Olli Dürr Tabernacle of the people of Israel – Heavenly sanctuary as a model

Tabernacle of the people of Israel – Heavenly sanctuary as a model

Tabernacle of the people of Israel – Heavenly sanctuary as a model post thumbnail image


The tabernacle of the people of Israel was first erected very soon after the exodus from slavery in Egypt. The structure and principle of this transportable hut stand for the earthly symbol of the heavenly sanctuary and the way of salvation provided by God. Therefore, the understanding surrounding this tabernacle is absolutely relevant to this days.

Tabernacle erected soon after the Exodus from Egypt


The Ark of the Covenant was in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle


he tabernacle of the people of Israel during their 40-year wanderings in the wilderness and in the subsequent period up to the completion of the 1st Temple is one of the most well-known structures described in the Bible. The appearance, dimensions and facilities of the facility were described by God to Moses with precise details. The implementation of the tabernacle was very accurate. The quasi-successful “acceptance” of the tabernacle was confirmed by God by His kindling of the “Eternal Fire” in the burning altar. God would not have accepted any sloppiness, for the structure of the tabernacle and the objects provided in it and their positions are anything but accidental or arbitrary. Everything reflects God’s planned work of salvation for fallen people.

Heavenly sanctuary is God’s home

The Heavenly Sanctuary is also described in Scripture as God’s “temple” and thus His personal abode (see Psalm 11:4 and Isaiah 6:1). Auch fällt die Bezeichnung “Wohnung” wie in Deuteronomy 26:15. Accuracy in constructing the tabernacle was therefore very important.

Tabernacle symbolized Heavenly Sanctuary

The tabernacle is anything but a relic of times long past. The tabernacle is authoritative to this day. Today, this no longer applies to the practice of the time around the sacrifices, but certainly to the symbolism behind it for the events that were still to come from the point of view of the time. The tabernacle is nothing less than the earthly image of the heavenly sanctuary and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The tabernacle with its courtyard, the sanctuary and the holy of holies as well as the sacrificial rituals describe the way of salvation for the “notoriously” sinful people. For example, the one-year-old and spotless sacrificial lamb to be brought by the people symbolized Jesus Christ. He sacrificed himself for us and our guilt. For this reason all burnt offerings and food offerings came to an end with the crucifixion of Jesus. The prophet Daniel foresaw this (Daniel 9:27) and the curtain of the temple in Jerusalem torn from top to bottom to the Holy of Holies at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross (siehe Matthew 27:51) also clearly points to an end of the earthly sanctuary.

The people in the period before Jesus’ ministry could be declared righteous because of their belief in a future Messiah and His work of redemption through His grace. Jesus Christ Himself confirmed with His words that Abraham already knew of His coming and was happy about it. John 8:56:
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.”

New covenant replaces old covenant

Today we look back at Jesus’ earthly work and can also be declared righteous by faith and His grace. In fact, there is no difference between the way of salvation in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus’ covenant, the so-called “better covenant”, which replaces the “old covenant”, has changed absolutely nothing in God’s plan of salvation. The “better covenant” is better because Jesus Christ is now acting as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. He is without blemish and therefore, like the thoroughly sinful high priest of the earthly sanctuary, needs no sacrifice for himself. Jesus Christ does not need to bring in someone else’s blood (sacrificial lamb) for the forgiveness of sins, but He brought His own blood with him.

In other words: logically the “original” is better than the “copy” and thus the covenant of Jesus is also better than the “old covenant”, but the principle of the way of salvation remained completely unchanged. That is why the laws surrounding the symbolic sacrifices and holidays (ceremonial laws) were also abolished with Jesus’ death, but by no means the laws handed over to Moses (10 commandments, moral laws)!

Prophet Daniel foretold the beginning of the cleansing of the sanctuary

The prophet Daniel also knew in advance when Jesus Christ, as High Priest, would enter the Holy of Holies to cleanse the sanctuary of sins. In the earthly model of the tabernacle or temple, this corresponded to the annual Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur on Tishrei 10). There is a very important reference to this in Daniel 8:14:
“And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
The restoration of sacrificial service after the fall of the Babylonian Empire began in Jerusalem in 457 BC. The indication evenings and mornings are each a day. At prophetic times are taking days as years and therefore it is 2300 years. A very long time. But taking into account that there is no year 0, 457 BC plus 2300 years result in the year 1844. From today’s perspective, this point in time is already in the past. This does not mean anything else, that the justification (in other Bibles “cleansing”) of the sanctuary has already begun. Jesus Christ is already holding judgment! Thus, in 1844, the explosiveness of the “first angel’s message” was heralded.

