God's Display Centre

I love picture books. They help me grasp the story, or visit countries and places otherwise lost to my imagination. I enjoy telling children a story from a picture book and explaining what the drawing or photograph means.

Maybe that is why I appreciate what God has done in giving us a 'picture' of the Messiah and His ministry. That 'picture' is beautifully bound in the Tabernacle set up by Moses in the Wilderness. The account of the Tabernacle in Exodus 25 and onwards seems to get tedious for some reading about measurements, weights and material. However when you begin to study the symbolic significance of material, sacrifices and furniture arrangement God's 'picture' takes on deeper meaning.

There was a perimeter fence around the Tabernacle. This allowed for a courtyard in which animal sacrifices could be performed. There was also a place for the priests to wash before entering into the Tabernacle itself.

The purpose of the perimeter of linen seems to suggest that it was designed to protect, not what was inside, but the outside from judgement, which could come from inside. The Tabernacle is about the Holiness of God. In the words of Deuteronomy 4:24 "The LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God." If He were let loose on an unprepared world none would survive. It was God's chesed (grace) that is pictured in the perimeter fence. He was protecting us.

The fence also had only one curtained door. It was a wide entrance, but it was the only entrance. As a person approached, the significance surely must have been obvious. There is only one way into the presence of the Eternal and Holy God. Beyond the curtained entrance stood the five-cubits square bronze offering altar for burning sacrifices, which speak of judgement by fire, signifying the purging of sin, and ultimately death to sin. Isaiah sums up the reason centuries later when he speaks for God, " . . . your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you . . . " (59:2.) Sin, which is related to treason and rebellion, must be dealt with by death. An initial glance at the way to God brings despair. The Law must be fulfilled, a sacrifice is required. Then you notice almost by 'accident' that there is a spotless lamb standing next to you.

What the Law of Holiness demands, the grace of God supplies. Sure, you realize it is a substitute on which you rely but it offers the covering you require. As you confess your treason against the holiness of God and identify with the lamb you discover the burden of guilt and the fear of an angry God dissipate. The lamb is your sin offering and Passover – deliverance from judgement. The lamb dies so that you might live and enter into the discovery of the glory of God. This is the wonderful drama of the Tabernacle. The Glory of God is His Messiah.

That raises an interesting issue. If the Tabernacle is all about the Messiah then the one and only entrance must point to Him. Also the sacrificial lamb must point to Him. Then if we are to journey into the Tabernacle and discover more about God through the Messiah He must be alive. That points to resurrection power.

Isaiah 53 is the majestic passage which leads us also to this awareness. The Servant of YHWH is depicted as the goats for atonement. One carries the sin away, the other sheds its life's blood. He is also depicted as the burnt offering. "He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied. By his knowledge my righteous Servant shall justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong . . . " (53:11-12) Here is the promise of resurrection. Here is the guarantee that the rest of the journey as pictured by the Tabernacle can be completed.

There is one more important feature relating to judgement that is encountered before entering the wonder of the Tabernacle. It is the bronze washing bowl. Hands and feet must be washed. Why? Psalm 24:3-4 links together clean hands and a pure heart. "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol nor sworn deceitfully."

"Their feet rush to evil; and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace." (Isaiah 59:7-8)

This judgement on hands and feet expresses God's standard of a lived-out righteousness, not merely an inner acknowledgement that it is a good idea. Rather to understand that the Messiah has cleansed us within and impacted what our hands touch and where our feet walk. The promised One will be the substitute and the cleansing agent. He, and He alone, can take the judgement and equip us to enter into the glory of a faith relationship portrayed inside the Tabernacle.

Has the person to whom the Tabernacle points made His entrance into history? Is there anyone to whom others have given testimony that can be measured against the 'picture'?

That would be good news should there be a credible testimony to such a person. That good news has been supplied. It is found in the biographical portions written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the Ha Brit Hadasha (The New Testament). All eye witnesses. All declaring that God's picture book has become flesh and blood in time and space in the Person of Yeshua. In a bold statement Yeshua alluded to the Tabernacle when He said "I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes unto the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

The Way refers to the realm of Judgement over which He experienced and triumphed. Yeshua is the One who takes us into the Truth and the Life that God wants us to experience and enjoy. Then the 'picture' will be complete.