Long ago, in Old Testament times, people attempted to commune with God in various ways, even by offering up animal sacrifices. That system proved to be quite insufficient. For it never did take away sins (Heb. 10:4). Though it was insufficient, it did, however, and it does now, speak of Christ.
The tabernacle. Every detail of the tabernacle, with all its parts and in all the furniture, reminds us of who He is and what He did for us. It also speaks to us of His living temple, the church—the habitation of God.
The tabernacle shows to us, as it did to them, a “new and living way” by which to commune with God. It is the way of the living Christ, “which He consecrated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Heb. 10:20).
Furthermore, the tabernacle gives us a pattern (as a map) of how we are to commune with God. It is a copy from heaven, or from God’s own mind, of the way we are to commune with Him—of how we are to draw nearer and nearer to His presence in prayer (Heb. 9:24).
Let me suggest that, as you pray, close your eyes and prayerfully walk through the tabernacle in your mind, meditating on each article of furniture. The objective of course would be that you would obtain a greater confidence toward God, as you see who Jesus Christ is, what He has done for you, and who you are in Him.
As an aid to your journey I offer the following meditations. Let me lead you now (with the Holy Spirit as our guide) as we take a mental prayer journey through the tabernacle.
The gate. We begin our journey at the gate of the outer court. The gate speaks of Christ. As we see in John’s gospel, He is the door (Jn. 10:9); He is the only way to God (Jn. 14:6), and the only way by which we can approach Him.
The brazen altar. As the sinner came through the gate with his animal he would see a large brass (or copper) altar, 7 ½ feet square and 4 ½ feet high. Upon this altar the priest would place the animal to be sacrificed. The animal pointed to Christ, the Lamb of God.
As we look back to that altar in prayer, we see Christ on the cross, upon which He gave His life for us. “He bore our sins in His own body…that we, having died to sins might live for righteous- ness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).
Jim Downing has suggested that “[Just] as the priest in the Old Testament placed the communicant’s sacrifice on the brazen altar, [we should] mentally present [to God] Jesus Christ as our sacrifice and offering, which has opened the way for us to come into God’s presence.”9
The laver. After the priest offered the sacrifice, he came next to the brazen laver, filled with water. There he washed his hands and feet from the defilement of the sacrifice. This washing by the priest was, in Talbot’s words, “prophetic of Christ cleansing his believer-priests before they may minister for Him or have fellowship with Him.”10
The laver then represents for us Christ our Cleanser, and it reminds us that if we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). It also reminds us that we need to be reading and meditating on the Word every day. For every word of God is true (Jn. 17:17), and when we meditate on it, it will help to cleanse our mind of impure thoughts.
With these things in mind, we bow our head in humble confession of sins—with a resolve to meditate more regularly on the scriptures, realizing that all the words of the Bible are the very words of God to us.
9 Jim Downing, Meditation, The Bible Tells You How (Colorado Springs, Colorado: NAVPRESS, 1976), p. 62.
10 Louis T. Talbot, Christ in the Tabernacle (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), p. 230.