The Essential Structure of the Tabernacle

Scheme Tabernacle

Scheme tabernacle large image

The specifications for the appearance, dimensions and furnishings of the tabernacle are described in the second book of Moses (Exodus). This already applies to the orientation of the tabernacle and the outer courtyard according to the cardinal points (Exodus 27:9-19).

The symbolism of the tabernacle in detail

The area of ​​the tabernacle was framed by a fence and a curtained entrance on the east side. After the entrance followed the forecourt with the altar and the purification basin. Then they stood in front of the curtained entrance to the tabernacle. From here the sanctuary began. In this sanctuary was the table with the 12 showbreads on the north side, the 7-armed lamp (menorah) on the south side and the incense altar further forward in the middle. Immediately after this was the third veil, and this veiled the area of ​​the Holy of Holies. While only the priests were allowed to enter the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies was reserved exclusively for the high priest and this only once a year, on the great Day of Atonement. (Yom Kippur, 10th Tishri). In the holy of holies was the ark of the covenant with the mercy seat and the two cherubim watching on it. Inside the Ark of the Covenant were the two tablets of the Law of Moses, a bowl of manna, and Aaron’s cast-out rod.

Everything in the Tabernacle had its precise place

The characteristics of the tabernacle include the framing of the area, the entrance on the east side, the altar of burnt offerings with a ramp in the courtyard and the purification basin immediately following. The building, the tabernacle itself, also has the entrance to the east, draped with a curtain. This is already the sanctuary. It contains the table with the showbread (12 unleavened breads) on the north side, the incense altar in the middle in the front area and the 7-armed candlestick (menorah) in the south. This is followed by the curtain of the Holy of Holies, and the high priest had access there only once a year (Yom Kippur). In the Holy of Holies is the Ark of the Covenant with the mercy seat on top. In the ark of the covenant are the two tablets of the law of Moses, a bowl of manna and Aaron’s staff.

The altar of burnt offerings

The altar of burnt offerings was made of acacia wood and covered with copper. The dimensions were 5 cubits long, 5 cubits wide and 3 cubits high. At the four corners of the altar were four horns.
Sin is the transgression of the law and sin can only be forgiven with blood (see Hebrews 9:22). Therefore, a one-year-old lamb without blemish served as a vicarious atonement. This was offered on the altar of burnt offerings. In addition, there were also burnt offerings by means of turtle doves, sheep, goats or a bull (ox). The fire of the altar of burnt offerings was kindled by God Himself and the priests (Levites, from the tribe of Levi) had to see that this fire never goes out.

The cleaning pool

Before the priests performed their sacrificial service, they first had to purify themselves. They washed their hands and feet. In addition, the priests themselves were only (sinful) human beings and therefore had to make an atonement for themselves first. God did not give any dimensions for the purification basin, but only determined the material. The basin had to be made of pure copper.

The table of 12 showbread

The table was 2 cubits wide, 1 cubit deep and 1.5 cubits high. The table was made of acacia wood, gilded. The table top was decorated with a gilded wreath. On the golden table were 12 unleavened (without yeast) loaves.
These symbolized the 12 tribes of Israel. At that time the actual people of Israel, i.e. the descendants of Jacob. Today spiritual Israel is meant and with it the people who follow Jesus in their faith (see Galatians 3:29). This showbread was eaten by the priests on every Sabbath (now Saturday).

The menorah

The priests regularly filled the 7-armed lamp with fresh oil. For the menorah, God specified the design, but not the dimensions. The light arms should be modeled on almond tree branches. The buds and calyxes had the appearance of almond tree blossoms. The menorah was made of solid gold.
The number seven symbolizes the perfection of God. A clear indication of this is the creation within seven days, whereby the seventh day was beatified and sanctified by God as a day of rest (see Genesis 2:3). The oil corresponds to the Holy Spirit. The menorah was the only source of light in the tabernacle.

The incense altar

The incense altar was 1 cubit wide, 1 cubit deep and 2 cubits high. There were four horns at each of the four corners. Like the table of showbread, the incense altar was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold and had a gold wreath.
The rising smoke symbolized our prayers to God and the praises addressed to Him. As is the case today, Jesus Christ stands as the only mediator between us and the Father (see John 14:6).

The Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat

The Ark of the Covenant was located in the Holy of Holies and also forms the core of the entire symbolism of the Tabernacle. The dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant were 2.5 cubits long, 1.5 cubits wide and 1.5 cubits deep. The ark was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. The mercy seat was on the ark of the covenant. On this stood two golden cherubim of solid gold, facing each other and looking down on the mercy seat. The wings of the cherubim served as a screen over the mercy seat (cover plate of the ark of the covenant).
The covenant with God is represented by the ark and this is also expressed by the contents of the ark of the covenant. Included are the two stone tablets of the law, a bowl of manna and Aaron’s staff. The tablets of the law express the ten commandments that are still valid today. The manna symbolizes God’s care for His people, who have been nourished for 40 years of wandering in the desert. Last but not least, Jesus Christ declared that He is the bread of heaven that came to earth. Aaron’s staff was made from a branch of an almond tree. In Israel, the almond tree was the first to announce the coming spring by bearing flowers before the first leaves sprouted. The almond tree is the “first fruits” and thus also symbolizes Jesus Christ as the first fruits of the resurrected (see 1 Corinthians 15:20).

Restoration of fire victims today?

It is actually quite clear that any restoration of burnt offerings denies the way of salvation and even Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God. With the renewed sacrifice of lambs or other animals, the one-time and final sacrifice of Jesus is summarily rejected. This also made any discussion about the meaning and purpose of the construction of a “3rd temple” in Jerusalem superfluous. Whether this temple would ever be completed is another question, because Jesus Christ announced according to Luke 13:34-35:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Tabernacle and Sanctuary Doctrine in Christianity

The tabernacle or the heavenly sanctuary is still of exceptionally great importance for (true) Christianity today. At that time God commissioned the tabernacle in order to be able to be close to people despite their sins. Sin separates from God and therefore fellowship after the first fall was no longer possible. The presence of God would not allow man to survive in his fallen nature anyway. With the establishment of the tabernacle, that is, the earthly image of the heavenly sanctuary, this closeness was restored.

First way in tabernacle over the court

The work of redemption for people close to God began with the tabernacle. The structure and the symbolism contained in this system correspond to the path of salvation for the fallen sinner. There is a specific sequence for this path.
This begins with the burnt offering altar. Symbolically, this stands for confessing and repenting of sins and washing away these sins based on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This is the first thing that happens for the returning person who turns to Jesus. Then comes the sink with water. The baptism of man. Baptism only makes sense after all sins have been confessed and repented of. Then the way is free for the baptized person to enter the sanctuary. The room in which the menorah is on the left, the showbread on the right and the altar of incense in the middle. Sanctification begins here in the life of the newly baptized. What sounds mystical is nothing other than letting the power of God work for the necessary changes in people. Man cannot change himself (character), but with his willingness and his desire, God happily lends a hand to knock away all rough edges.

The important step into the sanctuary

The showbread symbolized above as God’s people can also mean the Word of God, the seven-branched oil lamp (menorah) as the Holy Spirit, and the altar of incense the ascending constant prayers to God. Man’s sanctification is not by folding one’s arms and waiting, but by studying the Word of God and obeying the Holy Spirit. Prayer is also of the utmost importance in sanctification. Showbread or the Word of God and the Menorah (Holy Spirit) face each other. The believer remains symbolically in the middle, i.e. at the height of the incense altar, praying. If man only stood at the menorah, i.e. exclusively with the Holy Spirit without the Word of God, this would not make any sense, since the Holy Spirit communicates what is written in the Word of God. Therefore knowledge about it is essential. If man stood exclusively at the Word of God without the influence of the Holy Spirit, this would make just as little sense, since on the one hand the Word wants to be understood and on the other hand faith is not a purely formal matter. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit are directly related and here, to put it profanely, the “golden mean” counts.

The Fallacies of the “Easy Way”

Right way

The right path in the tabernacle must lead into the sanctuary

The “modern phenomena” include stories about a necessary baptism and thus man is already reconciled, redeemed and saved. The consequence of this, however, is that these people never enter the sanctuary and thus remain in the courtyard. In their erroneous piety, these people believe in their redeemed state and simply continue on their previous paths in this world. The necessary sanctification does not take place in this case and that also includes the study of the Word of God, understanding and internalizing it. This is also extremely important in order to be able to withstand the great deceptions and temptations that are to come. For those who do not know the Scriptures cannot distinguish the truth (of the gospel) from lies. Unfortunately, in the field of fantasy gospels, the big churches have had a great success. The “warm-hearted cuddle course teachings” including “baptism to go” or “pop-up baptisms”, all wrapped in rainbow colors, are very popular. What a fatal development.

Bible verses from King James Version

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