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Tabernacle Getting the Big Picture Lesson 11
Manchaca Bible Fellowship
November 11, 2001 Bible Lessons
Operation Outreach
Hebrews 9:1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.

We're back!!!! After a much longer recess from our study of the Tabernacle than intended, we are ready to roll up our Spiritual sleeves and dig into the truths of the only God ordered and designed structure on earth. For the first lessons of this series, we are taking "snap-shots" of different aspects of the Tabernacle and its service. It's as though we were doing a fly-over, and taking snap-shots of small portions of the Tabernacle and/or its service.

Once we've flown around and looked at God's ordered building and the ministries that attended it, we will take one small piece at a time, and put those pictures together into a good overview of the structure, and a fair understanding of the ministries that are involved in keeping the Tabernacle and its service operational.

Then we can "land" our plane and begin to "walk-through" all the aspects of this intricate and somewhat baffling process of worship. Because we will have had the overview from many different angles, we won't get lost in the maze of sacrifices, high days, garments and ritual.

We have already taken several "snap-shots". We have seen God's desire to have a personal relationship with each person in the nation.

Exodus 19:5 'Now therefore, if you (Israel) will indeed obey My (God) voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." 7 So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 Then all the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.

God wanted to make each and every person in the nation a "priest". God wanted everyone in the nation to personally experience His presence and to serve Him Spiritually. However, Israel -- like so many of us -- didn't want to pay the physical price to have such great Spiritual blessings. This event and attitude will "dog" the steps of the nation of Israel until Christ returns and sets up His kingdom.

We also saw that even though they were NOT willing to pay the price to become a "kingdom of priests", they, none the less, tried over and over again to "get" the blessings of that position EVEN THOUGH they were not willing to accept the responsibility. A chronic problem of many Believers today.

Those in the wilderness -- like so many of us -- heard the "good word" from God, AND immediately said, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do." They never counted the cost! They assumed that, by their own strength, they could do what God commanded. Never once did they say, "God, by Your grace and strength, we will do what You command."

Many of us are like that. Our attitude is that God is pretty lucky to have us. After all, with our good looks, ability and talent, we can do all that's needed. Therefore, God should really appreciate us just hanging around.

Revelation 3:17 "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- 18 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

The Apostle Paul learned the value of God's strength, and the inability of his own ability. With that knowledge, Paul was able to do as God said, BECAUSE he was totally dependent on God.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The Israelites in the wilderness had not yet learned the reality of their insufficiency to accomplish Spiritual activities. Nor had they experienced the total awesomeness of God's presence and person.

When they 
the outward manifestation of God's presence 
in and on nature, 
they ran from 
God instead of 
running to 
God for mercy.
Exodus 20:18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die." 20 And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin."

We looked briefly at a "snap-shot" of the priests, and their ministry in prayer before the Altar of Incense. For today's lesson, we want to "fly" higher, and see an even a broader view of the need and use of the Tabernacle. Today, we will only take a quick first look at this broader view.

Primarily, we want to look at this overview so we can see the examples that point to us, as Believers. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit uses the Israelites in their journey from Egypt into the Promised Land as a picture or example of the Believer going from the unsaved state through salvation and into the victorious Christian life. That being true, let's set that stage for this drama. By seeing this example from beginning to end, it will be of great help when we examine some of the more detailed examples.

Look at some of the parallels, and then we will attempt to fill in a few of the blank spots. Israel in Egypt is a type of a person in their unsaved state in the world. As an example, the Holy Spirit equates Egypt, where the Israelites were slaves, with the World in which we were held in bondage to sin before salvation.

The Passover, the death of the lamb and the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, is an example of a unsaved person placing their faith in the Lamb of God Who died on the cross as our Passover, thereby providing deliverance from the bondage of sin.

Passing through the Red Sea is an example of Believer's Baptism. There was the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness that sadly is an example of so many Christians who simply refuse to possess the victorious Christian life by God's grace.

