The Tabernacle Articles

The Ark

What study on the Tabernacle would be complete without a detailed examination of the ark? This may be the one item people most question, at the same time, assuming they know the answers.

The ark is the heart of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is designed around the ark, which contains the ten commandments, plus a number of other important items including a container of manna, and Aaron’s budding staff. A list of laws given to Moses were also added to the side of the ark.

Physical descriptions of the ark are recorded in Exodus 25:10-22, and Exodus 37:1-9. The ark is two and one half cubits long, one and one half cubits wide, and one and one half cubit high. Converting these dimensions shows us the ark is forty five inches long, twenty seven inches wide, and twenty seven inches high.

The ark is constructed of wood, overlaid with pure gold. It is interesting the Bible specifies pure gold. By definition, the word pure means morally and ceremonially clean. This may also indicate the thickness of the gold, and the manner in which it was applied.

The ark may have been covered in gold leaf, a very thin covering, much thinner than paper. To form thin sheets without holes, gold must be free of impurities. Pure gold is very soft, and easy to form. Purifying gold also served as a spiritual lesson for the Israelites and us.

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Gold taken from Egypt may have come in many forms, shapes, and sizes. We are told, Aaron made his molten calf from earrings. To withstand normal wear and tear, resist scratching, and hold its shape gold jewelry is formed from a much harder material than pure gold. Metals such as silver, copper, or nickel are added to harden gold. These materials also alter the color.

The Bible tells us, Moses burned Aaron’s golden calf in a fire, which had a hardening effect. He then beat it into dust, cast it into water, and made the Israelites drink it. Based on the fact Moses was able to beat the golden calf into dust small enough to dissolve in water, we know the gold used for the calf contained large amounts of impurities.

Gold used to cover the ark was pure, making it possible to form into very thin sheets. The gold from Egypt may have been in the form of jewelry, and maybe the idols worshipped in Egypt. To purify gold, it had to be melted. In the molten state, impurities separate from the gold. Once the impurities are removed, the pure gold can be formed into sheets.

The Bible uses the purification process to illustrate faith. The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:7 KJV.

We can only imagine the spiritual lessons the Israelites must have learned as they watched the gods of Egypt melt away, impurities float to the top where they were scooped out and discarded, cast onto the ground, and mixed with dust.

To Israel, the images of those gods cast into the melting pot represented a lifetime of oppression. Egyptians believed the strength of their gods gave them dominance over the Israelites. They also gave the gods credit for light from the sun, rain, crops, and fertility. This may have been one reason Egyptians had a controversy with the Israelites. The Bible tells us they feared Israel, based on their ability to reproduce. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Exodus 1:9-10 KJV.

The ark contained four rings, one on each corner. These rings were also made of gold, but the Bible does not specify pure gold. The reason for this is logical. Pure gold would have been too soft to bear the weight of the ark, which was carried over long distances, supported by the four rings.

The rings were cast in gold. In this case, they would have undergone the same heating, and purification process as pure gold. Once purified, other metals in the proper proportions would be added to provide the required hardness. Silver and brass added to gold also have a spiritual meaning discussed in other chapters.

Two staves, or poles were fabricated from wood, and covered in gold. The poles were not covered with pure gold, but an alloy, or mixture, making the gold hard enough to endure the rigors of travel. The covering on the staves must have been much thicker than the covering on the ark. This also made the wooden poles much stronger. Wood possessed properties of strength, and light weight. A covering of gold alloy added strength, beauty and durability.

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The ark contained the testimony given to Moses, which is covered by the mercy seat, made of pure gold. The mercy seat is the same size as the ark, two and one half cubits, by one and one half cubits. On top of the mercy seat stood two cherubims made of gold, formed of a single piece, formed by hammering.

The cherubims were placed at the ends of the mercy seat facing one another, with their wings spread out over the mercy seat. This is where God appeared to met with Moses.

Before we can accurately study the spiritual meanings of the ark, we must first understand the physical aspects. The arc was made of wood covered in pure gold. The ark was designed and constructed to carry God’s law, the ten commandments. The mercy seat, made of pure gold, covered the law. This was a sign of God’s salvation, which covers sins. This salvation came through His son, Jesus. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29 KJV.

The cherubims are a reminder of God’s kingdom in Heaven. All the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, and let all the angels of God worship him. Revelation 7:11, Hebrews 1:6 KJV.

Four rings attached to the four corners supported two staves, used by the Levites to carry the ark. The priests were an example of people. Not only were they to physically carry the law, they were to make the law a life study. The law was to become a part of their lives, a part of their being, both physically, and spiritually.

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. (19) And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 KJV.

And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; Numbers 3:12. The life of the priest was a living example of the connection between man and God. The Levites did not receive an inheritance of land. This illustrated the fact, life as we know it is temporary. Instead, priests were given a portion of the sacrifice. They also received the tithe. The best of the first fruits were given to support the Levites. A portion of the Tabernacle service was designed to meet the physical needs of the priests. In return, priests were to maintain the Tabernacle, its services, teach the law, and the testimony of God. They were instructed to, “gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:” Deuteronomy 31:12 KJV.

The ark was made up of only two elements, gold and wood. Understanding the spiritual meaning of these two elements may teach more about the ark than the physical details.

