When the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt into the Sinai desert, God instructed Moses to stop and build a large portable tent. When finished, this tabernacle would include an enclosed public courtyard and a sanctuary which was restricted to all but authorized priests. Further restricted still was a place partitioned off within the sanctuary, behind a veil, called the holy of holies. Only the high priest could attend that place and that, once a year. All that could be seen of the tabernacle proper by the common people was a covering of animal skins. As for furnishings, they saw a bronze laver where the priests washed. They could see a bronze burning altar standing to remind them of the dark companions of sin and death. What they could not see but knew were there for they had helped gather, donate, and build them, were hidden, secret things. They knew without seeing, that inside the tabernacle were beautiful linens, light from a golden candlestick, the welcome of incense from a golden altar, bread baked daily and spread on a golden table, a golden ark of God’s covenant with them, grand cherubim, and a glad yet solemn Mercy Seat. These were veiled from view, distinct, holy, untouchable things of the Glory…temporal shadows of the Eternal.
Earlier Moses had pleaded with God to show him His glory. In response, “the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the NAME of the Lord…and the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious… forgiving iniquity…and sin…visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… to the third and to the fourth generation.” Assuredly, family DNA is a conduit for addictions, tendencies, compulsions, propensities and traits. Yet, justice and mercy assert in Ezekiel 18 that “The son shall not bear the iniquity [guilt], of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity [guilt], of the son.”
As animal skins covered the beauty of the tabernacle, Moses on the mountain had the unspeakable privilege of seeing the hinder parts of God. His “express image” would later be seen as Jesus, (“In Him was life and the life was the light of men”) bursts through the crucible of time. Jesus, who conquered and vanquished death; Jesus, (God Saves) the Atonement, the Reconciler, the Ransom, the Redeemer, the Propitiation, the Mercy Seat, and all the other big words; Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, revealing the unseen Glory to atone in fleshly kinship by way of the cross and the deep mystery of God. “The land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness saw great light and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death…Light has dawned.”
Doctor Lewis has written that knowing Christ “makes bad men good and good men better.” Although true, the statement is not large enough. Words like offering and sacrifice, atonement, reconciliation, propitiation, ransom, redemption, repentance, and forgiveness need more room. Who is not delighted by the promise of Paradise to the thief on the cross, and our Lord’s prayer of forgiveness for those who gambled for His clothing? Thrilling indeed are the words, “Zacchaeus make haste and come down for today I must abide at your house.” Rejoice with the man carried to Jesus paralyzed who before healing heard first the words, “My son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.” The big words and the big thoughts transport one to a place of declaration, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How un-search-able are His judgments and His ways past finding out.” Victory over sin means sin must be destroyed; truly destroyed out of the universe. There will be finality someday. Luke 19:5, Mark 2:1-12, Roman 11:33, Exodus 34:5-7, Matthew 4:15-16.