DANIEL 3:17 – Our God Whom We Serve Is Able To Deliver Us

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“Our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us.” Daniel 3:17

The King of Babylon – King Nebuchadnezzar

Probably twenty years elapsed after Daniel and his companions reached Babylon in captivity before the scenes of the lesson in Daniel Chapter 3 were enacted. Meantime Daniel had been raised to a very high position in the empire, as the King’s counselor, while his three Jewish companions—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednegohad been made magistrates in the provinces of Babylon. We know that their prosperity did not tend to make them careless of their duties and responsibilities toward God, for otherwise they would not have been able to stand the severe test recounted in this lesson, and which proved a great blessing to them because of their fidelity to the Lord.

King Nebuchadnezzar just before this had won some great victories over surrounding nations—Egypt, Syria, etc.—as he had previously done with Judah, and as the Lord had predicted in the dream which Daniel had interpreted for the King, which showed the Babylonian Empire as the golden head of earthly dominion. His great success no doubt had tended to feelings of pride and a desire for display. Yet these were probably not the only motives which led to the program of the great festival in honor of his victories, and the erection of the great image which all were commanded to worship.

With a view to unifying the Babylonian empire by unifying the religious views and worship of the various peoples under his sway, Nebuchadnezzar had a great feast arranged, of which the very center of attraction was the great image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Nebuchadnezzar's image

In Daniel 3:1 we read that this image, with its pedestal, was sixty cubits high (approximately 27 metres or 8 storeys high) and six cubits wide (approximately 2.7 metres wide). It was of gold, probably either made hollow or on a base of clay cement. It was located in the Plain of Dura, about the centre of the walled enclosure twenty-four miles square, known as the city of Babylon. As it is a level country, and as the structures were comparatively low, the image could probably be seen from every part of the great city.

The Festival

The appointed time for the festival having come, leading representatives, judges, treasurers, governors, sheriffs, etc., from all the divisions of the empire, clad in the gorgeous garments of the East, were present. A great band had been prepared, composed of all the musical instruments popular at that period.

As the people stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up, the herald proclaimed aloud:

“‘You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace'” (Daniel 3:4-6).

By falling down and worshiping the image, the people would thus be indicating their loyalty, not only to King Nebuchadnezzar, but also to his gods who he believed had given him the wonderful victories which they were celebrating.

This was a crucial test for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They knew that the King’s powers were autocratic, and that to cross his will meant death in some form, yet they wanted to be true to God, whatever the cost. It might be that their refusal to prostrate themselves before the image would pass entirely unnoticed by others, or it might be that, even if noticed, the incident might never reach the ears of the King, but such circumstances could make no change in the matter of their duty; whatever others might do, they must not bow the knee to any but the true God. Daniel is omitted from mention here, possibly because, occupying a different position as one of the king’s personal staff and household, his conduct would not come so directly in contrast with the general conduct.

The Hour of Trial

Finally, the hour of trial came, when the great King of Babylon was recognized not only as civil but also as religious ruler, and the image which he had set up was worshiped by the various representatives of his empire—except Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. Their neglect to bow was quickly brought to the attention of the King, for no doubt these, like all good men, had their enemies: some enemies through jealousy and rivalry for the King’s favor; other enemies because, perhaps, they had been interrupted or hindered in dishonest practices and contracts with the government. The matter seems to have astounded the king, and hence his inquiry, Is it true, can it be true? Surely, no sane men would be so foolhardy as to oppose my decree, and that in my very presence, and upon such a fete-day as this? Not waiting an answer as respects matters of the past, the king voluntarily proposed for them a fresh test of loyalty and submission.

Perhaps the king’s mind shot a glance backward fifteen years, to the time when the God of the Hebrews, through Daniel, had told and interpreted his dream, a matter which none of the other gods of his wise men could do; and as though he had this in mind, and wishing to impress the matter upon these three Hebrews who had dared to challenge his power, he made the boast, “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” In his arrogance of mind and under the flush of his mighty victories over the greatest nations and mightiest kings, Nebuchadnezzar felt prepared to have a contest even with the unseen and to him unknown invisible powers. He would not be backed down in his own capital city; he would demonstrate his power to inflict a penalty, regardless of what any of the gods might do in retaliation.

