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

THE GATE. THE DOOR. THE VAIL..jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is our entry into:

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

(1) THE GATE

the-gate-beauties-of-the-tabernacle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Four Posts at the Gate

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

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

(2) THE DOOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Materials Used for the Fabric of the Sanctuary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Colours of the Linen Curtains

colours-of-the-tabernacle

  • White

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Blue

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

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

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

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

  • Scarlet

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

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

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

  • Purple

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

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

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

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

The Five Posts at the Door

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

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

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

(3) THE VAIL

the-vail-of-the-tabernacle

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

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

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

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

The Rending of the Vail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cherubim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The FOUR POSTS at the VAIL

4-posts-at-the-vail

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

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

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

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

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

The Number FOUR — In the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 100:2-5 (NLT)

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

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

References

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

Acknowledgment

Content assisted by Br. George Tabac.

Suggested Further Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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STUDY 8: The Tabernacle Coverings

The Tabernacle Coverings.jpg

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

The Two Inner Coverings or Curtains

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

  1. The First Covering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. The Second Covering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 5 strips represents the Church as the New Creation:

i.e.

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

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

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

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

The Outer Coverings

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

  1. The Third Covering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. The Fourth Covering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Manatee

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

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

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

A Summary — The Antitypical Lesson Behind All Four Coverings

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

Why Four Coverings?

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

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

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

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

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

the tabernacle structure - which one was it.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Hidden Beauty

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

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

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

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

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

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

References & Acknowledgment

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

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

Content — assisted by Br. David Rice.

Further Suggested Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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STUDY 5: The Camp. The Israelites.

4.6 - CAMP.jpg

The Camp Arrangement

The set-up of the Israelites’ camp is described in the first three chapters of Numbers. Numbers 1:1­-4 describes how God asked Moses to divide up the Israelites and take a census of the Israelites a little over a year after the Exodus. (The date of the Exodus is discussed in Study 2 of the “Beauties of the Tabernacle” Series.)

And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls; From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies. And with you there shall be a man of every tribe; every one head of the house of his fathers.”

[NOTE: the first day of the second month, in the second year” was 1st Iyyar, 1444bc, one month after the Tabernacle was set up. The Tabernacle was first set up on 1st Abib, 1444bc—see Exodus 40:2, 17.]

The camp was arranged into east, south, west, and north sides as documented in the diagram below.

ARRANGEMENT OF THE CAMP OF ISRAEL.jpg

God arranged that Moses, Aaron, and his sons (the Priests) would camp “in front of” (i.e. closest to) the Tent of Meeting (Numbers 3:38). God also instructed that the Levite camps be adjacent to the tent on the 3 other sides (South, West, and North), while those of the other Israelites were to be “far off” (Numbers 2:2).

WHO DO THE ISRAELITES REPRESENT?

In the Tabernacle arrangement, Israel consisted of 4 categories of Israelites:

(1) the High Priest (Aaron) represented Jesus, our “high priest.”

We read in Hebrews 4:14-16,

“14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 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. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Also, Hebrews 6:19-20:

“19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

The symbolic meaning of the actors in the next 3 categories of Israelites depends upon the passage of Scripture at hand. The meaning is contextually sensitive.

(2) the under priests (Aaron’ sons) Refer to Study 7 of the Beauties of the Tabernacle section, titled “The Priests. The Day of Atonement.”

(3) the tribe of Levi, (not including the Priests) Refer to Study 6 of Beauties of the Tabernacle, titled “The Levites.”

(4) the Israelites (not including the Tribe of Levi) — Let us examine this here.

There are two groups of such Israelites represented in the Tabernacle type, which do not consist of the Priests (who only came from the Tribe of Levi) and the remaining (non-Priest) Levites:-

(a) the non-believers in Christ amongst the world of mankind These are represented in the Israelites who are outside the court, in the camp area. Such individuals do not believe in Jesus and do not consider the Bible as the glorious, divinely inspired words of God, just as the Tabernacle’s outer-most covering may have looked unattractive to the Israelites in the camp. We discuss this further below, in the following Study. (See also Study 9 of Beauties of the Tabernacle, titled “Tabernacle Coverings.”) As the burnt offerings were a stench to Camp of the Israelites, so the message of God’s Truth is a stench to non-believers in today’s world and considered “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:14; 3:19).

