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#7 Jesus - The "God" of the Old Testament

Go to #1 - Start of Study

Early on in my Christian experience I used to believe that the God of the Old Testament was the Father and that Christ was the focus of the New Testament. Many things have changed my mind about this. First, I learned that Jesus came to reveal the Father to us. He did this throughout the Old Testament and well as the New - and the God that was revealed was the same God. This drastically changed how I approached and understood many of the things recorded in the Old Testament! Second, I learned that it was Christ that had performed many of the things that I had mistakenly attributed to the Father (e.g. Christ gave the Law and wrote them on the tables of stone. Christ delivered Israel from their Egyptian bondage. Christ was the one who created all things. Christ was the one who appeared and spoke to people like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the prophets and others, etc.). Third, I learned that many of the names for God that I had believed were reserved for the Father alone, were actually names for Christ also. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, I learned that the Old Testament Sanctuary (Tabernacle) revealed the good news (Gospel) of the plan of redemption - That it typified Christ and that all of it's design and furnishings are symbolic of Christ and of His work on man's behalf. I now believe that the God that is revealed as the active agent in the Old Testament is Christ and Christ alone. As the only "medium through which He [Father] could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen world" (SC p. 13, par. 2), Christ came to reveal the true nature (character) of the Father. And while it is conceded that the Father was "in Christ reconciling the World to Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19); the Father acted only through Christ, so that it is Christ who was the One performing all of the acts attributed to God throughout the Old Testament. This realization brought many things sharply into focus for me in regards to the "Spirit of God" and the plan of Redemption. It clarified and deeply enriched my understanding of the process of "Righteousness by Faith" and the vehicle through which it is carried out, and why "One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,--Christ our righteousness." [RH December 23, 1890; par. 19] "This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." [Isa. 54:17; KJV]. "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." [2 Cor. 5:21; NASB]. "All power is given into His [Jesus] hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure." [Testimonies to Ministers, p. 92]).

In Study #6 we explored many instances that showed that Christ - in His brought forth form - interacted with men like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, etc. It is not within the scope of this study to examine all the instances that show that it was the person of Christ that interacted with men of old to inspire, direct, lead, advise, command, free, bless, and reveal the character of God. We've already seen that Christ was the One who worked many miracles, in order to save His people and in order to convince us to follow the One True God. All of this is worthy of our study and I would encourage you to discover more about this yourself. Suffice for the purposes of this study, the instances sighted reveal that Christ - in His brought-forth form - was the one who interacted with men on behalf of the Father and always for the purpose of revealing the character of God and the plan of Redemption.

We must be ever mindful of the fact that the Old Testament is as "Christ-Centered" as the New Testament! Christ is the One to whom all of the "types" and sacrifices pointed. Christ is the One who is revealed as the only hope for the salvation of mankind! And while Christ is the One upon whom our salvation rests - He is also the One who has been responsible for revealing Himself as our "Blessed Hope." Christ is everything to us, and everything is Christ! I fear that we sometimes forget this and that in forgetting we have sometimes drawn the wrong conclusions with regard to how God is dealing with the Sin problem and how He has interacted with mankind in the past.

Some of the problem that we have had with certain of God's dealings in the Old Testament is that we find it hard to reconcile the harshness and severity of the God exhibited here with the God that Jesus reveals in the New Testament. In short, we have often viewed the God of the Old Testament as stern and strict while the God of the New Testament seems so loving, forgiving and kind. Many of us have concluded that the God of the Old Testament is the Father (the One who is stern, strict and severe); and that the God of the New Testament is different from that of the Old because Jesus has interceded for us, and the Father has now tempered His anger and adopted a more gentle and loving attitude towards us because of what Jesus has done. Nothing could be further from the Truth!

The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. God has not changed in His attitude towards us. Nor does He require anything more, or less, from us than what was required of the people living prior to Christ's first coming. More importantly, we must remember that Christ is the medium through which the Father acts and interacts in the affairs of this world. Christ is effectively the God of the Old Testament. Christ not only delivered the Israelites and parted the Red Sea -- He is the one who sent the plagues upon Egypt and the one who slew Israel's enemies. We often refer to Jesus as the "meek and lowly Jesus" -- but Jesus is the "Mighty" and "Just" God! Jesus is not some "watered-down" version of the Father - He is the Son of God: invested with authority, power, and ultimately judgment! If this is true (and it is) how then do we reconcile this Christ with the Christ of the New Testament?

The severity of many of God's (Christ's) actions in the Old Testament are reconciled with His Love when they are understood as "typical" (symbolic) of Christ's final actions in resolving the Great Controversy and the eradication of "Sin" (and those who cling to it). Much of the violence and bloodshed of the Old Testament - such as the slaying of the Amorites and the Canaanites of Exodus 23:23 -- can be seen as a "type" of Christ's eradication of all those who openly oppose God and attempt to hinder the entrance of His people into the "promised Land." The deaths of people like Uzza, Achan, and in the New Testament--Ananias and Sapphira; can be understood as "typical" of those who refuse the "priceless gift of His [Christ's] own righteousness" and treat the things of God lightly and with indifference. Any and all of God's seemingly severe actions in His interactions with the people of Old Testament times, become understandably "Loving" when they are seen as "acted parables" (object lessons) that are associated with the final vindication of God and the permanent eradication of Sin at the end of the world!

