But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
There are so many people in the Bible who are “shadows of Christ”. In fact, there are so many that I have started an entire section on the subject and within a year or two, I’d like to move that all to its own website. However, for now, I will stick with writing about it here.
There are many people that represent Christ, but, there are also many, many objects in the Bible that represent Him. One of these images comes from the Tabernacle, which is home to one of the most holy objects in the Old Testament: the Ark of the Covenant.
First of all, to start the process of the making of the Tabernacle, God commanded the people to give “an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass . . .” (Exodus 35:5)
Gold was a future sign of Christ’s royalty. He would be as pure gold, and would rule forevermore as King of kings. Nothing quite says “royalty” as gold does.
Silver represents the price Christ would be paid for. He would be betrayed to satisfy man’s lust of money and evil. From the same silver that Joseph was sold into slavery, to the silver that made the Tabernacle, to the silver that Christ was betrayed for . . . it all represented a sacrifice that had been taken.
Now, the brass was a sign of Christ’s taking our iniquities on Him. The Hebrew word for brass can also mean filthiness. In the same way that the Israelites sacrificed their brass (filthiness) to God, so did Christ sacrifice His life with that brass (filthiness/sin) from the people of the world.
Next, the people were to offer, “blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair . . .” (Exodus 35:6)
Blue, at least in the Hebrew word used here, was a color taken from a certain type of mussel. As we all know, mussels are nasty things that literally destroy the livelihood of many. So, the blue represented another destructive force thrown on Christ: suffering.
Purple, again, represented His royalty. Remember that the people mocking Christ threw a purple robe on Him, hailing Him as a King. However, they didn’t really believe He was King. So, although purple represents royalty, it also tells a sad fact of Christ’s life.
Now, when we reach scarlet, we find something I found extraordinary. In this verse there are two words for the word “scarlet”, the only time (except for Exodus 25:4 where it is saying the same thing) this ever occurs in Scripture. One word means scarlet and the other means a worm or maggot.
Remember the verse in Isaiah 1:18:
“Come now, and let us reason together,” saith the LORD: “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
The red, scarlet appearance of our sin eats away what is good like a maggot or worm would. We are full of red sin and maggots. It is no wonder God used those words. And, you want to know something else extraordinary? The word “crimson” in the Isaiah verse is the same as the maggot word!
What are the chances that two different words appear in the same verses that talk about the tabernacle, a shadow of Christ, and redemption, a shadow of Christ? I wouldn’t call that a chance!
Easily one of the most recognizable symbols of Israel, is the menorah. The Hebrew word for menorah throughout the Bible basically means a candlestick. It was a light. The menorah became one of the easily recognizable symbols related to Israel because Israel was going to give the world the Light of the world: Jesus Christ.
In Exodus 37:17 God tells us how the menorah was made:
And he made the candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work made he the candlestick; his shaft, and his branch, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, were of the same:
Here we see that the menorah is made of pure gold. Once again we see that this represents the royalty of Jesus Christ. And we also see that Christ will be “pure”. The word for pure here can mean either morally pure or physically pure (like no dirt in the gold). Christ was morally perfect, never sinning, never making a mistake!
Also the other items in this verse suggest something else. The “shaft” would easily represent the covenant God made with Abraham (the details get a little uncomfortable so I don’t want to delve into it too much). The branch would definitely signify Christ’s name as the Branch of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1).
Then in the information about the “knops” (I like to think of them like little knots on the menorah). I find it very interesting that there were fourteen of these knops. The same number of generations between Abraham and the carrying away of Israel to Babylon and the carrying away of Israel to Babylon to David and between David and Christ. This was no accident.
The first knop on the main shaft, which is Christ, could represent Abraham. It was through Abraham that David was eventually born. and through David, the second knop, Christ was eventually born.
Like I’ve said over and over, everything in the Bible has a purpose. God wouldn’t have used space in His Holy Word is it didn’t have a meaning.
Table of Shewbread
Another item that was in the tabernacle, sometimes related to the Israelite nation and spoke of Christ, was the table of shewbread. This table was very important and speaks so many times of Christ that when one looks at it, they should be astonished, once again.
We receive very specific instructions on the making of the table in Exodus 25:23-30. Let’s take this section by section.
Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about.
Now, as we have seen with all the others, Christ’s royalty and moral pureness is shown by pure gold. But, here we have a back-up with a crown of gold being made around the top of the table. You can kind of distinguish that in the above picture used.
And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.
Christ called Himself the “Bread of life”. Bread, for the Israelites, was a word akin to food, survival, life! Without bread/food, you died, simple fact. When Christ said He was the Bread of life He was telling all that not only would He sustain their physical needs but He would also take care of their spiritual lives.
Now, in the Bible it tells us that Christ intercedes for us to the Father. He is always there, holding back the wrath of God on the putrid sins of humans. For me, Christ, the Bread of life, is before God always interceding for our lives behalf’s. That is the true definition of Bread and the table of shewbread which shows us Christ.
Altar of Incense
Between the table of shewbread and the altar of incense we have many similarities. Like the table, the altar was made of “shittim” wood and covered in pure gold and had a crown of gold surrounding the top. All this spoke of Christ’s royalty.
Although I did not talk about it in the table of shewbread part, there is something in the latar and the table that speaks of one more sign toward Christ’s royalty.
And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal.
Here we have the word “rings”. The English word looks like any other we would use for a circle, or ring that something had to be held in. Nothing special. But, if you look at the Hebrew word you will see something a little deeper.
