Tabernacle Floor Plan as Evangelistic Tool? Using the OT to reach the Unreached
As I finished my sermon series on Exodus, the most edifying part for me was the details regarding the structure of the Tabernacle. Not only was it edifying for me as a Christian, but it gave me fresh new ways to share the Gospel with those who are unfamiliar with any sort of Biblical worldview. Today, I want to share with you excerpts of my sermon from Exodus 26-27--Details regarding the Floorplan of the Tabernacle. Although it is a passage we usually skim through when we meet it in our devotions, my study in it had me convinced that it was one of the clearest pictures of how one gets into heaven. Furthermore, because it was a 'tangible' floorplan, it was a wonderful illustration of how one gets into heaven. I actually used it this sermon in the Christmas season :) I'd be interested to see what y'all think! Yay or nay? Feel free to let me know!
...Do we understand how hard it is to get into heaven? Do we think getting into heaven is easy? Today, what I’d like to do is to deepen our understanding how we get into heaven through looking at the floorplan of the Tabernacle. The people of the Old Testament worshiped in the Tabernacle. Actually, the floor plan of the Tabernacle reflected the Bible’s worldview or the view of the universe. You could roughly say that the Bible saw three levels in the universe. If you portrayed it as a mountain, like Mt. Sinai, the foot of the mountain was the world, the middle of the mountain was heaven, and the top of the mountain was the throne of God. Based on this, the floor plan of the Tabernacle was the horizontal, rectangular version of this perspective. You would enter this rectangular space from the west and you can see a tent on the East side. That tent represented to them, a holy space, or heaven itself. However, within this tent, was a special room that represented the special throne of God. Therefore, every week when they went to worship, by worshiping at the Tabernacle, they knew what was required to approach and enter into Heaven and the throne room of God. And with all of their five senses, they understood how hard it was to even approach heaven and the throne room of God. What they learned was this: in order get into heaven, blood, holiness and obedience, were required. Therefore, when they heard that Jesus Christ fulfilled all of those requirements, they could simply throw that gift away. Today, what I’d liked to do is give you a tour of the Tabernacle and how it portrays OUR path to heaven. Through this, I hope we can see our need for Jesus Christ more clearly. So our first stop on this tour is the Court of the Tabernacle and the Bronze Altar. What we learn from this section is that we need some sort of blood in order to get into heaven...
Before studying this text, I thought the Tabernacle was a quiet, beautiful, and peaceful like Japanese temple or shrine. The Tabernacle was far from it. But once you receive instructions from the priest, you would kill your animal on the spot. There were probably animals screaming and squealing. It would have probably smelled and looked like the back of a butcher shop with dead animals, body parts, and blood all over. It would probably be filled with smoke and the aroma of roasted meat. Basically, when the Israelites worshiped God they were surrounded by death and blood. Why was it necessary for them to kill animals? Simply because we are not worthy of entering Heaven itself. When we break a law of God, we are dirty and filthy in the eyes of God and we are a unbearable stench to the nose of God. And like wearing muddy shoes around the house of God, the dirt and stench of our sins stick to the house of God. Therefore, like a special detergent or air freshener, we need to clean and cover the holy place with the blood and aroma of a sinless animal, so our sins don’t contaminate God’s house.
If the Tabernacle is a picture of how we should approach heaven, do you think we can casually and nonchalantly enter heaven? When we stand before the omnipotent, omniscient, Creator God, do you think we can come to him empty-handed or with some some cheap gift you bought at the 7-11 because you forgot? If you look over your life, to the eyes and nose of God, we are a filthy and unbearable stench? How many calves do you think we have to slay for the things we have done in our life? It is not an easy thing to enter heaven.
The next stop on our tour, is the Tent of Meeting, or the Holy Place. Here we learn that the heavens demand from us “holiness.”
...The Tent of Meeting was where one would meet God; however, as one moved closer and closer to the presence of God, the materials had to be chosen that were worthy of God’s presence. The things in the court and the fence were all made by bronze, but the entrance of the tent used silver, while everything inside the tent was gold. Furthermore, the tent had four layers, but the innermost layer was the linen—the most holy material. All of this is teaching us that the inside of the Tabernacle was an extremely special place. But it also meant—those who are outside of the Tabernacle, need to stay out. There is a specific reason why in 26:1, cherubim are weaved into the curtains. In Daniel 7, we see tens of thousands of cherubim surrounding the throne of God, guarding the heavens from any intruders. We also see the Cherubim guarding the Garden of Eden with flaming swords, commanded to cut anybody who would come near...
If the American White House or the Japanese Imperial Palace is heavenly guarded and will shoot anybody who tries to enter without permission, how about Heaven? Do you think Heaven is a place with no security check and with a very low bar for entry? Do we just presume that we deserve to be there? No matter how faithful of a Israelite you were, those that God does not deem holy, he does not let people in. It is not easy to enter into heaven.
The last stop on our tour is the Holy of Holies and the Veil. This shows us that obedience is required in enter into the heavens.
In 26:33, we see that within the Tent of Meeting there was veil that divided tent into a large rectangular room and the square room. This square room was the Holy of Holies and had the Ark of the Covenant there. This Holy of Holies represented God’s private throne room. And in 26:31, we see the same sword-wielding cherubim weaved into the veil, guarding the Most Holy place. If they entered, they would be struck down. However, only once a year, the Holy of Holies was open and only the Great High Priest could enter. Furthermore, there was an exact and extensive procedure to how to enter into the Holy of Holies. And of course, if he did not obey the procedure, the Great High Priest would be struck down. And if himself was not holy, he would also be struck down. But why in the world would the Great High Priest in such a dangerous practice? This is in order to prevent the Path to Meet God from shutting. Imagine a year’s worth of Israel’s sin and how much filth and how much of a stench that would produce. This yearly practice was basically the Great High Priest doing a major scrub down of the throne room of God. If the Great High Priest failed to obey the procedure and clean the throne room of God, God would sever his ties with Israel. And if that happened, Israel would lose everything! They would lose the protection, blessing, fellowship they would receive from God as a result of this. Therefore, the relationship between God and his people hung on the obedience of the Great High Priest. Anybody want to sign up to be the High Priest? If God demanded this kind of standard for his earthly throne, he will demand a higher standard of obedience for his heavenly throne. At the end of the day, what God demands is not what we offer to him, but whether we obey him or not. As you look at your life, has there been a point in your life where you loved and obeyed God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? How many percent of your life is that?
But there is an even more basic question. Why do we even assume there is a path to heaven? If you have a Great High Priest, there is a person who cleans up after you and keeps the path to heaven open for you. But if we don’t have that person, why should we assume our path to heaven is open?