(b) the non-spirit begotten believers in Christ amongst the world of mankindThese are represented in the Israelites inside the court area who enter the “gate” (which represents Christ, see John 10:9; 14:6). See Study 4 of Beauties of the Tabernacle, titled “The Court (Holy Place).” These are believers in Christ but non-spirit begotten individuals, who have not fully consecrated their lives in following Christ and doing God’s will.

Let us now consider what an Israelite represents in relation to the Gospel Age and the future Millennium Age:-

  • During the Gospel Age

During the Gospel Age (33 ad until the completion of the 6000 years of Permission of Evil) an Israelite coming to make an offering typifies “the Church of the Firstborn whose names are written in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23) — those who have consecrated their lives to the God. These develop as Christ’s body members, sharing in the sufferings of Christ (2 Timothy 2:12), and “by persistence in doing good, seek glory, honor and immortality” (Romans 2:7). Such are promised a “first resurrection” and spiritual, “incorruptible bodies” as Divine beings (1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 20:5). After the present time of sacrificing, these are to be kings and priests unto God, and to reign on the earth (Revelation 5:10).

The Laodicean (7th) Messenger to the seventh Gospel Age Church, Brother Charles Russell, in his later years, came to see that full justification applied to only the spirit begotten, rather than to those who are believers but not consecrated. Please refer to Reprints from the Original Watch Tower 4546:4, 4427:6, 5972:6.

  • During the Millennial Age

As the type also pertains to the Millennial Age, the Israelites represent the world of mankind in the near future who will choose to walk up the Highway of Holiness. The term an “Israelite indeed” (as Nathanael was labelled by Jesus in John 1:47) is an expression that applies to anyone who adheres to the principles of Godliness, the golden standard in the Kingdom, the only standard by which one will be able to have eternal life. (Isaiah 26:9, Proverbs 2:21­­­­–22, Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 21:1.) For further reading, refer to the post “Will All Mankind Need to Become “Israelite Indeed”?”

Hence when considering the Day of Atonement, the Israelites (not including the Priests) represented the world of mankind. The sin offering sacrifices made for the Israelites only, represent the “better sacrifices” and atonement made on behalf of the whole world by Jesus (“head”, Colossians 1:18) and the Church (the “body” of Christ members, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Colossians 1:18, Romans 12:5) — who God has permitted to share in the antitypical sin offering. The sufferings of the Church count as sin offerings sacrifices, in that the present sufferings of the Church prepare them to assist the world during the Millennium to be purged from the propensity for sin much as the sufferings of Christ prepared him to be our high priest, to purge from us the propensity for sin (2 Corinthians 1:3-7, 2 Timothy 2:12).

The Apostle Paul beautifully explains this through his words in Colossians 1:23-24:

23 I Paul am made a minister;  24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church…”

In 1 John 2:2 we read that Jesus “is a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” In the future, the saints are permitted the privilege of assisting Jesus to free the world from their sins, through the priestly work they will share with Christ during the Millennial Age of Christ’s Reign with his 144,000 (Bride) body members.

What could be seen from out in the camp looking toward the Tabernacle arrangement?

The Tabernacle was in the middle of the camp in the desert.

188683_Tabernacle_2Untitled-11.jpg

Looking at the Tabernacle from the outside, an ordinary Israelite only saw the gate kept by the cherubim, perhaps the top part of the first 5 pillars of the Holy; perhaps some parts of the top of the posts and fencing equipment; the pillar of cloud of God’s presence, and the smoke of the perpetual offering rising from the altar in the Court because the white fine twined linen curtain surrounding the court was 5 cubits (2.29 metres; 7 1/2 feet) high all around. That is how we human beings perceive others and sometimes even God himself. Yet the Lord teaches Samuel the prophet and us, “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Of course depending on where one stood, the top of the Tabernacle could also be seen from the camp, since it was twice the curtain’s height. It would have appeared dark since it was made of the skin of sea cows (manatee or dugong) skins, (mistranslated badger skins). Because this dark skin was not attractive to the eye, perhaps a foreigner could never imagine that this was the house of the Creator of the Universe. Who would imagine there was so much gold inside?

