Jesus Feeds The Multitudes With Fish and Loaves of Bread

feeding 5000-1.jpg

There are two miraculous feedings of the multitudes, recorded among the Gospel accounts in the New Testament. As suggested in what follows, these two occasions appear to represent a blessing for the Church at the beginning of the Gospel Age, and another blessing at the end of the Gospel Age.

The Number Two

The Gospel Age is often represented by the number 2, or its greater magnitudes 20, 200, 2,000. A 20-cubit length for the Holy of the Tabernacle fits the symbolism. Perhaps two is used because the fruits of this age of the spirit are nourished by the two sources of instruction, the Old and New Testaments. The following examples of two in the Bible all relate in one way or another to the Gospel age, or to the nourishment and care of the saints during it —

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In the 1st miraculous feeding of a multitude, 5000 men were fed with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15).

In the 2nd miraculous feeding, 4000 men were fed with 7 loaves of bread and 2 fish (Matthew 15:29-39, Mark 8:1-10).

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The Bread

  • John 6:35, 48 — Jesus explains he is “the bread” of life.
  • Matthew 26:26“this is my body.”
  • 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17“Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (NASB).
  • 1 Corinthians 11:26 — This verse concerns the Lord’s memorial which we daily remember as we sojourn in the footsteps of our Master. The fully consecrated receive the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice for us, and also share in his sufferings. “We are the children of God … if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16, 17). We mortify the fleshly mind, and renew the new mind in Christ (Romans 8:13).

Our share in these benefits, and experiences, are memorialized together with other ecclesia members in our annual observance of the memorial supper of Jesus’ sacrifice — receiving the bread, and drinking the “fruit of the vine.” It is an opportunity for us to renew our consecration vows, with our fellow yoke bearers around us.

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The Fish

The fish came to symbolize a Christian, since the Greek letter alpha (Α or α) looks like this image below and “alpha,” the first letter of the Greek alphabet, is mentioned in Revelation 22:13 as one of the descriptions of Jesus.

fish image.png

From the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries, the symbol of a fish was used to represent Christians. Partly this drew from the two miracles of Jesus in which fishes were multiplied to feed his followers.

The word for “fish” is spelled in Greek as iota-chi-theta-upsilon-sigma. These are the first letters in the Greek words for Jesus, Christ, God’s, Son, Savior — thus brief for “Jesus Christ is God’s Son, our Savior.” (See Wikipedia, “Ichthys”).

Fish are mentioned and given symbolic meaning several times in the Gospels.

(1) Matthew 13:47-50 — The parable of the dragnet.

(2) Matthew 17:24-27 — The coin in the fish’s mouth.

(3) Matthew 12:38-45 — Jesus would be in the heart of the earth for three days, as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days.

(4) John 21:11 — The harvest of the saints is represented in the 153 fish.

(5) Matthew 4:19 — Jesus commissioned his disciples to be “fishers of men.”

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Feeding of the 5000

The two feedings of the multitudes with fish and bread represent Jesus feeding the Church at and following the two advents of Christ.

  • The bread apparently represents the “bread of life” (John 6:35), Jesus.
  • As fish can represent either Jesus, or his disciples, in this case it seems the fish given to the multitudes also represents Jesus as our life-giver, andsustainer, through his redemption.

Who was fed —5000 men besides women and children” (Matthew 14:21, NIV). Five seems to be a number associated with the new creation. Perhaps this is because we are developed through the holy Spirit, two, and the blood of redemption, three, and the sum of these is five. As there were five posts at the entrance to the holy, so here we have 5000 men being fed, in a picture of the beginning of the Gospel Age.

Other related uses of the number five are —

  • Matthew 25 — Five wise virgins.
  • Genesis 41:34 — In the time of Joseph one part in five of the grain was saved up for a time a need.
  • Numbers 31:27-31 — God’s share of the goods collected by the Israelites was one part out of 50, or out of 500, depending on the circumstance.

As with the 2, 20, 200, and 2,000, this meaning of the number also pertains to various orders of magnitude: 5, 50, 500, and 5,000.

12 baskets of “broken pieces” (NIV), “fragments that remained” (KJV) at the end of the first feeding — the remainder perhaps represents that the teachings of the 12 apostles were the resource for feeding the Church after Christ’s first advent.

