Derek Prince - The Greater And More True Tabernacle
If you have your outline there you need to turn to Page 9/1. We are in the middle of going through that opening section. Hebrews 9, the first 5 verses, I'm reading from the New American Standard. Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle [or a sacred tent] prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. And behind the second veil [or curtain], there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables [or tablets] of the covenant. And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
We're going to take just a little longer to comment on that passage about the tabernacle because an understanding of the tabernacle is really essential for an understanding of Hebrews. If you don't know the basic facts about the tabernacle you can't really understand what the writer of Hebrews is bringing to us. We're told that in the first compartment of the tabernacle, the Holy Place, there was the table of what's normally called showbread, the bread that was exposed every day, twelve loaves, fresh and arranged in order which was on the right-hand side. On the left-hand side opposite, casting light upon it, was the seven branched lampstand. Also in the Holy Place was the golden altar of incense. We have to observe rather carefully what the writer of Hebrews says because if you look in verses 3 and 4 he says "behind the second veil, there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark" and so on.
According to the description given in the book of Exodus (and the references are given here), the golden altar of incense was the third item of furniture in the Holy Place, in the first compartment, immediately in front of the second veil. It was there because, as we'll see in a little while, when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies, which he did only once every year, he had to take two things with him: the blood of the sin offering and the censer, that's one of those containers for live coals which are suspended by a chain that are usually made of brass. In a censer you put the live coals in the bottom and then you put the incense on top of it and the incense on top of the live coals gives off this beautiful, white, fragrant smoke.
The second thing the high priest had to have to go in was this censer with the incense off the golden altar of incense. So, both from the description in Exodus and from sheer logic, it must have been available to him in the Holy Place before he went through the veil, because he couldn't go through the veil without it. If he omitted to take either the blood or the incense, he would have died instantly. Both were absolute requirements for him to enter into the immediate presence of God in the Holy of Holies. So, when the writer of Hebrews says that the Holy of Holies had a golden altar of incense, what I understand him to mean was the golden altar of incense was there for the sake of the Holy of Holies. It was to get you in.
So although its location was in the Holy Place, its purpose was for the Holy of Holies. In this outer compartment, the Holy Place, there would be three items of furniture: the table of showbread, the lampstand with the olive oil, which enabled it to burn bright and clear, and then immediately before the second veil was the golden altar of incense. In my series of cassettes on "The Way into the Holiest," I've gone into this in considerable detail, I don't want to do that tonight but I'll just say that, for me, amongst other things, the bread on the table signifies the human will, which is the strength; the lampstand, which provides the illumination, is the intellect; the altar of incense is the emotions. I compare that compartment of the tabernacle to the human soul, which, I believe, consists of will; intellect and emotions. The area behind the second veil I compare to the spirit. You have to get your soul in order before you can go into the realm of the spirit.
So, the first thing that's lined up is your will, the second thing is your understanding, which must be illuminated by the oil of the Holy Spirit, and the illuminated understanding casts light upon the showbread. Then, in order to get through the second veil, there is the golden altar of incense which typifies, I believe, the emotions and the fragrant smoke that comes up typifies worship. You see, there are some interpretations of Christianity hich place all the emphasis on the emotions. There are some which deny any importance to the emotions. I believe each is one-sided, but I believe that in order to be able to give free reign to your emotions you first have to get your will lined up. Second, you have to get your intellect illuminated. Then you can let your emotions loose in worship. Only in that way can you pass into the immediate presence of God.
I think a person who is totally intellectual and totally unemotional really never makes it into the presence of God. The daughter of William Booth, who is the founder of the Salvation Army in France, once made a statement which has always stuck with me. She said, "Christ loves us passionately and He wants to be loved passionately". I think a Christianity without passion is an incomplete Christianity. Most of the people that have really made an impact on the world for Jesus Christ have been people of passionate conviction and passionate feeling. And I leave that thought with you: "Christ loves us passionately and He wants to be loved passionately". There is a kind of passion of adoration for Jesus, which is the only way through the veil. And, if you went through without it, in terms of the Old Covenant, you'd die. Maybe that's why there are some dead church members.
