Spiritual Types and Symbols – Article Two

The first part available below. 

In my first article on the symbolism of numbers as used in the Bible, I said this next article would cover how numbers double as letters and what that means when studying the Bible. Before I do that, I thought it helpful to cover more ground on the symbolic use of numbers in the Bible.

Let us begin by studying the Tabernacle of Moses.

II Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

Romans 15:4 says, “Whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope”.

There are other verses, in both Old Testament and in the New, that teach us that the things, everything, in the Old Testament is there for us to be taught and to learn from. Because they do not understand some of the things in the O.T., there are those who teach that it is does not apply to us today. They are wrong. Unless we are specifically told that something in the O.T. does not apply to Believers today, then we must follow those scriptures, like the two above, that tell us that everything in the Bible is there for us to learn from and that it is profitable for us.

1 Corinthians 10:11 tells us, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition.”

What are some of those things and specifically how do numbers relate to them?

One example is in the arrangement of the camp of the Israelites when they camped in the Wilderness during their 40 year journey to the Promised Land.

Why specifically was it a 40 year journey? That is symbolic of the fact that they were being tried and tested and judged on that journey. Forty, remember, is a multiple of four, and four is the number of trial, testing and judgement.

But what of their encampment? When they camped they were commanded by God to place the Tabernacle of Moses in the center of their camp, with three tribes on each side of it. Three remember is the number of God. The tabernacle of course contained, among other things, the tablet with the Ten Commandments on it This table was in the Ark that was carried by the priests. The Ark symbolizes Jesus, for He Himself said that God’s word (the Ten Commandments) was hidden in His heart. The Ark was kept in the center of the camp. This tells us that Jesus is to be the center of our lives, just as the Ark of the Old Covenant was kept in the center of the Israelite encampment. The Ark was surrounded by various other sacred objects, each of which was kept from public view by curtains that surrounded it. Three tribes on each side of the curtained enclosure mean that God – for three is the number of God – surrounds each of us, as a part of His Church, protecting us. We are protected, of course, only as long as we remain in the will of God, staying close to Jesus. Likewise the Israelites were protected only as long as they stayed in their assigned places, both when marching and when settled in their camp.

Since the area of the Tabernacle was longer than it was wide, the Israelite camp was formed in the shape of a cross. The same form was there when they marched in formation. The Tabernacle had three parts, the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. The only entrance to the Tabernacle was on its east side. Remember that Jesus said His return would be like lightening, flashing from east to west? This is typified by the entrance to the Tabernacle being on the side that faced east. The entrance way was through curtains supported by four posts or pillars. One thing the four pillars typify is the four gospels, which point us to Christ, telling us of His birth, His teaching and ministry and of His death in behalf of lost mankind. Since four is the number of judgement, trial, and testing, when we come to Jesus we must admit that God’s judgement on us is true, that like all mankind we have sinned and come short of the glory of God and that we are deserving of eternal damnation. To be saved we must repent of all the times we went our own way and did our own thing, even if it seemed good in our eyes.

Going our own way is God’s definition of sin. As we read in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and (or but) the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all”. Once we recognize that going our own way is sin, then we must accept that only by giving our life to Jesus can we be saved. He died for us that we might live for Him. Since four is the number of trial and testing, the four pillars are also there to remind us that it is through much tribulation on our part that we enter the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22.

The Outer Court was surrounded by a high curtained fence, as has been said. It was too high for anyone to look over it. This tells us that the secret things of God are hidden from the understanding of the lost. Nor do we learn all the secret things of God upon entering the Outer Court, that is upon being saved. We are saved, but we still have much to learn. The door is open for us to learn and to get closer to God, but whether or not we will is up to us. There are degrees of reward in heaven, and what the reward we get is to be as close in relationship to God in heaven as we were on earth. Unfortunately, most people go no further than a salvation experience. If they go further it is usually due to their own efforts, for the typical church teaches no more than that. The Bible teaches that being born again is only the beginning, but today’s churches typically do not teach that there is anything for us beyond being born again. More unfortunately even than that, some no longer teach that we must be born again. All their emphasis is put upon what God can do for you. Listening to them, if we believed them, we would begin to think that God was our royal bell hop, waiting for us to summon Him and have Him do something for us, waiting for us to call on Him to wait upon us in some way.

