Updated: Feb 16
Exodus 35-39 (1-29-22)
Today we finish our reading through Exodus. These last 5 chapters are full of the details given for the building of the tabernacle and the priestly garments. While it would be interesting to mine down into these details, I want to instead look at what to point us to--Jesus. In Christ, much of the Old Covenant system is fulfilled. So, today I want to take some time and show us how Jesus Himself is the truer and better Tabernacle and Priest.
Look with me at John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …”.
The word “dwelt” here means tabernacled.
Dwelt: to tent or encamp, to occupy, to reside (as God did in the tabernacle of old).
When He took on flesh, God the Son (Jesus) pitched His tent on earth for thirty-three years. This is a key fulfillment in reference to the tabernacle of Israel we read about in Exodus. The Old Covenant tabernacle had a typical significance in that it foreshadowed God the Son incarnate. Let’s see how the Old Covenant tabernacle is the type of the anti-type who is Jesus.
1. The "tabernacle" was a temporary appointment. In this, it differed from the temple of Solomon, which was a permanent structure. The tabernacle was merely a tent, a temporary convenience, something that was suited to be moved about from place to place during the journeying of the children of Israel. So it was when our blessed Lord tabernacled here among men. His stay was but a brief one—less than forty years; and, like the type, He abode not long in any one place, but was constantly on the move—unwearied in the activity of His love.
2. The "tabernacle" was God’s dwelling place. It was there, in the midst of Israel’s camp, He took up His abode. There, between the cherubim upon the mercy seat He made His throne. In the holy of holies He manifested His presence by means of the Shekinah glory. And during the thirty-three years that the Word tabernacled among men, God had His dwelling place in Palestine. The holy of holies received its anti-typical fulfillment in the Son of God. Just as the Shekinah dwelt between the two cherubim, so on the mount of transfiguration the glory of the God-man flashed forth from between two men—Moses and Elijah. "We beheld his glory," is the language of the tabernacle type.
Now look at the second part of John 1:14.
John 1:14b “and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father”.
The phrase “we have seen” here doesn’t translate deep enough in my opinion.
The word “seen” here is better translated “beheld”. To behold means: to look closely at; or intently at. John’s comment here is directly referring to the first disciples, yet it is the blessed experience of all who are in Christ today. In this, I want to be sure we grasp the fullness of the difference between just seeing something and beholding something. You see a lot of things in your daily life. But what are the things you stop and really behold? Just the practice of beholding is lost on us much of the time as we live in a fast-paced, fast-travel, fast-food, fast-download-speeds, have-it-now-and-move-on kind of culture.
One of the questions we could really stop and ask this morning is what are you beholding? Or what is worthy of beholding? The problem in our sin is that we often behold the wrong things.
I want you to think of the things you really slow down and behold. The things you don’t just see but the things you behold? Here is what is very sobering. Often the things we are guilty of making time to behold are sinful things. What are the images or scenes or people that you behold--that you look intently or closely at? I am not going to list what they could be because I think if you stop long enough and are honest enough, you will see what I am talking about.
I want you to now consider this game-changing reality in the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
We can behold his glory. Please don’t toss aside what this means for us.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah is looking into heaven and he says, “Behold, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted. The train of his robe filled the temple, and around him were angels crying out, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty! Heaven and earth are full of his glory!’”
Fast forward to John 12:41 where John says, “Isaiah said these things because he saw [Jesus’] glory and spoke of him.”
So, the picture that Isaiah experienced of heaven being open was a glimpse into the majesty and the glory of the presence of Jesus, seated on a throne, ruling over all peoples, times, and places, and being worshipped as God.
The Old Testament celebrities only had occasional and passing glimpses of God’s glory. But, in contrast from these who only "saw," we “behold” His glory. But more particularly, there is a contrast here between the beholding and the non-beholding of God’s glory.
This is good news because the Shekinah glory resided only in the holy of holies before Christ, and therefore was veiled or hidden. But now we behold His divine glory!
