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There are two ways of approach to this subject. There is that of the Modernist, who sees in the teaching concerning the Tabernacle in the wilderness nothing more than a dry recital of the meaningless ritual of the worship of a primitive race long centuries ago. For instance a Professor of a Theological College wrote:-
" What value for spiritual life can we find in the minute liturgical and ceremonial details of the Tabernacle and its service " (Peake's Commentary, p. 5).
On the other hand the well-known writer of helpful Christian literature, the late Sir Robert Anderson, put upon record how the opening up of the spiritual meaning of the Jewish ceremonial law convinced him of the wonderful inspiration of Scripture, and was the means of his taking his stand as a definite Christian.
We wonder what kind of spiritual myopia affected the vision of this modernist Professor when he read the Epistle to the Hebrews. There Moses is contrasted with Christ. Aaron is contrasted with Christ. That mysterious figure, Melchisedec, is contrasted with Christ. The ineffectual sacrifices on Jewish altars are contrasted with the one great, atoning, efficacious sacrifice of Christ. Scripture itself describes these Old Testament types as " The example and shadow of heavenly things " (Heb. 8:55Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. (Hebrews 8:5))." The patterns of things in the heavens " (Heb. 9:2323It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (Hebrews 9:23)). " A shadow of good things to come " (Heb. 10:11For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. (Hebrews 10:1)).
" Every whit of it uttereth His glory " (Psa. 29:99The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory. (Psalm 29:9), margin). What kind of spectacles did the Professor wear when he read such plain statements as these? We can only come to the conclusion that he failed to sec the beauty of the types, because he did not know the glory of the Antitype, even of our Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture compresses it into one word:-" A shadow of things to come; but the body [or Substance in contrast to the shadow] is of Christ " (Col. 2:1717Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (Colossians 2:17)).
Christ then is our happy theme-His Deity, Manhood, atoning death, finished work, resurrection, the blessings that flow in rich streams from Him to His people in their association with Him.
Less than two chapters (Gen. 1. and 2.) suffice to tell us of the mighty work of creation. Indeed one short verse gives us in ten words the record, " that the worlds were framed by the word of God (Heb. 11:33Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:3)). But no less than thirteen chapters in Exodus alone are taken up with instructions as to the Tabernacle and its services. Indeed we may say a large part of the teaching and instructions of the Pentateuch stands mainly in relation to the Tabernacle. This shows the great importance of our theme.
Someone has well described the Tabernacle as " a prophecy in linen, silver, and gold." It is instinct with deep spiritual meaning. It is fragrant of Christ. It is a striking testimony to the fullness and inspiration of the word of God. Its teaching is one of the richest mines of purest gold in the whole Bible.
Creation was necessary to afford a platform on which God could carry out His plan. The shadows of that scheme are given us in the Tabernacle. The earth in which we live is but the scaffolding for the erection of the building of God for eternity. The Sabbath is a shadow of God being all in all throughout eternity. The scaffolding will be taken down one day. The building of God will arise majestic and eternal to God's glory and praise. God will yet rest in the complacency of His love, dwelling among His people, in a scene where there will be no tears, pain, sorrow or death.