The Fall Feasts are here in force. The Days of Awe conclude this Sunday evening as Yom Kippur arrives. Yom is the Hebrew word for Day – and Kippur means Atonement.
Specifically, [kippur] means to make amends or reparation, for guilt to be canceled, or another to take the punishment (in this case, for sin). The root of [kippur] is [kaphar], which means to reconcile, extend mercy, cancel, or cover over.
The Day of Atonement is overflowing with shadows and types of Yeshua Jesus, Who, instead of merely making amends, enabled man to receive a full pardon from all sin.
This day gives us insight into the symbolism and mysteries of the Book of Revelation.
When we first see Yeshua Jesus in Revelation – He is wearing the white robes which the High Priest wore on The Day of Atonement.
Yom Kippur is in the eternal spotlight because it was very likely the Fall of Adam and Eve. But more than anything, The Day of Atonement is about The Tabernacle of Meeting.
For me, The Day of Atonement, The Tabernacle, and the Book of Leviticus, has been like a giant puzzle that was laid out in a long, straight line – It was in the correct order but wasn’t put together into a picture.
For the last four months, God has been putting all those pieces together into a beautiful picture of who He is and how He is present in the many Tabernacles in scripture.
And for me, the Tabernacle and the Day of Atonement have become a magnificent picture.
Leviticus 23 tells us what God expects of us on this day: “You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, [a day] to make atonement for you before Yehovah Eloha.” “…and you are to afflict your souls [deny yourselves].” So, Complete Rest And No Food!
Why? During the Spring and Summer Feasts, God commanded the people to: “Bring an offering”, “bring a sheaf”, “bring a lamb”, “bring bread…, etc.” But at Yom Kippur, the sacrifices were all supplied. What you needed would be done for you.
The High Priest did everything because the High Priest represents Yeshua Jesus. He alone made the atonement for all mankind. The focus was also on the Tabernacle, which was essentially The Throne Room.
Yom Kippur is written in the plural, Yom Ha-Kippurim, because it was a Corporate Fast and Rest for everyone. But it left a lot of questions unanswered – and today, I’m going to break a lot of those down, and we will discover the answers.
Unraveling the truths of the Tabernacle will help us understand what Jesus did for us, not just on the cross, but beyond the cross, in the grave, and in the heavenlies following His resurrection.
The Heavenly Tabernacle – Let’s start our journey by peaking “behind the curtain” into The Heavenly Tabernacle.
Moses was commanded to make the Tabernacle according to a very specific set of plans, which He revealed at Mount Sinai. Exodus 25 says, “Then Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying: …
Make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.”
The full name of the Tabernacle is The Tent or Tabernacle of Meeting. That’s what it’s about. It’s where you encounter Jesus, encounter the Holy Spirit, and encounter the Father.
“According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.”
If there was a pattern, then there was an original. What was the Tabernacle patterned after? The Book of Hebrews sheds some light in 8:2, “We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”
So, long before Moses built the Tabernacle in the desert, there was a Tabernacle from eternity past in heaven. This heavenly Tabernacle and all its furniture was the original – and became the pattern for everyone that followed it.
And one important note – The earthly tabernacles weren’t duplicates of the heavenly one. You only make a pattern because you have plans to create something based on it.
Before we bought all our clothes in stores, our mothers made them from patterns. Patterns were made of thin paper, which were pinned to fabric and then cut into the shape of the pattern. Then, the fabric was sewn into a dress or whatever the pattern was.
But the dress didn’t look exactly like the pattern. What it looked like depended on the cloth. So, the Tabernacles on Earth were different. They were shadows.
In the same way, Jesus, in His heavenly Tabernacle, was in unspeakable glory – but Jesus laid down His glory to put on flesh – a shadow of what He was. But He was still the Tabernacle.
Hebrews 9:24 tells us that the heavenly Tabernacle is where Jesus went after his resurrection, “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies (or patterns) of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
And just in case you think it’s old news, Revelation 15 tells us that the Tabernacle is still there, “behold, the temple of the Tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.”
Understanding that the original Tabernacle was and is in heaven helps give us insight into the various Tabernacles that have been patterned after it, including the Tabernacle of Moses.
But we need to explore and understand a crucial piece of the story first. An enemy has opposed all of these Tabernacles and Temples – And he is still in a constant state of war with them.
2. The Tabernacle’s Greatest Enemy
Let’s take a look at the Tabernacle’s Greatest Enemy – the one called [satan]. Ezekiel 28 tells us, “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the Garden of God…You were The Anointed Cherub Who Covers…
Cherubim are one of the highest orders of angelic beings – they have two pairs of wings and four faces. Positionally, they are always close to Yehovah, God’s Throne, and the Tabernacle, providing a covering like an impenetrable shield wall.
Wherever God is, His throne and Tabernacle are, the cherubim are on guard, worshipping, and emanating greatness and might.
Cherubim were the guardians of Eden with flaming swords (we see them there after Adam and Eve are expelled, but they would have been there on guard and covering it at all times because it was the Garden Tabernacle).
They are described as serving as the chariot Yehovah rides upon in Ezekiel’s visions. And two were positioned on each side of the Ark of the Covenant with wings that stretched over and covered the Mercy Seat.
The Tabernacle consisted of an open-air outer courtyard and a covered structure – called the Sanctuary (which contains the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies). In this sense, the presence of those cherubim would probably represent the tent structure or what was covering everything and God’s presence.
Let’s continue with Ezekiel 28, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty…You defiled
your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading…” That phrase “defiled your sanctuaries” is enormous – the word sanctuaries always speak of the Tabernacle/Temple – so, he was and is a defiler, and that’s always how he attacks mankind].
In heaven, satan’s name was [hêlēl] – we know him by the Latinized name Lucifer. The Hebrew word [śātān] is the word for “adversary”; one who “withstands”; and “accuser.”
Despite being positioned so close to God and His throne, He desired much more.
Isaiah 14 adds, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer [hêlēl], son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation (or assembly) on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High…” That word assembly is [môʿēḏ (mo-ade’), and it speaks exclusively of appointed times or Feasts of Yehovah. So satan has a fascination with all of the “appointed times” – the Feasts of Yehovah – like The Day of Atonement.
Revelation 12 says, “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.” “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” That war in heaven came immediately to God’s children, “I will put enmity between you [satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers…”
A Tabernacle of Desire
When God cast the fallen angels out of heaven, they didn’t have physical forms or bodies, so they are continually in search of “homes”. Matthew 12 tells us, “When an evil spirit comes out of a person, it goes through dry places looking for a place to rest. But it doesn’t find any. Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to the home I left…
Here are a couple of important takeaways for Christians: [satan] was a cherub whose calling was to “cover the throne” (or Tabernacle), but he was singularly focused on sitting on it and defiling it instead.
Fast-forward to the triumph of the cross. God has prepared thrones for His bride, and we are already spiritually seated with Him in the Heavenly Tabernacle “in places”.
And here on earth, we are the Tabernacles of the Holy Spirit.
So, where is God’s throne? He is enthroned on our praises – on and in us.
So the good news/bad news is we’re the tabernacle and home that satan longs to occupy. Jesus, as the eternal Son of God, was enthroned in the eternal Tabernacle in heaven from eternity past. The tabernacle is where He dwelt.
3. The Garden Tabernacle
Jesus was enthroned in the eternal Tabernacle in heaven from eternity past. Then God made Earth, Man, and the Garden of Eden, the first earthly Tabernacle where God could walk and meet with man. Genesis 2:15 says, “Then Yehovah God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” There are two Hebrew words here:
[Tend] is [ʿāḇaḏ (aw-vad’) it means to work, serve, worship, and obey.
[Keep] is [šāmar (shaw-mar’)] it means to watch, guard, observe, protect, preserve, “to hedge about (as with thorns)”; keep is often used of watchmen and shepherds.
Both words were used together the first time with Adam and Eve in the Garden – the description of their day-to-day job. But man defiled that Tabernacle when he allowed satan’s entrance and then sinned. Yom Kippur was likely the day of the Fall of Adam and Eve.
