Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A House for God

Then have them make a sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).

At the center of the Israelite camp was a courtyard marked out by white linen curtains hung on posts. The curtains were seven and one half feet high, which prevented anyone from seeing what was inside the courtyard. The court itself measured 75 by 150 feet. It was the court of God’s palace-tent, the Tabernacle.

Inside the courtyard, three objects were visible: an altar, a bronze basin, and a large tent. The altar was a hollow bronze shell that could be carried from place to place. When set into position, it was filled with uncut stones and used to burn the sacrifices. It was the layman’s job to slay, skin, cut up, and gut the sacrifice (Leviticus 1). Then the priest would take the pieces to a large bronze basin between the altar and tent. He would wash them and put them on the altar to be burned.

The layman was not allowed to go near the altar or the basin, on pain of death. Armed Levites were stationed in the courtyard to ensure this. Similarly, only priests were allowed into the tent (or Tabernacle), which was God’s house.

The Tabernacle had two rooms. The innermost room (the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place) was a cube fifteen feet on each side. It was God’s throne room. When it was first built it contained only one object: the Ark of the Covenant, a wooden chest overlaid with gold, into which was placed a copy of the Ten Commandments. The lid of the chest was a slab of gold called the Mercy Seat. It was the throne of God, where He “sat” between two golden cherubim. Later three other memorial objects were put into the inner room: a complete copy of the books of Moses, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that blossomed.

The outer room (the Holy Place) of the Tabernacle measured 15 by 30 feet. We can consider it a “living room” with a lamp, a dinner table, and an incense burner. In God’s house, of course, these objects took on a much deeper meaning. The golden lampstand, made like a stylized almond tree with seven branches, represented God’s people as lights to the world. The table of showbread, with twelve loaves and later on also vessels of wine, represented God’s provision to His people. The altar of incense spoke of God’s access through the provision of prayer.

The new covenant fulfills the old. As you consider the various objects God placed in His courtyard and house in the old covenant, think of the gifts God has given us that we might know His presence in our midst. As you pray today, thank God for those gifts.