5: 14, 16). Not only so, but the branches serve as a picture of Yeshua's description of our relationship with him: “I am the vine, you are the branches … apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Two other significant symbols that can be seen from include the fact that it was made of pure gold (not gold plated) and had seven branches. Pure gold is a representation of the deity and perfection of Yeshua the Messiah, and seven is the number of completeness in the Bible. The believer is made complete by the perfection of Yeshua.

One thing to note:  Some versions use the term "candlestick" instead of "lampstand," which is not an accurate portrayal.  The lampstands used oil, not candles.  Remember, oil - not wax - is the symbol of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Tabernacle: A Foreshadow of Messiah... Part 4 - The Table of Showbread

There are three elements located in the Holy Place:  The Table of Showbread, The Golden Lampstand, and the Altar of Incense.

Today we are looking at the first element of the Holy Place: the Table of Showbread.

The Table of Showbread was located along the north wall inside the Holy Place, to the right of the entrance.  It was a small table made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. The height of the golden table was one and a half cubits high. It stood on the right side of the Holy Place across from the lampstand and held 12 loaves of bread, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. The priests baked the bread with fine flour and it remained on the table before the Lord for a week; every Sabbath day the priests would remove it and eat it in the Holy Place, then put fresh bread on the table. Only priests could eat the bread, and it could only be eaten in the Holy Place, because it was holy.

“Showbread” also was called “bread of the presence” because it was to be always in the Lord’s presence. The table and the bread were a picture of God’s willingness to fellowship and communion with man. It was like an invitation to share a meal, an extension of friendship. Eating together often is an act of fellowship. God was willing for man to enter into His presence to fellowship with Him, and this invitation was always open.

Jesus exemplified this when He ate with tax collectors, prostitutes and the sinners of Jewish society. But this was more than just a gesture of friendship on earth. Jesus came to call sinners to Him, make them right with God, so that they could enjoy everlasting fellowship with God.

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. … Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” (John 6:35, 49-50)

God so desires our fellowship that He was willing to come to earth from heaven as our “bread of life” to give eternal life to all those who would partake in it. At Jesus’ last Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus described Himself as bread again:
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” (Matthew 26:26)

Jesus’ broken body is our only access to fellowship with God. Today, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, or communion, to remember this important truth. And today, as in the day of Moses’ tabernacle, God still desires to have fellowship and sit down for a feast with His people.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Only by the sacrifice of Yeshua can we now enter the Holy Place. It is here that we can begin to intimately worship our Creator. Our hearts must be right with God in order to experience that sweet fellowship.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Tabernacle: A Foreshadow of Messiah... Part 3 - The Tabernacle

We come now to the actual tent of meeting, the tabernacle of the living God.

Everything that we have seen in the courtyard serves to make sinful people acceptable to appear in the holy presence of the Most High through the wonderful grace of God.  This was done through the reconciliation, redemption, and sanctification at the altar and laver.  We are now ready to abide with the Almighty.

The Structure

The tabernacle did not have solid ceilings such as a house would have.  The tent of meeting had four coverings... two of skins and two of woven carpeting. 
  1. The Badger Skins - This outer covering was not attractive at all.  This covering is a portrait of the Son of God; as Isaiah says in chapter 53:  "He has no form or comeliness;  and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.." 
  2. The Rams' Skins - The second covering of the tabernacle was made from the skins of rams and dyed red.  The ram was the animal for sacrifice; also used in the consecration of the priests.
  3. The Goats Hair - This inner covering was also called "the tent."  We are reminded of the garment and the appearance of the prophets.  In Acts 3:22, Peter applies these words with absolute clarity to the Messiah:  "For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren."
  4. The Fine-twined Linen - The innermost covering was skillfully woven linen with blue, red, purple, and cherubim.  Again, we have the colors representing the attributes of the Messiah:  righteous, heavenly, sacrificial, and royal.  The Cherubim of gold, express holiness, above the Mercy Seat and on the Veil, guarding the place of God (Gen. 3:24), barring any from God's presence unless they came by His provided way.  The covering was two curtains, joined together in two sets of five - foreshadowing the body of Messiah made up of both Jew and Gentile. 
Like the entrance to the courtyard, the entrance to the tabernacle was also on the east side.  Five pillars - acacia wood covered in gold - supported the curtain of the entrance through which the priests had access to the front part of the tabernacle.  This is the first appearance of gold in the tabernacle.  The curtain featured the same colors as the courtyard gate, but the doorway was smaller - 10 cubits (about 15 feet) square.

