STUDY 10: The Furnishings in the Holy of the Tabernacle – THE LAMPSTAND.

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It is the brilliant, majestical, golden lampstand that illuminated the Holy of the Tabernacle allowing Aaron — the Israelites’ first High Priest — to perform the services of sacrifice to God-Jehovah on behalf of his chosen people, in an attempt to fulfill the Mosaic Law and its regulations.

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Let us be reminded that the 3 pieces of stationary furniture in the “Holy” were: a “lampstand” (“candlestick” KJV), a “Table,” and an “Incense Altar,” and each represents something concerning the development of the saints during the Gospel age.

Design

The lampstand (“Menorah” in Hebrew) was created by combined forces, the talent of the earthly craftsmen (Exodus 31:2-11) together with Divine assistance. For success, man must work with his talent while God sends a blessing from above. As David wrote, “If God does not build this house, His workers have toiled in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

The lampstand and its seven branches were made of gold. “He made the lampstand of pure gold. He made the lampstand of hammered work, its base and its shaft; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers were of one piece with it” (Exodus 37:17, NASB). Perhaps the mention of “hammer” suggests the discipline that shapes the New Creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Hebrews 12:4-12, Proverbs 3:11, 12, Psalm 119:75, Romans 8:18, Revelation 3:19).

The seven lamps as well as its wick trimmers and trays and all its accessories were to also be made from pure gold and all the gold used in relation to the lampstand and its operation was to equal one talent of pure gold which is around 35 kg (75 pounds) (Exodus 25:39). As of 5th November 2018, one talent of pure gold is worth about $1.9 million AUS and $1.4 million US.

The talent was an ancient unit of weight and value in Greece, Rome, and the Middle East and it was the heaviest or largest biblical unit of measurement for weight. In the Old Testament, a talent was a unit of measurement for weighing precious metals, usually gold and silver. In the New Testament, a talent was a value of money or coin (e.g. Matthew 18:21-35, Matthew 25:14-30). The talent was first mentioned in the book of Exodus within the inventory of materials used for the construction of the tabernacle: “All the gold that was used for the work, in all the construction of the sanctuary, the gold from the offering, was twenty-nine talents” (Exodus 38:24, ESV).

Another example of a talent weight we find in the golden crown placed on King David’s head. It “weighed a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones (2 Samuel 12:30, NIV).

Revelation 16:21 (NKJV) says “great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent.” We get a better picture of the crushing fierceness of God’s wrath when we realize these hailstones weighed about 35kg (75 pounds)!

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According to the Jewish Midrash, the candlestick was the “height of an average man” (www.bible-light.com/BLON/STAR_V30-1_1998-02/feb98a52.htm). However, no measurements are given in Scripture as to its exact size, thus reflecting the thought that God’s light of Truth is immeasurable (Ephesians 1:19).

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Positioning and Description

The Golden lampstand or candlestick stood opposite the golden table, on the southern side of the “Holy” (Exodus 40:24-25).

South is the direction of earth (Ezekiel 47:1), as north is of heaven.

Perhaps specifying this direction for the lampstand indicates that the Church is still in the flesh while in the holy, holding forth the light of Truth. This is also indicated by the five copper sockets at the entrance to the holy, copper representing human nature, either just or justified.

ALMOND BLOSSOM BIBLE STUDENTS DAILY

A description of the lampstand for the Tabernacle in Exodus 25:31-39 is directly from God to Moses. This is God’s design. It is particularly detailed in relation to the beautiful almond blossom we see in spring.

Exodus 25:33 (KJV) — “Three cups made like almond blossoms in one branch, a calyx and a blossom bud; and three cups made like almond blossoms in the other branch, a calyx and a blossom bud — so for the six branches going out of the lampstand.”

[Note: The Douay-Rheims Bible says of each decoration, “as it were nuts … and a bowl withal, and a lily” (Exodus 25:33). Thus we understand that there were three elements per decoration.]

“There were three branches on either side of a central stem (i.e. shaft), with each of the seven extremities holding a lamp containing oil for burning. Each of the six branches was adorned with three sets of cups shaped like almond blossoms, with a knop (bud or bulb) and a flower; the centre stem was adorned with four of these.

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Thus, there is a total of 22 such sets. These might represent the original 22 books of the Old Testament writings which graced the early church. The Hebrews associated the number of them with the 22 patriarchs from Adam through Jacob, and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

“However, our Bible contains also the New Testament, and in later times the books have been divided into a total of 66. If the three identified elements — bowls, knops, flowers — are numbered separately, this would total 66 in the entire lampstand. The three branches on one side, together with the centre stem, would contain 39, and three remaining branches 27, which is the division of books in our Old and New Testaments.

“The five petals of the cups shaped like almond blossoms are a fitting number to represent the new creation [in Christ], later represented by the five wise virgins of Matthew 25. Almonds, it is said, produce flowers before leaves, and the Hebrew word for almond means ‘hasten,’ probably in observation of this early seasonal produce of the almond flowers. So with the church; they produce the lovely graces of the spirit before their leaves of profession and teaching will be observed by the world in the kingdom.

“This meaning of the name ‘almond’ explains Jeremiah 1:11-12, where the appearance of an almond rod, or branch, is a token from the Lord that ‘I will hasten my word to perform it.’ In this passage it may refer prophetically to the raising of the saints early in the harvest as the work preliminary to the judgments of the Lord which follow shortly thereafter. Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17) to establish his Divine appointment to the priesthood, was also of the almond tree” (Br. David Rice, “The Holy” in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine. Nov-Dec, 2002).

It may represent that the church is an elect class and reminds the antitypical underpriests of their privilege of service and the need to be fruitful in putting on the spiritual likeness of their forerunner, Christ Jesus “the author and finisher [perfecter] of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

More Antitypical Meanings

  • The lampstand (menorah) as a whole — represents Christ and the entire Church of the Firstborn giving forth their light; the true light-bearers whose names are written in heaven; the Royal Priesthood (Hebrews 12:23; Charles T. Russell, “Tabernacle Shadows,” pages 115-116).
  • The seven lamps (of the one lampstand) — may symbolize God’s Word.