Pure gold completely covered the ark, inside and out. The mercy seat consisted of pure gold. Gold also represents God’s law, and His word.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Psalms 19:8-10, Psalms 119:72, Psalms 119:127 KJV.

To find the spiritual meaning for shittim wood, we have to use a little deductive thinking. The word shittim is used almost exclusively in association with the Tabernacle. When searching the word wood, a number of texts provide a definition outside the general contexts of the subject. Wood comes from trees, which is the most logical word to examine.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree. I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. Psalms 92:12, Psalms 1:3, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Jeremiah 11:16, Psalms 52:8 KJV.

Trees spiritually represent people. Since wood for the ark came from a tree, the wood used in the ark must spiritually represent people.

What a fitting spiritual symbolism for the ark, gold and wood, representing God’s law, and His people. The law is divided into two groups. The first four describe our relationship with God, the remaining six, our relationship with other people.

Gold lining the inside, and outside of the ark is pure, the perfect representation of the law. The rings are cast from a harder material. To achieve this, the gold must be mixed with other materials, such as silver, or brass. Laws in addition to the ten commandments were carried in the side of the ark. These included the sacrificial laws and ceremonies pointing to Christ. Sacrificial and ceremonial laws were not required until after sin. The rings were designed to carry the ark. The earthly ark was carried through the wilderness by Levites for forty years. There was never any reason for the ark in Heaven to wander for forty years.

The ark was carried by two wooden staves, or poles, covered with gold. Here again we see the symbol of man, covered by gold, which represents God’s law, and His word. The gold covering of course added strength to the wooden poles.

The fact the ark was carried shows how the law required an effort on man’s part. Because the ark was to be carried only by the Levites, portrays the responsibility they carried as priests, representing God, and teaching His law.

The entire design of the ark symbolizes the relationship between God and man. The law rests upon the gold, which never deteriorates. Wood, used to produce the shape and form of the ark, symbolizes the need for man to maintain the shape required to carry the law.

The covering, known as the mercy seat, is pure gold. Mercy comes only through the sacrifice of Jesus. Pure gold represents Jesus’ perfect life. The mercy seat covers the law, just as Jesus’ perfect life covers the law for us.

Cherubims of gold represent the angels in the Heavenly courts. They show the reverence we should have for the law, which represents God’s character. They also represent cooperation between the Heavenly host and man. Pure gold shows the aid provided by angles is perfect, because of their perfect obedience, and cooperation with God.

Overall, the ark symbolizes, cooperation between God, His angels, man, and the law which are at the center of understanding. Once we understand how to interpret the symbols of the ark, we can begin to understand the other details of the Tabernacle.

Reference texts:

KJV Exodus 25:10-22. And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. (11) And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. (12) And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. (13) And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. (14) And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. (15) The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. (16) And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. (17) And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. (18) And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. (19) And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. (20) And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. (21) And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. (22) And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

KJV Exodus 30:6. And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.

KJV Exodus 37:1-9. And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: (2) And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about. (3) And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it. (4) And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold. (5) And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark. (6) And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof. (7) And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat; (8) One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof. (9) And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.

Preparing for the Tabernacle

This is a rather in depth look at preparations for the Tabernacle. Certain steps were taken at God’s commend of course. Why was thee such a specific process to follow and how did the Israelites view that process?

Bring Your Offerings

Exodus 25:1-9 NLTse The LORD said to Moses, (2) “Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings. Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them. (3) Here is a list of sacred offerings you may accept from them: gold, silver, and bronze; (4) blue, purple, and scarlet thread; fine linen and goat hair for cloth; (5) tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather; acacia wood; (6) olive oil for the lamps; spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense; (7) onyx stones, and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chestpiece. (8) “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. (9) You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you.

Obviously, the first step in any building project is to collect material. That’s where God told Moses to begin. I’ve covered details on those building materials in a previous book, The Tabernacle: “T” is for the Cross. I am not going to review a lot of details of that book which covered the building materials and construction of the Tabernacle from an engineering prospective. That book is available for download on the Internet.

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To understand the scene, we have to look at how the previous chapter ended. Then Moses climbed up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. And the glory of the LORD settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from inside the cloud. To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the glory of the LORD appeared at the summit like a consuming fire. Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24:15-18 NLTse).

Moses went up the mountain to meet with God. That tells us why chapter 25 began with God telling Moses what to do. The first step was to collect material for the project. All of the materials were to be contributed by the people. This shows us how God’s Spirit was working before God revealed any of the plans for the Tabernacle to Moses. Since we looked at how all the building materials to create this world were in place before God shed light on the subject, we can see how God arranged for Israel to carry every item required for the Tabernacle out of Egypt.

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We have to look deeper into that story. Almost every person who left with Moses was a slave in Egypt. There were a few people who left because of all the plagues and miracles they saw, but we have no way of determining exact numbers. That’s not our concern. We can be assured, God had everything under control.

Moses used the words, Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings.” Israel represents those people enslaved in Egypt based on the prophecy given to Abraham. Then the LORD said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (Genesis 15:13-14 NLTse).

We now have a spiritual puzzle to solve. It’s easy to see the lesson on the surface. People leaving Egypt represented people freed from bondage. That’s the easy part. But here were told, all the materials required to build the Tabernacle came out of bondage. What does that mean? How does it apply to the Tabernacle and our roles in the plan of salvation?