The answer of the three Hebrews was a wise one; seeing from the king’s mood that the discussion of the subject would be useless, they did not attempt to retaliate by threatening him with divine vengeance; neither did they attempt to convert the King to Judaism, knowing well that the provisions of the Jewish covenant were not for Gentiles. They simply responded that they were not anxious to avail themselves of the opportunity to argue the matter with the King. They assured him of their full confidence that their God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace, and out of the hand or power of even the greatest king of the earth; but they answered:

 “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

Angered that his great festal day should be thus marred by even the slightest opposition to his will, the king did not wait to give another opportunity wherein the Hebrews might relent. He saw that it was useless, that they were men of character and determination, and he resolved that he would make an example of them before all the people. The form of his visage or his countenance changed toward these men; whereas once he had admired them, as amongst his ablest counselors and magistrates, and an honor to his empire, now he hated them, as opponents whose course, if not interrupted, might introduce disorder into his empire, and lead to more or less sedition, if copied by others. In his rage he commanded that the furnace be heated seven times, or to its utmost capacity. The furnace, already heated for the occasion, may have been the one used in melting the gold for the image, and must have been of immense size.

Probably as a mark of his great authority, and to show that even the very greatest of his subjects were subordinate to his supreme authority, the king commanded that these three recalcitrant officials be cast into the fiery furnace by prominent officers of his army—no doubt to teach a lesson respecting the power of the army, and the willingness of its chief representatives to serve the king, as against everybody else.

The Hebrews, bound in their official garb, were evidently cast into the furnace from the top, because it is stated that they fell down bound, while the heat was so intense that it even killed those who cast them into the furnace, possibly by the inhalation of the flames, which might kill them instantly.

The King seemed to be having matters his own way, as usual; even the mighty God of the Hebrews had not delivered these men from his power. And yet the King was solicitous and eyed the furnace, and to his surprise beheld those who had been cast into the furnace bound, walking about free in the flames—seemingly uninjured. More than this, he saw a fourth person there, of most remarkable appearance, which caused the King to think and speak of him as one of the gods. No wonder he was astonished; he was evidently contending with a God of whose powers he had been ignorant.

Nebuchadnezzar realized he had made a great mistake in attempting the destruction of three of his most eminent magistrates, and that he was thus defying the great God. He was prompt to make acknowledgement, and approached the furnace, calling out, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” In the presence of the king’s courtiers they came forth, and all beheld them that the fire had done them no injury, not even having singed their clothes or their hair. This was indeed a stupendous miracle, and doubtless was valuable in its influence, not only upon the Gentiles, but also upon the Hebrews residing throughout Babylon, who would thus hear of the power of Jehovah in delivering those faithful to him.

Whether this had a bearing on the subject or not, we know well that, while idolatry had been one of the chief sins of the Israelites before this captivity, there was comparatively little of idolatry in its crude forms in that nation afterward.

Nebuchadnezzar’s acknowledgement of the God of the Hebrews, who sent his messenger and delivered his servants that trusted in him, is very simple and very beautiful. He rejoiced in the noble character of these men, and at once made a decree:

“Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way(Daniel 3:30).

And furthermore, he promoted these faithful men to still higher positions, for they had still more of his confidence respecting their integrity.

Men who would thus hazard their lives for conscience’ sake could be trusted in the most important positions.

Lessons From This Bible Account

The Lord’s people may find in this Biblical story many valuable lessons and suggestions. Not all of God’s people are in such prominent positions as were these Hebrews; and not many have testings of exactly the same kind as were theirs, with a literal fiery furnace before their eyes. Nevertheless, there are trials before the Lord’s people today that are fully as severe.

Babylon the literal was in ruins long before the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos was shown in prophetic vision the mystic or symbolic Babylon “which reigneth over the kings of the earth” today. The provinces of Babylon today are the various civilized nations—really “kingdoms of this world;” but deluded into calling themselves and thinking themselves kingdoms of Christ—“Christendom.” And parallels to the King and the image are also presented in Revelation—they are religious systems symbolically described as “the beast [Papacy] and his image” (Revelation 13:15-18).