Jesus took the high road - always. He never shrank from adversity or did only those things that were "pleasant" and "easy" for Him. Many times Jesus must have struggled with having to be "firm" and doing the "hard" things (just as we must often do as parents), but Jesus did not back down and try to sugar-coat the Truth. Jesus never shrank from doing whatever was needed, in order to save us. Jesus is a loving Father, and being a loving Father He has had to be strict sometimes, in order to get us to realize the dangers of Sin and to try to spare us the agony that Sin creates in our lives. Jesus said: "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked" (Eze. 33:11) and describes His work in destroying the wicked as; "His strange work . . . His strange act" (Isa. 28:21) - yet Jesus has performed this act many times because it was necessary in order to teach us the dangers of Sin and to Redeem us from its destruction. Jesus knows how serious Sin is and He knows the "infinite and inconceivable price" that has been paid, by Himself and His Father, to provide us with eternal life - Do we? I really don't think we do - else we would not trifle with it so often.

We have often mistakenly concluded that certain Hebrew names for God refer only to the Father and not to Christ. The one name that we have often attributed to the Father alone is "Yahweh," or "Jehovah" (written in capital letters as "LORD" in our Bibles). This has caused us to mistakenly think that when we read the title "LORD" that it must always be speaking of the Father and that when we find the "LORD" speaking to the men of the Old Testament that it must be the Father that is speaking. This is simply not true! The name and title of "LORD" belongs to Christ as well. We have already examined and shown this to be the case earlier. Christ was the "LORD God Almighty" who revealed Himself and spoke with Moses:

    "Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land." God spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them. I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the LORD.'" (Ex. 6:1-8 emphasis mine).

Christ was the "LORD" who established His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Christ was the "LORD" who freed Israel from Egyptian bondage and established them as His "chosen people" (Duet. 7:6). And Christ worked many mighty miracles in order to establish the fact that He was the "LORD." If Christ was the One who did all of these essential, pivotal and impressive things for the Patriarchs, how then is it that we do not seem to recognize that it was Christ, the "LORD," who spoke to all the prophets of Old? Why do we still seem to think the Father is the one speaking in the Old Testament?

    "Jehovah is the name given to Christ. 'Behold, God is my salvation,' writes the prophet Isaiah; 'I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day ye shall say, Praise the Lord, call upon His name, declare His doings among the people, make mention that His name is exalted.' 'In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.'" (ST: May 3, 1899, p. 2. [SDA BC 7A; p. 439, par. 3]).

It is my contention that we can only understand God's workings in the Old Testament by viewing and understanding them within the context of the Great Controversy. If we fail to do this, and fail to scrutinize every experience and doctrine recorded in the Bible within the context of that Controversy - then we will never understand the Truth. We will most assuredly misunderstand much about such things as Christ's being "brought-forth", the Fall, the Creation, the plan of Salvation, the Godhead and the nature of the Holy Spirit.

Christ is the only hope for the salvation of mankind and He has been appointed as such by the Father. Jesus is the person to whom all things pointed and who was active in the Old Testament, revealing the Father's character as well as His "will" in all that He said and did. "From everlasting he was the Mediator of the covenant, the one in whom all nations of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, if they accepted him, were to be blessed" (RH April 5, 1906; par. 5).

It was not the Father revealing Christ to mankind - it was Christ revealing the Father and Himself to mankind. Christ spoke the words of the Father and the Father expected that: "The word of the Son was to be obeyed as readily as the word of the Father." It was to be understood that "He was invested with the honor and authority of Heaven" and "to Him it was committed to execute the mighty counsels of His [Father's] will." (SOP vol. 1, p. 17, par. 1-2; DA p. 212, par. 3; PP p. 36, par.2). "The crowning glory of Christ's attributes was his holiness. The angels bow before him in adoration exclaiming, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. He is declared to be glorious in his holiness." (RH March 12, 1908; par. 4).

Just to make sure that what I am saying here is not totally misunderstood let me try to summarize it more concisely. Jesus has always pointed us to God the Father as the source of all goodness and of all power. But the Father has appointed Jesus as the only medium through which He can bestow His blessings to mankind. The Father has set it up this way and I believe that we can understandably see why He has done so. Apart from Jesus, we could not approach God at all, and the absolute purity of the Father would have consumed us the moment we sinned. You and I would not be discussing these issues right now were it not for Jesus. In short, the Father can only show us His goodness and reveal His glory in and through the person of Jesus Christ. The Father can only speak to us in Christ. Christ is the Father's only link to us, and Christ is most assuredly our only link to the Father.