Five barley loaves —

  • Barley represents Jesus.
  • Barley was the first crop of the year, and Jesus was raised on the day of the barley waving (Leviticus 23:11). Five in this case may pertain to Jesus as part and leader of the New Creation.

Green “grass” (Matthew 14:19, Mark 6:39 Suggests the new age of life then just opening.

After the first feeding — Jesus went to the mountain alone (Matthew 14:23) representing that Jesus after his first advent went to heaven alone (1 Thessalonians 4:16, John 14:6).

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Feeding of the 4000

The 2nd feeding, this time of 4000, is recorded in Matthew 15:29-39 and Mark 8:1-10.

Who was fed — 4000 men, beside women and children” were fed with 7 loaves of bread and “few little fishes” (Matthew 15:34), or “a few small fishes” (Mark 8:7). (The Alexandrian text says “two fishes” in Mark, but this may be a transcription error remembering the two fishes in the first case.)

Four represents judgment, and the harvest period of the Gospel Age is a time of judgment for the saints. As there were four posts at the end of the holy, so these 4000 men picture a time in the ending period of the Gospel Age.

Time Period: The 2nd feeding refers to Jesus Christ’s second presence, his “parousia” since 1874.

7 baskets of: “broken pieces” (NIV) — Perhaps shows that during the harvest, we have the accumulated benefit of the seven messengers (See the Book of Revelation) of the Church. Brethren sometimes have small variations of opinion about the specific identification of these messengers. The following is our best understanding —

(1) Messenger for the Church of Ephesus (AD 33-73) = the Apostle Paul.

(2) Messenger for the Church of Smyrna (AD 73-325) = the Apostle John.

(3) Messenger for the Church of Pergamos (AD 325-1157) = Arius.

(4) Messenger for the Church of Thyatira (AD 1157-1517) = Peter Waldo (supplemented by John Wycliffe).

(5) Messenger for the Church of Sardis (AD 1517-1667) = Martin Luther.

(6) Messenger for the Church of Philadelphia (AD 1667-1874) = William Penn.

(7) Messenger for the Church of Laodicea (AD 1874-2043) = Charles Taze Russell.

Seven loaves — Perhaps identifying Jesus, the bread of life, as the perfect one (seven). Or perhaps indicating that he is the bread of life for the Church that is depicted in Revelation as in seven stages (of the Church) through the Gospel Age.

After the 2nd feeding — Jesus took his apostles with him, representing the Church “going with him.” They are raised to life from the return of Christ forward, until the end of the Harvest, and will be with Christ thereafter.

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Lessons From These Two Miraculous Feedings

What lessons can be learned from Jesus’ two feedings with the loaves and fish? 

(1) The numbers of men are given, but there were also “women and children” fed as well. Perhaps the men represent the consecrated ones, and the unnumbered additional ones represent the “household of faith” who believe in Jesus, and have faith in him as the “bread of life,” but are less committed.

(2) A lesson of humility.

  • Plain, humble common food was provided. Perhaps we also should not concentrate our efforts on elaborate provisions, but be grateful for meeting the basic needs of life.
  • We should focus more on what comes out of our mouths than what we put into them.
  • Our desires should be plain and simple — to do the will of the one who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, and run the race with cheerful patient endurance. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, who for the hope set before him endured the cross. “Set your eyes on not what is seen but what is unseen,” and run in so as to gain the prize of the High Calling.

“Delight thyself also in Jehovah, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4). These hopes and promises, with reverent prayer, are the best analgesia and safety against adversity. The tests of Faith will qualify us as members of the Bride class, to be sympathetic priests for the world during the Millennium.

(3) These comparisons between feedings help us see the benefit of Present Truth for the saints during the Harvest of the Gospel Age, since 1874, before the blessing of the world comes.

(4) We need not wait for someone to ask us for “food of Truth,” but like the disciples of Jesus, we are to feed others by offering the words of life to them that we have been blessed with.

“He said unto them, Give ye them to eat” (Luke 9:13).

Even if inconvenient for the flesh, do not decline to give help, show compassion, and offer the Truth of God’s love and plan. The fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 includes kindness and long-suffering — hence it involves spiritually “feeding” others at the expense of our own comfort.

There is a saying:

“To the world you may be one person,
but to one person you may be the world.”

If we think our “feeding” does not bring results, or that this or that other Brother or Sister in Christ should or could do more spiritual “feeding,” yet if we gladly accept the Lord’s prompting to proceed in the effort, spiritual blessings will follow.

