Temple 101-The Mishkan and its Furnishings

We are studying the basics concerning the Mishkan and working our way to the Temple and how it operated. Like math, we must learn the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and divisions and working up to calculus. We are going to deal with the furnishings of the Mishkan, starting with the Ark of the Covenant (Exo 25.10-22). The Ark was seen as the Throne of God. The Ark was a box about 4 ft long, 2 1/2 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet high. It was made of acacia wood (Yeshua’s humanity) overlaid with gold (deity) and a gold molding (crown/kingship) ran around it. It had four gold rings (eternal gospel as told in the four gospels-Rev 14.6) to carry the Ark, two on each side (speaks of balance of Law and Prophets-Isa 8.10; Luke 16.31). Two poles of wood overlaid with gold were made to carry the Ark (speaks of what carries the message-2 witnesses). The two tablets of the Torah was put into the Ark (the doctrines) and a lid called the “kipporet” was made to cover the Ark. This word is related to “kippur” which means “atonement” and you will see this in the feast called Yom Kippur. This word is translated “propitiation” in Heb 9.5. Two Cherubim were made for the two ends of the kipporet, facing “one another” (“his brother” in Hebrew) and looking down at the kipporet (looking for the blood). These Cherubim had wings spread over the cover and these angels reminded the people of the two Cherubim that guarded the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden and we know two angels were in the tomb of Yeshua, dressed in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Yeshua had been lying (John 20.12). It was between these wings that the Lord would speak to Moses. When the Ark was moved the priests that carried it needed to be the same size. Also, a miracle occurred each time because the Ark was very heavy and these poles would not be able to carry the load unless the Lord “lifted” the Ark as it moved. Remember, these poles were made of wood and overlaid with gold, so they would bend. The Table of Showbread (Exo 25.23-30) is called the “Shulchan (table) Lechem (bread) ha Pannim” (the faces) and this was also made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. It had a gold border (crown) around it and four rings for two poles to go through to carry it. It had dishes, pans, jars and bowls made of gold and the “bread (12 loaves) of the presence”(faces) was placed on it at all times. The 12 loaves were symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel always before the Lord. The bread also teaches provision and the teaching of God. The Menorah (Exo 25.31-40 and feminine in Hebrew because it “carries” the light of the world), or Golden Lampstand, was the only light in the Mishkan, and later the Temple. It was made of gold (deity) and it had a central branch in the middle (called the shammash, or servant) with three branches coming out from one side and three from the other (I am the vine, you are the branches). This totaled seven candlesticks. The middle servant candle was also called the “ner Elohim” (light of God) and it was used to light the other six. The branches had molded almond (called the “hastening or awakening fruit” because it was the first fruit of spring) blossoms and pomegranates (more on this later) on them. It was approximately five feet high and three feet wide. The Altar of Incense (Exo 30.1-10) was used for prayer and it was made with acacia wood overlaid with gold. It had four horns at the corners (power of God to the four corners of the earth) and a gold molding (crown) around it. It had two rings (2 # of witness) for the two poles to carry it. A priest would burn incense on it along with prayer. Now, a veil was made to separate the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. The Ark was the only furnishing in the Holy of Holies, also called the “devir” (speaking, word) because the Lord spoke from between the wings of the Cherubim on the Ark. The Holy Place had the Menorah on the south, the Altar of Incense on the west and the Table of Bread on the north. The veil ( Exo 26.31-37) was made of blue (techelet=speaking of heaven), purple (argamon=royalty), scarlet (shanni=blood) and white (lavon= humanity, earthly) materials. These four strands were knitted together to make one string and then six of those were put together for a strand to make the curtain (6×4=24). These were called “living threads.” The number twenty-four is significant. There were twenty-four qualifications for a priest, twenty-four districts in Israel where they would send the “ma’amadot”, the standing men, to the services in the Temple (the living threads). The covers that went over the Mishkan (EXo 26.1-14) were also made from the colors above, with cherubim woven into the first “layer.” The second layer was made of goats hair, the third layer of rams skins dyed red (blood) and a fourth made of porpoise skins. This last covering was drab in color (Isa 53.1-3) but tough. They protected the Mishkan from the elements. The boards (Exo 26.15-30) that went around the Mishkan forming the walls were made from acacia wood overlaid with gold. They were fitted together with sockets made of silver (redemption) and bars kept them together. An altar (Exo 27.1-8) that was outside was made from acacia wood and it had four horns (power) at the four corners. It was overlaid with bronze (judgment) and it had pails, shovels, forks and fire-pans of bronze to be used in the various offerings. A grating was made of bronze and it had four bronze rings at its corners. It had poles made of acacia wood and overlaid with bronze to carry it. A Bronze Laver (Exo 30.17-21) was also made and put between the Bronze Altar and the Mishkan. The priests would wash their hands and their feet in the water (the Word) there and it symbolized cleansing, regeneration and sanctification. A wall of curtains (Exo 27.9-19)) separated the Mishkan and its courts from the camp of Israel, with a gate on the east side. The curtains were hung on pillars with bronze sockets and silver hooks. An anointing oil (Exo 30.22-33) was made from spices such as myrrh, cinnamon, cane, cassia and olive oil to bring them together. The incense (Exo 30.34-38) was made from stacte, onycha, galbumum and frankincense. You will see both of these substances used in various ceremonies. So, lets bring all this together and see what the Lord was trying to communicate. From the Lord’s perspective, the Mishkan was built from the inside out. That is what he does with us. He starts with putting his Word into our “ark/hearts” (Jer 31.31-34) and gives us the Shekinah (Bread of the Presence), illumined by his light and understanding (Menorah) and through prayer (Altar of Incense). We come to the realization that we need cleansing from our sins (the Laver) and brings us to the cross (Bronze Altar) after we enter through the door and encounter a priest (Yeshua). All of this starts with the Lord because nobody comes to Yeshua unless the Father “draws” (“drags” in Greek) him (John 6.44). We are his temple (1 Cor 6.19) and he uses the “tavnit” or pattern that he gave in building the Mishkan. But, from our perspective, we have not seen the hand of God moving in our lives (inside the Mishkan only the priest can see) so we think we are initiating our move towards God, but it starts with him. But, when we come to the Lord, we first encounter the priest (Yeshua) at the door. Then we come to the cross (altar) and we are cleansed by his blood and are cleansed by the washing of water with the Word (Laver= Eph 5.26) and begin to study his Word (the bread) with the light of understanding (Menorah). We begin to pray (Altar of Incense) and come before the throne of grace and mercy (Ark) where the commands of God await you (the Tablets/Torah). This is how we come to the Lord, but many stop at the Altar of Incense. They have a problem with that “serving” aspect to becoming a believer. They say “all I need is Jesus (the priest) and all I need is back at the Altar.” They want the mercy but they don’t want what is behind that curtain, his commandments. But the New Covenant says that he is going to place his Torah (translated “law” but it means “teaching and instruction”) in our hearts (our Ark). Are we following the pattern he has given like Moses did (Exo 25.9)? Many people say that following the pattern is legalism but God calls it “knowing him” ( 1 John 2.3-4). So, we need to check and see how our Mishkan is set up. If things go wrong, make sure things are set up according to the pattern he has given in the Scriptures. Make sure everything is in order. For instance, do I have oil in my Menorah (guided by the Holy Spirit), bread on the table (knowing the word), incense on the altar (prayer) and have you hidden the commandments in your heart? Following the pattern is what the Lord desires for us to have a for a functioning “mishkan” and to be a blessing in the things of God.

Posted in Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

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