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Shekinah Glory






Second Temple

Moses’ Tabernacle

Third Temple

King Solomon

Fourth Temple

Governor Zerubbabel

Fifth Temple

King Herod

Rapture of

the Church

Sixth Temple


Seventh Temple

King Jesus

1499 BC - 1004 BC

1004 BC - 586 BC

516 BC - 18 BC

16 BC - 70 AD


3.5 Years

1000 Years


Introduction   Before the foundation of the world was even laid by God, He built a Temple in Heaven [the First Temple] which was to be a pattern for earthly temples for communicating with a race of people which as yet He had not created.  God laid the groundwork for the nation of Israel when He called Abram out from the land of Ur and had him journey into the land of the Canaanites.    In the process of time, Abraham's grandson Jacob [Israel] was to beget twelve sons who were the progenitors of the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.  After the Israelites had served Pharaoh for 400 years, God delivered them out of bondage and the Nation of Israel was born in one day - the day they left Egypt for the Promised Land. 


Shortly thereafter, we learn that God supernaturally opened up the Red Sea and allowed the children of Israel to cross over on dry ground and destroyed the pursuing Egyptian army by closing the Red Sea up again.  From there, the Israelites journeyed to Mount Sinai, where God met with Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments and instructions for building the Tabernacle in the Wilderness [otherwise known as the Second Temple of God in this account].  Strong's Concordance defines a tabernacle as being a dwelling place, habitation, or temple. This following account gives the basic make-up of the wilderness tabernacle and a limited explanation of the symbolic meaning of its features that was (and is) germane to both Old and New Testament believers. For an excellent comprehensive description of the wilderness tabernacle, please read Dr. James Modlish's account of  The Tabernacle  on the internet at



The Second Temple of God

God initiated the construction of this temple:


And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.  Exodus 25:1,2


       [ list of items required for the building and furnishing of the temple ] Exodus 25:3-7


And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.  According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.  Exodus 25:8,9


And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.  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, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.  Exodus 25:21,22


Dimensions of the Second Temple    The overall dimensions of the courtyard surrounding the temple proper was approximately 75 feet by 150 feet, [see Exodus 27:9 and 11,12,13]; approximately because there is some disagreement among scholars as to the exact length of a cubit.  Generally speaking, the cubit is taken to be 18 inches, and these particular feet dimensions are based on this assumption. Thus, the North and South sides of the Courtyard (which included the temple within) were 100 cubits each (150 feet), while the East and West sides were 50 cubits each (75 feet).  Moreover, the fence surrounding the Courtyard was to be 5 cubits high (7-1/2 feet) [Exodus 27:18]  On the East side, the Courtyard was to be 50 cubits overall, with 30 cubits of wall and 20 cubits of the Door (Gate), centrally located:


The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.  And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.  And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.  Exodus 27:14,15,16


The Temple Proper   The Holy Place was 10 by 20 cubits and the Most Holy Place was 10 cubits square.  On the East side of the temple was the door going from the courtyard into the Holy Place, and this door was hung on 5 pillars:


And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework.  And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them.  Exodus 26:36,37


Of particular importance was the veil which was the entrance from the Holy Place into the Most Holy  Place, wherein the ark of the Covenant was to reside:


And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:  And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver.  And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.  Exodus 26 :31-33


Vessels of the Temple    All earthly temples of the Lord face east, i.e., the veiled holy place faces East.    The Lord commanded that a brazen laver [left] be made for the cleansing of the priests in order to perform their worship duties: 


And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD:  Exodus 30:17-20


The specific construction instructions for the brazen altar of burnt offerings [left] and for the vessels pertaining to the altar are given in Exodus 23: 3-8.


And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.  And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass.  Exodus 27:1,2


The Golden Candlestick [left] was to be placed in the Holy Place on the south side.  Since the Holy Place was an enclosed place, the Lampstand provided the priests with light for them to perform their duties.


The Table of Shewbread [below left]     The table was placed inside the Holy Place, over on the north side, and on it were to be 12 loaves of bread - one for each of the tribes of Israel:


  And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway  Exodus 25:30  


This signified that God was the one who provided the Israelites with their daily sustenance for life. 


Golden Altar of Incense  [below left]      The altar of incense was made of shittim wood overlaid with pure gold, along with two staves of shittim wood also overlaid with pure gold and two rings of pure gold for its bearing from place to place.  Pure incense of sweet spices which were burned in morning and evening worship services and holy oil were also used at the Golden Altar of Incense (Exodus 37:25, 29 and Hebrews 9: 1-6).  During the Great Tribulation the Golden Altar of Incense in the First Temple will be the focus of intense importance:   


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.   Revelation 8:3


The Ark of the Covenant  [below left]      The most sacred object in the second temple was that of the Ark of the Covenant, a box made of shittim wood and overlaid with gold.   The Ark was placed in the most holy place of the tabernacle and had a lid called the mercy seat by God.  It was on this mercy seat that the Son of God, known as the Shekinah Glory, resided for over 500 years, there to commune with the High Priest from time to time.   Physical entrance into the Holiest Place, however, took place only once a year on the Day of Atonement.  The Ark contained the Ten Commandment tablets, the Golden Pot of Manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded. 


