OT Sanctuary vs the Heavenly Sanctuary

OT Sanctuary vs the Heavenly Sanctuary

Today, I would like to show you how the sanctuary of the congregation in the Old Testament is a shadow of what we see in the book of Revelation. The Lord gave Moses specific dimensions and requirements for the design of the ark of the covenant and the sanctuary it would be placed. As I was reading the description of the Old Testament sanctuary I noticed it lines up with the heavenly sanctuary the Apostle John describes in one of his visions. I pulled out certain key parts that will help you to see a correlation between the Old Testament sanctuary and the heavenly sanctuary. 

And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass. Exodus 27:2 KJV

4 horns = 4 serafim (beasts) This is found in Revelation 4:7

* Court of the Tabernacle *

Court of the tabernacle – south side has fine linen = this is a shadow of the righteous saints that will be able to stand before God.

And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side: Exodus 27:9 KJV

Gate of the court with 3 pillars = the new Jerusalem gates on each side have 3 names written which belong to three sons of Israel. It has 12 gates total all around. So we will notice they cover all four corners (north, south, east, and west) Pillars are used for support when placed over a foundation. Symbolically, we can correlate the foundation is Jesus and the pillars represent the elders who helped establish the foundation.

The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three. And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three. Exodus 27:14-15 KJV

And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. Revelation 21:12-13 KJV

The names for the gates are as follows:

East – Joseph, Benjamin, Dan

North– Reuben, Judah, Levi 

South – Simeon, Issachar, Zebulon

West – Gad, Asher, Nephtali 

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. Revelation 21:21 KJV

If you are wondering how I came up with the grouping of the names of the tribes of Israel they were mentioned in the OT and they were listed in a certain order. When the ark of the covenant was traveling with them they surrounded it with the armies on all four sides in this manner with their family banners. 

Group 1: And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be captain of the children of Judah. Numbers 2:3 KJV (East) Judah, Issachar, Zebulun 

Group 2: On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur. Numbers 2:10 KJV (South) Reuben, Simeon, Gad

Group 3: On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their armies: and the captain of the sons of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud. Numbers 2:18 KJV (West) Ephraim, Manasses, Benjamin

Group 4: The standard of the camp of Dan shall be on the north side by their armies: and the captain of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. Numbers 2:25 KJV (North) Dan, Asher, Nephtali 

At first I thought these were the names for the gates but after further research Ezekiel gives us the answer. Joseph is not listed in the tribes when they went forth with the ark but as you see his two sons were listed in his place and Levi was also removed. Here are the scriptures from Ezekiel 48:

And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. Ezekiel 48:31 KJV (NORTH)

And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. Ezekiel 48:32 KJV (EAST)

And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. Ezekiel 48:33 KVJ (SOUTH)

At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali. Ezekiel 48:34 KJV (WEST)

* Gate of the Court *

Gate of the court has 4 colors associated with it = blue (for celestial/ heavenly and the healing power of God) purple (for the royalty of Jesus, a king’s color) scarlet (for the blood he shed) fine linen (for the righteousness of his followers, the saints) For anyone to pass through the gate those four are required.

And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four. Exodus 27:16 KJV

* Oil For The Lamp *

Olive oil for the lamp – the oil represents the children of Israel. The lamp is the word of God. This would symbolically represent them living inside the walls of the new temple which would be found in the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21.

And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always. Exodus 27:20 KJV

* Tabernacle of The Congregation *

Tabernacle of the congregation without the veil – this area was reserved for the priests. In the NT we were made priests to be able to stand in front of the throne without the separation of the veil.

In the tabernacle of the congregation without the veil, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord: it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel. Exodus 27:21 KJV

* Breastplate of Judgment *

This breastplate was worn on the heart of the priest when he entered into the Holy of Holies (the presence of God). It was lined with precious stones on a gold breastplate. The 12 precious stones represent the sons of Israel and each son is represented by a different color. The priest in the OT is also a shadow and represents the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus will be the one who goes before the throne of God the Father with the judgment of the children of Israel and all the others who followed and accepted him.

* Arrangement of the Stones in the Breastplate *

And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. Exodus 28:17 KJV

The colors of stones for the sons of Israel are as follows:

 – Reuben, Simeon, Levi

    Sardius, Topaz, Carbuncle

And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. Exodus 28:18 KJV

– Judah, Dan, Nephtali 

   Emerald, Sapphire, Diamond

And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. Exodus 28:19 KJV

 –  Gad, Asher, Issachar

     Ligure, Agate, Amethyst

And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings. Exodus 28:20 KJV

 – Zebulun, Manasseh, Benjamin 

        Beryl, Onyx, Jasper

Note: Remember that the Jews read and write from right to left so ideally these would be inverted.

In the book of Revelation there is also a mention of precious stones in the foundation of the wall of the city of the New Jerusalem. 

And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; Revelation 21:19 KJV

  • (1)Benjamin- Jasper
  • (2)Dan- Sapphire
  • (3)Asher – Chalcedony (Agate)
  • (4)Judah – Emerald

The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. Revelation 21:20 KJV

  • (5)Joseph – Sardonyx
  • (6)Reuben – Sardius
  • (7)Levi – Chrysolite
  • (8)Zebulun – Beryl
  • (9)Simeon – Topaz
  • (10)Nephtali- Chrysoprasus
  • (11)Gad- Jacinth (Ligure)
  • (12)Issachar – Amethyst

These colors of the wall pertain to the twelve apostles of the Lord Jesus. I believe the colors also pertain to the family lineage of the 12 apostles. As you read earlier they were the colors of the precious stones placed in the priest’s breastplate. Everything the Lord did in the OT was purposeful and intentional including the selection Jesus made for his disciples.

You may wonder why Levi is not always on the list if he was a son of Israel. Levi and his family were priests and they had a special duty in service to the Lord. Sometimes, you do not see them included with his brothers because they were separated as priests. I don’t want to say this was all the time because you see Levi’s name in Revelation chapter 7.

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Revelation 21:14 KJV

Observe the blessings and prophecies Israel spoke over his sons before he passed away. 

* Foundation of the First Four Colors *


Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. Genesis 49:27 KJV


Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. Genesis 49:16-17 KJV


Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties. Genesis 49:20 KJV


Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Genesis 49:8 KJV

These first four foundations are separated from all the rest and I believe there is a reason for this as well. Look at what their lineage promised. It is as if it was showing us steps. Devour the enemy and then divide his spoil. There will be a judgment that follows and it shall yield royal delights and we shall praise the one who comes from Judah and the Father’s children of Israel and the children of God the Father will bow down before him.

We hope this helps you see the relationship between the design of the Old Testament sanctuary in relation to the New Jerusalem sanctuary and city.