The lampstand was the third furnishing that God instructed Moses to make during his 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai alone with God, and three signifies redemption which points to Christ who redeemed mankind from the sentence of death, “who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:6).

  • The seven branches — represent the true, consecrated Church, depicted in the Book of Revelation Chapters 1, 2, and 3 at seven distinct lampstands, with Christ (as our high priest) walking among them, tending to them, to ensure their proper shining.

As with branches of the spiritual vine (John 15:5), so with these seven branches of the lampstand, we have no standing of ourselves, except as members of the body of Christ. Our support, our foundation is in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). Possibly the bending of some of the branches might represent the bending of our wills, against the propensities of the old nature, to reach upward in the direction of God. When we began our consecrated walk, our course may not have been very different from what it had been before. We may have followed many earthly things; but as we grew in grace and in the knowledge of the Truth, our course bent more and more upward until at last, if we are faithful, at the end of our course, we will be going upright, in the same direction as our blessed Master. Some of the branches were longer than others, but all held the same amount of oil in their lamps and all gave out the same light.

Another lesson we might find in the different lengths of the seven branches is that some have courses of training here longer than that of others. But the shorter can shine just as brightly as the longer, and can hold as much of the Lord’s Spirit. Also, the lengths of each of the periods of the seven Church periods were different lengths of time, but each period of the Church contained the ever shining brightness of God’s Truth so that the Gospel Age “Bride of Christ” is successful called, tested, and proven faithful at death, making up a completed 144,000 members by the end of the 6000 years of permission of evil.

  • The oil and the wicks — The oil “represented the Holy Spirit, the wicks represented the mortal bodies through which the oil or Holy Spirit operates. The oil, passing through the wick, produced the illumination. So, the Holy Spirit, operating through these mortal bodies, or wicks, produces the holy illumination, by virtue of which we can see and appreciate the deep spiritual truths. As the High Priest trimmed the wick that it might produce a better light, so the Lord continually trims us by permitting us to have humiliating experiences, and by and by the wick will he entirely trimmed and our course will be finished” (1913 Bible Students Convention Report found in the Bible Study Library CD).

Purpose and Use

The Candlestick was the only light in the Holy which was to be kept burning “continually” (Leviticus 24:2). Perhaps this word “continually” rather means regularly and normally. We do not think the word “continually” meant that the flame was burning without ever the flame being extinguished, as presumably during the transportation of the Tabernacle from one place to another, and perhaps when the wicks required replacing, the flames may have been extinguished. Exodus 30:8 says that Aaron “must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight.” If the lamps were lit at this time, perhaps this was a time of replenishing oil, and replacing wicks, incident to which the light may have been interrupted.

1 Samuel 3:3 indicates that the lamp did go out for some of the 24-hour period. Perhaps, however, that was a change of circumstance as the years passed. For Exodus 27:21, and Leviticus 24:3 indicate otherwise. “Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually … in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually” (Leviticus 24:2,3).

Presuming that the door of the Tabernacle was ordinarily draped downward, visibility in the holy depended on the light of the lampstand. The light from the lamps would aid the Priests in their service of burning incense on the golden altar that stood nearby, morning and evening. “The candlestick also for the light … with the oil for the light” (Exodus 35:14).

The lesson to us is that our enlightenment comes as a result of using (burning) the holy Spirit (oil), which has been burning in each “called” member of the High Calling throughout the seven stages of the church. The antitypical “priesthood” during the Gospel Age — those who have entered into covenant relationship with God through consecration — have the Words of Divine Truth through the Holy Bible, to enlighten them. This enables them to carry out their covenant of sacrifice daily in a way pleasing to the Heavenly Father. It gives them “vision” (Habakkuk 2:3), and thus direction and hope through patient endurance, until death (Revelation 2:10). It aids their journey in the narrow way of Christ which leads to more than we can imagine of perfect, everlasting righteousness.

The light of God’s beauties of Truth from Scripture burns continuously and ever so bright in the darkness of this sin-infested, God-less world. It assists us who choose to suffer with Christ, so that we can reign with Christ in His future 1000 year kingdom, helping the world of mankind up the Highway of Holiness (2 Timothy 2:12, Isaiah 35:8).

The light emanating from the Word of God shines today as never before, because the Lord Jesus is present (since 1874). The Lord gave us the promised “meat in due season.” (Matthew 24:45, Luke 12:37), which we find specially in the six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures.

A continuous shining of the light from God’s word is talked about in these Scriptures: Psalm 119:89, Isaiah 40:8, 1 Peter 1:25. A continuous shining of our “light” (reflecting nine fruits of God’s Spirit, Galatians 5:22,23), is talked about in these Scriptures: Matthew 5:16 and Philippians 2:12-18.

The ultimate purpose of the shining the light is that God may be all in all, after mankind is restored to perfection following the little season at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. Then Christ and his Bride shall have restored mankind. After the destruction of all evil, the ages of eternal joy will follow and God’s pure love will govern the hearts and minds of all creation (1 Corinthians 15:28).

The light of Christ Jesus keeps us from the rocks of anxiety, rocks of destruction, rocks of perplexity, rocks of fear, rocks of the unknown, rocks of doubt — all of which could bring us down in a shipwreck of life. Let us bask in the light of the Truth of God and His teachings that bring release, joy, hope, peace, faith, and salvation.

Besides the fire by night, the cloud by day, and the Shekinah light in the Most Holy, the light from the Menorah was a constant reminder to the Israelites of God’s light leading them to the promised land. Likewise, Spiritual Israelites (true, consecrated Christians) are led by the light of the Word of God. The written word is in the Scriptures, but Jesus himself is the living word (Revelation 19:13). He is the logos, or word, of God — Christ Jesus, who has opened up a new and living way. “By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Truly the Messiah is light and life.