(5) A lesson of not to be anxious about the cares of life (Matthew 6:31), for “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). In Matthew 15:32 we read, “Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.” Similarly, in our experiences of life, our Heavenly Father’s just and loving provisions of meeting our essential needs of life, reflect His compassion and merciful aid of help through Christ, the captain of our salvation. By the full surrender of our will to the will of God, we learn to trust in God’s perfect plan and depend on the Giver of all good things to supply us with what He sees is best for the New Creature in Christ (James 1:17).

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Below is an extract from “Discourses by Robert S. Seklemian” — (http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/treatises/seklemians%20discourses.htm).

Lessons from the Feeding

Now let us consider the lessons contained in the feeding of the multitude. First, we can make a personal application. When the disciples reminded Jesus what a large quantity of bread would be required, Jesus asked, “How many loaves have ye? Go and see” (Mark 6:38). The disciples returned and said to Jesus, “There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes. But what are they among so many?” (John 6:9). Someone may say, “My talents are so few and so small. What are they among so many? There are so many who have so much more than I have.” But what did Jesus tell his disciples when they reported their meager resources? “Bring them hither to me” (Matthew 14:18).

The Lord wants you.

 

He will accept your small offering of five barley loaves and two small fishes.

He can greatly multiply the effects of your small efforts in ways you never dreamed of.

“Bring them hither unto me!”

If nothing else give a little word of encouragement to someone, a little smile. Write a little letter of cheer and consolation, a little visit to someone sick or suffering. Give a little witness to a neighbor or relative. Put a tract under someone’s door. Build someone up a little in the truth. Let your light, dim though it be, shine out just a little in the darkness of this world. If you can do nothing else, offer a little prayer for the harvest work.

These are small things but they are things the Lord can bless and use.

If we cannot do them all, we can do some of them, at least one of them.

The Lord can greatly amplify their effect just as he increased the loaves and fishes.

Let us bring the Lord ALL we have whether great or small.

There is another more general application of this incident. Jesus said:

“Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

The gospel must first be published among all nations” (Mark 13:10).

It seems to me that a mere circulation of the Bible without explanation does not completely fulfill this requirement. It must be the gospel of the Kingdom which Jesus preached because he plainly said, “THIS gospel of the Kingdom.”

Have there been any missionaries since the early church who have preached the Millennial Kingdom of Christ beside Brother [Charles Taze] Russell and those with him?

“Gospel” means “good news.”

Certainly the hell-fire doctrine preached by nominal church missionaries is not the good news which must be published among all nations. The handful of true Christians today who have the true gospel may say, “Lord, this task is too great for us. What are we among so many? We cannot reach them all. Let others feed them. Let them just take the Bible and find their own spiritual food therein.”

But Jesus says to his people:

“Give ye them to eat!”

“Others do not have the truth, the gospel of the Kingdom. Others cannot feed them like you can.”

We may answer, “But Lord, we are so few, and have very limited resources. We have only five barley loaves and two small fishes! We do not have enough!”

Bring ALL you have to me,” Jesus answers, “I will bless what you have, and make it do. It will be more than enough. There will even be some left over.”

Miracles of Our Day

In the account Jesus performed a staggering miracle and the multitude ate and were filled. What a magnificent fulfillment of this we now see possible with only a limited expenditure of money aptly comparable to only five barley loaves and two small fishes. By an equally staggering miracle — that of radio, television, tapes, and mass media, facilities Brother Russell never had — the power to give a tremendous, worldwide public witness is now in our hands! Instead of thousands, millions can be fed with the sound, satisfying message of truth, the true gospel. Many ecclesias are taking full advantage of these opportunities. Although we are not seeking to convert the world, but only to garner the wheat, who can say what a powerful effect our sowing of the seed of truth may have in preparing the hearts of men to receive the blessings of the kingdom?

