The Menorah and the Tabernacle: Biblical Origns
The Jewish faith is rich in ceremonies and symbolisms that trace its origin from the Biblical times, especially during the time of Moses. In Moses' days, God has established His covenant with the whole nation of Israel, which He has previously given to the Three Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Also, after God delivered the Israelites from slavery and bondage and Egypt, He proceeded to establish the covenant which became the basis of the Judaic faith.
The covenant that God instituted with His people not only involves certain rules and regulations, but also the creation of religious relics that will be used in ministering before the Lord Almighty. Two of these relics are the menorah and the Tabernacle.
“Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them... See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” – Exodus 25:31, 40 NIV
The Menorah is a seven-lamp golden lamp stand that God commanded Moses to build and designated to be used inside the Tabernacle. The light coming from each of the lamps signifies the light that God is using to guide His people into the truth. Because of this, the Menorah is one of the oldest symbols associated with Judaism. God also commanded that the Menorah must burn its light from evening until morning. (Exodus 27:21). The shining light of God's glory and the Word of God were mentioned multiple times in the Bible. Based on these references, we can come up with the original symbolism of the light of the Menorah.
1. God is light
“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him, there is no darkness at all." – 1 John 1:5 NIV
Sin and the deception of the enemy lead us into the darkness and away from the presence of God. The light of the Menorah that is burning all day refers to God's all day invitation to us to leave the corruption of our flesh and let our souls be illuminated by the shining brightness of His glory.
2. God’s Word is a Lamp
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
– Psalm 119:105 NIV
Walking without the Word of God in our lives can make us liable to commit sin and a lot of mistakes. It’s like walking in a pitch black darkness without a source of light to guide us. The Menorah’s ever burning light can also symbolize the light that God's Word is giving us. The fire from the lamp can help us to avoid anything that might be detrimental to our walk with God.
3. Christ is the Light of the World
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of light.” – John 8:12 NIV
As believers of Jesus, we all know that the things in the Old Testament point to the coming of the Messiah. Jesus said that He is the light of the world. He is like the messianic Menorah that will guide those people who are walking in darkness to walking in the light of living for God. And indeed, those who have found Jesus found the light that leads them to salvation.
“Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker... Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.” – Exodus 26:1, 30 NIV
The Tabernacle is the primary place where the presence of God dwelt in the midst of the entire nation of Israel. The Lord has given Moses an elaborate plan to build it by using different materials which are composed of several parts such as cross beams, poles, various kind and colors of linen curtain. However, though it may seem simple, the Tabernacle is considered the holiest place in the whole Israelite camp and therefore must be approached and carried based on the strict regulations of God.
When Jesus came into the world and sacrificed Himself to die in our place to save us, the shadow of the earthly Tabernacle lost its relevance because we can come to God's presence anywhere and anytime. However, the old Tabernacle can still give us some insights by looking at the symbolisms of its three sections.
1. The Outer Court
This is the part where the animal sacrifices and offerings happen. This is where the Bronze Altar is located and where the priests performed their functions to help the people get right with God. When we approach God’s presence, He expects us to bring a sacrifice. And just as the Apostle Paul said in his letters to the Roman, “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.” (Romans 12:1)
Though obedience is better than sacrifice, living a life that is offered to God must be done daily. Approach the heavenly Tabernacle with your living sacrifice which is your body.
2. The Holy Place
This is the second section of the Tabernacle. In this section, you can find the Menorah which serves as the light and also the Table of Bread and the Golden Altar of Incense. The Menorah is the source of light, while the Table of Bread serves as food for the priests, the Golden Altar represents the prayer of the saints as mentioned in the book of Revelation.
We can only come to the presence of God through prayer. As we pray, we draw closer to Him, and we allow ourselves to experience His manifest Glory in our lives. If you desire to meet with God and encounter Him daily in the Heavenly Tabernacle, then after offering God your living sacrifice, offer Him your sincere and heartfelt prayers.
3. The Most Holy Place
The third section and the most important part of the Tabernacle is the Most Holy Place. In this section, we can find the Ark of the Covenant and the Atonement Seat where the Presence of God dwells.
When Jesus died, the curtain that divided the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was split from top to bottom. This event signifies that because of what Jesus did we have now access to God's Most Holy Place. God welcomes us to His Heavenly Tabernacle. Approach it with confidence knowing that Jesus' blood covers you entirely!