There is a Mishkan/Temple that most people see, but it never existed. Most people see a Mishkan/Temple that will not work, including some rabbis. When you look at pictures of the Mishkan/Temple you will see things out of place and there will be things missing in the pictures.
Many Christian and even rabbinical books on the Mishkan/Temple will be dealing with what we call a “fantasy Mishkan/Temple” and that will not be good. Most pictures all look the same. We have a door to the east, an altar, the Kior and then the main Mishkan with the two rooms. The problem is, this won’t work or even function.
Did they offer korbanot in the wilderness? The answer is “Yes.” They did the services, but certain ones could not be done until they came into the land (like the festival services). If the animal was “kodesh kelim” (holy) it could be eaten outside the Mishkan/Temple, in the camp. You could not take it out of the camp. That was easy to do in the wilderness, everyone was compact together. However, once they crossed the Jordan and conquered the land, there were people in the north, south, east and west of the Mishkan.
So, the question became, is the “camp” going to be the whole land? No, the camp will be determined by where the Mishkan was at the time. Later on, it was determined by where the Temple was. So, the laws centered around the Mishkan/Temple. That is an other reason why we can’t keep the festivals today. The Korban Shelem (peace offering) was “kodesh kelim” (holy), like the Passover lamb. The most holy things are called the “kodshai kodeshim.” These can only be eaten by the kohanim and they must be eaten within the area of the Mishkan/Temple. Ezek 42.13-14 says that the offerings can only be eaten within this “holy” area.
But, we have a problem. You need to cook these offerings and you must eat them if you were a priest. When the sons of Aaron brought strange fire before the Lord on the eighth day of their consecration, they were struck dead by the Lord. That day Aaron and his remaining two sons failed to eat the kodshai kodashim offerings. Moses comes and he is very upset with them, and says they must eat them. Aaron says his heart was not right because of what just happened to his sons, and Moses understood and God overlooked this by his grace (Lev 10.1-20). But, they must be eaten. The priest can’t say, “I don’t feel good” or “I’m not hungry.” That was their duty, they must eat the korbanot. But, first they must cook the korbanot, they can’t just eat them raw, there is a Torah command about that.
We have this problem. What was taken from the Korban Chata (sin) and the Korban Asham (guilt) is called the “Emurim.” This includes the inner organs and the chelev (fat around those organs). That must be burned on the altar. But, the front leg is not offered on the altar unless it was a Korban Olah (burnt). Nobody eats the Olah. So, that is not put on the altar.
We have another problem, You cannot have any fire in the inner court except on the altar. The priests must eat the meat, but they can’t eat it raw. So, it must be cooked, with a fire, in this area (inner courtyard). Just how are they going to do that? They can’t have fires or cook the food in the inner courts, but you had to eat the food in this area if it was kodshai kodashim.
In the portion from Ezek 42 that we discussed earlier, there were buildings that adjoined the courts in the Temple. In the Second Temple, there were four chambers at the four corners, and we find out this was where they cooked the korbanot (in the chambers). There was a gate opening up to the inner court and the kedusha of the inner court extended to the buildings. Now, look at a typical configuration of the Mishkan. That is a “fantasy Mishkan” because it is not complete and will not work. In order to function, it has to have additional structures (tents) around it. We believe there were tents at the four corners, later replaced by four corner buildings adjoining the inner courtyard in the Temple.
The Torah describes that there was a gate to the east (Exo 27.9-16), but it does not describe any other gate. We read the Torah in our own cultural setting. For example, you check into a hotel and ask the clerk for the elevator. They tell you it is around the corner to the right. Now, we think there is only one elevator. A merchant comes to the hotel with clean linens. He asks for the elevator and they tell him it is around the corner to the left. This is because there are several elevators. One was for public use and the other was for those who worked there. Was the clerk being dishonest? No, the service elevator wasn’t necessary for the public to know. In Neh 10.34 it says, “Likewise we cast lots for the supply of wood among the priests, the Levites and the people in order that they might bring it to the house of our God, according to our fathers households, at fixed times annually, to burn on the altar of the Lord our God as it is written in the law.”
Now, where does it say that in the Torah? It doesn’t, but Lev 6.12 says that a “fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out.” The only way you can have a continual fire is you must have fuel. Nehemiah says that to have wood to burn is written in the Torah, but it only says to have a fire on the altar at all times. We are reading this verse like the guest at the hotel who is not told there are two elevators. There is such a thing as the direct mission and the indirect mission in the military. The direct mission is when the general says, “Take that hill.” The indirect mission is the plan devised by the officers on how to accomplish the command. The general doesn’t worry about all the minute details on how his officers take the hill, that is their problem to work out.
IN the same way, we have to have a Mishkan that functions, or it is a fantasy. In Part 56, we will pick up here and develop this out further.