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"What's Missing? The Significance of a Seatless Tabernacle



I remember playing the game "What's Missing?" in preschool. It's one of a few memories of my pre-five life. It was a simple game to help improve your observation and memory skills. The game usually featured six or eight panels with nearly identical pictures. For example, it might have been six rabbits pictured that were all dressed up in human clothes. The goal of that game would have been to find the bunny that was missing something. It could have been a neck tie, or a pocket protector, or a mustache, or, you get the idea. The student that found it correctly, and found it first, won.


Have you ever read about the furnishings of the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) and thought, something's missing? But, what's missing?


Holy God desires to dwell with His sinful people. So He designed a way: the Tabernacle. God told Moses, "And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it." (Exodus 25:8-9) The Tabernacle and its courts were 150 feet long and 75 feet wide. Picture half of a football field. The Tabernacle itself was 45 feet long and 15 feet wide. It was a little smaller than a single-wide mobile home. Inside the tent was a small, cube-shaped tent that was 15 x 15, the Holy of Holies. Later, the Temple would have walled sections that were essentially co-centric circles around the temple designating how close worshippers could get. The furthest circle outside the Tabernacle was the Gentile Court, the next was the Court of Women, and finally the Court of Israel. What's missing?

"Holy God desires to dwell with His sinful people. So He designed a way: the Tabernacle." 

There were seven pieces of furniture that were in the Tabernacle. The layout of the Tabernacle, the priests, the sacrifices, and each of the furnishings were all shadows for which Jesus Christ was the substance. The first pieces of furniture a worshipper would notice upon entering the Tabernacle were (1) The Altar of Sacrifice and the (2) Laver of Washing. Three more pieces occupied the Holy Place or the First Sanctuary. They were the (3) Golden Lampstand, the (4) Golden Table of Shewbread, and the (5) Golden Altar of Incense. Finally, in the Holiest of Holies, there were two more pieces of furniture: (6) the Ark of the Covenant with the (7) Mercy Seat (Lid) on top of it. What's missing?


The layout of the Tabernacle, the priests, the sacrifices, and each of the furnishings were all shadows for which Jesus Christ was the substance. 

The Tribe of Levi was the leader of "All Things Tabernacle." Levi had three sons: Gershon, Merari and Kohath. To each of the sons and their descendants were given the responsibility for certain items of the Tabernacle.(Numbers 3) The Gershonites were in charge of the fabrics, curtains, linens, etc. The Merarites oversaw the structures, pillars, sockets, etc. And, finally the Kohathites cared for all the furniture listed above. So the Tabernacle had a well-designed floor plan, clear, crisp job descriptions for everyone, and breath-taking furnishings. So, what's missing?


Before we answer that question specifically, would it be fair to say that just as Jesus is the substance of the shadows of each of the seven furnishings, He is also the shadow of what's missing? I think so. All of these workers at the Tabernacle made for an atmosphere of frenetic activity in the daily service of the Tabernacle. Weariness no doubt set in. There was the real need for a break for the priests. But there were no seats. Not one single chair to sit on. The High Priest could not even "take a load off" by sitting down on a bench or a stool. But why? Why was a seat missing? Hebrews 10:11 says, "And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins." The simple, Scriptural answer is, their work was never done. There was no seat in the Tabernacle because to sit down in a seat would have communicated that the work was completed. But it never was.

Why was a seat missing? Hebrews 10:11 says, "And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins." The simple, Scriptural answer is, their work was never done.

What's missing? Well, not just a chair. Someone is missing to sit in that seat. For nearly 2000 years, a priest was missing who would present a perfect sacrifice that would end all sacrifices so that He could sit down. "But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God." (Hebrews 10:12) Also, in Hebrews 1:3b, "After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." In the Heavenly Temple, there is a seat. A seat at the right hand of God. And, Jesus our great High Priest is seated there, right now.


Because Jesus is seated, you can know that the work is finished. The finished work of Christ is never more visual than Christ sitting in Heaven. This part of the work of Christ is called His "session" which is an archaic noun meaning "sitting." He was seated, after He had purged us from our sins! Amen!


Because Jesus is seated , you can know that you have an advocate/intercessor with the Father. When we sin, we have an Advocate seated beside the Father ready to say "forgive this ransomed sinner." (I John 2:1; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25)


Because Jesus is seated, there is a human being, with a resurrected Body in Heaven right now. We will see Him face to face. The Lord Jesus is at this very moment at a different location. Jesus is eternally embodied in His resurrection body.


Before the Throne of God Above


VERSE 1

Before the throne of God above

I have a strong and perfect plea

A great High Priest whose name is love

Who ever lives and pleads for me

My name is graven on His hands

My name is written on His heart

I know that while in heav’n He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart

No tongue can bid me thence depart


VERSE 2

When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within

Upward I look and see Him there

Who made an end of all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died

My sinful soul is counted free

For God the Just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me

To look on Him and pardon me


VERSE 3

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb

My perfect, spotless Righteousness

The great unchangeable I AM

The King of glory and of grace

One with Himself, I cannot die

My soul is purchased by His blood

My life is hid with Christ on high

With Christ my Savior and my God

With Christ my Savior and my God



Credits:

Original words by Charitie Lees Bancroft (1841-1892), alternate words and music by Vikki Cook

©1997 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)












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