When man failed to [ʿāḇaḏ (aw-vad’) and [šāmar (shaw-mar’)], they failed their calling and purpose in the Garden, and they also destroyed their ability to meet with God in that Garden Tabernacle.
So, on that first Day of Atonement, God sacrificed an animal for its blood and skins to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. Later in Psalms 91, He prophesied how He would cover them forever as Messiah, “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
But that day would have to wait. God drove them out of that Garden Tabernacle because their sin caused separation. Interestingly, one of the Hebrew words for covering is [lote], which means veil – a covering that separates humanity from the light of God. In Isaiah 25:7, Isaiah said about the coming kingdom, “He will destroy the covering [lote] cast over the world”.
In Luke 17:30, Yeshua Jesus prophesied about His second coming and described it as “when the Son of Man is revealed.” The word “revealed” means “to take the cover off”.
In the ruins of Eden, God still desired to dwell with man, and this reality meant the need for a new Tabernacle where God and man could dwell together – not in perfection (because man was now sinful) – but in a way that God could meet with him without destroying him.
To see that, we will need to go forward from the Garden to the time of Moses – about 2,500 years. As we do, let’s tune our ears to the voice of God for a moment and talk about one of the challenges of translating Hebrew into English. One of the things we miss is when translators make unnecessary changes to things like the titles of books, like the one we know as Leviticus.
Leviticus, which is Latin, means: “of the Levites”, because, on the surface, the book seems to be primarily concerned with members of the priestly tribe of Levi and their duties. But of course, that is not what God named the book; it is a significant part of why God’s purposes and plans for it are lost in translation.
In Hebrew, Leviticus is called [va-yi-kra] because it’s the first words “called to” from verse 1, “Yehovah called to Moses….” If that sounds familiar, well, it should. It’s the fateful words of God to Adam and Eve in the Garden following their sin, “Yehovah God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
God was calling out to Moses from the newly built Tabernacle, which had replaced the fallen Garden Tabernacle. He was now dwelling above the Mercy Seat to be near His people. And He was delivering instructions for the sacrifices that would allow His people to draw near to Him.
The phrase “Yehovah said” appears more than 50 times in Leviticus – more than in any other book of the Bible. Psalm 145:18 summed up the book’s heart: “Yehovah is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”
The book [va-yi-kra] or Leviticus is primarily about intimacy – it’s God calling out to us so we can respond similarly and draw near to Him. Leviticus [va-yi-kra] isn’t a dry book of rules – or a chronicle of the Levites – it’s God revealing a way for us to return to Eden.
Most importantly, [va-yi-kra], or Leviticus with its wilderness Tabernacle with God’s indwelling presence, was a profound picture of the Messiah and His cross. God was prophesying what He would do to redeem us through the Messiah, and calling out to us would be the first step.
Matthew 3:1-3 “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is He who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of One crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of Yehovah; Make His paths straight.’”
4. A New Home
The Garden Tabernacle was history, literally. It wasn’t until 2,500 years later that God called Moses to build the next Tabernacle.
Back to Exodus 25: “Then Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel…let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.’” When we arrive at the Tabernacle of Moses in the desert, we also re-encounter the original commands given to Adam and Eve. Both words [ʿāḇaḏ] and [šāmar] are used together again for the first time in 2,500 years – but this time, it’s to describe the priests and Levites:
Numbers 3:5-8 “And Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying: “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him. And they shall keep his charge [šāmar (shaw-mar’)], and the charge of the whole congregation before the Tabernacle of Meeting,To do the service of the tabernacle [ʿāḇaḏ (aw-vad’). Also they shall attend to all the furnishings of the Tabernacle of Meeting, and to the needs of the children of Israel, to do the work of the Tabernacle.”
So, the Tabernacle became a replacement for the Garden of Eden and the answer for how God could still dwell with man despite man’s sinfulness – without destroying him. And if you noticed, the Tabernacle wasn’t just called “the Tabernacle”, but “The Tabernacle of Meeting”. And in Exodus 25:22, God explained that phrase, “And there I will meet with you, and
I will speak with you from above the Mercy Seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the Ark of the Testimony…”
That word meet is [yāʿaḏ (yaw-ad’)], and it has two primary meanings: to meet and to betroth. When [yāʿaḏ (yaw-ad’)] is used as meet, it’s speaking of God meeting with us in the Tabernacle at a set time or appointed time – a [môʿēḏ (mo-ade’)].
Which tells you a lot about God’s love for us. When satan deceived Adam and Eve and ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and lost their covering or anointing, becoming separated from God, they hid from Him when He came to meet with them. They missed their appointed time with Him – to meet with the serpent.
So He restored the lost Tabernacle and restored meeting times with us. That’s why these Feasts are so important to Him and should be to us. The full name of the Tabernacle is The Tent or Tabernacle of Meeting. That’s what it’s about. It’s where you encounter Jesus, encounter the Holy Spirit, and encounter the Father.
When [yāʿaḏ (yaw-ad’)] is used as betroth, it’s speaking of marriage, but in an exceptional sense. If a man has to sell his daughter as a slave with the understanding that she is to be married to her master but does not accept her, then she cannot be sold again but must be ransomed or treated like his daughter.
God hasn’t just betrothed us to Himself. He has said from the moment of the betrothal, “You are going to become unacceptable to me – you are going to rebel and betray and be unfaithful – and I am going to have to reject you. But I am building into this betrothal “that reality”. So when you fail, I will ransom you – I will redeem you – I will always treat you as my daughter.
Rib / Side
“So Yehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. Yehovah God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” Genesis 2:21-22
The word translated as “rib” [tzela (tsay-law’)] is used 40 times in the Hebrew Bible. In all other 39 occasions, it means “side” and is used almost exclusively for the Tabernacle/Temple.
The root is [ṣālaʿ(tsaw-lah’)] to limp, be lame. It’s first used of Jacob after he wrestles with the Angel of Yehovah, and he’s given a new name and a limp.
There is another famous verse that features [ṣālaʿ(tsaw-lah’)] in Micah 4:6-8, “In that day,” says Yehovah, “I will assemble the lame [ṣālaʿ(tsaw-lah’)], I will gather the outcast and those whom I have afflicted; I will make the lame [ṣālaʿ(tsaw-lah’)] a remnant, and the outcast a strong nation; so Yehovah will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever. And you, O tower of the flock [Migdal Eder], the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, even the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.”
The literal translations shed some important insight on those verses. Instead of “the”, they say: “…I will assemble her that is lame; I will gather her that is driven out; her that I have afflicted; and her that was cast far off…”
The “tower of the flock [Migdal Eder]” verse is the most commonly quoted prophecy of Mary becoming the mother of Yeshua Jesus and exactly where He would be born.
The fact that it’s the root of the word that describes how Eve was made out of Adam before they sinned is just a reminder that God was always making a bride, and it was a given that we would fall and that He would rescue us by becoming flesh Himself.
It’s clear that Moses was intentionally connecting the making of the woman with the building of the Tabernacle because of the verb he uses to describe how God made her. Some translate it as “God fashioned the woman”, but the Hebrew word is [bānâ (baw-naw’)], which typically means “to build.”
The words “build” (bana) and “side” (tzela) are only ever used together in two stories in the Hebrew Bible: “the building of woman” and “the building of the Temple” in Genesis 2 and 1 Kings 6.
In the Tabernacle of Meeting, we discover Two Altars and an Ark that will be made from the wood of a particular tree, which will lead us back to several trees in the Garden of Eden. It’s a fascinating and revealing journey that will lead us back to the original pattern in the Tabernacle of Heaven. Next, we’ll journey to that Heavenly Tabernacle to discover the what and the Who.
5. The Tabernacles of Jesus and Man
Just so I don’t bury the lead: There is an even deeper reality to the Tabernacle –
It isn’t just a replica of what is in heaven – but specifically, Who is in heaven. The Tabernacle was a detailed replica of Jesus on the throne in the sanctuary of the throne room.