Purpose of the Tabernacle     The principal purpose of the tabernacle was that it was the dwelling place of the Shekinah Glory, [God the Son], who, from the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, was there to commune with the priests of the nation of Israel. 

While communication took place from time to time between the Shekinah Glory and the priests, entrance into the Most Holy Place was only permitted once a year, on the Day of Atonement (please see The Seven Feasts of Israel).    Secondly, the tabernacle served as the place of service by the Levitical Priesthood, an order of priests initiated by Moses but more formally established by God by decreeing Aaron to be the High Priest thereafter.


Thirdly, the tabernacle served as an interface between God and man concerning man’s spiritual condition.  By bringing an animal to the entrance of the tabernacle and there offer it to God as a means of sin absolution, a repentant sinner could cleanse his soul before a Holy God and thereby obtain peace in his heart.  The blood of the innocent sacrificial animal for a man’s sin was always a constant reminder to the sinner of God’s uncompromising attitude towards sin.  But more than that, the public offering which took place at the very gate of the tabernacle pointed to the day in which the Lord Jesus would offer Himself up as an atonement for the sins of all mankind, likewise as a public event. 


Lastly, the tabernacle, under the control of the Shekinah Glory, dictated to the Israelites when they were to pick up stakes and follow the pillar of fire by night or the pillar of cloud by day as they journeyed through the wilderness.  The illustration below [courtesy of] depicts the order of the features of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, the Second Temple of God.   As depicted, the tabernacle faced East and featured the enclosed Courtyard surrounding the Tent inside which were the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant was located.  Concerning the value of Gold, Silver, Image result for images of the tabernacle in the wildernessand Bronze today, the tabernacle would easily be worth more than fifty million dollars.


Christian Symbolism in the Second Temple    The central theme of the tabernacle’s symbolic meaning for the Christian is the role which blood plays.   From start to finish, it is all about how God has decreed that “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission” of sin.  And, to be more specific, man’s very soul requires the blood of Christ for redemption.  It is a two-fold salvation, man’s soul is redeemed via Christ’s blood and his physical body is restored via Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  It should be noted that Christ’s resurrection applies to both the saved and the lost.  Therefore, the destination end for a soul is determined exclusively by the Blood of Christ, even though some have denied this (see ).


The Sacrifices of the Temple    God instructed Moses as to the what, how, why and when sacrifices were to be offered to Him.  These sacrifices were three-fold

  • a sacrifice for the priest(s)
  • a sacrifice for the people
  • individual sacrifices

The priests were to offer up sacrifices to cleanse themselves before ministering to the people. Also, certain sacrifices were to be eaten by the priests and their family members.  Thus, the priests were able to perform their two-week span of priestly duties before the LORD without having to concern themselves with providing for their families outside the temple during that time. 


There were special instructions regarding the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement - a special once-a-year sacrifice in which the blood of the sacrifice was taken into the Holiest Place where the Ark of the Covenant and Mercy Seat were.  This sacrifice provided a temporary covering for the entire nation's sins, and remained a temporary atonement until the Lamb of God would enter into the Holiest in the Heavenly Temple with His blood (please read Sin, the Law, and the Blood).


On an individual level, there are some passages that suggest that the individual would slay the animal himself and the priests would take care of the rest of the ritual, especially in regards to the blood ( Leviticus 1: 1-5 ).  Generally speaking, the blood of the sacrificial animal was to be put upon the four horns of the two altars, i.e., the brazen altar and the altar of incense, and any excess blood was to be poured out at the base of the brazen altar.   There were several types of offerings - peace, trespass, burnt, heave, and meat - and each offering was to be presented in its own particular way.   


The Holiest Place in the temples of Governor Zerubbabel and king Herod(s) were simply empty rooms, for there was no Ark, Mercy Seat, or Testimony to be a part of any sacrificial worship.  These items disappeared when the Shekinah Glory left Solomon's temple right before 586 BC. 

Levitical Priesthood Duties   And the LORD said unto Aaron 

And I, behold, I have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel: to you they are given as a gift for the LORD, to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.  Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest's office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest's office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.   Numbers 18: 6,7

The Priests' Portion   The priests were to eat all the sacrificed offerings save, of course, the burnt offerings, which were completely consumed by fire:. 