“Arise, shine: for thy light is come and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

Those verses were addressed to Jerusalem, and apply to both ages of redemption. When the Gospel Age began, the message of the Gospel went out from Jerusalem, from Pentecost forward, expanding subsequently to the Gentiles. In the Millennial Age it will be similar, expanding from Jerusalem to bless the world in the earthly kingdom. But the application to the saints of the present time, who inhabit the Holy, is our focus here.

“The path of the just is as the shining Light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory” (Isaiah 60:19).

Other Candlestick Scriptures

Other passages of Scripture that mention of the tabernacle’s candlestick include:

Exodus 37:17‑24 — describes the actual making of the lampstand and lamps, basically a repetition of the Exodus 25 account yet two verses of words less.

Leviticus 24:1‑4 — describes the operation and maintenance of the candlestick.

1 Kings 7:49 — Speaks of the 10 lampstands in King Solomon’s Temple. Ten is a number for earthly completion (as 12 is for spiritual completion), so for the earthly kingdom 10 is an appropriate number.

Because there were 7 branches on each lampstand, the total would be 70, which also pertains to the Millennial Age on occasion. For example, during the Feast of Tabernacles, which pertains to the Kingdom (Zechariah 14:16), over the seven days of the feast there were 70 bullocks offered.

Solomon’s Temple represents the Church in its glorified condition and the things in the Tabernacle represent conditions pertaining to the present Gospel Age.

The Apostle Paul said to brethren of his day, “Know ye not that ye are [called to be] the temple [class] of God [in the future age], and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). And the Apostle Peter said, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Through the Church presently are extended the truths of discipleship to others. But in the Millennial Kingdom, the overcoming saints will serve as priests with Christ to uplift the entire world of mankind (Revelation 20:6).

The 70 branches of the 10 lampstands in Solomon’s Temple could thus represent the light of God’s understanding shining into the hearts of mankind during the Millennial Kingdom, as reflected in the vastness of size of Solomon’s Temple as compared to the size of the tabernacle in which there was only one lampstand.

Zechariah 4 — The lampstand with an olive tree on either side supplying it with oil. These verses relate to the rebuilding of the Temple.

Revelation 1:12, 13, 20 — Here there are seven golden lampstands (not one, as in the Tabernacle). “I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. … the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:12, 13, 20, KJV).

Jesus being “in the midst” is the explanation of the miracle of the Church’s survival through twenty centuries, fulfilling the prophecy of Jesus that the gates of hell should not prevail against it.

“Have We Set Jesus in the Midst? If so, then we have set love in the midst. Unselfishness; thought, consideration, concern for others, manifested in self‑sacrificing service to the extent of our ability and opportunity. It means also intercessory prayer on behalf of others” (Br. A.D. Kirkwood, Scotland, “Jesus in the Midst” — The Graph of Love. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, June 1956). Self-sacrificing involves patience, gentleness, kindness, excusing others for their wrong/unkindnesses, not demanding, slowness to answer back. May the Lord’s timing burn up our sacrifice as it burns up ours and others’ sins and may we keep the flame of love burning towards those who are not easy to love, recognizing that Jesus died for all sinners before they were even born!

*** Some Extra Details about Candlestick(s) and Lamp(s) in the Bible ***

Seven Lamps, Seven Spirits

There is another Scripture we wish to mention that talks of “seven lamps” (no candlesticks).

Revelation 4:5 “There were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.”

Here the Apostle John explains that the “seven lamps of fire” symbolize “the seven spirits of God,” rather than the Church of Christ, the seven Churches, that are represented by the “seven lampstands” of Revelation 1:12, 13, 20. John uses the Greek word luchnia for “lampstand,” but lampas for “lamps” (Revelation 4:5). The word lampas is used five times in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1‑4, 7, 8), and also in Revelation 8:10.

The Church of Christ are the lampstands, but the lamps themselves represent the Spirit of God, depicted as seven spirits inasmuch as they minister to the seven stages of the Church. This seems apparent also in Revelation 1:4,5, “(4) John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come [that is, will always be]; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; (5) And from Jesus Christ.” As grace and peace were sent to the Church through “the seven Spirits,” clearly these lamps, or spirits, are not the Church itself.

The holy Spirit of God comes to us through the Scriptures. Thus “The Psalmist says: ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’ (Psalms 119:105). In the Proverbs we read: ‘For the commandment is a lamp’ (Proverbs 6:23). The word lamp in these texts is translated from the Hebrew word ner, which means ‘light, lamp’ according to Young’s Concordance. The word ner is also used to designate the lamps which were on the candlestick or lampstand of the Tabernacle. We read, for instance, in Exodus 25:36, 37: ‘The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand [menorah], hammered out of pure gold. Then make its seven lamps [ner] and set them up on it'” (Br. A.D. Kirkwood, 1956).

The Word of God is precisely spirit and life. Our Lord Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63, RSV). The Scriptures have been written by men who were guided by the holy Spirit. The Apostle Peter said, “No prophecy ever came by the impulse of men, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21, RSV).

“It should be observed that the seven spirits are not exclusively the lamps of fire. They are also the seven eyes of the Lamb (Revelation 5:6). But even in this case, the seven spirits mean plenitude of Spirit. We remember that it is written in the prophecy of Zechariah, ‘These seven are the eyes of the Lord’ (Zechariah 4:10). Nothing can escape the eyes of the Lord and of the Lamb. The Lamb has the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). He has the seven spirits of God. We read in Revelation 3:1, ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God’ ” (Antoine Papajak, “Seven Lamps and Seven Spirits,” 1994).

The Number Seven

The number seven, in the “seven spirits of God” (Revelation 4:5), represents completeness, perfection; a complete and entire state. “The book of Revelation makes mention of seven lamps, seven spirits, seven churches, seven lampstands, seven seals, seven horns, seven eyes, seven trumpets, seven plagues, seven thunders, etc. In all these cases it designates completeness composed of seven parts, like the light, which is one and white, but when it passes through a drop of rain and is refracted, gives the seven fundamental colors. It is the same when the white light is decomposed by means of a prism. It produces the spectrum, the series of colored bands. Thus, it is spoken of seven churches, but they represent the only church of Christ; it is also spoken of seven candlesticks, but they stand for the only candlestick which was in the holy place of the tabernacle. In our text [Revelation 4:5] it is spoken of seven lamps, but they are representative of the lamp quoted in Psalm 119:105: ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet’ ” (Br. A.D. Kirkwood, 1956).

