A Lost Parable
Over the next few weeks, we are going to look at a parable of the tabernacle. A parable is simply a story or illustration used to teach truth. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines a parable as “a placing of one thing by the side of another” or “a thing serving as a figure of something else.” It is taking one thing that the hearer understands to enlighten the meaning on something else.
I grew up in a Christian home and learned early on that Jesus often used parables as He taught. I remember many of the parables from Sunday School, but what I don’t remember is learning the parable of the Tabernacle. Perhaps it is because it’s not an illustration that can be found by simply turning to one particular passage in the Bible. It is a parable that requires a certain amount of study and digging into God’s Word.
Let’s look at Hebrews 9:1-10. The writer of Hebrews gives a brief description of the Tabernacle and then ends in verse 5 with “But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.” That’s perhaps the most frustrating verse in the Bible to me! I would have LOVED to hear a New Testament writer explain the Tabernacle from his point of view! But he quickly moves on.
In 9:9, we read that the Tabernacle is an “illustration.” The Greek word used here is parabole, where we get our English translation parable. The Tabernacle, the priest’s duties and the purpose of the Tabernacle can be viewed alongside the life of Jesus – our ultimate High Priest. The Tabernacle and its ministry is symbolic of how we, as sinners, receive forgiveness and have the privilege to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” Hebrews 4:16.
Isn’t that awesome?! We sinned back in the Garden of Eden and God loved us so dearly that He prepared the way for mankind to come back to Him; first through Tabernacle worship and then through Christ and the new covenant. What a gracious and loving God we serve! As we look more deeply at this parable, I hope that it will draw us all to see the amazing connection that God linked between Old Testament worship through the Tabernacle and New Testament worship through Christ.
Why Old Testament Worship?
So why would I choose to focus on this subject? I am fascinated by the passages that speak of believers as being a living temple of God (1 Cor 3:16-17, 6:19) or a royal and holy priesthood (1 Pet 2:4-5, 9). Those phrases sound nice, but what do they really mean? How does this impact our worship? Does it impact our worship at all? While Paul and Peter both use the term temple, it is important to remember that both the tabernacle and temple served the same purpose. The temple, however, was on a larger and grander scale than the tabernacle and was in a fixed location. The tabernacle was portable and easily moved by the Israelites through the desert. In order to understand what it means to be a living temple or part of the royal priesthood, I think it is important to take an in depth look at what these things would have meant to the Jews.
Over the next several weeks together, we are going to take a look at this parable and it is my hope that as we lay the tabernacle alongside Jesus, we will see how the elements and rituals performed in the Tabernacle point to Christ and His redemptive work. Each week, I will present a different element of the Tabernacle and together we will look at what the Bible says about the construction of those elements, the uses for which they were created and how they point to Christ.
Throughout our time together, I will place “Digging Deeper” items for you to consider. As your first “Digging Deeper” item, consider reading through Hebrews chapters 8, 9, and 10 to see how the author viewed Christ in comparison with the temple/tabernacle and the priests with the days to come. Read slowly through each chapter and then return and reread each chapter again. What stood out to you? Was there anything in particular that God spoke clearly to you about? Another dimension to this study will be to dialogue with one another. Please feel free to share your comments and how God is speaking to you. I would love to hear them!
At the end of each devotional, I would encourage you to spend some time in prayer, thanksgiving and worship for the things God lays on your heart as you spend time with Him. I will also include lyrics and/or a link to a worship song or two that you may or not be familiar with. Having been a worship leader for many years, it is simply my desire to leave you with a song in your heart and on your lips to express to God. Feel free to use those songs however you choose. 🙂
I hope this time is beneficial to you and it is my prayer that God uses your time with Him to speak to your heart in whatever ways you might need to hear from Him. I would love to hear from you over the course of this study with your suggestions for improving this devotional or with stories of how God is speaking to you.
God’s grace and peace to you until next time!
By: City Harvest Church – KC Gan
When my world was in darkness You spoke Your Word
Night turned into day, Your beauty filled this place
When my world stood in silence You filled my heart
With songs that never end; Forever I will praise
To think that the universe could not withhold Your glory
You choose to live in me; I’m so amazed
I worship you Lord, My life in You restored
Here is my heart make it Your sanctuary
For nobody else, but Jesus only (You)
You are faithful and true; Glorious lord
All my life it is You I adore
You’ve touched my soul
Completed my world I surrender to You
Better Is One Day
By: Matt Redman
How lovely is Your dwelling place, Oh Lord Almighty
My soul longs and even faints for You
For here my heart is satisfied, within Your presence
I sing beneath the shadow of Your wings
Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere
One thing I ask, and I would seek, to see Your beauty,
To find You in the place Your glory dwells
My heart and flesh cry out, For You the living God
Your Spirit’s water for my soul
I’ve tasted and I’ve seen, Come once again to me.
I will draw near to You. I will draw near to You