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing” (C. S. Lewis).

Here are parts of an excerpt from “Approaching God,” by Br. Regis Liberda  in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Nov.- Dec. 2002:

As the Tabernacle as seen from outside was not attractive, God knew it had to be this way for the camp in the desert where the Tabernacle is set represents the world. God does not attract anyone by apparent riches. We do not come to God because of the majesty and beauty of some building. Our reasons are not visible.

Many think that the Truth is as unattractive as the outer skin covering of the Tabernacle. Many think a Christian life is sad and dark; they do not know that for Christians the exterior has no value. Inside there is light, joy, richness, and peace.

Some are interested to know more. They suppose that this tent contains something more, and they draw closer. The closer they get, the greater appears the building, but they cannot see what is inside the Court since the linen hanging is too high. They can only see the top of the Tabernacle or tent. When they are very close, they can only see what resembles a white wall; the Tabernacle itself has disappeared. They know there is something beyond the wall but they cannot enter into the Court because of that wall. It is the white linen. Linen represents the justice of God; white represents purity and holiness: “Fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8).

In front of that white wall, one understands he is a sinner. If he circles the wall trying to enter the Court, he continues to be stopped by this justice. When he finally recognizes his situation as a sinner, a unique door appears on the eastern side.

The sun arises in the east at the beginning of a new day. Likewise when someone reaches the door of the Court, a new day or a new life starts for him. He is now walking in the light.

Outside the Camp

Through Moses, God instituted a Law for all Israelites to adhere to which entailed the exclusion of lepers out of the camp in the wilderness, and out of the cities in Judea. We read about this in Leviticus 13:46, 46 All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be. 47 The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woollen garment, or a linen garment.”

In Numbers 5:2-3 we read, “Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is unclean by the dead; both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camp, in the midst whereof I dwell.”

Leprosy is a picture of sin, and its cleansing represents the cleansing of the consecrated and spirit begotten believers in Christ now, during the Gospel Age, and the cleansing of the world later in the Millennial Kingdom Age, under the righteous rulership of Christ with his Bride of 144,000 Elect members.

The camp, the dwelling place of God, throughout which God would “walk” just as in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8), was to be holy. We are explain about this in Deuteronomy 23:14, “For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.”

Its holiness was to be achieved by the keeping of the ordinances of cleanliness, by the cleansing received from sacrifices, and by removing those who threatened its cleanliness. Offenders would be stoned outside the camp. (Leviticus 24:14) The remains of the offenders who died inside the camp were taken outside such as was the case of the two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:4).

There was a ceremonially clean place outside the camp (Numbers 19:9) where the ashes of the sacrifices whose blood was carried into the sanctuary, were thrown and a wood fire on this ash heap was where, for instance, the remains of the sin offering’s bull were to be burned up as explained in Leviticus 4:11-12. The ashes of the red heifer were gathered up by a “clean” Israelite and placed in this ceremonially clean, which according to Numbers 19:9-10 were used “in the water of cleansing”. The water from a jar containing the red heifer’s ashes would be sprinkled over any one or any thing classified as “unclean” to purify (Numbers 19:9-22).

—–

Hebrews 13:13 (KJV) — “Let us go forth therefore unto him without [“outside,” ESV] the camp, bearing his reproach.”

The following extract is from: Souvenir Notes, Bible Students’ Conventions 1913 – Question Meeting Conducted by Br. Charles T. Russell (in the Bible Students Library CD) Question 4  “Together with Him without the camp” — does this mean to go out in the second camp, or are there two camps?

Answer —

The Apostle says, “Let us go to Him without the camp.” In the English of today we would
say, “Let us go to Him outside the camp.” We do not use the word “without” the camp in that same way today. Let us go to Him outside the camp — what does that mean?

