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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 13

The Sanctuary’s Furnishings

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Let’s pray together:


We thank You for guiding us once again, as we continue to study the subject of the sanctuary.

May our understanding of the symbolic meaning of the sanctuary’s furnishings become a useful instrument that we may add to our toolbox, to better understand Bible prophecy.

In Jesus Christ we pray.


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Psalm 73:16,17

When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God.


In this second lesson about the sanctuary, we will study the furnishings placed in it.

These furnishings hold a wonderful symbolism that we must fully grasp, in order to have the best possible understanding of Bible prophecy.

First, let’s review the plan of the sanctuary, showing the arrangement of its furnishings.

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Plan of the sanctuary, showing the arrangement of its furnishings

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Exodus 25:9

According to all that I show you, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall you make [the sanctuary].


In our last lesson, we saw that when God indicated to Moses how to build the sanctuary, He showed him a pattern that already existed: the heavenly sanctuary.

Not only the tabernacle of meeting but also «all the instruments» were made according to the pattern of the heavenly sanctuary.

Let’s now see the furnishings of each part of the sanctuary.

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First, let’s look at the furnishings found in the courtyard:

In our last lesson, we learned that the courtyard is the name given to the enclosure in the center of which the tabernacle of meeting is placed.

In the courtyard, we find the following two items:

- the altar of burnt offering;

- the laver of bronze.

Let’s look at these items one by one, with their symbolism.

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Exodus 27:1,2

You shall 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 you shall make the horns of it on the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and you shall overlay it with brass.


The altar of burnt offering was used to offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins.

The services that were performed there will be the subject of our next lesson.

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Exodus 27:1,8

You shall make an altar of shittim wood (...).

As it was showed you in the mount, so shall they make it.


The altar of burnt offering, just like all the other furnishings of the sanctuary, was made according to the pattern of the heavenly sanctuary.

But then, what is the use of the altar of burnt offering in the heavenly sanctuary? What is its symbolic significance?

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Revelation 5:6

And I beheld, and, see, in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the middle of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain.


Revelation 13:8

And all that dwell on the earth shall worship [the beast], whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.


The altar of burnt offering in the heavenly sanctuary receives the highest sacrifice, the Lamb of God, slain for our salvation.

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Hebrews 9:12

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood [Christ] entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.


Hebrews 10:19

Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus (...).


In the earthly sanctuary, the sacrifice of an animal gave access to the other services of the sanctuary.

This symbolized the sacrifice of Jesus, which gives access to the other services of the heavenly sanctuary.

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Revelation 6:9

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.


The altar of burnt offering in the heavenly sanctuary also receives the blood of the martyrs, who died for their unshakeable faithfulness to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

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Exodus 30:18-20

You shall also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash with.

You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. and you shall put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and you shall 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 to the Lord.


Now let’s take a look at the laver of bronze (brass), where the priests washed their hands and feet before entering the tabernacle of meeting to officiate.

What did this article and its use symbolize?

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Ephesians 5:25,26

Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.


Acts 2:38

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.


Just as the altar of burnt offering is followed by the laver of bronze, we accept Jesus’ sacrifice and then we are baptized, showing by this symbol our choice to receive the cleansing of our hearts through the work of the Spirit within us.

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John 13:10

Jesus said to [Peter],

«He that is washed needs not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.»


Baptism by immersion is a complete bath, symbolizing the believer’s justification, the forgiveness of his sins, and his complete regeneration in Jesus Christ.

But as we walk the Christian life, our feet become dusty: we then come to Jesus for cleansing.

By foot washing, a kind of little baptism, we acknowledge that we always need the blood of Christ.

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John 13:10

He that is washed needs not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.


Now we can better understand the words of Jesus: he who is washed (by the washing of baptism) does not need to be rebaptized when he makes a mistake, since he has not lost his faith in Christ.

Foot washing is a continuous guarantee of Christ’s cleansing grace.

Let’s remember though that baptism and foot washing have no cleansing virtue in themselves: Christ is the One who, through these services, cleanses us.

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Now, let’s continue with the furnishings of the Holy Place:

We remember that the Holy Place is the first part of the tabernacle of meeting, whose entrance is made up of a veil. A second veil separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

We find in the Holy Place:

- the table of showbread;

- the seven-branch candlestick;

- the altar of incense.

Here again, let’s look at these furnishings one by one with their symbolism.

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Exodus 25:23,24,30

You shall also make a table of shittim wood (...). You shall overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about. (...)

You shall set on the table showbread before Me always.


Leviticus 24:8

Every Sabbath [Aaron] shall set [the bread] in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.


First, there was the table of showbread, upon which were set the twelve loaves of showbread, replaced every Sabbath.

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Luke 22:19

And [Jesus] took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to [His disciples], saying,

«This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me.»


John 6:51

[Jesus said,] «I am the living bread which came down from heaven.

If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.»


Bread symbolizes the body of Jesus Christ, offered in sacrifice for our sins.

And why were the loaves of showbread replaced every Sabbath?

