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bible reading mar 16

Bible reading for March 16: Exodus 27; John 6. 

The tabernacle and what it means.  Let's connect the OT book of Exodus with Jesus as portrayed in the Gospel of John...

After Israel was delivered from bondage in Egypt, God gave his people a plan to make a place of worship, which was a special tent and courtyard, whereby they could approach him and he might manifest his presence among them.  The tabernacle (and later the temple) had to be built exactly to the pattern God gave (Ex 25:8-9).  There were also furnishings that God directed them to construct and place there, each having a special purpose, that is, to show us how we might come to know and approach God.  In the opening chapters of the gospel of John, the author calls attention to Jesus "tabernacling" among us (John 1:14).  The Greek word means to "spread a tent; dwell" and is used in the Greek version of the OT (LXX) for the Tabernacle (Ex 25:9).  And Jesus, while standing in the courtyard of the Jerusalem temple, refers to his own body as the temple (Jn 2:21).  The tabernacle points us to Christ, being a portrait not only of him but also the way we might approach our holy God through him.  In a sense it's like a map to the new creation.   

1.  The altar (for burnt offerings): Jesus is the Substitute (atoning sacrifice) we need.  The tabernacle was the place of sacrifice.  Unblemished animals, the best and most expensive, were brought to the tabernacle, and the worshiper would lay his hand on the animal and confess his sin, and then the animal was slaughtered.  This was a way of recognizing guilt and how costly sin is, and the inevitability of judgment and death.  This is one of the greatest truths we need to grasp: that Jesus took the judgment we deserve and removes guilt from us.  At unfathomable cost God gave his Son to die and remove our sins: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29)

2.  The laver (bronze basin): Jesus gives the cleansing we need.  All those in the holy place washed themselves and their offerings.  This was another way of reminding the worshipers that God is holy and pure. John the Baptist came baptizing people in water (Jn 1).  Jesus turned the Jewish water of purification to wine (Jn 2), and said later that he said he would provide living water.  Right before the cross, he himself took a basin and towel and washed his disciples feet (Jn 13:8). 

3.  The table of bread:  God provides what we need for life in Jesus. The fresh bread put out every day in the tabernacle was a reminder that Israel's life and sustenance came from God.  He would provide for their needs.  Likewise, Jesus provided for the needs of his disciples and also fed the multitude (Jn 6).  He gives us not only forgiveness but eternal life. He grants that we will live forever, and sustains us by his grace. "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." (Jn 6:35). 

4. The lampstand: Jesus is, and brings, the truth we need. There were no windows in the tabernacle.  The seven-branched lampstand reminded the worshipers that the God of creation (7 days) is the One who give us true light and understanding.  In his light he enables us to see things as they really are and to truly know him. This is a major theme in the Gospel of John, that Jesus brings truth, shows truth, and is Truth (Jn 1:14; 8:12, 31-32; 14:6; 12:46). He said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Jn 8:12).

5. The altar of incense: Jesus is our continual Intercessor.  The altar of incense was where the high priest, as intercessor and mediator, would burn incense and the sweet-smelling smoke would go up, representing prayer which was pleasing to God.  The high priest of the OT would bear the concerns of God's people over his heart as he so ministered (Ex 39:6-14). Right before Jesus goes to the cross, he prays like the high priest. In John chapter 17 our Lord Jesus prays a high priestly prayer and in it he prays for you and me“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…” (Jn 17:20)  His intercession for us is ongoing (Rom 8:34). 

6. The ark of the covenant: Jesus is the atonement we need.  In the most holy place was a gold covered box, and once a year, the high priest would take the blood of a special sacrifice and put it on the lid, called the "mercy seat".  Fashioned as part of this lid were two gold angels looking down. These cherubim, protectors of God's holiness, would look at this sacrifice and turn away God's judgment from the nation for that year.  However, we know that the blood of animal sacrifices could never take away human sin.  These were all images given by God to tell of how he himself would deal with our sin and bring us into relationship with him.  "Atonement” is a word we use to mean that God, through his Son, has taken our sin and guilt out of the way, and that God is fully satisfied with what Jesus did on our behalf.  Just as the holy angels on the ark of the covenant looked down upon the place where forgiveness was won, so when Christ was crucified and risen, two angels sat at either end of where his body lay. John tells us that Mary Magdalene "...saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet" (Jn 20:12).  

So our Lord Jesus is -- at the same time -- our high priest, atoning sacrifice, and holy temple!  Everything in the Tabernacle points to him.  "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. ... Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb 4:14, 16)

We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. 
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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