The worship of this symbolic beast and his image are to be the great test or trial upon professing Christians in every province of symbolic Babylon in the end of this age and indeed, the testing is even now in progress. Only those who refuse to render worship to those powerfully influential religious systems (symbolized by “the beast and his image”) will be counted by the Lord as “overcomers” and be made his joint-heirs as members of his elect Church (Revelation 20:4).

As already pointed out, the “beast” represents not Roman Catholics (the people) but the Roman Catholic system, as an institution: and the image represents not Protestants (the people) but the consolidation of Protestant systems, as an institution. Those who absolutely refuse to worship its images are already exposed to fiery trials;—social ostracism and financial boycotts. Prominent amongst these is:

The Roman Catholic idolthat church sets itself as the representative of God, and demands worship, obedience and contribution to its funds;

The Greek Catholic Church idol: the Anglican is another; and the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.all similarly demand worship, obedience and revenue. They have “pooled their issues,” to a certain extent, so as not to war upon each other’s devotees, but they unite in warfare against all who do not bow the knee to some such idol (who reverence and worship only the Almighty God, and recognize his only begotten Son as the only Head and Lord of the true Church, whose names are only written in heaven—not on earthly rolls of membership (Hebrews 12:23).

In the “dark ages,” when Papacy had a monopoly of the “church” business, it meant torture and the stake, as well as social ostracism. Today, in many instances there are evidences that the same spirit prevails, merely restrained by changed circumstances and lack of power. Thousands today are worshiping at the various shrines of Christendom who in their hearts long to be free from the sectarian bondage of fear—who fain would serve the Lord God only, had they the courage. And there are some the world over who, with a courage not less than that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, declare publicly that the Lord God alone shall have the worship and the service which they can render. None, perhaps, know better than the writer the various fiery experiences to which these faithful few are exposedboycotted socially, boycotted in business, slandered in every conceivable manner, and often by those of whom they had least expected it, who, according to the Lord’s declaration, say “all manner of evil against them falsely” (Matthew 5:11,12).

But with these, as with the three Hebrews of our lesson, the chief trial is in connection with their faith; after they have taken a firm stand for the Lord and his truth they may indeed be bound and have their liberties of speech and of effort restrained, and they may indeed be cast into the fiery furnace, but nothing more than these things can be done to them. As soon as they have demonstrated their fidelity to God to this extent, their trials and troubles are turned into blessings and joys. As the form of the Son of God was seen with the Hebrews in the fiery furnace, so unseen, the Lord is present with those who trust him and who, because of faithfulness to him and to his Word, come into tribulation. How beautifully this is expressed in the familiar hymn,

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”

And sometimes even the worldly can realize that the Lord’s people in the furnace of affliction are receiving a blessing, and sometimes thus our Heavenly Father’s name is glorified in the world, as in Nebuchadnezzar’s experience.

Sometimes the Lord’s people who are bound, restrained of liberty to proclaim the truth, find, as did those Hebrews, that the fire burns the cords and sets them free, and really gives them larger opportunities to testify to the glory of our God than they could have had by any other course.

The Lord’s providences vary, and it is not for his people to decide when shall come remarkable deliverances, and when they shall apparently be left entirely to the will of their enemies without any manifestation of divine favor on their behalf.

Note, for instance, the fact that, while the Lord interposed to deliver these three Hebrews from the fiery furnace, he did not interpose to prevent the beheading of John the Baptist, although of the latter it is specifically declared, “There hath not arisen a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” We remember that, while Peter was delivered from prison by the angel of the Lord, James was not delivered, but was beheaded. We remember also that Paul’s life was miraculously preserved on several occasions, and that the Apostle John, according to tradition, was once cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, but escaped uninjured, while on other occasions dire disaster came upon the Lord’s faithful ones, and that quickly, as in the case of Stephen, who was stoned.

It is not, therefore, for us to predetermine what shall be the divine providence in respect to ourselves; we are to note the point of right and duty and to follow it regardless of consequences, trusting implicitly in the Lord. This lesson is most beautifully set forth in the language of the three Hebrews, who declared to King Nebuchadnezzar that their God was entirely capable of delivering them from his power, but that, whether he chose to do so or not, they would not violate their conscience.