Throne, Fire

“We are now at the end of the Gospel age, when the seventh seal is broken and when, under the seventh trumpet, the mystery of God is to be accomplished (Revelation 10:7). The holy Scriptures are being understood more and more, and many prophecies, which were closed during long centuries, are now unsealed. The Scriptures should be entirely unsealed and understood during the second presence of our Lord, as our text [Revelation 4:5] suggests. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne. In other words the lamp, the Word of God, gives complete light in the days when the Lord is sitting on his throne and when fire, going before him, consumes his foes on every side (Psalms 97:1‑3)… in the time of trouble; they give their light, as never before, on the prophecies predicting the present time of trouble, of vengeance and of judgment of nations” (Br. A.D. Kirkwood, 1956).

“We find a similar text to some extent in Revelation 15:2. There was a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image were standing on it and they were singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb with harps of God in their hands. The sea of glass mixed with fire represents the people in trouble, under the judgments of God. The overcomers are the elect, the members of Christ’s body. They had undoubtedly a great knowledge of the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb during the time of trouble” (Br. A.D. Kirkwood, 1956).

The lampstand is not mentioned in the throne scene of Revelation chapter four. This is appropriate, inasmuch as chapter four awaits the redemption indicated in chapter five (Revelation 5:6). Subsequently, the saints of the Church class, as lampstands, hold up the light of the Truth as best they are able, to others who will appreciate it. The light from the lamps represents holy enlightenment, from the Spirit of God, as shining through His Truth. The lamps will not burn if they do not have oil in them. Since oil symbolizes the holy Spirit, the seven spirits of God in Revelation 4:5 suggest to us the plenitude of God’s holy Spirit. Our Lord Jesus Christ has the Spirit of God fully, and he has a complete knowledge of the Word of God. Therefore our Lord may give His faithful ones a full knowledge of God’s Word. It is a gift of God for strengthening our faithfulness in these last days (2 Timothy 3:1).

Transportation of the Tabernacle’s Candlestick

When the camp moved from one site to another, all the vessels of the Tabernacle other than the Laver remained covered with a blue cloth that represents faithfulness without which it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Surely, if we do not please Him, we cannot be found in the tabernacle arrangement. This cloth of blue was not visible while the covering skins were over it. Just so, the faithfulness of the saints, though recognized of God, is hidden from all those who see only our flesh.

Concerning the lampstand, we read, “(9) Then they shall take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand for the light, along with its lamps and its snuffers, and its trays, and all its oil vessels, by which they serve it; (10) and they shall put it and all its utensils in a covering of porpoise skin [or manatee skin], and shall put it on the carrying bars” (Numbers 4:9,10, NASB).

This is “as if to say, that as we journey through the world, our true position in the sight of God is quite different from that in which the world sees us. God sees our faith, he recognizes our obedience and sacrifice, and on their account, accounts unto us the divine nature, so well pictured in the golden vessels themselves. The world, can of course not see us so, for all it sees is our flesh. Those who by way of consecration and spirit‑begettal have been privileged to enter the Holy of the antitypical tabernacle, there to be enlightened by the golden candlestick, and to be fed from the golden table of the shewbread, and to offer up incense at the golden altar, are themselves also represented in these vessels” (Br. Anton Frey, Our Wilderness Wanderings).

The outer covering, perhaps of manatee skins, represents the flesh of the new creation through this age. That is what the world sees, missing entirely the beauty of the divine vessels of Truth and service that pertain to the saints.

Meanwhile the saints in the flesh continue to suffer, as Christ suffered, so that they with Christ can be raised in the Millennium to assist the world of mankind up the highway of holiness. In this process the world will be purged of their propensity for sin — which was the point of the sin offering sacrifices of the Tabernacle. The ransom removes the curse, but the sin offering allows the purging of the propensity for sin from the world during the Millennium.

“And has she not been baptized into Christ’s death? Does she not suffer with him that she may also reign with him? Is she not a joint‑sacrificer with her master? (Romans 6:3‑5, Galatians 3:27, Romans 8:17, 2 Timothy 2:11,12). … [The world] has seen the Christ suffer in the flesh, but it has not recognized it. Says Pastor Russell, “The world has seen [Christ], Head and Body, suffer as a sin‑offering during this age. Jesus manifested to the Jews in the flesh (as a sin‑offering), and as Paul says, so can all followers in his footsteps say, `Christ is manifest in our mortal flesh’ (2 Corinthians 4:11). As the whole Christ has thus been manifested and has suffered in the flesh, so they also shall be glorified together before the world” (T84).” (Br. Anton Frey, Our Wilderness Wanderings).

The Emblem of Israel

The lampstand has long been a symbol of the Jewish people. It speaks not only of Israel, but of Jerusalem and the temple. So, it is not surprising that in 1948 when the newly established State of Israel needed a national emblem, they chose the lampstand.

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“The final menorah used for the emblem was based on one found on the Arch of Titus in, believe it or not, Rome. The relief on this arch shows Titus and his army returning to Rome with the spoils from Jerusalem after destroying it in 70 AD. In Rome, this picture symbolized defeat and humiliation for the Jewish people. But on the new national emblem of Israel, the same menorah stood for the rebirth and restoration of the Jewish nation. The emblem is widely used on official Israeli documents, government buildings, and, of course, on an Israeli passport” (http://www.jjtravelinisrael.com/almond-blossom-and-the-golden-lampstand/).