Then there is still another application of this event. That multitude that Jesus fed also pictures the world during the Millennial Age. As Jesus gave the bread to his disciples to pass on to the people, those who are now the Lord’s faithful disciples will in the Kingdom be the dispensers of this Bread of eternal life to all the families of the earth. Jesus told the multitude later:

“The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:33). The Church glorified will be the channel through which the merit of Jesus’ sacrifice will be applied to the world. As the hungry multitude ate all they wanted and were filled, life will then be freely dispensed to all the willing and obedient. We read of that time: “The Spirit and the bride say Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

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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 (Leviticus 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/

The URL for this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/01/study-9-the-gate-the-door-the-vail/

 

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STUDY 3: The Tabernacle Construction: The Holy & The Most Holy

1-holy-most-holy

The directions given to Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle are found in Exodus chapters 25 to 27, and the account of the performance of the work, in Exodus chapters 35 to 40.

Acacia Wood

The Tabernacle was a house constructed of a series of boards of shittim (acacia) wood, “overlaid” or plated with gold, set on end into sockets of silver, and firmly fastened together by bars of the same wood, also covered with gold.
2-b-acacia-wood-with-address

Measurements

The Tabernacle proper was 10 cubits (15 feet; 4.5m) wide, 10 cubits high and 30 cubits (45 feet; 13.5m) long, with it’s opening (entrance) on the east side. 

NOTE: Bible Measurements are calculated in cubits.
3. CUBITS, MEASUREMENT.jpg

The Boards

The boards of the Tabernacle proper were put as near together as possible. They were mortised into the sockets, and moisture would swell the joint and tighten it. The fact that they were joined in the same way in the Most Holy as they were in the Holy, illustrates that the union and fellowship which we now enjoy are a counterpart and foretaste of what we will have when united with our Lord.

There were 20 boards on the north side, and 20 on the south side; plus there were six boards in the back of the Tabernacle, as well as two corner boards—so a total 48 boards making up the Tabernacle proper. Each board was set in two sockets of silver, so we have 96 sockets of silver. Plus four sockets of silver for the pillars that held up the vail giving a total of 100 sockets of silver in relation to the Tabernacle Proper.

4. THE BOARDS OF THE TABERNACLE.jpg

Calculating the Tabernacle Proper

The outside length of the structure is calculated from the figures respecting the side boards in Exodus 26:16-18 which says each side contained 20 boards, each 1½ cubits wide, yielding 30 cubits overall for the Tabernacle’s outer side measurement. The inside width of the Tabernacle was 9 cubits, judging by verse 22 which says the back end of the Tabernacle contained 6 boards, presumably spanning the interior width between the two side walls. But as the Temple measures are given as 60 cubits long and 20 cubits wide in 1 Kings 6:2 (presumably exterior measurements), the inference from the proportions is that the Tabernacle would have been 10 cubits wide (exterior measurement), as the Tabernacle floor plan was half the size of the Temple of Solomon. Thus the boards were evidently ½ cubit thick.

5. DR -DIAGRAM 1.jpg
(Diagram: The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Nov./Dec. 2002, “The Holy,” Br. David Rice).

Exodus 26:33 tells us the interior was divided by a vail (“curtain”NIV) hung under the golden taches (“hooks”NIV) connecting the two parts of the white linen tapestry forming the ceiling of the Tabernacle proper (Exodus 26:1).
6-dr-diagram-of-curtains
Exodus 26:2-3 explains that each of the two parts of that tapestry was composed of five strips, with each strip measuring 4 cubits wide and 28 cubits long. Five strips would be 20 cubits wide. When the two five-strip sections were joined together with golden taches, the length would be 40 cubits. This covering began at the front of the Tabernacle structure, which means the taches fell 20 cubits from the entrance of the structure. Under these taches the vail was hung. Thus do we reason that the Holy was 20 cubits long.

(Diagram: The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Nov./Dec. 2002, “The Holy,” Br. David Rice).

The Number Two (2)

The Gospel Age is often represented by the NUMBER 2, or its greater magnitudes 20, 200, 2,000. A 20-cubit length for the Holy fits the symbolism. Perhaps two is used because the fruits of this age of the spirit are nourished by the two sources of instruction, the Old and New Testaments.