I believe that the only times that the Father spoke directly with mankind after the fall were the times when He wished to encourage Christ in His mission and when He wished to directly confirm Him as His Son in the eyes of the disciples (see Mat. 3:17; 17:5; Mk. 9:7; Lk. 9:35). Otherwise, the Father spoke through Christ and through Christ alone. "In the beginning was the Word "-- Christ has always been the spokesperson for the Father, speaking as He has heard and doing that which He has been shown. (Jn. 5:30; 8:20,28,38; 12:49; etc). Christ has always been the executor of the Father's will. Christ is the Father's representative to His creations and in a very special way Christ is the Father's representative to "mankind."

Jesus was the GOD of "Israel." "Christ Himself was the originator of the Jewish system of worship, in which, by types and symbols, were shadowed forth spiritual and heavenly things. Many forgot the true significance of these offerings; and the great truth that through Christ alone there is forgiveness of sin, was lost to them." (ST Jan. 2, 1893 - [7BC 933.1]). Sadly, Israel never fully grasped this - "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him" (Jn. 1:11). The Lord God said: "My people…are called by My name…" (2 Chron. 7:14, see also Dan. 9:19). Were God's people called "LORD"? Were they called "I AM"? Were they called Jehovah? Were they called by any other "name" we normally associate with God? No! God's peculiar "people" were called "Israel." Is "Israel" God's name? More specifically, is "Israel" Jesus' name? The answer is Yes!

In Hosea 11:1 we read, "When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son." Traditionally this has been understood to refer to the nation of Israel, and this is true in one sense. But we must let the Bible reveal it's own primary meaning and understanding. In Matthew 2:13-16 we find the true meaning of the words contained in Hosea 11:1. Here we find the record of Joseph being instructed by an angel to take Mary and "the child" (Jesus) out of their land and into Egypt until King Herod should die. Then He was instructed to come back into the land of his forefathers. Matthew tells us that this is when "Israel" was "brought out of Egypt": "So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 'OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.'" (Mat. 2:14,15).

Genesis 32:28 tells us the origin of the name Israel. Jacob had wrestled with the Christ all night and would not let Him go until He blessed Him. Jesus then renamed Jacob, "Israel" -- "He said, 'Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.'" We can immediately see that the name "Israel" has a "Spiritual" meaning and context. Did Jesus "strive" with God and prevail? Again the answer is yes. While the Father had developed the plan of Salvation and in unison with Christ agreed to carry it out -- still, when the time came for Christ to actually make His tremendous sacrifice, the Father was hesitant to let Him go!

    "Sorrow filled heaven as it was realized that man was lost and that the world which God had created was to be filled with mortals doomed to misery, sickness, and death, and that there was no way of escape for the offender. The whole family of Adam must die. I then saw the lovely Jesus and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon His countenance. Soon I saw Him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my accompanying angel, "He is in close converse with His Father." The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing with His Father. Three times He was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time He came from the Father we could see His person. His countenance was calm, free from all perplexity and trouble, and shone with a loveliness which words cannot describe. He then made known to the angelic choir that a way of escape had been made for lost man; that He had been pleading with His Father, and had obtained permission to give His own life as a ransom for the race, to bear their sins, and take the sentence of death upon Himself, thus opening a way whereby they might, through the merits of His blood, find pardon for past transgressions, and by obedience be brought back to the garden from which they were driven. Then they could again have access to the glorious, immortal fruit of the tree of life to which they had now forfeited all right." (Early Writings p. 126, par. 1).

Jesus "strove" with God. Jesus was the "Son" called "out of Egypt." Jesus is "Israel," and He was the GOD of Israel. Jesus was the "I AM" that spoke to Moses: "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Jn. 8:58 & Ex. 3:6). And when Jesus was speaking to the Jews of His day, Jesus said: "if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me" (John 5:46). Jesus was the God of the Old Testament (I am not suggesting that the Father is not revealed in the Old Testament. What I am saying is that Jesus is the One who came to reveal the Father to us and we have no understanding of the Father apart from Christ. When Christ cried out "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me" He was speaking to His God and Father. For man, however, Christ is our Father and our Savior and our GOD. For man; "there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me." [Isa. 45:21]).

The people of God in New Testament times are also called by His Name - they are called "Christians": "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:26). Peter tells us that it is they, who take the name of Christ, that are favored by God as His "chosen people" -- "you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD'S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). What is true in New Testament times was true in the Old Testament times and visa-versa: "if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." (Gal. 3:29). JESUS is our Lord, our Savior, and our God.

We simply must understand that Christ is the "LORD" who speaks in the Old Testament as well as the New (Gen. 17:1; Ex. 6:3 cf. Rev. 11:17). And since this is true, then this brings new significance to the words of the Old Testament where we find such statements as: "For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isa. 43:3 - see also 2 Sam. 22:3 & Hos. 13:4). "I, even I, am He who comforts you" (Isa. 51:12). Or; "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6). And: "It will come about after this That I will pour out My Sprit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions" (Joel 2:28; see also Isa. 44:3 & Prov. 1:23). If it is indeed Christ who is speaking here - then He must be indicating that HE is our God, our Father, our comforter -- and that it is HIS Spirit that will be "poured out" upon His people at the end of Time! [Note: This is not to say that the Father is not our God also. But we must remember Christ's special and unique role as it relates to us as men. He is our "Creator," our "Savior," our "Revelator," and our "God." Some will say that Christ is referring to the "Father" as the One who "comforts" and speaking only of His "Father" pouring out His Spirit at the end of time - we will see that this is not the case when we examine this closely in the next two studies!].

