Lesson 36

The Typical Tabernacle

"The sacrifices amounted to an annual reminder of sins; for the blood of bulls and goats cannot really remove the guilt of sin."
Hebrews 10:3 (Phillips Translation)

There are many lessons we can learn from the tabernacle. This remarkable tent of worship was built as God instructed Moses. It had to be very carefully made, for it was to be a picture of God’s plan of the ages.

The people were eager to help build the tabernacle. They brought far more silver and gold and beautiful cloth than was needed. The finest artists and most skilled craftsmen put their very best efforts into its making (Exodus 12:35, 36; 35:29, 32; 36:5).

Every year, on the Day of Atonement, a bullock was sacrificed on the brazen altar in the court of the tabernacle. Many other sacrifices were burned throughout the year, but this was a special sacrifice. It was the people’s way of telling God that they knew they were sinners and wanted to do better—they wanted to be his people.

The bullock represented Jesus’ human life and everything that happened to the bullock later happened to the goat, which represented the 144,000 members of the church. Because Jesus voluntarily died on the cross—a perfect man (Jesus) for a perfect man (Adam)—all mankind will be resurrected to life on the earth and shall be given an opportunity to live forever.

The court, the holy, and the most holy, the furniture, the priests, and the sacrifices of the tabernacle illustrated the more important features of the divine plan. The three items of furniture in the holy were: the golden candlestick, representing the light of truth; the table of shewbread, representing the Old and New Testaments; and the incense altar, representing the consecrated church class continually offering the incense of faith, love, and obedience to God.

The only piece of furniture in the Most Holy was the Ark of the Covenant. It was a box about the size of a cedar chest and covered with gold inside and out and had a lid made of solid gold. On the lid were two golden angels and there was a bright light between them that showed that God was present with his people. Inside the ark were the two tables of the Law, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the golden pot of manna that never spoiled. All these things were pictures having to do with God’s great plan.

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