STUDY 9: The Gate. The Door. The Vail.

THE GATE. THE DOOR. THE VAIL..jpg

There were three entrances in the Tabernacle arrangement which include:-

  1. the “gate” to the “outer court” (Exodus 27:16-19).
  2. the “door” to the “holy place” (Exodus 26:36-37; 36:37-38).
  3. the “vail” to the “holy of holies.” (i.e. “Most Holy”) (Exodus 26:31-33).

All three entrances were made of the same material: a fine white woven linen with blue, purple and scarlet threads running through the material (Exodus 38:18).

All three entrances had the the same dimensions as regards their area, that is, they were all 100 square cubits a number representing Christ Jesus:

  • The gate was 20 cubits long x 5 cubits high (Exodus 38:18);
  • The door and the veil were 10 x 10 cubits — SQUARE — a symbol of PERFECTION (equality on every side)!

NOTE: For the door, we do not have an explicit text for its measurements however the boards were 10 cubits high (Exodus 26:16). As to the width, we infer from the 20 cubits of Solomon’s Temple that the Tabernacle was half the size (1 Kings 6:2) — thus, 10 cubits wide. The back of the Tabernacle was defined by 6 board of a cubit and a half, so 9 cubits interior — the two sides, if each 1/2 cubit thick, would constitute 10 cubits outside dimension of the Tabernacle. If the door was sufficient to cover this, then it was 10 cubits wide.

This teaches us that the same truth seems therefore to be embodied in each of these typical curtains. The same Jesus is portrayed in each. There could be no access to God, of any kind, whether of comparatively distant worship, or of closest intimacy, but through the one door, the Lord Jesus. “I am the door” (John 10:7).

The value of 100 also “beautifully correlates to the “redemption price” of the “firstborns” which was five shekels at 20 gerahs per shekel: 100 gerahs (also representing Christ Jesus)! (Numbers 3:46,47; 18:15,16)” (Notes on the Tabernacle, page 100).

Jesus is our entry into:

  • justification (the gate into the court),
  • sanctification (the door into the Holy) and
  • glorification (the vail into the Most Holy).

(1) THE GATE

the-gate-beauties-of-the-tabernacle

The gate was the only way into the court and represents our Lord Jesus who said of himself, “I am the door. Whoever enters through me, will be saved” (John 10:9, NIV).

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV).

By faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice, represented in the Brazen altar, we enter the ‘gate’ to the ‘Court’ — the vail of unbelief and sin is passed” (Tabernacle Shadows, page 22).

The gate was wider than any of the other entrances, enabling all Israelites to enter the court. The width of the entrance shows that God makes grace available to many for “many are called but few are chosen(Matthew 22:14).

In Exodus 40:33 we read, And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.”

The root word of “gate” from Exodus 40:33 is shâʻar, shaw-ar’ and means, to split or open, reason out, estimate… and the Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon writes: “to set free… to set a price” and Jesus most certainly did “set free” every human from the curse of sin.

The gate, (as also the door and the vail) was really a “hanging.” (See Exodus 27:9, 16; 26:31,32, 36).

All three entrances were suspended by way of metal (silver or gold) hooks from the pillars which supported them (Exodus 38:19; 26:32,37). (See Study 4 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle.”) There were no curtain rods nor any other device by way of which these “hangings” could be raised up or pulled to one side.

To enter the court, and thus, in order to pass “beneath” the “hangings,” one had to lift the bottom of the curtain and stoop down and go under the curtain. This bowing to enter shows a right attitude of heart, for when we come to Christ we come humbly in need of a Saviour. The man who will not bow his knee and his heart to Christ, cannot enter in (Psalm 99:5, Ephesians 3:14, Matthew 19:24).

We can only approach Jehovah God, by recognizing Jesus’ merit and through the eyes of a New Creation mind — the mind that was also in our Lord Jesus.

There were no cherubim interwoven into this outdoor screen surrounding the court area and the gate, unlike that of the vail. (We discuss about the cherubim a little later in this Study.)

The tribe of Judah, the kingly tribe, camped outside the Eastern Gate. The name Judah means “praise,” and Jesus was descended from this tribe (Hebrews 7:14).

The Four Posts at the Gate

There were FOUR posts at the Gate (Exodus 27:16-19).

Perhaps FOUR here, could represent the four authors of the Gospels of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) who most conspicuously held up Christ’s character before the world and who are the instruments used to build our faith into Christ — by studying about Jesus and getting to know who he is and thus how to become like him, and learning about what he taught to likewise follow his teachings and spread the lessons to all who have a listening ear.

(2) THE DOOR

the-five-posts-at-the-door-of-the-tabernacle

The “door” was the one entrance into the Holy (which represents the spirit begotten condition of the “little flock” class — see Study 3 of the “Beauties of the Tabernacle” series of posts on this website).

The door of the Tabernacle is of finely twisted linen (Exodus 26:36) because Jesus has completely satisfied the justice of God.

It is white to express the purity and righteousness of Jesus’ character. Jesus was the one without sin and without stain or blemish (1 Peter 1:19).

As was the gate and veil, this door was made of “blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer” (Exodus 36:37).

The door would have been thick enough to block light and it was in the Holy Place where the golden lampstand was (which stood directly opposite the table on the south side) and it was to burn continuously both night and day (Exodus 27:20-21).

The Materials Used for the Fabric of the Sanctuary

Flax and goat’s hair were the materials used for the fabrics of the sanctuary. According to Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, “the flax was dyed before it was spun into thread.”

weavers.jpgHere is an image of two Israelite women moving the “weavers beam” forward on a large vertical loom as they make fine twisted linen.

In Exodus 35:25 we read, “And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. 26 And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.

In the above verse, “wise-hearted” women refers to all who had sufficient skill. Although both men and women of ancient Egypt spun thread, spinning seems to have been done primarily by the Hebrew women. It was effected in early times by means of a wheel and spindle, with or without a distaff. (Reference: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200000994).

Jesus Christ referred to spinning when he urged his disciples, not to be unduly anxious about clothing, but to trust in God to clothe them. Jesus said: “Mark well how the lilies grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, Not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.” (Luke 12:27, 28; Matthew 6:28-30).

“Of fine linen” — Rather, of white. Most of the Egyptian linen is of a yellowish white, being made from flax imperfectly blanched.

Note: It is described in the English version as the linen being wrought with the needle, or embroidered; but the word rendered “needle-work” is now believed to denote a striped or checked pattern produced by the loom. Hence the curtain of the gate and door had a blue, scarlet and purple colour appear in them in stripes or checks, instead of being wrought into figures of cherubs, as on the curtain of the vail.

The Colours of the Linen Curtains

colours-of-the-tabernacle

  • White

White linen was used for garments for royalty and persons of rank and has been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs. White linen always speaks of purity and righteousness:

Revelation 15:6 —And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands.

