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The Tabernacle Picturing the Old Covenants


Simply put, the Old Covenant of God with His people was a covenant of man's works. The New Covenant is a covenant of God's works on man's behalf. This is a very simplistic statement, of course,  and must be explained in its fullness. We can study the Old Covenant tabernacle in all its types and shadows and find both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant pictured there.


The tabernacle which God gave to Moses (Exodus chapters 35-40) in its original form and with all of its attendant priesthood and rituals, was a picture of the Old Covenant itself. The New Covenant was hidden in the Old Covenant, but not yet revealed. The tabernacle with the veil rent and with the priesthood and ongoing rituals removed, is a picture of Christ and His work on man's behalf. It is also a picture of the triune nature of man and lays out the manner in which man benefits from Christ's work. Christ was the only Perfect Man. But in the Old Covenant, the veil that stood between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was heavy and thick and could not be gone beyond except by the High Priest and that only once each year after prescribed rituals had taken place.


Keep in mind that the portable tabernacle was placed inside and became the core of the Temple when the first one was built by Solomon. At the time of Jesus' death on the Cross, the veil in the temple was rent from top to bottom. This has great significance in Christ's fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the revealing of New Testament Christianity.


In the Old Covenant, there was no way for the ordinary worshipper to ever go into the Holy of Holies. It was a picture of the Heavenly Holy of Holies, which is the dwelling place of God Himself. Man in his own inner being as yet had no access directly to God.


The ordinary worshipper could only come as far as right inside the gate, as he brought his lamb, turtle dove or bullock offering to be sacrificed for sin. After he went through certain rituals right inside the gate, he left and everything was then turned over to the priests, the sons of Levi.


The common Levitical priests themselves could only go as far as inside the Holy Place, where they would perform certain rituals assigned to them, like trimming the lamp wicks, keeping oil in the lamp and keeping it lit, laying out fresh shewbread on the table and offering up prayer and praise on the altar of incense before the veil behind which was God's Ark and His Shekinah Glory (Presence.)


Everything was in the hands of external mediators called priests. There was nothing personal about Old Testament worship, because the way into the Holy of Holies had not yet been opened up.  The veil remained intact. Please understand the paramount significance of this veil. It barred the way into the Presence of God. The difference between the Old and New Covenants is that now in the New Covenant there is no veil barring the way! Jesus, by offering up His own sinless body and blood on the Cross, performed a One Time Perfect Sacrifice of Himself and provides the way for all believers to come boldly into the very presence of God through the rent veil.


This is why one must be born again.


Tabernacle Picturing the Old Covenant with Veil



Man is a




Tabernacle Diagram

(Godís Dwelling Place)

Ministry of External Mediators


Spirit of God still remote in Heaven, and man's spirit dead, shut off from God by sin. Man could not worship in spirit and in truth.

 Veil Intact


Man's mind could only know about God and worship Him at a distance through the ministry of external priests, rituals and laws. 



Man had to be obedient in his body to laws and ordinances. If they were transgressed, he would be stoned. Atonement was found only in the substitutionary animal sacrifices. These sacrifices were only a temporary covering.










The High Priest

Holy of Holies

Man's spirit was dead, signified by the veil which stood thick and heavy between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest could enter beyond the veil once each year on the Day of Atonement to offer the Blood on the Mercy Seat.


Holy Place

The mind, will and emotions of man were devoid of Spirit & Truth. Nevertheless, he could participate through the ministry of the priests in the Holy Place, worshipping a God that he knew only through those rituals that the priests carried out for him.


Outer Court
Man's life in his body was governed by laws. He could be put to death for disobeying even one of them. The only atonement to save him from death was to offer animal sacrifices.




 Next:  New Covenant

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