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Matthew 16:11,12

[Jesus said,]

«How is it that you do not understand that I spoke it not to you concerning bread, that you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?»

Then understood they how that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.


Jesus also used the image of bread to symbolize the teaching of spiritual things.

«To replace the showbread every Sabbath» thus invites us to regularly deepen our knowledge of God and His will.

«My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me.» (John 4:34)

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Amos 8:11

I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.


2 Peter 3:18

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.


Let’s feed on the living bread each day, each week, so that we may grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

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Exodus 25:31,32,37

You shall make a candlestick of pure gold (...). Six branches shall come out of the sides of it (...).

And you shall make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.


Leviticus 24:2

Command the children of Israel, that they bring to you pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.


Now, let’s see the seven-branch candlestick, used to supply with oil seven lamps burning night and day, giving continuous light to the sanctuary.

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Exodus 25:31,40

You shall make a candlestick of pure gold (...).

And look that you make [the parts of the candlestick] after their pattern, which was showed you in the mount.


The seven-branch candlestick was also made according to the pattern of the heavenly sanctuary.

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There is indeed a seven-branch candlestick in the heavenly sanctuary:

«I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the middle of the seven candlesticks One like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle.» (Revelation 1:12,13)

«To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; “These things said He that holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the middle of the seven golden candlesticks.”» (Revelation 2:1)

«And out of the throne proceeded lightning and thunder and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.» (Revelation 4:5)

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John 8:12

[Jesus said,] «I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.»


2 Corinthians 4:6

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.


Just like the other furnishings of the sanctuary, the candlestick points to the ministry of Christ, the light of the world, who always enlightens us.

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Zechariah 4:2-6: The oil in the candlestick symbolizes the Holy Spirit who enlightens us.

And [the angel] said to me, «What see you?»

And I said, «I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are on the top thereof: and two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side thereof.»

So I answered and spoke to the angel that talked with me, saying, «What are these, my lord?»

Then the angel that talked with me answered and said to me, «Know you not what these be?»

And I said, «No, my lord.»

Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, «This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit,” said the Lord of hosts.»

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Exodus 30:1,3,6-9

You shall make an altar to burn incense on. (...) You shall overlay it with pure gold. (...) You shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony. (...)

Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning (...), a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.

You shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall you pour drink offering thereon.


Finally, let’s look at the altar of incense, upon which was burned sweet incense every morning and evening.

What is its use, and its symbolic value?

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Incense ascending from the altar symbolizes the prayers of the saints:

«The four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.» (Revelation 5:8)

«And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.» (Revelation 8:3,4)

«Let my prayer be set forth before You as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.» (Psalm 141:2)

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Revelation 8:4

And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God.


Romans 8:26,27

The Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

And He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.


The Holy Spirit perfumes our prayers, making them acceptable to God.

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Finally, let’s study the furnishings found in the Most Holy Place:

The Most Holy Place is the second part of the tabernacle of meeting.

Here are its furnishings:

- the ark of the covenant;

- the mercy seat.

Let’s look at these items one by one, along with their symbolism.

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Exodus 25:10,11,16

They shall make an ark of shittim wood. (...) You shall overlay it with pure gold. (...)

You shall put into the ark the testimony.


Deuteronomy 10:4,5

[The Lord] wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which the Lord spoke to you in the mount (...).

I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the Lord commanded me.


The ark of the covenant, a chest overlaid with gold inside and outside, contained the two tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments.

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Revelation 11:19

And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.


Revelation 12:17

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.


The presence of the ark of the covenant in the heavenly sanctuary testifies to the importance of the commandments of God, which are kept by His people, as we saw in the lesson «The Commandments of God».

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Exodus 25:17,18,21,22

You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. (...) You shall make two cherubim of gold (...) in the two ends of the mercy seat. (...) You shall put the mercy seat above on the ark. (...)

And there I will meet with you, and I will commune with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.


Finally, let’s look at the mercy seat.

Used as a lid over the ark of the covenant, it was topped by two cherubim between which God, in the form of a flame (the «Shekinah»), gave His instructions to the high priest.

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Hebrews 4:15,16

We have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but [Jesus] was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy.


1 Peter 1:12

They did minister the things, which are now reported to you by them that have preached the gospel to you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.


The mercy seat points to the sacrifice of Jesus, wonderful work attracting the attention of the angels, just like the cherubim on the mercy seat.

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Romans 5:20

Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.


Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.


The mercy seat is placed above the tablets of the law, showing us that by the sacrifice of our sin offering, Jesus Christ, we get the forgiveness of our sins, that is, our transgressions of God’s law.

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The furnishings of the sanctuary show the stages of the Christian life

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Let’s thank God:

Our heavenly Father,

What a wonderful message is contained in Your sanctuary and the furnishings that we find in it!

May these furnishings be a continuous source of inspiration, as we progress day after day in our Christian life.

May Your grace be with us, this blessed grace that saves us and helps us to do Your will, as expressed in Your Ten Commandments. In Jesus Christ we pray.


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