The Tabernacle as a Type of Christ: Part 1


God gave Moses precise instructions on how to design the Tabernacle because not only was the Tabernacle a copy and shadow of God’s sanctuary in Heaven (Hebrews 8:5), but also He intended everything in the Tabernacle to foreshadow Christ.

God has always wanted a relationship with us. The Tabernacle was part of His plan to be with us. After the fall of man, but before Jesus, God dwelt in the Tabernacle, then the Temple. Then, after Jesus’ death, we became the “tabernacle” of God. Later, when we are in heaven, God will dwell with us face to face as in the Garden of Eden (Revelation 21:3).

Jesus fulfilled God’s purpose for the Tabernacle: He is God with us (Matthew 1:23). The Tabernacle and all that was in it is a beautiful picture of Christ. Each piece of the Tabernacle represents a truth about our Messiah that will draw us closer to Him.


God designed the Tabernacle as two parts: the outer court and the inner court. The outer court was open to all Israelites. It had one gate, an altar, and a laver. The inner court had two sections, divided by a veil: the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Only priests could enter the Holy Place and the only the High Priest the Holy of Holies. Here we will explore the outer court and next time in The Tabernacle as a Type of Christ, Part 2, the inner court.


Gate of the Tabernacle

Exodus 27:16-19

There was only one entrance into the Tabernacle, a gate (Exodus 27:9-19) which faced East, the same direction as the entrance into the Garden of Eden, God’s first dwelling place with man. Anyone seeking God’s presence could enter the gate into the courtyard.

As there was only one way into the Tabernacle, there is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus (John 14:6). He is the gate. Jesus tells us, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9). All are welcome through the Son!

Brazen Altar

Brazen Altar

Exodus 27:1-8

After entering the Tabernacle gate with their sacrifice, the first thing a person would encounter was the altar (Exodus 27:1-8). The fire on the altar never went out; it was continually burning. At the altar, the priests offered the sacrifice as a burnt offering, which would be entirely consumed by fire. There, the blood of the sacrifice was shed for the forgiveness of sins.

The altar foreshadows the Cross and the once and for all sacrifice that Christ would make on the altar of the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

It is also at the altar of the Cross that we lay down our old life and our disobedient will. Just like the fire consumed the sacrifice, we must let God consume us. We are reminded of what this looks like in Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Brazen Laver

Exodus 30:17-21

The next thing a person would encounter after the brazen altar is the brazen laver, a sizeable water-filled basin.  The laver was crafted from the bronze mirrors of the women. At the laver, the priests washed their hands and feet before going into the Holy Place.

The laver is more than just a basin, it represents the Word of God. It is like a mirror showing us our true selves. “For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). The Word is also like water that washes and cleanses us (John 15:3).

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1, John 1:14). He died to make us clean, and He lives to sanctify us and cleanse us with the washing of the water by the Word (Ephesians 5:26). Hebrews 10:22  implores us to “draw near [to God] with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Jesus is our door to the Father’s house. All are welcome at the altar of the cross. Jesus is our sacrifice, the only one we will ever need, and when we come to Jesus, we are washed by the water of the Word. We are made clean. God is with us! In the Tabernacle as a Type of Christ, Part 2, we will continue our study of the Tabernacle and discuss the inner court where only priests could enter.



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