Revelation 3:5  “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

Revelation 19:14  “And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.”

The fine-twined, white linen speaks of righteousness and typifies Jesus, the Son of Man, spotless, pure, and sinless.

1 John 3:3-5 — “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure…and you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.”

  • Blue

The interwoven thread of blue seems to speak the fact that Jesus remained completely loyal and true to his heavenly Father; that he faithfully maintained his righteousness and purity at all costs.

Blue is the colour of the sky without clouds and so it is also known to be a symbol of what is heavenly.

Blue is also the colour of nobility. We recognize those qualities in our Lord Jesus. He came from heaven, he then returned there as a divine soul. “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you” (1 Peter 1:20, ESV).

We read that Jesus came and being found in the appearance of a man humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11).

  • Scarlet

Scarlet represents Christ’s blood shed for all — his sufferings and death on the cross. Our Lord’s loyalty and faithfulness were put to the severest tests, tests in which obedience to the will of God resulted in his sacrificial death on Calvary’s cross.

The Apostle Peter captures the thought here in saying “it was not with …. silver and gold you were redeemed… but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:17-23).

It is Christ’s blood which gives life and purifies.

  • Purple

Purple represents Jesus’ royalty; he was of the royal line of David, Lord of the earth, and the inheritor of all the promises of God.  Our Lord Jesus became King of kings and Lord of lords since Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18, NIV).

Jesus is king of a kingdom not of this world (John 18:33-39).

Because of Christ’s faithfulness unto death, God indeed did highly exalt him to the royalty of the kingdom, as was prophesied many centuries in advance:

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

The Five Posts at the Door

There were FIVE posts (pillars) that supported the first vail (the door) of the Holy (Exodus 26:37; Exodus 36:38). The number 5 in the Bible represents the New Creature in Christ. (See Study 3 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle”.)

These posts were constructed of shittim wood overlaid with gold, and they were set in sockets of copper — representing perfect (or justified) human nature, and therefore, the spirit-begotten condition of the church. How beautifully this reflects that the saints still in the flesh (in the Holy — representative of the “in part” condition (1 Corinthians 13:9) have their “treasure” of the Spirit (gold) in “earthen vessels” (copper) as we read of in 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ASV):

 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.”

(3) THE VAIL

the-vail-of-the-tabernacle

The entrance to the Most Holy is called “the vail” (or in Hebrew, paroketh) of the Tabernacle and which the Apostle Paul in the New Testament designates “the second vail” (Hebrew 9:3).

It was only through the vail (which represents Christ’s flesh, R.4746) that one could enter into the Most Holy — the spirit-born condition of glory, honor and immortality to which the faithful over-comers of this age became heirs. (See Study 3 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle.)

For a certain period of time the door to the High Calling of the Church stands ajar during the 6000 years of permission of evil which has been allowed since 33 AD. Jesus opened up this new way of life through the veil; that is to say, his flesh—his sacrifice.

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh (Hebrews 10:19, 20).

The Rending of the Vail

The rending of the Temple vail (in Jerusalem) took place at the same time as the earthquake at the moment of our Lord’s death — his crucifixion — which we read about, in Matthew 27:51 and Luke 23:45.

Interestingly, this great vail was torn, not from the bottom toward the top, as would be the expectation if it were the result of wear, but from the top to the bottom, as indicating it was a manifestation of divine power.

The rending of this curtain represents symbolically the opening of the narrow entrance way into the High Calling — an opening between heaven itself and the heavenly condition of those living in the Gospel Age (now spanning nearly 2000 years since 33 AD) by Christ through the sacrifice of his flesh.

Through that rent vail we may see into the things beyond and be ready to pass into the Most Holy (R.4746).

Passing through this second vail into the Most Holy, involves “the death of the HUMAN body” (Tabernacle Shadows, page 22).

Both the fleshly mind and fleshly body must be left behind before we can enter into the “holiest of all.” We will then be in the spirit realm, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50).

True believers are represented as being associated with Jesus as priests in the Holy, (the outer apartment of the two) where they have fellowship with God through the light of the golden candlestick, through the bread of the golden table, and through the incense that we are permitted to offer on the golden altar. It is from this standpoint we can now by faith see beyond the vail — catch glimpses at least of the heavenly estate which God hath in reservation for them who love him, for the called ones according to his purpose, for the Christ, head and body (R.3371:2).

The Cherubim

Unlike the curtain for the gate and the door, the linen curtain of the vail was embroidered with cherubim, (as were the walls of the Tabernacle proper — due to cherubim embroidered on the first of the Tabernacle’s coverings). Any cherubim in the vail would presumably have been depicted in a different way than the two golden cherubim over the ark of the covenant — these being described in Exodus 25:20:-

“And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.”

Here is one artist’s impression of what the vail pattern may have resembled:

artist's impression of vail pattern .jpgCherubim being heavenly (angelic) creatures suggests that those passing beyond this vail enter into the heavenly condition — life on the spirit plane — partakers of the Divine Nature.

The ancient Jews said this later veil of the temple was as wide as four fingers, so that no one could possibly see into the Most Holy place (David Guzik).

The vail divided the Tabernacle into two, the Holy place at the front — 20 x10 cubits — and the Most Holy place that became a room 10 cubits long x 10 cubits wide x 10 cubits high.
Only the high priest was permitted to go beyond the vail. This occurred once a year, on the Day of Atonement.

When it came to moving from place to place, the vail was taken down from its hanging position and draped over the ark of the covenant (in which case, there was no “most holy” at that point, the vail defining the most holy having been taken down).

“(5) And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: (6) And shall put thereon the covering of badgers’ skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof” (Numbers 4:5-6).

Hence there was sufficient means by which the Levitical priests could carry out God’s requirements of not entering the most holy nor seeing the ark of the covenant exposed and thus not inflicting death on themselves or others. For whomever would touch the ark of the covenant (other than the High Priest on the Day of Atonement) would die, such as in the case of Uzzah (Exodus 25:14-15).

Is this not a wonderful reassurance that a consecrated child of God should not fear failing in their vows of consecration until death or fear second death! Why? Because the Heavenly Father provides enough immunity against the evils that surround when, one’s fear of reverence to the Father through Christ (Proverbs 1:7) helps one seek for God’s wisdom, help and comfort in every time of need and trial (Psalm 46:1). This reverential fear of doing wrong in the eyes of God is a blessing in disguise! — helping the consecrated Christian overcome (Romans 8:37) all the testings and temptations as did our Lord Jesus when he was on earth.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The vail (“katapetasma”) means “to hide or conceal”, hide from view the “ark of the covenant” and the “mercy seat.”

It also acted as a barrier between God and man because while we are in the flesh, in the Holy condition as the developing embryonic New Creations in Christ, God is in the Most Holy, thus the vail separates the two of us.

