Where Heaven's Love And Heaven's Justice Meet

by George F Spall

The Tabernacle in the Wilderness is a very important feature of the Bible. Fifty chapters of Scripture are devoted to it, thirteen from Exodus, thirteen from Numbers, eighteen from Leviticus, two in Deuteronomy, and four in the Letter to the Hebrews. By contrast the Creation account occupies one chapter for the Universe! It is interesting, too, that God sustained over two million people in a hostile environment while He gave the details of its construction very minutely.

Four times we are told: "Make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain" , in Exodus 25:9-40, Exodus 26:30, Exodus 27:8 and Hebrews 8:5, and it seems it was made to be a replica of one in Heaven: "After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened" (Revelation 15:5). Certainly King David was able to instruct his son Solomon in the construction of the Temple. "Then David gave his son Solomon the plans ... for all that he had by the Spirit ... 'All this,' said David, 'the LORD made me understand in writing, by his hand upon me, all the works of these plans'" (I Chronicles 18:11,12,19).

The Tabernacle is an important subject, too, in the Book of Revelation, various items of furniture being mentioned in Revelation 1:12, 2:17, 4:6, 6:9, 8:3, and lastly, "Then the temple of God was opened in Heaven, and the ark of the covenant was seen in his temple" (11:19).

Now as we look at the ceremonial and spiritual laws governing the construction of the Tabernacle we find much material was used: three tons of gold, five tons of silver, four tons of brass or bronze, plus all the wood and cloth, the dyes and perfumes. And it took 8,500 Levites to carry it.

As we look at the provision for its building we note that it was to be made from the freewill offerings of the people, and it was AFTER the contributions that God said, "and let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8).

The 'house' God designed, in this instance called the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, required furniture and furnishings, as is necessary for the proper functioning of any household, and God's priority became evident immediately. His choice and instruction was for the ark of the covenant with the mercy seat to be made FIRST. It was placed in the Holy of Holies and nothing else was. Then came the instructions for the lampstand, then the table of the bread of the Presence, and so on till lastly the laver was mentioned last of all.

The Tabernacle had no windows; it was illumined from within by the burning of pure oil which speaks of the Holy Spirit. No seats were in the Tabernacle, as priests stand to minister in the house of the Lord. And there was no music mentioned, for though music was required and God planned for it, He did not put it in the Tabernacle itself, for like natural light, natural music was excluded so that only the most spiritual worship was offered. There was no pulpit either, for who would God wish to hear? In this sanctuary ministry was all Godward.


The ark for the Holy of Holies, made like a box, had many names in Scripture: ark of the Testimony (Exodus 25:22), ark of the Covenant (Numbers 10:33), ark of the LORD (Joshua 3:13), ark of the Covenant of GOD (Judges 20:27), ark of God (I Samuel 3:3), ark of the Covenant of the LORD of hosts (I Samuel 4:4), ark of the LORD of Israel (I Samuel 5:7), ark of the LORD God (I Kings 2:26), ark of the Covenant of the LORD (I Kings 3:15), ark of our God (II Chronicles 13:3), ark of God the LORD (I Chronicles 13:6), ark of the LORD God of Israel (I Chronicles 15:3), ark of Thy strength (II Chronicles 6:41; Psalm 132:8) and Holy ark (II Chronicles 35:3).

It contained "the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant" (Hebrews 9:4). It was made of shittim wood, desert acacia that grew in the desert conditions they were in, and it was overlaid with gold, and had four golden rings, one at each corner for carrying it by two staves through the rings.


The word for mercy seat is actually kapporeth meaning a covering. It was a lid which covered the ark and it was beaten out of a slab of solid gold that weighed 560 pounds. As there was no wood in it, it spoke of the glory and deity of Almighty God. There were two cherubim, one at each end, placed on the mercy seat, moulded to it, and they faced each other, "and the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be towards the mercy seat" (Exodus 25:20).

Cherubim stood for God's executive holiness, and we remember they were in Eden "to guard the way to the tree of life" (Genesis 3:24). Ezekiel also records their exhibiting the glory of God in his vision of the glory of the Lord departing from the Temple: "and the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard ... like the voice of Almighty God when he speaks ... Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight" (Ezekiel 10:5,18,19).

It is the mercy seat above the ark which is the basis for communion. "And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, of all things which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel" (Exodus 25:22).

Here is where communication, communion and command are all restored to man after being lost in the garden of Eden. Here is where Heaven's love and Heaven's justice meet.


We read in the Scriptures that Stephen, in his address to his own nation, reminded them that "Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, who found favour before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob.

"But Solomon built him a house. However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 'Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool, What house will you build for me? Says the LORD, or what is the place of my rest? Has my hand not made all these things?'" (Acts 7:44-50), and quoting Isaiah 66:1,2).

And as for the High Priest, who was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies once a year with the blood to sprinkle on the mercy seat, the writer to the Hebrews has this to say: "For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning the priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For he testifies: 'You are a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek') ... We have such a high priest, who is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not men" (Hebrews 7:14-17,20,21; 8:1,2).

"But the Messiah came as high priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood he entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:11,12).

So the mercy seat where God's love and God's justice met in both the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and the Temple in Jerusalem will one day come on earth when, as John in his vision recounts: "And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God'" (Revelation 21:2,3).