Interestingly, the Hebrew word for “pattern” is [tav’niyt] – its action or verbal root is [banah], the root word for son. The real tabernacle is Jesus. In the same way, God made man in His image, the Tabernacle was a copy or image of heavenly things that would be manifested through the Son. The earthly Tabernacle was prophesying of the day when the Word would take on flesh to walk and dwell among His people.
Leviticus 26:11-13 tells us, “And I will set My tabernacle among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” The Tabernacle and all the furnishings, inside and out, told the story of what the Messiah would do for our salvation.
Two thousand years ago, those prophesies became flesh and blood. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” God was coming near to dwell.
Interestingly, the word “dwelt” in the Greek [skēnoō (skay-nah’-o)] means “to tabernacle, to encamp, to pitch a tent”. So we could rightly say that the tabernacle of heaven became a tabernacle of flesh among us.
Revelation 12:6 says of the End Times, “And he [the beast] opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven [dwell here is also tabernacling].“
But wait, there’s still much more to the story. The word Tabernacle is an English rendition of the Hebrew word [miskan], or “dwelling place.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” It’s not just that Jesus is the Tabernacle – He also made us the Tabernacle.
Romans 12:1 tells us to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” So, we are His temple now and His Bronze Altar where we present ourselves as that living sacrifice. The key to unlocking and applying that verse in our lives is connected with understanding how we are the Tabernacle of Christ.
In Revelation 1 and 5, He tells us that He “has made us kings and priests to His God and Father…”. It was in the Tabernacle that Christ seated us in heavenly places (enthroned us as kings with Him). And He has made us priests. What does that mean? The priests were to be cleansed at the Laver to do the work of the Tabernacle in the Holy Place.
What does that mean when the Tabernacle is us? The Day of Atonement isn’t just an ancient day set aside for disciplined fasting and repentance while you trudge through the Book of Leviticus and celebrate an Old Testament Festival. It’s an intimate encounter between you and the God Who dwells inside you. And studying this Festival is a roadmap to continually encountering Him in the heavenlies.
There are three parts to the Tabernacle or Temple: the open-air outer court or courtyard and the main covered structure – called the Sanctuary. There was only one way into the Courtyard and the Sanctuary, and that was from the East. As you entered the Courtyard, you came to the Altar of Burnt Offering and then the Laver of Water for washing.
The priests were the only ones allowed to go further and enter the Sanctuary. When they stepped into that tented area called the Holy Place, they saw the Table of Shewbread on the right, the Golden Lampstand (or Candlestick) on the left, and at the far end was the Altar of Incense, which sat in front of a Veil (or Curtain) on the far end.
Behind the veil was a smaller tented area called the Holy of Holies (or the Most Holy Place), which housed the Ark of The Covenant with the Mercy Seat. And it was here, above the Mercy Seat, that the presence of God would dwell.
While the priests were given the daily care of the Holy Place, they were forbidden to enter the Holy of Holies. Because there was only one day each year when the High Priest could pass through the veil to enter the Holy of Holies to place the blood on the Mercy Seat to cleanse the Tabernacle, the priesthood, and the people. That day was the Day of Atonement.
One of the most essential truths of this day is that you can’t have The Day of Atonement without the Tabernacle. The Jews haven’t been able to celebrate it fully for 2,000 years because the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D.
In reality, the temple became moot as soon as Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected in 33 A.D. because there is no atonement apart from Jesus, who is the true Tabernacle. The Profound irony of the rabbinic traditions of Yom Kippur is mind-blowing.
The Primary commands in the Bible for us on this day are to fast and to sabbath.
They go a bit further. They wear white – grave clothes – to live as if they are dead.
They repent and pray for their sins to be removed and their names to be written in the Book of Life, which can’t happen because they reject their Messiah, Yeshua Jesus, which is ironic.
The Day of Atonement was the other side of the cross – when Jesus was stripped of his robe, spent the day dying, and was buried. To carry the world’s sins – to atone for them – to redeem mankind – to write our names in the Book of Life. Like the High Priest on Yom Kippur – He alone could enter the Holy of Holies.
Many Christians also observe this holy day to live “as dead” and wear white. But we do it to acknowledge that we are dead in our sin – not to impact our salvation. Only Jesus could save us as the perfect, sinless Lamb of God.
6. Of Time and Patterns
When it comes to our salvation, it’s easier to relate to Passover because it was when Jesus died on the cross and brought us Atonement. So, it’s a reasonable question to ask: why is there another Day in the Fall whose focus is Atonement? That’s just confusing!
And it doesn’t help that the details of The Day of Atonement are told in the Book of Leviticus, quite possibly the most challenging read in all of the Bible, apart from Revelation.
Revelation and Leviticus are very similar in that they are filled with shadow and type, mystery and prophecy, past and future, and each mingling heaven with earth. You can never be sure you’re coming away with any understanding.
The first step to understanding this day and its place in time is actually in its name:
“…The Day…of Atonement”. All the other Festivals are called “Feasts”. But not this one.
It’s called “…The Day of…” because there is an aspect of timelessness to it, like “the Day of the Lord”, “the Day of Yehovah”, or “the Fullness of Time”.
It occurs as an actual day on the calendar each year in the Fall, but it’s always been more than that – it was also a set apart “appointed time” that was outside of time. It’s part of the End Times but also connected to Passover – a Spring appointed time.
When God created the world – He did it in the Fall. Adam and Eve were made on the 6th day – we know that day as Rosh Hashanah – 5,784 years ago. That’s what happened in our time on the Biblical Calendar.
But there was more happening in the spiritual. The Book of Revelation tells us that Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world. But in Earth’s time, He would die 4,000 years after creation.
About 2,500 years after creation, God told Moses to change the calendar – it would start in the Spring with Passover. So the Day of Atonement and Passover became forever connected as “beginnings”. And both days also became connected prophetically as “endings”.
Galatians 4:4-6 tells us, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Two verses earlier, Paul talks about this fullness of time as “a time appointed by the Father”. Think of “fullness of time” as the beginning of the end of history.
Just as the calendar changed at the first Passover in Egypt, time itself changed at the cross – we say BC and AD to acknowledge it. But it was more than just time changing; it was a merging of Passover and the Day of Atonement at the arrival of “the end of the ages” and “the last hour”.
Passover was no longer about an actual lamb. The Day of Atonement was no longer about an earthly tabernacle of sacrifices and blood. It was suddenly more significant and better. In Egypt, the lamb’s blood kept them safe from the death angel, but the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement each year atoned for their corporate sin.
At the fullness of time, Passover was the physical day of the crucifixion of the Messiah. And if the physical aspects of His death were to occur that day, then so must the spiritual aspects.
Think of the Day of Atonement as the “other side” of the cross – the unseen – what happened in the grave and at the resurrection. Passover and the Day of Atonement are flip sides of the same event. Paul explained it in Hebrews, and John described it in Revelation.
If you were to look down from above at the layout of the Tabernacle, it’s in the shape of the cross of Jesus. The Bronze Altar being where His feet were nailed; the Laver about waist level; the Lampstand would be where His right hand was nailed; the Table of Bread where His left hand was nailed; His heart and chest would have been where the Altar of Incense was; and His head where the Mercy Seat sat – behind the Veil.
So, in the deepest and most profound sense, Jesus was enthroned on the cross. He was in His heavenly and earthly Tabernacle (in every sense). This significance was driven home in John 2 when Jesus began His ministry by cleansing the temple. “So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking about the temple of His body.”
When He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come – in the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do Your will, O God.’” Hebrews 10:5-7
So, the earthly Tabernacle and Temple were just shadows and types. Those structures were the Tabernacle in name only. The true Tabernacle was, in fact, always Jesus –
First on His throne in heaven – then when He became flesh and dwelt in the Tabernacle of His body – and later when He was crucified on the Tabernacle of the cross (which in the grand scheme was also His throne). And I’m still scratching the surface – we’ll dig deeper later.
The more significant point is: If the centerpiece of the Day of Atonement was the Tabernacle, and the true Tabernacle was Jesus, then, the Day of Atonement was fully fulfilled on the cross – in the grave – and with the resurrection of Jesus – just like Passover. Coming up next – the Last Supper Passover has a story to tell that we have been missing!