The FOUR POSTS at the VAIL

4-posts-at-the-vail

The FOUR posts (Exodus 26:32; 36:36) supporting the vail into the Most Holy are set in sockets of silver.

Silver is a general symbol of Truth — the knowledge of which the justified believer holds on to the righteousness of Christ. (See Study 4  of the “Beauties of the Tabernacle” Series of posts on this website, regarding details about silver.)

The posts here, represent the spirit-birth (gold) condition as an actuality (silver), where one’s treasure is obtained in the fullest sense by carrying out one’s sacrifice willingly and with great joy in the Spirit, unto death.  Thus, the posts into the Most Holy no longer had sockets of copper as in at the gate and door entrance ways and this signifies that those entering the Most Holy place (Divine Realm) are no longer in the flesh.

The vail was hung from golden hooks from off the 4 posts (not from the 50 golden clasps which joined the two parts of the linen covering, although, the vail was located approximately under these clasps.) Refer to Study 8 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle.” It was probably a unified drapery on the backside of the posts.

As were the golden hooks and covering of the pillars of the holy and most holy — so are our hopes, aspirations, and calling — these all concern with things divine (Exodus 26:32-37).

The Number FOUR — In the Bible

The number four in the Bible refers to the concept of trial, testing, probation, judgment.

Thus here at the entrance of the most holy of the Tabernacle, the time of judgment of the church may be reflected in the four posts.

Here are some other examples of four in the Bible (as explained in an article titled “Symbolic Numbers” by Br. David Rice in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov./Dec. 2004):

  • At the second feeding of the multitudes by Jesus — representing the time of harvest and judgment closing the Gospel age, the number reported was four thousand.
  • The forty years in the wilderness (Numbers 32:13) — representing the Gospel age period of testing, trial, development.
  • The same is represented in the four hundred years of Genesis 15:13 — which describes the period of the affliction of the seed of Abraham, beginning with the mocking of Isaac, at the age of five, by Ishmael — a picture of the early affliction of the Church by the Jewish authorities and ends at the Exodus — a picture of the deliverance of God’s chosen at the end of the Gospel Age.

When multiplying these 400 years by the 360 days in a prophetic year, we yield 144,000, the number of the church in Revelation — showing the fruitage to be developed during the testing period of the Gospel age.

The different orders of magnitude of the number four (i.e. 4, 40, 400 and 4,000) also expressing the symbol.

[It is interesting to also note: “Of the dated visions of Jeremiah in chapters 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 36, three are dated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and three in the fourth year of Zedekiah — all six judgments are in a year four.

When the seven times of punishment on Israel was represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the expression “seven times” appeared four times in the narrative, and four times in the warning by Moses (Daniel 4; Leviticus 26).

These judgments were fulfilled by four Gentile kingdoms dominating Israel during the 2,520 years of their national punishment.] (Symbolic Numbers, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Nov./Dec. 2004)

The colours embroidered on the white linen of the vail are the same here as for the entrance into the Holy. The presence of these three colours on the white linen vail is echoed in Revelation:

“Be thou faithful (blue) unto death (scarlet) and I will give thee a crown (purple) of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Psalm 100:2-5 (NLT)

Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

References

[R= Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence – Charles Russell]

Acknowledgment

Content assisted by Br. George Tabac.

Suggested Further Reading

STUDY 1: An Introduction To The Tabernacle And It’s Purpose
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/02/study-1-an-introduction-to-the-tabernacle-and-its-purpose/

STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud By Day And The Pillar of Smoke By Night  https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/09/study-2-the-pillar-of-cloud-by-day-and-the-pillar-of-smoke-by-night/

STUDY 3: The Tabernacle Construction: The Holy and The Most Holy   https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/14/study-3-the-tabernacle-construction-the-holy-the-most-holy/

STUDY 4: The Court (“Holy Place”)
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/20/study-4-the-court-holy-place/

STUDY 5: The Camp. The Israelites.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/28/study-5-the-camp-the-israelites/

STUDY 6: The Levites
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/18/study-6-the-levites/

STUDY 7: The Priests. The Day of Atonement.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/10/study-7-the-priests-the-day-of-atonement/

STUDY 8: The Tabernacle Coverings
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/02/study-8-the-tabernacle-coverings/

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https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/01/study-9-the-gate-the-door-the-vail/

 

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STUDY 8: The Tabernacle Coverings

The Tabernacle Coverings.jpg

The Tabernacle structure was overlaid with 4 coverings as explained in detail in Exodus chapter 26 (and chapter 36). There were 2 primary coverings of measured dimensions and 2 additional coverings over those.

The Two Inner Coverings or Curtains

The two inner coverings formed the “MISHKAN” the Tabernacle proper.

  1. The First Covering

The Tabernacle was covered by a large white linen cloth composed of ten curtains interwoven with figures of cherubim, in blue, purple, and scarlet (Exodus 26:1, 36:8-13).

Each curtain was 28 cubits x 4 cubits, making a total of 28 cubits across and 40 cubits from front to back. The ten curtains were sewn into two sets 28 x 20 and these two sets were coupled together with 50 blue loops on each joined by 50 gold clasps. This joint would have been situated above the pillars of the vail (Exodus 26:33).

Since the dwelling was 30 x 10 cubits, this linen curtain covered the roof and both the northern and the southern side of the Tabernacle plus the back (western side).

If this linen curtain had have hung straight down, then it would have reached 9 cubits from the top of the Tabernacle structure (on the northern and southern side) and 10 cubits on the back (western side) and this would mean that the western corners of the curtain would be dragging along the dirty ground — and we do not believe this was the case. This white curtain presumably did not drape straight down, but was angled outward on the ropes that were secured by the pins and cords of both the Tabernacle and the court, Exodus 35:18:

18 The pins (“tent pegs,” NIV) of the tabernacle, and the pins of the court, and their cords(“ropes,” NIV).”

If not for these cords (that would have kept the curtain from going straight down), then the two back corners would have lain on the dirty ground — just as the two corners of a bedspread go farther down than the bedspread on the three sides of a bed. Thus it we understand the curtain did not drag along the ground.

The pure linen covering with its embroidery represents the New Creation, holy (white linen), sanctified (set apart for God’s service), with the fruits of the spirit intertwined in their character.

This covering was in two main parts — five strips in each part.

The two main parts represents the two parts of the New Creation — our Lord Jesus, and the Church, his Bride class.

That there were five strips in each part is consistent with the use of the number five elsewhere in the Scriptures to represent the New Creation. (Thus the five wise virgins of the parable and their companions of the same number, the five foolish virgins.) As Jesus is the effulgence of God’s glory, so the Church will reflect the glory of God also, and thus the splendid beauty of this covering. [See Study 3 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle” on this website titled “The Tabernacle Construction: The Holy & The Most Holy.”]

The gold clasps suggest the divine nature to be obtained by the Church.

