A while back, I wrote a paper for school on the tabernacle. You know, the place in the Old Testament that God told Moses to build, to be the very dwelling place of the Lord.
It was pretty important. I mean, God took 50 verses just to detail its construction and purpose. For perspective, Genesis 1 & 2, which details how God created EVERYTHING is about the same length, but I digress.
More Than Meets the Eye?
Anyways, the paper was not just about the Tabernacle and what was inside of it, but it was specifically about how some believe that everything in the tabernacle was meant to represent the person, character, and nature of Jesus Christ. God designed the tabernacle to teach Moses and the Israelites what was to come and to be expected of their Messiah to come. Interesting thought, isn’t it?
Some of these parallels include:
- The Ark of the Covenant = Christ’s Person
- The Tablets (10 commandments) = Christ as the Living Word
- The Golden Pot of Manna = Christ as the Bread of Life
- Aaron’s Rod = Connotes the Resurrection to Come
- The Mercy Seat = Christ’s Purpose
- The Table = Christ’s Humanity
- The Golden Lamp Stand = Christ’s Deity
- The Colors of the Curtains = Christ’s Attributes
Now, these connections and imagery aren’t explicitly stated in the scripture, but many theologians, men and women far smarter than me, hold these observations to be true and intentional. There are scores of books written in support of this notion.
The Real Meaning
I tend to be skeptical by nature, and I haven’t had a lot of time to investigate this outside of what I’ve read for class, which was definitely in favor. I have a hard time really latching on to ideas that aren’t explicitly found in scripture. I’m not saying that this isn’t true, because I know my God is sovereign and able to orchestrate details far more intricate than these signs and connections. That isn’t the issue for me.
My question is this: Are we trying to pull things out of the text that aren’t there? I think using symbolism to make connections can be helpful and its beautiful to see how the Old Testament points to Christ (which it absolutely does). I just think we can get so wrapped up in looking for the deeper truth of a scripture that we miss the real meaning.
I might be crazy for questioning this, but could every little detail really point to Christ’s character? Or might we be overthinking these things? Maybe we’re trying to see more than what was meant to be construction directions for the Tabernacle?
 The following parallels are drawn from Seeing Christ in the Tabernacle by Ervin Hershberger (p. 17-31) & Called to Worship by Vernon Whaley (p. 232), both excellent resources.