 

First of all, we see Israel had to work for 400 years for the materials they carried out. We should stick to the facts on the surface, simple details about those years of bondage that have been reviewed hundreds of times. Sure that bondage represents our life and time here on this world. Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (John 8:34 NLTse). So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. (Hebrews 6:1-3 NLTse).

How do we determine the spiritual significance of those items taken out of Egypt? We know the Tabernacle is a model of the Heavenly Sanctuary. And we know the Heavenly Sanctuary does not contain any materials from this world. Hebrews tells us the clear distinction between the Tabernacle and the Heavenly Sanctuary.

This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies–physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established. So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood–not the blood of goats and calves–he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. (Hebrews 9:9-12 NLTse).

The Tabernacle Moses built pointed to the perfect Heavenly Tabernacle and its system. The old Tabernacle passed away, pointing to the passing away of sins and eventual cleansing of this world. Those materials taken from Egypt were never intended to be a permanent structure or place of worship.

Some of those materials Moses was told to collect were different than materials in Heaven. We’ve not told about tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather in God’s Sanctuary. Those were symbols to remind us what went into the Tabernacle built on this world. They reminded people of the sacrifices that had to be made. The sacrifices that began the day sin entered this world, and God fashioned clothing from animal skins for Adam and Eve. Death is a product of sin and God used a number of ways to keep that reminder in front of us. It was important for God to make sure we didn’t forget the cost of sin. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLTse).

Take a closer look at the order of materials God gave to Moses. He began with gold, silver, and bronze; then moved to blue, purple, and scarlet thread; fine linen and goat hair for cloth; tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather; acacia wood; He finally added, olive oil for the lamps; spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense. God moved from materials that lasted the longest time, to items we consider consumable. God used a designed progression hoping we would notice the process locked away in the list of materials.


 

Then God went out of what we would consider a progressive order into a new spiritual order; onyx stones, and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chestpiece. When we follow the specific order God gave Moses, we have to ask, why did God list those last? Are they the materials that were consumed the quickest? On the physical view, no. On the spiritual view, yes.

Long before the Tabernacle was lost in the pages of the Bible and replaced by a stone temple, materials used in the chestpiece, or high priest’s breastplate lost their significance, power, and symbolic meaning. Later we will look into more details about the breastplate. A slight understanding of the history of the breastplate and Israel will show a few clues. People like king Saul tried to misuse the breastplate. At that time it was taken away from Saul and delivered to David. At times it seemed to be forgotten. The breastplate was used as a form of communication with God. It also contained twelve stones, one for each of Israel’s twelve tribes. After king Solomon, the kingdom was split. Little was mentioned about the breastplate after that. On a spiritual level, the breastplate was lost before services ceased inside the Tabernacle.

God made certain Moses built the Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern he was shown. Moses saw a pattern of the Heavenly Sanctuary and made a copy of it on this world. It was important not to miss a single detail, so Moses, Israel, and everyone after them would not miss a single detail about Christ and His ministry here in this world and in Heaven.

One of the things we’ve learned about God’s Word, is how much we learn by looking back. That’s the best way to understand the emotions and trials involved in getting from one phase to the next. To gain and better understanding of those materials, we can go all the way back to the point Moses began the process of freeing those slaves from Egypt.

Another important part of this story tells about the materials Israel took out of Egypt. Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will strike Pharaoh and the land of Egypt with one more blow. After that, Pharaoh will let you leave this country. In fact, he will be so eager to get rid of you that he will force you all to leave. Tell all the Israelite men and women to ask their Egyptian neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” (Now the LORD had caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the people of Israel. And Moses was considered a very great man in the land of Egypt, respected by Pharaoh’s officials and the Egyptian people alike.) (Exodus 11:1-3 NLTse).

Moses didn’t record many details about the materials Israel collected from the Egyptians. The strange thing about this event is, this is the first and only time Moses told the people to collect things from previous owners. Moses told Israel what they were supposed to do before he talked to Pharaoh about the last plague, the death of the firstborn. This showed Israel, God knew the outcome before it occurred.

Imagine all the different attitudes the Egyptians faced. Some Israelites did as Moses commanded and asked for anything the Egyptians wanted to freely give. Others demanded, and a few viewed the situation as a chance for revenge. God said, He would make the Egyptians look favorably on the Israelites. But what about the Israelites? Were they prepared to treat the Egyptians with any type of respect?

The KJV used the word borrow, instead of the word ask. In a sense, that’s all they did was borrow everything. Generations later, every piece of gold and silver used in the temple returned to Egypt. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam’s reign, King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem. He ransacked the treasuries of the LORD’s Temple and the royal palace; he stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. (1 Kings 14:25-26 NLTse). It appears the KJV didn’t use the word borrow by accident.

Another thing I noticed about that event. Moses had to only tell them once. That was one of the few times Moses didn’t have to repeat himself. There’s something about that fact that should worry us. But the event is found in other parts of Exodus and once in Genesis.

And the people of Israel did as Moses had instructed; they asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold. The LORD caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So they stripped the Egyptians of their wealth!(Exodus 12:35-36 NLTse).

