The Shadow of God’s Throne

They [the priests] serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” -Hebrews 8:5

Everything in the Tabernacle/Temple was meant to represent something in heaven. The Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat/atonement cover was kept in the Most Holy Place and represented God’s throne itself.  However, the Ark and its contents did not only represent the throne, but the One who occupies it.

Contents of the Ark

Moses was told to put three objects with the Ark (Hebrews 9:3-4): the tablets of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 25:16), a jar of manna (Exodus 16:33-34), and Aaron’s staff (Numbers 17:10).

  • The Tablets: The tablets were the word of God, inscribed by the finger of God (Deuteronomy 9:10).  This is how the Apostle John describes Jesus coming into the world:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. -John 1:1


 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  -John 1:14

(related verses: Ezekiel 11:19, Jeremiah 31:33)

  • The jar of manna: The manna was bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4).  Here is what Jesus says about the bread from heaven:

Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.  But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. -John 6:49-51


While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” -Matthew 26:26

(There is more on this in the “House of Bread” section in this post)

  • Aaron’s staff:  When the Israelites rebelled and questioned Aaron’s authority as High Priest, Moses took the staff from the leader of each tribe and said the staff of the one who was chosen would sprout.  Aaron’s staff budded, blossomed, and produced almonds (Numbers 17).  Aaron’s staff was a dead branch that regained life and bore fruit.  Here is how the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel described the Messiah:

In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. -Isaiah 4:2


A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. -Isaiah 11:1


On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. -Ezekiel 17:23

The Ark contained the Word of God; Jesus was the Word of God. The Ark contained bread from heaven; Jesus was the bread from heaven.  The Ark contained the branch that died, regained life, and bore fruit; Jesus was the branch that died, regained life, and bore fruit.

The Blood of the Sacrifice Between the Cherubim

In several places in the Bible, angels are described as surrounding God’s throne (Ezekiel 10Psalm 99:1Isaiah 37:16Revelation 7:11, etc.)

While the Temple stood, on Yom Kippur the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the atonement cover (Leviticus 16:14-15).  The blood would be between the two cherubim that Moses was instructed to build into the atonement cover:

Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide.  And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover.  Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other. -Exodus 25:17-19

Which is similar to Jesus’s tomb – angels on each side, between the blood of the sacrifice:

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. -John 20:10-12

Then in Revelation, when the Apostle John sees the Throne Room, he sees Jesus as the slain Lamb at the center of the throne:

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. -Revelation 5:6

The High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the atonement cover of the Ark, the shadow of God’s throne – while the slain Lamb, the atoning blood of the ultimate sacrifice, is forever on the true throne in heaven.
The Word of God, the bread from heaven, the branch that bore fruit, the blood of the sacrifice between the cherubim – all shadows of the King on His Throne.

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