7. A Place For Us
If you read through the Gospel of John chapters 13 and 14, you will find yourself at the Last Supper.
It was the 4th Passover that Jesus and the Disciples celebrated together, but this was the only one that they wrote about because everything was so different.
He was washing their feet – that’s not a normal part of Passover.
There was a betrayal – that’s not a normal part of Passover.
The bread and wine were now His body and blood – that’s a first for Passover.
He said that He was leaving, and they couldn’t follow – that’s not a normal part of Passover.
They were blown away, overwhelmed, and seemed lost entirely with just about everything He said and did during a meal they had celebrated every year of their lives – why? – Because it wasn’t an ordinary Passover.
An endless string of questions and confusion flowed from everyone in the room.
Because Jesus was doing a lot more than a Seder. He was explaining what would happen spiritually during and after His crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus was preparing them to walk through the Tabernacle in heaven – It wasn’t just Passover anymore – spiritually speaking – The actual Day of Atonement was about to arrive.
John 14 begins, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
In English, it looks like Jesus is saying that He is going to prepare a home for us to live in for eternity and that one day, He will come and take us to heaven. That is how it has been understood through the ages.
But I think there is a lot more to this story. The promise of spending eternity with Jesus is obviously very real and exciting. John talks about that quite a bit, but in this chapter, Jesus wasn’t talking about leaving for a long time and coming back at some unknown time.
He was about to die on the cross and rise again in three days – then ascend into heaven into the heavenly Tabernacle and place His blood onto the Mercy Seat to atone for the sin of all mankind –
so that He could dwell in us and make us His Tabernacle here on earth – while seating us with Him in that Heavenly Tabernacle. That was all going to happen in the following three days.
Then, He would spend 40 days with the disciples before ascending into heaven indefinitely and sending the Holy Spirit to fill them and us. At that last Passover/Atonement Day, Jesus was introducing them and us to what God was offering them and us now in the present – not what we have to wait for in the world to come.
But Greek and English tend to veil the actual message because of the rather specific Hebrew concepts. There is a lot lost in translation here – but even more that’s lost in understanding. Let’s dig in a little deeper. “My Father’s house has many rooms (sometimes translated as mansions). If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”
So, we have three key words:
House [oikia (oy-kee’-ah)] – Rooms [monai (mah-nay’)] – and Place [topos (top’-os)].
First, what is the Father’s house? Jesus used this word only one other time: during the first cleansing of the Temple. It’s John 2:16, “And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s House [oikia (oy-kee’-ah)] a house of merchandise!”
Where was He? In the Tabernacle or Temple. That is His Father’s House.
In that House or Tabernacle, there are Rooms [monai (mah-nay’)] (mansions is just an odd translation). The only other time in John when that word is used is also in chapter 2, in verse 23:
“…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our Home [monai (mah-nay’)] with him.”
The room Jesus is preparing for us isn’t a literal room or mansion – It Is Him – He Is In Us, and We Are In Him; God’s abode or house is us for eternity.
“And if I go and prepare a place [topos (top’-os)] for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” This “place” is within the Holy of Holies – where, up until then, only the High Priest could go. The earthly tabernacle was a copy of the one in heaven where Jesus was.
The cover of the Ark of His Covenant was called the mercy seat. He removed the veil to give us access (a place) and to seat us with Him in heavenly places. Ephesians 2:4-6 “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Notice it’s “heavenly places” (the same as “rooms” – it’s plural) because we are now the temple. He is dwelling in us. He is enthroned on our praises. He has carved us on the palm of His hand. He is the Book of Life that we are written in.
2,000 years ago, as Jesus talked to the disciples around that Passover table, He was about to do the unimaginable – to open a door for them and us to be seated with Him in heavenly places – Not later in eternity – but now – while we live out our Christian life and calling.
As a bit of a throwback, remember what Revelation 12 tells us, “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place [topos (top’-os)] found for them in heaven any longer.”
[satan] – formerly [helel] didn’t have a room or a mansion in the Tabernacle of heaven – he was near the throne of God – and was cast down from that “place”.
8. The Way, The Truth, The Life
So, if the concepts of God’s House, Rooms, and Place have been misunderstood, then, the next part of John 14 has been even more misinterpreted.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” [The Way [derekh]; The Truth [emet]; and The Life [chayim)]. “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Notice that Peter, Thomas, and Philip are all confused by his words. Nobody understands the significance of His words because they’re still thinking of the Passover they have always known. But this isn’t that. This is the fullness of time when Passover and the Day of Atonement meet. He is trying to reveal to them that they will soon have access to the Holy of Holies – to God.
Jesus is about to enter through the outer gate, the inner door, and the veil of the heavenly temple/tabernacle to spiritually fulfill the role of the High Priest on Yom Kippur. As He does, He will also permanently open the veil and destroy the massive rod it hangs on.
But no one is getting it. Peter thinks he can come along, Thomas wants to know the way, and then Philip asks to see the Father. But Jesus is trying to get them to understand that they will be the Holy of Holies where the Father dwells. And then He also tells them that the Holy Spirit is coming to enter them (the Holy of Holies).
“Then, “Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (tabernacle) with him.” Let’s unpack the words of Jesus they didn’t understand – The Way, The Truth, and The Life by delving deep into the Tabernacle.
The Way – Entering The Courtyard
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life….”
The Layout of The Tabernacle of Moses had two areas:
The Large Open-Air Court or Courtyard, and The Covered Main Structure Called the Sanctuary (which contained the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies). There was only one entrance into the Courtyard, and it was a Gate on the East. It was known as [The Way]. Jesus wasn’t just “a way”, but THE WAY.
Once inside the courtyard, there was only one entrance into the tent called the Holy Place, a Door from the East. It was known as [The Truth]. And there was only one entrance into the Holy of Holies – a Veil, also from the East. It was known as [The Life].
At that last Passover, the disciples were completely confused by His words because Jesus was preparing them for His death on the cross and all that came beyond. He was about to enter through the outer gate, the inner door, and the veil of the Temple/Tabernacle to spiritually fulfill the role of the High Priest on the greatest Yom Kippur.
He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life that led to the Father. So, we’re studying the Tabernacle – but ultimately, we’re studying the throne room, Jesus, and the Tabernacle of Christ in us. To understand it all, we must return to that tent in the wilderness.
The Gate (The Way)
The Gate of the courtyard (the Way) and the Door to the sanctuary (the Truth) both had the same measurements, but the door was double the height and only half the width. The difference is significant. The Gate of the Court was wide, and the sanctuary door was narrow. The gate was available for all (just like salvation); the door was only for the priests. One entered the Court through “the Way” from outside the Tabernacle. There was no other way in because there is only one way into God’s grace by which we are saved.
Only One Way
In Hebrew, the term “way” referred to footpaths for walking from one place to another. You could use the term “way” to describe someone attempting to live a good moral life. But the rabbinic descriptions of the Gate into the Tabernacle and Jesus speaking in John 14 both use the definite article to distinguish the way as “the only way”. He is our Mediator before God and is the only way to Him. There was only one gate and only one Jesus.
For those on the outside, all it required was only one step. One moment, you were outside the gate; the linen curtain was a wall that was against you, keeping you out. But if you chose to enter the Gate, the curtain was for you, surrounding you and keeping you in.
Hebrews 9:8 “The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning.”
Hebrews 10:19-21 “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the House of God.”
9 .The Bronze Altar
The Court contained the Bronze Altar of Burnt-Offering and the Bronze Laver. They stood in a straight line between the Gate of the Court and the Door of the Holy Place. Leviticus 4:7 calls it “the altar at the door”, because there was no way to approach God, but by passing that altar, there was no access to God but on the ground of sacrifice.