The loops of blue suggest the bonds of faith and fidelity that hold the Church as a unit. They are 50 in number, appropriate for the New Creation which is often represented by the number 5 or its higher orders, 50, 500, 5000. [see Study 3 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle”].

This overwhelming inner beauty of the Tabernacle may reflect our Heavenly Father’s interest in having a dwelling place of the holy Spirit where the inward detail of our lives is beautiful because of our efforts of striving for righteousness in all.

  1. The Second Covering

The second covering over the linen curtain was the goats hair curtain. (Exodus 26:7-13; 36:14-18). This one extended a cubit further on the back and 2 outer sides than did the first linen curtain underneath it.

It consisted of eleven curtains 30 cubits x 4 cubits. Eleven of the curtains made 30 cubits across (2 cubits wider than the first linen covering) and 42 cubits overall length (2 cubits longer than the first linen covering) from front to back (Exodus 26:9).

At the front of the Tabernacle, the 11th of the four-cubit-wide curtains was doubled over — (creating a one cubit vertical “ledge” above, at the front of the Tabernacle door) — something unique to this particular curtain, possibly signifies that when we begin our consecration we have a double measure of goat nature, but less of it later on.

Just like the white linen curtain, this goat’s hair curtain did not touch the ground in the back but would have been elevated by ropes (cords) that were pegged to the ground outside with bronze pegs so that it hung down at an angle preventing them from getting dirty and degraded easily.

The goats hair curtain was also sewn into two sets, but this time the two sets of 50 loops were joined by 50 bronze clasps.

Bronze, (chiefly copper) representing human nature which is noted in the bronze serpent (Numbers 21:9) — representing the justified human nature of Jesus that was sacrificed for us to remove our sins. Thus bronze clasps are appropriate here, because this covering represents the human nature (in its perfection — thanks only to the imputed robe of Christ’s righteousness covering us so that a fully consecrated justified believer can be reckoned as righteous in the eyes of God) of the New Creation while in the flesh.

In other words, the goat hair covering represents our old nature (the fleshly), in which we have our spiritual hopes.

It is interesting to note that there was no bronze inside the Tabernacle, showing that the calling of the saints is away from the flesh, into the spirit.

One wonders whether the joining clasp areas of the linen and goat hair coverings may have allowed some ventilation for the Tabernacle and a place of exit for the smoke from the incense altar and the lamps. Our “ventilation” from the sorrows and difficulties of the flesh also is upward, through our prayers to our Heavenly Father (Psalm 34:4).

However, this possibility seems foreclosed, because the clasped area for the linen covering, and the clasped area for the goat hair covering, did not line up with each other, to allow such ventilation. This is because of the stagger of 1/2 curtain width in one covering relative to the other, occasioned by folding one of the goat hair curtains in half at the front of the Tabernacle.

The Bride class is depicted in Song of Solomon 4:1 as having “hair as a flock of goats,” which further connects the goat hair curtain with the Church class.

This covering represented the Church, as sacrificed with Jesus, as an offering given for the purpose of cleansing the world from sin during the Millennium. In this, it reminds us of the goat for a sin offering that was offered on the Day of Atonement.

Jesus’ sacrifice as a sin offering was represented in the bullock for a sin offering on the Day of Atonement [as is discussed in Post 7 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle” on this website, titled “Study 7: The Priests. The Day of Atonement.”] The Church shares with Jesus in suffering and sacrifice during the present Gospel Age, in order to assist Jesus during the Kingdom to cleanse the world from their propensity for sin. The share of the Church class in this service is represented in the goat hair curtain.

As the Church is presently imperfect, they need a covering for their imperfections in order to be an acceptable sacrifice to God. That covering is the Ransom given by Jesus represented in the covering of rams’ skins dyed red, which was above the goat hair curtain.

The 5 strips represents the Church as the New Creation:

i.e.

2  (holy Spirit — the understanding of God’s divine plan and God’s influence on our character through studying the Old and New Testaments of the Bible)
+   
3  (redemption through Christ’s blood)
=
5  (the New Creation in Christ).

The 6 strips — show we are still in sinful flesh.

The 11 strips in total — is a picture of the Church in the flesh but with their new hopes. Thus the need for the ram skin dyed red covering, of the ransom.

It is most interesting to note that the perimeter of this covering of goat’s hair, with the “sixth curtain” doubled over in the forefront of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:9) measures exactly 144 cubits, which when multiplied by 1000 (God’s number in the Tabernacle), gives the number of those who will share with Jesus in the sin offering of atonement, 144,000 — the Elect, Bride of Christ (Revelation 7, 14).

The Outer Coverings

The outer coverings formed the “OHEL” — the large tent, that spread over the first two coverings (curtains), protecting them from the sun and rain. This was the covering mentioned in Exodus 40:19 which was put over the top of the tent (the curtains or Tabernacle proper). These coverings were a weather proof protection to the tabernacle and were held in place by cords and pins fixing them to the ground.

  1. The Third Covering

The third covering was made of ram skins dyed red (Exodus 26:14, 36:19; Numbers 4:25).

The ram skins dyed red covering represents the ransom sacrifice, which covers our imperfect humanity. It is over the goat hair covering, to show that it covers our flesh with its imperfections.

A ram is a grown male sheep and the head of the flock. A shepherd may have one or two rams in a flock of ewes to promote uniformity. The ram is forever in the eyes of the Jew as the substitute animal, faithful unto death. This is of course because God provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac on that day when Abraham’s faith was revealed (Genesis 22:12-13).

The ram’s skins were dyed red to represent the ransom sacrifice of Jesus shedding his blood on the cross for the redemption of all mankind from inherited Adamic sin.

John 1:29 — “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Hebrews 2:9 — “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”

Hebrews 2:17 — “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Thus, the first layer typifies the New Creation, the second layer shows that we are still in the flesh, the third layer typifies that Jesus bore our sins and shed his blood to redeem us.

Measurements for both the 3rd (ram’s skin) & 4th (sea cow skin) coverings are not given in the Bible nor are we told precisely how they covered. Thus some artist conceptions show them as a covering tent, not in direct contact with the goat hair covering. In any case, we presume the third covering was more than sufficient to cover the second, and that the fourth was more than sufficient to cover the third.

Nevertheless, the reason for no dimension given for the ram’s skin covering may be as if to say that God’s love manifested toward the world, in the sending of his son “out of the realms of light into the shades of night,” to become the man Christ Jesus and thus to give himself a ransom for all, is immeasurable!! Who can measure it?

The ram and sea cow coverings were not divided into units as were the other two, which may mean that while the Church shares together with Jesus in the sin offering and in the glory of the kingdom, it cannot and does not share either in the humiliation of the Logos in leaving his glory to become the man Christ Jesus, nor in his death as the ransom sacrifice for the sins of the world.

  1. The Fourth Covering

The fourth and top covering was made of  sea cows’ (manatee or dugong) skins (mistranslated badger skins) (Exodus 26:14, 36:19).