When we look at the New Testament we seem to find God introducing a third person into the plan for our salvation - and this "person" seems to take on the primary role in our salvation after Christ's ascension. Is this the "Third Person" of the Godhead? And is the "Trinity" doctrine, as we have taught it, been right all along? Has the "Holy Spirit" actually existed as the third member of the Godhead all along and simply was "revealed" at this time? Did Christ complete His work and a different member of the Godhead step in to fill His place?

When we consider the Wilderness Sanctuary and its Services, we have one of the most conclusive proofs that this is not the case. The plan of Redemption is represented in its entirety in the services of the Sanctuary. The whole plan of Redemption is revealed here from start to finish - and we find that its focus is on Christ and Christ alone. We do not find Christ doing His work only up to a point and then being replaced, or supplemented, by someone else! It is Christ who is seen represented as our sacrifice, our priest (mediator), and ultimately as our judge. Even the construction and furnishings of the Tabernacle represent Christ - and Christ alone.

This is not a "Exhaustive" study on the Sanctuary or the Tabernacle. Many fine books have been written on this subject that go into detail about such things as the materials used, what the shapes and colors and the number of items used represent. The best book that I have seen on the Old Testament Tabernacle and how it relates to Christ is Stephen N. Haskell's book "The Cross and Its Shadow [ First printed by (The Bible Training School, South Lancaster, Mass. 1914) and reprinted by (Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, MD., 1984) - Ellen White Treasured this book. Another fine book is M. L. Andreason's, "The Sanctuary Service" (Review and Herald Publishing Association, Takoma Park, Washingtion, D.C., 1937). Frank B. Holbrook has also written much on this subject and is an excellent authority to consult.]. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to learn more about the Tabernacle, its services, what is represented by what, and how everything ties in to Christ and the plan of Salvation. For my purposes I wish only to convey the evidence that shows that the Tabernacle and its furnishings all represent Christ and Christ alone.

I must admit some frustration at this point. To be fair to the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy quotes that speak of the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and what these things all represent - I must include quotes that make reference to the "Holy Spirit." Since we have not yet proven that the Holy Spirit is, in fact, Christ's Spirit (and not a being exclusive of His personage) one could become confused and draw the wrong conclusions. However, when we consider the "Atonement," we are forced to conclude that it was made possible through the person of Jesus Christ alone. Any mention of "someone else" must cause us to be "suspect" in concluding that this "being" is anyone other than Christ. So, while I will include these references to a "third" person's involvement in the Atonement, I will do so in light of what we have already considered about Christ's being "brought-forth" and will deduce any conclusions about the identity of this other person from that perspective.

I understand and admit the difficulty in doing this, but I believe that as we progress through the following chapters it will become clear that no injustice is being done to the quotes used and that the conclusions I am drawing are correct. I believe that by the time you finish these studies that you will be able to come back to some of these quotes and understand them in a different "light" then you may understand them right now. So let's continue.

The Wilderness Tabernacle:

As we enter the outer court of the Tabernacle from the east, the first things that we see is the Alter of Burnt Offering. Next, between the Alter and the door to the first apartment of the Tabernacle (the enclosed portion of the tabernacle represented the heavenly Sanctuary) we find a laver filled with water. As we enter the first apartment of the Tabernacle we see three pieces of furniture - the Table of Shewbread, the Alter of Incense, and the golden seven-branched Candlestick. When we enter the second apartment (the Most Holy Place) we find the Ark of the Covenant with its Mercy Seat and two golden "Cherubim" with wings spread over the Shekinah Glory (the visible presence of God - God's Throne, if you will). All of these things represent Christ, His Sacrifice, and His ministration on behalf of fallen man.

The first two items, the Alter of Burnt Offering and the Laver, existed in the outer court of the Tabernacle and were representative of Christ's Sacrifice (as the "Lamb" of God) here on this earth.

  1. The Alter of Burnt Offering:

    The Alter, as well as the offering, represented Christ. The Alter of Burnt Offering was an alter of "continual atonement" (See Num. 29:11 & Neh. 10:33). Each morning and evening a lamb was offered and burnt on this alter. The "Alter" represented the Cross of Christ upon which He was offered as a Sacrifice for the Atonement of mankind (See Heb. 10:10 & Eph. 5:2). This "Alter" is closely associated with the "Alter" of Incense located in the first apartment of the Tabernacle which was the alter of "continual intercession". The Alter and the sacrifice represent Christ.
  2. The Laver:

    Sitting between the Alter (Cross) and the first apartment of the Tabernacle (heavens gate) represents the Tomb of Christ and is also representative of the waters of Baptism - in which we are buried with Christ. The Laver was also the place where the priests were to wash any particles of dust or contamination from their hands and feet in preparation of making an offering or in entering the presence of God. Jesus washed the disciples feet and left us an example to do the same. Jesus said: "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." (Jn. 13:8). It is Jesus' blood that cleanses us as we accept Him as our sacrifice and substitute - "and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 Jn. 1:7). The Laver represents Christ.

