Ezekiel 19:1-14; Hebrews 9:6-10; Psalms 106:24-31; Proverbs 23:15-16
NT: “Now the first covenant also had regulations for ministry and an earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was set up, and in the first room, which is called the holy place, were the lampstand, the table, and the presentation loaves. Behind the second curtain was a tent called the most holy place… With these things prepared like this, the priests enter the first room repeatedly, performing their ministry. But the high priest alone enters the second room, and he does that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was making it clear that the way into the most holy place had not yet been disclosed while the first tabernacle was still standing. This is a symbol for the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the worshiper’s conscience. They are physical regulations and only deal with food, drink, and various washings imposed until the time of the new order.” (Hebrews 9:1-3, 6-10 CSB)
Not only was Christ the superior Great High Priest of a superior priesthood, and mediator of a superior covenant – He ministered in a superior sanctuary. When God gave Moses the law of the first covenant, He also gave Moses the blueprints for the tabernacle of meeting. God’s instructions for the building of the tabernacle and the crafting of its implements begins in Exodus 25 and continues through Exodus 27. We then read about the building of the tabernacle and its implements in Exodus 35-38. Finally, we read about God’s glory filling the tabernacle in Exodus 40. Even though God’s glory filled the tabernacle, it was not God’s actual dwelling place. The tabernacle was not built to house God. The tabernacle and its implements were types and symbols of the true sanctuary of God… they were types and symbols of Christ and the grace that can be found when we draw near to God through Christ.
Within the holy place of the earthly first-covenant tabernacle was a golden lamp stand, the table of showbread where the daily loaves of bread were kept, and the alter of incense. Those implements were types of Christ. Christ is the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, and our Great High Priest who ever intercedes on our behalf. The implements are also symbols of what we have in Christ by faith. In Christ, we have the light of the Holy Spirit to lead our way. In Christ, we receive our daily bread and we feed on His word. In Christ, through the leading of the Holy Spirit and the truth of His word, we are able to pray prayers that God hears and answers.
Just past the altar of incense was the veil (which was a thick curtain) that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Inside the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant, which held reminders of God’s covenant with Israel. On top of the Ark was the Mercy Seat – a representation of God’s throne. Once a year, the high priest would venture beyond the veil and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat to receive mercy and atonement for the sins of the people. That process of atonement foreshadowed what Christ would do through His death and resurrection, and the Most Holy Place was an earthly symbol of the throne room of God in the heavenlies.
In Matthew 27:51, we read that when Christ breathed His last breath on the cross, there was a great earthquake and the veil in the sanctuary was ripped in two from top to bottom, symbolizing that through Christ’s death, God Himself removed the veil that separated man from God. In that moment, the “tabernacle” as it were was turned on end, with the Most Holy Place now residing in heaven. When Christ went to be with the Father, he didn’t proceed to the earthly Holy of Holies. He ascended into heaven and entered into the true and everlasting sanctuary of God… and He remains there to this day, at the right hand of God the Father, ministering as our Great High Priest on our behalf.
The process of worship in the first covenant was all about ceremonial purification, but it had no power to bring true spiritual purification. Now, through Christ, we can approach – not a tabernacle or temple – but God Himself; and through faith in Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, we can be truly purified and made completely new. We are no longer relegated to worshiping God with types and symbols, but we can worship in the true Light of the World, feed from the true Bread of Life, Pray effective prayers by the Holy Spirit, and come boldly before the true Throne of Grace for help in time of need.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You, that through You my worship of God is no longer limited by my sinful impurity. Through You, I no longer have to rely on an imperfect man to approach God for me on my behalf. Through You, I am no longer relegated to worshiping God from a finite place on earth, but can worship Him anytime, anywhere. Thank You for providing the means for having the veil ripped in two so that I can approach God through You. I choose to not take all You have accomplished for grated, and choose to enjoy the fellowship with God through worship that You have provided. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.