The Tabernacle – Part 5 :: by Grant Phillips

The Tabernacle

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2)

The Tabernacle as seen from the outside is very unappealing. It was just an old drab tent with a flat roof. I feel that while Jesus walked on this earth in the flesh, He was just an average guy, as far as looks are concerned. Especially on the cross, He was a horrible sight to look upon.

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)

However there is more to outward appearance than meets the eye.

When entering the Tabernacle, we are surprised. It doesn’t have the drab appearance of the outside. We soon notice that the top of the Tabernacle has four coverings which are draped down the outer sides from the top.

The top or outer covering is made of badgers’ skins (seal skins). As we saw in Isaiah 53:2, it too has no beauty. However, it is very durable and speaks of Christ’s walk among men.

The second covering from the top is made of ram’s skin dyed red, which speaks of Christ’s strength and His sacrifice for us on the cross. We are reminded of His substituting Himself for us.

The third covering from the top is made of goats’ hair. Since it is symbolic of Christ’s death for us (Hebrews 9:2) it did not touch the ground. It is holy since it represents our Lord’s worth to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.

The fourth covering from the top, which of course is the inner covering, is made of fine-twined Egyptian linen and is pure white. It could not be seen from the outside of course and could not touch the ground. The beauty of the embroidered cherubim in the fabric could only be seen from inside, reminding us of our Lord’s Heavenly beauty and that we are hidden under His wings. (Psalms 17:8)

There are two rooms in the Tabernacle, the Holy Place and then the Holy of Holies.

In the Holy Place were the Seven-branched Lampstand, the Table of Shew Bread and the Altar of Incense. The Lampstand is to my left. The Table of Shew Bread is to my right, and the Incense Altar is straight ahead. Behind the Incense Altar is the Veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.

The Pure Gold Lampstand (Exodus 25:31-39)

The pure gold Lampstand was beaten from one piece with a central stem and six branches. The central stem represented the Second Person of the Godhead, Jesus Christ, and the other six represented mankind. Seven is the number of completion and perfection, while six is the number of man. The God of Heaven was beaten for us that all who come through Jesus Christ might be saved.

The Table Of Shew Bread (Exodus 25:23-30)

The Table of Shew Bread was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. The acacia wood represented Christ conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) as the Son of Man and the gold as the Son of God. In Hebrews 2:9 we see Him as the one who suffered for us and is now crowned with gold. The twelve loaves of bread represent all his people, the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles.

The Incense Altar (Exodus 30:1-10)

The Incense Altar, made of gold, is a place of prayer. Jesus said that His house is a house of prayer in Luke 19:46, which He was quoting from Isaiah 56:7.

Just think, God is telling us that in Him He is the light of the world (Lampstand), that He is the bread of life (Table of Shewbread) and we may enter His presence in prayer (Incense Altar).

The Veil

Blocking the entrance into the Holy of Holies is a veil fifteen high and anywhere from four to six inches thick. No one but the High Priest could enter this area, and only once per year on the Day of Atonement.

When Jesus had finished His work on the cross for mankind He cried up with a loud voice and gave up His Spirit. Then, “At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. (Matthew 27:51 NLT)

Only the hand of God could have split that 4-6” thick curtain from top to bottom making it possible for all to enter therein by the blood of Jesus Christ. Never before could this happen. If anyone entered that room other than the High Priest they would die. If the High Priest entered on any day other than the Day of Atonement he would die. If he made even an innocent mistake while in there he would die. Now, as Christians, you and I can enter the Holy of Holies and worship God any day, any time, and only Jesus could have made that possible.

The Holy of Holies

In this holiest of places is the Ark of the Covenant, representing God’s throne. Now we go directly before the throne of God in Heaven in our prayers and worship.

The Mercy Seat rests on top of the Ark as its cover. It is often called the Propitiation Cover. In other words, it is a reminder of conciliation between man and a holy God. On this cover the blood of a goat was sprinkled.

“Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,” (Romans 3:24-25 NLT)

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:8-9 NLT)

The two Cherubim attached to the covering lid, the Mercy Seat, reminds us that God’s presence dwells over the Ark and what is within. They also represent the glory of God.

Within the Ark itself are (1) the two stone tables of the Law, (2) Aaron’s rod that budded, (3) and the golden pot of hidden manna.

Only Jesus could live up to God’s Law written on the two stone tablets. Only Jesus is our High Priest, and only Jesus’ Word, the Bible, is our source of Truth.

I have given only a brief outline of this wonderful truth found in the Tabernacle of Moses, just enough I hope to whet your appetite for more. I cannot stress enough that there is much, much more that I have not even mentioned. My hopes are that some of you will be driven to do your own study and dig deeper. I can assure you that your heart will be blessed.

When you understand the Tabernacle, the book of Hebrews, for example, will make sense to you. Both are all about Jesus Christ our High Priest and what He has accomplished for those will put their trust in Him.

There is one last thing I would like to mention. When considering the Tabernacle and the Gospel, let us rise up in our mind above the scene. We get in our imaginary helicopter and look down, and as we do, we notice from the Bronze Altar to the Holy of Holies is a straight vertical line. From the Lampstand to the Table of Shewbread is another, smaller, straight line going horizontally across the vertical line. Yes, it’s the Cross of Jesus told to us via the Tabernacle.

For those who are interested, my favorite book on this subject was written by M.R. DeHaan (copyright (1955) simply called, “The Tabernacle.” It can still be purchased at or Amazon for about $10.00 the ISBN number is 0-310-23491-3.

Grant Phillips