The Tabernacle Portrait

In case you hadn’t worked it out, I love to draw and paint. I also enjoy looking at and appreciating others artwork and masterpieces. I recall going to see the Monet and Rembrandt exhibitions in London when I was in my teens and early twenties. I have also been exposed to some other slightly more abstract art … the type that adorns fridges across the world. These masterpieces are, of course my own children’s artwork.


Here are a few of their early works. Their depictions have long arms, huge hands and exaggerated smiles. I could tell that these were of people … but maybe not everyone could. As their parent I love their expression of family. These were portraits.

Portraits don’t always bare a strong resemblance on the surface but you can often find expressed the things that matter. My husband is 6’8” so it is no wonder that our children would draw him with long arms and huge hands.

GOD loves creativity. He was first revealed to us as Creator and we are made in His image so we also have the ability to create. He speaks to His people in Exodus 26 and gives them the task of creating a Tabernacle. This was the tent where He would dwell but it was also is a prophetic portrait of Jesus.

The Outer layer – This was the protective external layer that was made of leather and was not attractive.

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem
. Isaiah 53:1-3

The Rams’ Skin – This was dyed red. A ram was the substitute sacrifice given to Abraham to take the place of his son. It speaks of sacrifice, substitution and shed blood; it speaks of what Jesus would become for us.

11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’

‘Here I am,’ he replied.

12 ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’ Genesis 22:11-14

Curtains of Goats’ Hair – Later in Leviticus we read about the scapegoat. This was a creature that carried the sins of the people to a far-away place. Again, this is a portrait of what Jesus has done for us in his death on the cross for us.

20 ‘When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. 21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites – all their sins – and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness. Leviticus 16:20-22

Finely Twisted Linen – There were ten of these curtains made of blue, purple and scarlet yarn with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker. They were attached together with blue fabric loops and gold clasps. This decorative, beautiful and artistically worked layer was to sit face to face with the Ark of the Covenant, the place where GOD would be. It was made of heavenly colours, adorned with angels and reflected the glory of GOD’s presence. Jesus came from the presence of the Father in glory and he is the one who stands face to face with GOD now.

The priests would have access to the Most Holy Place, but in order to get there they had to go through the four layers of the Tabernacle. This even talks of GOD, access to GOD could only happen going through Jesus; through faith in the God-man, trust in the substitute who carries away our sin and by us taking our place in Christ.

Jesus was right when he said …

I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father accept through me. John 14:6

I love that GOD is an artist. I am grateful for His gift of a very real, relatable and matchless portrait of Himself in Jesus. I am also so encouraged that He creates miniature illustrations of Himself everywhere. He doesn’t always make it obvious … but He loves to hide in places so that we can find Him. When we look we can see Him; from the warm, bright sun to the dew laden grass; from the demonstration of a smile to the passion to worship in our hearts; from the wooden cross on a hill to the ordinary looking Tabernacle. GOD has created portraits of Himself for us to find Him, we need only to seek and look.

 ‘This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it – the Lord is his name: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:2-3

Humankind was created in His image so, even in those people who don’t know GOD, we can see reflections of Him. But as those who are called to be His followers we actively show GOD to others. We might make a portrait of Him that is more like the fridge art rather than a masterpiece, but He still treasures and loves us even though we aren’t perfect. The thing about the fridge art is it was only for a season, my children grew and so did their talent for creating a likeness … we should look to do the same in our displaying a portrait of Him.

Katy 😉

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