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The Tabernacle and the Court, Part 3:
The Holy Place
The first two articles of this series showed that the Court of the Tabernacle consisted of two unseparated parts, representing the physical body and the soul, as well as the first two requirements of the Gospel:
1) A discipleʼs commitment to sacrifice his unholy desires of the flesh, and
2) A discipleʼs commitment to be purged/cleansed of his soulʼs worldly beliefs and relationships.
These two commitments are required by Christʼs Gospel before a disciple may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, because
1 Corinthians 2:14 …a natural [Gr. psuchikos/soulish] man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But the spiritual man [pneumatikos] discerns all things…
The Two-Part Tabernacle-Sanctuary
Once the natural man, made up of both body and soul, has been cleansed and prepared, entrance into the Holy Place, in which dwells the Presence of God, becomes possible. Under the Israelite Covenant, only two classes of people were allowed to enter into the Tabernacle: priests and Levites. Num. 18:1-11 Both of these groups were required to first be washed with water and sanctified in front of the Tabernacle, that is, in the area of the Laver. Lev. 8:1-10; Num. 8:5-11 For an expanded explanation of these things, see Careers in the Kingdom: Ecclesiastical Jobs.
The Holy Tabernacle was divided by a veil into into two parts: 1) the Holy Place, and 2) the Most Holy Place. In the body of Man, the former corresponds to the chest, which sits above the abdomen; and the latter to the head, above the chest.
The Holy Place
Once a disciple is allowed into the Presence of God, he is enveloped within Holiness, formerly manifested in part by “the cloud [of]…the Glory of the LORD.” Ex. 40:34, 35 We first find an example of this at Mount Sinai:
Exodus 24:16 Now the Glory of the LORD rested upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered/enclothed it six days. And on the seventh day… 18 Moses went into the midst of the cloud…
Psalm 97:2 Clouds and darkness surround [the LORD]…
Now, there were three implements that God commanded to be made and set up in the Holy Place: a Lampstand/Menorah of seven oil lamps, a Table for holding twelve loaves of showbread, and an Altar of Incense to be placed between them.
The priests burned incense on the Altar of Incense morning and evening, creating clouds of smoke, being a representation of holiness. Ex. 30:1, 7-8; Luke 1:8-11 In heaven, the heavenly Sanctuary accepts “sacrifices of praise to God” (Heb. 13:15) and intercessory prayers upon its own Altar of Incense in the very Presence of God:
Revelation 8:1 …in heaven… 3 …another angel…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. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended to God from the angelʼs hand.
The Lampstand of seven oil lamps was set up “on the south side of the Tabernacle.” Ex. 40:24 The Sanctuary in heaven has the same:
Revelation 4:5 Seven lamps of fire [are] burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Another description is provided in Zechariah:
Zechariah 4:2 …I saw, and behold! a menorah/lampstand all of gold, and a bowl on top of it, and its seven lamps upon it; with seven and seven pipes to the lamps which are on top of it. … 10 These seven [lamps] are the eyes of the LORD: they go out in all the earth.
Revelation 5 (also Zechariah 3:8-9) identify these seven eyes as belonging to the Messiah:
Revelation 5:6 …[the] Lamb…having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the Seven Spirits of God having been sent out into all the earth.
The Holy Place of the Tabernacle (Heb. mishkawn: residence) serves as the court of the Holy Oneʼs residence. Because His Holy Presence reigns throughout both parts of His residence, the whole is also called the Sanctuary (Heb. miqdawsh, qodesh; Gr. naos). The forepart – the Holy Place – corresponds to the Second Heaven. That is the Court of the Heavenly Sanctuary, wherein the Most High on occasion lowers Himself to appear on a throne. From the Heavenly Throne He passes judgment upon the angels of the lower two heavens and men who dwell on the earth. Such a judgment in the Latter Days is the topic of Revelation 4-5ff. and Daniel 7:9ff.
All of these lower three realms come under the authority of Godʼs Spirit (Heb. Ruach; Gr. Pneuma), because all spirits derive their origin from “the Word [that] was God.” John 1:1 Ever since the Incarnation, when “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14), the Spirit of God operates through Jesus Christ:
John 3:34 “…God does not give the Spirit by measure unto Him. … 35 The Father…has given all things into His hand.”
2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord [Jesus] is the Spirit… (See also Romans 8:9-10.)