Bronze is usually identified with judgment. When the children of Israel complained, God punished them by sending venomous snakes, and many Israelites died. God instructed Moses to construct a bronze snake; anyone bitten could look at the snake and live. (Num. 21)
Yehovah was dwelling above the Mercy Seat at the western end – blood and water stood between. The fire was never to go out. The Bronze Altar was one-and-a-half cubits high – the same height as the Ark and Mercy Seat.
The Bronze Altar was made of Acacia Wood covered entirely with Bronze / copper. Acacia trees are prevalent today in Africa and were common throughout the Middle East in ancient times. Joshua 3:3 says, “They set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over.”
The Greek Septuagint translated Acacia as [aphthartos] or incorruptible. All of the wood in the Tabernacle was of Acacia – the poles, the beams, both Altars and the Ark of the Covenant. Acacias have a branchless trunk with a very large flat top – they look a bit like a big umbrella. That big bushy top is called the crown, and the branches are covered with thorns.
Yes, the tree is made up of thorns and a crown. Traditionally, it’s believed that the cross of Jesus was probably acacia wood – we know that the Tabernacle was always pointing to the cross.
So, even as He was dying on the cross, Jesus was enthroned in His heavenly and earthly Tabernacle (in every sense). And it’s tough to miss the subtlety of the crown of thorns that Jesus wore on the cross.
Another important aspect of this Altar from Exodus 27:2 is, “You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze.”
The final act of Passover was to sing Psalm 118, which includes an intimate look at the horns of the Altar of Sacrifice. “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, and I will praise Yehovah. This is the gate of Yehovah, through which the righteous shall enter. I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation [Yeshua]. Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. Oh, give thanks to Yehovah, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
These horns on the Altar of Sacrifice represented Jesus’ death on a cross –
He was bound to it with nails. It’s one more reminder that our refuge is found in Jesus alone.
At the opposite end of the Tabernacle – inside the veil- was the main focus in the Tabernacle – The Ark of The Covenant with the Mercy Seat- made from Acacia Wood covered with gold. So, if you are getting the Tabernacle layout, you’ll notice there are essentially Two Main Trees Present. One was Used For Sacrifice – and the other was Used To Bring Life. Does that Sound Familiar?
Trees in the Garden
As shadows and types, the Bronze covered Acacia wood altar, and The Golden covered Acacia wood Ark of The Covenant were trees.
Let’s head back to the original Tabernacle – the Garden of Eden.
In that Garden, God placed two trees that became very central to the story – The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and The Tree of Life.
Revelation 22 sheds some light on one, “And he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the Tree of Life.”
It’s clear that The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was represented by The Bronze Altar – which was later represented by the cross. Which helps us get a clearer revelation of the relationship of the cross to the Tabernacle.
But there is an even larger truth we need to see, too. Since the Tabernacle was patterned after the Heavenly Tabernacle – everything about it and in it on earth was also in heaven.
This means The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was in the Garden of Eden because it was in the heavenly Tabernacle first – it existed in heaven before the foundation of the world.
And if we look at the layout of the Tabernacle, we can see that when God sat on His throne in the Heavenly Tabernacle from eternity past – He was staring directly out at that heavenly Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why is that important?
We have probably all asked why God placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden’s center. Or why didn’t God knock the fruit out of their hands before they tasted it?
We ask that because we see ourselves at the center of the story, but it’s actually His story. Genesis means beginning, and it is the beginning of a story. But it’s not our story. Revelation is the end of the story, and revelation means “the revealing” – the very first verse tells us that it’s the revealing of Christ – because it was always His story.
God’s plan was always to die for us to make us His bride. But the obvious challenge was that God is eternal and can’t die. In Revelation 1:8, He described Himself like this, “I am the Aleph and the Tav,” says Yehoshua, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
1 Timothy 1:17 says, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” He is life and life-giving – death is not something He did, so He became flesh and blood so that He could taste death.
This brings us to The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was created for one purpose (to kill Him) and for one person only (because only He could rise again in holiness).
That tree, as a shadow and type, would be the cross where good (God) would come to know evil – that is, God would take on all the evil and sin of man. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
The Tree of Life and The Tree of The Knowledge of Good And Evil were both in the Garden of Eden when God declared that it was good. Genesis 1:31 says, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
If we jump to Genesis 2:4-9 “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that Yehovah God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown…And out of the ground Yehovah God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The Tree of Life was also in the midst of the garden, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
The Tree of The Knowledge of Good And Evil was in Eden because it was part of the Heavenly Tabernacle. It was clearly beautiful but not to be interacted with by man because its purpose (the death of the son of God) was connected to Him alone. It was there for God’s purposes.
The Tree of The Knowledge of Good And Evil wasn’t in the Garden of Eden to tempt man. God told Adam and Eve not to eat from it because it would bring death – that was its only purpose. It wasn’t a test. When satan tricked them, and they disobeyed – the tree’s purpose came upon them – death filled them.
But Yeshua Jesus would come as the second Adam. He would not taste of sin, and so He would surrender His perfect life on that tree to redeem and atone for our sins so that we could receive Him into our hearts eternally and become His bride and His tabernacle/temple. So, we can experience the Tabernacle of heaven on earth – the trees, the altars, the ark, the throne – the cross and resurrection.
We also see that Passover and the Day of Atonement are flip sides of the same event: The Day of Atonement was fulfilled entirely on the cross, in the grave, and with the resurrection of Jesus on Passover, so ultimately, the Tabernacle was all about the cross.
We’ve entered the Way and passed the Bronze Altar. Up next, the Bronze Laver will lead us back to the Last Passover and provide insight into what Jesus was doing with that basin and towel.
10. The Laver
The Laver was the second vessel in the Courtyard. It stood between the altar of burnt offering and the Holy Place. We are not told the shape or size of it or how it was carried along the desert. Interestingly, every other vessel is described in minute detail.
It had a foot of bronze that touched the ground, making it connected – or part of the earth. Every other vessel stood upon the earth, yet they were not of it but belonged to Heaven. They were shadows of heavenly things.
In the Book of Revelation, there is a reference made to all the furniture of the Tabernacle, but there is no mention of the Laver or of it being used to cleanse. Instead, a sea of glass reflects the redeemed’s holiness and beauty. It is no longer needed. Exodus 38:8 says that the Laver was made from the mirrors or looking glasses of the women of Israel. Mirrors reflect our self (our beauty or deformities), but they can’t alter either. So, they reveal defilement but can’t take it away.
The laver was filled with water, and there, the priests washed their hands and feet as they went into the Holy Place and came out to the altar to serve. The neglect of this was death.
With the Laver in mind, let’s return to John 13 as Jesus changes the last Passover and begins to link it with the Day of Atonement. “He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.”
Jesus stripped down to undergarments to cleanse His disciples in the same way that the High Priest removed his colorful robes to strip down to his plain white robe on the Day of Atonement before performing all the atoning rituals for the nation’s sins. It’s a subtle picture that the disciples missed.
“Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and wipe them with the towel wrapped around Him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no [part or share] with Me.” [This isn’t just a display of humility or servanthood – it’s priestly standards.]
Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has washed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For He knew who was to betray Him; that was why He said, “Not all of you are clean.”
It may be helpful to know that there were two washings of the priesthood.
- On the day of their consecration, the priests were brought up to the Door of the Holy Place and washed all over with water by Moses. Once washed, they could enter the Holy Place, walk in the Lampstand’s light, and feed on the Showbread. And when they went out to do service for the leper or the unclean, they walked under the covering or mantle of God.
- The second washing was for the priests to wash their hands and feet before entering the Holy Place. No unclean priest was allowed to minister to Yehovah on penalty of death.
This last Passover foot-washing arrived at the fullness of time when Passover and the most extraordinary Day of Atonement ever arrived together because Jesus was about to enter the Tabernacle as High Priest so that they (and we) could have access and then do what He had done.
Jesus was making them (and us) priests and giving access to the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, which until then only the sons of Aaron had. We are now kings and priests.
We can all enter the gate – the Way. But only priests could enter the next Door to the Holy Place – The Truth. And the truth alone will set you free.
God told the Levites who entered the Tabernacle to serve Him that He alone was their inheritance. Meaning that they didn’t receive land as an inheritance – they got the best thing – Him.