As we enter the Tabernacle itself, we are presented with a number of furnishings.

  1. The Table of Shewbread:

    On the North side of the first apartment we find the Table of Shewbread which held 12 loaves of Bread. These loaves of bread were baked fresh each Sabbath. The bread from the previous Sabbath was eaten by the priests on the Sabbath day after it had been replaced (or refurbished) with the new. The Table of Shewbread represented Christ and His care for the 12 Tribes of Israel which are representative of all of those who accept Jesus as their Messiah (See Mat. 19:28; Lk. 22: 28-30; James 1:1; and Rev. 21:12). Jesus said: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh." (John 6:51). Jesus is the Word - the means of communication between God and man - and Jesus states in John 6:63 (in response to the Disciples' perplexity concerning Christ's statement) that "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." Stephen Haskell summarizes this truth in this way: "His [Christ's] word is the true bread, of which we are to eat" (Haskell; p. 57). The Table of Shewbread represents Christ.
  2. The Alter of Incense:

    The Incense upon this Alter was continually burning and represents the prayers of God's people, which are coming up before Him continually. It represents the continual intercession of Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary. The priests renewed the incense each morning and evening at the time of the morning and evening sacrifice. The Alter of Incense is thus linked directly to the Alter of Burnt offering and the Sacrifice of Christ. Commenting on these alters (and particularly the Alter of Incense) Ellen White states: "The True Alter is Christ, and the true fire is the Holy Spirit." (Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 178). She also states: "No sacrifice would be acceptable to God which was not salted nor seasoned with divine fire, which represented the communication between God and man that was opened through Jesus Christ alone" (RH: March 25, 1875; par. 1).

    If the "divine fire" represented the communication between God and man that was opened through Jesus Christ alone, and we remember that Jesus is "the only medium of communication between God and man" [SC p. 19, par. 2] and that "Christ was the medium through which He could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen world," [SC p. 13, par. 2] (See also Luke 10:22 "no one knows who…the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.") then we must conclude, if the "true fire" is the Holy Spirit and represents the communication between God and man opened through Christ alone, that the Holy Spirit must be intimately related to Jesus Christ - and not a separately defined individual. Remember that the man Jesus Christ, now at the Father's right hand making intercession for us, cannot be in all places at once- He is not "Omnipresent" in His brought-forth incarnate form. But His "Spirit" form is able to be "Omnipresent" and make effectual (in the earth and in man) the sacrifice and the work that Christ is performing in Heaven. "The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail" (The Faith I Live By, p. 52).

    "Jesus is our atoning sacrifice; we can make no atonement for ourselves, but by faith we can accept the atonement that has been made. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." It is by virtue of this precious blood that the sin-stricken soul can be restored to soundness. While you are putting up your petition to God, the Holy Spirit applies the faithful promises of God to your heart. In moments of perplexity, when Satan suggests doubt and discouragement, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up as a standard against him the faithful sayings of Christ, and the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness will flash into your mind and soul. When Satan would overwhelm you with despair, the Holy Spirit will point you to the intercession made for you by a living Saviour. Christ is the fragrance, the holy incense, which makes your petitions acceptable to the Father." (ST, August 22, 1892; par. 5).

    "Christ is the connecting link between God and man. He has promised His personal intercession…As we acknowledge before God our appreciation of Christ's merits, fragrance is given to our intercessions. As we approach God through the virtue of the Redeemer's merits, Christ places us close by His side, encircling us with His human arm, while with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite. He puts His merits, as sweet incense, in the censer in our hands, in order to encourage our petitions. He promises to hear and answer our supplications" (8T p. 178, par. 2).

  3. The alter of incense and the incense itself represent Christ - and the "Spirit" (Divine Fire) that makes effectual what Christ has and is doing must be "The Spirit of Christ" - it must be Christ's Spirit.

  4. The Seven Branched Candlestick:

    The Candlestick was located on the south wall of the first apartment of the Tabernacle. It was a Seven Branched Candlestick with bowls at to top of each arm. These bowls were filled with pure olive oil and provided the light for the Tabernacle. Like the incense, the Lamps were to burn continually (see Lev. 24:2). The lamps of the Candlestick were trimmed each morning and evening at the time that the incense in the censer was renewed (at the time of the morning and evening Sacrifice - Ex. 30:7). None but the High Priest could perform this service. The Candlestick is a very illuminating piece of furniture when it comes to revealing Christ and the two aspects of His nature (His brought-forth nature and His Spirit nature). Seventh-day Adventists (and many other Christians) have long recognized and understood that the Candlestick represents Christ. The Bible clearly reveals that the Candlestick represents Christ, and by extension His Church (see Rev. 1:12-20). We have long held the belief, and correctly so, that the Holy Spirit is represented by the oil found in the Lampstand of the Sanctuary. But does this mean that the Holy Spirit is a person apart from the person of Christ? Not if we look carefully!