Well the camp would represent that condition of things which claimed to be in harmony with God.

Look back in Jesus’ day:

Jesus went outside the camp. Was it the Gentile camp? No. What was the camp with Him? The camp in Jesus’ time was composed of all those who professed to be God’s people, holy people — all the Jewish people who professed to be in harmony with the Lord. What would it mean that He went outside the camp? He was pledged in his faithfulness and loyalty to God to take His stand which took Him outside of the sympathy and fellowship of those who were not fully Israelites indeed — all the Jews that were Israelites indeed in whom was no guile could appreciate it, and they, like the disciples, were in the attitude of the Levites that were approaching the Holy and drawing near to the Lord, and were, like the Levites, ministering in the Court. This would represent the attitude of all believers inside of that white curtain, but those who constituted the camp at that time were nominal professors who did not appreciate fully, and Jesus in order to be faithful to God and His message was obliged to stand for the truth, for that which is right, and that brought Him out of sympathy and out of accord with the great nominal mass of the Jewish people.

Now the Apostle says, “Let us go to Him outside the camp.” What does this mean?

It meant to the Apostles’ of old that they should also take the same stand toward the law that Jesus took toward the law; the same stand toward the pharisees and scribes and the doctors of the law that Jesus took. Then to those afterwards who became associated with the Gentiles, as, for instance, Paul, Silas and Barnabas, who ministered to the Gentiles, we think outside the camp meant outside the synagogue of the Jews and all of those who professed to be in harmony with God that were living in Rome, or wherever they might be — whoever stood for and claimed to be God’s people constituted the camp.

What does it mean today?

The camp today means all of Christendom, all the dear people who claim that they are spiritual Israelites, that is God’s campAnd all of God’s people who are sincerely following in the footsteps of Jesus will find that they will not be appreciated by the general camp. In other words, the nominal church will not generally appreciate the spirit of the Lord and the teachings of the Lord, and therefore all who would he faithful to Jesus and walk in His steps will find themselves today just as much out of accord with the camp of today as Jesus and the Apostles found themselves out of accord with the camp of their clay. To go to Him without the camp today means that we will take up our cross, whatever sacrifice it might mean to you and me, the breaking of tender ties with dear fellow Christians who are Methodists, or Presbyterians, etc., willing to go to the Lord and be faithful and loyal to Him at any cost, no matter how others may view it.

And as a matter of fact it was those of the camp that persecuted Jesus and the Apostles: and it is those of the camp who have persecuted the Church which is the Body of Christ from that day to this.

References

Br. Charles Russell: “Tabernacle Shadows,” “The Tabernacle and Its Teachings” — Supplement to Feb. “Zion’s Watch Tower,” Pittsburgh, PA, 1882, Volume 6 — “Studies in the Scriptures,” Reprints of the Watch Tower.

Br. Anton Frey: “Notes on the Tabernacle,” “Wilderness Wanderings.”

Br. Regis Liberda: An article titled “Approaching God”, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov.- Dec. 2002.

Souvenir Notes, Bible Students’ Conventions 1913 — Question Meeting Conducted by Br. Charles T. Russell — in the Bible Students Library CD
Bookstore

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

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/

“Going Outside the Camp.” Reprint 4607 – from the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.http://www.htdbv8.com/1910/r4607.htm

 

The URL for this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/28/study-5-the-camp-the-israelites/

 

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

1-holy-most-holy

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

Acacia Wood

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

Measurements

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

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

The Boards

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

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

4. THE BOARDS OF THE TABERNACLE.jpg

Calculating the Tabernacle Proper

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

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

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

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

The Number Two (2)

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

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

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

The Crossbars

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

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

The Number Five

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

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

The Number Fifteen (15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. THE HOLY.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Most Holy

THE MOST HOLY.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Passing through this second vail into the Most Holy, involves “the death of the HUMAN body” (Tabernacle Shadows, p.22). Both the fleshly mind and fleshly body must be left behind before we can enter into the “holiest of all.” We will then be in the spirit realm, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50).