The following examples of two in the Bible all relate in one way or another to the Gospel age, or to the nourishment and care of the saints during it :-

  • two fishes (Matthew 14:17)
  • two pence (Luke 10:35)
  • 20 years oppression by Jabin (Judges 4:3)
  • 20 years of Samson (Judges 15:20)
  • 20 years of the ark at Kirjath-Jearim (1 Samuel 7:2)
  • 200 pennyworth of bread (Mark 6:37)
  • 200 cubits to shore (John 21:8)
  • 2,000 cubits from the ark to the Israelites (Joshua 3:4)

The Crossbars

In both Exodus 26:26-29 and Exodus 36:31-34, we read of the instructions God gave Moses regarding the making of crossbars that held the boards together for the three frames of the Tabernacle. Here is an illustration of this:

7. CROSS BARS - & A..jpg
As illustrated above, on three sides of the Tabernacle’s frames there were two bars end to end spanning the length on the upper side, two on the lower side, and one bar went end to end in the middle. Thus five bars altogether on each of the three frames/sides, which equals a total of 15 crossbars.

The Number Five

The NUMBER 5 in the Bible represents the Church, (the new creation) because it depends on the two elements indispensable for its development, the spirit (two) and blood (three).

Here are several instances where five is symbolic of the new creation: the five wise virgins in Matthew 25, Christ feeding 5000; in the time of Joseph the proportion of grain stored was one part in five (Genesis 41:34); in Numbers 31:27-31 the Lord’s share of the goods collected by the Israelites was 1 part out of 50 or out of 500 depending on the circumstance. As with the 2, 20, 200, and 2,000 discussed earlier, this number also appears in various orders of magnitude: 5, 50, 500, and 5,000.

The Number Fifteen (15)

The NUMBER 15 appears to symbolize deliverance, with the associated ideas of restoration, restitution, and healing. Here are some other Biblical examples of this:

  • Hosea 3:1-5Fifteen pieces of silver were paid by Hosea for the deliverance of the woman who represents the nation of Israel.
  • 2 Kings 20:1-6Hezekiah’s prayer was answered, his life was spared, and God granted him fifteen additional years of life.
  • John 11:18When Lazarus was raised from the dead, the distance between Bethany and Jerusalem was mentioned as “fifteen furlongs” symbolizing the journey of mankind from the misery of sin to the deliverance of Peace.
  • Genesis 7:20The waters of the Great Flood covered the tallest mountains by fifteen cubits reminding us that the flood of knowledge in the kingdom covering everything will effect the full deliverance, healing, and restoration of mankind by destroying every imperfection of sin. Genesis 7:24 says “the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days”ten times fifteen. Ten often symbolizes earthly wholeness or completeness. Perhaps this one hundred fifty indicates the complete deliverance of Noah and his family.
  • Genesis 31:41Jacob served Laban fourteen years as debt for acquiring Laban’s two daughters as wives. Thus the fifteenth year was one of final deliverance from this debt to his father-in-law.
  • Leviticus 23:6, 34The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles both commenced on the fifteenth day of the month (Nisan 15 and Tishri 15).
  • Ezekiel 40:22, 31In Ezekiel’s Temple, there were fifteen steps to the Sanctuary of the House of the Lordthe place of deliverance, healing, and restoration.
  • Numbers 33:3Israel’s deliverance from Egypt occurred on Nisan 15.
  • Micah 5:5the deliverers of Israel when the “Assyrian” attacks are seven shepherds and eight principal men (princes)—a total of fifteen deliverers.
  • Esther 9:18the Jews celebrate their deliverance from the enemy on the fifteenth day of the twelfth month.

Often symbols of the sacrifice of Jesus are implicitly associated with the number fifteen.

Let us now go back to our original verses from Exodus 26 and 36 concerning the fifteen crossbars in total. This may beautifully represent how love binds the church together.

“The love of Christ constraineth us.” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

The crossbars, covered with gold, represent the divine love Jesus has for the church, the same love expressed by those in the church. That there were fifteen bars suggests deliverance.

Perhaps the most dramatic deliverance effected by love is deliverance from fear. Love delivers from fear and substitutes trust.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear (1 John 4:18).

The Tabernacle proper represents the two conditions of all who undergo a change of nature from human to spiritual. There are 2 phases or stages of the new life to which we are begotten by the holy Spirit. The tabernacle was composed of 2 compartments (see Exodus 26:33):

The Holy (Leviticus 16:17, 20, 23)

7. THE HOLY.jpg

The Holy was 10 cubits wide x 20 cubits long. It was the first compartment of what is sometimes termed the “Tabernacle of the congregation” (Exodus 38:8, KJV) or “Tent of Meeting.”