 

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

 

Acknowledgment and References

Br. David Rice (USA) — editing and content; “The Holy.” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine. Nov‑Dec, 2002.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2002/02nd_4.htm

Br. Charles Taze Russell — “Tabernacle Shadows,” pages 115-116.
http://www.htdbv8.com/indext.html

Br. Anton Frey (USA) — “Our Wilderness Wanderings.”
http://www.biblestudentarchives.com/documents/WW.pdf

Br. A.D. Kirkwood (Scotland), “Jesus in the Midst” — The Graph of Love. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, June, 1956.
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1956_6.htm#_Toc36355407

Br. Antoine Papajak (France) — “Seven Lamps and Seven Spirits.” The Beauties of the Truth Journal , August 1994, Volume 5, Number 3.
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTAUG94.PDF

Websites Cited:

http://www.bible‑light.com/BLON/STAR_V30‑1_1998‑02/feb98a52.htm:
http://www.jjtravelinisrael.com/almond‑blossom‑and‑the‑golden‑lampstand/

 

Suggested Further Reading

STUDY 1: An Introduction To The Tabernacle And It’s Purpose
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/02/study-1-an-introduction-to-the-tabernacle-and-its-purpose/

STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud By Day And The Pillar of Smoke By Night  https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/09/study-2-the-pillar-of-cloud-by-day-and-the-pillar-of-smoke-by-night/

STUDY 3: The Tabernacle Construction: The Holy and The Most Holy   https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/14/study-3-the-tabernacle-construction-the-holy-the-most-holy/

STUDY 4: The Court (“Holy Place”)
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/20/study-4-the-court-holy-place/

STUDY 5: The Camp. The Israelites.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/28/study-5-the-camp-the-israelites/

STUDY 6: The Levites
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/18/study-6-the-levites/

STUDY 7: The Priests. The Day of Atonement.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/10/study-7-the-priests-the-day-of-atonement/

STUDY 8: The Tabernacle Coverings
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/02/study-8-the-tabernacle-coverings/

STUDY 9: The Gate. The Door. The Vail.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/01/study-9-the-gate-the-door-the-vail/

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/12/17/study-10-the-furnishings-in-the-holy-of-the-tabernacle-a-the-lampstand/

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STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud by Day and The Pillar of Smoke by Night

“Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go.” (Nehemiah 9:12)

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THE HISTORY ABOUT THE PILLAR OF CLOUD AND FIRE

The First Appearance of the Cloud and Fire

God’s miraculous guidance of Israel from Egyptian bondage was evident through the sign of a pillar of a cloud. The first account of this pillar of cloud and fire in the Bible, is in Exodus 13:20-22 (ESV):

20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.”

This text suggests that the pillar appeared when the Israelites departed Succoth, the first camp after departing Rameses on 15 Abib (Nisan), 1445 BC (2513 years after the creation of Adam ). Smith’s Bible Dictionary (at BibleHub.com) says Succoth (“booths”) was reached at the close of the first day’s march and that the distance traversed each day was about 24 kilometres (fifteen miles).  Following is a map of Israel’s journey through the first part of their 40 years in the wilderness.

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(This map follows a conventional view. “More recent opinions place Mount Sinai further north at Har Karkom. Please see http://www.Harkarkom.com for specifics”, Br.David Rice, 2016. For a detailed account of Israel’s journey, giving each encampment, refer to Numbers 33.)

The Second and Subsequent Accounts of the Cloud and Fire

The next account in the Bible of this pillar of cloud is in Exodus 14:19‑20, after God instructed Moses to raise his staff, stretch out his hand over the sea, and divide the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites to escape Pharaoh and his army pursing the Israelites. They had overtaken the Israelites as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon (Exodus 14:16, 9).

Exodus 14:19-20 (ESV) reads, “19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.” Subsequently “during the last watch [“morning watch” – KJV] of the night, the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion” (Exodus 14:24, NIV). If there were four watches in the night, the last would have been about 3‑6 am. This suggests that the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea during the night, around the hours of 3‑6 am which would be classified as the 4th watch of the night (if there were four night watches).

The Pillar of Cloud and Fire and Its Association with the Tabernacle

When it was time for the long awaited moment of God’s glory to “move into” the newly built and consecrated Tent of Meeting:

34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

36 And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys.

37 But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.

38 For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:34-38).

This occurred on the first of Abib, the following year, after the Tabernacle had been erected (Exodus 40:1, 17). Later, when God led them away from mount Sinai, He continued to direct them by the movement of the cloud representing His presence. “They departed from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them. And the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp” (Numbers 10:33-34).

The Last Account of the Pillar of Cloud and Fire

The pillar of cloud and fire was present throughout Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness (Exodus 40:38). Numbers 12:10 refers to it in the incident of Miriam’s complaint against Moses. “When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous.” It is mentioned also in Numbers 14:14, 16:42, Deuteronomy 1:33, and Deuteronomy 31:15 as the life of Moses was drawing to a close.

In 960 BC the Temple of Solomon was dedicated, replacing the function originally served by the Tabernacle (and any other “temple” that may have been temporarily in use between the two, 1 Samuel 1:9).

The pillar of cloud was no longer required after Israel settled in Canaan, for they no longer needed a token from God to direct their travels, giving “them light on the way they were to take” (Nehemiah 9:12).

One commentary suggested the following about the Feast of Tabernacles that Israel observed after settling Canaan. “This feast, also called Succoth, was to commemorate the protection God provided in the wilderness and it may have marked the cessation of the fiery pillar” (The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, May-June 2006, “A Pillar and a Fire,” Br. Carl Hagensick).

The manna had stopped the day after the Israelites ate the food from Canaan (Joshua 5:12).

Perhaps the pillar of cloud and fire had completed its purpose about that time also. Notably, the account of the crossing of the Jordan River into the Land of Canaan (Joshua chapters 3, 4) does not mention Israel following the cloud. Joshua 3:3‑4: “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. 4Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”

The “Dense Cloud”

The “dense cloud” over Mount Sinai apparently was different than the “pillar of cloud,” for “dense cloud” brought darkness, whereas the pillar of cloud evidently had not.

The Israelites came to Mount Sinai at the opening of month three after the Exodus (Exodus 19:1). At Sinai, God told Moses “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you” (Exodus 19:9).