References

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

Suggested Further Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The URL for this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/14/study-3-the-tabernacle-construction-the-holy-the-most-holy/

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STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud by Day and The Pillar of Smoke by Night

“Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go.” (Nehemiah 9:12)

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THE HISTORY ABOUT THE PILLAR OF CLOUD AND FIRE

The First Appearance of the Cloud and Fire

God’s miraculous guidance of Israel from Egyptian bondage was evident through the sign of a pillar of a cloud. The first account of this pillar of cloud and fire in the Bible, is in Exodus 13:20-22 (ESV):

20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.”

This text suggests that the pillar appeared when the Israelites departed Succoth, the first camp after departing Rameses on 15 Abib (Nisan), 1445 BC (2513 years after the creation of Adam ). Smith’s Bible Dictionary (at BibleHub.com) says Succoth (“booths”) was reached at the close of the first day’s march and that the distance traversed each day was about 24 kilometres (fifteen miles).  Following is a map of Israel’s journey through the first part of their 40 years in the wilderness.

2-map

(This map follows a conventional view. “More recent opinions place Mount Sinai further north at Har Karkom. Please see http://www.Harkarkom.com for specifics”, Br.David Rice, 2016. For a detailed account of Israel’s journey, giving each encampment, refer to Numbers 33.)

The Second and Subsequent Accounts of the Cloud and Fire

The next account in the Bible of this pillar of cloud is in Exodus 14:19‑20, after God instructed Moses to raise his staff, stretch out his hand over the sea, and divide the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites to escape Pharaoh and his army pursing the Israelites. They had overtaken the Israelites as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon (Exodus 14:16, 9).

Exodus 14:19-20 (ESV) reads, “19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.” Subsequently “during the last watch [“morning watch” – KJV] of the night, the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion” (Exodus 14:24, NIV). If there were four watches in the night, the last would have been about 3‑6 am. This suggests that the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea during the night, around the hours of 3‑6 am which would be classified as the 4th watch of the night (if there were four night watches).

The Pillar of Cloud and Fire and Its Association with the Tabernacle

When it was time for the long awaited moment of God’s glory to “move into” the newly built and consecrated Tent of Meeting:

34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

36 And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys.

37 But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.

38 For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:34-38).

This occurred on the first of Abib, the following year, after the Tabernacle had been erected (Exodus 40:1, 17). Later, when God led them away from mount Sinai, He continued to direct them by the movement of the cloud representing His presence. “They departed from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them. And the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp” (Numbers 10:33-34).

The Last Account of the Pillar of Cloud and Fire

The pillar of cloud and fire was present throughout Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness (Exodus 40:38). Numbers 12:10 refers to it in the incident of Miriam’s complaint against Moses. “When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous.” It is mentioned also in Numbers 14:14, 16:42, Deuteronomy 1:33, and Deuteronomy 31:15 as the life of Moses was drawing to a close.

In 960 BC the Temple of Solomon was dedicated, replacing the function originally served by the Tabernacle (and any other “temple” that may have been temporarily in use between the two, 1 Samuel 1:9).

The pillar of cloud was no longer required after Israel settled in Canaan, for they no longer needed a token from God to direct their travels, giving “them light on the way they were to take” (Nehemiah 9:12).

One commentary suggested the following about the Feast of Tabernacles that Israel observed after settling Canaan. “This feast, also called Succoth, was to commemorate the protection God provided in the wilderness and it may have marked the cessation of the fiery pillar” (The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, May-June 2006, “A Pillar and a Fire,” Br. Carl Hagensick).

The manna had stopped the day after the Israelites ate the food from Canaan (Joshua 5:12).

Perhaps the pillar of cloud and fire had completed its purpose about that time also. Notably, the account of the crossing of the Jordan River into the Land of Canaan (Joshua chapters 3, 4) does not mention Israel following the cloud. Joshua 3:3‑4: “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. 4Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”

The “Dense Cloud”

The “dense cloud” over Mount Sinai apparently was different than the “pillar of cloud,” for “dense cloud” brought darkness, whereas the pillar of cloud evidently had not.

