The Cleansing of the True Tabernacle -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 152:605 (Jan 1995)
Article: The Cleansing of the True Tabernacle
Author: David J. MacLeod


The Cleansing of the True Tabernacle

David J. MacLeod

[David J. MacLeod is a member of the faculty of Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque, Iowa, and is associate editor of The Emmaus Journal.]

At His ascension Jesus Christ entered heaven and took His seat at the right hand of God (Heb 8:1; 9:24). He serves there today as a Minister in the sanctuary, that is, in the true tabernacle, the holy of holies in heaven itself.1 The purpose of this article is to address two interpretive problems in reference to His present ministry. How have scholars understood the perspective of the author of Hebrews in describing the true tabernacle? What is the meaning of the true tabernacle being cleansed by sacrificial blood?

The Typology of the True Tabernacle

In Hebrews 8:5 the author of this epistle wrote of the earthly tabernacle as a “preliminary sketch” (ὑπόδειγμα) and “foreshadowing” (σκιά; cf. 10:1) of the heavenly things. This preliminary sketch, he wrote, was constructed by Moses on the basis of his vision of future things (“the pattern,” τύπος). Likewise Hebrews 9:23 refers to the tabernacle, its furnishings, and sacrifices as sketches, patterns, or blueprints (τὰ ὑποδείγματα) of the things in the heavens. Also Hebrews 9:24 speaks of the Old Testament

holy of holies (ἅγια) as a “prefiguration [ἀντίτυπα] of the true one…[in] heaven itself.”2

The Platonic Interpretation

The concept of the true tabernacle presented by the author of Hebrews has sometimes been interpreted as if he were a Platonist.3 According to this interpretation the author had been influenced by the Platonic philosophy of Philo (20 B.C.-A.D. 50) in which the phenomenal world of the senses is but a copy of the original in the world of ideas. Understood in this way the author’s conceptual

mode is vertical-Platonic, that is, the earthly tabernacle was a copy (ὑπόδειγμα)You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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