February 15: Exo 26 | Psa 79-80 | Mark 11
Reading 1 - Exo 26
The tabernacle built in the days of Moses was the center of divine worship in Israel. It was a figure for the time then present, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered at that time -- while good and righteous and from God -- were not yet the perfect sacrifice, which was yet to come (Heb 9:9).
Nevertheless, that tabernacle was glorious: its plans were divinely revealed, its workmen specially endowed, and all its materials were brought "out of Egypt". It was built, as God told Moses, on the "patterns of things in the heavens" (Heb 9:23). As there was an earthly tabernacle, so there had been before -- and still is -- a heavenly tabernacle.
The heavenly sanctuary pictured in the Apocalypse, or Revelation, contains cherubim, a seven-branched lampstand, officiating priests (the angels), and the overshadowing glory of God (Rev 4:5,7,10). This is the model upon which the Almighty works.
The Apostle John (who received the visions of the Apocalypse) might have seen from Patmos, looking eastward, a tabernacle pattern written large on the earth:
Directly in front of him, he would have seen Jerusalem, with its most holy place, where dwelt the glory of God;
To his left, looking north, he would have seen the seven ecclesias of Asia Minor, corresponding to the seven-branched lampstand [in the Old Testament, north and south are left and right respectively -- with orientation toward the rising sun being assumed];
To his right, looking south, there was Egypt, the "breadbasket" of the ancient world, reminding him of the special shewbread in the tabernacle;
Right beside Patmos, there was the Mediterranean Sea, symbolizing the laver, or "sea of glass";
All around were the prayers of the saints, arising like incense from the altar of burnt incense (cp Rev 5:8; 8:3,4; Psa 141:2); and
Behind him was Greece and Rome and the rest of Europe: all the "court of the Gentiles".
The whole tabernacle was erected on bare ground, that is, the "dust of the earth". In figurative terms, it was to be built upon the foundation of humanity, and God Himself was to dwell among men, and be glorified in their midst.
Thus the tabernacle foreshadowed God manifestation, in three distinct stages:
justification, or mental [lampstand = light; laver = baptism, and the word of God];
sanctification, or moral [shewbread, memorial table; incense = prayer]; and
glorification, or physical [the most holy place, with the glory of God].
Reading 2 - Psa 80:1
"Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock; you who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth" (Psa 80:1).
This verse, and this psalm, has a unique New Testament application:
There is first of all a picture of national devastation (vv 4-6,12-16).
The tribulation is an expression of God's anger against His people (vv 4-6).
There are indications of a helpless repentance on the part of Israel ("Turn us again" in vv 3,7,19; and also v 18).
The key to all hopes of national redemption for Israel is: (1) "The lamb in the midst of the throne" (cp v 1 here) who will be the "Shepherd" of his people (Rev 7:17); (2) "the true vine" (John 15:1) to replace the discarded vine of Israel (Eze 15:6); (3) "the Son of Man whom God has made strong for Himself."
Notice the terms, so fitting with reference to the Messiah: "the Man of thy right hand (cp Psa 110:1), the son of man (cp Psa 8:4,5) whom thou madest strong for thyself." Compare 2Co 5:19; 1Ti 3:16.
The situation envisioned in this psalm may begin to materialize very soon. It may be expected that Israel will face a great threat in the near future, one which she cannot avoid either by negotiation or by armed resistance. Once it is realized that the only true help must come from God, and from the Son whom their forefathers crucified -- then Israel's realization of her own helplessness, followed by her repentance, will bring, very quickly, the manifestation of Messiah in glory.
Reading 3 - Mark 11:13,14
"Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again.' And his disciples heard him say it" (Mar 11:13,14).
"In some sheltered spot by the roadside a fig tree attracted the attention of Jesus, as it must have drawn the wondering eyes of many travellers on their way to the Passover. At that time of the year fig trees were normally without either fruit or leaves. The sight suited his purpose well for it presented him with the opportunity of giving a practical illustration of the parable of the barren fig tree, and of completing a picture which had been left in abeyance. The time of figs was not yet; they appeared before the leaves. Here was a fig tree which made great boast of itself, challenging those who passed by to behold from the richness of its foliage, the succulence of its fruit. Yet, accepting the invitation, the hungry wayfarer was doomed to disappointment, for in spite of its lofty pretensions this tree was no better than the other trees. Its fault lay not so much in its barrenness as in its empty promises. No more penetrating picture of Israel can be imaged than that afforded by this sheltered tree with its abundance of green leaves stirring gently in the morning air. Nor can we confine the picture to natural Israel. It must ever be a challenge to Israel after the spirit also. The richness of the promise must be supported by the abundance of the fruit" (Melva Purkis, "A Life of Jesus" 298).