Moses didn’t have to repeat himself or remind them to go door to door asking for things. It was sort of payment for their entire lives as slaves. Israel knew their parents and grandparents were slaves. They didn’t feel they could carry enough to pay for multiple life times of slavery. How would you feel spending your entire life as a slave, and seeing your parents die as slave? Then a day comes along and it’s pay back time. It’s amazing Moses didn’t record anything about Egyptians loosing their lives that day. Something restrained them. The thought of being a priest was sinking in. Hearing screams and cries from across the field all night softened their hearts. God had the right timing in every detail.

So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then at last he will let you go. And I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you. They will give you gifts when you go so you will not leave empty-handed. Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth.”

(Exodus 3:20-22 NLTse)

This must have been an important event if it was recorded so many times. One of the purposes it served is teach Moses to look back to see how his faith had grown over time. This is something Moses had to teach Israel to do to properly prepare them for the priesthood. Moses didn’t record many details that happened behind the scenes. That’s something we have to approach God’s throne to learn more about. That is one way our faith is formed and sealed. Moses often spoke directly with God. That’s a lesson we need to pay attention to. As we approach God’s throne to listen to His detailed account of what happened behind the recorded story, He explains details in scripture we would never see without His guidance. Which is one step Israel had to learn to become an effective kingdom made up of priests for God.

The same applies today. How can we become an effective army on God’s side if we don’t listen to orders, or we don’t know the order God uses? We learn about that order in the same way God instructed Moses when He told him to look back and review the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If we’re smart, we’ll see keys pointing us back even further. That’s how God links the past to the present to prepare us for the future.

Looking at the order of the texts, we see how God prepared Moses. God gave Moses the answer, then later, when Moses needed a boost in faith, reminded him to look back. God does the same with us. God communicates with us the same way He communicated with Moses. God sends us back to review stories in scripture. When we listen, God explains how those stories apply to our lives at that moment. We see how past lessons and events apply to the problems and decisions we face. In this case, the pattern also showed how God made a teacher out of Moses. He had a message to give Israel. One of those lessons included, how to communicate and rely directly on God and how God uses stories from the past to answer questions and guide us on the next step. Everything hinged on direct communication with God. If Israel was going to be ready to accept the priesthood, they had to put away every aspect of the form of religion they were leaving and learn God’s method of worship.

For Israel, that began with listening to God’s Spirit as they collected every item to manufacture and complete the Tabernacle. God would reinforce that lesson when they looked back to realize what they accomplished without knowing the end result. God’s order was, collect the materials, give the design, then show the people how they served God without leaving out a single detail. It was a lesson showing Israel how to rely on God.

Man’s way would have been far different. Men would have changed God’s order and totally missed the spiritual lesson. Men would have finalized the design, shared the design with everyone, made a list of materials required, then sent people out to collect every item on the list. We’ve seen how God’s order at creation was different then men would have followed. We’ve also seen the order God used for those plagues was different than men would have expected to follow. God’s plans not only worked, they accomplished much more than any man could have planned. They also locked away spiritual lessons designed for generations to look back on and learn from.

Then the LORD said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth.

(Genesis 15:13-14 NLTse)

God shared His plans with Abraham, who didn’t really understand too many of the details. He had to accept what he was given and apply it to his life. Future generations would look on this prophecy and see more and more details revealed. That was God’s plan which always extends much further and teaches more than anyone could imagine. That is a part of faith few people consider. We have to accept the fact, prophecy is designed to reach one generation on one level, another generation on another level, be fulfilled in one generation, and teach lessons of varying degrees to future generations. To say or think we know everything about a prophecy is to limit, or eliminate God’s Spirit from the process. Common sense should tell you, removing God’s Spirit from a prophecy is a return to the type of priesthood Israel was told to leave behind.

Plans for the Tabernacle

One of the most interesting and important details about the Tabernacle is how every piece was described not once, but at least twice. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you. (Exodus 25:9 NLTse).

Exodus 25:10-22 NLTse “Have the people make an Ark of acacia wood–a sacred chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high. (11) Overlay it inside and outside with pure gold, and run a molding of gold all around it. (12) Cast four gold rings and attach them to its four feet, two rings on each side. (13) Make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. (14) Insert the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it. (15) These carrying poles must stay inside the rings; never remove them. (16) When the Ark is finished, place inside it the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you. (17) “Then make the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–from pure gold. It must be 45 inches long and 27 inches wide. (18) Then make two cherubim from hammered gold, and place them on the two ends of the atonement cover. (19) Mold the cherubim on each end of the atonement cover, making it all of one piece of gold. (20) The cherubim will face each other and look down on the atonement cover. With their wings spread above it, they will protect it. (21) Place inside the Ark the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you. Then put the atonement cover on top of the Ark. (22) I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel.

Exodus 37:1-15 NLTse Next Bezalel made the Ark of acacia wood–a sacred chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high. (2) He overlaid it inside and outside with pure gold, and he ran a molding of gold all around it. (3) He cast four gold rings and attached them to its four feet, two rings on each side. (4) Then he made poles from acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. (5) He inserted the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it. (6) Then he made the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–from pure gold. It was 45 inches long and 27 inches wide. (7) He made two cherubim from hammered gold and placed them on the two ends of the atonement cover. (8) He molded the cherubim on each end of the atonement cover, making it all of one piece of gold. (9) The cherubim faced each other and looked down on the atonement cover. With their wings spread above it, they protected it. (10) Then Bezalel made the table of acacia wood, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high. (11) He overlaid it with pure gold and ran a gold molding around the edge. (12) He decorated it with a 3-inch border all around, and he ran a gold molding along the border. (13) Then he cast four gold rings for the table and attached them at the four corners next to the four legs. (14) The rings were attached near the border to hold the poles that were used to carry the table. (15) He made these poles from acacia wood and overlaid them with gold.

