We recently had the opportunity to co-host a course on the Old Testament Tabernacle in Ashland, Kentucky. A long-time family friend facilitated the sessions and shared many fantastic points about the Old Testament Tabernacle. After I few days of reflection, I want to offer three observations from this course.
The Old Testament and all that it contains is necessary for a full understanding of the New Testament and God’s present work.
This first reflection focuses on more than just the Tabernacle. Paul wrote in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” The Old Testament is not just a preface to the New Testament. It is one Scripture and serves as a sturdy foundation for our faith. Old and New Testament together provide a robust resource for the Christian. And, much of the New Testament may not make sense without the Old Testament.
The Old Testament Tabernacle was an excellent illustration of Christ’s future work.
Hebrews 8:1-6, begins a connection that the author will further develop in chapter nine. In 9:1-14, we are shown that the Old Testament Tabernacle is a “figure for the time then present” (vs. 9) and “patterns of things in the heavens” (vs. 23). Furthermore, the language John uses in his Gospel also notes the comparable nature of Jesus and the Old Testament Tabernacle. When John says “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” the translation is equivalent to saying that Christ pitched a tent and camped with us. The deacon, Stephen, concluded his sermon to the point that God desired the Tabernacle (the tent) but was later given a stationary temple. To which Stephen noted, “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? Saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?” (Acts 7:44-50).
We quickly become overwhelmed by any attempt to illustrate the greatness of God.
God is infinitely greater than we can ever imagine or attain. Our attempts to talk about the Lord with any metaphorical illustration will fail to adequately describe any quality of Him. Even with the Biblical examples, such as the Tabernacle, we will not be able to bring in to view any boundary of God’s greatness. He is too wonderful to immense to be put into any of our boxes, concrete or abstract.