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Various authors share about experiencing God's wonderful presence by knowing Jesus Christ personally through the power of the Holy Spirit.


 BY: Brian E. Trenhaile, MTh
Revised: April 7, 2007

Table of Contents


I.       Ark of the Covenant

         The Ark’s Contents

         Mercy Seat

II.      The Table of Showbread

         The Showbread

III.    The Menorah

         The Golden Lamp Stand

         The Lamp Oil

IV.    The Altar of Incense

         The Incense

         The Manifold Wisdom of God





The tabernacle demonstrates God’s eternal intent for us to have intimate fellowship with Him.  This has always been His consistent goal and deep desire.  In Genesis right after Creation, God immediately started to fellowship with man in the Garden.  In the Gospels, this desire for fellowship intensely displays itself through Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.  In Revelation, it is consummated with us being together with Him forever.  The tabernacle is simply a model of the beautiful and exquisite relationship that God desires for all believers to have with Him.

The function of the tabernacle is to provide a place of fellowship, where God communes with man.  God clearly states this in the following scripture verse: “And let them make a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8).  Murray states the following regarding fellowship with God, “… man was to have fellowship with God.  This fellowship is to be the privilege of our daily lives and should be our highest priority during our morning time of devotions. …” (Murray, 30).

In fact God desires this fellowship so much, that He actually gives us two awesome helpers to facilitate our fellowship with Him.  These helpers are actually through Himself, as expressed through the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Exodus 17: 8-16 provides a beautiful and powerful analogy of this concept.  In this analogy, Moses who represents the believer, grew weary of praying when Joshua was battling with the Amalekites.  Aaron and Hur, who in this analogy represent Jesus and the Holy Spirit, held up Moses’ hands so that he could continue to pray.  This battle was won because of the assistance of these two wonderful prayer helpers.



The Ark of the Covenant is described in Exodus 25:10-22, 37:1-9, 40:3, 20-21.  This symbol for God is located in the Holy of Holies.  The Ark of the Covenant represents God the Father.  He is portrayed as most holy.  He can only be approached through blood sacrifice. 

The Ark’s Contents

Inside the ark are contained Aaron’s staff, which budded, a jar of manna and the stone tablets that God inscribed at Sinai (cf. Ex. 25:16-22 and Heb. 9:4).  These items represent God’s chosen leadership, His provisions and His law.  Carnal mankind rejects all three of these symbols that represent God.  Fortunately the mercy seat is directly above these items.

The Mercy Seat

The mercy seat which is on the ark (cf. Ex. 25:17-22) is sprinkled with blood.  Among other things this blood is a symbol of God’s forgiveness needed for rejecting His leadership, provisions and law (cf. Hebrews 9:22). At the mercy seat He meets mankind’s representative, the high priest (cf. Ex. 30:6).




Exodus 25: 23-30, 37: 10-16, 40: 4a, 22-23 describes the golden table along with the showbread on top of it.  This table and the sacred showbread are representative of Jesus.  I John 2:1 states that Jesus is our advocate (Greek: paracleatos) and He speaks for us to the Father in heaven.

The Showbread

The Bread of Presence in particular represents Jesus.  Jesus said I am the bread of life.  Bread is something we need to live.  This is borne out in the following reference: “Part of the Tabernacle: Bread, What it Taught: Sustenance is needed for God’s people, How Christ Fulfilled It:  ‘I am the bread of life’ (John 6:48).” (Geisler, 60-61).

Exodus 25:30 states that this bread must be on the table at all times.  This ‘constant presence’ is a reminder that Jesus is our ever present intercessor seated at the right hand of God.  “… The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.” (Hebrews 8:1, 2 NIV).  He lives to make ‘constant intercession’ for us.  “Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25).  He is our high priest; His blood sacrifice (cf. Heb. 9:12) is what the Father sees us through.  “… and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”  (Isaiah 53:12).

For New Testament believers, the Word is synonymous with spiritual bread.  “… The Word gives me matter for prayer, telling me what God will do for me.  It shows me the path of prayer, telling me how God will have me come.  It gives me the power for prayer, the assurance that I will be heard.  And it brings me the answer to prayer, as it teaches what God will do for me” (Murray, 22).

Not only is the Word synonymous with spiritual bread, it is also synonymous with Jesus. 
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1).  “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life …” (I John 1:1). 

So Jesus points to the showbread, the showbread points to the Word and the Word points right back to Jesus.  The table of showbread unquestionably symbolizes Jesus.

Other Roles of Jesus

This showbread represents Jesus giving us access to the Father.  Andrew Murray put it this way: “The Word is meant to bring us into His presence and fellowship” (Murray, 66).  Especially consider what Paul the apostle says in the following verse: “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, but whom we also have access into this grace wherein we stand.”  (Romans 5:1).  In Greek this word “access” means the access of an ambassador coming before an important dignitary.

