Sometimes, Old Testament studies can be challenging, especially the details presented in the books of Moses. But everything God did as He instituted the system of worship for the nation of Israel pointed to the coming work of Christ. Let’s take a look at the interior of the tabernacle as an example. In Exodus 25-27 God describes how the tabernacle is to be constructed and furnished. Exodus 35-38 relate how the project is accomplished, and Exodus 40 describes the time when it is set up for use. Exodus is forty chapters and around a quarter of them are devoted to the tabernacle. That makes it kind of a big deal.
We could spend A LOT of time on the tabernacle, but I’m going to limit today’s study to just 5 of the furnishings and how each of them foreshadowed Jesus Christ.
The Bronze Laver
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die. (Exodus 30:17-20)
This was essentially a big washbasin. The priests were to wash the dirt from their hands and feet as they stepped on to consecrated ground to serve God.
Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” (John 13:10)
If you want to split hairs about the fact that Aaron and his sons had to wash their hands and feet while Jesus only washed feet, feel free. However, both passages underscore the need to be cleansed before attempting ministry before God. However, Jesus’s disciples weren’t limited to just one physical location.
The Altar of Burnt Offerings
And you shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; the altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. (Exodus 27:1-2)
The bronze altar was the main altar in the tabernacle. It was the place where sins were dealt with and the relationship with God was restored whether with the individuals or with the nation of Israel itself.
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
Jesus dealt with our sins and restored a right relationship with God for all who believe.
The Altar of Incense
Moreover, you shall make an altar as a place for burning incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. … There shall be perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:1,8)
The sweet-smelling incense represented the prayers of the Israelites.
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. … If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:5,7)
Jesus personally intercedes and carries our prayers before God.
The Golden Lampstand
Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. (Exodus 25:31)
By the time the tabernacle was assembled with all its coverings, there was no outside light. The only source was the lampstand.
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)
The only source of light in our dark world is Jesus Christ.
The Table of Showbread
You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times. (Exodus 25:30)
Each week twelve fresh loaves of bread were placed on the table as a reminder that God alone sustained and provided for Israel.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. (John 6:35)
Not only are we sustained physically but Jesus provides us with eternal life.
This was a super-quick overview, but hopefully it was enough to show that the Old Testament is also the story of Jesus and His redemptive work. As you read the Old Testament, look for Jesus. I promise He’s there.