Now we're going to look for a little while at the objects inside the golden chest, or the ark, beyond the second veil. It's quite interesting. The writer of Hebrews is rather specific about the contents of it. If you look in verse 4 there was a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron's rod which budded and the tables [or tablets] of the covenant. Now, The ark is always a picture of Jesus Christ. That's not its sole significance but its primary significance. In the Scriptures of the Old Testament there are two arks: the big ark of Noah and the small ark of the tabernacle. Each of them represents Christ. The big ark represents you in Christ. The small ark represents Christ in you. Christ in you contains in Him these three items: the golden jar that has manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant. I have interpreted these, according to my understanding.
I want to make it very clear that I'm not saying this is the only way to interpret them, it's simply the way they have become very vivid and real to me. The jar of manna, which was Israel's provision of food for 40 years in the wilderness, typifies, to me, inward communion with Christ. In the Anglican (or Episcopalian) communion service there is a phrase where they say at the end, "Feed on Christ by faith in your heart". That's what the manna represents to me. It's feeding on Christ in the heart. It's an unseen communion which cannot be touched or disturbed or hindered by anything in the world around because it's in the realm of the Spirit, it's in the heart and it's placed there by God.
The rod, which was Aaron's rod which was placed together with eleven other rods before the ark and which in 24 hours blossomed, budded and brought forth almonds, which was God's endorsement of Aaron as His chosen high priest as against the leaders of the other eleven tribes, represents resurrection life. Interestingly, the almond has a very white blossom, completely white blossom, and it's the first tree that comes into blossom every year in the land of Israel. It blossoms with amazing rapidity. Here's a picture of resurrection life, Jesus endorsed as God's Savior and High Priest by resurrection from the tomb. And because He was raised from the dead He also became the prince, or the ruler, of the kings of the earth. There's a reference which you might want to jot down, which is Revelation 1:5. This is the greeting from the Godhead. I think it's rather thrilling. Every person of the Godhead sends greetings.
If you read Revelation 1:4–5: John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come [that's God the Father]; from the seven Spirits who are before His throne [that's the Holy Spirit in his sevenfold aspect]; and from Jesus Christ [who is three things], the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Those three things go in a logical sequence. Because He was the faithful witness He became the firstborn from the dead, and as the firstborn from the dead He became the ruler of the kings of the earth. So resurrection life also leads to rule, to authority. The rod typifies both resurrection and rulership, which are ours in Christ. The tablets with the Ten Commandments on them, as you will see in my interpretation, typify God's eternal law.
If you look back a little higher up in your outline, in the time of Moses the ark contained all three items: the jar with manna, the rod that budded and the tables of stone. But, when it was brought into Solomon's temple it only contained the stone tablets. We better look at that, that's in 1 Kings 8:9. This is a description of what was put into Solomon's temple and in verse 9; it's very specific. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the sons of Israel. In my outline I explain very briefly, and I'll just read what I've said, and again, this is my understanding: The tabernacle of Moses typifies the church in its earthly pilgrimage, mobile, portable, to be carried partly on men's shoulders. All the most sacred items were carried on the shoulders of men; they weren't even placed on carts.
You remember, when somebody put the ark on a cart and then tried to steady it he was struck with death. God's ordinance was that everything that was most holy was to be carried on the shoulders of men. Then the ark was without visible beauty. Its outer covering was what's normally called "badger's skin," although there's some uncertainty as to what kind of skin. It was rough, it was not attractive. There was nothing in the outward appearance that would indicate the tremendous items of beauty that were inside. So, that's the church in earthly pilgrimage. There's no outward glory or splendor or beauty, it's mobile, it's portable. If it's persecuted in one place it packs up, and sets up somewhere else. It's very, very important that we don't try and build the temple in the period of the tabernacle.
