The Tabernacle - part 2

The previous entry discussed the Tabernacle up to the Holy of Holies. The next piece will discuss the Altar of Incense and the Holy of Holies.

Altar of Incense: This is considered part of the Holy of Holies even though technically not in there. For example, in the NT we see Zachariah (John the Baptist’s father) at the altar of incense making the daily offering. This is where God spoke to him through an angel about the birth of John. What were the people doing while he was offering the incense? Praying.

- 3ft high
- was gold and just like the bronze altar it had four horns on the four corners
- the priest were to burn incense every morning and evening
- the incense was made of 4 spices and was considered holy and the people could not use the formula for anything else. Lev 10:1; Num 16ff
- symbol of the prayers and praises of the people of God
- Ps. 141 - “let my prayer arise as incense before Thee, and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.”
- Mal 1:1; Rev. 8:3
- this was between the Lampstand and the Bread of the Presence and represented the prayer of the people praising God for being the giver of life and light to His people. Also it is through prayer that God’s life and light infuses His people.
- this is another picture of Christ who is our mediator with Father (Rom. 8:34)
- the horns on this altar were also daubed with blood representing the power of prayer in Christ.

Veil & Holy of Holies:

- place of God dwelling
- it was a perfect cube 15x15x15
- veil was blue, purple and scarlet with images of cherubim
- the veil was there to protect sinful man from a Holy God.
- High priest only entered there 1 yr on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
- When the High Priest entered he would wash, wear special clothing, burn incense, and bring blood (Heb 9:7)
- What happened to the veil? Upon crucifixion the veil was torn from the top down. In the temple this was 60 ft high and 30 ft wide and 4 inches think.
- Veil was the body of Christ (Heb. 10:19-22; Rev. 21:16; Heb. 9:24-26)

Ark of the Covenant:

- 3ft 9 in long; 2 ft. 3in wide & high
-contained the 10 commandments; the rod of Aaron; and a bowl of manna
-upon was the mercy seat representing the throne of God surrounding by the
- Ex. 25:22; Lev.16:2; God’s presence
- 2 Sam 6:2; Is 37:16; 1 Tim 6:16
- Manna: God’s provision (Jn 6:32)
- Staff: God’s Authority
- 10 commandments: God’s Righteousness
- objects of stumbling are covered by God’s mercy
- Day of Atonement: sprinkled with blood for all Israel

At the top of the post is an icon of the Virgin Mary often referred to as the Icon of the Sign or "More Spacious than the Heavens". This icon figures prominently behind the altar in the apse of the church in most Orthodox temples. According to the Fathers of the church, one of the OT types of Mary is the ark of the covenant. For the ark was the physical container of the presence of God, and Mary became the physically container of God incarnate. Just as the ark brought the presence of God in the midst of the people, so Mary brings Christ to the world through her assent to God's word. This imagery becomes more consistent when you consider the parallels of the Dormition account with an OT story about the ark.

In the OT, there is a story about the moving of the ark within the confines of the promised land. The ark had been neglected and had not been handled the way that God had commanded. Moses had laid down the regulations relating to the way the ark was to be carried and cared for. This was done in order to protect sinful man from the presence of God. The men carrying the ark in this story had thrown into an oxcart, and eventually it began to tip offer. One man, Uzzah, reached out to steady the ark and died upon touching it. The parallel Dormition account takes place during the funeral procession of Mary's body toward the grave. The apostles were carrying the funeral bier, and a zealous Jewish persecutor ran toward the bier in order to tip over the body. Upon doing so, an angel from heaven cut off his arms. One of the apostles, reached down picked up his arms and miraculously reattached them. The man repented and was converted to the faith.

The story does not end with Mary. Just as Mary was made the ark of God, we too must follow her paradigm for she is the prototypical Christian. We must hear the Word of God and receive it so that the Word may be borne in our hearts as well. We too must become an ark of God bringing God's presence to the world.
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