This outward covering was serviceable for the elements of weather, rather than suited for attractive décor. Thus it was durable (Exodus 26:14). It was not especially attractive, just as the world sees no attraction to our service in the present time. However, in the Millennium they will see the Church class cleared of all unattractive conditions. She will then be seen in her glory and grandeur; just as the temple, a type of the glorified Church, was covered with plates of gold, there were no ugly skins.

As this outward covering hid all that was beneath it, so also, Jesus’ flesh did not reveal him to be what he truly was — the Messiah whom Israel so long sought. When he presented himself to his own people as simple and humble, “his own received him not” (John 1:11) for they beheld in him “no form nor comeliness … no beauty” that they should desire him (Isaiah 53:1-2). Jesus said, “though seeing they do not see, though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Matthew 13:13). They see only the outer things. But blessed are those who use the eyes of faith and enter in.

To those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Personal Redeemer and Advocate and Sin offering, Jesus is to us part of our being… the “altogether lovely One” (Song of Solomon 5:16). He is the “Rose of Sharon,” the “Lily of the Valley” (Song of Solomon 2:1) and the “fairest among 10,000” (Song of Solomon 5:10) to our souls… Jesus Christ is our Bridegroom and our Head, our ultimate example of everything and everyone, our source of “oxygen” and the source of our eternal joy already now while still in the flesh, whom we long to belong to, forever more.

If anyone desired to look beyond the outer flesh covering they will see Christ’s glory. Just as questioned by Nathanael “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (see Post titled: Will Mankind Need To Become “Israelites Indeed”) Jesus says, “Come and see.”

God does not attract anyone by apparent riches. We do not come to God because of the majesty and beauty of some building. Our reasons are not visible. The ones who endure to the end are those who do not have an outward beautiful appearance but who have an inward heavenly beauty and divine comeliness. Christ is both their content and covering, so nothing can damage or overcome them. We must learn to seek Christ in the spirit, as then we will enjoy the riches of Christ. Ultimately we will arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 3:8, 4:13).

Many think that the Truth is as unattractive as a manatee’s skin. Many think a Christian life is sad and dark; they do not know that for Christians the exterior has no value. Inside there is light, joy, richness, and peace — the “inside” being founded on the precious promises and the joy of pleasing a Creator whose standard of righteousness leads to the highest level of happiness and joy that anyone could imagine and which provides the means for us to gain immortality.

The Manatee

The Manatee - for the Tabernacle's fourth covering.jpg

It was also a peculiar skin and this illustrates the peculiarity of God’s people. The world does not like this peculiarity and considers us a bit out of our minds.

The manatees are gentle, herbivorous, and possibly ritually clean creatures, like the Church, who are out of their natural habitat, “the heavenlies” of Ephesians 2:6. Jesus, in his pre-human existence, was “the Logos” (“the Word,” John 1:1). His natural habitat was the spirit plane on which he was created. Thus being on earth was being out of his natural, comfortable environment, also.

A Summary — The Antitypical Lesson Behind All Four Coverings

Since the Tabernacle depicts things as they are during the Gospel Age, the saints are a new creation (linen with cherubim), sacrificing in the flesh (goat hair curtain), covered by the ransom (ram skins dyed red), apparent to the world as a drab outer covering which refers to the flesh of the saints, reflective of how our Lord Jesus was treated during the 3 1/2 sacrificial years of his life as a sin offering (aged 30-33 1/2 years) who “was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering… like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised…numbered with the transgressors,” until our precious Lord Jesus, “poured out his life unto death”  (Isaiah 53:2-12, NIV).

Why Four Coverings?

Since four refers to the concept of testing or judgment, perhaps there being four coverings could suggest that this is how the Church is represented while under judgment in this life.

Likewise, at the entrance of the most holy of the Tabernacle, the time of judgment of the Church, there are four posts. Other Biblical examples of four representing judgment and testing include:

  • the second feeding of four thousand by Jesus, representing the time of harvest and judgment closing the Gospel age;
  • the forty years in the wilderness representing the Gospel age period of testing, trial, development;
  • the four hundred years of Genesis 15:13 which describes the period of the affliction of the seed of Abraham and represents the Gospel age affliction of the Church. These four hundred years, if multiplied by the 360 days in a prophetic year, yield 144,000, the number of the church in Revelation.
  • It is also noteworthy that of the dated visions of Jeremiah in chapters 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 36, three are dated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and three in the fourth year of Zedekiah — all six judgments are in a year four.
  • When the seven times of punishment on Israel was represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the expression “seven times” appeared four times in the narrative, and four times in the warning by Moses (Daniel 4, Leviticus 26). These judgments were fulfilled by four Gentile kingdoms dominating Israel during the 2,520 years of their national punishment.

In all these uses, four is linked to the concept of trial, testing, probation, judgment.
Which one?

Out of the following four drawings, which do you think would be the most probable to represent the actual Tabernacle Proper’s covering setup?

the tabernacle structure - which one was it.jpg

Not the first one. All the four coverings were draped on cords at an angle (not downward straight as covering a box). If one stretched the cords entirely vertically, then the pegs would be right next to the boards and sockets of the Tabernacle which would be a clumsy arrangement and the back corners of the first two coverings would then both be dragged along the ground, become very dirty and corrupted. (This has been discussed earlier in this Post.)

The covering was unlikely to be as the one in the 4th picture because there is no reference to the supports that appear to be necessary in that case for holding up the curtains on the side before they go straight down.

If the outer covering were like a circus top, then another beam or pole(s) would most likely be mentioned in the Bible that gives the added pointy height, hence eliminating the possibility of covering appearing as in the third drawing.

On the other hand, such a ridge pole might simply be covered by the term “tent;” all tents requiring some poles for erecting them.

Based on the data read and researched, we conclude that the Tabernacle covering was most possibly as the 2nd drawing (top right) demonstrates. Probably the first two coverings were draped as suggested in Drawing No. 2. The last two coverings may have been a tent over the whole, like one of the bottom two. Artistically, the author likes the last one, perhaps even with an extension to the back like the side extensions. But one cannot be sure.

Hidden Beauty

It has been a matter of surprise to some, that the glories and beauties of the Tabernacle — its golden walls, its golden and beautifully engraved furniture, and vail of curious work — were so completely covered and hidden from view of the people; no sunlight from without even to illuminate its glorious beauty. Yet you see, there is a beautifully glorious lesson behind this.

God covered the type and hid its beauty under skins and curtains, so the glories and beauties of spiritual things are seen only when within by those who enter the Tabernacle.

During the Gospel Age it is the “royal priesthood” and “peculiar people” who respond to God’s invitation and suffer with Christ developing into His likeness of character and conduct who may enter a hidden glory which the world and all outside fail to recognize and comprehend. Their standing as new creatures in Christ are hidden from their fellow men.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

“Ah; these are of a royal line,
All children of a King,
Heirs of immortal crowns divine,
And lo, for joy they sing!
Why do they, then, appear so mean?
And why so much despised?
Because of their rich robes unseen
The world is not apprised.”

