Ps 111:2 The works of the LORD are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
The Lord's works are definitely awesome and one of the greatest pleasures anyone can experience is examining them closely. Man's work, the more we examine it, the more quickly we become bored of it. In time it can be figured out. God's work, the more we examine and look into it, will only attract us all the more. Anything in God's creation- the earth, air, the stars, the more we study it, the more we must admit that we know next to nothing.
The tiniest little things reveal God's handiwork. A small insect or a little snowflake reveal amazing artistry. And God's Word, to the very letter, is the handiwork of God. Totally inexhaustible. To look on the surface is one thing, to look into it is another. We can spend a lifetime studying it and just begin to learn of its riches and creativity. Even the most neglected parts reveal the same perfectness. The beauty of the whole Bible and the one great thought revealed through and through is the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the key to Scripture. He is the one great idea of the Bible. Know Christ, understand God's thoughts about Him, and you'll understand the Bible.
Rom 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
2 Tim 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The types are, in fact, a set of pictures, directly from the hand of God, by which He would teach His children incomprehensible things.
If we know the reality, we can comprehend the representation, and the greater the acquaintance with the reality, the greater will be the ability to understand the picture. I heard it said, "We may explain a little about how an engine works, but the engineer, to whom every nut and bolt are familiar could point out exactly every detail." As we study the tabernacle we will be examining the types and shadows and their significance in relation to Christ and His work. Before we move on lets look at some theology.
The Tabernacle was a representation and a copy of the true Tabernacle in heaven and a type of Christ.
This brings us to a very important and often misunderstood method of biblical interpretation known as 'typology'. The term is derived from the Greek word 'typos' meaning pattern' or 'figure'. Paul said:
Rom 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
Notice it says that Adam was a "type" of Him who was to come. A 'type' can be been defined as:
'an event, person or object which by its very nature and significance prefigures or foreshadows some later event, person or object'.
Types always originate in the real and historical and they are prophetic in nature, pointing forward to some person or event that is to come. They are all directed towards "Mashiach" (Heb. for Messiah). The Jews knew that their Messiah was the "Haba" or "Coming One" and all their prophets spoke of Him. But now looking in hindsight we can see more clearly how each of the figurative types and shadows pointed to the Messiah.
To help us understand what a type is think of the lamb which the Israelite offered as a sacrifice for the sin he had committed:
Lev 4:32 'If he brings a lamb as his sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish.
Hundreds of years later that lamb could be recognized as being a 'type' of Jesus Christ for it pointed forward to the One whom John the Baptist distinctly identified as, 'the Lamb of God'
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
The significance of any type in the Old Testament might not be apparent until the 'antitype' or fulfillment had come. It is important to note that everything in the Old Testament is a type of which something in the New Testament is the antitype. An example of this is Jonah's experience, which Christ used as a 'type' of his own resurrection.
Matt 12:40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
In the case of the Tabernacle and its pattern of approach to God we are on firm ground and in no way reading into the text in regarding it as a type of what is to come. The New Testament book of Hebrews makes this very clear while dealing with the subject of sacrifice:
Heb 9:23-24 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
In this passage the Tabernacle is referred to as 'a copy' of that which came through Messiah. Therefore we have the Tabernacle referred to as 'a copy' (or type) of Jesus Christ, the true sacrifice. Again in Hebrews we are told about the service of the priests on earth:
Heb 8:4-6 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. Note the expression, 'a copy and a shadow.' These words speak about a type of the final reality. In Hebrews 9:9 the writer discusses the actions of the High Priest on the day of atonement in the tabernacle that had to be repeated year after year:
Heb 9:9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience--
So we have biblical authority for a typological interpretation of this subject which speaks of numerous 'copies, shadows and illustrations' of what is to come.
It is also interesting to note that when John speaks of Christ in the introduction to his gospel he says:
John 1:14 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.
He uses a Greek verb corresponding to the noun 'tabernacle' so that his statement literally declares 'The Word became flesh and tabernacled (or pitched his tent) among us'.