Welcome to the World of the Tabernacle of Moses
If you were the Creator of the universe, what means would you use to communicate with those that you had created through love in your likeness and image? In a remote way, it’s like a human standing over an anthill trying to communicate with the ants. How do you do it? Similarly, how does an all powerful, Spirit Being, loving Father in heaven relate to his mortal children who are but mere specks of dust without vaporizing them with his raw power? The difficulty is compounded when fearful humans don’t want to hear the voice of Elohim, which is what happened when YHVH Elohim’s voice thundered from Mount Sinai. The children of Israel begged him not to talk to them, lest they die. They asked the Almighty One to speak to them instead through Moses (Exod 20:19).
When man sinned at the tree of knowledge, and YHVH kicked them out of the Garden of Eden, direct communications between man and his Maker were hampered, if not all but cut off. However, Elohim had a plan to restore the loving relationship he had with man before the rebellion. But if men refuse to hear you when you speak, what are you do?
To be certain, the Almighty doesn’t lack for ways to communicate with men. Man is without excuse when it comes to hearing Elohim, for even the heaven’s declare the glory of the Creator and the plans he has for mankind. The visible things of this creation shout loudly about the spiritual mysteries heaven desires to reveal to its earthly subjects. Furthermore, from time to time over the millennia, Elohim has chosen to speak directly to some select servants through dreams, visions, signs, wonders, angels, and even once through a donkey! But how does he speak to a whole nation, if that nation is plugging its ears and refusing to hear its Master’s voice?
Enter into the picture the Tabernacle of Moses, which was literally a three-dimensional gospel message tract. It is the visual demonstration of the whole message of the Bible in a building — the blueprint of the plan of redemption of wayward man. It was a functioning masterpiece of artwork demonstrating the Father’s love for his people, of his desire to commune and to communicate with Israel — his treasured possession, those he had hand picked and called out from the 70 nations of the world. Not only did the tabernacle involve the sense of sight, but the other four senses as well: sound, smell, touch, and taste. It also engaged and even challenged the heart, emotions, mind and spirit of man. The Tabernacle of Moses was a vehicle for the Creator of the universe to communicate with man using a panoply of communicative devices all of which pointed to the coming Messiah, the Redeemer of mankind who would die for the sins of the world to restore man into a loving relationship with his ever-loving, gracious, and longsuffering Father in heaven.
This is the story of the tabernacle, which, in every way, resembles a theatrical play, even a pageant, containing costumed actors each performing his carefully choreographed role on cue. Even a child can comprehend the message of this play, yet it contains mysteries and truths so deep that only in eternity itself will they be revealed to those who have been initiated into higher spiritual levels through the tabernacle’s spiritual paradigms of which its rites and ceremonies were mere prophetic shadows of things to come. To understand it, is to understand the message of the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
Let’s now enter into this world of the Tabernacle of Moses. Welcome!
The Seven Steps in the Tabernacle & the Biblical Feasts
The numbers seven and eight figure prominently in the Tabernacle of Moses, as well as the rest of the Bible. Seven is the biblical number for perfect completion, while eight is the number for new beginnings and infinity. Let’s explore this concept as we step into the Tabernacle of Moses once again for another look from a different perspective.
Another Tour of the tabernacle, But in More detail.
Let’s take another tour of the tabernacle, but this time let’s add a new dimension: YHVH’s seven annual appointed times or festivals in light of the seven steps of redemption. Multiple visits to the tabernacle are necessary, for like a world class museum or an ornate and opulently decorated palace, it is impossible to absorb the fullness of the tabernacle on one’s first tour.
