(photo credit: BiblePlaces.com)
Wayne Stiles is an author who has never recovered from his travels in Israel—and loves to write about them from his desk in Texas.
I felt like I had entered a doorway to history.
away among the steep sandstone formations in the Arava Valley, Timna
Park offers visitors an unforgettable visualization of Yom Kippur.
best-known attraction of Timna Park is called “Solomon’s Pillars,”
beautiful Nubian sandstone pillars that have nothing to do with King
Solomon. But they’re fun to climb. The park also features relics from
Egyptian idol worship as well as interpretive signs about ancient copper
mining. All very fascinating.
But perhaps the best part of
Timna Park is the least-known exhibit. A full-scale replica of the
Tabernacle stands in the very wilderness where Moses and the children of
Israel wandered for forty years. Reading the Tabernacle’s dimensions in
Exodus 35-40 is so different from seeing them with your own eyes—and in
the very wilderness where the Tabernacle stood.
As I marveled
at the realistic replica, I glanced above the back of the Tent of
Meeting and imagined the pillar of fire that would have rested over it
at night, signifying that the Lord was with his people (Exodus
40:34-38). But to remain with his people, the Tabernacle had to be
cleansed every year. That caused me to think of Yom Kippur—the Day of
Atonement—when God forgave the sins of his people.
simple white fabric that flapped in the breeze formed the perimeter of
the Tabernacle, and it served as the first of a number of barriers
between the Hebrews and the Lord. Today we place barriers between our
leaders and the people in order to protect the leader. But the
Tabernacle’s barriers stood to protect the people from God. No one ever
would come into the presence of a holy God without a sacrifice for
sin—because holiness cannot abide sin in its presence. What stood before
me reminded me of that fact.
The large, brazen altar was the
place where the majority of sacrifices occurred on a daily basis. All
sacrifices began with “the burnt offering,” from the Hebrew term olah
(Leviticus 1:3). The English word “holocaust” (meaning “burnt whole”)
comes from this term.
Just past the brazen altar stood the
bronze laver, the washbowl where the priests would scrub up. Behind it,
the tent called “the Holy Place” had dull colors on the outside, but
underneath I saw beautiful embroidery of colorful cherubim.
the Holy Place was something only priests could do, but today, tourists
can enter to examine the Tabernacle’s interior. After my eyes adjusted
to the dark room, I saw on the right the Table of Showbread with its
twelve loaves that represented Israel’s twelve tribes. The menorah on
the left offered meager lighting, and the lack of breeze made the room
stifling. The Altar of Incense stood in the back before the small room
called “The Holy of Holies.”
On Yom Kippur, Aaron the priest would wear humble clothing and offer on
the Brazen Altar a bull for himself and for the priests. Leviticus 16
lays out the instructions. He would then cast lots to decide which of
two goats would be sacrificed and which would be the “scapegoat,” or the
“goat of removal.” Aaron would take a fire pan of coals from the altar
and go inside the Holy Place with incense. As he entered the Holy of
Holies, smoke from the incense would shield Aaron from the glory of God.
Then he would sprinkle the blood of the bull and one of the goats on
and in front of the mercy seat—the top of the Ark of the Covenant. The
words “mercy seat” come from a Hebrew word related to kippur
Aaron then laid his hands on the head of a goat, and confesses over it
all the sins of Israel—symbolically transferring the sins from the
nation to one goat. And the goat was carried away to a distant desert.
The scapegoat ceremony was seen by all and could be understood by all.
It was a powerful visual aid that demonstrated the reality of sin and
the need to eliminate it through a sacrifice that took your place.
As I explored the replica of the biblical Tabernacle in Timna Park, it
was hard to take it all in. On a designated day a particular man would
wear specific clothes and offer certain sacrifices in a particular way
for an explicit purpose: The cleansing of the Tabernacle and the
forgiveness of the people’s sins. Why? So that God would dwell with
Timna Park is a wonderful place to visit. Not many other parks can offer
such great lessons in biblical history, in personal holiness, and in
the purpose of Yom Kippur.
That’s a bargain for the price of an admission ticket. What to Do There:
“Solomon’s Pillars,” visit the remnants from Egyptian idol worship, and
read the signs about ancient copper mining in the area. But don’t miss
the Tabernacle model and the informative tour offered. At some point
before your tour, read Leviticus 16. How to Get There:
From the Jericho area, travel about 265 km south, turning west at the Bik’at Timna Junction.Read Wayne’s blog and subscribe to his weekly Podcast at www.waynestiles.com.
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