So let’s take a closer look at the old Temple itself. We have already seen the altar and the laver, both outside the Temple proper. Now we move into the first room, the Holy Place.
On one side wall stood the table of shewbread, one loaf for each tribe, Ex 25:23, 30. Do we have anything to do with “bread” in the church? That one is easy—the Lord’s Supper. 1 Cor 10: 16,17 tells us that because we are all members of the one body, we partake of the one bread.
Across from the shewbread stood the lampstands. Pay close attention to these verses:
Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and say to him, When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand.” And Aaron did so: he set up its lamps in front of the lampstand, as the LORD commanded Moses. Num 8:1-3
What could lampstands have to do with the church? Do you see anything in the church that matches it? Yes, you do.
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. Rev 1:12-13,20.
The lampstands are the churches. Do you realize what that means when Jesus threatens to take them away? He is saying that if they do not repent they are no longer worthy to be called his churches. Paul tells us that we are supposed to be shining “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” as “lights in the world.” Our actions can glorify His name or debase it. We won’t get to keep that “lampstand”—our identity as a church—if we are not careful how we behave.
At the back of the Holy Place stood another altar, the altar of incense. Ex 30:1. Where is the incense today? And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Rev 5:8
How about music in the Temple worship? Look through 2 Chronicles 29 and you will see that God authorized through Gad the Seer, not just singing, but also many kinds of instruments in the Temple. When God wanted instrumental music He knew exactly how to command it. Now look at all the other parallels we have seen. Everything literal becomes spiritual: bloody sacrifices become living sacrifices, incense becomes prayers. What do all these musical instruments become in the first century church? The ultimate spiritual instrument: addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, Eph 5:19. A capella singing now makes the greatest sense.
Then we come to the veil, the curtain that separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it…And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy. Exod 26:31, 33.
Here is one place where the pattern does not hold. That veil no longer exists either literally or figuratively. And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Matt 27:50-51.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, Heb 9:11-12. When the veil tore, Jesus went through it giving us access to God that those Old Testament people did not have. Notice: the pattern does not hold here because GOD changed it, not man. The veil was torn “from top to bottom.” That veil is no longer needed.
And there is yet another parallel with a difference. The high priest went into the Most Holy Place once a year “with blood not his own,” Heb 9:25. Instead he carried animal blood, blood which was insufficient for lasting forgiveness. Jesus entered that Holy Place—Heaven itself—“once for all” with “his own blood,” Heb 9:12.
Every aspect of the old temple, every piece of furniture and every action that took place in it, has a parallel in the church. Do you still think God doesn’t think patterns matter? If you are still not convinced, meet with me one more time.
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. Eph 3:8-12