It is just such characters that the Lord is seeking for, and it is in order to their development and testing that multiform evil is now permitted to have sway.

While such testings have been in progress to a considerable extent throughout this entire Gospel age, the Scriptures clearly indicate to us that in some special sense all of the Lord’s people will be tested in the “harvest” or closing time of this age. Our Lord speaks of it, likening our Christian faith to a house, and represents the trials in the end of this age as a great storm which will beat upon every house, with the result that all that are founded upon the rock will stand, and all founded upon the sand will collapse. The Apostle Peter speaks of this trial-time, saying:

“Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which shall try you, as tho some strange thing happened unto you” (1 Peter 4:12).

We are to expect a testing in the end of this age, just as there was a testing of the Jewish nominal church in the end of its age. As in that testing there was a thorough, complete separating of the “wheat” from the “chaff,” so here the separating will be complete between the “wheat” and the “tares,” as our Lord declares (Matthew 13:24-30). Throughout the age the “wheat” and the “tares,” by divine arrangement, have been permitted to grow side by side; but in the “harvest” the separation must occur, that the “wheat” may be “garnered,” received to the Kingdom.

The Apostle Paul, also, speaks of this time of fiery trial, and, likening the faith and works of a zealous Christian to a house built of gold, silver and precious stones, he declares that the fire of this day, in the end of this age, shall try every man’s work of what sort it is, and shall consume all but the genuine faith and character structures (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). But we are to remember that such loyal characters grow not suddenly, in a few hours or days—mushroom-like,—but are progressive developments, fine-grained and strong like the olive tree.

We who have become “new creatures” reckonedly, in Christ, know that we are to be tested (if our testing has not already commenced), and should realize that only as we practice self-denials in the little things of life, and mortify (deaden) the natural cravings of our flesh in respect to food, clothing, conduct, etc., will we become strong spiritually and be able to “overcome.”

Many deal slackly with themselves in respect to little violations of their consecration vow, saying,—“What’s the use” of such carefulness and so different a life from that of the world in general? Ah! there is great use in it, for victories in little things prepare for greater victories and make them possible: and on the contrary, surrender to the will of the flesh in the little things means sure defeat in the warfare as a whole. Let us remember the maxim laid down by our Great Teacher—that he that is faithful in the things that are least will be faithful also in the things which are great. And this is the operation of a law, whose operations may be discerned in all the affairs of life.

Our Lord expresses the same thought, saying,—To him that hath (used) shall be given (more), and from him that hath not (used) shall be taken away that which he hath. If we start on a Christian life ever so weak in the flesh and weak in spirit, we will find that faithfulness in the little things will bring increasing strength in the Lord and in the power of his might. But it is in vain that we pray, “Lord, Lord,” and hope for great victories and the “crown of rejoicing,” if we fail to do our best to conquer in the little affairs of daily life. In other words, our testing is in progress from the moment of our consecration, and the little trials are but preparations for greater ones which, when faithfully attained, we will be able to reckon with the Apostle as light afflictions which are but for a moment, and which are working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

The answer of the Hebrews to Nebuchadnezzar,—“Our God whom we serve,” is worthy of note. They not only acknowledged God and worshiped him, but they additionally served him, according as they had opportunity. And so it will be found today: those who have the necessary strength of character to refuse to worship human institutions and thereby to “suffer the loss of all things,” counting them but as loss and dross, that they may win Christ and be found finally complete in him, as members of his glorified body, and joint-heirs in his Kingdom, not only practice self-denials, but gladly serve and confess the Lord in their daily life. Rightly appreciated, a profession of love for the Lord would always be a profession of service to his cause. Whoever is not rendering some service to our King in the present time of multiplied opportunities has at very most the “lukewarm” love that is offensive to the Master (Revelation 2:4; 3:16).

Let us resolve, dear brethren, as did the three Hebrews of this lesson, that we will worship and serve only the Lord our Godthat we will neither worship nor serve sectarianism, in any of its many forms, nor mammon, with its many enticements and rewards, nor fame, nor friends, nor self. 

God “seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth,” is the declaration of our Lord and Head (John 4:23,24).

