Oct 272017
 

The golden lampstandHe also made the lampstand of pure gold. He made the lampstand of hammered work. Its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers were of one piece with it. 18 And there were six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 19 three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand.20 And on the lampstand itself were four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, 21 and a calyx of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out of it. 22 Their calyxes and their branches were of one piece with it. The whole of it was a single piece of hammered work of pure gold. 23 And he made its seven lamps and its tongs and its trays of pure gold. 24 He made it and all its utensils out of a talent of pure gold. (Exodus 37:17-24)

The Hebrew word for the lampstand was Menorah and it is a very distinctive shape, full of meaning as we shall see. It was a single upright shaft with 6 branches coming out of it making 7 lamps in all. It was to represent a tree or a vine. It denotes our unity with Jesus and our being part of him. He is the central stem but we have been grafted into Him and receive our sustenance from him.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The lamps were filled daily with oil and they were never allowed to go out but were maintained continually. It was the only light source in the holy place, suggesting that God alone is the only source of light, of revelation of clarity and enlightenment.

Every object we have seen so far has been made of wood overlaid with Gold but the lampstand was made of pure gold. It is not just ‘solid’ gold but ‘pure’ gold with no imperfections. This also points to God being perfect and without blemish;

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless (Psalm 18:30 NIV)

The theme of light clearly points towards Jesus who proclaimed himself to be the light of the world;

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

The choice in the decoration of the lampstand was also significant. It represented an almond in the 3 stages of its development; flower, bud and fruit. The almond tree is a type of resurrection. It is the first tree to ‘come to life’ after the winter. This is a shadow of Christ who was the first to be resurrected;

and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. (Revelation 1:5)

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

As I mentioned when we looked at the contents of the ark, Aaron’s rod was an almond branch and it too came to life and budded when it was obviously dead. The theme of resurrection is clear from the almond and it points to Jesus who died and rose again.

So the lampstand shadows Jesus in its; light, purity and resurrection.

 October 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Oct 202017
 

Table of showbreadAs we move through the veil from the Holy of holies, we enter the Holy place where the priests ministered. In this place were a number of objects which were highly symbolic and shadowed the life and ministry of Jesus.

This week we will be looking at the table of showbread.

“You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 24 You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. 25 And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. 26 And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. 27 Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. 28 You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. 29 And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. 30 And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly. (Exodus 25:23-30)

A meal table is a great place for fellowship. Some of the best times we can have with our family and friends is around a meal table. It’s the place where a family comes together, breaking bread and sharing life together. A place where we can communicate, deepen our relationships and bond strongly together. This was of course God’s idea all along. He loves relationship and where better to do it than a place where good food is being served and fine wine is flowing. In fact, it seems we will be feasting round a table a long time into the future;

Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9)

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. (Isaiah 25:6)

The table of Showbread was where the priests would eat the bread in God’s presence. This meal shadowed the last supper where Jesus broke bread around a table with His 12 disciples. In fact on the table of showbread were 12 loaves of unleavened bread. The number 12 is a very significant number in the bible. It is a number of completeness. There were of course 12 tribes of Israel and 12 disciples.

The table was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. As we saw before with the ark, these two materials represent Jesus’ humanity (acacia wood) and divinity (gold).

The table had two crowns on it, one representing a king and the other a priest. Both of these offices perfectly fulfilled in Jesus.

The bread on the table, as we have seen previously on many occasions, represents the body of Jesus. ‘show’ means to tell forth or declare. This bread declares the presence of Jesus. The bread, after it was baked, remained on the table until it was eaten. Jesus the ‘bread of life’ is forever and constantly in the presence of God the father.

God also instructed Moses to create various golden objects to be placed on the table alongside the bread. There were: dishes to place the bread on, Bowls containing Frankincense and spoons to sprinkle the Frankincense. These objects mirrored everyday household items found at that time in middle-eastern homes. Significant because God was demonstrating that the people were to regard the Tabernacle as his house.

Frankincense was placed on each row of bread

And you shall put pure frankincense on each row…” (Leviticus 24:7)

Incense always speaks of prayer and intercession, so frankincense sprinkled over the Showbread speaks of Jesus’ life of prayer and Intercession.

Next week we will look at another item in the holy place.

 October 20, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Oct 132017
 

The veilWe have recently been focussing on the tabernacle which travelled with the Israelites as they wandered the wilderness for 40 years. The tabernacle signified and indeed held the presence of God.