To these “God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:27-29).

References & Acknowledgment

“The Tabernacle and Its Teachings” — Supplement to Feb. ZION’S WATCH TOWER, 1882 page 52.

“Our Wilderness Wanderings” — by Br. Anton Frey.

Content — assisted by Br. David Rice.

Further Suggested Reading

STUDY 1: An Introduction To The Tabernacle And It’s Purpose
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/02/study-1-an-introduction-to-the-tabernacle-and-its-purpose/

STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud By Day And The Pillar of Smoke By Night  https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/09/study-2-the-pillar-of-cloud-by-day-and-the-pillar-of-smoke-by-night/

STUDY 3: The Tabernacle Construction: The Holy and The Most Holy   https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/14/study-3-the-tabernacle-construction-the-holy-the-most-holy/

STUDY 4: The Court (“Holy Place”)
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/20/study-4-the-court-holy-place/

STUDY 5: The Camp. The Israelites.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/28/study-5-the-camp-the-israelites/

STUDY 6: The Levites
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/18/study-6-the-levites/

STUDY 7: The Priests. The Day of Atonement.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/10/study-7-the-priests-the-day-of-atonement/

STUDY 8: The Tabernacle Coverings
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/02/study-8-the-tabernacle-coverings/

STUDY 9: The Gate. The Door. The Vail.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/01/study-9-the-gate-the-door-the-vail/

The URL for this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/02/study-8-the-tabernacle-coverings/

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STUDY 4: The Court (“Holy Place”)

1. COURT --- .jpg

The Tabernacle was surrounded by a yard, or “Court (Exodus 27:9-19), toward the rear of which it stood, and this courtyard is referred to by the Bible translators, as the “holy place” see Leviticus 6:26 and 14:13.

The Court represents the condition of justification, entered through faith in Christ, the “gate.” The tabernacle represents things from the time of Jesus forward. However, there are three time periods in the Plan of God when God through His holy Spirit deals with justified people:

  1.  The Ancient Worthies from Adam until Jordan;
  2.  The Church during the Gospel Age;
  3.  The world during the Millennium Age (Messianic 1000 year reign of Christ with the Church the 144,000 Elect Bride of Christ members).
  • The same is shown in the time in the ark (which pictures redemption) a total of 381 days, which is 3 x 127, that is, three times the age of Sarah, who represents the Abrahamic Covenant.
  • Also in the three times the doves were sent out from the ark in Genesis chapter 8 three missions of the holy Spirit.
  • And again in the three stories or levels of the ark, thus three time periods of justification.

Who Could Enter the Court?

Any Israelite (typical of a justified believer of the Gospel Age) was allowed to come into the Court, as indicated in Leviticus 1:1-3 (ESV):

“(1) The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, (2) ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. (3) If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord.’”

Leviticus 1:11 shows also that Israelites were to bring their offerings into the court, and kill them there, “on the side of the altar northward before the Lord.” However, the priests would take the blood thereafter, for use at the altar. “And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar.”

Note: Northward is the direction of God, and the Heavenly Realm. Offering on the north side of the altar emphasizes that the offering is made to God.

The offerers (Israelites) represent believers, coming in faith to make an offering to God whether believers in this age, or in the next.

Israelites commonly came in to make offerings. But the “daily sacrifice” was one lamb in the morning, another in the late afternoon, and these were done by the priests (Exodus 29:38-39).

The daily sacrifice was a burnt offering and it represents the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, who fulfilled this type, thus causing it to cease. The morning and evening times correlate with Jesus being put on the cross in the morning and expiring in the afternoon.

The Apostle Paul explained that our sacrifice is not just to be twice a day but 24/7 hence he defined the consecrated ones of this Gospel Age of the “High Calling” into Christ, as “living sacrifices” who “are holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Around and Inside the Court

(A) Copper

In the Court, the metal used most often was copper.

Copper represents human nature, either justified or perfect.

In John 3:14, Jesus compares himself to the copper serpent lifted up in the wilderness in the days of Moses, which healed those who looked to it. The copper of that serpent represents the perfect humanity of Jesus. The serpent symbol is used to represent that Jesus takes the burden of our sins upon himself, thus curing us from the “snakebite” of sin.

The court contained the “brazen altar” for use by the priests. Possibly Levites assisted the priests in some ways respecting the sacrifices (other than putting it on the altar).

(B) Court Measurements

The court was 50 cubits wide and 100 cubits long thus three of them could fit into the floor plan of Noah’s Ark, which was 50 cubits wide and 300 cubits long (Genesis 6:15). This also suggests that there are three time periods in God’s Plan (as explained at the start of this Tabernacle Study No. 4) where justified persons are called of God. It is notable that the “house of the forest”, picturing the call of the world during the Millennium, was also the size of the court (1 Kings 7:2).

The court was formed by a fence of white linen curtains (see Study 9 on this website in the series “Beauties of the Tabernacle,” titled “The Gate. The Door. The Veil”, suspended from silver hooks, set in the tops of wooden posts 5 cubits (7 1/2 feet high), which were set in heavy sockets of copper (mistranslated brass), and braced, like the tent which covered the Tabernacle, with cords and pins.

(C) The Silver Hooks

The silver hooks in the courtyard posts by which the posts held up the curtain, represent the divine Truth, by the knowledge of which the justified believer holds on to the righteousness of Christ. Silver is a general symbol of Truth but perhaps more specifically, that TRUTH which centers and deals with the RANSOM — the redemption accomplished in Christ Jesus (Tabernacle Shadows, page 114).

As these hooks were small in size they represent the small amount of Truth necessary to justify one.

Note: The Tabernacle Proper’s 100 silver sockets which supported the whole structure was made from the ransom or redemption money paid as a poll tax by the Israelites. (Exodus 30:12-16; 38:25-28.) In “Notes on the Tabernacle” (page 21) we read:

“. . . [God] enjoined that, whenever Israel was numbered as His people, every man must give a ransom for his soul. The price was fixed by God Himself.

Each man, whether poor or rich, must bring the same. One could not pay for another; but everyone must tender his own ransom-money of pure silver and of perfect weight. `Half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs), a half-shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.’ (Exodus 30:13) Other Gospel truths here shine out. When the question came to be one of ransom, the poor and the rich, the foolish and the wise, the ignorant and the learned, the immoral and the moral, stood on the same level. Each person was estimated by God at the same price. He proved Himself no respecter of persons.”

Hence, since most of the silver used in the Tabernacle was for the 100 foundation sockets for the Tabernacle Proper, this beautifully points to the TRUTH relative to the RANSOM sacrifice of our Lord as the foundation Truth upon which the entire plan of God rests.