First Step of Eight — the red heifer altar: Before spiritual conversion, one is in a state of separation from his Creator because of sin. When the gospel is preached, one hears the good news of the gospel message, and sees the light of the truth, the message of the cross, all of which are symbolized by the multi-colored door and the luminescent walls of the tabernacle. At this point, one must choose to remain where he is — lost in his spiritual wilderness, or move forward into the spiritual light of the divine Truth that will lead him out of that wilderness. As one takes his first steps to become separated or set-apart from the confusion, darkness, chaos, emptiness, lostness and death of the world, one first encounters the altar of the red heifer located outside the tabernacle (in later years located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem opposite the temple, Mishnah Parah 1:1ff). There the red heifer was slaughtered and burned and its ashes were used as a sin offering to bring about purification for uncleanness (Num 19:1ff). Yeshua was likewise crucified outside of the camp of Israel and the gates of Jerusalem (Heb 13:10–13). This altar represents the work of Yeshua at the cross. One cannot enter the tabernacle until one has been redeemed and purified by the blood of Yeshua. Even the Israelites killed the Passover lamb outside their homes on the afternoon of the fourteenth of the month of Abib. The blood was then smeared on the doors of their homes. Once they entered their blood-smeared doors and were inside their homes they were safe from the destroyer who simply passed over them. Likewise, when we enter through the gates of the tabernacle (which are crimson in color, as well as blue, white and purple — colors which point to the four Gospels and the four aspects of Yeshua’s mission as Redeemer; this all represents the concept of salvation), we do so in a saved and spiritually purified state. Even the priests weren’t allowed to enter the tabernacle unless they were in a ritually pure state. This is a picture of Passover (Pesach), which is the first of YHVH’s seven annual appointed times (or moedim) and symbolically represents one’s initial salvation.
Second Step of Eight/First Step of Seven — the altar of sacrifice: Upon entering the tabernacle, one immediately comes to the altar of sacrifice. After the lamb was sacrificed on the afternoon of Passover, that evening (the beginning of the fifteenth day of the first month, which was also the first day and a high day Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot; John 19:31), the Israelites ate the Passover lamb. At the altar of sacrifice the Levites would eat of or feast on those animals that were sacrificed there. This pictures the fact that the saved believer must continue to “eat the flesh” and “drink the blood” (metaphorically) of Yeshua to stay in communion with him (John 6:35–58), and that when one sins after one is saved, one must continue in a state of repentance and needs to keep overcoming one’s sin through the blood of the Lamb (1 John 1:7–9). On Passover evening, one not only ate lamb, but unleavened bread, as well, after having put all leavened bread out of one’s home. This pictures the believer walking forward spiritually, while continually putting sin out of one’s life. To the degree that one eliminates sin from one’s life is the degree one has communion with our Father in heaven. Therefore, the altar of sacrifice in the tabernacle is a picture of the Passover meal and the first high Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Third Step of Eight/Second Step of Seven — the bronze laver: At the bronze laver one ritually washed oneself in preparation for entering into YHVH’s service in the sanctuary. This represents a new believer being baptized for the remission of sins, being washed in the water of the Word of Elohim (Eph 5:26) and receiving the Set-Apart Spirit of Elohim. This corresponds with the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea and being baptized unto Moses, who was a prophetic foreshadow of Yeshua (1 Cor 10:2). The Red Sea crossing occurred during the last high holy day Shabbat of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and most likely on the last high Sabbath of that week-long festival.
Fourth Step of Eight/Third Step of Seven — the menorah: The next step takes one to the menorah where the light of the Spirit of Elohim shines in the hearts and minds of spiritually redeemed humans. Here a person’s life becomes fruitful spiritual ground as evidenced through the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–25), and one can also become empowered to reach a lost world by the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:1–11). Once one is separated, redeemed, washed and transformed by the Word and Spirit of Elohim, and is walking in the light of YHVH’s Torah-Truth, one becomes a spiritual light shining into the spiritual darkness of this world. Humans are the lesser light (as represented by the moon) reflecting the greater light of the Yeshua, who is the Torah-Word of Elohim incarnate (John 1:1–14). He is like the sun, which is the source of light (or divine spiritual Truth). In fact, the prophet Malachi refers to the coming Messiah as the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2). The prophetic implications of the menorah and what it represented spiritually was fulfilled on the Feast of Pentecost (Chag haShavuot) in Acts chapter two. On that day, the fire of YHVH came down and lit the human menorahs, so to speak, in the upper room with the power of the fire of his Holy Spirit, while, at same time, writing his Torah-word in their hearts, thus fulfilling the prophecy in Jeremiah (Jer 31:31, 33). This divine encounter launched these early believers to take the spiritual light of Yeshua, the Living Word or gospel message, to a dark spiritual world in Spirit and power.