“The glories of our Lord are infinite, for in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. No subject ought to be dearer to the heart of a believer.” – A.W. Pink
“We beheld his glory," refers to His essential "glory" or divine perfections. This is clear from the words which follow, "… glory as of the only Son from the Father …". From the beginning to the end of His earthly life and ministry, the Deity of the then Jehovah was again in Israel’s midst.
And it is a remarkable fact to which we have never seen attention called, that at either extremity of the Word’s tabernacling among men, the Shekinah glory was evidenced. Immediately following His birth we are told, "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid." (Luke 2:8-9 KJV). And, at His departure from this world, we read "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." (Acts 1:9 KJV)—not clouds, but a cloud! We beheld his glory then refers, first, to His divine glory.
Awesome! God is so good.
Now, let’s shift our attention to the passages we read about the priests and their holy garments. These, too, point us to Christ in such a powerful way.
A priest always denotes one who interceded and offered sacrifices on behalf of the people.
In Hebrews, it says, “where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:20) The priest was the God-appointed office of intercessor for the people.
As Priest, Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice for all our sin. In the Old Testament, the high priest was the mediator between the holy God and sinful people specifically those in the Old Covenant. As mediator, the high priest entered the holy place and offered a sacrifice to God on behalf of the people once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:34). He sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat “… because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins …” (Leviticus 16:16).
In the Old Covenant system, the priest did this year after year after year. In contrast, Christ, as our Mediator and High Priest, not only offered the sacrifice (once and for all His people), but He is the sacrifice. Like the high priest of old, Christ entered the holy place, but unlike the high priest, He entered to offer Himself. He had to enter only one time for He sprinkled His own blood on the mercy seat. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us:
Hebrews 9:11–14 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Why do we need a truer and better priest?
Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Intercede = to appear on behalf of someone who is on trial.
I’ll explain with this example. I was randomly audited a few years ago by the IRS. It was a random audit. Nothing illegal involved. They just pulled my number. All we had to do was prove that what we said were right offs were valid right offs by showing proof. So, if I prove these things I owe nothing. If I don’t, I owe thousands. The problem is I don’t know how to rightly represent myself in these matters so I hired an intercessor--my tax accountant, someone to represent me who knows what he is doing, knows the technical jargon, and the ins and outs.
Now, here is the key that we must understand if this makes sense. What do I look like in court?
I look like my intercessor. I didn’t even have to be there. He went before the judge and represented my case. The judge heard him while he thought of me! I was there within my accountant without being there!
So, what it comes down to is if he is brilliant, then I am brilliant and if he fails, then I fail.
Your intercessor represents you in the courtroom. You are in your intercessor.
Romans 8:34 says, “… Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Jesus is the perfect intercessor for us because of His relationship with the rest of the trinity.
Now, look at this verse in Hebrews 7:26. Here, we hear the understatement of the year!
Hebrews 7:26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
That is the understatement of the year!
Jesus alone can reconcile a holy God to a sinful people because He, as God, became a man and took upon Himself our sin. That’s why Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “… there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”.
Hebrews 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God …
Jesus took on flesh. He came here to be our great High Priest. His coming alone is amazing! But He didn’t just come.
Realize: High priests were absolutely covered in gold and jewels. The net worth of a community was put into the robes of the high priest.
The other picture that is important to see is this: when you are in Christ and the Father looks upon you and sees Jesus, the High Priest, He sees you as utterly beautiful--completely accepted. Not because of any worth or work in or by you. Don’t get this mixed up. God doesn’t love you because you’re worthy, He loves you despite your unworthiness because of Jesus--because of grace made possible by Jesus. You were marvelously brought into God’s family.
Oh, how wonderful it is that Jesus is all these things to us. God is so good to provide for us such a perfect and all-satisfying answer in Christ. Join me in praising God for His mighty plan. Praise Jesus for His perfect work while tabernacling here on earth now every day as He intercedes for us before the Father.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC