The Tabernacle and the Deification or Theosis of Man
The Tabernacle of Moses from its front to back represents one’s progression in their spiritual journey starting with their initial salvation leading to the glorification of the physical body and eternal life in YHVH’s eternal spiritual kingdom. This view is from man’s perspective looking into the tabernacle through the front gate.
From YHVH’s view inside the holy of holies above the ark of the covenant in the glory cloud looking outward, the perspective is different. We’ll discus this in a moment.
In the outer court of the tabernacle, all the rituals and furnishings pointed to death, judgment, to washing or cleansing. These prophetically foreshadowed salvation through Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross, with Yeshua being the door to salvation, acceptance of his death on the cross for one’s sins followed by baptism for the remission of sins. In the set-apart (kadosh or holy) place inside the tabernacle, everything pointed to life, light, food, fragrant incense, the fruits and gifts of the Set-Apart Spirit—or life in a spiritual relationship with Elohim subsequent to one’s taking the beginning steps in the salvation process. The outer court speaks of basic salvation for the redeemed believer in Yeshua, while the holy place speaks of spiritual growth and maturity, of moving from spiritual babyhood and growing into spiritual adulthood or maturity.
To understand this process of growing in spiritual maturity, it is necessary to comprehend the tripartite composition of man. Paul speaks of man being subdivided into three parts—body, soul and spirit (1 Thess 5:23). The tabernacle’s outer court seems to relate more to the physical or bodily realm of the person, while the holy place speaks more of the soul or intellectual, volitional and emotional aspects of man’s inner or psychological makeup. Finally, the holy of holies portrays man approaching YHVH through the realm of a person’s inner personal spirit.
As one progresses into the tabernacle, it is as if YHVH is drawing a person into an ever deeper relational walk with him starting at the most basic level progressing upward until one is finally communing with YHVH on a Spirit-to-(human personal)-spirit level (in the most holy place). It is the Father’s desire that his children progressively grow until we are communing with him at the highest spiritual level (see John 4:23–24).
As noted earlier, this forward progression from the tabernacle’s entrance to its innermost room is but one way to view a person’s spiritual progression into the realm of the Spirit of Elohim. From YHVH’s perspective looking from the inside of the tabernacle outward, the view changes. Although one has to enter the tabernacle through the outer gate and then go through various rites and rituals relating to a cleansing process before being allowed into the tabernacle itself, at the same time, we see YHVH starting to work with the person from the inside out. He first regenerates the person spiritually by putting his Set-Apart Spirit in the spirit of the person. In a sense, if the tabernacle is a picture of the tripartite subdivision of a person’s life (body, soul and spirit), then YHVH starts working from the inside out in one’s personal spirit, which is one’s personal holy of holies that’s inside of them, if you will. From there, the Set-Apart Spirit goes to work on the person’s soul (mind, will and emotions) to transform it spiritually into the image of Yeshua (Rom 8:28–29). This process will last a person’s lifetime. Finally, at the resurrection at Yeshua’s second coming, the saint’s will receive their redeemed and glorified or god-like body (1 John 3:1–2). At this time, they will become full-fledged, immortal spiritual children of Elohim (John 1:12). Though the Bible teaches that humans can become sons of Elohim and be like him as part of his divine family, man will never be equivalent to Elohim in a full sense. Only Elohim is the Creator, is without a beginning, and is all powerful, all knowing and all present. Man will never attain to this level.
The process of man going from being a physical and human creature to becoming an immortal and glorified child of the Most High, in theological terms, is called theosis. This is an ancient Christian concept that is still held by the Eastern Orthodox Church and refers to the spiritual process that occurs resulting in the deification of man. The goal of theosis is to become “like” (though not equal to) Elohim and to become eventually united with him spiritually. Theosis is the biblical concept of a redeemed or spiritually regenerated individual “becoming a partaker YHVH’s divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4), and being adopted into the family of Elohim (see the verses below). It is about man becoming like Elohim—becoming part of the family of Elohim as a son of Elohim (John 10:34; Ps 82:1; 1 John 3:1–3).
This is our theosis, that as the Ruach haKodesh (the Set-Apart Spirit) identified Yeshua as the Son of Elohim at his baptism, so we take the first steps of becoming a son of Elohim at our baptism when we become a new creation through Yeshua and the work of the Set-Apart Spirit (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17). At that time, one is begotten into the family of Elohim, and when one receives one’s glorified body at the resurrection one will be fully born or adopted into the family of Elohim as a full-fledged son of Elohim, for, as the Scripture says, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is (1 John 3:1–3).
Paul refers to theosis in several places when he uses the term adoption.
For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Rom 8:15)
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Rom 8:23; also 9:4)
To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Gal 4:5)
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Yeshua the Messiah to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will… (Eph 1:5)
The apostolic writers make further reference to theosis in several other places as well.
