THE TYPES OF THE TABERNACLE AND THE HOLY OF HOLIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
In the Old Testament, when the Israelites came out of Egypt and journeyed through the wilderness, God commanded Moses to build a tabernacle for Him so that He could be with the children of Israel. Outside of this tabernacle was the outer court, which was one hundred cubits in length, fifty cubits in width, and enclosed with the fine linen as the curtains. The tabernacle itself was thirty cubits in length, ten cubits in width, and ten cubits in height. It was divided into two parts: the Holy Place and the Holiest Place. The Holy Place was twenty cubits in length and the Holiest Place was ten cubits in length. This tabernacle was the dwelling place of God among His redeemed people at that time on the earth. It was also the precursor of the temple; first there was the tabernacle, and then it became the temple. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, the tabernacle was the dwelling place of God. After they entered into the good land, Canaan, and settled down there, they built a fixed tabernacle of stones, and that was the holy temple. The contents of the temple were the same as that of the tabernacle, having three parts: the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holiest Place.
To enter the Holy of Holies, the priests had to first pass through the gate of the outer court which was on the east toward the sunrise. Then they passed through the outer court into the Holy Place and then finally into the Holiest Place. At the entrance of the tabernacle in the outer court there was the altar of burnt offering, where they offered sacrifices to God. In between the Holy Place and the Holiest Place, there was a very thick veil separating the two. The common people could enter the outer court but not the Holy Place. Only the priests were qualified to enter the Holy Place. As to the Holiest Place, only the high priest, who had the highest office among the priests, was allowed to enter it once a year.
In the Holiest Place was the ark, within which were the Ten Commandments which God had established with His people. Upon the ark was a cover of pure gold with two cherubim expressing God’s glory. This cover was the throne of grace. When the high priest entered the Holiest Place, the first thing he did was to sprinkle on this cover the propitiating blood from the altar to make propitiation before God for the sins of the people. It was on this cover that God forgave the sins of the people; it was also here that God fellowshipped and spoke with the high priest. Because this cover was sprinkled with the propitiating blood and had there the cherubim as God’s expression and was the place where God spoke to the high priest, it was called the throne of grace, the place for God to give grace to man.
Therefore, we can see that the Holiest Place was the innermost part of the tabernacle, and its main content was the throne of grace, where God met with His redeemed people, forgave His people, and spoke to His people. It was here that God gave grace to people. Hence, this was truly a great matter. In this vast universe there is a small earth. On this earth there was a place called the outer court. Within the outer court there was a tabernacle, the outer part of which was the Holy Place and the inner part of which was the Holiest Place. Furthermore, within the Holiest Place there was an ark. Upon this ark there was a cover where God gave grace to man; hence, it was called the throne of grace. The throne of grace was the center of the Holiest Place.
THE FULFILLMENT AND REALITY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
In Hebrews 9 the apostle Paul indicates that the first tabernacle, the Holy Place, signifies the old covenant and that the second tabernacle, the Holy of Holies or the Holiest Place, signifies the new covenant (vv. 8-10). He also indicates that the Holy of Holies today is in heaven, where the Lord Jesus is (vv. 12, 24). How then can we enter into the Holy of Holies in heaven while we are still on earth? The secret is our spirit, referred to in Hebrews 4:12. The very Christ who is now in heaven is also at the same time in our spirit (Rom. 8:34, 10; 2 Tim. 4:22). As the heavenly ladder (Gen. 28:12; John 1:51) He joins our spirit to heaven and brings heaven into our spirit. Hence, whenever we turn to our spirit, we enter into the Holy of Holies. There we meet with God, who is on the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).
The veil which closed off the Holy of Holies typifies the flesh of Christ. When Christ’s flesh was crucified, this veil was split in two from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51), thus opening a new and living way (Heb. 10:19-20) for those of us who were alienated from God, who is signified by the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24), to enter into the Holy of Holies—into our spirit—to contact and enjoy God as our life and life supply.
The first stanza of Hymn #770 says, “In the holiest place, touch the throne of grace, / Grace as a river shall flow.” This is what Revelation 22:1 says: There is “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street.” That throne of God is the throne of grace. Whenever we come to the throne of grace, the grace of God is like a river flowing to us.
(Abiding in the Lord to Enjoy His Life, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)