Fifth Step of Eight/Fourth Step of Seven — the table of showbread: Yeshua’s people next must prepare themselves to meet him at his second coming at the end of the age. At this time there will occur a great spiritual awakening culminating in the continued regathering and reunion of the scattered twelve tribes of Israel around Yeshua, the Bread of Life. This process began with the ministry of Yeshua (Matt 15:24; 10:6 cp. Acts 1:8) and will culimate in the great harvest of souls during his millennial reign. Numerous Hebrew biblical prophets spoke of this awesome day. This end time event is represented in the tabernacle by the table of showbread with the twelve loaves of unleavened bread symbolizing the regathering of the twelve tribes of Israel from the nations of the world where they have been scattered. This is all pictured prophetically by the Day of Trumpets or Shouting (Yom Teruah). As discussed elsewhere in this article, we believe that the table of showbread and Day of Trumpets prophetically pictures the resurrection of the righteous redeemed Israelite believers (made of people from all ethinic backgrounds, who are now grafted in or redeemed Israelites [see Rom 11:11–32; Eph 2:11–19) to meet Yeshua in the airs at his second coming.
Sixth Step of Eight/Fifth Step of Seven — the altar of incense: At this step the focus is on intimacy as Yeshua’s saints are resurrected and united with him. It is a time of intercession, purity of heart, oneness and intimate relationship with the Father through prayer, praise and worship. This speaks of thefinal redemption (jubilee) where the regathering of YHVH’s people will continue and where they will unite to worship him in total freedom without the distractions of the world, flesh and the devil (who have been judged and destroyed at Yeshua’s second coming). The altar of incense and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) are symbolic pictures of this. This altar sits just outside the veil separating the holy place of the tabernacle from the holy of holies.
Seventh Step of Eight/Sixth Step of Seven — the ark of the covenant: The ark resides inside the holy of holies, a symbolic picture of the throne room of Elohim and the place of ultimate intimacy and oneness occurring between YHVH and his people or redeemed Israel. This step speaks of the total peace (or shalom) and Sabbath rest that will occur during the Millennium or Messianic Era between YHVH and his beloved saints, the bride of Yeshua. It is a time of feasting and rejoicing, of spiritual bread and fruitfulness, and a time when YHVH’s Torah-Truth will go forth from Jerusalem to the whole world (Isa 2:3; Mic 4:2). The ark of the covenant and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) picture this step.
Eighth Step of Eight (Eternity Begins)/Seventh Step of Seven (Perfection or Completion) — the glory cloud: This final step pictures YHVH’s resurrected and gloried saints (redeemed Israel) being totally set-apart to YHVH for eternity. At this point the saints experience the ultimate deliverance from darkness, while being bathed in the divine and eternal light of the New Jerusalem, which is the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2), who is the Lamb of YHVH in whom there is total light and no shadows (Rev 22:23). The shekinah glory above the ark of the covenant speaks to this glorious time of which the seventh and final biblical feast, The Eighth Day (Shemini Atzeret), is a prophetic shadow-picture. There are seven appointed times and seven steps in the tabernacle or mishkan, but eight steps total (including the altar of the red heifer) picturing perfection and completion and new beginning in the New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem, which is the ultimate and final destination of the redeemed saints.
While the scenario we’ve presented above clearly doesn’t answer all the questions one may have pertaining to the various steps in the Tabernacle of Moses, or address every detail therein, hopefully it is a step in the right direction to further understanding in the fullest possible way YHVH’s glorious plan of redemption. As we gain more understanding on this important subject, we will freely share it for the glory of YHVH Elohim.
The Tabernacle, the Saint, and the Seven Stages of the Biblical Wedding
What follows is our attempt to integrate the seven stages of the biblical, traditional Hebraic wedding with the seven stations in the Tabernacle of Moses in order to show how YHVH’s plan of salvation as revealed in the tabernacle also relates to his plan to marry redeemed Israel (the saints) at Yeshua’s second coming. This is but one possible way to understand this complex subject. As we shall see, the numbers seven and eight figure prominently into this scenario. Seven is the biblical number for perfect completion, while eight is the number signifying new beginnings or infinity.
0— Intent — in the wilderness: The groom and bride see each other for the first time; interest in one another is sparked, and they begin to “fall” in love. YHVH fell in love with Israel when he saw her lost and abandoned in the wilderness of her unredeemed existence (Ezek 16:4–14). This process begins in the wilderness outside the courtyard walls of the tabernacle (a metaphorical picture of spiritual salvation, redemption and conversion). Similarly, the believer, while still spiritually lost, prior to his conversion, hears the gospel message being preached (Rom 10:14–18) and is drawn to Yeshua the Savior and Redeemer. Yeshua is the doorway to salvation leading to an eternal spiritual relationship between YHVH and man. This is represented by the four-colored door of the tabernacle or mishkan (symbolically picturing the four Gospels).