Exodus 25:23-28 NLTse “Then make a table of acacia wood, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high. (24) Overlay it with pure gold and run a gold molding around the edge. (25) Decorate it with a 3-inch border all around, and run a gold molding along the border. (26) Make four gold rings for the table and attach them at the four corners next to the four legs. (27) Attach the rings near the border to hold the poles that are used to carry the table. (28) Make these poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.

Exodus 37:10-15 NLTse Then Bezalel made the table of acacia wood, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high. (11) He overlaid it with pure gold and ran a gold molding around the edge. (12) He decorated it with a 3-inch border all around, and he ran a gold molding along the border. (13) Then he cast four gold rings for the table and attached them at the four corners next to the four legs. (14) The rings were attached near the border to hold the poles that were used to carry the table. (15) He made these poles from acacia wood and overlaid them with gold.

Exodus 25:29-30 NLTse Make special containers of pure gold for the table–bowls, pans, pitchers, and jars–to be used in pouring out liquid offerings. (30) Place the Bread of the Presence on the table to remain before me at all times.

Exodus 37:16 NLTse Then he made special containers of pure gold for the table–bowls, pans, jars, and pitchers–to be used in pouring out liquid offerings.

Exodus 25:31-40 NLTse “Make a lampstand of pure, hammered gold. Make the entire lampstand and its decorations of one piece–the base, center stem, lamp cups, buds, and petals. (32) Make it with six branches going out from the center stem, three on each side. (33) Each of the six branches will have three lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. (34) Craft the center stem of the lampstand with four lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. (35) There will also be an almond bud beneath each pair of branches where the six branches extend from the center stem. (36) The almond buds and branches must all be of one piece with the center stem, and they must be hammered from pure gold. (37) Then make the seven lamps for the lampstand, and set them so they reflect their light forward. (38) The lamp snuffers and trays must also be made of pure gold. (39) You will need seventy-five pounds of pure gold for the lampstand and its accessories. (40) “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.

Exodus 37:17-24 NLTse Then Bezalel made the lampstand of pure, hammered gold. He made the entire lampstand and its decorations of one piece–the base, center stem, lamp cups, buds, and petals. (18) The lampstand had six branches going out from the center stem, three on each side. (19) Each of the six branches had three lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. (20) The center stem of the lampstand was crafted with four lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. (21) There was an almond bud beneath each pair of branches where the six branches extended from the center stem, all made of one piece. (22) The almond buds and branches were all of one piece with the center stem, and they were hammered from pure gold. (23) He also made seven lamps for the lampstand, lamp snuffers, and trays, all of pure gold. (24) The entire lampstand, along with its accessories, was made from seventy-five pounds of pure gold.

The list goes on and on. The Tabernacle is the most detailed structure in the Bible containing more symbols than any other item in the Bible. Why did God go into such detail and repeat those details? As we’ve seen, authors repeat details to draw attention to them. After all, the Tabernacle is a symbol of God’s Son and His ministry. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” (Hebrews 8:5 NLTse). The Book of Hebrews serves as a guide to symbols in the Tabernacle.

Hebrews 9:1-12 NLTse That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. (2) There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. (3) Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. (4) In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. (5) Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now. (6) When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. (7) But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. (8) By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use. (9) This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. (10) For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies–physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established. (11) So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. (12) With his own blood–not the blood of goats and calves–he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

There’s no doubt, the design of the Tabernacle God gave to Moses was a model of the Heavenly Sanctuary, services conducted in Heaven, and Jesus’ ministry all rolled into one. In short, the Tabernacle is a model of the plan of salvation. The question is, where do we begin? There is a strong urge to jump ahead, or around from subject to subject, or symbol to symbol. Looking at what has been accumulated so far would lead us to believe, God had a good reason to repeat the order of the items in the Tabernacle, as well as the details. We’ve also seen the same process and order used at creation. We’ve also seen how God followed a particular order at creation we may not have followed. But when we stuck with God’s order of teaching, unexpected details were revealed. We can expect to see the same pattern as we study details in the Tabernacle in the order Moses recorded them.

The Tabernacle: "T" Is for the Cross

The Ark

What study on the Tabernacle would be complete without a detailed examination of the ark? This may be the one item people most question, at the same time, assuming they know the answers.

The ark is the heart of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is designed around the ark, which contains the ten commandments, plus a number of other important items including a container of manna, and Aaron’s budding staff. A list of laws given to Moses were also added to the side of the ark.

Physical descriptions of the ark are recorded in Exodus 25:10-22, and Exodus 37:1-9. The ark is two and one half cubits long, one and one half cubits wide, and one and one half cubit high. Converting these dimensions shows us the ark is forty five inches long, twenty seven inches wide, and twenty seven inches high.

The ark is constructed of wood, overlaid with pure gold. It is interesting the Bible specifies pure gold. By definition, the word pure means morally and ceremonially clean. This may also indicate the thickness of the gold, and the manner in which it was applied.