    The LORD gave Zechariah a vision concerning the Candlestick and where the oil came from. The vision is found in Zechariah 4:1-14. In the vision Zechariah saw the lampstand and "seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side" (vss. 2,3). Zechariah was intrigued by the two olive trees and asked: "What are these, my Lord?" (vs. 4). The Lord responded: "Do you not know what these are?" Then He gave a very interesting answer. He said: "This is the word of the Lord… 'Not by might nor by power, but by my My Spirit says the LORD of hosts.'" (vs. 6). At first glance that doesn't seem like much of an answer does it? Zechariah certainly did not understand what that answer meant. In verse 12 he asks the question again and the Lord gave him a much fuller explanation concerning the two olive trees that fed the Lampstand with Holy oil. In verse 12 we read Zechariah's more expansive question regarding the olive trees that fed the lamp. Here is the exact question that he asked: "What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?" The Lord then responded: "Do you not know what these are?"… "These are the two anointed ones, who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth." (vss. 13,14). In the marginal notes of your Bible you should find a literal translation of the "two anointed ones." The literal meaning is: "sons of fresh oil." Ellen White tells us: "In Zechariah's vision the two olive trees which stand before God are represented as emptying the golden oil out of themselves through golden tubes into the bowl of the sanctuary. From this the lamps of the sanctuary are fed, that they may give a continuous bright and shining light. So from the anointed ones that stand in God's presence the fullness of divine light, and love, and power, is imparted to His people, that they may impart to others life and joy and refreshing. They are to become channels through which divine and human instrumentalities co-operate in communicating to the world the tide of God's love" (Australasian Union Conference Record; June 1, 1900; par. 48). She also tells us that, "Unless God shall work through the two olive-trees, his witnesses, causing them to empty from themselves the golden oil through the golden tubes into the golden bowl, and hence to the burning lamps, representing the church, no one will be safe for a moment from the machinations of Satan…But this golden oil will revive the Spirit of God in the heart of man. A Christlike principle will be introduced which will be like leaven. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, satanic agencies will be overcome" (RH September 14, 1897; par. 6). "These heavenly messengers empty the golden oil out of themselves, that the light may be given to the earnest searcher for truth. 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.' 'And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed'" (RH April, 20, 1897; par. 2).

    Now I must ask you, Did God the Father have two sons? No! He clearly tells us that Jesus is His "only Son": "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16; See also Jn. 3:18 & 1 Jn. 4:9). Jesus is clearly represented as the olive tree (see Hosea 14:4-7, Rom. 11:17-18, 22-24). But Jesus is represented in the vision of Zechariah as two olive trees. Why? I ask you again, does God have two sons? In a sense the answer is yes. When Jesus was "brought-forth" from the Father, He was brought forth in a form that did not include some aspects of His divinity (e.g. His Omnipresence). Christ effectively divided Himself in order to accomplish the incarnation so that He might serve as the mediator between God and man (all intelligent life included). He effectively became two persons. One, His brought-forth self; and the other, His Spirit self. They are distinct and individual persons; but they are persons of the same being -they are both Olive Trees - they are both Jesus Christ! [Interestingly, the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-4 are said to be the two olive trees and two candlesticks!].

    In human terms (attempting to use human language/understanding of this) Christ was like the egg in the womb of a woman which divides and becomes twins. These twins are both from the same egg and bear a similar resemblance, yet they are two individuals ( I understand that this is not a perfect analogy but is the best one that I could think of to describe what Christ has done. This analogy certainly does not fit or cover all the aspects involved in the incarnation, but it is sufficient to give us a glimpse into an understanding of what transpired). There are two aspects of Christ's nature that are at work in the Plan of Redemption - His brought-forth form which paid the penalty for our transgression and provides a means through which we can again approach God - and His Spirit form which enables Christ to actually live in us, transforming us into His image and making us a partaker of the divine nature. BOTH of these aspects of Christ's nature are actively involved in our Redemption. Both are absolutely necessary to accomplish our restoration to the "image of God." Both are Christ, and both enable the lampstand to lighten the world. Jesus said: "I am the Light of the world." (Jn. 9:5). John picks up on the significance of this when he declares that Jesus is the "true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man." (Jn. 1:9).