Three days later there was thunder and lightening with a thick cloud over Mount Sinai and a very loud trumpet blast. “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently” (Exodus 20:16, 18, NIV). Then God called Moses to the top of the mountain where he stayed 40 days and nights and was given the ten commandments. “The people remained at a distance while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21).

Though the “dense cloud” and the pillar of cloud were distinct, both indicated the presence of God. This would have been an enduring sign to the Israelites that God was with them all during their 40 years of wandering.

POSITION

If the pillar of cloud and fire remained over the Tabernacle, after it was constructed, then it would have been over the center of the camp of Israel, for the various tribes camped about the Tabernacle (Numbers 2:17). The Tabernacle was no longer “outside the camp”, where “Moses used to take a tent and pitch it … some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting”. (Exodus 33:7)

When the cloud lifted to direct Israel, it moved forward, ahead of them. However, in Exodus 14:19, 20, 24, it move behind them to protect them. “And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. … And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians.”

Over the Most Holy

Apparently the usual resting place of the cloud was over the Most Holy of Israel’s tabernacle. It is theorized by some that the Shekinah light, that shone between the two golden cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, was caused by an interaction between the electrically‑charged cloud and the Mercy Seat with its two carved angelic figures. If this conjecture is correct, it shows that divine wisdom, represented in the light, is a product of GOD, whose presence was indicated by the cloud, and the harmonious balance between the attributes of love and power, shown in the cherubim, and justice, represented by the Mercy Seat itself.

At the Door of the Tabernacle

On occasion, however, when GOD wished to make a pronouncement to His chosen people, the cloudy pillar took up a position at the door of the tabernacle. Three such occasions are mentioned (Exodus 33:9,10, Numbers 12:5, Deuteronomy 31:15).

SHAPE

There are two thoughts as to the shape of this miraculous cloud. Some view it as an upright plume as suggested by the word “pillar”, as shown here:

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Others envision it more as a canopy similar to the cloud in this picture.

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PURPOSE OF THE TWO PILLARS

The pillar of a cloud and of fire served in the following ways.

(1) God’s compass

It showed the Israelites where God wanted them to go and what God’s will for them was. The Psalmist David draws inspiration from this guiding light.

As Spirit begotten Christians, our compass is:

(a) God (Psalm 32:8) and Jesus (John 1:1‑12);
(b) the holy Spirit (Romans 8:26);
(c) the Word of God in the Bible;
(d) from the mouth of our brethren in Christ (Psalm 119:105).

(2) God’s instruction

The Israelites learned to discern God’s will by being given instruction through the movement of the pillars of cloud and fire. “Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the Lord, and he answered them. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them” (Psalm 99:6,7).

As Christians we receive instruction also from the Word and God and the holy Spirit: “But the Comforter, even the holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, it shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you” (John 14:26).

(3) Israel’s Protection Mechanism

a) Shelter

Isaiah 4:5‑6 (RSV) sheds light on this point. “Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy and a pavilion (“defense” in the KJV). It will be for a shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.”

The cloud served as a “canopy” that provided both “shade by day from the heat” and as “a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.” This implies a large cloud for the horde of two million Israelites plus their flocks and herds. Usually clouds bring rain, not shelter from rain. Clouds are porous and thus incapable of keeping out rain. But this miraculous pillar of cloud was unique in its ability to prevent the saturation of a down pour of desert rain.

Perhaps the lesson for us as Christians today is this: that God’s wisdom will not lead us where his grace cannot keep us. Faith can firmly trust him, come what may!

b) Security & Protection

The pillars of cloud and fire gave the Israelites a feeling of security—that God was watching over them. God accompanied the nation of Israel by either going ahead of them or placing himself in the rear of their group, thus protecting them against their enemies and against death itself (Exodus 14:19‑20).

Spiritual Israelites have the protection of the “armour of God” (Ephesians 6:10‑18):

“10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

(4) A visual reminder to reverence God

The pillar of cloud and fire reminded the Israelites about who they were to serve. It was thus a warning, in a sense, to not worship foreign gods. It was a faith‑building and trust‑in‑God provoking tool for the Israelites (Exodus 19:9).

God wanted the Israelites to also show respect to Moses, the Mediator of the nation. So we, also, are taught to respect the Elders of the ecclesias that we meet with either for online meetings or physical meetings. They are chosen mouthpieces of God who deserve double honor (1 Timothy 5:17), “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”

Do we remember what happened when Solomon’s son Rehoboam did not listen to the Elders but followed the advice of the young men who he had grown up with? (1 Kings 12:6‑19). Let us learn from such examples to respect our Elders.

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The spirit begotten Christian is given reminders through the holy Spirit working within—we develop an educated conscience through studying the Word of GOD and through prayer. We also receive reminders from Brethren in Christ such as the Apostle Paul reminded the Brethren through the disciple Timothy (1 Timothy 1:14‑16, ESV) –

“14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.”

In Titus 3:1‑11 (ESV), Paul wrote to Titus these words about what to remind the brethren in Crete.

“1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,

5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self‑condemned.”

(5) A sign of God’s power

Not only were these two pillars a witness to the Israelites but also a witness to the surrounding nations that Israel’s God was wise, powerful, and protective of his chosen people: “And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night” (Numbers 14:14).

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CLOUDS IN THE BIBLE

Clouds are mentioned throughout the Bible and often signify trouble, or a time of judgment. Here are some examples.

Psalms 97:2“Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.”

Job 37:11 “Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning.”

Revelation 14:14 “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.”

Here the white cloud represents blessing as opposed to dark thunder clouds. Jesus sits on it showing that he is in control since the beginning of 1874 (Christ’s invisible second presence) when the end of the harvest, and the sifting of wheat and tares, began. This continues until the last member of the 144,000 Bride of Christ goes beyond the vail, that is, completes their sacrifice until death and becomes a Divine being. The sharp sickle held by Jesus is for gathering the Church, not the world.

1 Thessalonians 4:17“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

This verse also applies to Christ’s (invisible) Parousia—the Suntelia periodthe ending period of the Gospel Age, described in Matthew 24.

Leviticus 16:2“The Lord said to Moses: ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the vail, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.'” This refers to the cloud of incense, not the cloud over the Tabernacle.