To Peter’s confusion, Jesus had already washed them with the Word, so they had been bathed like a priest. But washing their hands and feet was a task the priests did before serving. “And when Jesus finished, He said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” [“Can do” or “may do” is the better translation.]
Although they didn’t understand what He was talking about yet, He was making them priests responsible for serving with clean hands and feet – dealing with the deeper sins in their hearts.
We get a little insight from Luke’s version of this last Passover. He shared an extra part of the meal, “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”
Jesus washing their feet is the first sign that the last Passover was a merging into The Day of Atonement. It completely confused Peter, but the next change to the Seder would get everyone.
John 13:21-32 tells the story. “…Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” [Peter, having profoundly messed up the foot washing, decides to get help.]
Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly…As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”
In terms of the Tabernacle, Jesus washed their feet, even Judas, so He brought them all to the Laver and opened The Door of Truth into the Holy Place for them all. They have been disciples. Now, they are priests.
They are all clean by His word. But not Judas. So now they face the Lampstand, the Showbread, and the Altar of Incense. The light of the Lampstand reveals sin. Judas has that. The Altar of Incense receives prayer and worship, but Judas can’t do that with an unclean heart.
The Showbread must be eaten there in God’s presence. But the “sop” is Judas’ undoing. It’s given to the one closest or dearest to you. Jesus gives His “sop” to Judas, which was saying, “I am drawing closest to you. I love you.” Judas can’t respond in truth. His heart isn’t close to Jesus. He does not love him. He can’t give Jesus his sop. His only option is to flee.
And this is where the story and the Tabernacle collide really sadly. In Matthew 27, Judas is filled with remorse for betraying the Lord and tries to return the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests. Judas goes to the priests of the Tabernacle, whose primary job is to offer sacrifices for sins like betrayal.
He returns the money and confesses his sin to the priests just as the Torah requires, but they say, “What is that to us? You see to it.” They betrayed him. They refused to bring him forgiveness because they were culpable for his sin. When they refuse to accept the money, Judas throws the coins into the temple, leaves, and hangs himself.
The word “Betray” is related to the word used in the Garden of Eden for “being made” naked or uncovered – the word has to do with the mantle or authority being stripped from them. There is probably a sense of the cherubim’s role here.
The Hebrew meaning of the word “covering” is anointing (shekinah – Holy Spirit). God does more than cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness – God restores their anointing with an animal’s skin and the blood of that sacrifice. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission or removal of the sin.
And then God cast them out of the Garden to the east. Interestingly, on Yom Kippur, there is a two-part sacrifice featuring two goats. One is sacrificed for sin, and one is sent into the wilderness as a scapegoat bearing the sin. Both goats are Jesus.
Back in Eden, an animal played the part of the first goat sacrificed for their blood and skin to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. And Adam and Eve were the second goat walking off into the wilderness, never returning to their Garden Tabernacle.
It’s why the betrayal or nakedness played a significant role for Jesus. After the last Passover meal, Jesus would go to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was betrayed again, this time with a kiss.
Then He was uncovered or made naked again, beaten, and killed on the cross in that uncovered or naked manner. The cross and that nakedness were all part of God’s role as the second Adam in His redemption for man’s failures in the garden.
And, of course, there’s another layer. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent was called cunning, and his words deceived them, so sin happened. There is no connection in English between Adam and Eve being naked and the serpent being cunning. But it’s very different in Hebrew. There is a play on words in the two verses.
The Hebrew word that means cunning and the word naked share the same roots –both have to do with being uncovered. When Adam and Eve sinned, they placed themselves outside God’s covering (shekinah), acting like the uncovered former cherub satan.
It’s not just that they were unclothed – they were clothed with shame – that was a problem – so they sewed together leaves to replace the covering they lost. Likewise, the serpent (the one called Hêlēl or Lucifer – which means shining one) was created by God to be in one of the highest orders of angelic beings, a cherub.
Ezekiel 28:14 tells us that before his rebellion, [hêlēl] was the “anointed cherub that covers”. We know him as satan; the word is a transliteration of the Hebrew [śātān], which is the word for “adversary”; one who “withstands”; and “accuser.” The loss of the shekinah for him meant going from covering to exposing. Ironically, the alternate meaning of [helel] (from yalel) is howling or wailing.
But while Jesus was betrayed and made naked (like Adam and Eve), He was also glorified. Back in John 13, following Judas’s exit, John noticed, “When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once.”
Interestingly, as Jesus announces the betrayal, “He was troubled in spirit”, but when Judas leaves the room to betray Him, Jesus completely transforms from troubled to excited worship that includes five “glories”. Like the word betray, the word Glory also has to do with the weight of the mantle or covering.
12 .The Door of The Holy Place & The Lampstand
The Entrance to the Holy Place (The Door) was called “THE TRUTH.”
Only members of the priestly tribe were allowed to enter the Holy Place.
From the Outer Court, the people of Israel could see the Sanctuary but couldn’t enter. Inside the closed tent walls was the Table of Showbread (the bread of the Presence) on the right; the seven-branch Lampstand/Menorah was to the left; and the Altar of Incense was directly ahead at the far end – in front of the Veil.
Studying the Tabernacle should reveal Jesus to us in a more profound way. Jesus told Pilate that He was sent to witness to God’s truth. “Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” John 18:37
Yeshua Jesus referred to this door in John 10:9, “I am the Door: If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”
Revelation 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no man shuts, and shuts and no one opens.”
To get to the Holy Place, you had to pass the Bronze Altar of Sacrifice and the Laver, so, you would think that the people would have brought their sacrifices straight to the Altar, but that is not the case.
Leviticus 1:3 tells us how to bring offerings, “…he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting before Yehovah.” All sacrifices were to be brought to the door of the Tabernacle, not the altar. And this goes for the sacrifices the priests brought on the Day of Atonement.
Leviticus 16:7-8 “And he shall take the two goats, and present them before Yehovah at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for Yehovah, and the other lot for the scapegoat.”
It’s worth noting – they placed blood on their doors in Egypt because the death angel was coming. They never wiped blood on their doors again for any Passover, but sacrifices were brought to the door of the Tabernacle.
Why? Because every aspect of the Tabernacle points to the cross. Jesus bled and died on the cross as the Passover Lamb and the first-born son. Jesus was also the door, and in that sense, the cross was the door.
Everything about the Tabernacle represents Jesus – and inside the Holy Place, everything also represents an aspect of Him as the Tree of Life. “You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece.” Exodus 25:31
The Seven Branch Menorah was inside on the left or south side of the Holy Place. The design of the Lampstand made it look a lot like a tree – specifically, the Tree of Life.
Adam and Eve were banished from that tree, and Revelation 22 tells us that those in heaven with clean robes have the right to eat from it. Since only the cleansed and robed priests could enter the Holy Place to be near it, the connections are hard to miss.
The lampstand was not a candelabra – it was one solid piece. Each of the six branches and the center shaft ended in a cup made in the form of an open almond flower. It represented God’s presence among and in the midst of them. In Revelation, the lampstands represent the Spirit’s presence in the churches. There are seven churches listed, but one bride of Christ.
On the end of each of the seven branches was a lamp of gold containing pure olive oil, and these were to be kept continually burning to give light within the Holy Place – the fire was never to go out. It was the only light source, and the priesthood served and worshipped in that light. The center stem is called “His branch”, distinguishing it from the six side branches.
Twice every day, morning and evening, a priest attended to the wick and replenished the olive oil for the lamps. The lamps required the continual attention of the High Priest. Why? Jesus, our High Priest, continually tends the seven lampstands – the seven churches and His Church collectively.
“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
In Matthew 5, Jesus makes the Lampstand personal for each of us, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Revelation 1 provides us the best insight into the Lampstand, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Aleph and Tav, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band…The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”
What follows in the next two chapters are letters to each church. Then, in Chapter 4, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven.” [this door is the door of Truth into the Holy Place – and it’s open because of what Jesus did on the cross].