I think a great many different denominations and religious groups have tried to make the tabernacle into a temple but it wasn't intended to be a temple. It's always to be mobile, it's always to be light, it's always to be flexible and easy to adjust. One thing that's so much impressed me in studying the church of the New Testament was it was so flexible. It didn't have to have one particular type of situation. Drop it down anywhere, it flourished. It was just like the tabernacle, it could be moved around. It was easy to assemble, easy to take to pieces. It didn't take long to move it. Don't ever try to persuade yourself that you're living in a temple because you're not. Conditions in the tabernacle are very different from conditions in the temple. Don't settle down and say, "This is it from now on," because you might be surprised. When the cloud moved, the ark moved. The temple of Solomon never moved, it was settled once and for all.
A lot of Christians are not used to mobile life, I think I can say without exaggeration! I got used to it! If the cloud moves, I'm ready to move. The church has got to be ready to move. Here we have no continuing city, that's later on in the book of Hebrews. The temple of Solomon was tremendously solid, absolutely permanent and dazzlingly beautiful. That's the church in the next age, as I understand it, when God's kingdom is established on earth. Then we won't be fugitives, we won't be refugees; we'll be rulers. It's interesting, we don't have time to go into it, some things changed in the transition from the tabernacle to the temple. As I've pointed out, some things were taken out of the ark. We never know who took them out or when but they just weren't there any longer. The inward communion that the church has in this age will become open communion.
Jesus said to His disciples at the Last Supper, "I've desired to eat this with you because I'm not going to taste of the fruit of the vine until it's established in the kingdom of God". But when it's established in the kingdom of God everybody will see it, it'll be there. It won't be just secretly in the Spirit that we commune with Christ, we'll have open face-to-face communion. Then the rod was taken out because we'll have passed through resurrection into an incorruptible, eternal life in a glorified body. That will not be hidden any longer, it will be manifest. We already have tasted of resurrection life but our bodies still haven't got the message.
There's one thing that remains forever, what's that? The eternal, unchanging Law of God. This has impressed me deeply. There's an eternal law of righteousness which will never be taken out of the heart of Christ and must be permanently in the heart of every one of us. The righteousness which God requires through faith. It's an eternal law of righteousness. I think we don't sufficiently appreciate God's evaluation of righteousness. That's the message of Hebrews: holiness and righteousness. That's a little picture of the contents of the tabernacle and of the transition from tabernacle to temple. Let me just add this: In the temple of Solomon the cherubim which is the plural of cherub, the Hebrew word is 'ke-roof' which, interestingly enough, is modern Hebrew for "cabbage".
It doesn't sound very romantic, but my personal opinion, and I make no extra charge for this, and I could be completely wrong, my personal opinion is that a cabbage is called a cherub because the leaves of the cabbage relate to the body of the cabbage the way the wings of the cherub relate to the body of the cherub. That's my personal theory. I'm not demanding anybody else to believe it, but there it is! Anyhow, in the tabernacle the cherubs faced inwards over the ark and they stretched out their wings only over the ark, nowhere else, and they occupied just the area over the ark. If you read in the temple of Solomon, the cherubim faced outward, their wings were extended in each direction and each wing extended five cubits which is seven and a half feet which is a substantial wing. Together they made up the twenty cubits which was the full width of the Holy of Holies so that, again, there's a picture of expansion.
What was very compact and focused only around the ark, or Christ, has been extended and covers the entire extent of the Holy of Holies. But, one thing that's very, very interesting is the dimensions of the ark never change because the ark represents God. God doesn't have to get any bigger, He doesn't have to extend any further; He's already the Creator, the Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega. That was just a little on verses 1–5. We're going on now at verse 6 of chapter 9. We're going to go through verse 10 and I'm going to translate from the Greek. I need to point out to you that at this point the writer of Hebrews in the tenses that he uses, moves from the time of Moses to his own day and is mentally picturing the temple, the second temple, which still stood in his time.