The walls of the tabernacle were boards of acacia, overlaid with gold.  What a picture of a worthy dwelling place for the Almighty God!  The entire length of the tablernacle was thirty cubits (about 45 feet).  The Holy Place was twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide, and the Holy of Holies was a ten-cubit cube (about 15 feet).

The boards of the walls were held together by poles of acacia overlaid with gold.  Each side had four poles, which helped to provide strength and stability to the entire structure.  From Ephesians 4:  "the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."  One pole remained almost invisible.  It ran horizontally through the middle of the boards and served to bind them from within - a picture of the Messiah Who is in control.  Only when all the poles were inserted in their places did the whole structure have the stability God wished it to have.

Coming soon:  The Holy Place.  Stay tuned!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Tabernacle: A Foreshadow of Messiah... Part 2 - The Outer Court

The Design of the Courtyard

The outer court of the tabernacle was outlined with sixty pillars - twenty on the north and south sides, and ten on the east and west sides. The pillars were made from wood with copper on the bases and silver on the capitals.  The entire courtyard was then surrounded by fine white linen, hung up on silver rods and hooks and bronze pins.  The length was 100 cubits (about 150 feet) by 50 cubits (about 75 feet).  The bases of bronze on the pillars remind us of the voluntary suffering of Yeshua.  The silver-laid capitals on top of the pillars remind us that He gave Himself as a ransom, and they can also be likened to the 'helmet of salvation' in Isaiah 59:17 and Ephesians 6:17.  The pillars represent believers (see Galatians 2:9) who are pictured around the tabernacle as witnesses of the Lord Yeshua.

The only door through which one could gain entrance to the outer court of the tabernacle was located on the east side.  It was a beautiful door, embroidered with four colored threads of blue, purple, crimson, and white; 20 cubits (about 30 feet) wide.  The four colors are a perfect representation of Yeshua:  Blue for the Son of God coming from heaven, purple for the King of Kings, crimson for the Suffering Servant, and white for the Pure Spotless Lamb.  There was only one way into the tabernacle - through the door prescribed by God.

It is interesting to note that each tribe was assigned a specific place to camp around the tabernacle in Numbers 2.  Which tribe was in front of the entrance?  Judah, the tribe from whence came the Messiah - the only way to the Father!

What a sight the beautiful white tabernacle must have been to a people who were living in a desolate, unclean land.  Entering into the courtyard, they found themselves surrounded by the pure white cloth.  What a change from the outside!  It is the same when we come to Yeshua today.  New life in Him offers a complete change to each sinner who repents and obeys the inviting call of the Savior to receive Him!

The Two Elements of the Courtyard

Once inside the entrance of the courtyard, we arrive at the altar.  The Hebrew root word for altar means "slay" or "slaughter."  The altar stood raised on a mound of earth, higher than its surrounding furniture. This is a projection of Christ, our sacrifice, lifted up on the cross, His altar, which stood on a hill called Golgotha. The edges were formed with acacia wood, and then overlaid inside and out with bronze, which resists the blazing flames of fire - a picture of how Yeshua bore the fury of God's wrath.    Horns were a symbol power and strength in biblical times. When the sacrifice was made, blood was dabbed on the horns of the altar, signifying the power of the blood to atone for sins. In the same way, there is mighty power in the blood of Messiah.  Yeshua is the “horn of our salvation” (Psalm 18:2, Luke 1:69).  

The other element of the tabernacle that was located in the courtyard is the bronze basin, or laver.  The priests were to wash their hands and their feet in it before entering the Holy Place.  The laver was located in a convenient place for washing and stood as a reminder that people need cleansing before approaching God. The priests atoned for their sins through a sacrifice at the brazen altar, but they cleansed themselves at the laver before serving in the Holy Place, so that they would be pure and not die before a holy God. 

These two elements - the altar and the laver - represent our justification and sanctification.  Forgiveness through the sacrifice of Yeshua is symbolized by the altar (justification), and then the process of the Lord cleaning us up - sanctification - is pictured by the laver.

Watch for my next post, in which we will look at the tabernacle itself.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Tabernacle: A Foreshadow of Messiah... Part 1 - Intro and Symbolism

Many times over the years, I would sit down and determine that I would read straight through the Bible.  But then I would invariably get bogged down in Exodus, where all the instructions for the building of the tabernacle were listed.   All those details!  What did they all mean?  Too often, I would skip over those parts, and when I did read them, my mind said "Huh?"

Then I began studying the Jewish roots of my faith.  It changed everything.

The tabernacle was the dwelling place of Almighty God among His people. Exodus 25:8 - And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.

I began to learn how the tabernacle, among many other things in the Torah Neviim and Ketuvim (aka the Tanakh, or Old Testament), were a foreshadowing, or a picture of the Messiah to come.  I discovered that every single little detail that was prescribed by God had meaning.  Every metal, every piece of wood, every animal skin, every color of thread, everything!

