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 7: The Priests. The Day of Atonement.

ex39-high-priest-garmentsThe Priests

In Leviticus, the ones serving at the altar and approaching near with the blood of offerings were the priests.

The priests had a special service regarding the sacrifices of the Law — representing the saints who have the privilege of sacrifice and service during the present time, together with their High Priest, Jesus.

Only the High Priest and the under-priests were to approach the altar for the service of performing the sacrifices and offerings, as we read in Numbers 3:10, “And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.”

On the Day of Atonement, according to the 16th chapter of Leviticus, the High Priest is said to have offered the sacrifices. This is explained in the following passages of the Bible:

Leviticus 16:1-3, 17: “And the Lord spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the Lord, and died; And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.”

17 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.

Hebrews 9:7 (NLT): “But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.”

The ark of the covenant was especially sacred. Levites were not allowed to see the ark. Thus Numbers 4:5 says it was to be covered by priests for moving, before the Levites accessed it.

Who Could Become a Priest?

The first High Priest of Israel was Aaron and the first under-priests were Aaron’s sons. We read about this in Exodus 28:1:

“And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.

God chose Aaron as His mouthpiece (Exodus 4:16). In the Book of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul explains to us that “no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron (Hebrews 5:4).

In the generations after Aaron, the sons and grandsons and great grandsons (etc.) of Aaron, were qualified to become High Priests (as long as they were not otherwise impaired). They did not have to be sons of the then current High Priest.

The High Priests could only come from the Israelite — Levitical — Kohathitical — Amramic and Aaronic line, thus, they could only come from Aaron’s descendants (see Exodus 6:16-18).

In Ezra 7:1-5 there is an abbreviated list of the High Priests and in 1 Chronicles 6:4-14 there is a more complete list up to the captivity.

Here is a chart listing the names of the High Priests (in the two ascending rows to the left of the chart) descending from Eleazar and Ithamar, based on the recorded information by Ezra in 1 Chronicles chapter 6 — that is, until the deportation of Jehozadak when the Lord sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile to Babylon by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.

(Note: There are also other names from the Levitical line listed in the chart below, yet these others were not priests.)

12 The Priestly Line of Levi.jpg

Why was Jesus — our “Melchizedek” priest & “King of Righteousness” (Hebrew 7:1–3)not born through the Levitical Tribe, but rather through the Tribe of Judah?

Jesus was born through the tribe of Judah, because Judah received the chain of genealogy that went from Reuben (disqualified) to Simeon (disqualified) to Levi (disqualified) to Judah.

Jesus by coming through Judah, was in the line of descent of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah as a genealogically clear line. Had Jesus come from Levi, one might suppose that he was a successor priest, and that the Levitical priesthood was intended to continue — which it was not.

(But Aaron married Eli-sheba, of Judah, and Jesus’ mother was from Judah — and her cousin Elizabeth, which is Greek for Eli-sheba, was evidently of Judah like Mary, but married Zachariah, a priest and thus from Levi — so at the beginning the two tribes were united in this way, and at the ending point when John (Levite) and Jesus (Judahite) came, the two tribes were united in this way.)

Here is a chart showing Jesus’ Geneology:

geneology-of-jesus-beauties-of-the-tabernacle-biblestudentsdaily-com

The Function of the Priests

16And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall have charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular grain offering, and the anointing oil, with the oversight of the whole tabernacle and all that is in it, of the sanctuary and its vessels (Numbers 4:16).

Here is a brief summary of the priests’ functions, which included:

  • Primarily offering sacrifices on the altar for sins. This included the sprinkling of blood and burning portions of sacrifices (Leviticus 17:6, Hebrews 5:1).
  • Looking after the fire of the brazen altar (in the Court) and the burning incense on the hot coals on the incense altar in the Holy of the Tabernacle.
  • Overseeing the duties of the sanctuary performed by the Levites (Numbers 3:32).
  • Resolving arguments / deciding all cases of dispute and assault — be the ‘mediators’ between 2 parties of Israelites in any dispute (Deuteronomy 21:5, Hebrews 5:2).
  • Covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles when the camp is to move (Numbers 4:5-15).

