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The Exodus Tabernacle
As a Model of Prayer

The Exodus Tabernacle is ideal to use as a pattern for your prayer life. If you are looking for a good way to improve your prayer life, consider structuring your personal devotion time after the sanctuary. After all, we are told:

"Thy way, O Lord is in the sanctuary." (Psa 77:13)

The exodus tabernacle, the sanctuary has a number of parts to it that can all be related in some way to how we approach and relate to God and to our prayer life. Ultimately, it leads to the most important article in the sanctuary - the mercy seat:

"And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, ..." (Exo 25:22)

While access to certain areas of the sanctuary was limited to the priests and the holy place to only the high priest once a year, we can use it as a pattern to approach God and commune with Him. Let's consider each part of the exodus tabernacle and see how it can be used to model our prayers as we seek to approach God in a meaningful way. Let's take a walk through the sanctuary.

Here is a diagram of the exodus tabernacle:

jewish tabernacle diagram

The Exodus Tabernacle Part 1. The Gate: Praise
As we begin this journey through the sanctuary, we first enter through the gate on the east side:

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise." (Psa 100:4)

This is how we are to approach God. He wants us to acknowledge and appreciate His goodness and praise Him for it. It is not just because He wants praise but because, as we are impressed with His goodness, we will be encouraged to seek Him and depend on Him more. It is for our good, not His.

There is a saying: "Praise before petition." He wants us to ask but knowing that God is good and eager to answer our prayers puts us in a suitable frame of mind to even express our needs and our wants to Him.

God says He will give us "... the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness ..." (Isa 61:3) and surely He has given us many reasons to praise Him. An attitude of gratefulness, thanksgiving and appreciation for what we have has actually been shown to be good for our health.

The Exodus Tabernacle Part 2. Altar of Burnt Offering: Confess Sins
After entering through the gates, the first object we would encounter is the altar of burnt offering. It is because the true, antitypical Lamb of God was offered for us that we can receive forgiveness of sins. This is where we can confess our sins to, as it were, clear our conscience and approach God with a clean slate.

"f we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1:9)

I believe that this confession-forgiveness process is very misunderstood. The confession part is where we unload our guilt, we admit our wrongs and our sinful condition. This is an important part of the process of healing from our sinful state. Many understand this to be a precondition for God forgiving us. That it how, in the English, 1John 1:9 (above) reads.

However, upon closer study, we learn that there are different words in the original for forgive. One word describes forgiveness as it happens in the heart of the forgiver (God) and another expresses forgiveness as it is received by the forgivee (the penitent sinner). God never holds our sins against us in terms of loving us less when we have sinned. In His heart, we are forgiven, unconditionally. For us to feel forgiven we have to accept the forgiveness and confession is helpful for us to realize our need and accept the forgiveness offered.

This is a wonderful truth (read more details) that is so encouraging. Understanding His great love for us encourages us to confess and receive forgiveness. That is what happens at the altar of burnt offering:

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32)

We always approach God through His Son who declared Himself to be the way to the Father:

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)

The Exodus Tabernacle Part 3. The Laver: Be Washed of Sins
The laver represents cleansing from sin. It is where we can pray to be conformed to God's will and understand the process of sanctification (becoming holy):

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom 12:2)

God's will for us is that we follow His will and gain the benefits that are built into obedience.

"I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." (Psa 40:8)

An understanding of God's word helps us in the change:

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." (John 17:17)

Here are more verses about God's goal for us in this area:

"Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Heb 13:21)
"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:14)
"And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16)

What does wash away sins mean? Can a past, historical act be removed? What if we pray "Dear God please remove the white lie I told yesterday" - what will happen? God does not erase evidence or rewrite history. Isn't it really the sinful tendencies in our hearts that need to be cleansed? See this series of studies on the Cleansing of the Sanctuary for a better understanding of this process.

The Exodus Tabernacle Part 4. The Candlestick: Pray for the Spirit
On our walk through the sanctuary, we next enter the holy place where there are three articles of furniture. On our left side would be the seven-branched candlestick representing the Spirit of God described as:

"And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." (Isa 11:2)

God is eager to give His Spirit, His presence to be with us at all times:

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13)

However, He will not impose His presence where it is not desired. In fact, we are told of a condition of receiving His Spirit:

"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him." (Acts 5:32)

The Exodus Tabernacle Part 5. The Table of Showbread: Study of God's Word
On the right side of the holy place, opposite the candlestick is the table of showbread with 2 stacks of 6 loaves each of showbread or the bread of the presence.

Each stack had one loaf for each of the first 6 days of the week. On the seventh day, the Sabbath, the loaves were eaten by the priests in the holy place (Lev 24:9) and replaced with new loaves. Bread, that we need for physical sustenance is likened to the word of God which is also needed to sustain our spiritual life.

We are to partake daily from the word of life:

"But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt 4:4)

As we partake of the word, we are partaking of Jesus Himself (and eternal life):

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:51)

The Exodus Tabernacle Part 6. The Altar of Incense: Personal Petitions
To this point, we have started our worship time with prayer (at the gates of the sanctuary), we have confessed our sins (at the altar of burnt offering), we have prayed for cleansing (at the laver), we have prayed for the Spirit of God in our lives (at the candlestick) and we have partaken of His word (at the table of shewbread). Now we are standing at the altar of incense just before the curtain into the most holy place. This is where we can send our personal petitions upwards to God. Prayer is likened in scripture to incense which rises heavenward:

"Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (Psa 141:2)

Prayer was offered at the time of incense:

"And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense." (Luke 1:10)

In Revelation there is reference to the golden altar before the throne which would be the altar of incense just before the curtain into the most holy place which contained the ark of the covenant over which was the Shekinah glory shone above the mercy seat. Prayer prepares us to meet with God, to be in His presence.

"And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." (Rev 8:3-4)

The Exodus Tabernacle Part 7. The Ark of the Covenant: Forsake Defects in Character
The ark contains the law of God. We are to compare our lives with the law of God, the eternal standard. Where necessary, with His help, we are to make changes that we might be conformed more and more to His character.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psa 139:23-24)

The first verse of that Psalm implies that God has already searched and known us:

"O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me." (Psa 139:1)

The purpose of our time at the Ark of the Covenant is really for us to examine ourselves in the light of God's standard for us. It is also for us to be in His presence, dwelling upon His character. That is what will give us the motivation to want to keep His law. Having spent time in the presence of God, we are then ready to go forth to meet our day and its challenges.

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isa 26:3)

We should do everything as though we are in the presence of God because, of course, He sees and knows everything we do.

The Exodus Tabernacle - A Pattern for Us
We are told that the Exodus tabernacle was modeled after the true tabernacle in heaven:

"Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." (Heb 8:1-2)

This is where Jesus, our high priest ministers for us. Understanding that and the significance of the items in the sanctuary can make more our prayer time more meaningful and give it a structure based on heaven itself.

Model your prayers after the sanctuary, the Exodus tabernacle, and you will be approaching God in His way.

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The Greek has multiple words for forgiveness? God forgives (charizomai) whether we ask or not. Receiving forgiveness (apheimi) is by our choice.
God always forgives!


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