… through him we … have access in one Spirit to the Father.  Access’ denotes the privilege of approaching or being introduced into the presence of someone in high station, especially royal or divine personage.  Here Christ is viewed as ushering believers into their new state of grace and acceptance before God (cf. also Eph. 3:12).  (Bruce, 116)

The more we know about someone the easier it is to communicate with that person.  Jesus gives us personal knowledge of God.  There are several scriptures which attest to this statement.  One example follows:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. (John 14: 6-11).

He also helps us to pray for ourselves.  If we abide in Christ and His word abides within us, then He says we can ask what we will and it will be granted to us (cf. John 15:7).

Jesus also gives us tools for prayer, He said: “… Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” (John 16:23).  In fact, praying to the Father in Jesus name is the proper way for all New Testament believers to pray (cf. Hagin, 15-33).

Jesus also gives us the power to be God’s children.  “But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12).  This power makes it easy for us to communicate with God.  Just as easy and natural as it is for earthly children to communicate with their earthly fathers.




Exodus 25:31-40, 27: 20-21, 37:17-24, 40:4b, 24-25 and Lev. 24:1-4 describe the Menorah (the golden lampstand, and the olive oil that is burnt by it).  This lampstand and the oil it burns are symbols of the Holy Spirit.  In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is represented by flames of fire.  On Pentecost the Holy Spirit came with tongues of fire (cf. Acts 2: 1-4).  The Holy Spirit is our advocate (helper, Greek: paracleatos, cf. John 14:16-18) and brings to us messages from the Father (John 16:13-15).

The Golden Lamp Stand

The golden lamp stand has seven flames of fire or lights.  The quantity of lights, seven, is also significant because it too symbolizes the Holy Spirit.  “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (Rev. 4:5).  Zechariah 3:9, in the Amplified Bible, mentions the seven facets of a gem which represent the radiations of the Spirit of God.

God's instruction to Moses was that this lampstand was not to be made from a mould. In fact it would have been easier for them to mould the lampstand. But God says that you shall make this lampstand of hammered work. That means that the whole lamp stand was taken from one solid piece of gold. ... In fact God made them do it the hard way. ...  

But God made them do it out of hammered work for a purpose. For this whole lamp stand represent the person of the Holy Spirit. And so it is made from one piece of gold. There is only one Spirit. The amount of work that goes into it through hammering continually symbolize that the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives can only come forth when the outer man dies and when there is a crucifixion. There is no outpouring of the Holy Spirit before the cross. There is no resurrection power before the cross of Calvary. And so God is emphasizing in this lampstand all the importance of letting the Spirit of God live within us.

And as we are going to see the spirit of suffering will be re-emphasized by the symbol of the oil. This oil is connected to this hammered work that God ordained. Now the lamp stand was such that it has 3 branches on one side and 3 branches on the other. And in each branch there are 3 knobs. You will notice that there are 9 sections on each side, which represent the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit on one side and the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit on the other side. (Tan, The Oil of the Holy Spirit, 1-2)

The above reference illustrates how the Menorah is fraught with symbolism representing the Holy Spirit.

The Lamp Oil

Oil is another symbol of the Holy Spirit.  “… We need to mention that 2 types of oil symbolize the Holy Spirit in the Bible.  One is the oil of the lamp stand, which is olive oil.  The other is the anointing oil, which is made up of different substances. …” (Tan, The Oil of the Holy Spirit, 1).  Additional related excerpts from this same author follow:

This olive oil was to be taken from pressing the olive fruit. That is the second emphasis. The first emphasis is the lampstand must be made out of hammering one solid piece of gold. Now the oil came from olives that have been pressed. The oil and the lampstand give us a double emphasis that unless the outer man is broken the inner man cannot flow forth. Unless there is the dying of the outer man there cannot be a release of the inner man.  … (Tan, The Oil of the Holy Spirit, 2)


Other Roles of the Holy Spirit

In addition to Jesus, the Holy Spirit also gives us knowledge from and about God.  Jesus said the following about the Holy Spirit:

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.  (John 16: 13-15).

 The Holy Spirit, like Jesus, also helps us to pray.  Some of the scriptures associated with the Holy Spirit’s help in prayer are Acts 2:4, I Corinthians 14:2, 4, 14, 18 and Jude 20. 

One thing I appreciate about being filled with the Holy Ghost is speaking with tongues.  From the day I was filled with the Spirit to this day, I have worshipped and magnified God, praying and singing in tongues, and I have communicated with God by this means every single day (Hagin, 85).

The Holy Spirit also gives us direction.  Paul stated “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”  (Romans 8:14).



The altar of incense is described in Exodus 30:1-10 (altar), 34-38 (incense), 37:25-29, 40:5a, 26, 27.  The believer is represented through the altar of incense.  This altar of incense is centrally located between the ark, table of showbread and the golden lamp stand.  The close proximity of all these tabernacle objects is representative of the close relationship that God desires to have with each of us.  We are the apple of His eye (cf. Psalm 17:8).