“The four gold-plated pillars (posts) at the entrance of the Most Holy supporting the (second) Vail stood in four SILVER sockets, (reality, truth, verity) seeming to say to us, when you come inside this vail, you will be perfect – really and truly new creatures” (Tabernacle Shadows, page 115).

(D) The Posts (pillars)

The posts of the Court (Exodus 27:10-17) represent the justified believers whose imperfections are covered by Christ’s righteousness.

The function of the posts is to hold up to public view one’s faith in Christ who is represented by the linen curtain. This, brethren, is our purpose for being. This is why we are here. To show forth the mercy and goodness of Christ’s redemptive work, as Paul says, “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

The posts were made of wood which is a corruptible material thus implying that the class typified, are not actually perfect as human beings.

(E) Sockets of Copper

The posts were set in sockets of copper which were sunken in the sand for stability.

The copper sockets represent our standing of perfect human beings, and this beautifully represents justification by faith, (despite the actual fact of our personal imperfections) which we can only hold onto by the aid of the Truth. This is the justification spoken of in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Some use the term “tentative justification,” to describe a Christian in the court condition before they reach the point of consecration at the door of the Tabernacle. However the priests also served in the court, and the priests represent the fully consecrated/spirit begotten. So their justification is also indicated in the court. If we simply relate that the court represents justification through faith in Christ, perhaps this suffices. It need not be one way or another  only unconsecrated (not spirit begotten) believers or only consecrated (spirit begotten) believers — as the concept of being justified by one’s faith in Christ can pertain to believers before consecration or believers after consecration.

Thanks to being reckoned as righteous in God’s sight, we are judged as to faithfulness in our intentions rather than in our actions. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Corinthians 8:12).

Now, with rejoicing we can say with the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

It is thus that our faith becomes “rooted” and the philosophy of the ransom begins to appear. It is of this which Paul speaks in Colossians 2:7, “rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”

(F) Guy Lines/Ropes/Cords & Pegs

2. FENCE EQUIPMENT.jpg

There is more to the philosophy of the ransom that prevents our faith from becoming weak and unstable. This is shown in the system of guy lines which uphold the wall of the court and tie the posts to the ground.

These cords represented the things which tie the justified believer to the earth; and there were two sets of cords and pins, one set inside the Court, the other, outside.

The set outside of the Court, outside of the justified state, represented the sin in the flesh which ties the believer to the world.

The set inside the Court represented the earthly things: joys, studies, music, etc., right enough in themselves, which bind the believer to the world. These are the weights (Hebrews 12:1).

These ropes were anchored by copper pegs tent pegs. One of these was installed inside the court and the other on the outside. Being copper, as opposed to wood covered with copper, they showed actual human perfection.

As we scan the pages of history we see just two and no more perfect men: Adam and Jesus. We see the one who lost his standing in the court, Adam, as the peg driven outside the fence. The other, grounded firmly in the court, pictures Jesus. These two have one connection the ransom pictured by this cord even as it was by Rahab’s scarlet thread. It is this simple philosophy of the ransom a perfect human life for a perfect human lifethat gives stability to our faith. How beautiful! How simple! Substitutionary atonement is the central doctrine of the Bible.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22).

“For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Romans 5:15).

It is the very simplicity of the concept that speaks to its authenticity. Too good to be true? Too good not to be true! And yet our faith is sometimes weak. We need further support.

3. COURTYARD PILLARS, BANDS, BASES, SILVER EYELETS.jpgAccording to the Temple Institute in Israel:

The courtyard pillars, (amudim) were composed of three main components: The acacia pillars themselves, which were reinforced by silver bands, (chishukim); the copper bases, (adanim), into which the pillars were inserted; and the silver eyelets, (vavim), which were fitted onto the tops of the pillars, for stretching the curtains, (yeriot) across.

“fillets” Others have concluded that they were rigid, whether rods or bands, and served to stabilize the posts from leaning toward each other. We think that is correct.

The Furnishings In The Court

The Brazen Altar

4. BRAZEN ALTAR.jpg

The Brazen Altar was the first item encountered in the Courtyard. It was five cubits square, and 3 cubits tall (Exodus 27:1).

In each of the four corners there was a horn made from the same piece of acacia wood as the altar itself and the altar was over-layed with copper.

The Brazen Altar was used to burn up sacrifices placed upon it, such as during the consecration of the priesthood and the Day of Atonement.

Various utensils belonged to its service fire pans (called censers), for carrying the fire to the ‘Incense Altar,’ basins to receive the blood, flesh hooks, shovels, etc.

A Christian understands this altar is not an ornament of the Court, but a place where bulls and goats were killed and sacrificed, a place many times covered with blood and ashes, with the smell of burning meat, and much smoke. The grate of this altar was not on the top like a modern barbecue. It was placed half way between the bottom and the top of the altar:

“Thou shalt put it [the grate] under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst [Strong’s #2677: half or middle] of the altar” (Exodus 27:5). This placed the grate at the 1½ cubit mark, the same height as the mercy seat in the Most Holy. Both are considered in the design to be at the same “level;” neither towers above the other.

A Christian recognizes that Jesus has been sacrificed for him and starts to recognize that a similar sacrifice is needed from him if he is to enter beyond the next door. The sacrifice we have to offer, is as the Apostle Paul expresses it, in Romans 12:1.

rom-12-1-2-ad

Thus, the antitypical priesthood of this Gospel age are privileged to use this altar (Christ Jesus), in presenting their bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” for is it not the altar that sanctifies the gift?

You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?” (Matthew 23:19).

“Your sacrifice would not be holy and acceptable, but it is made holy and acceptable as such by the Advocate [Christ Jesus] imputing of his merit to cover your sacrifice” (“What Pastor Russell Said,page 614).

Presenting our bodies as “living sacrifices” to God includes all our thoughts, words and doings and doing the best we can in all we do to bring God glory, honor and praise. It is Christ Jesus, our antitypical High Priest who alone is able to offer up the antitypical sacrifices. All that the followers of Jesus do, therefore, is to present (consecrate, set apart) themselves, as pictured in the type by the goat’s being, tied at the door of the Tabernacle. “It is after Jesus lays hold of this individual, accepts his consecration, imputes His own merit, and offers him to the Father, that the Father’s acceptance is manifested through the Son… by the begetting of the Holy Spirit. Thereforth, such an one is a member of the Body of Christ, and his name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, from which it will not be blotted out if he maintains his faithfulness” (What Pastor Russell Said, page. 614).

“It is the New Creature’s business to keep the old nature on the altar, upon which the great High Priest has put it. In other words, the New Creature must keep the old nature dead, hold it in subjection. When our flesh is brought into contact with the fires of experience for its consumption, it is the old creature that weeps, not the New Creature. Let the goat weep if it will. The New Creature will rejoice in the Lord and in His providential care, as daily it grows in grace and in knowledge. When the old creature is knocked out, or brow-beaten, as the Apostles says (1 Corinthians 9:27), it will groan; but the New Creature will be glad and rejoice in the Lord… We rejoice because God’s favor and blessing are with us as New Creatures.” (What Pastor Russell Said, page 613.) See also Acts 16:26, Philippians 4:4.