    It is extremely interesting to me that there are two olive trees (Zech. 4:3,11,12), two anointed ones (Lit. "two sons of oil", Zech. 4:14), and two witnesses (which are said to be the two olive trees and two candlesticks - Rev. 11:3,4). In Zechariah 4:12 the "two anointed ones" are said to be "standing by the LORD of the whole earth." In Revelation 11:3,4 the "two witnesses" (which are said to be the two olive trees and the two candlesticks) are said to "stand before the LORD of the earth." All of the descriptions occur within the context of the Sanctuary (see Zech 4:1-12 & Rev. 11:1-6) - and one cannot escape the conclusion that these two ("anointed ones"/"witnesses") are standing in the very presence of GOD! This makes me seriously wonder if the two Cherubim found in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle are not "angels" at all - but are representations of the two olive trees, candlesticks, witnesses, and therefore also actually a representation of Christ (and His dual nature)! This possibility is made even more interesting (and plausible) when we consider that the two Cherubim were made out of Gold, which is also a symbol of Christ (Rev. 3:18). In the Solomon's Temple, Solomon had been instructed to make the Cherubim out of olive wood and overlay them with Gold (1 Kings 6:23,28)! The connection to the two olive trees is unmistakable -- especially when you consider that Solomon used cedar, fir, and acacia wood for the rest of the Temple and furniture. Why olive wood for the two Cherubim? The Cherubim are the Ones "standing before the LORD of the earth" - standing in His very presence.

    Is not Christ the ONE who stands before the Father, and in His presence, ever reflecting the Glory of God?! Is not Christ the "only one" who could enter in to the councils and presence of the Father? Could not all of these references to "two" (olive trees, anointed ones, witnesses, candlesticks, and even the two Cherubim) be representative of Christ and the dual nature of His person? Is it not worth our consideration? I suspect that there is something quite beautiful in all of this that we have not yet laid hold of. "Thy way, O God, is in the Sanctuary" (Ps. 77:13)! [Note: The Hebrew word for 'Cherubim' actually carries the meaning of an "imaginary (or mystical) figure" and is generally not used as a direct reference to a created being (angel). Except for its use in describing Lucifer (who we know was a created being, or angel) most of the references using this word can be seen to represent a being (Christ?) who is not only in close proximity to God but has a unique relationship with God (executing His Will) - apart from those of created beings. Even in its use in reference to Lucifer, the word 'covering' can actually mean "protect" or "protecting" (it is used in this sense in Ex. 33:22 where the LORD "covers" and protects Moses with His hand). Lucifer then, can be understood to have been made a "Protecting Cherub" -- or Angel - and not necessarily one who stood in the very presence of the Father. Remember that Lucifer was not allowed into the "councils" of God held between Christ and the Father. I also believe that if Lucifer was in the direct presence of the Father when he began to "rebel" (Sin) that he would have been consumed immediately! Also, since everything else in the Tabernacle was representative of Christ, doesn't it seem odd to suddenly have two created beings (Angels) residing in the Most Holy place of God?] Anyway, getting back to the Lampstand (Candlestick) and the oil, we can see that they both represent Jesus Christ.

  5. The Mercy Seat and Shekinah Glory:

    As we move from the first apartment of the Tabernacle to the second apartment, we find only one piece of furniture located there - the Ark of the Covenant. Inside the Ark we find the two tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments - the Law of God (the ruling principles of His Government and the embodiment, or transcript of His Character). The space above the Ark is referred to as the "Mercy Seat." Sitting upon the Mercy Seat we find the "Shekinah Glory."

    God is a Just God and could not change His Law in order to accommodate man in his transgression. He could not simply forgive man his transgression by laying aside the inevitable consequences of the transgression of His Law (which is death). To do so would be to lay aside His Law itself, and this He simply could not do. "The law of Jehovah, the foundation of His government in heaven and upon earth, was as sacred as God Himself" (Story of Redemption; p. 48, par. 1). "The law of God could not be changed to meet man's necessity, for in God's arrangement it was never to lose its force nor give up the smallest part of its claims" (Ibid. p. 46, par. 2). The Law of God could not be set aside for it is the foundation of God's government and a transcript of His very Character. It was also the "basis" for the "everlasting covenant". But man had transgressed this Law and was faced with the inevitable consequences - death (eternal death). Only God's mercy could set Him free from the claims of His Law, but the Law itself must remain in force. How was He to provide this "mercy?" He provided it in the person of His Son - Jesus Christ. Jesus would pay the penalty for our transgression and make the mercy of God possible. Jesus would be the means of God's mercy. Jesus would be God's mercy seat. "The law of God, enshrined within the ark, was the great rule of righteousness and judgment. That law pronounced death upon the transgressor; but above the law was the mercy seat, upon which the presence of God was revealed, and from which, by virtue of the atonement, pardon was granted to the repentant sinner. Thus in the work of Christ for our redemption, symbolized by the sanctuary service, "mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Psalm 85:10." (PP p. 349, par. 2).

    Upon the mercy seat sat the visible presence of God - the Shekinah Glory. Most of us have viewed this Glory as the Glory of the Father God. Was it? Jesus is described as being the Glory of God: "and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace [mercy] and truth." (Jn. 1:14; see also Mat. 16:27; Mk. 8:38; Jn. 17:5,24; Rev. 1:6). "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men….looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." (Tit. 2:11,13; see also 1 Pet. 4:14; 5:10; 2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus was the embodiment of the Glory of God, revealing that Glory to mankind: "so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever" (1 Pet. 4:11; see also Phil. 1:9-11; 3:3).