The Israelites came to Mount Sinai at the opening of month three after the Exodus (Exodus 19:1). At Sinai, God told Moses “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you” (Exodus 19:9).

Three days later there was thunder and lightening with a thick cloud over Mount Sinai and a very loud trumpet blast. “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently” (Exodus 20:16, 18, NIV). Then God called Moses to the top of the mountain where he stayed 40 days and nights and was given the ten commandments. “The people remained at a distance while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21).

Though the “dense cloud” and the pillar of cloud were distinct, both indicated the presence of God. This would have been an enduring sign to the Israelites that God was with them all during their 40 years of wandering.

POSITION

If the pillar of cloud and fire remained over the Tabernacle, after it was constructed, then it would have been over the center of the camp of Israel, for the various tribes camped about the Tabernacle (Numbers 2:17). The Tabernacle was no longer “outside the camp”, where “Moses used to take a tent and pitch it … some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting”. (Exodus 33:7)

When the cloud lifted to direct Israel, it moved forward, ahead of them. However, in Exodus 14:19, 20, 24, it move behind them to protect them. “And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. … And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians.”

Over the Most Holy

Apparently the usual resting place of the cloud was over the Most Holy of Israel’s tabernacle. It is theorized by some that the Shekinah light, that shone between the two golden cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, was caused by an interaction between the electrically‑charged cloud and the Mercy Seat with its two carved angelic figures. If this conjecture is correct, it shows that divine wisdom, represented in the light, is a product of GOD, whose presence was indicated by the cloud, and the harmonious balance between the attributes of love and power, shown in the cherubim, and justice, represented by the Mercy Seat itself.

At the Door of the Tabernacle

On occasion, however, when GOD wished to make a pronouncement to His chosen people, the cloudy pillar took up a position at the door of the tabernacle. Three such occasions are mentioned (Exodus 33:9,10, Numbers 12:5, Deuteronomy 31:15).

SHAPE

There are two thoughts as to the shape of this miraculous cloud. Some view it as an upright plume as suggested by the word “pillar”, as shown here:

3-smoke
Others envision it more as a canopy similar to the cloud in this picture.

4. cloud.jpg
PURPOSE OF THE TWO PILLARS

The pillar of a cloud and of fire served in the following ways.

(1) God’s compass

It showed the Israelites where God wanted them to go and what God’s will for them was. The Psalmist David draws inspiration from this guiding light.

As Spirit begotten Christians, our compass is:

(a) God (Psalm 32:8) and Jesus (John 1:1‑12);
(b) the holy Spirit (Romans 8:26);
(c) the Word of God in the Bible;
(d) from the mouth of our brethren in Christ (Psalm 119:105).

(2) God’s instruction

The Israelites learned to discern God’s will by being given instruction through the movement of the pillars of cloud and fire. “Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the Lord, and he answered them. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them” (Psalm 99:6,7).

As Christians we receive instruction also from the Word and God and the holy Spirit: “But the Comforter, even the holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, it shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you” (John 14:26).

(3) Israel’s Protection Mechanism

a) Shelter

Isaiah 4:5‑6 (RSV) sheds light on this point. “Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy and a pavilion (“defense” in the KJV). It will be for a shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.”

The cloud served as a “canopy” that provided both “shade by day from the heat” and as “a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.” This implies a large cloud for the horde of two million Israelites plus their flocks and herds. Usually clouds bring rain, not shelter from rain. Clouds are porous and thus incapable of keeping out rain. But this miraculous pillar of cloud was unique in its ability to prevent the saturation of a down pour of desert rain.

Perhaps the lesson for us as Christians today is this: that God’s wisdom will not lead us where his grace cannot keep us. Faith can firmly trust him, come what may!

b) Security & Protection

The pillars of cloud and fire gave the Israelites a feeling of security—that God was watching over them. God accompanied the nation of Israel by either going ahead of them or placing himself in the rear of their group, thus protecting them against their enemies and against death itself (Exodus 14:19‑20).