Today, let's look at the materials that were used to build the tabernacle, and what they signify.  There are fourteen different materials used, which were offered by the people as a wave offering in the wilderness after leaving Egypt.
  1. Gold.  In scripture, gold is considered the most valuable of all metals.  It represents the Lord God Himself - the holy, just, and Perfect One; His majesty and glory.
  2. Silver.  The second most precious metal.  It represents blood, redemption, or its price.  What a picture of Messiah!  The silver was derived from the atonement money of every man aged 20 or older (Exodus 30:11-16).
  3. Bronze.  Copper and tin are combined to make this strong, heat-resistant metal.  Copper is too soft and tin is too brittle, but together, they create a substance of great strength, whose melting point is 1985 degrees Farenheit.  Bronze represents suffering - the tested, suffering, and judged One, who withstood the fury of God's wrath.
  4. Blue threads.  The Hebrew word kehelet signifies the deep blue color of the heavens.  The color represents the sky, therefore the Son of God, in accordance with His heavenly being.
  5. Purple threads.  The purple dye came from the gland of a purple snail called a murex.  Purple represents kingship and royalty.
  6. Crimson threads.  A deep red, the color of arterial blood.  It represents blood atonement and sacrifice.
  7. Fine white linen.  It represents holiness of Yeshua, and the righteousness that the saints receive from His holiness.
  8. Goat's hair.  The long goat's hair that was collected by the Israelites represents the prophet - the faithful and true witness, the prophet of God in simplicity and poverty.
  9. Rams' skins.    A ram represents the leader and protector of his flock, and animal skins represent sacrificial death.  Abraham offered a ram in place of Isaac.  The skins were dyed red - a symbol of His dedication and His submission even to death.
  10. Badgers' skins.  The Hebrew word tachash is translated in different ways in different verses and translations - badger, sealskin, porpoise, hyrax, etc.  These skins represent the separated and lonely One, who guards the honor of God.
  11. Acacia wood.  A dark and durable wood.  Regular wood represents humanity - corruptible flesh, but acacia wood represents incorruptible man through Yeshua.
  12. Oil.  Specifically, olive oil that was carefully crushed in a mortar.  The oil represents the Holy Spirit and His anointing.
  13. Spices.  Spices represent worship.  Four spices were used in the anointing oil - myrrh, cinnamon, sweet calamus, and cassia - and four were used in incense - stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense.
  14. Precious stones.  The precious stones represent the diversity of mankind, and on the breastplate of the High Priest, they represent the twelve tribes of Israel.  They are sardis, topaz, emerald, garnet, sapphire, diamond, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper.  They represent His selected ones, highly valued of God, because He bought them at great cost.
In upcoming posts, there will be more specifics on these elements and how they were used in the tabernacle.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More Blessings and Curses?

My devotional this morning was from the book of Ezekiel, chapters 25 and 26.  They speak of God's judgment on the countries who dissed Israel.  Listen to these excerpts:

Because you said "Aha!" against My sanctuary when it was profaned, and against the land of Israel when it was desolate...indeed, therefore, I will deliver you as a possession to the men of the East.

Because you clapped your hands, stamped your feet, and rejoiced in heart with all your disdain for the land of Israel, indeed, therefore, I will stretch out My hand against you, and give you as plunder to the nations, I will cut you off from the peoples, and I will cause you to perish from the countries; I will destroy you, and you shall know that I am the Lord.

This is a theme that can be seen again and again throughout scripture.  In His word, God does not tolerate folks who dis Israel.  Genesis and Deuteronomy say, "I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you."

Is this principle still true today?  Look at what happened in Norway.  The news has been full of the horrific tragedy at the camp, yet you don't really hear what the camp was about in the media.  The day before the shooting, the camp of the Labour Party youth were being fed a diet of Israel-hatred.  The camp was visited by Norwegian Foreign Minister on Thursday, and here is a photo of that visit:
"The Palestinians "must have their own state, the occupation must end, the wall must be demolished and it must happen now," said the Foreign Minister to cheers from the audience. 

The shooter is being called anti-Islam by the press, and that is probably true. But do you hear of Norway being called anti-Israel?

What happened in Norway is desperately sad and tragic.  The young people who died had family and friends who loved them, and I in no way would condone such an act against them.  My heart breaks for their parents, who have to endure such a painful loss.

But the tragedy definitly merits a sober examination of the scriptures. God's word doesn't lie.  God is pro-Israel; they are the apple of His eye. (Zech 2:8 - for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye).  If God is pro-Israel, we should be, too!