Jesus Feeds The Multitudes With Fish and Loaves of Bread

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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.

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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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Water From The Rock

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There are two occasions in the Old Testament of Moses smiting a rock to provide water for the despairing Israelites in the wilderness. Let us examine the events, their differences, and the lessons to be learned.

Exodus 17:1-7

In this account Moses, in the name of God, smote a rock in Horeb with his rod to release water for the thirsty Israelites who had camped at Rephidim (see map below), about 1 1/2 months after the Exodus (compare Exodus 19:1). From this rock gushed water, abundantly refreshing Israel.

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Here is this account of Moses’ first smiting of the rock as recorded in Exodus 17:1-7 (KJV):

“(1) And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

(2) Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?

(3) And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

(4) And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

(5) And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.

(6) Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

(7) And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?”

Numbers 20:1-13, 24 

The second occasion of Moses smiting a rock for water occurred much later, near the end of the 40 years of wilderness wandering. This is recorded in the fourth book of Moses, the book of Numbers, chapter 20. Here Moses and Aaron “rebelled against my word” (verse 24). For on this occasion God told Moses to speak to the rock, but in anger, and failing to credit God for caring for the Israelites, Moses asked the crowd “must we fetch you water out of this rock?,” and smote it twice.

Here is the account (Numbers 20:1‑13, 24 KJV):

“(1) Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.

(2) And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.

(3) And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!

(4) And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?

(5) And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.

(6) And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.

(7) And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

(8) Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

(9) And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.

(10) And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?

(11) And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

(12) And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

(13) This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them.

(24) Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah.”

Moses Not Permitted to go Into the Promised Land

One of the reasons why Moses was not permitted to lead Israel into the land of promise concerns this second occasion. Smiting the rock on the first occasion (Exodus. 17:1‑7) was by God’s direction, and the waters gushed forth. But the second time (Numbers 20:2‑12) the Lord said to Moses, “Speak unto the rock,” but instead he hit the rock with his rod twice.

Moses’ sin in the Numbers account was self‑assertion and lack of faith (R4047:6, R5315:5).

In Numbers 27:14, God clearly states to Moses that He punished Aaron and him for their disobedience. “For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin” (Numbers 27:14). By not saying that God would provide them water,  saying rather that they would give the whole community water, Moses and Aaron had disobeyed God.

Here, we are reminded of Ephesians 4:26, “If angry, beware of sinning” (Weymouth). Moses and Aaron, in anger with the Israelite complaints, took the matter in their own hands. Moses disregarded God’s direction, and failed to direct the people to God’s loving care for them. Evidently Moses remembered his striking the rock years earlier, and vented his anger here without regard for G6 mtqod’s instruction to “speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, and it shall give forth his water.”

As Moses and Aaron were punished for their wrong actions, so too, God’s people may have to live with the consequences of their poor decisions or impulsive actions. However, God still provides access to the the waters of spiritual life. God knows that no one could stand before God if every mistake were recorded and not forgiven.

“(3) If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (4) But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (5) I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; (6) my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. (7) O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption” (Psalm 130:3‑7, ESV).

Some time later, God led Moses up to Mount Pisgah’s top (Numbers 27:12), with an extended panoramic view of the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses saw this with his natural eyes, but Moses saw much more through the eye of faith, seeing the promises which God had made to the tribes of Israel through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “We hear not a murmur respecting the transfer of leadership and the cessation of his own labors. If God had used Moses in his service to the extent that he was pleased to do, the servant was thankful and satisfied” (R3077).

“The most unjust thing we can do is judge Moses or any other man by his deeds and not by his fruits” (R4055:5).

Antitypical Meaning of “Smiting” the Rock

Christ Jesus, the true Rock, was to be smitten but once for our sins, and as a result of that one smiting at Calvary [i.e. Christ’s death, which made possible the access to God’s grace in Christ to those God has called out of the world] the water of life would be obtained for all true Israelites to all time; and if for a season the flow was stopped it was only necessary that the Rock should be invoked in the name of the Lord, that the waters might again flow forth. Christ dieth no more; death has no dominion over him; therefore in the type the Rock should not have been smitten a second time. But the second smiting, nevertheless, made a new type, because as the Apostle explains, there are some now who crucify Christ afresh, and put him to an open shame‑some of his professed followers denying or ignoring the value of the original sacrifice, denying the blood that bought them, are counted as committing the sin unto death — Second Death — and of these Moses became a type, and as a type of a class which would have to do with the antitype of the rock, he was debarred from Canaan — Hebrews 6:4‑6” (R3077).

Any denial of the Redeemer on the part of the consecrated would signify a crucifying afresh, a smiting of the rock a second time” (R5315:4).