Spiritual Israelites have the protection of the “armour of God” (Ephesians 6:10‑18):

“10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

(4) A visual reminder to reverence God

The pillar of cloud and fire reminded the Israelites about who they were to serve. It was thus a warning, in a sense, to not worship foreign gods. It was a faith‑building and trust‑in‑God provoking tool for the Israelites (Exodus 19:9).

God wanted the Israelites to also show respect to Moses, the Mediator of the nation. So we, also, are taught to respect the Elders of the ecclesias that we meet with either for online meetings or physical meetings. They are chosen mouthpieces of God who deserve double honor (1 Timothy 5:17), “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”

Do we remember what happened when Solomon’s son Rehoboam did not listen to the Elders but followed the advice of the young men who he had grown up with? (1 Kings 12:6‑19). Let us learn from such examples to respect our Elders.

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The spirit begotten Christian is given reminders through the holy Spirit working within—we develop an educated conscience through studying the Word of GOD and through prayer. We also receive reminders from Brethren in Christ such as the Apostle Paul reminded the Brethren through the disciple Timothy (1 Timothy 1:14‑16, ESV) –

“14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.”

In Titus 3:1‑11 (ESV), Paul wrote to Titus these words about what to remind the brethren in Crete.

“1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,

5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self‑condemned.”

(5) A sign of God’s power

Not only were these two pillars a witness to the Israelites but also a witness to the surrounding nations that Israel’s God was wise, powerful, and protective of his chosen people: “And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night” (Numbers 14:14).

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CLOUDS IN THE BIBLE

Clouds are mentioned throughout the Bible and often signify trouble, or a time of judgment. Here are some examples.

Psalms 97:2“Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.”

Job 37:11 “Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning.”

Revelation 14:14 “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.”

Here the white cloud represents blessing as opposed to dark thunder clouds. Jesus sits on it showing that he is in control since the beginning of 1874 (Christ’s invisible second presence) when the end of the harvest, and the sifting of wheat and tares, began. This continues until the last member of the 144,000 Bride of Christ goes beyond the vail, that is, completes their sacrifice until death and becomes a Divine being. The sharp sickle held by Jesus is for gathering the Church, not the world.

1 Thessalonians 4:17“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

This verse also applies to Christ’s (invisible) Parousia—the Suntelia periodthe ending period of the Gospel Age, described in Matthew 24.

Leviticus 16:2“The Lord said to Moses: ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the vail, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.'” This refers to the cloud of incense, not the cloud over the Tabernacle.

1 Kings 8:10‑12“It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.”

Fire in the Bible

Fire in the Bible represents: purging and destruction. Here are some examples of Scripture:

Hebrews 12:29“For our God [is] a consuming fire.”

Luke 3:16“John answered, saying unto [them] all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:”

Jeremiah 20:9“Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But [his word] was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not [stay].”

Jeremiah 23:29“[Is] not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer [that] breaketh the rock in pieces?”

Luke 12:49“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?”

1 Corinthians 3:15“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Revelation 20:9“And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”

Revelation 21:8“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

The fire that purges evil from the world, is not literal fire, but a symbol of destruction of the evil systems of the world approaching in Armageddon. This will lead into the most glorious world government ever seen. Earth will be ruled by Christ and his Bride for 1000 years during a reign of righteousness until God shall be all in all.

No cloud or fire either figurative or literal will be required
in the future eternal eternities.

No longer will a Tabernacle or Temple be needed (Revelation 21:22-27), and God shall dwell in the hearts of all people as His laws will be in their minds (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16).

As the fiery pillar led Israel safely to the promised land of Canaan, may God’s presence in our lives lead us to our promised Zion, our heavenly and perfect and holy home.

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Acknowledgement

We wish to thank Br. David Rice for his great zeal in the Lord’s work and patient endurance in the editing and sharing of content for this post in the “Beauties of the Tabernacle” Series on http://www.BIBLEStudentsDAILY.com

References

Special thanks to Br. Carl Hagensick for source material from his article “A Pillar and a Fire,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, May-June 2006.

Further Suggested Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The URL of this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/09/study-2-the-pillar-of-cloud-by-day-and-the-pillar-of-smoke-by-night/

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