To say that the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant are symbolic illustrations that prophetically lend themselves to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is an understatement of biblical proportion—no pun intended. Every element and every detail point toward and speak directly of Jesus Christ.
Consider the Tent
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. John 1:14
I do not pretend to know why God did the things He did or why He continues to do the things He does, but still I ponder, ‘why a tent?’ I didn’t realize until my Bible study today that man’s conception of a tent transcends time and culture. We can benefit from the fact that the word ‘dwelt’ (from the John 1:14 verse) in the Greek means; to tabernacle, or ‘tent’ with, so in both the Old and the New Testaments we have this depiction of Jesus tenting among us—one prophetic and one fulfilled. But there’s more…
The Tabernacle was an impermanent, wilderness quarters, humble outwardly, but inwardly ornate. It was both God’s dwelling place and meeting place among men. In obvious parallelism Jesus was among us temporarily in this our wasteland, an outwardly unassuming man, yet inwardly perfect. His name literally means, ‘God with us’ and He is the sole intermediary between us and the Father. His Word bears witness to these facts—mull over this biblical anthology:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel… He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him…Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head…let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them… For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…He who walks in a perfect way, He shall serve me… Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 53:2; Matthew 8:20; Exodus 25:8; 1Timothy 2:5; Psalms 101:6b
And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and shall make on it a molding of gold all around. Exodus 25:11
Wood in the Bible often speaks to our flesh; the pulpy part of our existence and gold speaks of deity. If the Ark is a picture of Jesus Christ (and it is), then we have in it a depiction of a man covered in deity—there is only One who fits that description. The fact that the acacia tree has thorns and its sap is used medicinally to heal can only add more detail to the portrait.
The Good News
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. Exodus 25:16-17
The Testimony spoken of here is the Law; the Ten Commandments. God directs Moses to put them inside the Ark. The covering; the ‘Mercy Seat’ is not embellished timber this time, but pure gold. See the picture—the Law is covered by mercy. We are not in the Law, but in Christ. The Law is covered by Jesus and if we are in Him we robed in His righteousness, not by any effort on our part, but by the work He has done.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Isaiah 61:10a and Ephesians 2:8-9
Is there any significance in knowing these things? Absolutely. Once it is understood that the entire Bible, both Old Testament and New, point directly to Jesus Christ, we are better equipped to understand and share that which we believe and in Whom we profess our faith.
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. John 5:39