“We might remark here, too, that those who smote the Lord the first time, at Calvary, have the promise of full forgiveness. They shall look upon him whom they pierced, and shall mourn for him, and the Lord will pour out upon them the spirit of prayer and supplication, and they shall have full opportunity of recompense and reconciliation (Zechariah 12:10). It is those who, with greater knowledge, and after they have become partakers of the holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the age to come, sin wilfully and count the blood of the covenant a common thing [unholy thing, Hebrews 10:29] — these are they who commit the real sin unto death, and for whom the Scriptures suggest no hope, or further opportunity, because they have sinned wilfully” (R3077).

What if Moses Had Not Smitten the Rock in the Numbers Account?

If Moses had not smitten the rock in the Numbers 20 account, would he have been permitted to enter the promised land? Br. Charles Taze Russell answers this question in R3077.

“… Moses would not have gone into the land of Canaan [even if he had obeyed God by “speaking to the rock”] because … he was the type of the Law Covenant, which must end before the people can enter into their rest. As Moses was the representative of the Law Covenant, so Joshua became the representative or type of the New Covenant and of its mediator, Jesus, the Deliverer. ‘The Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.’ The Law was a pedagogue or guide to prepare and bring the Israelites along to the borders of Canaan, but the Law could never give them rest, could never take them into the land of promise. Christ, the antitype of Joshua, must do that. We are to remember, too, that Moses’ error in smiting the rock, did not involve him in the Second Death, nor will it work any injury to him as respects the future. It was comparatively a trivial matter, and taught him a valuable lesson which he evidently learned to the Lord’s pleasement, and his failure to go into the land of promise, therefore, should not indicate a continuance of divine indignation against him, but merely a continuance of the divine purpose in making of him a type of a class who would have to do with the antitypical rock, the antitypical water, and the antitypical smiting.”

Differences and Similarities Between the two Rock Smiting Accounts

Here are some differences and similarities noted between the Exodus and Numbers account concerning the smiting of the rock by Moses.

(1) Time — The first account occurred in the opening year of the Exodus while the other occurred near the opening of the 40th year after the Exodus. The Exodus account was in the second month of the first year, while the Numbers account was in the 1st month of the (last) 40th year of travelling.

(2) Location — Exodus account: in the Wilderness of Sin at Rephidim (Exodus 17:1); Numbers account: in the desert of Zin at Kadesh, in the first month of year 40 of their travels.

(3) Moses’ attitude — On the first occasion, Moses followed God’s instructions to the fullest and his attitude was noble and honorable, while in the closing account his attitude was angry and personal, rather than deferential: “Must we fetch you water?” were his words, rather than giving glory to God by saying something like “God will give you water,” and meekly directing the attention to Jehovah.

(4) Level of Obedience — In the opening account Moses hit the rock once as God told him to do, while in the closing account he was to speak to the rock but he disobeyed and instead hit the rock twice.

(5) The Rods — the rod in the Exodus account was Moses’ rod, while the rod in the Numbers account may have been the rod of Aaron. (Numbers 20:9, “Moses took the rod from before Jehovah” — perhaps the rod of Aaron that had been “before the testimony,” Numbers 17:10).

(6) Who was present — In the Exodus account Moses struck the rod in the sight of the Elders, while in the Numbers account, the whole assembly of the Israelites was present.

(7) All the Israelites still murmured and quarrelled during the 40 year wandering in the wilderness. Thus the only ones to enter the Promised Land of Canaan were Joshua, Caleb, and all the children of the Israelites who were less than 20 years of age (Numbers 14:20‑30).

(8) The Rock — in both cases the rock represents Christ, the Rock of Ages. “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

(9) In both cases, the waters quenched the thirst of the Israelites.

(10) Two examples of the spiritual Rock are given during the life of Moses to show that there are two time periods in history during which the spiritual waters of life do flow — first for the Church class during this Gospel Age (from Pentecost in 33 AD) and next, in the kingdom age, for the world of mankind. In the Exodus account it was thus necessary for Christ to be smitten once: Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 3:18, John 7:32, 37. Before anyone can come unto Christ, he must thirst for the Truth. He must first have and show an appreciation of all that the Heavenly Father has to give. The waters beautifully picture the waters of eternal life that the Heavenly Father offers to those who have faith in Him, and the blessings that will flow through Him. The flowing waters satisfy the hearts of the Church class during the Gospel Age. These are pictured in the Elders in the Exodus account who were present with Moses. This water becomes a well spring of Truth in each one of us, with an opportunity to nourish others along the way.

