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/

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

 

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STUDY 6: The Levites

THE HIGH PRIEST, UNDER PRIEST & LEVITE - BEAUTIES OF THE TABERNACLE- STUDY 6 - THE LEVITES..jpg

In the third chapter of the book of Numbers, the Levites are introduced as a tribe that replaces the special place of the firstborn. The Israelites as a whole represent believers in Jesus during the Gospel Age, and the Levitesas with the firstborn on passover night represent the spirit begotten ones.

Subsequently, in Numbers 8:5-16, the Levites are required to wash their garments and are then presented to the priesthood as a helper class. When the Levites are thus distinguished from the Priests, this represents the end of the Gospel Age, when there is made a distinction between the Priests (the Bride class of overcomers), and the Great Company class, who wash their robes in the blood of the lamb, and are then made a helper class to the Church in glory (Revelation 7:9, Revelation 19:1). They will inherit a heavenly (spiritual) reward and bebefore the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple” (Revelation 7:15).

The Levites

The Levites that served the Tabernacle (from thirty to fifty years of age, Numbers 4:3, 23, 30, 35, 39) were from the clans of the Kohathites, Gershonites and Merarites. All were descendants of Levi, a tribe which had no inheritance in the land but lived off the tithes paid by their brethren (Leviticus 27:32–33; Numbers 18:21, 24), and the farming they did around the Levitical cities. A tenth of the tithe was also to be given to the priests (Numbers 18:26–28).

Here is a chart showing the descendants of Levi (who was one of Jacob’s 12 sons).

THE DESCENDANTS OF LEVI - STUDY 6- BEAUTIES OF THE TABERNACLE - BIBLE STUDENTS DAILY.jpg

  • Age Considerations

In Numbers 8:24–25 we are told that Levites who were 25 to 50 years of age could serve with work for the Tabernacle yet in Numbers 4:3, 23 & 30, the age range of 30 to 50 is stated.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary says this: “They entered on their work in their 25th year, as pupils and probationers, under the superintendence and direction of their senior brethren; and at 30 they were admitted to the full discharge of their official functions.” Perhaps so. Or, perhaps in chapter 4 it refers to the transporting of Tabernacle items, and in chapter 8 it refers to auxiliary duties helping others in the services.

Later during King David’s day, we note that the age for entering priestly service was from 20 years of age (see 1 Chronicles 23:27). Age 20 was the age of fighting men, and by the time of King David lifespans were decreased somewhat, so perhaps David made the adjustment for practical considerations. As to a spiritual meaning — this is only a conjecture—but 20 is a number (2, 20, 200, 2000) that refers to the holy Spirit (This is explained in Study 3 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle” on this website). As such the age of 20 may refer symbolically to those who have received the Spirit of God.

  • The Role of the Levites

The Levites fulfilled the following roles:

BEAUTIES OF THE TABERNACLE- POST 6- THE LEVITES. BIBLE STUDENTS DAILY.jpg

The Levites were explicitly permitted to go near the sacred furniture, and this special privilege distinguished them from ordinary Israelites (Numbers 8:19; 16:9–10; 18:22­–23). Yet the Levites were allowed to approach the sacred furniture only when it was covered (Numbers 18:3).

The Israelites who were not Levites had no right to go into the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle represents the condition of the spirit begotten, not merely believers.

Numbers 18:22–23, explains that “the stranger” (non-Levites) did not have the privilege of service regarding the Tabernacle that the Levites did.

22 Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. 23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.”

  • Favoured Above Other Tribes

The reason the Levites were favoured above other tribes to be specially allocated to the service of God, is that they stepped forward to the side of Moses and God when the Israelites sinned with the golden calf in the wilderness. They were “set apart to the Lord” because when Moses asked the people “whoever is for the Lord come to me” the Levites “were against their own sons and brothers” and rallied to him. (Exodus 32:26, 29, NIV). They did as Moses commanded, slaying 3000 of the offending Israelites.

Numbers 3:14-17 describes the selection of the Levites as substitutes for the firstborn male Israelites — a class specially marked out for the service of God.

Antitypes

When considering the antitypes in relation to the Levites and the Priests (see Study 7 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle”) as well as for the Israelites (see Study 5 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle”) it must be considered on a situational basis, thus it is scripturally context specific, or for better words, contextually sensitive. Each of the three groups of Israelites cannot be considered as one static picture and mean the same thing in every case. In fact, all these three groups do not appear together in any particular case. Sometimes there are Levites and Israelites written about (such as in Numbers chapters 1–4). Sometimes there are priests and Levites (such as in Numbers chapter 8). Each of these cases has its own meaning as to who and what are represented. They are all separate pictures.

  • In Exchange for the Firstborn

To understand the symbolic meaning of the Levites in this exchange of the firstborn, one has to recall the symbolic meaning of the firstborn. Recall that on Passover night, all the Israelites were to remain in their homes, with the blood of the Passover lamb brushed onto the doorposts and lintels. All of them were to eat of the lamb. Thus the Israelites there represent people of faith — believers in Christ Jesus during the Gospel Age.

However, on Passover night only the firstborn were in jeopardy of death. The firstborn represent the consecrated, spirit begotten of the present Gospel Age, who are under jeopardy of losing their spiritual life if they do not remain in the house sanctified by the blood of the lamb. Paul refers to the “Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,” linking the symbol of firstborn to those begotten to a heavenly hope (Hebrews 12:23).

That is the foundation for the picture in Numbers 3:45, which reads, Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord.”

The standing of the firstborn as specially devoted to God is now transferred to the Levites. As the “Church of the firstborn” do not have an inheritance in earthly things (1 Peter 1:4, Ephesians 1:11) but in heavenly things, so the Levites had no inheritance in the land. (Deuteronomy 10:9). They represent the ones “called out” of the world during the Gospel Age and described by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:30, “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified,or honoured, with a “heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1).

  • The “Called Out” Ones

It is this “called out” class that James (who was later beheaded by King Herod Agrippa, the first grandson of Herod the Great) explains about, to a whole assembly of gathered believers in Acts 15:14-18, some of whom belonged to the party of the Pharisees and thought the Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses:

“14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

Here the Apostle James appeals to the prophecy of Amos 9:11–12 to support what Apostle Peter (Simon) had said, namely that the Gentiles were receiving the Gospel of Christ. The Apostle James saw that “the residue of men” calling upon God was shown by the Gentile
converts coming into Christ. James said that the prophecy from Amos said this would occur after the “tabernacle of David” was raised up again.

The house or the “tabernacle of David,” the ruling house of Israel, had fallen when Zedekiah lost his throne six centuries earlier (587 bc, at Nebuchadnezzar’s third captivity of Israel). It had been raised up by virtue of Jesus of the tribe of Judah and descended for David, ascending to glory seated at the right hand of God, as our King and leader.

Jesus is our Melchizedek priest — a king and a priest.

  • Melchi is the Hebrew word for “king.”
  • Zedek is the Hebrew word for righteousness, and Jesus is “king-righteousness” — Melchi-zedek — “king of righteousness” (Hebrew 7:1–3).

Thus, the Apostle James explained that Jesus as king has been established as monarch in glory, the house of David had risen again, and it was timely for the “residue of men,” the Gentiles, to receive the grace of God through Jesus. Thus, as Apostle Peter and others testified was occurring here, the High Calling had started since Jesus’s ascension, allowing the “called out” ones of God (1 Peter 2:9), the opportunity to become Sons of God if faithful until death.

The following Scriptures are helpful concerning this calling: Jude 1:1, Galatians 1:6, Romans 11:29, Ephesians 4:1–4, 2 Thessalonians 1:11, 2 Thessalonians 2:14, Hebrews 3:1, 2, 1 Peter 5:10–11.

1 PETER 5, 10-11- BEAUTIES OF THE TABERNACLE- POST 6- THE LEVITES. BIBLE STUDENTS DAILY.jpg

  • In Numbers 8

In Numbers chapter eight, the Levites will be distinguished from the priests. In this distinction, the Levites represent the Great Company class, who will be distinguished from the elect Priest class, following the completion of the judgment period by the end of the Gospel Age.

In Numbers 8:7, the Levites “shave all their flesh,” and “wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean”. The shaving of their flesh pictures the beginning of the service of the Great Company beyond the vail resurrected as spirit beings of a high order, but subordinate to the Bride class. It also pictures the end of their consecrated walk on earth as those who had pressed “towards the mark for the prize of the high calling in God through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12) during the Gospel Age, much like those who took the Nazarite vow were to shave at the conclusion of their vow (Numbers 6:13, 18). This even pertained to Joseph, when raised out of prison, representing Jesus raised out of death. Joseph had to shave and change his garment, to appear before Pharaoh, picturing that Jesus had completed his consecrated walk here, and had a change of nature in order to appear before God.

The Levites washing their clothes reminds us of the Great Company class washing their robes in the blood of the lamb, to cleanse them for their service in glory (Revelation 7:14–15). This distinction between the priests (the Church in glory) and the Levites (the Great Company in glory), also appears in Ezekiel 44:10–14 (Levites), compared to verses 15-24 (priests).

The “Great Multitude” are mentioned in Revelation 7:9-10, and reflected in types such as Rebecca’s maidservants, and Elisha who walked with Elijah.

Some points to be aware of:-

  • In the types of the Book of Leviticus, as far as we can see, the focus is on the Bride class, rather than on the Great Company class. This is because there is no separate calling to the Great Company class, so pictures about the Gospel Age calling to service and sacrifice do not show this class as a distinguished class of spirit begotten ones here, during the Gospel Age. The Great Company class are simply part of the spirit begotten class, all called in the one hope. The distinction between the Bride and the Great Company appears at the end of the Age or otherwise at the time of each member’s judgment time (final sentence/verdict). The Great Company class are depicted in the fifth chapter of the Song of Solomon where there is the lazy lover who does not rise for her betrothed, and misses her opportunities. (Song of Solomon 5: 2, 3, 6).
  • Only those who are finally judged as “more than overcomers” at death — who qualify to be of the Bride, the Elect, Little Flock class — fully share in the sin offering experiences of the present time, and are represented in the Lord’s goat of the Day of Atonement. The special focus on the Bride class in this picture can be compared to the picture of Eliezer in Genesis chapter 24 (who represents the holy Spirit), sent out by Abraham (God) to find a bride (the Church) for His son (Jesus). The bride is Rebekah. This picture is focused on the bride class, but in fact all who are spirit-begotten are called by the same spirit (Eliezer). So with sacrifice. We are all called to sacrifice, and all the spirit begotten do sacrifice. But the picture is focused on the bride class.

Another Kingdom Picture

There is another kingdom picture represented in the Levites if we consider just the four groups of Levites on their own, which may picture the state of the completed work of God’s great plan of the ages after the world of mankind reaches perfection in the kingdom as also seems to be the order suggested in Psalm 45:13–17.

EAST:  The AMRAM Levites (signifying highly exalted, very high) represented the “Little Flock” (144,000), the Bride. These had full charge of all things religious—their brethren—even all the Levites—being their honoured assistants or servants. “The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework.” (Psalm 45:13–14).

NORTH:  The MERARI Levites (signifying bitterness) represented the “Great Company” of spirit-begotten ones (before the throne), the Bride’s “allies” and Companions who fail to win the prize of the Royal Priesthood, and are “saved so as by fire,” coming up through great tribulation and bitter experiences to the position of honor and service which they will occupy.

The Merari Levites were given four wagons and eight oxen to transport the gold-covered boards and posts, sockets, cords and pins, etc. (Numbers 3:36–37; 4:31–32; 7:8).

“The virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace.” (Psalm 45:14,15).

SOUTH:  The KOHATHITE Levites (signifying ally or comrade) represented the Princes, the “Ancient Worthies”—whose faith and obedience and loyalty to God and willingness to suffer for righteousness was so fully attested, and with whom we feel so close a kinship. They were, indeed, the Lord’s allies and ours.

“Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth(Psalm 45:16).

The Kohathite Levites were given no wagons. These had charge of the most sacred articles—the Altars, the Candlestick (lampstand), the Table and the Ark. (Numbers 3:31; 4:34–36; 7:9).

WEST:  The GERSHOM Levites (signifying refugees, or rescued) represented the saved “World of Mankind,” all of whom will be refugees succoured and delivered, rescued from the blindness and slavery of Satan.

“I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever” (Psalm 45:17).

The Gershom Levites had charge of the least important services — the porterage, etc., of the cords, outer curtains, hangings, gate, etc. which they first transported on two wagons and four oxen (Numbers 3:25–26; 4:22­­­­–26; 7:7).

References & Acknowledgment

Pastor 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,” pages 362-364; “Wilderness Wanderings.”

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary.

Br. David Rice — some written content for this post.

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

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/2016/11/18/study-6-the-levites/

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STUDY 4: The Court (“Holy Place”)

1. COURT --- .jpg

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

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

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

Who Could Enter the Court?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Around and Inside the Court

(A) Copper

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

Copper represents human nature, either justified or perfect.

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

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

(B) Court Measurements

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

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

(C) The Silver Hooks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(D) The Posts (pillars)

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

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

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

(E) Sockets of Copper

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

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

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

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

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

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

(F) Guy Lines/Ropes/Cords & Pegs

2. FENCE EQUIPMENT.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Furnishings In The Court

The Brazen Altar

4. BRAZEN ALTAR.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5-bronze-altar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was there a ramp?

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

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

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

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

The Laver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledgment

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

Suggested Further Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/20/study-4-the-court-holy-place/

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