“And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” The rest of the book of Revelation is John in the heavenly Tabernacle in the Holy Place (the Holy of Holies is also open as the Veil of Life has been removed), and John is shown the End Times.
Let’s pick up in John 13 at the last Passover/Day of Atonement as the disciples are completely confused, “…You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”
We get a little more perspective of this moment from Luke 22, “You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
So, Peter missed the point that Jesus was making him a priest able to enter the holy place by washing his feet. Now, he misses the fact that Jesus is about to enter the Holy of Holies for all mankind and claims that his life has sacrificial value – holiness. The point is – Peter and the rest of them can follow later, but only Jesus can enter now.
The separation into two chapters (13/14) isn’t helpful here. The thoughts are connected. John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.” Or…don’t let your failure confuse your confidence in what I have planned for you. And then he explains that plan: “I am going to prepare a place for you…”
The Table Of Showbread
The significance of Judas’ betrayal is the showbread. Judah is one of those loaves. We miss it because they translated his name as Judas for no reason. Meanwhile, they translate the name Judah 10 times as Judah.
“You shall also make a table of acacia wood; two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its width, and a cubit and a half its height. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold all around.” Exodus 25:23-24
The Table of Showbread was on the right or north side with twelve loaves.
At the close of every week, the priest removed the loaves and replaced them with twelve fresh loaves – the priests receiving the older bread as their food.
The word translated “showbread” means “the presence bread” or “bread of the faces”. In Hebrew, being in one’s presence and being in their face is the same idea.
In Numbers, the priestly blessing speaks to this, “And Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “Yehovah bless you and keep you; Yehovah make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; Yehovah lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
Right after the betrayal, Jesus brings them to this Table spiritually as He changes up the Passover meal again. This is from Mark 14. “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take it; this is My body.”
Each loaf represented one of the tribes. The bread was always in Yehovah’s presence and so continually before His face. Yehovah provided this table for His priests; the “presence bread” became their food. They fed upon it before Yehovah.
Communion (with God) is what is being expressed in shadow/type. The priest was called to be a partaker with God; this is their communion. There was worship at the altar of incense and communion at the table.
Jesus spoke a lot about bread for this reason.
John 6:33 “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
Again, everything inside the Holy Place represented an aspect of Jesus as the Tree of Life. The Table of Showbread was The Tree. Revelation 22:1-2 says, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
14. The Altar of Incense
Out in the Courtyard where sin was dealt with, was the Altar of Sacrifice, made of acacia wood and bronze.
Inside the Holy Place was a second altar of acacia wood – The Altar of Incense, but it was covered with gold with a crown or border of gold around its top.
The Bronze Altar was the place of sacrifice – the Golden Altar was the place of incense. There was continual bloodshed at the Bronze Altar – perpetual incense at the Golden Altar.
Leviticus 9 tells of the first sacrifices at the Bronze Altar and how Yehovah accepted them, “Then the glory of Yehovah appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before Yehovah and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.”
Chapter 10 begins with tragedy at the Golden Altar, “Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before Yehovah, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before Yehovah.”
The fire for the Golden Altar of Incense was to be taken only from the Bronze Altar of Sacrifice – any other fire would be “strange fire”. They were true priests. They had authentic incense. But they used “strange fire”, not the fire of the altar which came from Heaven.
Only the blood-soaked coals from the altar of sacrifice were to burn on the altar of incense – some of the blood of the sin offering was also placed on the altar’s horns to “cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.” It would also cleanse the priesthood.
This Golden Altar is still in the heavenly Tabernacle, as Revelation 8 reveals,
“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.”
Revelation 9:13-15 “Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the Golden Altar which is before God…” [since the voice is “from the horns of the Altar of Incense”, it’s probably implying that these are the answers to the prayer of the martyrs and saints calling for vengeance].
Like the Bronze Altar of Sacrifice, the Golden Altar of Incense also had horns overlain with gold. On an animal, the horns are like its crown. In fact, the Hebrew word for horns is [qeren] (keh’-ren), where we get our English word for crown. In ancient times, a crown was typically made of horns.
We see Jesus on the cross with a crown of thorns, which is a shadow of the horns of the altar. We see the 24 elders around the throne casting down their crowns, also indicative of the horns of the altar.
In Genesis 22:13, we see God use the horns or crown of a ram to provide a sacrifice, “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.”
The horns of the altar provided a refuge for fugitives. Those who caught hold of the horns were granted asylum. The altar points to sacrifice and death but also speaks of a place of safety and refuge.
I think the horns may illuminate another part of The Passion of Christ.
In Gethsemane, Jesus is sweating drops of blood. Why?
And why is He asking God to take a cup away that He just celebrated with five “glories” after Judas left the room?
I think that while He was in that Garden, He was also prophetically at the Bronze Altar and Golden Altar, where blood was placed on the horns of those altars and ran down. Grasping the horns of an altar was an acceptable cry for mercy and asylum.
15. The Veil & The Ark
The Veil that hid the Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant represented the flesh of the Messiah. Hebrews 10:19-20 says, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.” Just as the veil was torn, we only have access to him through the torn flesh of Jesus.
The four materials of the veil had symbolic meaning.
The blue and scarlet represented the blood and water poured out. The purple represented royalty. The white linen represents his burial – it was even the material He was buried in.
The Ark With The Mercy Seat
The only thing inside the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant with its Mercy Seat. It was the primary focus of the Tabernacle, and it served as a symbol of the Throne of Glory.
Exodus 25:10 “And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and shall make on it a molding (or crown) of gold all around…And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.”
““You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. And you shall make two cherubim of gold…Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another.” Exodus 25:18-20
Here is acacia wood again – another tree. Out in the Courtyard was the Altar of Sacrifice made of Acacia Wood and bronze; inside the Holy Place was the Altar of Incense – a second Altar of Acacia Wood – covered with gold.
So now our Third and Final Tree in the Tabernacle is the Ark of the Covenant, made of Acacia Wood and covered with gold. So, in terms of shadows and types, we have three trees.
The lid or cover of the Ark was called the Mercy Seat (kapporet), which means “to atone” or “cover.” On top of it were fashioned two cherubim that faced one another, made of pure gold. Within the Ark were the two tablets of the law, a golden pot with manna, and the budded rod of Aaron. The “Mercy Seat” was the physical place where Yehovah met the High Priest on Yom Kippur, and in his mercy, he forgave the sins of the people of Israel.
Exodus 25:22 says, “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”
John 20:12 says, “And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.” The same angels that were at either end of the Mercy Seat. They represent the place of atonement, where fellowship with God is restored through the death and resurrection of Jesus!
The Tabernacle was laid out so that only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies behind the veil with the Ark of His Covenant once a year and only with blood and incense going before him. Anyone else who tried to enter would die.
So, on the great Day of Atonement, the High Priest, robed in plain white linen garments, would enter within the veil with the blood of a sin-offering and a golden censer of coals from the Altar of Incense. As the smoke filled the small space, blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat once and before it seven times.
“As it is written, “I have blotted out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like heavy mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22
So, we get this fantastic visual. Our prayers of repentance rise up as smoke/incense at the Golden Altar, and then they’re carried past the veil into the Holy of Holies to ascend above the Ark or Throne, and this same smoke/incense of our sins is now our forgiven sins.
The High Priest was required to perform the Yom Kippur service alone while wearing humble attire, stripped of his glory, and in complete solitude: “No one may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he comes out”. Lev. 16:17
And just as Moses alone approached God in the thick clouds at Sinai, so Yeshua, the Mediator of the New Covenant, went through his agony on the cross alone as the darkness covered the earth.
Is there an added significance? The Ark is the Throne of Jesus, where everyone will be judged one day. If you approach it outside of His covenant, without His blood, without prayer (faith), you will die (you will be condemned to hell to die forever). Death is the judgment.
16. Red Heifer – The Second Adam
When it comes to shadows and types of Christ, the most fascinating sacrifices of all is
The Red Heifer or [parah adumah] ([parah] means a young female cow – [adumah] means red). The ashes of a red heifer were needed to attain purification from exposure to death. Anyone who came in contact with a corpse was considered defiled and unclean.