Both ruach and pneuma have dual meanings, depending on the context: spirit or wind. In its lower nature, wind, its most significant use is in the chest cavity, the place of the lungs and the heart. Lung-related words such as pneumonic and pneumonia reflect this. This lower-level ruach/pneuma, via the lungs and the heart, vitalizes manʼs blood, which blood then enlivens the cells of the physical body. But remember, “the soul/nephesh/psuchē is in the blood” – thus the purity of the ruach is related to the purity of the soul in the blood.
The higher nature of the ruach operates through the heart, which not only pumps blood but charges it. Numerous Scriptures speak of the close relationship between the human spirit and heart. Some examples:
Deuteronomy 2:30 …the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate… Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart… Proverbs 15:13 …by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. Ezekiel 18:31 …make you a new heart and a new spirit… Romans 2:29 …circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit…
The heart is the abode of the Adamic spirit, from which it reigns as king. Nowadays the human spirit is more commonly known as the ego, each personʼs self-identity. In Greek, egō is the first person, emphatic “I.”
Each personʼs spirit is a gift of God, with preordained (ʻpre-downloadedʼ) abilities and affections. Each spirit has been given the choice of whether or not to submit its kingly sovereignty to the Great Spirit. Such a submission is portrayed here:
Revelation 4:10 …the 24 elders shall fall down before Him who sits on the [Heavenly] Throne…and cast their crowns before the Throne…
For each spirit that chooses not to submit to the King of Heaven, there will eventually come upon it one of two consequences:
1) the spirit will be seduced to submit to Satanʼs kingdom, which ultimately results in it being “cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:10, 14-15), or
2) the spirit will jealously cling to its own dominion, and eventually will be “cast out [alone] into the outer darkness.” Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Jude 12-13
The Table of Showbread
In the Sanctuary, the Table of Showbread was placed “on the north side of the Tabernacle.” Ex. 40:22 The Hebrew words translated as “showbread” are lechem panym: lit. “the bread of the Face/Presence [of God].” Under the Israelite Covenant, only the priests were allowed to eat the showbread. Lev. 24:9; Luke 6:4
Jesus, the Word and human Face/Presence of God, said,
John 6:35 “I am the Bread of Life. … 33 For the Bread of God is He who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.”
The most external and material representation in the world of the Word of God is the Holy Scriptures. “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…” 6:51 That is, all who willingly consume and receive nourishment from Christʼs Word/Teachings/Scriptures are enlivened by “the words of eternal life.” 6:68 A continual consumption of the Word/Scriptures is therefore required of a disciple if he should wish to remain encompassed within the Holiness of God.
The Feast of Firstfruits, a.k.a. the Feast of Weeks, a.k.a. Pentecost
Exodus 24:4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. … 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of all the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has said we will do and we will hear. 8 And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it upon the people, and said, “Behold, the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.”
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound out of heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind*… 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit… 1:7 And [Jesus] said to them… 8 “…when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…you shall be witnesses to Me [that is, esp. to His words]…unto the ends of the earth. *Gr. pnoēs, from the same root as pneuma.
Leviticus 23:16 “Count fifty [cf. Gr. pentēkostē: fiftieth] days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall bring a new grain offering to the LORD. 17 …two wave loaves…of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven: the firstfruits to the LORD.
All of these events took/take place on the Feast of Firstfruits, that is, Pentecost. They mark new covenants: the former with Israel, the latter with the Church.
In Part 2 of this series, we saw that leaven represents doctrine. Disciples are required to first purge themselves of all their old doctrine (represented by the Feast of Unleavened Bread) before their entry into the Holy Place of Godʼs Presence, where they are to ingest the new Bread of Life, with the new leaven of the Word of God through Christ. This is the message represented by the Feast of Firstfruits.
Three additional principles of the Gospel – all summed up in one by the Feast of Firstfruits – are represented within the Holy Place of the Tabernacle:
1) Represented by the Lampstand: a disciple is to receive the Holy Spirit anointing.
2) Represented by the Table of Showbread: a disciple is to consume knowledge and understanding of Christʼs new doctrine.
3) Represented by the Altar of Incense: a disciple is to become engaged in offering sacrifices of praise and intercessory prayer.
These three disciplines are needed by a disciple to prepare him for entry into the Most Holy Place, which is the topic of the next blog.