The ark may have been covered in gold leaf, a very thin covering, much thinner than paper. To form thin sheets without holes, gold must be free of impurities. Pure gold is very soft, and easy to form. Purifying gold also served as a spiritual lesson for the Israelites and us.

Gold taken from Egypt may have come in many forms, shapes, and sizes. We are told, Aaron made his molten calf from earrings. To withstand normal wear and tear, resist scratching, and hold its shape gold jewelry is formed from a much harder material than pure gold. Metals such as silver, copper, or nickel are added to harden gold. These materials also alter the color.

The Bible tells us, Moses burned Aaron’s golden calf in a fire, which had a hardening effect. He then beat it into dust, cast it into water, and made the Israelites drink it. Based on the fact Moses was able to beat the golden calf into dust small enough to dissolve in water, we know the gold used for the calf contained large amounts of impurities.

Gold used to cover the ark was pure, making it possible to form into very thin sheets. The gold from Egypt may have been in the form of jewelry, and maybe the idols worshipped in Egypt. To purify gold, it had to be melted. In the molten state, impurities separate from the gold. Once the impurities are removed, the pure gold can be formed into sheets.

The Bible uses the purification process to illustrate faith. The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:7 KJV.

We can only imagine the spiritual lessons the Israelites must have learned as they watched the gods of Egypt melt away, impurities float to the top where they were scooped out and discarded, cast onto the ground, and mixed with dust.

The Tabernacle: "T" Is for the Cross
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To Israel, the images of those gods cast into the melting pot represented a lifetime of oppression. Egyptians believed the strength of their gods gave them dominance over the Israelites. They also gave the gods credit for light from the sun, rain, crops, and fertility. This may have been one reason Egyptians had a controversy with the Israelites. The Bible tells us they feared Israel, based on their ability to reproduce. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Exodus 1:9-10 KJV.

The ark contained four rings, one on each corner. These rings were also made of gold, but the Bible does not specify pure gold. The reason for this is logical. Pure gold would have been too soft to bear the weight of the ark, which was carried over long distances, supported by the four rings.

The rings were cast in gold. In this case, they would have undergone the same heating, and purification process as pure gold. Once purified, other metals in the proper proportions would be added to provide the required hardness. Silver and brass added to gold also have a spiritual meaning discussed in other chapters.

Two staves, or poles were fabricated from wood, and covered in gold. The poles were not covered with pure gold, but an alloy, or mixture, making the gold hard enough to endure the rigors of travel. The covering on the staves must have been much thicker than the covering on the ark. This also made the wooden poles much stronger. Wood possessed properties of strength, and light weight. A covering of gold alloy added strength, beauty and durability.

The ark contained the testimony given to Moses, which is covered by the mercy seat, made of pure gold. The mercy seat is the same size as the ark, two and one half cubits, by one and one half cubits. On top of the mercy seat stood two cherubims made of gold, formed of a single piece, formed by hammering.

The cherubims were placed at the ends of the mercy seat facing one another, with their wings spread out over the mercy seat. This is where God appeared to met with Moses.

Before we can accurately study the spiritual meanings of the ark, we must first understand the physical aspects. The arc was made of wood covered in pure gold. The ark was designed and constructed to carry God’s law, the ten commandments. The mercy seat, made of pure gold, covered the law. This was a sign of God’s salvation, which covers sins. This salvation came through His son, Jesus. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29 KJV.

The cherubims are a reminder of God’s kingdom in Heaven. All the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, and let all the angels of God worship him. Revelation 7:11, Hebrews 1:6 KJV.

Four rings attached to the four corners supported two staves, used by the Levites to carry the ark. The priests were an example of people. Not only were they to physically carry the law, they were to make the law a life study. The law was to become a part of their lives, a part of their being, both physically, and spiritually.

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. (19) And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 KJV.


 

And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; Numbers 3:12. The life of the priest was a living example of the connection between man and God. The Levites did not receive an inheritance of land. This illustrated the fact, life as we know it is temporary. Instead, priests were given a portion of the sacrifice. They also received the tithe. The best of the first fruits were given to support the Levites. A portion of the Tabernacle service was designed to meet the physical needs of the priests. In return, priests were to maintain the Tabernacle, its services, teach the law, and the testimony of God. They were instructed to, “gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:” Deuteronomy 31:12 KJV.

The ark was made up of only two elements, gold and wood. Understanding the spiritual meaning of these two elements may teach more about the ark than the physical details.

Pure gold completely covered the ark, inside and out. The mercy seat consisted of pure gold. Gold also represents God’s law, and His word.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Psalms 19:8-10, Psalms 119:72, Psalms 119:127 KJV.

To find the spiritual meaning for shittim wood, we have to use a little deductive thinking. The word shittim is used almost exclusively in association with the Tabernacle. When searching the word wood, a number of texts provide a definition outside the general contexts of the subject. Wood comes from trees, which is the most logical word to examine.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree. I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. Psalms 92:12, Psalms 1:3, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Jeremiah 11:16, Psalms 52:8 KJV.

Trees spiritually represent people. Since wood for the ark came from a tree, the wood used in the ark must spiritually represent people.

What a fitting spiritual symbolism for the ark, gold and wood, representing God’s law, and His people. The law is divided into two groups. The first four describe our relationship with God, the remaining six, our relationship with other people.