    The Father is the ultimate God, LORD, and Judge of this world - BUT - the Father has committed all things into the hands of His Son, Jesus Christ. While the Father may be considered the "Judge" of mankind, still, the Father has "fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:31; see also Jn. 3:35; 13:3). Jesus is the One who has been "appointed to judge" the world: "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." (2 Cor. 5:10).

    For man, Jesus is not only our sacrifice (substitute) - He is also our advocate (mercy provider) and our judge. Jesus is our LORD, our Savior, and our God. As the visible representation of the Father, it was the Lord Jesus who was manifest between the Cherubim -- sitting on the mercy seat and manifested as the Shekinah Glory. "Christ Himself was the Lord of the temple. When He should leave it, its glory would depart-that glory once visible in the holy of holies over the mercy seat, ...was the Shekinah, the visible pavilion of Jehovah" (SDA BC vol. 4; p.1139 [MS 71, 1897]). "Christ was their instructor. As He had been with them in the wilderness, so He was still to be their teacher and guide. In the tabernacle and the temple His glory dwelt in the holy Shekinah above the mercy seat. In their behalf He constantly manifested the riches of His love and patience." (COL p. 288; See also 6T p.221, par.3 & 4).

It is significant that when the visible presence of Christ (the Shekinah Glory) had departed from the Temple, it had paused upon the Mount of Olives. Christ, when He was to Ascend to Heaven also paused upon this mount and with a yearning heart overlooked Jerusalem: "As the place of His ascension, Jesus chose the spot so often hallowed by His presence while He dwelt among men. Not Mount Zion, the place of David's city, not Mount Moriah, the temple site, was to be thus honored… Jesus, weary and heart-burdened, had gone forth to find rest in the Mount of Olives. The holy Shekinah, in departing from the first temple, had stood upon the eastern mountain, as if loath to forsake the chosen city; so Christ stood upon Olivet, with yearning heart overlooking Jerusalem" (DA p.829, par. 2).

Ellen White summarizes the Tabernacle, its services, and its relationship to Christ beautifully in the following words: "The typical sacrifices and offerings of that dispensation represented Christ, who was to become the perfect offering for sinful man. Besides these mystic symbols and shadowy types pointing to a Saviour to come, there was a present Saviour to the Israelites. He it was, who, enshrouded in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, led them in their travels; and he it was who gave direct words to Moses to be repeated to the people. . . He who was equal with the Father in the creation of man was commander, lawgiver, and guide to his ancient people" (RH March 2, 1886; par. 2). And so He is to us today.

We are told that "…in order to preach the gospel in its fullness, they [we] must present the Saviour not only as revealed in His life and teachings, but as foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament and as symbolized by the sacrificial service" (COL p. 127, par. 1). "Christ as manifested to the patriarchs, as symbolized in the sacrificial service, as portrayed in the law, and as revealed by the prophets, is the riches of the Old Testament. Christ in His life, His death, and His resurrection, Christ as He is manifested by the Holy Spirit, is the treasure of the New Testament. Our Saviour, the outshining of the Father's glory, is both the Old and the New" (Ibid. p. 126, par. 3).

In all of the Old Testament we see Christ revealing the character of God, and Christ revealed as God. In all of the things associated with the Tabernacle we see Christ is the focus and the One represented by all the furniture/services of the Tabernacle. The "Spirit" that is mentioned in connection with many of these things - the Shewbread, Incense, Candlestick, and the Shekinah Glory -- is always mentioned in inseparable connection with Christ. This is because it is Christ's Spirit and not a person who is not Christ. This will become absolutely clear when we examine this more fully in the study devoted to the Holy Spirit. We will find that the Holy Spirit is indeed Christ's Spirit and not some independent, ever-existing third person of the Godhead apart from the person of Christ.

What We've Learned Here
  1. The entire Bible is "Christ Centered" - not just the New Testament. Both the Old and the New Testament reveal Christ as the responsible for revealing the Father. In the Christ of the Old Testament as well as the Christ of the New Testament we see Christ revealed as our Creator, God, Savior, and connecting link between the Father and man.

  2. Christ was the God of the Old Testament. Christ was the one who created this World and Man. Christ was the one who "walked" with Adam and Eve in the Garden - and Appeared to the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.) - Christ was the one who "called" Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel and all of the prophets - Christ was the one who gave the Law on Mount Sinai and it was Christ who led the children of Israel through their wanderings and beyond - Christ is the one who "spoke" through all the prophets the things concerning God and the things concerning Himself.

  3. Christ is typified in the history of Israel and the happenings of the people of the Old Testament serve as types of the blessings and the judgments that await all mankind when He shall return a second time.

  4. Christ and His ministry is symbolized in the Old Testament Sanctuary and its services; and these things serve as a reflection of the reality of both His earthly and heavenly ministry (from which they were patterned [Heb 8:5]).

Next - #8 The Incarnation - Jesus Becomes A Man

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