Romans 12:1, 2 (KJV) says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  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.”   The offering of our bodies as living sacrifices can be represented by this altar of incense.

The Incense

Our prayers are considered as incense.  The following passage intertwines prayer and incense and shows that the saints are represented through the altar of incense that is in heaven.  “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censor; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne.  And smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.  And the angel took the censor, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.” (Revelation 8: 3-5).

This incense can also be analogous to praise and worship as the following author states:

The incense represents praise and worship. We always think that praise and worship is to meet God's need. Let me tell you praise and worship meets our needs. And praise and worship protects us from His awesome presence. The incense represents the power of prayer, praise and worship. If we don’t have the incense covering our life and God manifests, we will die. That is why God does not answer some people's prayer. They know not what they ask. They pray, “Lord, reveal Yourself.” If God does, they will be blasted into eternity. God can’t stand ungodliness and sin. If He reveals Himself in the presence of sin, those in sin must die. So, God does not manifest Himself to protect us from His awesome presence. He is God. He is not a man. He is Almighty God who created the whole universe. Think about the Person who just spoke and the world come into being. What kind of personality and presence He has. His power is so great that He could right now and say, “Cease,” and the whole universe will stop and go back to nothingness. That’s how great His power is. And so, before we could approach His being we need the covering on our life. Praise and worship cover us. (Tan, The Tabernacle of Moses, 3).


The Manifold Wisdom of God

Another author (Scofield, Chapter 25) states that this altar and everything in the tabernacle is representative of Jesus including the ark and the Menorah.  A different author (Tan, The Tabernacle of Moses, 3) states that this altar of incense is representative of Jesus our intercessor and high priest.  This author does not disagree with these other authors’ revelations or interpretations of these scripture passages, but is simply presenting a different facet of the same precious scriptural gem.  In this author’s perspective, it is wonderful that the same scripture can have so many different meanings and applications.  God’s wisdom, words and acts generally have manifold meanings and effects.  As a result many interpretations and applications often come from the same set of scripture passages.  “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).  “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” (Ephesians 3:10).


God’s desire has always been close communion with us.  This desire is foreshadowed through the tabernacle.  In the tabernacle God Himself, represented by the ark, assists us to have fellowship with Him through the person of Jesus, represented in the showbread and through the blessed Holy Spirit, represented through the golden lampstand. 

In the New Testament His actual intent is more clearly understood.  In the new covenant, the moment Jesus died, the tabernacle curtain was literally ripped in two (cf. John 23:45).  This physical manifestation on earth represents the spiritual reality in heaven of what actually occurred when Jesus died (cf. Hebrews 10:19-20).  So the relationship is even more open and intimate now that this veil is removed.  Paul says, through the Spirit, that when men turn to the Lord, the veil is removed, and as we gaze at Him we are transformed into His likeness from glory to glory through His power (cf. II Co. 3 16-19).  So God’s initial intent of fellowship with Him as represented by the Ark of the Covenant, the table of showbread and the golden lampstand in the old covenant is now wonderfully manifested as realities to us in the new covenant.

The inner parts of the tabernacle and what they represent are just the tip of the iceberg.  Many, many scriptures can be utilized to show Gods desire to have fellowship with each of us.  Prayer is communicating with God.  When interacting with God, prayer is synonymous with fellowship with God.  Naturally then, there is a strong emphasis on prayer when one talks about fellowshipping with God.  This is what we were created for.  The tabernacle simply illustrates that this fellowship is very important to God, and it illustrates that He personally assists us in procuring this fellowship through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  In other words, He Himself helps us to have fellowship with Him.  What an awesome God we serve.


Bruce, F. F..  Romans, Revised Edition, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries.  Grand Rapids, Michigan:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985.

Geisler, Norman.  A Popular Survey of the Old Testiment.  Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Baker Academic, 2005.

Hagan, Kenneth.  Bible Prayer Study Course.  Tulsa, Oklahoma:  Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Inc., 2006.

Murray, Andrew.  The Inner Life.  Springdale, Pennsylvania:  Whitaker House, 1984.

Scofield, C. I. “Scofield Reference Notes on Exodus 25.” Scofield Reference Notes.  1917 Edition.  Bible Crosswalk.  4pp. 27 Dec 2006. < Commentaries/ScofieldReferenceNotes/sm.cgi?book=ex&chapter=25>.

Tan, Peter.  “The Tabernacle of Moses.”  Indwelling of God Series.  circa 1996. Eagle Vision Ministry.  6 pp.  27 Dec 2006.  <>.

Tan, Peter.  “The Oil of the Holy Spirit.”  Holy Spirit Series.  circa 1996. Eagle Vision Ministry.  10 pp.  27 Dec 2006.  <>.


Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

Scripture references marked NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. NIV ®.  Copyright © 1973,1978,1984 by the International Bible Society.  Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.  All rights reserved.

[i] This is also called the Ark of Testimony in some versions of the Bible.