The Bible tells us that God’s plan of salvation is illustrated in the ministry of the Sanctuary (Psalm 77:13). Therefore, it is significant that we understand what the symbolic parts of the temple stand for and its meaning.
The Sanctuary consisted of the courtyard, the holy place, and the most holy place. The holy place is the first of two rooms that make up the tabernacle. It was used in conjunction with the courtyard for daily services. The holy place is symbolic of Christ’s work in heaven as well as aspects of the Christian life. This is shown in its three pieces of furniture: the table of shewbread, the candlestick, and the altar of incense.
The table of shew bread is a rectangular table made of wood and overlaid with gold. It has twelve loaves of bread divided into two equal piles next to each other. Every Sabbath, fresh bread was baked and placed on the table. The last week’s bread was eaten by the priests and all was to be eaten.
The candlestick had seven branches lit with holy fire. It was made from a solid lump of pure gold that was beaten into shape. The seven lamps on the candlestick were fed with olive oil and were never to go out.
The altar of incense was a tall, square stand made of wood and overlaid with gold. It had a crown around the edges. It had a bowl of hot coals on top that were lit with holy fire from God. The altar was to have a special incense made of a blend of spices that were only for the sanctuary. The incense was to be ever burning on the coals and the fragrance was to always be going over the veil that separated the rooms into the most holy place where God’s presence was.
Each item in the holy place points to Jesus and His work in heaven right now, we see this as all of the furniture is made of gold as opposed to the bronze in the courtyard. In the table of shewbread we see two piles of bread, which reminds us that Jesus is the bread of life. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Here, Jesus is quoting the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 8:3. Believers today need to eat the word of God daily to be able to resist the temptation of the devil.
The candlestick is the main source of light in the Holy Place. Jesus also is refers to Himself in John 8:12 as the “light of the world.” It says in Psalm 119:105 that Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Jesus is the light of the world and uses the Holy Spirit to lead His people to all truth.
The altar of incense had constant incense ascending, which resembles what it says in Psalm 141:2 “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” That prayer ascends to God as an incense. In like manner, Jesus lives ever to make intercession for us and our prayers are to be mingled with His incense. The Bible says that we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:16-18), just as the incense was never to stop burning.
In His service,
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