1— Redemption — the altar of the red heifer: The bride’s price (or dowry) is paid to the maiden’s father. Before the young maiden’s father, the young man commits to lay down his life for his prospective bride. This Yeshua did for his spiritual bride (the saints), when he laid his life down at the cross. The purification ritual involving the death of the red heifer outside of the tabernacle pictures this, and speaks prophetically of Yeshua’s death outside the city of Jerusalem at Golgotha (Heb 13:10–13), which occurred on Passover. Yeshua’s paying the price for our sins was, in a sense, paying the bride’s price to his Father in heaven, since the wages of our sin is death.
2— Acceptance — the altar of the sacrifice: The young man then presents the maiden with a glass of wine from which he first drinks. If she subsequently drinks from the same cup, she is accepting his proposal of marriage. This is called the cup of acceptance and corresponds to the third cup of the Passover seder (or the cup of redemption). After she drinks from the cup, the betrothal is legally established. Believers drink of this cup and eat the unleavened bread on the evening portion of Passover (Pesach) on the fifteenth day of the first month, which is on the first high holy day Sabbath and first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The altar of sacrifice inside the tabernacle is a picture of this as is the Christian communion ritual known biblically as the Lord’s supper. At this altar, not only were animal sacrifices made, but barbecued meat was eaten along with the unleavened bread that was baked and eaten there and the wine offerings (libations) that were poured on the altar. All of this prophetically prefigured the communion ritual and the blood and body of Yeshua’s body, which these symbols represented.
3— Set-Apartness (Holiness) — the bronze laver:After the young man’s proposal is accepted and the betrothal is established, he returns to his father’s house to build a mansion for his betrothed bride. Meanwhile, the bride remains in her father’s home and prepares for her wedding day. She takes a ritual cleansing bath (immersion or mikveh) to signify that she is ritually clean and totally set apart for her groom to the exclusion of all other would be suitors. She has accepted the groom and the terms of the marriage agreement (or ketubah) and now she awaits the return of her bridegroom and her wedding day. Remember, at this stage she is only betrothed or engaged to him; they are not yet living together. For the children of Israel, this occurred when they accepted YHVH marriage proposal and covenant terms at Mount Sinai (when they said, “I do; Exod 19:8; 24:3, 7). This is pictured by the bronze laver in the tabernacle where the priests were ritually cleansed, and is a prophetic picture of the saint’s baptism for the remission of sins at the beginning of one’s spiritual walk (Rom 6:3–6). Water is a metaphorical Hebraism for of the Word of Elohim (Deut 32:2; Eph 5:26) as well as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37–39). Baptism of the new saint symbolizes entering into a marriage agreement or ketubah, and the promise to obey YHVH’s Word by his Spirit. The last high Sabbath or seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzot) pictures this, for it was then that Israel was immersed in the Red Sea (1 Cor 10:2, a picture of baptism and spiritual cleansing) after having removed leavening (a picture of repentance from sin) from their homes.
4—Separation and Consecration — the menorah: After cleansing herself, the betrothed bride prepares for the return of the groom from his father’s house. While the groom (a prophetic picture of Yeshua) is away building their marital home (or “mansion”; see John 14:2), the bride lives a set-apart or consecrated life by keeping herself away from any other lovers. When the children of Israel accepted YHVH’s marital covenant terms at Mount Sinai, she vowed to be faithful only to YHVH and to reject all idolatrous ways, and to walk in faithful obedience to the light of his Torah-Truth. In the tabernacle, the menorah is a picture of the spiritual light of YHVH’s Torah-Truth and the Spirit of Elohim, which leads us into all Truth. When a believer has the Torah written on his heart by the Holy Spirit (Jer 31:31, 33) and walks in the light of the YHVH’s Torah-Truth, he will not only love Yeshua by obeying his Torah commandments (John 14:15, 21), but will evidence the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are the outward evidence of a Spirit-led life of loving Elohim and one’s neighbor. The menorah relates to the Feast of Weeks (Chag haShavuot) or Pentecost when, in Acts 2, the believers in the upper room were filled with the Holy Spirit and had YHVH’s law of love was written on their heart in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer 31:31, 33). This resulted in the fruit and gifts of the Spirit being manifested as a light to the nations attracting unsaved to the message of the gospel. Yeshua talks about his virgin bride in the Parable of the Ten Virgins and how some were ready for his coming and some where not (Matt 25:1–13). Paul also refers to his ministerial role preparing the saints to be the bride of Yeshua (2 Cor 11:2).
