It is interesting to note that the instructions to build a sanctuary immediately followed the giving of the law on Sinai. The law had no power to save. Its purpose was to point out sin. As Paul said, "I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" Romans 7:7. It is in being made aware of our own sinfulness, by the law, that we realize the need for a Savior. The sanctuary revealed God's plan for our salvation – a way to be separated from sin.
As previously mentioned, the sanctuary was composed of three divisions each demonstrating a different phase in Jesus' saving work for us. The altar of burnt offering in the courtyard was the site of death for all the sacrifices pointing forward to Jesus' death. The courtyard symbolized Jesus' crucifixion on this earth.
Also found in the courtyard, located between the altar and the entrance to the tabernacle, was the laver, a large bowl-like bronze container filled with water. The commandment regarding the priests was that before entering the tabernacle, "they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not" Exodus 30:21. This physical cleansing indicated the need also for spiritual cleansing as they entered the holy building.
The priest's daily entrance into the Holy Place taking the blood of sacrifices and burning incense before the veil illustrated Jesus' work of mediation for us which began at His ascension. "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" Hebrews 9:24. Each piece of furniture in the Holy Place was representative of Jesus' perfect life and intercession. His righteousness was represented in the incense ascending with the prayers of the saints. (See Revelation 8:3, 4). On the north side of the tabernacle was a table on which, at all times, there was bread. Jesus said of Himself, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever. . . the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" John 6:51, 63. Opposite the table was a seven branched candlestick kept lit at all times. Jesus, "the Light of the world" is ever available to illuminate our hearts. As we partake of the Bread of life via His Word we are sustained day by day, and He is ever interceding for us making our prayers acceptable through His perfect life.
All this was revealed in the courtyard and the Holy Place, but what about the Most Holy Place?