Some of the differences between the High Priest and the under-priests (who originally were composed of Aaron’s sons) include:

The high priest:

– Was the spiritual leader of the people of Israel;

– Wore different clothing compared to the other priests. e.g. the breast plate was only worn by the high priest (Exodus 28:29)

– Wore/had access to the Urim and the Thummim (Exodus 28:30).

– Offered sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, and on this day, was allowed to enter the Most Holy of the Tabernacle. The under-priests (i.e. Aaron’s sons) could not enter the Most Holy compartment of the Tabernacle, regardless if it was the Day of Atonement or not, unless for the sole purpose of covering the ark of the testimony when the camp was to move (Leviticus 16, Hebrews 9:7, Leviticus 10:1-5, Numbers 4:5). In Leviticus 10, evidently Nadab and Abihu died in front of the sanctuary, where these non-priests could retrieve the bodies. Had they entered the holiest place, their bodies would have been behind the veil, beyond which only the High Priest had authority to enter.

The Antitypical Priesthood

The Priesthood, one body under one chief or High Priest, was typical of the “little flock” (Luke 12:32) which, with its “head” and “High Priest,” Jesus, will constitute a royal priesthood in glory (1 Corinthians 11:3, Colossians 1:18, Hebrews 3:1, 4:14). Members of this priesthood, after the present time of sacrificing, will be kings and priests unto God, and reign over earth for a thousand years (Revelation 5:10, 20:6). But before the under-priests (the members of the Body of Christ) will be united to their “head” and begin their reign as the “Bride of Christ,” the 144,000, they must suffer with him,” sharing in the antitypical sacrifices in order to be glorified together with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12, Romans 8:17).

Those who qualify (at the point of death) as members of the Bride of Christ, shall receive the highest reward due to their sacrifice unto death, suffering for Christ’s sake (2 Timothy 2:12).

“They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years (Revelation 20:6).

These are the 144,000 described in Revelation 7:4, who shall sit with Christ in his throne (Revelation 3:21).

The Apostle Peter addresses these sanctified ones (represented by the Aaronic priests), as “an holy priesthood … acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

About the spirit-begotten of the present time, Pastor Charles T. Russell wrote, “They are all ministers (servants) of the truth, though not all preachers and Doctors of Divinity: and each must do his share at self-sacrifice ere he will be accounted worthy to be a joint-heir with Christ” (Tabernacle Shadows, page 27).

It is the Bride class that will inherit immortality and live in the Divine Realm reigning with Jesus, as they are the ones described in Revelation 14:4, “which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”

  • Few In Number

Jesus once addressed his followers (representative of the entire Gospel Age) as a “little flock” (Luke 12:32). This term “little flock” refers to the Bride of Christ class from the “called out” ones — that is, “the few” chosen from the “many” consecrated and spiritually begotten of the Gospel Age (Matthew 22:14). The 144,000 members of this Bride class, make their “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) revealed at the final verdict of judgment, that is, at one’s death, which is the point of time in the flesh, until one is to be “faithful until” (Revelation 2:10).

In Numbers 4:46–48, the number of Levites (in this context, representative of all the spirit begotten of the Gospel Age) prepared for service, was similarly few, 8580, compared to the population of Israelites as a whole (representative here, of the world of mankind). When we consider the priests inaugurated to serve at the time the Tabernacle was established, the number is remarkably few, five persons in all — Aaron and four sons (Exodus 28:1). Two of those priests were subsequently lost to the priesthood — Nadab and Abihu — evidently through intoxication (Leviticus 10:1, 2, 9). It is a lesson to us how careful we should be to avoid the intoxicating spirit of this world, lest we fall away from our privileges in Christ.

As those called of God to become priests who draw the world back to God, these have special privileges now.

