April 04, 2016
From the desk of A.J. Higgins
“Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them;
… there I will meet with thee and I will commune with thee … ”
Exodus 25:8, 22
God described His creative power and accomplishment in two chapters in Genesis in our Bibles; yet He devotes almost 50 chapters in total to details about the tabernacle and its service. The only subject to eclipse it in terms of number of chapters, is the Gospel accounts of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ with 89 chapters. Here is something then, which God found exceedingly important. We are reminded that it was a pattern of things in heaven (Heb 8:5) and that it was a parable (Heb 9:9) for that time. As a parable, there is a lesson to be learned. As a pattern, there is a likeness to be looked for.
It had many purposes for the nation: it was educational, teaching that the way was not yet open (Heb 9:8). It was representative, telling of heavenly things. It was for their preservation, enabling a holy God to dwell amongst them. And while all these thoughts are worthy of consideration, what should occupy us most is that it speaks of Christ in so many ways.
In the verse we have cited, two truths are emphasized. The tabernacle was for communion and communication. The Gospel of John reveals the Lord Jesus Christ replacing everything in Israel. In chapter 1 He will replace the Tabernacle; in chapter 2 the Temple, and in chapter 3 the Teacher of Israel, Nicodemus. In subsequent chapters He will replace the types and traditions of the nation.
We do not travel far in John’s Gospel before both of these truths meet us in all the wealth of their reality. In Exodus, the people of God were dwelling in tents, nomads in a wilderness. God, likewise, chose to dwell in a tent. His “tent” was unique and distinct, but it was still a tent. John reminds us that the Lord Jesus “tabernacled amongst us” (John 1:14). As with the tent in the wilderness, there were beauties that no eye saw except the eye of God. Priestly men had the privilege of beholding some of that glory. John tells us that “we beheld His glory” (1:14). He took blood and flesh and lived amongst us as a Man; yet He was distinct from every other man. He came to where we were and lived or “communed” with us.
John also tells us that as the Word, He came to communicate with us. As the Word, He is God’s full and final message to the human family. We had rejected the light of creation (John 1:4, 5); we rejected the light of the testimony bearer (v 6-8). Having yet One Son, His well-beloved, God sent Him in one final attempt to communicate with us. He did not communicate from a distant location, but He moved amongst us and revealed in absolute fullness and perfection, all the Father’s heart.
He came to commune with us and He came to communicate the mind and heart of God to us. The totality of the message could not be known until a cross death at the end of His life. And the freedom of communion would not be known until He was raised and exalted to God’s right hand.
1. The tabernacle is also spoken of as a shadow and similitude (Heb 8:5). What is implied in the use of these terms?
2. Since John begins his Gospel account by showing Christ replacing the tabernacle, can you find other corresponding features between the tabernacle and John’s Gospel?