The Lord showed Moses the “tavnit” or the “blueprint” for the Mishkan. Now a blueprint has exact measurements and specifications, including all the furniture and vessels. Then it says, “So you shall construct them” or “so you shall do.” You cannot alter the tavnit. There are many parts to the Mishkan and Temple that are not discussed in the tavnit. We are told about buildings and chambers, but there is no description of them.
When Moses goes up to Mount Sinai, he is going up to receive the Torah. The very first thing the Lord tells him is to raise a “terumah” or a free will contribution for the Mishkan. He doesn’t say to set up a government first, or discuss any other law. What he says is “build me a Temple” (25.8). From this point to at least Lev 17 every passage will relate directly to the Mishkan/Temple. That is 32 chapters. There are 613 commands in the Torah, and at least 281 of those commands relate directly to the Mishkan/Temple.
When you come into a person’s house, you comply with their rules. This deals with God’s house (Beit means “house”) and he has rules. So, the Lord gives the instruction on the Mishkan/Temple (Beit Ha Mikdash), the korbanot, the priesthood, what ritually clean and unclean are at the beginning. However, laws will come up after Lev 17 that will deal with the Mishkan/Temple, such as in Num 19 and the Red Heifer, and Lev 23 and the festivals. The key to all this, and to the Torah, is that we are to look at all these commandments through the “lens” of the Mishkan/Temple first.
If we want to know how to run a house, we need to understand the Temple. If we want to know how to make a business work, we need to understand the Temple. It is the key to everything in the Scriptures. If our motivation is to see the Temple built because we want to see the Messiah come, then that is the wrong motivation. We want to see the Messiah come, but the Temple is learning how to understand kedusha. It is how to have a walk with God that deals with kedusha in this life. How do we approach God and pray? All of this comes from the Temple. The mistake we make is, we get away from the understanding of the Mishkan/Temple and the concept of kedusha.
We have mentioned earlier that the “tavnit” is the blueprint of God. We cannot deviate from that. With that in mind, the definition of “keep and observe” will be related to this concept. It is defined as “the incorporation of the things of God into our lives and to stay true to the tavnit (blueprint) God has given for a specific thing to be done and a specific place, at a specific time, by specific people.”
Often, tavnit is translated as “pattern” but that is not entirely accurate. When we say the word “pattern” we want you to understand we are not talking about tavnit (blueprint). The tavnit is something we cannot deviate from. However, there are patterns that reveal things to us as the Lord intended. When studying the Scriptures or the Temple, look for “patterns.” The Temple will also be discussed in the Mishnah, Talmud and Josephus. It is discussed in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Let’s look a an example of a “pattern.”
In the Mishnah, in the tractate Midot, it describes things from the south, then moving into the Eastern Gate, the Court of the Women, then to the Nicanor Gate. Then it moves to the Court of Israel, the Duchan (where the Levitical choir stood), then to the Court of the Priests. Then it moves to the Great Altar, the twelve steps to the Ulam (Porch), then to the Heichal (Holy Place) and finally to the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies). The reason for this is that it is given from the standpoint of man approaching the Lord. However, when the Lord presents the Mishkan in these chapters in Exodus, it reverses. It starts with the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim and the Ark and then moves outward. It is from the inside, out. Here is the lesson and the pattern.
Coming into the presence of the Lord, the first person we encounter is the anointed priest and the veil at the door (Yeshua). Then we come to the altar (cross) and then we we come to the Holy Place and the Shulchan Lechem Ha Pannim (Table of the Bread of the Faces, a type of “the Word”). Then we have the Mizbayach Shell Zahav (Altar of Gold, symbolizing prayer) and then the Menorah (light, wisdom and understanding). Then we come to the veils, and behind the veils we have the Ark of the Covenant, the throne of God with commandments. In these we find mercy, grace judgment and instruction. As we approach God, his commandments await. This is how we approach the Lord.
In truth, many stop at the altar of incense because they have a problem with the concept of “servant.” They will say, “All I need is Jesus (the priest)” or “All I need is back out there on the altar.” They want the mercy but they don’t want what is down there in that box! The Torah will be written on the heart (our Ark) and that is one of the promises of the New Covenant in Jer 31.31-34. The question is, are we following the “pattern” the Lord has given us to approach him?
How does a true believer react when he encounters these things? Will he follow the tavnit given to Moses? They should because a true believer always has followed the tavnit. Many Christians say that following the tavnit (blueprint) and the “patterns” is “legalism.” But God calls it obedience. Here is what we need to do. We need to check and see if our “Mishkan” (tabernacle) is set up according to the tavnit in Exo 40.1-35. In this chapter, the Mishkan was set up on a new moon, a festival that is a picture of being born again (Exo 40.2, 17).
When things don’t go right, we should go back and make sure everything was set up according to the tavnit. Is everything in order and in the right place? We should ask ourselves if there is fire on my altar, is there bread on the table (the Word of God), is my Menorah still burning (light and understanding), is there incense (prayer) on the altar of incense, are the commandments of God in my Ark (heart)?
In these chapters (Exo 25 to Lev 17), we have the concept of God meeting with man, and man meeting with God. In other words, God descends and man ascends. This concept is seen in Gen 28.12-22 and John 1.51 (the “ladder” at the “Gate of God” at Bethel, the House of God). This is seen at Sukkot in a ceremony called the Simchat Beit Ha Shoevah (Rejoicing in the House of the Water Pouring). This is when the priests descend and the people ascend into the Court of the Women. This ceremony is done at night for seven days.
In Exo 25.3-9, God assembled everything beforehand for the Mishkan. He does this with us as well. This alludes to the concept of “election” according to his sovereignty. Everything is arranged and assembled before we come to the Lord (Eph 1.4). In the Temple, there was a series of steps leading up from the outer courts to the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies). This speaks of the “ascending and descending” spoken of in Gen 28.12 and John 1.51.
Exo 25 and Exo 40 tell us about how the Mishkan was to be set up, but it also tells us how we are “set up” by God when we become born again. It is from the inside, out. However, we approach the Lord in a reverse manner, from the outside, in. The pattern of these chapters tell us the story of how God sees us as we approach, and how we see God as we approach.
There is a Mishkan/Temple that most people see in pictures and in certain teachings, but it never existed. Most people see a Mishkan/Temple that will not function, including many rabbis and Christian scholars. When we look at pictures of the Mishkan/Temple we will see things that are out of place, or missing in the illustrations. Many Christian and rabbinical books on the Mishkan/Temple will be illustrating a “make believe” Mishkan/Temple, and in Part 55 we will pick up there and show you why.