(11) The Church’s sojourn began at the beginning of the Gospel Age, just as the Exodus account comes at the beginning of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness. In Revelation 22:1 we read, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Mankind will only receive that life‑giving water after the Kingdom is ushered in, just like in the Numbers account it comes at the end of the wilderness wanderings when the Gospel Age is complete. Then the resurrected world of mankind will receive the benefits of the Kingdom when they are ready to enter into the Promised Land, but on the earthly plane of existence.

(12) Christ will not then be smitten a second time. As pictured in the Numbers account, God will speak to Jesus at the appropriate time and the waters will not simply come forth, but they will come forth abundantly, as we are told in Numbers 20:11. Then the waters of life will be given to refresh all the people.

(13) The spiritual walk that we have entered into began with Christ. After crossing the Red Sea, the waters of Marah were bitter, representing the prevalence of sin throughout the world. Christ came to Jordan and offered his life and the first glimpse of the sweetened waters were given there. Next, at Elim, there were 70 palm trees and 12 wells. This relates to when our Lord sent out 70 into Galilee to preach the Gospel and he sent out 12 Apostles as the “wells” of spiritual Truth. Our Lord said he was “the true bread from heaven.” Yet the Israelites did not want that, but the quail. At Sinai, the tables of the Law were written into their hearts. Some have gone through difficult experiences like Miriam who was struck with Leprosy for 7 days, and some come back with a bad report and think it’s too much of a cost to bear, being consecrated to God. But those who endure with faith receive God’s blessings. In Numbers 21:6 the fiery serpents represent the affliction of sin, which the world can be relieved of by looking to Christ for their healing (Numbers 21:8).

Lessons

(1) Dependency on God

Not just to seek and ask God for answers and direction in our situations of daily life, but above all, in doing so, to  give God the glory in all that we say and do, and in any way the Heavenly Father permits, allow for the “hearers” as well as ourselves to recognize God’s influence in each matter. That is, see the presence of Christ through the actions, words and doings of the person(s) each does associate with in the experiences of this present life.

Example

Here is an example of a lesson to learn from Moses’ smiting the rock twice, in today’s world. If we give someone either financial or material gifts, then we should not think it is because of our power or our ability, but rather see that it is because of our Almighty Heavenly Father’s help — His love, justice, power, and wisdom working in harmony through His children called by Him, to do works that reflect Christ-likeness. We should do works in a way so as to fulfil God’s will and God’s purpose through us whom He has called to be partakers of the Heavenly calling now during the Gospel Age, from Pentecost forward.

St. Paul, by inspiration, points out to us that that rock represented Christ, that the smiting of the rock represented putting Christ to a shameful death, and that only by this means is the Water of Life provided for the people of God. As the waters of that rock followed the Israelites, so the stream of God’s favor, through the sacrifice of Christ, refreshes Christ’s disciples throughout their wilderness journey.

Refreshed in body and in faith, Israel journeyed onward, but encountered new obstacles. The Amalekites, a warlike people, considered the coming of Israel as an invasion of their country, and attacked them in battle. A people used to peaceful pursuits, as the Israelites had for centuries been, would naturally be at a disadvantage in a conflict with such opponents. Yet God gave them the victory. He indicated, however, that it was not by their prowess or skill, but of His grace that they conquered.

Moses, stationed upon a high hill, lifted up his hands in prayer to God for the people. While he did so, success was theirs; but when he ceased thus to pray, the Amalekites were the victors. Perceiving this, Aaron and Hur assisted in holding up the hands of Moses until the battle terminated with success for Israel. God thus indicated that Moses was the advocate or representative of Israel, and that without him they could do nothing.

(2) Regular Prayer = Close Communion with God

By having close communion with God through unceasing prayers, God’s people can seek the Heavenly Father’s direction and counsel in all of life’s affairs. Such complete dependency on God may by God’s grace and mercy result in a mind that desires and does only the will of God, which in turn, can result in glory, honour, and praise to our Heavenly Father through Christ.

Spiritual Israelites have conflicts with enemies too mighty for them without the Lord’s assistance. The world, the flesh, and the Devil make common cause against all who are seeking the Heavenly Canaan. We who are followers of Jesus have success in our warfare only as we have Him as our Advocate. “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” Through Him we may come off conquerors, yea, more than merely conquerors, victors in the highest sense — “through Him who loved us and bought us with His precious blood.”

(3) Avoiding pride.

C. S. Lewis said: “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Pride in any form and in anybody is a dangerous thing. In a worldly way the proverb is well attested, “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Moses was the “meekest man in all the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Perhaps this is one reason that this experience of Moses is recorded for our benefit — to alert us, that no matter our development of humility and meekness, we need to be careful lest a moment of self-assurance, or spiritual pride, does not cause us to forget our proper reliance upon, and respect for, our Heavenly Father.