Gold lining the inside, and outside of the ark is pure, the perfect representation of the law. The rings are cast from a harder material. To achieve this, the gold must be mixed with other materials, such as silver, or brass. Laws in addition to the ten commandments were carried in the side of the ark. These included the sacrificial laws and ceremonies pointing to Christ. Sacrificial and ceremonial laws were not required until after sin. The rings were designed to carry the ark. The earthly ark was carried through the wilderness by Levites for forty years. There was never any reason for the ark in Heaven to wander for forty years.

The ark was carried by two wooden staves, or poles, covered with gold. Here again we see the symbol of man, covered by gold, which represents God’s law, and His word. The gold covering of course added strength to the wooden poles.

The fact the ark was carried shows how the law required an effort on man’s part. Because the ark was to be carried only by the Levites, portrays the responsibility they carried as priests, representing God, and teaching His law.

The entire design of the ark symbolizes the relationship between God and man. The law rests upon the gold, which never deteriorates. Wood, used to produce the shape and form of the ark, symbolizes the need for man to maintain the shape required to carry the law.

The covering, known as the mercy seat, is pure gold. Mercy comes only through the sacrifice of Jesus. Pure gold represents Jesus’ perfect life. The mercy seat covers the law, just as Jesus’ perfect life covers the law for us.

Cherubims of gold represent the angels in the Heavenly courts. They show the reverence we should have for the law, which represents God’s character. They also represent cooperation between the Heavenly host and man. Pure gold shows the aid provided by angles is perfect, because of their perfect obedience, and cooperation with God.

Overall, the ark symbolizes, cooperation between God, His angels, man, and the law which are at the center of understanding. Once we understand how to interpret the symbols of the ark, we can begin to understand the other details of the Tabernacle.

Reference text:

KJV Exodus 25:10-22. And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. (11) And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. (12) And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. (13) And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. (14) And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. (15) The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. (16) And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. (17) And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. (18) And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. (19) And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. (20) And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. (21) And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. (22) And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

KJV Exodus 30:6. And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.

KJV Exodus 37:1-9. And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: (2) And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about. (3) And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it. (4) And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold. (5) And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark. (6) And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof. (7) And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat; (8) One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof. (9) And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.

The Tabernacle: "T" Is for the Cross

The Tabernacle Candlestick

The candlestick of pure gold is one of the best known items in the Tabernacle. Most people know light represents God’s word.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

Genesis 1:3, Psalms 18:28, Psalms 27:1, Psalms 119:105, Psalms 119:130 KJV.

This chapter is based on the descriptions of the candlestick listed in Exodus 25:31-40, and Exodus 37:17-29.

For some reason the design of the candlestick is a little difficult to follow. In Exodus 25:32 the candlestick is described as having six branches. “Six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side.” For some unexplained reason it appears Moses almost left out details describing the center branch. If it was not for verse 37, we may not be able to determine the correct number of branches. “And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.”

Before examining scripture, it will help to understand the purpose of the candlestick, and the basic construction of a common lamp.

Thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. Exodus 25:37 KJV.

The candlestick provided light inside the Tabernacle. Verse 37 refers to the seven branches as lamps. Leviticus 24:2 confirms they are oil lamps. “Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.”

A basic oil lamp consists of a container for the oil, a section to hold a wick, and the wick. The candlestick contains seven lamps, each branch must contain each of the parts. Since Exodus 25:31-40 contains the detail which describes the body to hold oil. “A knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.” The bowl is the body of the candlestick made to hold oil.

The six outer branches consist of a knop, a flower, and three bowls shaped like almonds. The six branches are the same. “Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.” Each of the six outer branches contain three bowls. One branch is made of four bowls, like almonds. “And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers..” The remaining branch is the center branch, having four bowls.

The candlestick contains three distinct physical features relating to nature, a knop, flower, and almonds. A knop has two definitions. It either refers to the column of the branch, or a wreath around the branch.

Flower has a spiritual meaning understood only by comparing scripture.

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: Psalms 103:15, Isaiah 40:6, 1 Peter 1:24 KJV.

The Bible uses the symbol of a flower to represent man, and his temporary condition on earth. The flower on the candlestick is a reminder of man’s temporary journey through this life, to a life eternal, whose path is lit by the word of God.

The bowl, or section of the lamp containing oil, is shaped like almonds, which represent God’s miracles.

While Moses lead Israel through the wilderness, Korah lead a group in open dispute over the leadership appointed by God. The Lord established a trial in which Korah, along with two hundred and fifty princes stood against Moses and Aaron, the high priest. Each man stood with his sensor, Koran and his company on one side of the Tabernacle, Moses and Aaron on the other.

 proclaimed God’s word. If Korah and his followers die a normal death, it would prove the Lord did not send Moses. If something new happened, if the earth would open up and swallow the company, the action would prove God appointed Moses and Aaron.

The earth opened up, not only taking in Korah’s followers, but their families, tents, including everything they owned.

This was not the end of the trial. Next God had the leaders of the twelve tribes bring their staffs to Moses. Each man wrote his name on his rod. Moses put the rods in the Tabernacle over night. The next morning, “Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.” Numbers 17:8 KJV.

A similar story with similar circumstances is recorded by Jeremiah.