Over the last few weeks we have looked at the ark of the covenant and then the lid of the ark called “The mercy seat”. These were both housed in the innermost part of the tabernacle called “The holy of holies” and as we have seen, this is where God dwelt and where only the high priest could enter just once a year.

As we move outwards from the holy of holies we will encounter various objects which all, in some way, shadow Jesus.

This week we will look at the veil which separated the Holy of holies from the rest of the tabernacle.

The veil was quite an impressive screen for the Holy of holies. The exact measurements are not recorded in the bible, but there are details elsewhere, such as from the Jewish historian, Josephus. He stated that the curtain was roughly 60 feet high and it was an impressive 4 inches thick. According to tradition, horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart.

It was woven together with various colours, which represent different aspects of Jesus; there was blue for heaven, purple for royalty and scarlet for blood. It was all bound together with white linen which represented purity.

The veil was purposefully thick and impenetrable because it represented the unapproachability of God, he is Holy and glorious and sinful man cannot approach him safely, we would immediately die. The high priest only survived because he sprinkled sacrificial blood.

Jesus’ earthly body was a ‘veil’ that hid the inner glory of His deity. Only on very few occasions was this veil drawn back, such as on the mount of transfiguration. The apostle Peter was an eyewitness of this event;

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honour and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 peter 1:16-18)

Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John and his face shone like the sun and his clothes became bright as light (Matthew 17:1-13).

His body (veil) was torn at the cross which mirrored the physical veil in the temple being torn at the same time;

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Mark 15:37-38)

The veil was too high and thick to be torn by any man. No priest would have the audacity to break with tradition even if he had the enormous strength to tear it. In any case a man would rip the veil from the bottom, It was ripped from the top. The only explanation was that God did it. It was a hugely momentous act, signifying the access that is now available through Jesus. We can now enter in to the Holy of holies, to have an intimate relationship with our heavenly father. Through Jesus the ultimate and unending sacrifice has now been made.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

 October 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Oct 062017
 

The mercy seatLast week we looked at the ark of the covenant and this week we will look at what was effectively its lid, which was called ‘The mercy seat’. This mercy seat has huge significance because it was the place where God’s anger for sin was satisfied and where mercy and justice meet.

At the time of the tabernacle, the blood which was sprinkled over the mercy seat would only satisfy God’s wrath for one calendar year and then the process had to be repeated. This of course is a shadow which points towards the sacrifice that Jesus made to satisfy God’s wrath for all time.

The word for this situation in the bible is called ‘Propitiation’ which is not a word we use in everyday conversation today. It is a word rich in meaning in the bible, but can be a little bit complicated, so I will try and simplify it.

In ancient times, especially the Ancient Greek culture, they believed in numerous gods who would quite often get angry if the people were disobedient. If for instance, there had been a bad crop one year, the people would assume they had angered the gods and would offer various sacrifices to appease or propitiate the Gods. Propitiation was therefore the attempt to avert or satisfy the anger of the gods.

Take this concept to the bible. God has revealed that His just and righteous anger is directed at mankind’s sin. The bible is quite clear that we are unable, in our own strength, to satisfy this anger. The bible reveals that Jesus was the one who would take our place, stand in front of us if you like, and divert God’s anger onto himself. This is where the mercy part of propitiation comes in. Jesus did it even when we didn’t deserve it.

Hopefully now the following verses make a bit more sense

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:23-25)

Just to finish on another interesting observation. The word for ‘ark’ in the Hebrew language was ‘arown, which was another word for coffin. Here is a verse with an example;

So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. (Genesis 50:26)

In the ark, as we saw last week, was placed symbols of man’s rebellion or inability to reach God; the tablets of stone, the manna and Aaron’s rod. These items were buried in the coffin and then covered by the mercy seat. Another fantastic picture of what Jesus achieved for us.

The example of the mercy seat is shown in various places in the bible. Let me finish with one example.

The original mercy seat had two cherubim (angels) on either end of the mercy seat. Now notice the significance of what Mary saw at the tomb of Jesus;

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. (John 20:11-12)

This is a wonderful picture of the mercy seat with the two angels sitting at either end. But only the grave clothes were there! Jesus’ missing body was key. It meant he had risen, confirming that God’s anger had been fully satisfied.

 October 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »