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.

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