“For the comfort of those who may feel that they have done much worse than Moses, or been much more self‑assertive, been much less careful to honor the Lord, have manifested much more spiritual pride‑for their comfort let us notice that the punishment here was severe because it was part of a type” (R5957).

“Neither are we to think that brethren who have manifested spiritual pride and done things in their own name, rather than in the name of the Lord and the name of the Class, have thereby committed the sin unto death. We are, however, to realize that a terrible danger goes with spiritual pride. … Realizing this, how anxious, how zealous we should be, not only in the eradication of every symptom of it we might find in ourselves, but also in being careful lest we should take the contagion or in any manner come under its influence or have any of its symptoms!” (R5957)

“When one attends a testimony meeting, or a Berean class, and hears no real good testimony but his own, hears no proper answer except his own to any of the questions, never sees an Elder in the chair who knows how to lead a meeting anyway — these should be considered dangerous symptoms of spiritual pride” (R5956).

The proper attitude, as all will agree, is that the Lord’s people should feel greatly humbled instead of greatly exalted and heady in respect to these opportunities for telling the Truth to others” (R5956).

“We should feel our unworthiness. We should realize that the Plan is not ours; that we have merely heard of it ourselves; that it is really God’s Plan; that we are honored as His servants to tell it out” (R5956).

“But if we allow any impression to go out that it is by any wisdom on our part, or any skill, that the beauty is seen in the Message, then to that extent we are taking glory to ourselves which belongs to the Lord, and doing injury to ourselves proportionately by failing to demonstrate our worthiness to be used by the Lord in the present and in the future. The wonderful privilege of speaking as ambassadors for the Lord, to tell of His greatness and Plan should humble us with the thought that He has privileged us, whereas He has angels, who excel in strength and whom He might have used in communicating this most wonderful Message” (R5956).

We should not feel offended if we are not elected as a deacon or Elder or assistant in the Lord’s service. Br. Russell writes that “in all meekness and humility they should feel a timidity even about taking a position where there would be such a responsibility. The admonition on this is that although all of the Church should, according to their knowledge of the Truth, be qualified to be teachers, nevertheless the safer place is not to be a teacher, knowing that such shall have the severer trial. Only a sense of responsibility to the Lord and to the brethren should make one willing to serve in such capacity, much as all ought to love to be the Lord’s representatives in the Church” (R5956).

The Need For Self‑Examination

“Let us not forget that while we are to exercise great leniency in viewing the words and deeds of others, ascribing only good intentions where they are professed, we are to scrutinize with all of our might our own hearts, our own intentions. We are to inquire why we did this thing or left undone the other thing; why we did this thing this way; why we spoke in such a tone, etc. Such a careful examination, weighing of thoughts, words and deeds, would be very unsatisfactory to a person who was not wishing to be in accord with the Lord. But those who have made a covenant with the Lord and are faithful to that covenant will find such a course to be a great blessing, comforting their hearts at the time, strengthening them for the future, and in connection with the Lord’s providences it will be fitting and preparing them for places in the Heavenly Kingdom” (R5958).

By relying on and asking the Heavenly Father through Christ to show us His way and do it, we can help keep the spiritual armour of Christ on 24/7 to protect us against sinning in a sudden moment that can creep up unexpectedly. Let us remember Moses’ situation and ask God to protect us from it happening to us, and trust that God is able to do more than we even ask for or imagine if He chooses to (Ephesians 3:20).

“To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21, ESV).

References:

Br. Charles Russell — Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence: R2299, R3077, R4047, R4055, R5285, R5315, R5955.

Bibletruth411 ‑ YouTube: “The Waters of Massah and Meribah.”

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/12/11/water-from-the-rock/

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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 8three 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):

“The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, ‘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.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 (see Exodus 27:10-17) represent the justified believers whose imperfections are covered by Christ’s righteousness.

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

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

(E) Sockets of Copper

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

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

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

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

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

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

(F) Guy Lines/Ropes/Cords & Pegs

2. FENCE EQUIPMENT.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Furnishings In The Court

The Brazen Altar

4. BRAZEN ALTAR.jpg

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

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

It 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.

Yes, 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.

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.

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.

4.4 - BRONZE ALTAR.jpg

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

If this case, there were no stairs/steps so the Priests did not risk any exposure (“nakedness”) in having to lift up his legs while walking up any stairs.

So if there were no steps, then perhaps it is reasoned there may have been a ramp to walk up if the ark at 3 cubits tall (4.5 feet or more, depending on the cubit; 1.37 metres) yet 7-9 feet across was to allow usability for much of the altar.

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 (Exodus 38:8) 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.”
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/

The URL for this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/20/study-4-the-court-holy-place/

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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.
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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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