And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given thee the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance for ever. This shall be thine of the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every oblation of theirs, every meat offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs, which they shall render unto me, shall be most holy for thee and for thy sons.   In the most holy place shalt thou eat it; every male shall eat it: it shall be holy unto thee.   Numbers 18: 8-10

The Levites' Portion   The Levites were to receive all the tithes from the rest of the tribes of the nation of Israel

And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.  Numbers 18: 21,24

The Encampment Order Around the Tabernacle in the Wilderness   The tribe of Levi was to encamp close to the Tabernacle according to the following


The sons of Levi; Gershom, Kohath, and Merari [1Chronicles 6:16]. (Moses and Aaron were sons of the family of KohathNumbers Chapter 3


  • Families of Moses and of Aaron       Encamped on the Tabernacle Gate side
  • Families of the sons of Gershom     Encamped on the western side of the Tabernacle
  • Families of the sons  of Kohath        Encamped on the southern side of the Tabernacle
  • Families of the sons of Merari          Encamped on the northern side of the Tabernacle


Duties of the four groups of Levites    And the LORD spoke unto Moses regarding the duties of the Levites


  • Gershonites   And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,  And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof.  Numbers 3:25,26


  • Kohathites  And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof.   Numbers 3:31


  • Merarites  And under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto, And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords.  Numbers 3:36,37


Moses, Aaron, and Aaron's sons were to conduct the office of the priesthood  and have complete charge over all the affairs of Tabernacle services 


  • Moses and Aaron   But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.  Numbers 3:38


The Sacrifices on the Tabernacle Altars     There were two altars in God's Second Temple - the Brazen Altar and the Golden Altar.  While the understructure of the brazen altar was to be made of shittim wood, it was overlaid with brass and all the vessels that pertained to it were likewise made of brass.  It is well-known that brass symbolizes judgment which is what took place at this altar.  A very graphic portrayal of salvation is partly shown wherein the repentant sinner would bring his sacrificial animal to the front of the tabernacle gate and then - in full view of any who cared to witness the ritual - would slay the animal himself.  The method of blood-letting the animal until all life was taken from it ensured that the animal was not burned alive nor tortured in any way. 


If we contrast this ritual with Jesus' death on the cross we notice the stark contrast in that our Lord was mercilessly tortured beyond human comprehension.   Jesus laid His own life down for the redemption of mankind which would accomplish the two tenets of salvation - that of obtaining an eternal, immortal body and that of the atonement for our sin which would allow us to go to Heaven with Him.  The first He accomplished by rising from the dead after three days and three nights in the heart of the earth in Paradise and the second He accomplished by entering into the Heavenly Temple with His blood that purchased the salvation of all the souls who will come to Jesus for salvation. 


An inescapable picture of salvation is exemplified by this brazen altar of burnt offerings which was situated at the only gate of the tabernacle.  Firstly, the altar of burnt offerings was the place of total commitment for the sacrificial animals wherein their entire blood and body were sacrificed to atone for the sins of the sinner.  By bringing the sacrificial animal to this altar, the sinner was showing openly, and in full view in the very center of the Israelite camp, that he was guilty of transgressing God's law.  And by placing his hand upon the animal and actually slaying him, he was acknowledging that it was his sin that was responsible for the animal's death.  This was an actual physical act, but it was symbolic of God's requirement for the sinner's sin atonement that pointed to the future real, and final atonement that would be sufficient for the salvation of both Jew and Gentile alike.  We know by the scriptures that God never intended for the blood of animals to be the real atonement for our sins


For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.  But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.  Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.  Hebrews 10:1-6


So, while the Israelite’s sin was temporarily dealt with at the gate of the tabernacle by the slaying of an innocent animal and its blood offered to God by the High Priest, our spiritual salvation was purchased by the Lord Jesus via His innocent blood on the cross of Calvary.  The completion of our salvation was culminated in an exceedingly glorious event in Heaven at the Ark of the Testimony in the greatest event to ever happen in Heaven (please read Sin, the Law, and the Blood of Christ). 


The Altar of Burnt Offerings and the Laver were both made of brass, the metal symbolizing Judgment, so that the cleansing of the priests’ hands and feet and the fiery end of the animal’s lifeless body represents the physical judgment which the animal receives instead of being received by the sinner making the offering.   In eternity, the unrepentant sinner will not have an innocent animal to take his place, but will receive the fiery judgment of the Lake of Fire.  Sadly, unrepentant sinners at the Great White Throne Judgment will have never grasped the fact that innocent blood had already been offered by Christ.  But, a gift is of no avail when it is rejected. 


All the vessels within the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place were made with either Gold or overlaid with Gold, the symbol of Purity, as God is pure.  When the Lord Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the Temple was rent from top to bottom, signifying that the Lord Jesus had now become our Intercessor between us and God, eliminating the need for any earthly priest as a go-between, as explained in the Book of Hebrews (please see The Vision of Sir Launfal).  In essence, all believers are priests in their own right via their having the precious Holy Spirit indwelling them.  Thus, by virtue of being saved, believers now stand in the place of the priests of Old Testament days, where the Lord Jesus is now our Great High Priest before God the Father.  Yet, believers today have what the Old Testament priests did not have - the Holy Spirit.


Finally, it was the sprinkling of the blood upon the Mercy Seat that secured the temporary atonement for the sins of the people.  Likewise, it was the resurrected Jesus’ blood that encased the Ark of the Testimony and the Ark of the Covenant in Heaven that bought our salvation.  As we compare the tabernacle with our understanding of Salvation, we see that, while the tabernacle’s sacrifices offered temporary salvation (as per the Book of Hebrews), Christ’s sacrificial blood purchased our permanent salvation.  And for those who dispute our understanding of once saved always saved, all they need to do is to consider Hebrews 6:4-6.



The Third Temple of God  [ forthcoming ]