Acknowledgement

Br. Charles Taze Russell – The above content is based on Reprint 2494-2497 – from The Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Suggested Further Reading

Daniel The Beloved
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/bio_3.htm

Daniel and the Lions
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTMAY98.PDF

Daniel In Babylon
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/proph_31.htm

Trials
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTFEB98.PDF

Time and Prophecy 
http://2043ad.com/timeandprophecy.pdf

The Doctrine of the Trinity – Mystery or Confusion
http://www.heraldmag.org/1999/99nd_3.htm

The Origin of the Trinity – From Paganism To Constantine
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/Contents/doctrine/The%20Origin%20of%20the%20Trinity.htm

Facts About the Trinity http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/doctrine/FACTS%20ABOUT%20THE%20TRINITY.htm

God and the Trinities
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_42.htm

Father, Son and Holy Spirit
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/23/father-son-and-holy-spirit/

What Is the Heavenly Father’s Name
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/27/gods-name-what-is-the-heavenly-fathers-name-that-we-are-to-hallow-and-why/

Jesus – The Name
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/05/jesus-the-name/

The Doctrine of Christ – Booklet
http://www.biblestudents.com/docs/DoctrineChrist.pdf

Daniel the Beloved of Jehovah (paper back book) by R.E. Streeter –

Streeter-Daniel-Paperback_cropped_with_shadow-424x600

This book can be purchased through the Chicago Bible Students bookstore at the following link:

https://chicagobible.org/product/daniel-the-beloved-paperback/

 

book-of-daniel-activity-book-biblestudentsdaily-com

The Book of Daniel- Children’s Activity Book – free online here for use in proclaiming the glorious Gospel message:

https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/02/05/the-book-of-daniel-childrens-activity-book/

 

 

 

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The Book of Daniel – Children’s Activity Book

book-of-daniel-activity-book-biblestudentsdaily-com

Dear Brethren and friends in Christ,

Please feel free to make use of this 52 page Children’s Activity Book on the BOOK OF DANIEL: book-of-daniel-childrens-activity-book-bible-students-daily

Should you require this activity book in any different format, please write to us at biblestudentsdaily@gmail.com (Po Box 80, Ashburton 3147 Victoria, AUSTRALIA)

Perhaps you may wish to print out and bind each workbook prior to sharing with your ecclesia members, friends and family, or with any who have a hearing ear.

We have targeted the age range here as: 6 to 12 years of age—which was roughly the age range of our Bible Study Children’s Group that this was initially produced for, at a Summer Bible Students’ Camp this year in Wilson’s Promontory, Victoria, Australia.

Perhaps 2 or 3 more advanced pages have been incorporated within this Activity book to expose the children to prophetic Truths in the Bible in relation to the four world empires as reflected in the image in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2) and Daniel’s dream of the four beasts (Daniel 7) as well as Daniel’s vision of a two-horned ram and a goat (Daniel 8), hence the reason for a page within, such as this one:

FourWorldEMPIRESofDaniel2&7.jpg

Wishing all our Brethren and friends in Christ and their children, an abundance of blessings from the sharing of Truths about the BOOK OF DANIEL as we seek to study the Word of God and share the glorious GOSPEL message with the dear young ones:

Deuteronomy 11:8-21 – Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” (Also Deuteronomy 6:7)

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Suggested Further Reading:

Wonderful studies for Children’s Study leaders concerning the understanding of prophetic fulfillments in the Book of Daniel, can be found at Faithbuilders Fellowship: http://www.2043ad.com/journal/pastissues.htm

DANIEL 3:17 – Our God Whom We Serve Is Able To Deliver Us.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/10/14/daniel-317-our-god-whom-we-serve-is-able-to-deliver-us/

Daniel The Beloved 
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/bio_3.htm

Daniel and the Lions
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTMAY98.PDF

Daniel In Babylon
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/proph_31.htm

Trials
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTFEB98.PDF

Time and Prophecy 
http://2043ad.com/timeandprophecy.pdf

The URL for this post is: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/02/05/the-book-of-daniel-childrens-activity-book/

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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

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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.

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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.”

4.4 - BRONZE ALTAR.jpg
“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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