1 Kings 8:10‑12“It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.”

Fire in the Bible

Fire in the Bible represents: purging and destruction. Here are some examples of Scripture:

Hebrews 12:29“For our God [is] a consuming fire.”

Luke 3:16“John answered, saying unto [them] all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:”

Jeremiah 20:9“Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But [his word] was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not [stay].”

Jeremiah 23:29“[Is] not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer [that] breaketh the rock in pieces?”

Luke 12:49“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?”

1 Corinthians 3:15“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Revelation 20:9“And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”

Revelation 21:8“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

The fire that purges evil from the world, is not literal fire, but a symbol of destruction of the evil systems of the world approaching in Armageddon. This will lead into the most glorious world government ever seen. Earth will be ruled by Christ and his Bride for 1000 years during a reign of righteousness until God shall be all in all.

No cloud or fire either figurative or literal will be required
in the future eternal eternities.

No longer will a Tabernacle or Temple be needed (Revelation 21:22-27), and God shall dwell in the hearts of all people as His laws will be in their minds (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16).

As the fiery pillar led Israel safely to the promised land of Canaan, may God’s presence in our lives lead us to our promised Zion, our heavenly and perfect and holy home.

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Acknowledgement

We wish to thank Br. David Rice for his great zeal in the Lord’s work and patient endurance in the editing and sharing of content for this post in the “Beauties of the Tabernacle” Series on http://www.BIBLEStudentsDAILY.com

References

Special thanks to Br. Carl Hagensick for source material from his article “A Pillar and a Fire,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, May-June 2006.

Further Suggested Reading

STUDY 1: An Introduction To The Tabernacle And It’s Purpose
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/02/study-1-an-introduction-to-the-tabernacle-and-its-purpose/

STUDY 3: The Tabernacle Construction: The Holy and The Most Holy   https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/14/study-3-the-tabernacle-construction-the-holy-the-most-holy/

STUDY 4: The Court (“Holy Place”)
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/20/study-4-the-court-holy-place/

STUDY 5: The Camp. The Israelites.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/28/study-5-the-camp-the-israelites/

STUDY 6: The Levites
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/18/study-6-the-levites/

STUDY 7: The Priests. The Day of Atonement.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/10/study-7-the-priests-the-day-of-atonement/

STUDY 8: The Tabernacle Coverings
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/02/study-8-the-tabernacle-coverings/

STUDY 9: The Gate. The Door. The Vail.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/01/study-9-the-gate-the-door-the-vail/

The URL of this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/09/study-2-the-pillar-of-cloud-by-day-and-the-pillar-of-smoke-by-night/

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STUDY 1: An Introduction to the Tabernacle and It’s Purpose

“LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.” – Psalm 26:8 (KJV)

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A Definition of the Tabernacle

The Lord said to Moses, …let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). “I will put My tabernacle in your midst, and My soul shall not loathe you” (Leviticus 26:11).

The Tabernacle (which in Hebrew is: מִשְׁכַּן‎‎, mishkan and means “residence” or “dwelling place”), is also referred to by Yahweh God as the “Tent of Meeting” (Exodus 40) and comprised of both a “Holy” and “Most Holy” place which was surrounded by a fenced court area.

The Tabernacle represents how the plan of God proceeds during the age of sacrifice (the Gospel Age), as distinguished from the Temple of Solomon, which represents how the plan of God proceeds during the Millennium.

Length of Time of Operation

When was the Tabernacle first set up?

The Tabernacle was first set up “on the first day of the first month in the second year,” nearly a year after the nationwide exodus of the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 40:2, 17).

The Isaelites departed Rameses “in the first month, on the fifteenth day” (Numbers 33:3), that would be Abib 15, 1445 BC. The Tabernacle was set up Abib 1, 1444 BC.

Abib is the month later named Nisan, as in Nehemiah 2:1, after the Babylonian captivity, deriving from the Babylonian month name Nisanu.) Abib/Nisan falls somewhere within our months of March and April. It changes in relation to our months because the Jews use a lunar calendar (months of 29 or 30 days), with an extra month inserted in the year periodically to maintain the seasons.

How long was the Tabernacle in use?

The Tabernacle and all its furnishings and surrounding court equipment was transported by the 3 clans of Levites (Kohathites, Gershonites and Meraritessee Numbers chapter 4) on their 40 year journey through the wilderness to the promised land.

It continued in use during the period of Judges for an unknown period of time. 1 Samuel 1:9 suggests that some other temporary structure may have been used by the time of Eli, the high priest.

The most sacred article of the Tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant. This was captured by the Philistines during the time of Eli, who tumbled backward on hearing the news, and died at the age of 98 (1 Samuel 4:14-18). Four generations later, Solomon built a temple as the dwelling place of God.

When the ark had been captured by the Philistines it remained in their control for seven months (1 Samuel 6:1). Because of the plagues it caused them, the Philistines returned the ark to the Israelites, ultimately residing at Kiriath Jearim (1 Samuel 6:21). Twenty year later the Philistine oppression was broken by God under the leader of Samuel (1 Samuel 7:2 and following).

Solomon’s Temple superseded the Tabernacle. It was founded “in the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel in the month of Ziv(1 Kings 6:1).

{Note: “Ziv” in Hebrew meaning “light” or “glow” and after the Babylonian Exile, the name of this month was changed to being called “Iyar” and falls in April-June on the Gregorian calendar.}

The Temple was founded in 966 BC. It was part of seven years in building, and when complete the ark was moved into the Temple (1 Kings 8).

The Purpose of the Tabernacle

“The Tabernacle was necessary as a way to define Israel’s obedience to God, to unify them as a nation, and to bring organization to their daily life” (“Approaching God,” Bro. Regis Liberda. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Nov.-Dec. 2002 ).

Most importantly, the Tabernacle served as a place where the Israelites could be reconciled to God.