So, the tense has become present tense but the picture is still referred to the tabernacle. You find that there are differences of translation. For instance, the New American Standard has the present tense, the New International Version sticks to the past tense from the previous five verses. That's the reason. I'm going to translate as literally as I can which may not be elegant and then you will be able to form your own conclusions. Beginning at verse 6: When these things have been thus prepared, constructed. into the first compartment the priests enter continually, carrying out the divine service [notice the present tense, he doesn't say "entered" but "enter"] but into the second, once a year, the high priest alone, not without blood, which he offers on behalf of himself and the sins of ignorance of the people.
The Holy Spirit thus signifying that the way into the Holy of Holies has not yet been revealed, while the first tabernacle still stands, which is a parable [or a symbol] for the present time. But there's an alternative translation, I don't want to get too involved. In which the present time both gifts and sacrifices are being offered which cannot perfect their worshiper in regard to conscience, since they are based only on food and drink and various ceremonial washings [the word "ceremonial" I've put in], regulations relating to the body imposed until the time of reformation [or the new order]. You'll see, if you've been following in those translations, which you probably haven't, I take some words from one and some from the other. I want to go into this and I'm going to read a little bit from my own notes.
We're on Page 9/2. The writer continues to draw lessons from the tabernacle of Moses but now applies them directly to the service of the second temple still standing at that time. One unique feature of the Holy of Holies, it was entered only by the high priest once every year on the Day of Atonement (Hebrew: Yom Kippur). And now we will turn to Leviticus 16 but let me just read the next sentence first. The high priest symbolized in the earthly sanctuary what Christ was to do in the heavenly sanctuary. We go back now to Leviticus 16, I'm going to read from the New American Standard. I think I have to read those verses because it's essential that we know what went on.
Beginning at verse 1: Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of the LORD and died. That's Aaron's two oldest sons, Nadab and Abihu. They went in with what the Bible calls "strange fire" or "unsanctified fire" into the immediate presence of God and died instantly. So, Aaron lost his two eldest sons. The lesson was: Be careful how you go into the presence of the Lord. Now the Lord applies this, verse 2: The LORD said to Moses, "Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil..." The "holy place inside the veil" is the Holy of Holies. I'm sorry because the language switches around but I'll try and make it clear. ...the holy place inside the veil, is the Holy of Holies. before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud [that's the shekinah glory] over the mercy seat. The place where God appears in person is the Most Holy Place. It's most holy because of God's appearing there.
"Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering". I think it's significant that the moment the Bible talks about entering the Most Holy Place it talks about a sin offering. The implication is sin must be dealt with before anyone can enter. "He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be girded with the linen sash, and attired with the linen turban (these are holy garments). Then he shall bathe his body in water and put them on". Notice now, he does not wear his full regalia but he's dressed only in linen. Those of you that were here last year will recall what linen represents which is? Purity, that's right. Righteousness. But he's stripped of his glory and he's stripped of the robe, which had the bells on the hem.
You remember as long as he moved around with the bells and they tinkled, Israel knew he was alive. Now no longer is he wearing the bells because this typifies Jesus Christ laying down His life having first laid aside His glory going in in His humanity, but always in His absolute purity. The emphasis is on perfect, sinless purity without divine glory. Verse 5: "He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats, for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering". Let me point out to you that though sin is always sin, some people's sins create greater problems than other people's sins. The higher up a person is in the kingdom of God, the more problems his sin creates.
There were three main levels of sin offerings. If the high priest sinned, he had to bring a bull. If a ruler sinned, he had to bring a ram. If one of the common people sinned, he could bring a goat or a sheep. It always impressed me because I think whatever happened, if the high priest should sin he'd have to go right outside the camp, pick his bull, make sure it was without blemish and then lead it all the way to the door of the tabernacle and kill it there. There was no way he could conceal from the people that he was in trouble! Everybody knew when they saw Aaron or the high priest taking his bull along that he had sinned. He had a very large sin offering. Also, a very valuable one. A ruler was required only to bring a ram and, as I said, one of the common people, a sheep or a goat. There are further distinctions, which we won't go into.
