The Jerusalem Council

A Global Association of Orthodox Jewish Disciples of Messiah Yeshua

The Purpose of the Tabernacle

I wanted to clarify the purpose of the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, since many seem to be confused as to what it’s purpose was, and what it will be in the future when it is built again.

The purpose of the Temple is for G-d to dwell with man.

It was not to provide atonement for sin. That was not its function. Instead it is because we are unclean, and sinful, and G-d who is holy can not dwell with unclean and sinful man, that atonement for us is required as we “draw near” to G-d. In fact the Hebrew word for “drawing near” is the same as “making a sacrifice.”

The purpose for the sacrifices were so that we, as unclean, sinful man, could draw near to him without being vaporized.

Even the believers of the 1st Century understood this concept, and fully expected to comply with it as they met daily in the Temple during the “standing” morning and evening prayers – which are clearly tied into the tamid offering that was slaughtered and the incense offered up every morning and evening. It was these “standing” prayers that Yeshua admonishes us that “when you stand praying…” and then teaches us several things, including one of which is the Aveinu, the Lord’s prayer which is the prayer of the rabbi that a disciple inserts after the end of the Amidah (18 Benedictions) of the standing prayers.

There is obviously a disconnect when we think we as believers in Messiah could just stroll right up into the Holy of Holies, and right into the manifest awesome, holy, and incredible presence of G-d, just the way we are in these unclean, and sinful bodies and not expect to get vaporized.

Thank G-d that G-d has given us the Messiah. Yeshua is the house (tabernacle) of G-d, and through him we interact with G-d in our unclean, and sinful bodies, and do not die. Yet this does not diminish who G-d is in his fullness, presence, and glory, nor dimish the fact that a man can not stand in the presence of G-d.

So what does this mean for us? What are you trying to say, Israel?

I am saying that we have much to anticipate as believers. When a future Temple is built, all believers in Messiah (just as anyone else) will be required to do what is necessary to draw near to G-d through their unclean, sinful bodies (assuming the End of the Age hasn’t happened yet, and we haven’t received our transformed perfect bodies), if they so desire to meet G-d in the Temple. This includes participating in the offerings and requirements for entering the Temple complex and so being made ready to meet G-d. It includes participating in the morning and evening prayers while the tamid lambs are being offered.

As believers we certainly can draw near to G-d in the spirit without any precondition; however in our bodies we aren’t transformed yet, and we are still covered in all forms of uncleanness and sin. It is naive to assume one could just waltz right into the Holy of Holies in the earthly Temple and not expect to get vaporized. The reason is that G-d is holy, unapproachable, and incompatible with sin.

You may say “well G-d did away with my sin.” On an accounting basis yes! For eternity, yes! But do you still sin? Of course we do. We are still in our bodies that desire to sin – even when we become a believer in Messiah, and we still commit sin every day (hopefully though, the unintentional kind). The problem is not with our spiritual condition, it’s with our bodies – our physical behavior. Yeshua cleans us on the inside (and dwells on the inside), but its on the outside that we are responsible for taking care of when we approach the One Holy G-d in the Temple.

Yeshua is our wonderful intermediary who we can approach to receive eternal life, and expect one day to receive transformed sinless bodies; but he is not the atonement in the earthly Temple for our physical behavior when we approach G-d in the earthly Temple (for his offering was made in the Heavenly Temple, not the earthly).

After all, people could interact just fine without atonement for their sin when they approached Yeshua in the Temple, but whenever one desired to approach G-d in the Temple, they were clearly required to draw near through the only means that actually cleaned their physical bodies (going through a mikveh), and atonement for their sin (participating in the offerings).

Much of this stems from a traditional misunderstanding of how the earthly Temple and the heavenly Temple interact. From a Hebrew understanding, they are considered echad – one a reflection of the other, and to interact with the reflection (earthly) is to in fact interact with the heavenly. So then in application, what is offered in the heavenly must have a reflection in the earthly that also MUST be offered, or else the whole gig is up and the earthly Temple is just a play toy.

In fact, traditional Christianity introduces further confusion when it says that because Yeshua made his offering in heaven (in time and space) that therefore the offerings on earth ceased (in time and space). Yet this assumption is predicated on the idea that G-d somehow changes, or something changed in G-d (which require G-d to be subject to time) to where Yeshua is no longer the Lamb slain since the foundation of the world, but now is the lamb slain in only 33AD, and all those before are lost to eternal life, which is contrary to what the scripture says concerning those who had faith.

In fact, no one asks the most treasured question of all: if the bible calls the patriarchs as those who had saving “faith” in the Messiah before the sacrificial system was given through the Tabernacle, then what was the sacrificial system for?

The answer: it covers the physical behaviors of this life whereby we as unclean, sinful man, can draw near to the holy presence of G-d in the Temple (on earth, and when he’s not just in the body/tent/house of Messiah.)

So what is Messiah for? Messiah’s death causes us to live forever and to receive transformed perfect bodies so that we may draw near to G-d then. The earthly Tabernacle sacrifices cause us to be reckoned as physically atoned for in our current bodies so that we may draw near to G-d now. I hope that clears up the purposes of each, and shows that both are perfectly co-existing in this Age (if in fact we had the rebuilt Temple today). Two different applications (one in this Age, the other in the Age to Come), two different realms (earthly, heavenly), both a direct reflection of the other, both fully co-existing.

So what is the offering of Yeshua in the heavenly reflected in the earthly? The tamid offering – the morning and evening lamb. For Yeshua is called “the lamb who takes away the sin of the world.” So too in order for us to interact with G-d in heaven and in the Age to Come where there is no more death, we need Yeshua. For us to interact with G-d on earth, now in our unclean sinful bodies, we need the tamid lamb offering.

If you desire to meet G-d now, in this life, then pray for the rebuilding of the Temple. Otherwise as has been the case for almost 2000 years, we must wait until our physical bodies die. When G-d allows us to have the Temple, we as believers in Messiah should clearly view it as a blessing of G-d – an invitation to meet him in the physical, now.

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