It had to be “without blemish or defect”, meaning it had to be completely “red” without a single white or black hair and have no defects.
The [parah adumah] was the only sacrifice in the Torah where a specific animal color was required. And the red color was not referring to the color of blood – it was more profound. The redness was a shadow and type of Yeshua Jesus being the second Adam. The word [‘āḏam (aw-dam’)] means red, dirt, and man. So prophetically, the Messiah was to be just as Adam was at creation – before sin’s stain.
And the Messiah would fulfill quite a few other symbols in the Red Heifer.
The [parah adumah] was never to have had a yoke on it – which alludes to being in captivity or bondage (as a slave to a master). Jesus was sinless.
Outside the Camp
Almost All Sacrifices Were Offered:
- In the Outer Courtyard of the Tabernacle
- On the Bronze Altar and
- By a Priest.
But the Red Heifer was taken Outside The Camp and Slaughtered There –
“Before the priest”, that is, by a man who was not a priest. That’s unique – only priests made sacrifices, and they made them at the Bronze Altar.
Burned Entirely (Even the Blood)
The Red Heifer was entirely burned: its hide, flesh, the rest of the blood, and even dung. This standard was unique to the Red Heifer sacrifice. The Jews took this commandment so literally that after the animal was burned, they beat the ashes with rods and stone hammers to crush any fragments that did not turn to ash. It was one of the many reasons Christ was “crushed” for the people’s sins just as the ashes were – He was the Red Heifer.
Hyssop, scarlet yarn, and a cedar stick would then be thrown onto the burning Red Heifer (these same items were used to cleanse from leprosy/skin disease).
But after the Heifer was killed, while still at the altar that was outside the camp,
The priest had a part to do – he took some of its blood and sprinkled it seven times toward the Tabernacle or Temple as a purification offering.
It’s The Only Sacrifice Of Blood In The Torah.
Since all the blood was to be burned in the fire, it was assimilated into the ashes, which were then gathered and mixed with Living Water to create the “water of separation”.
The Red Heifer Is Unique Because It Purifies From Death And The Red Heifer is considered a paradox because:
The Ones who offered the Red Heifer sacrifice became ritually impure. Both the priest and the man who burned the Heifer were made unclean.
A second man had to Collect the Ashes and store them away outside the camp –
Which would also make him unclean.
The Ashes Were Mixed With Living Water (running or bubbling water from a spring). Numbers 19:9 explains, “They shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin.”
Anyone (or anything) that came into contact with a corpse was required to be purified using the water of separation because it was the embodiment of sin and death.
Ezekiel 36:25–26 promises, “Then I shall sprinkle pure waters upon you and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. I will also give you a new heart, and I will place within you a new spirit.”
But The Sprinkling Of The Ashes From The Sacrifice Would Make Any Defiled Person 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross (outside the camp) saved us from the penalty and corruption of death, just as the ashes of the red heifer cleansed people from the contamination of death.The water and blood flowing from the wounds of Jesus are the means by which we are purified from sin and death.
Specific instructions were given to Moses concerning the Altar of the Red Heifer.
It was to be built “outside” the city. What does that mean? Outside the city was given as 2,000 cubits from the Tabernacle. That’s about 3,000 feet or ten football fields – end to end. This was how far it needed to be away from the Ark of the Covenant.
The exact distance was used whenever Israel Marched. Joshua 3:3 says, “When you see the ark of the covenant of Yehovah your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it (ark)…”
The exact distance was used whenever Israel was camping in the wilderness. The Tabernacle was in the center with the priests and Levites, and the other tribes surrounded them but could be no closer than 2,000 cubits.
God required them to keep away 2,000 cubits (3,000 feet or 1000 yards)
To maintain the sanctity of the Ark and preserve their lives.
Twelve Legions of Angels
Matthew 26 sheds light on another subtler aspect of His time in the Garden of Gethsemane. “And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people…Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.
And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.” “But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”
It may seem like a random statement from Jesus, but where He said it and when He said it points us to the Tabernacle and the Day of Atonement, arriving at the fullness of time to connect with Passover.
Jesus wasn’t standing far from the Red Heifer Altar, which had to be 2,000 cubits from the Ark of the Covenant. The exact distance the twelve tribes had to keep from the Tabernacle whenever they camped and circled it to protect it.
They were standing where the twelve Tribes had camped to stand guard around the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant.
17. The Sacrifices For The Day Of Atonement
The sacrifices for the Day of Atonement also had to be burned on the altar outside the camp.
Two Goats for a Sin Offering and a Ram for a Burnt Offering.
- The First Goat – was taken to the Red Heifer Altar because it represented Christ dying as our atonement and means of reconciliation.
- The Second Goat – was led away into the wilderness as a scapegoat.
The Red Heifer Altar site was near the top of the Mount of Olives (in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus often prayed, wept blood as He prayed, and where He took the disciples to pray.)
It’s where many people (including me) believe that Jesus died on the cross and was buried – It was also probably the location of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
It’s also quite possibly the location of the first altar in Eden, where God made a sacrifice for Adam and Eve’s sins and used the animal to clothe them to cover their nakedness. The Tree of Knowledge was likely the last thing Adam and Eve saw as they exited to the east.
The Life Is In The Blood
God told Moses, “The life of the flesh is in the blood”. Leviticus 17:11
The Hebrew word that has been translated “life” (nephesh) is the word for soul,
which means God sees our sin “in our blood.”
We also see that through confession, sin can be transferred to an innocent substitute, specifically to its blood since that is where the life (the soul) abides.
This prefigured the substitutionary death of Jesus for sinners.
Notice that the sin was transferred to the blood, which was poured, sprinkled, and wiped on all over the sanctuary, to transfer the “sin” to the sanctuary.
So, the sanctuary “accumulated” the sins of the people.
“Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the priest would “make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.” (Leviticus 16:16).
Yom Kippur was the only time the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. The High Priest sacrificed a Bull that would cover the sins of the priesthood. Leviticus 16:6 tells us, “Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household.” He would be completely covered in blood from making the sacrifice.
Then he would go through the [parokhet – פרוכת] veil or curtain) that separated the holiest of places from the rest of the Temple. The word [parokhet] is derived from the root [perek – פרך] which can mean to break apart or to fracture, but also rigor and severity.
The veil represented the separation between God and man due to man’s sin. Jesus was and is the veil, so when He died on the cross for sin, which separated us from God, the Veil (His body) was torn.
Then he went into the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood on the cover of the ark, the [kapporet] or Mercy Seat. Kapporet is related to Kippur – it’s translated purge, atone, expiate, and propitiate.
Essentially, it’s the cross. It’s the paying of a ransom to redeem or “to atone by offering a substitute.” The “blood of life” of an innocent animal was required in exchange for “the blood of life” of a guilty person. A sacrifice was required.
The priest entered with incense before him as he approached the Marcy Seat, sprinkled the blood on it, and then on the altar outside to cleanse it.
After the Bull, he would take 2 Goats to cover the sins of the people:
“Then he is to take the two goats and present them before Yehovah at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats – one lot for Yehovah and the other for the scapegoat.” Leviticus 16:7-10, 21-22
The High Priest put both his hands into a wooden case and took out two labels, one inscribed “for Yehovah” and the other “for absolute removal” (or “for Azazel”).
“Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to Yehovah and sacrifice it for a sin offering.” Yehovah’s Goat symbolized Christ, who took the penalty for our sins upon Himself. Our sins have been transferred from our soul to His; He has died for those sins, and the sinner is judged to be perfect as if he had never sinned.
The High Priest would go again through the veil and sprinkle the blood of the goat on the Mercy Seat.
And now, onto the 2nd goat: “But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before Yehovah to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.”
“He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites —all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place.”
In time, the Jewish people became concerned that the goat would find its way back into the camp and bring back the sins of the nation. So, to ensure that the sins carried away by the scapegoat could never return to them, from then on, the scapegoat was led up to a cliff and thrown down. So, in the end, both goats died so that the people’s sins would be forgiven.