Verse 6: "Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself, and for his household". Notice that there's great emphasis on the fact that this high priest has to, first of all, offer for his own sin. And, interestingly enough, it's for his own sin and the sin of his house or family. That's the principle: the father is responsible for the house. As in the Passover where it was the father's business to sprinkle the blood on the house. "And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat".
Azazel in Hebrew, a very familiar word to Jewish people. We're going to spend a little time looking at the significance of the scapegoat. Let me say, I hope I can say this right, I think there's some very solemn lessons in this chapter relating to the Jewish people. I would say the lesson here is: either accept the scapegoat or become one. See, the Jewish people habitually speak about themselves as the scapegoat for the sins of other nations. In some sense, they are. If you lived in Israel a little while you get to appreciate that point of view, because Israel is judged by totally different standards than other nations. However, we won't go into that.
Verse 9: "Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering". That's the sin offering. The other goat is unique, there's never anything else like it anywhere in the Bible. It's only on the Day of Atonement. Verse 10: "But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat". To make atonement, that word, "to cover over". "Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself. And he shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil".
Notice, he couldn't go inside the second veil without the incense lifting up its cloud which, in a sense, veiled him. It kept him from being directly exposed to the immediate presence of God. "And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, lest he die. Notice. Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some blood with his finger seven times". The mercy seat, in case you don't know, was the lid that covered the ark. And on either end of the mercy seat were the cherubim. Why it was called the mercy seat you'll see in due course.
Notice the blood had to be applied to the mercy seat on the east side, which is the side from which the priest approached it and also sprinkled seven times in front of it. Seven speaking of something that is done by the Holy Spirit. Verse 15: "Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil, and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the smercy seat, and in front of the mercy seat".
First of all, he brought his own sin offering, then he went back and brought the sin offering of the people. His own sin offering, the bull; the sin offering of the people, the goat. "When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself, and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel". Everything in this chapter emphasizes this tremendous solemnity, and sacredness of everything. Verse 18: "Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull, and of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides".
The altar had four sides. Every side had to be touched with the blood. Purifying the altar, I think, speaks about making the worship of God's people acceptable. It depended on the altar. Verse 19: "And with his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times, and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it [or make it holy]. [Verse 20] When he finishes atoning for the holy place, and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat [this is the scapegoat]. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel, and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins;..." Or the margin translation, "in addition to all their sins".
So it covers iniquities, transgressions and sins. They're not exactly the same. Iniquity essentially is rebellion, transgression is breaking a known law, and sin is just failing to live for God's glory. There are three types of evildoing. They're all laid symbolically on the head of this poor goat. When you think of what's involved... Are you with me? We're in the middle of verse 21. "...and he shall lay them [the iniquities, the transgressions and sins] on the head of the goat, and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. And the goat shall bear in itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness".
I don't know whether you've ever pictured that goat, but it's released into a completely desolate area where there's no water, no pasture, no other animals, and abandoned and left there to wander around until it dies. It's a terrible picture. There's a reason for it, we'll look on. Verse 23: "Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting, and take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there. And he shall bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes, and come forth and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people".
Now he has on again his beautiful and glorious garments, he's back in his glory to offer the burnt offerings. The burnt offering also makes atonement for the people, but the order is important. The sin offering has to be offered first, then the burnt offering. It might surprise some of you to know that in Greek the word for the burnt offering is holocaust. So it is in French. Are there any people who know French here? It means "something which is totally burned". Again, the word has got a terrible meaning for us in the twentieth century, a meaning that it never had until this century. We talk about progress, but I don't know of any other century that has invented some of the words that we've invented like holocaust, overkill, genocide... But again, I want to say this, and I hope I can be understood. I think the message is this: either accept the Holocaust or become a holocaust. There's nothing in between.