It was said that the Tabernacle had three parts. Those parts were the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. Those three parts symbolize the righteousness, peace and joy that Paul tells us of in Romans 14:17, where we read that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. When we enter into the Outer Court, which is only thru the blood of the Lamb, we are then counted righteous, not because of our own goodness, of which we have none, but because of the righteousness of Jesus, who died for us, the righteous for the unrighteous, that we might be counted righteous in Him.

Whereas the three sections of the Tabernacle give us righteousness, peace and joy, they also stand for, first, the Way in which we should walk, second, the Truth by which we must live, and lastly the Life that we can have in Jesus. This is stated in John 14:6, where Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”.

In the Outer Court we are forgiven and considered righteous by the sacrifice of Jesus, who died for us, as 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”. In the Holy Place we gain peace, peace of mind and peace with God. The curtained doorway into the Holy Place is supported by five pillars. If you recall, five is the number of grace. It is the grace, the unearned divine goodness of God that allows us to enter the Holy Place. We enter recognizing the Truth that we stand against the enemy of our souls and against the temptations of the present world system only by the grace and goodness of God. We also enter realizing that we have, through the Holy Spirit, the power to overcome all that the enemy sends against us.

The third part of the Tabernacle is the Holy of Holies. All can enter in to the Holy of Holies, but only a few do. Those who enter find that God has become their very life and that feeling fills them with joy. For the Holy of Holies represents God becoming our very Life, our energizer and our Joy. Those who enter into the Holy of Holies are constantly filled with the joy of believing, the joy of knowing that God has become their all in all.

There are two objects in the Outer Court, these are a bronze altar and after it a bronze laver. The bronze altar of course represents sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus when He willingly died for our sins. After accepting Jesus sacrifice of Himself on our behalf, we next come to the bronze laver. This is a bronze pool filled with water. In the water we see our spiritual reflection. We see ourselves as we are, saved but in need of being changed into the likeness of Christ. We see ourselves as saved but still with sin in our lives. Sinful habits, thoughts, desires, all things that we must allow God to wash away from our lives. We cannot do that ourselves, but it is an easy thing for God to do.

When we enter the Holy Place, we must enter thru a door, and there is only one door into the Holy Place. This typifies Jesus, who said in John 10:9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” In the Holy Place there are again only two objects there. Those are a golden lampstand and a table with loaves of bread upon it. The lampstand represents the light of God which comes to us thru the Bible. Just as the Bible has 66 books, so the lampstand had 66 different parts to it. All of them were illuminated by the lamps, which is to remind us that only thru the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit can the Bible be understood. The Table of Shewbread is what the table with loaves on it was called. This represents the divine food that we get from the Bible thru revelation, the divine food that nourishes us spiritually. Remember that Jesus told us in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”.

Lastly, we enter the Holiest Place of All, or the Holy of Holies. This place has no natural light. It is lit up by the ever present glory of God, the visible glory of God, which is called the Shekinah Glory. Again, there are two visible objects in it. One is called the Altar of Incense, where incense burns continually. The ever burning incense represents the constant praise and worship which we can and should be sending up to God. The second object is the Ark, the box that the Israelites carried with them thru the Wilderness. In it was the stone tablet upon which were engraved the ten commandments, along with Moses rod that sprouted leaves and buds, and also a jar containing manna, the food supernaturally supplied by God, the food that the Israelites ate while journeying thru the Wilderness.

The Ark typifies Jesus. This is shown by the items within it. It has the ten commandments within it and Jesus said “Thy word, oh Lord, have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” It has a jar of manna in it to remind us that Jesus is to be our spiritual food. That He will sustain us when nothing else can or will. In John 6:47-51, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” The unbelieving Jews did not understand Jesus. Jesus had to explain even to His own disciples that what He meant was that they could only draw true nourishment thru Him and that it was spiritual nourishment that He meant.

There is more that could be said about the Tabernacle, but this much should suffice for now. Just remember, there is always more to be learned from the Bible.

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