5— Preparation, Regathering and Reunion — the table of showbread: The groom has now finished building his “mansion” for his bride. Meanwhile, the bride dons her wedding robes, fills her lamp with oil, stays awake through the night awaiting in anticipation her bridegroom’s return, since she doesn’t know the exact time of his return. At this time the groom leaves his father’s house and goes out to meet his bride. This is pictured in the tabernacle by the table of showbread (or the table of the presence or face of YHVH) upon which are twelve loaves of unleavened bread picturing the twelve tribes of Israel in a sin-free (righteous) and united state, who are presenting themselves before YHVH. In the annual biblical feast day (moedim) cycle, this is pictured by the Day of Trumpets or Shofar Blasts (Yom Teruah). Yeshua’s Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1–13) is a poetic picture of this. Some of the virgins prepared for the bridegroom, while others didn’t. All fell asleep while waiting. Now the call is going forth for all redeemed Israelite believers (that’s you and me) to awake out of spiritual slumber (Rev 3:14–22), to regather and to prepare to meet Yeshua the Messiah, her Groom whose coming is imminent. She must be ready and waiting, since no one knows the hour of Yeashua’s return (Matt 24:36) Yom Teruah is a picture of this momentous and long-awaited occurrence called the resurrection of the righteous dead who, at that moment, will receive their glorified bodies and will meet Yeshua in the air at his second coming.
6 —The Return of the Wedding Party to the Bridegroom’s House — the altar of incense: At this time the wedding party makes final preparations to return to the father’s house where the marriage feast will occur and married life will start. Also at this time Yeshua, the Groom, at his second coming will judge and destroy all counterfeit or would-be persecutors of and contenders for his bride along with all other would-be or false brides and counterfeit religious systems in the world. At the same times, the resurrected and gloried saints will be in the heavens “getting to know Yeshua”, so to speak, face to face. Some of the trumpets and the bowl judgments in the Book of Revelation seem to relate to this time period. To mark this momentous event, the final or great jubilee shofar will sound marking the fall of Babylon the Great and the release of its spiritual captives. The altar of incense and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) prophetically picture this event marking the end of what is called in Jewish thought “the final redemption.”
7— The Consummation of the Marriage and the Wedding Feast — the ark of the covenant: The young couple now returns to the father’s house or to the marriage “mansion” the young groom has constructed for his new bride. Yeshua alludes to this in John 14:2 when he declares, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” It is there that the marriage is consummated, the couple begins living together as husband and wife, and the wedding feast occurs. The holy of holies (or kadosh hakadoshim) at the ark of the covenant is a prophetic picture of this, and points us to the Feast of Tabernacles (Chag haSukkot), which is a 1000-year long celebration colloquially referred to as the Millennium or Messianic Age. During this time, Yeshua the Bridegroom will rule over this earth as King of kings along with his wife, the glorified bride of Yeshua (see Rev 20:2–7; 1:6; 5:10; 20:6; 17:14; 19:16).
8—Life Happily Ever After — the glory cloud over the ark: The young couple starts married life together. Similarly, Yeshua and his bride will live together forever in their new home — the paradise garden city of the New Jerusalem (in Heb. called the Olam Haba). The Eighth Day (Shemeni Atzeret), which is the seventh of YHVH’s seven annual appointed times (or moedim), prophetically pictures this. The glory cloud (shekinah) above the ark of the covenant in the tabernacles is a symbolic picture of the glory of the New Jerusalem when heaven and earth unite and YHVH lives with his redeemed and glorified people (or bride) forever.
Everything in the Tabernacle of Moses points us to YHVH Elohim, our Father in heaven, through Yeshua the Messiah, who is the only way to the Father. In this diagram, we see a cross as well an arrow all pointing our way to the Father.
Thy way, O Elohim, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a El as our Elohim? (Psalm 77:13)