But as many as received [Yeshua], to them He gave the right to become children of Elohim, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of Elohim. (John 1:12–13)
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of Elohim and of Yeshua our Master, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (1 Pet 1:2–4)
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of Elohim! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of Elohim; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:1–2)
So, as we have seen, there are two spiritual processes going on at the same time in a person’s life as portrayed by the spiritual model of the Tabernacle of Moses. At the beginning of one’s spiritual walk, a person starts out in the physical dimension in the outer courtyard and ends up in the spiritual dimension in the holy of holies. This represents spiritual cleansing from sin and unrighteousness that brings us progressively closer to YHVH Elohim as one becomes more and more like him until we’re united with Elohim through marriage to Yeshua in the New Jerusalem. This is theosis.
At the same time, YHVH starts working in a person from the inside out by first redeeming his spirit, then one’s soul during one’s lifetime, and finally one’s body at the resurrection of the dead. These two processes are occurring simultaneously to form a complete spiritual work in one’s life resulting in a physical human being becoming an immortal child of Elohim, who has the character of Yeshua. Such a person is one that YHVH Elohim will be pleased to spend eternity with in the New Jerusalem, which is spiritually pictured by the glory cloud of YHVH’s presence that hovers over the holy of holies of the Tabernacle of Moses.
For theosis to occur, one must first have their personal inner spirit spiritually activated by Elohim. In man’s indigenous spiritually unregenerate state, one is like an unlit candle that YHVH must supernaturally light with the divine light of his Set-Apart Spirit through a spiritual relationship with Yeshua. We then become “sons of light” (John 12:36; Luke 16:8; Eph 5:8; 1 Thess 5:5). The Scriptures speak of this process.
But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. (Job 32:8)
Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? (Eccl 3:21)
The burden of the word of YHVH for Israel, saith YHVH, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. (Zech 12:1)
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of Elohim knoweth no man, but the Spirit of Elohim. (1 Cor 2:11)
Man can’t enter into a relationship with a YHVH who is a Spirit through his soul (his mind, will and emotions). To do so is merely a human attempt to earn one’s own salvation. This is called humanism and is what drives all the false, non-biblical religions of the world as well as some religions purporting to be Bible-based. Elohim is a Spirit, and one must relate to him through the Spirit.
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of Elohim, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:14)
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. Elohim is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23–24)
For man enter into a spiritual relationship with the Creator, YHVH Elohim, one must do so through his spirit. This means that one’s spirit must be activated at the time of one’s spiritual birth. When this occurs, a one receives in himself the Spirit of Elohim, which activates and controls the personal spirit in that person, which in turn controls the soul (the mind, will and emotions), which in turn controls the body directing it what to think, say and do.
When we are born again from above, our personal spirit is activated by the Spirit of Elohim.
The spirit of a man is the lamp of YHVH, Searching all the inner depths of his heart. (Prov 20:27)
But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. (Job 32:8)
The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of Elohim (Rom 8:16)
That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith (Eph 3:16–17)
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from Elohim, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by Elohim. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Set-Apart Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of Elohim, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:12–14)
But you have an anointing from the Set-Apart One, and you know all things. … But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (1 John 2:20, 27)
And every spirit that does not confess that Yeshua the Messiah has come in the flesh is not of Elohim. And this is the spirit of the Antimessiah, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:3)
The Tabernacle of Moses is a glorious picture or template of this spiritual process that occurs deep within the minds and hearts of those who willingly submit to it. Most humans refuse YHVH’s invitation to be transformed spiritually from the inside out because of their spiritual blindness, rebellion, stubbornness, pride and the deceitfulness of the pleasures of sin. For those who submit to YHVH’s plan of spiritual redemption, the process is difficult, but the end results are glorious!
What’s more, the three pilgrimage festivals (Exod 34:18–22), when all Israel would go up to where YHVH had placed his name (Deut 16:2, 6, 11, 15), seem to suggest this three-part spiritual progression in a believer’s life as well. The ceremonies occurring in the outer courtyard picture Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the menorah in the holy place symbolized the Feast of Week, and the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies symbolizes the Feast of Tabernacles. We see, therefore, that the three pilgrimage feasts picture a person’s upward spiritual journey toward Elohim as one draws ever closer to him with the occurrence of each successive feast.
Where would you place yourself in the tabernacle? What object or location in the tabernacle best represents where you’re at in your spiritual journey toward inclusion in YHVH Elohim’s eternal and spiritual family. (Consider the idea that we should everywhere in the tabernacle all at the same time.) Why did YHVH take such great pains to construct a physical layout of the steps we must take in our spiritual journey toward ultimate spiritual intimacy and oneness with him as represented by the holy of holies in his tabernacle, which represented his dwelling place on earth among his chosen people (Exod 25:8)? He’s trying to reveal some deep spiritual mysteries to those who ears and eyes to hear and see, and hearts to perceive by using physical, illustrative means.
It is interesting to note that there are also three stages in the Hebraic or biblical wedding. They are the betrothal, consummation and celebration stages. In the “godhead” there are also three subdivisions. They are the Father, Son and the Set-Apart Spirit. Additionally, John talks about three classes of believers, which are children, young men, and fathers (1 John 2:12–14), which appear to represent three stages of spiritual progression or maturity.
All these sets of three (the three parts of man, the three subdivisions of the Tabernacle of Moses, the three pilgrimage feasts, the three parts of the biblical wedding) all relate to each other and to YHVH’s plan of redemption of humans as he brings each persons into an intimate and eternal spiritual relationship with himself through Yeshua the Messiah.