My dear friend Hope joins us again for this week’s Word Nerd Wednesday and I just know you’re going to learn so much from her thorough research on a word we might tend to overlook as being a simple tent – Tabernacle.
mishkan (n. Hebrew) dwelling place, tent
from shakan or shaken (v. Hebrew) to settle down, abide, dwell
related to Shekinah (n. Hebrew) an extra-Biblical term from rabbinic literature denoting the dwelling
of the divine presence of God
skéné (n. Greek) tent, booth, tabernacle, abode, dwelling, mansion, habitation
related to skénoó (v. Greek) to dwell as in a tent, encamp, to have one’s tabernacle
Tale of Two Tabernacles
(an exposition of Hebrews 4-10)
Considering God’s epic story of redemption, the familiar tabernacle tale is merely a prologue:
In days of old, God pursued His people with a great love and desired to tabernacle with them. He said, “I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God” (Exodus 29:45-46).
In order to protect the people from His consuming-fire presence, God meticulously designed and commissioned the building of a beautiful tent-sanctuary, complete with two important rooms: a Holy Place and Most Holy Place, which housed the Ark of the Covenant, and a curtain to separate them. God’s glory filled the tabernacle as He graced His people with the intimate gift of Himself. He appointed priests who continually interceded on behalf of the unholy people, atoning for their sins by constant sacrifices. The people’s tents encircled God’s tent and He led them day and night, by cloud and fire, treasuring the ones He loved. But the people were fickle and stubborn and their hearts wandered…
Holy Spirit helps us turn the page and read between the lines (Hebrews 9:6-10).
Tabernacle: A Parable
The tabernacle of old was earthly, man-made according to pattern, mobile, temporary, a copy, a shadow, an illustration, a parable, a symbol. God called the High Priest mediator, mortal and weak, on the basis of regulation and Levitical ancestry. Because of sin, he stood constantly to perform religious duties in the Tabernacle, day after day and year after year. God allowed the High Priest to pass through the separating curtain to enter His Presence only once each year on Yom Kippur, that annual reminder of sin. He entered the Most Holy Place fearfully and never without the sacrificial blood of animals to offer atonement, first for his own sins and then for the people. Again and again he offered the same sacrifices which could never take away sins for that would be impossible. The worshipers were only outwardly clean with consciences unchanged, never obtaining perfection, with guilt remaining.
Tabernacle: The Eucatastrophe*
The greater tabernacle is heavenly, not part of creation, set up by the Lord, fixed, permanent, greater, perfect, true. The High Priest mediator of this tabernacle is eternal, holy, blameless, pure, set apart, exalted, unblemished, without sin. He was called by God in the Melchizedek order based on an indestructible life and became a permanent priest (God swore it: Hebrews 7:21) of a superior ministry based on better promises. He passed through the separating curtain (God tore it: Mark 15:38) to offer his own blood, to offer himself. It was a once-for-all sacrifice for sins, made once for all time, a ransom for many.
Therefore, the worshipers are made holy, made perfect, set free from sins, cleansed of guilty consciences, able to draw near to God, granted confidence, provided a firm and secure hope, promised eternal inheritance, graced with eternal redemption, saved completely. Accomplishing all, this High Priest sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. His name is Jesus.
Consider this Jesus, along with John, our fellow WordNerder. The gospel writer penned, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (1:14). John might have chosen to explain, simply, that Jesus lived here; instead, he selected the rare term skénoó to convey this idea: Jesus tabernacled. Consider Immanuel who personified and satisfied all which the old tabernacle could not.
* Eucatastrophe – a term coined by J.R.R. Tolkien to describe a sweeping turn of events at the end of a story, toward the good from impending doom, much deeper than a happy ending, redemption.
Hello and Grüß Gott from Bavaria where I live with my dear husband. Although I have loved reading and writing and teaching for as long as I can remember, I am very new to blogging. I have been a disciple of Jesus Christ and student of God’s Word for nearly 25 years.
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