Scriptural Inspirations: Exodus 25-30, Genesis 2, Genesis 14, Psalm 110, Psalm 22,
Hebrews 3-10, Ephesians 4:31-32, Romans 5, John 6:35-58, John 19, Luke 23: 44-45

"The Missing Rib of the Tabernacle"

The inspiration for this first image came to me one day as I was reading the book of Exodus. When I read about the altar of incense that was to be placed before the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, I found myself praying, "O Lord, make my heart burn night and day with love for You. May my adoration rise like perpetual incense before You."

It struck me that this altar of incense was a beautiful picture of a heart ablaze with love for God. As I imagined myself in this dark and holy Tabernacle, with the light of the seven-lamped Menorah reflecting off of the golden pillars on either side, my mind's eye caught a glimpse of what seemed to be a rib cage surrounding that glowing "heart" of the Tabernacle. But why, then, was there this assymetry in the design--five pillars at the entrance and only four at the curtain of the Holy of Holies? This missing pillar/rib reminded me of how Eve was created from one of Adam's ribs. Could this be some mystical reference to Christ--the New Adam--whose Bride, the Church, was made from His wounded side, just as Eve proceeded from the side of Adam?

O, such a generous donation! Jesus, God in the flesh, slept the deep sleep of death, so that we might have life. In effect, He allowed His lungs to collapse on the cross, so that ours may be supported, making us fit to breathe the breath of Heaven again, restoring our relationship with God.

The Catehism of the Catholic Church puts it this way:

The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus. For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the ‘wondrous sacrament of the whole Church." As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross. (Catechism, 766)

There are a few other points to ponder as you look at this image.

First of all, you'll notice the reddish-blueish covering that is coupled together with 50 golden clasps. God commanded Moses to create three coverings for the Tabernacle. The first covering was made of red, blue, and purple material with interwoven linen. It consisted of two sets of "curtains", each containing five strips of fabric sewn together. The two five-piece curtains became one ten-piece curtain when they were coupled together with the golden clasps, just in front of the Holy of Holies. Could these seams and openings indicate the torn and battered flesh of Jesus Christ? And could one of these golden clasps indicate the very place He was pierced in His sacred side?

Then notice how the curtain before the Holy of Holies is separating, showing the radiance of God's Shekinah glory emanating from the Ark of the Covenant. Remember that when Jesus was crucified that the veil of the Temple was torn in two, indicating that He had gained entrance for all who trust in Him as their Savior and Great High Priest (Heb. 9:11).

The table in the back is for the Bread of the Presence. Twelve loaves would have been placed upon it in the Tabernacle. I have included two wine vessels, once again calling to mind Melchizedek who's offering included bread and wine--a clear Eucharistic reference. As our Lord Jesus said, "This is my body. This is my blood."

The meaning of the five rods and silver cup will become more clear in the next image, entitled "The Tabernacle's Western Wall".


NOTE: This view of the Tabernacle is more symbolically driven than it is technical. If you're interested, click here for a technical study of the Tabernacle I developed to accompany these images.

 

 
   

 

 

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