Putting God's Word into Practice…

Hebrews 8:1-7 Copies and Shadows

on March 19, 2013

I’m hoping that this blog that will lay some framework for chapters to come.  One of the most fascinating studies I’ve done about the tabernacle (temple) was by Kay Arthur/Bob and Diane Vereen called Living a Life of True Worship.  I recommend it if you want to know more and see how this personally applies to us today!

They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. (Hebrews 8:5) The author was referring to the ministry of priests, blood sacrifices, and the traveling tabernacle constructed under the supervision of Moses. When I think of copies and shadows, I think of photo copies and shadow puppets.  They are pretty direct images, but not the real thing.  They may have some impurities, imperfections and hints of darkness.  However, they do point us to an original that is perfectly pure and holy–in this case Christ and Heaven!


  • To enter the tabernacle, there was only one gate.  In John 10:9 and 14:6 Jesus says that He is the gate and the only way to the Father.
  • The next furnishing was the bronze alter where sin was atoned for by the blood of a sacrificial lamb.  It is impossible to draw near to God with sin in our lives.  John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
  • The bronze wash basin comes next.  It is a sign of clean hands–sanctificiation.  In Psalm 24 we are told that only those with clean hands and a pure heart can enter the presence of God.  In Ephesians 5:25-26, it says that Jesus washes us with the water of the Word to present us in splendor as holy, pure and blameless.
  • Next the priest would travel through the door into the Holy Place.  John 10:2 says that the one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  Jesus is the Great Shepherd, and He is also the door.  All things are accomplished by and through Him.
  • Inside the Holy Place are three furnishing.  The first is the Table of Shewbread–or the Bread of the Presence.  Bread has to be continually offered on this table.  In John 6:35, 48-51, Jesus refers to Himself as the Bread of Life.
  • The second furnishing is the golden lampstand-or Menorah–which had to be perpetually burning.  It was the only source of light in the tabernacle.  In John 1:9 and John 8:12 we learn that Jesus is the Light of the World, and in Revelation 22:5 we see that there will be no need for the sun because Jesus will be our perpetual Light!
  • The final furnishing in the Holy Place was the alter of incense which also must constantly burn.  When we look at the true, original tabernacle in Heaven in Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4, we see that this incense is actually the prayers of the saints that rise before the throne of God–where Jesus is always making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).
  • A veil separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place where the glorious presence of God dwells.  It offered protection from the holiness of God to the earthly priests who ministered there. In Hebrews 10:19-20 we will learn that the veil represents the flesh of Jesus.  Matthew 27:51 tells us that when Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished!” and breathed His final breath, the veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom almost as if heavenly hands ripped it open, saying that the way to the Father was open to all who would draw near through the sacrifice of Jesus.
  • The only furnishing in the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant covered by the Mercy Seat.  Once a year a priest would enter the Most Holy Place and make atonement on behalf of the people, but when Jesus died, His blood offered atonement for humanity once and for all.  Therefore we can boldly and confidently draw near to the presence of God by the blood of Jesus. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

If you were to take a marker, you could draw two lines through the furnishings of the earthly tabernacle and it would make a perfect cross!

Only by Jesus can we be made holy, be reconciled to the Father, and draw near to Him.  Christ’s priestly ministry is much more excellent–He is a better mediator and holds a better promise, a better covenant, and a better hope.

All of history pointed to Jesus.  Every promise finds its fulfillment in Jesus.  Redemption and reconciliation are the very heart of God!  He wants us to draw near.  He made a way for us to draw near.  We can draw near to Him with confidence because of Jesus Christ.  He is the only way, truth and life!

The word tabernacle actually means, “to dwell.”  It is a word picture of God’s glory being in the midst of His people.  The first tabernacle was constructed during the wilderness experience with the Israelites.  Then John 1:14 says of Jesus, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we have seen his GLORY, GLORY as the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth.”  The true tabernacle is in heaven where Jesus is now. In the meantime on earth, 1 Corinthians 3:16, and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 say that we as followers of Jesus Christ are the temple of the Holy Spirit–the place where He dwells and shows His glory!

How is my life showing the power and glory of God to the world?  Is there anything that is casting a shadow on His glory in my life?

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