Jesus allowed himself to be sacrificed for the entire world of mankind. He was perfect and became flesh to do the will of his Heavenly Father (John 4:34, John 6:38).

The wood of the altar, typifying humanity, reminds us that Christ became a man for the express purpose of experiencing our infirmities and “to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

5-bronze-altar

There is a thought that wood was used to make the articles of lighter weight and thus, more easily portable, than if of solid metal. This was an important consideration when they traveled.

As discussed earlier in this series of “Beauties of the Tabernacle,” the use of copper represents the human nature in its perfection, a little lower than the angelic nature (unlike gold, which represents the divine nature, far above angels, principalities and powers).

As gold and copper are much alike in their appearance, yet different in quality, so the human nature is an image and likeness of the divine, adapted to earthly conditions.

“The Tabernacle’s altar of burnt-offering represents… the ransom-sacrifice of Christ Jesus (Tabernacle Shadows, page 22) — the ‘altar’ unto which the world of mankind in the Millennial age, will bring its sin-, trespass-, burnt-, and peace-offerings. (Tabernacle Shadows, page 95,96)” (“Notes on the Tabernacle,” page 134).

The horns of the Altar of Burnt Offering were in themselves symbols of power; yet this power came from the blood which sanctified it. The Scriptures do set forth the fact that one guilty of a sin against his fellowman, when in danger of being apprehended, might flee for asylum to the altar — take hold of its horns, and find a safe refuge there (1 Kings 1:50; 2:28).

“We too have an altar, the power of which stems from the blood of Christ Jesus, that sanctified it. We too, had sinned against our King, who could justly have destroyed us. But we fled to the altar and found sanctuary, an asylum, a refuge, there. Our faith in the precious blood, justified us — made us free as it were; but only on one condition could we continue to be free and that was that we covenant with our King thereafter to walk “worthily.” Having entered into this covenant we are safe from the “avenger.” But should the time ever come when we would break that covenant by profaning the blood of the covenant by which we were sanctified — outraging the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29) — we would then fall directly into the hands of the “avenger” and be put to death — the Second Death!” (“Notes on the Tabernacle,” page 130).

Was there a ramp?

Some may question whether there was a ramp attached to this brazen altar which would assist the priests with getting the sacrifices onto the large surface area of the altar.

We read in Exodus 20:26, “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.”

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“It is worthy of note that the Hebrew word ‘maalah’ occurring [here] in Exodus 20:26 and there rendered ‘steps’ in the KJV, according to Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible means ‘a going up, ascent.’ It would therefore cover even such a thing as a ramp, though this latter term has nowhere been used in the common version of the Bible. It has been rendered ‘stairs’ (2 Kings 9:13; Nehemiah 3:15; 12:37; Ezekiel 40:6; 43:17) and ‘steps’ (Exodus 20:26; 1 Kings 10:19, 20; 2 Chronicles 9:18,19; Ezekiel 40:22, 26, 31, 34, 37, 49).

“No priests were ever to enter the precincts of Jehovah — the Tabernacle’s Court, Holy, or Most Holy — without the linen breeches ‘to cover their nakedness’ upon them (Exodus 28:42,43). Especially is the injunction given that Jehovah’s altar was not to have any steps (stairs or ramp) unto it, since an approach by way of such would necessitate the ‘lifting of the robe’ and the consequent exposure of the priest’s nakedness (Exodus 20:26)” (Br. Anton Frey, “Notes on the Tabernacle,” page 133).

The Laver

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“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing; and you shall put it between the tent of meeting, and the altar, and you shall put water in it. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet from it; when they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, so that they will not die; or when they approach the altar to minister, by offering up in smoke a fire sacrifice to the LORD. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they will not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations’” (Exodus 30:17-21).

The Laver stood between the brazen altar and the door of the Tabernacle or “sanctuary”. It was a receptacle for water where the priests washed his feet and hands leaving behind the last traces of the flesh and of his contact with the surrounding world, before entering the Tabernacle.

The Laver as a whole represented the Word of God, Jesus was the word who cleanses the believer through the washing of water by the Word (Ephesians 5:26).

The Laver was cast from the mirrors of women who served at the Tabernacle, thus it was made of polished copper (Exodus 38:8) which represents the brightness of Jesus’ perfection. As the priests looked into the laver, they could see the faces reflected in its polished surface, so the consecrated see the imperfections and failings of their own characters when they compare these characters to the bright perfection of Jesus by looking unto him.

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The priests did not bathe in the Laver, but presumably drew water out of the laver using a copper pitcher for the purpose of washing his hands and feet (Exodus 40: 31, 32) otherwise the water in the laver would become dirty.

So we are greatly helped by concordances, dictionaries, etc. We cannot wash in them, but they help us in getting the Truth to cleanse us. And we likewise, cleanse our hands that they may do the will of God, and our feet that they may walk in Jesus’ footsteps, in the straight and narrow way.

At this step an approaching Christian accepts this purification as did all the followers of Jesus. Even if the Master did not need any purification, since he was perfect and without sin, by washing the feet of his disciples Jesus showed another important element of that washing: humility.

Now the Christian is at the door of the Tabernacle. After his journey through the Court, he is ready to follow his Master into the “greater and more perfect tabernacle” (Hebrews 9:11, KJV).

Acknowledgment

Br. Charles T. Russell for source material used from Tabernacle Shadows,” “What Pastor Russell Said” (Question Book).
Br. Anton Frey for source material used from Notes on the Tabernacle.
Br. David Rice & Br. George Tabac for sharing of content and editing for this post.
The Temple Institute in Israel for source material used.

Suggested Further Reading

STUDY 1: An Introduction To The Tabernacle And It’s Purpose
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/02/study-1-an-introduction-to-the-tabernacle-and-its-purpose/

STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud By Day And The Pillar of Smoke By Night  https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/09/study-2-the-pillar-of-cloud-by-day-and-the-pillar-of-smoke-by-night/

STUDY 3: The Tabernacle Construction: The Holy and The Most Holy  https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/14/study-3-the-tabernacle-construction-the-holy-the-most-holy/

STUDY 5: The Camp. The Israelites.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/28/study-5-the-camp-the-israelites/

STUDY 6: The Levites
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/18/study-6-the-levites/

STUDY 7: The Priests. The Day of Atonement.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/10/study-7-the-priests-the-day-of-atonement/

STUDY 8: The Tabernacle Coverings
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/02/study-8-the-tabernacle-coverings/

STUDY 9: The Gate. The Door. The Vail.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/01/study-9-the-gate-the-door-the-vail/

 

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