This word for rings is used multiple times, especially in Esther, in the Bible as the ring or signet of a king or Pharaoh. Back in those times, if something came from the king he would press his ring into the wax seal around the scroll. This signet was special only to the king and would show anyone who had seen it, that it was a direct order of the king. There was no denying the king’s seal.
Well, here we have the interesting part. In verse five it says:
And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
These “staves” spoken of can also be known as branches. And, as we saw in the talk about the menorah, Christ is known as the Branch. This is very important so keep this in mind.
Now, the “staves” or, as we have seen, Christ/Branch, go through the rings, which signify royalty and authority. So, we have Christ, Branch of Jesse (father of King David), carrying the altar of incense through the signets of the Almighty. It all relates pretty well.
And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.
Aaron had to make a blood offering to the LORD on this altar every year. Here, perhaps, lays the greatest shadow of Christ in the entire tabernacle. Nowhere else does the atonement of sin take on such importance as on this altar.
And so, just as the altar is layered in pure gold, held up by rings and staves and used to atone for sin, so is Christ the pure, royal, authoritative, Branch and washer of all sins!
Ark of the Covenant
Being one of the most mysterious, and consequently, the most absent symbol of Israel, the ark of the covenant, which rested in the tabernacle shows very clearly the outline of Christ in His life, genealogy and death.
Before I mention anything else, I would like to tell you something that I find amazing considering our study. The man who made the ark has a most astounding name. His name, Bezaleel, means “in the shadow of God”. Fitting that this man would make something which would give Israel a shadow of their Messiah: Jesus Christ.
First off, as I have promised, I will explain the importance of the “shittim wood”. The Hebrew word for “shittim” word is equivalent to the English word (which comes from the Greek) for the acacia tree.
Now, if any of you have seen the acacia tree then you will know why this is important. For those who haven’t seen it, I’ll give you a clue to what it means. The word “acacia” comes from the Greek word for “thorn”.
In Matthew, Mark and John, the account of Christ wearing a crown of thorns, is present. Apparently, God thought it important that we knew this. See, when the ark was made, the acacia trees had to be stripped of their thorns and cut down and shaped into something that could be worked with. This is all symbolic of stripping of the curse of mankind through the atoning work of God.
In these same steps, but in opposite manner, Christ had to come into the world, molded perfectly into what he had to be. Then, He had to bear the thorns (one of the curse of mankind’s sins, Genesis 3:18) and become something that could bear the sin of the world.
As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says:
For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
For me, it is clear that the entire tabernacle’s core lay in the sacrificial death Christ would offer. Amazing!
In the verse 15 we have a prerequisite of a previous prophecy but before the fulfillment of prophecy which Christ has fulfilled.
The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
This verse, as we discovered in the last part, means that the Branch/Christ will not lose His authority. He is not mortal that He should lose it. The prophecy related to it is found in Genesis 49:10:
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.
The royal sceptre did not depart from Judah until Christ came. The stave did not leave the ring and so Christ/Branch has not lost His authority.
Items in the Ark
In Hebrews 9:4 it tells us that that ark of the covenant was to hold these items:
. . . and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
Now, we already know that the ark represents many aspects of Christ so, as would be natural, the objects inside the ark should also tell of Christ.
The golden pot of manna is one interesting topic. First off we have the gold. You all should, by now, know what that means. Then we have the manna itself.
Manna was a mystery to the Israelites and they named it after that. Kind of like the kangaroo story . . . haven’t heard that story? Well here you go:
Two Australian men were walking in the outback when they saw a big creature hopping around. One of the men hit the other on the shoulder and whispered, “kangaroo?” The translation of his question would be, “what is that?” So, thereafter kangaroo’s were named kangaroos after the first person who asked, “what is that?!” At least, that is how the story goes . . .
These Israelites didn’t know what it was so, when they see it, the first thing they say is “what is it?” In the same manner, did people question Christ. They questioned Him before His ministry, during it and even at His death and after His resurrection. Christ was always, and still is, questioned.
However, the manna has more significance. We see in Numbers 11:7 that it says manna looked like “bdellium”. This bdellium is directly related to myrrh, one of the gifts given to Christ after His birth. But, it’s significance does not stop there. Since bdellium is linked to myrrh, and since myrrh was used on the dead, we have a immediate claim here towards the death of Christ.
When a rebellion sprang up in the Israelite’s camp, God crushed it. And, to prove, once again, that He had power over all, He made Aaron’s rod (something with no roots) bloom flowers and produce almonds . . . overnight! You can read more about that in Numbers 17.
Anyway, this small item that God worked so many miracles through paves way for the greatest event in history.
The almonds that were produced from the rod represent a promise being fulfilled by God. For the shadow it cast it speaks of all the prophecies of Christ. The almonds made the point that God will keep His promises.
But, the shadow of Christ does not stop at the almonds. No, in fact, it begins well before and very far after. Considering the fact that a dead rod, probably being used for 80+ years as a walking stick, cane, rod, and staff, it would be extremely dried out and totally dead. No one could look at the rod and say, “it is still alive.”
Just like the rod, Christ had died. Nobody could deny that He was dead. It would be preposterous to assume so. So, like the rod, Christ had died. No doubt about it, it would be all over for the rod and Christ. Death was final.
However, like the rod, God raised Christ back to life and bore fruit of all the promise He had made.
As for the Ten Commandments . . . they represent that Christ will come as a holy, perfect Human that was sinless and yet chose to bear the sins of mankind. They don’t tell a happy story but that is the story of sin; our nature.
I find it truly amazing how God incorporated so many astounding things in His tabernacle. It is true: God’s tent, the Tabernacle, threw a detailed shadow of Christ.