Christ and the Desert Tabernacle Book Review

Posted: November 2, 2012 in Book Reviews
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Christ and The Desert Tabernacle
By J.V. Fesko
EP Books
A Review By Matthew Boutilier

There is a lot of depth of meaning to the old cliche, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I would surmise it say that even mental pictures that a good author can paint can be even more so. Ever wonder why so much ink is spilled describing the Tabernacle in the Old Testament? Why so much attention to detail is given to the furniture within? What about the priestly garb? Do any of these things have any bearing on our relationship to the Lord today? If so, what? These questions and many more that we may have failed to come up with, Fesko brings out in his small treatise on the significance of the Tabernacle…as a visible representation of the heavenly Tabernacle.

Fesko goes the distance in describing for us the intricate details laid out regarding the structure of the physical tabernacle as well as its furnishings. He then describes the garments of the priests. He then goes on to help the reader understand the significance and symbolism behind each. He reminds us that these details were not insignificant, but that there is in fact a profound reason for each intimate detail. They are to help bring to focus that God is in the camp! God is with us! God is a holy God. I believe Fesko does a great job most of the time as he ties in the Old Testament with the New Testament. He helps to remind us of the fact that the Old Testametn priesthood and the Tabernacle are in fact types that are to recall Christ, yet, there are of course significant differences. For example, yes, the Aaronic priesthood serve to represent sinful man before a holy God. But, being that the priests, although called out by God, still were very limited in that they were still in fact man. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, the Perfect High Priest, was not limited by this. Jesus, was of course 100% man, yet without sin, was also 100% God. Whereas the Aaronic priests had to continually prepare and offer up sin offerings for the people he represented a well as himself in order to meet God and represent the people. Jesus by His perfect, once-for-all sacrifice on the Cross to offer redemption for the world, only needed to perform this once. It was perfect; complete. God the Father was completely satisfied (propitiated) by this obedient, voluntary act of grace. Not only did Christ not need to offer a sacrifice for His own sins as the priests needed to because He was without sin, but His sacrifice actually brought about true forgiveness of sins. And with that, whereby a believer is free from the guilt of sin, one is also imputed the righteousness of Christ, the Perfect High Priest and has the potential of living a life which is pleasing to God. Fesko gives us the picture then of the holy garments that were to be worn by the priests of this holiness; of this righteousness.

Another key strength of the book would be the fact of how Fesko gives us some understanding of the figures of speech in which the biblical writers use during this point in history. Such as, “being clothed in righteousness.” We can gain a deeper, more lucid understanding of what this may involve once we recognize what the priestly garments were to represent. When we observe New Testament writers utilizing this figure of speech and we have an understanding of this background, it makes the passages much more meaningful and imprints a deep, profound picture into our memory banks.

Another major strength of the book that I need to point out is this one. Even though there may some points that are stretched a little thin, Fesko does everything to point all things to Christ. I believe that this is a key area that is missing from our pulpits today. We focus on unmet needs, emotional battles, financial struggles, parenting issues, but we fail to offer people the cure for the disease. In fact, too often, we fail to properly diagnose the disease. I believe many of us could take a cue from this aspect of the book.

One of the major weaknesses of the book would be that there are some swooping conclusions that the author makes as he attempts to reconcile the symbolism of what he is describing without the necessary support from Scripture, or even a logical argumentation. I believe that is quite necessary especially in light of the terms he is defining for us in the book. Although Fesko does come up with some relatively logical conclusions regarding the “whys” and connecting the dots in his applaudable attempts to explain how the Tabernacle and the intricate details of its construction point to a typological tie in with Christ, there are times in which he seems to be a little too overzealous in his labors to force square pegs in round holes.

With that said, I also feel as though there are other descriptions by which the author does a great job helping us to see the logical meaning in which the original authors of Scripture were attempting to illustrate for us. A good example would be in contrasting the major differences between the Aaronic priesthood and the priesthood of Christ as he utilized Hebrews 5:1-3 as a foundation to support the better and more complete priesthood of Christ.

Overall, I believe this could prove to be a good resource to encourage us to recognize the major points and purposes of Scripture: pointing us to Christ. Taking a leisurely tour of the Tabernacle and the intricate details that the Lord gave regarding its construction, the dedication of the priests, and even the attire they were to wear, as well as the sacrifices, incense, and the Sabbath, forces one to pause to reflect with humble gratitude and thanksgiving as to how this mirrors the heavenly Tabernacle and most importantly, the great High Priest and the perfect sacrifice that He offered on our behalf.
I would like to thank Cross-Focused Media and EP Books for providing me with a free copy of the book for an unbiased review.

  1. Matt,

    Thanks for being a part of the Christ and the Desert Tabernacle Book Review Blog Tour. What I’ve been most blessed by in all of the reviews is seeing how this book is causing folks to look at the tabernacle with fresh eyes.

    Looking forward to working with you on future book review blog tours.

    Shaun Tabatt
    Cross Focused Reviews

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