The most sacred time of offerings was the annual Day of Atonement. On that day the high priest made atonement for the sins of himself, of the other priests, and for the transgressions of all the Israelites. On that day only, the high priest went into the Most Holy. With him he brought the blood from a bullock, and subsequently the blood of a goat. (Refer to Study 7 of “Beauties of the Truth” on this website titled “The Priests. The Day of Atonement.”)  We read about this in Leviticus 16:30:

“God said, ‘For it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you shall be clean from all your sins before the Lord.'”

In the book of Hebrews, the apostle Paul indicates that our access to the privilege of the Most Holy and the presence of God was not available until the blood of atonement was brought to the mercy seat. The blood of bulls and goats, apostle Paul points out, was a picture of a higher reality. This greater reality was the sacrifice of Christ, an offering which needed no annual repetition, as the type, but was given once, efficacious for all time.

“Therefore, brethren, [we have] boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Hebrews 10:19, 20).

Further confirmation comes from apostle Paul’s second epistle to Timothy. There it says that our new spiritual privileges are “Now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).

Thus everything surrounding the Tabernacle arrangement pointed towards the Messiah, Christ Jesus, our anti-typical high priest who entered into the greater and more perfect Tabernacle, not made with hands and not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood. Jesus entered the anti-typical Most Holy place (the Divine Realm, Hebrews 9:24) once for all, having obtained eternal redemption for us—the spirit begotten (Hebrews 9:11-14; 27-28).

(While in the flesh, the difference between the Bride of Christ Class and the Great Company Class is not distinct, as it is when the judgment is completed at the end of the age).

260px-Stiftshuette_Modell_TimnaparkAbove is a model of the Tabernacle in Timna Valley Park, Israel

A Copy and Shadow

In Hebrews 8:5 (NIV), the apostle Paul wrote that the Aaronic priests serve at a sanctuary [the Holy and Most Holy compartment] that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’”

The Tabernacle which God commanded the people of Israel to construct in the Wilderness of Sin, and in connection with which all their religious services and ceremonies were instituted, was, the apostle Paul assures us, a shadow of good things to come.

In Colossians 2:17 we read, “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

In fact, the entire nation of Israel, it’s laws, religious services and ceremonies were typical. Our understanding of God’s plan and work of salvation is enhanced by carefully studying those “shadows” which the Israelites were caused to repeat year by year continually until the Gospel age introduced their antitypes—the realities.

1 Peter 1:10-11 (ESV) reads, Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.”

Furthermore, the apostle Paul explains, “1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:1-4, NIV).

GOD’s DETAILED PRECISION

We see how God requires SERIOUS DETAILED PRECISION in ALL our works that we do for Him as ‘PITS’ = ‘Priests In Training’ through how God instructed Moses to make the Tabernacle.

In Exodus 25:40 (NKJV) God tells Moses “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.”

Every detail in this work was to be performed exactly as God instructed, in the type, because it illustrated something greater and more important to come afterward.

So that the people might not become careless in performing this work exactly how God instructed, the usual penalty for any violation was death.

Let us look at some of the PRECISE instructions the Israelites had to adhere to:-

Exodus 28:42-43 (NIV)“Make linen undergarments as a covering for the body, reaching from the waist to the thigh. Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the tent of meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants.”

Numbers 4:15 (ESV)“And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die. These are the things of the tent of meeting that the sons of Kohath are to carry.”

1.2 - CARRYING ARK.jpg
Numbers 4:19-20 (NAS) – “But do this to them that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy objects: Aaron and his sons shall go in and assign each of them to his work and to his load; but they shall not go in to see the holy objects even for a moment, or they will die.”

Numbers 18:7But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain (Vail). I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary (the Holy and Most Holy) is to be put to death.”

2 Samuel 6:6, 7 (KJV) –And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.”

Leviticus 10:1, 2 (NIV)“Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.”

Realizing God’s care in making the “shadow” gives us confidence in its correctness, that not one jot or tittle of it shall fail until all be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18), and awakens in us so great an interest in God’s plan leading us to examine closely and search carefully for the meaning of those shadows. And this, with God’s promised blessing, we now purpose to do, assured that “he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:8).

Hebrews 9, 27-28.jpg

The Tabernacle

The Tabernacle too makes known
     God’s mighty plan, so vast, so real;
The bullock and the goat are shown;
     What sacrifice these types reveal!

The altar and the laver stand
     Within the Court, by sacred Word,
Then Altar, Table, Lamps so grand,
     Within the Holy of the Lord.

Oh wondrous thought! We here can dwell!
     To holiest place we can draw nigh;
And these great things so sacred, tell
     Of heavenly joys we’ll have on high.

So while the Harvest still is here,
     And ere descends the pall of night,
We have the peace that knows not fear,
        And praises God for Truth’s glorious light.

Poems of the Way (page 108)

Acknowledgement

We wish to thank Br. David Rice for his great zeal in the Lord’s work and patient endurance in the editing and sharing of content for this post in the “Beauties of the Tabernacle” series on http://www.BIBLEStudentsDAILY.com

References

Special thanks to Br. Regis Liberta for source material from his article “Approaching God,” (The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Nov.- Dec. 2002).

Further Suggested Reading

STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud By Day And The Pillar of Smoke By Night  https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/09/study-2-the-pillar-of-cloud-by-day-and-the-pillar-of-smoke-by-night/

STUDY 3: The Tabernacle Construction: The Holy and The Most Holy   https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/14/study-3-the-tabernacle-construction-the-holy-the-most-holy/

STUDY 4: The Court (“Holy Place”)
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/20/study-4-the-court-holy-place/

STUDY 5: The Camp. The Israelites.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/28/study-5-the-camp-the-israelites/

STUDY 6: The Levites
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/18/study-6-the-levites/

STUDY 7: The Priests. The Day of Atonement.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/10/study-7-the-priests-the-day-of-atonement/

STUDY 8: The Tabernacle Coverings
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/02/study-8-the-tabernacle-coverings/

STUDY 9: The Gate. The Door. The Vail.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/01/study-9-the-gate-the-door-the-vail/

The URL for this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/02/study-1-an-introduction-to-the-tabernacle-and-its-purpose/

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