The Holy represents the present condition of all those begotten of GOD through the Word of Truth (James 1:18) who FULLY consecrate their human nature to death, that they might become partakers of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

During the Gospel age, such are called to consecrate and sacrifice their human nature in God’s service, and to inherit instead the spiritual nature—as members of the Body of Christ. These enjoy the inner light of the golden candlestick, while others are in outer darkness; these eat of special spiritual food, represented in the unleavened bread of presence, and offer incense at the golden altar, acceptable through Christ Jesus.

The spiritually-minded creature in the Holy BY FAITH looks forward through the rent vail into the Most Holy, catching glimpses of the glory, honor and immortality beyond the flesh; which HOPE is—as an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast, entering into that which is beyond the vail. (Hebrews 6:19; 10:20)

Only those of the Levites who were consecrated to the work of sacrificing (the Priests only) had access to the Tabernacle; so only those of the household of faith who are consecrated to WILLINGLY SACRIFICE, even unto death, enter the divine conditions represented in the Tabernacle.

Only those whose consecrations have been accepted “in the Beloved” are represented as being in this Holy condition.

If we would attain the prize of the high calling which is of God in Christ Jesus, and enter through the Holy into the Most Holy, we must follow in the footsteps of Jesus, our Leader and Headthe High Priest whom we confess (Hebrews 3:1 NIV). Here are the ways in attaining the prize and please our Heavenly Father:-

(1) By faith in Christ’s ransom-sacrifice, represented in the Brazen Altar, we enter through the gate to the Courtyardthe veil of unbelief and sin is passed. This step is one which our Lord Jesus never took, because not being of Adamic stock, but holy, harmless, separate from sinners, he never was outside the Court condition.

(2) Renouncing our justified human wills, and all our human aspirations and hopes, we pass the first vail, or veil of human-mindednesscounting the human will as dead; henceforth consulting not it, but the will of God only. We now find ourselves as new creatures” in the Holyin the first of the “Heavenlies” or Holies (Ephesians 2:6see Diaglott), and begin to be enlightened by the golden candlestick (God’s Word) respecting spiritual things, “the deep things of God,” and to be refreshed and strengthened daily with the Truth, as represented in the shew-bread, lawful for only the Priests to eat (Matthew 12:4). Thus enlightened and strengthened, we should daily offer up sacrifices at the golden altar, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ—a sweet perfume to our Father (1 Peter 2:5).

The Most Holy

THE MOST HOLY.jpg

The Most Holy was a perfect cube measuring 10 cubits on all sidesthe only part of the tabernacle that was BALANCED, which represents the condition of divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

We attain to the Most Holy by faithfully overcoming in the Gospel Age. We enter there, beyond the second veil, through death. These, after having completed their consecration in death, are fully changed, born from the dead in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6, Hebrews 10:20, 1 John 3:2).

The volume of the ark of the covenant (the only furnishing within the Most Holy) was 5.625 cubic cubits (1½ x 1½ x 2½). The volume of the interior of the Most Holy was 810 cubic cubits (9 x 9 x 10). Dividing this volume of the Most Holy by the volume of the ark of the covenant produces a significant number: 144, a number relating to the church.

Revelation 14:1 describes a group of 144,000 standing upon symbolic “Mount Sion” with the symbolic “Lamb.” This refers to the overcoming Bride of Christ. Since the ark represents the Church that will gain the prize of the high calling in the condition that the Most Holy represents (the presence of God, the divine nature), the appearance of 144 does not seem accidental. The number 144 is not 144,000, for the scale of the Tabernacle does not permit the building of a Most Holy containing 144,000 arks. However, the factor of 1,000 is contained in the picture, since the exterior dimensions of the Most Holy were 10 cubits by 10 cubits by 10 cubits or 1,000 cubic cubits.

The (second) vail (as discussed in Study 9 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle” on this website and titled “The Gate. The Door. The Vail.”) was “a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it” hung “with gold hooks on 4 posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on 4 silver bases.” .” (See Study 4 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle.”) It was hung “from the clasps.” (Exodus 26:31-33, NIV)

The (second) vail represents Christ (as do the gate and door).

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

References

Br. Charles T. RussellTabernacle Shadows.
Br. Anton Frey—Notes on the Tabernacle.
Br. David RiceThe Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine (Nov/Dec 2002 Edition).
Br. David SteinThe Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine (Nov/Dec 2005 Edition).

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 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/2016/09/14/study-3-the-tabernacle-construction-the-holy-the-most-holy/

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