Crossing over Jordan and possessing the land, is an example of Believers in their struggles and battles fought as they claim the victorious Christian life.

That's the "BIG" picture. From that knowledge, the many, many other examples used by the Holy Spirit will make sense as we fit each within that "BIG" picture. Not only will the "BIG" picture help us with the many smaller examples, these smaller examples will fill in and color the "BIG" picture, and make it come alive. If we keep in mind the progression of "BIG" example, we won't get lost in the wilderness.

Let's refresh our memories once again:

  1. The Passover = Christ's death on the Cross
  2. The eating of the Passover = Salvation and deliverance from the bondage of sin
  3. Crossing the Red Sea = Believer's Baptism
  4. Crossing the Jordan river and the conquest of the land = The Christian life with its battles and victories

Sad to say, the response of the Israelites in all of this has way too many parallels to the Believer's responses to God's grace in our daily walk.

Hebrews 3:10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' 11 So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.' "

The Holy Spirit, through the writer of Hebrews in this third chapter, is speaking of the Israelites in the wilderness.

Astray = (Greek) To roam; Straying from orthodoxy or piety; To mislead or to be misled.

The reason they were mislead and strayed from orthodoxy was because they did not know God's ways. They didn't know God's ways in spite of fact that they were isolated from the world, God dwelt in the camp and God lead them every step of the way. Just being at a Bible Conference, in the middle of the desert conducted by God, does not mean we will automatically KNOW God's ways.

Because of their lack of knowing God's ways, God did not allow Israel to enter into His rest. In their case, the first step in receiving God's rest would have been entering the Promised Land.

These wanderers from orthodoxy missed EVEN the first step towards God's rest. Therefore, they wandered aimlessly in the wilderness, NEVER experiencing even a hint of God's real blessing. Don't miss that fact, because the Holy Spirit is going to use it as an example, and make application to our lives today.

Hebrews 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

As you have already heard, and will hear many time in the future, there is very little within the Christian life and our doctrines that does not have its roots in the Tabernacle and its service. Therefore, IF we are to have a full understanding of those doctrines of Christian living, we must have a good working knowledge of the Tabernacle.

The Holy Spirit wants us to see that those in the wilderness DID NOT exhort one another concerning God's goodness and blessings. They should have been saying daily to those they met in camp, "Isn't God good!! We have manna, and water from the "Rock", our clothes don't wear out and God is tabernacling in our camp. Yes, God is SO good!"
Instead, they complained about everything God did for them. God's provision wasn't quite good enough. Sounds a little like modern Christians - or even ones who aren't very modern.

As a result of this constant complaining, they were hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, and could not see God's provision for the present, and lost their blessings for the future. The end result of that hardening was that they spent their entire lives in the wilderness, AND never experienced the blessings God had for them . Sad to say, but during those 40 wasted years, they were only a few days walk from the Promised Land -- yet they NEVER set foot on it.

The subject of the deceitfulness of sin starts with the first temptation in the Garden, and continues throughout the history of mankind. Sin so blinds us, until we think that our sinning is proper. However, as we see in Hebrews 3:12, it actually causes us to "depart from the living God". The act of sin that was causing the Israelites to "depart from the living God" was that of not being content with what God had provided. But instead, they were complaining and griping about God, His provision and His servants. As a result, their hearts were hardened.

Therefore, the warning to Believers to beware, lest we too develop this "heart of unbelief". It is so easy to fall into this pattern of complaining about God's provision, which leads to being deceived by sin. Living in an "open" society as we do, it is easy to loose sight of the difference between striving for improvement, and the lack of gratitude for what we already have. The "key" to prevention of such personal deception is found in Hebrews 3:14-4:1. The "key" is personal faith in the Word of God.

Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." 16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?

This partaking of Christ is not a reference to our Salvation. Instead, it is speaking of the daily fellowship with Christ and the drawing from His very life the strength for our daily life.

Hebrews 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2001