KJV Jeremiah 1:10-12. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. (11) Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. (12) Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

Proof texts with the word almond not only illustrate God’s ability to perform miracles, they also deal with the subject of leadership. Consider this on a spiritual level. The candlestick is made of pure gold, representing God’s word, and His law. The purpose of the physical candlestick is to provide light. Spiritually light represents understanding. The bowls holding oil for light are shaped like almonds, which spiritually represent God’s ability to perform miracles, and also show us, God appoints His leaders. Flowers on the candlestick remind us of man’s temporary state in this world. The temporary state is the condition of this world of sin.

Many of the ceremonies performed in the Tabernacle are signs pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus, which results in victory over death, the penalty of sin. Although death and sin have been defeated, they remain as realities we have to contend with until Jesus cleanses the earth from all sin. God uses the symbol of a Father, a role, God uses to instruct His followers. A major portion of this education focuses on the subject of dealing with sin. The steps and tools available are illustrated in the candlestick in a spiritual manner.

Light, provides knowledge and understanding. Sin is much easier to deal with once we understand the circumstances. Where did sin begin? What are the results of sin? How is sin defeated? How do we receive forgiveness for our sins?

Gold represents God’s word and His law. What is the gold without light? What is God’s word without understanding? What is God’s law without understanding? The golden candlestick provides the form, containing the materials light depends upon, just as God’s word and law support, and provide understanding.

As a Father, God knows we require more than instruction to understand, we also need positive reinforcement and an example to follow. God provides this in the form of miracles, represented by the almonds. Miracles in the Old Testament, and the miracles Jesus performed in the New.

Living in a world of sin, we can soon become discouraged. None of us want to imagine an eternity of sin. We have all experienced pain caused by sin. We have all reached a point of discouragement caused by sin. If eternity offered us nothing more than the life we have experienced here on earth, each of us would see a day when we would give up, and wait for death as a relief. This is not the case. God promises us eternal life without sin. This promise is represented by the flowers on the candlestick.

Leaders appointed by God must understand concepts revealed through the details of the candlestick. They must know the word of God, and keep His law. Knowledge is the state of oil in the bowl. While the oil is in the bowl, it does not provide light until it comes in contact with the flame. The flame represents a desire to teach God’s word, and His law. Without desire, knowledge of God’s word will not lead to understanding. O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: Psalms 43:3, Proverbs 6:23 KJV.

The description of the candlestick in Exodus 25 contains a number of details often overlooked. One of those is the bowl, which appears to be a common word. If you follow the word bowl throughout the Bible, you would find it is mentioned almost exclusively in relationship to the Tabernacle. Not only does the candlestick contain bowls, the table is set with bowls.

Consider the arrangement of the compartment within the Tabernacle. The candlestick provides the light. Other than lighting a room, what does the candlestick shed light on? The table. Jesus said, “I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

The table is set for a meal, an invitation from Jesus. The table also contained the shewbread, another symbol of Jesus, the bread of life. The pure gold represent the pure message Jesus brought to this world, teaching God’s word and law. The light of the candlestick represents the understanding gained through a relationship with Jesus.

Man’s nature is represented in the wood of the table, and the flowers on the candlestick. Both represent the temporary state of people in this world.

The light was contained within an enclosed room, shut away from the light of the world. Not from the sun, but from the understanding of the world. The light reflected off the gold on the walls, God’s word, enlightening every detail within the Tabernacle. The seven lamps are related to the seven candlesticks in Revelation, which represent the messages given to the seven churches.

In Revelation, Jesus’ message was given on four main levels. The achievements of each church, their short comings, a vision of Christ, and a vision of Heaven. It is not surprising to find the consistency between the Tabernacle, and the introduction to the book of Revelation. Both reveal the relationship between God and man. Both explain man’s role in the plan of salvation. Both reveal Christ, His mission on earth, and His role in Heaven. And both provide an image of hope, a revelation of Heaven, and eternal life.

The light of the candlestick represents God’s relationship with His people, through Jesus, and His word. A study of the word light makes this clear.

Send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward. Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Psalms 43:3, Psalms 36:9, Isaiah 58:8, Isaiah 60:1, Matthew 5:16 KJV.

Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus. Psalms 112:4, John 1:4, John 1:7, John 1:9, John 12:36 KJV.

Open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Acts 26:18, Ephesians 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, 2 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Timothy 1:10 KJV.

You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 1 Peter 2:9, 2 Peter 1:19, 1 John 1:7, Psalms 37:6 KJV.

Reference Texts:

KJV Exodus 25:31-40. And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. (32) And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: (33) Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. (34) And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. (35) And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. (36) Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. (37) And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. (38) And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold. (39) Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. (40) And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.

KJV Exodus 37:17-29. And he made the candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work made he the candlestick; his shaft, and his branch, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, were of the same: (18) And six branches going out of the sides thereof; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side thereof: (19) Three bowls made after the fashion of almonds in one branch, a knop and a flower; and three bowls made like almonds in another branch, a knop and a flower: so throughout the six branches going out of the candlestick. (20) And in the candlestick were four bowls made like almonds, his knops, and his flowers: (21) And a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches going out of it. (22) Their knops and their branches were of the same: all of it was one beaten work of pure gold. (23) And he made his seven lamps, and his snuffers, and his snuffdishes, of pure gold. (24) Of a talent of pure gold made he it, and all the vessels thereof.