Only the “Priestly” called-out class of this Gospel Age can see the glorious beauties of God’s Divine Plan. Others may know of them only as they hear them described — they have never seen the hidden light and beauty; never eaten of the “bread of presence;” never offered acceptable incense at the “golden altar.” To enjoy these privileges we must pass beyond the “door” of the “Holy,” through an entire (full) consecration to God, displayed even in the smallest intricacies of conduct — such as in one’s gentleness, tone of voice, modesty in clothing attire; not focusing on outward beauty such as (in the case of women) through the use of make-up or wearing of jewelry or expensive clothing or the braiding of hair as is explained by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9.

Rather, let us desire to add “shine” to the inner characterthe New Creation — by developing the fruits of the spirit to resemble the character of Christ. We still have this privilege presently, but soon it will draw to a close (Luke 13:25).

The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:1–34)

The Day of Atonement type reflects Jesus and His Church during the Gospel Age (Leviticus 23:27–28). The Day of Atonement is also known as Yom Kippur and was the most solemn holy day of all the Israelite feasts and festivals, occurring once a year on the tenth day of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. On that day, the High Priest performed elaborate rituals to atone for the sins of Israel — that is, present a sin offering for himself (Aaron) and his “house” (Aaron’s sons), and present a sin offering for the “people” (the Israelites).

The Levites are not mentioned in Leviticus 16. Aaron and his sons were covered by the first sin offering, and the remainder of the Israelites were covered by the second sin offering, including the Levites other than the priests. As of Leviticus 16, the Levites (other than only Aaron and his sons) had not yet been given any special status. For their status was transferred to the Levites from the firstborn in the second year of Israel in the wilderness, whereas the first Day of Atonement occurred during the autumn of the first year of Israel in the wilderness (Numbers 1:1, 3:12).

The Day of Atonement was the only day of the year when the High Priest would enter the Most Holy of the Tabernacle to complete the sin offering ordinance.

Specific animals were sacrificed.

The Animals Sacrificed ON the DAY of ATONEMENT.jpg

We are told of this in Leviticus 16:6, 11 & 33:

 “And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.

11 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself:

33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary [the Most Holy area of the Tabernacle], and he shall make an atonement for the Tabernacle of the congregation [the Holy area of the Tabernacle], and for the altar [the golden altar in the Holy], and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation [for the world].”

Two animals were sacrificed for the ATONEMENT DAY sin offering: (a) a bullock and (b) a goat.

  • (a) The Bullock

The bullock (on this specific day) represents our Lord Jesus as a man — as expressed in the Scriptures, “a body hast thou prepared me” (Hebrews 10:5).

Our Lord’s sacrifice took place at the beginning of his ministry and was finished at its close. Under the Law, it was only from the age of thirty, when Jesus could begin the sin offering sacrifice, and thus at thirty, Jesus came to John at the river Jordan to be baptised (Luke 3:23). It was here that Jesus presented himself in sacrifice to God, at the earliest possible time. It was at Jordan that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy (in Psalm 40:7) saying, “Lo, I have come, as in the volume of the Book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God. Thy law is written in my heart.”

Our Lord Jesus came to “taketh away the first that he may establish the second” (Hebrews 10:9); to set aside the typical for the “better sacrifices.”

From the moment of his consecration at baptism he was reckonedly dead and, at the same time, begotten of the holy Spirit. He was reckonedly alive as a new creature, an embryo spirit-being, during the three and a half years, the flesh being consumed and the new nature growing strong in the Lord, developing in harmony with the Divine will (R 4436).

Although the offering up of our Lord Jesus’ life was instantaneous (consecrating himself in a moment to give up all, even life itself, in the Father’s service), it is the presentation of his body to the trials and difficulties of life (i.e. his actual giving of time, influence, strength and vitality), that continued throughout the three and a half years of his ministry, ending at Calvary, on the cross.

“His House”

Jesus was the sin offering for “his house.” Jesus’ “house” is composed of the High Calling spirit begotten members consecrated to God during the current Gospel Age — those who have been running the race of the high calling during the Gospel Age, striving to present themselves as “living” sacrifices “holy, acceptable unto God(Romans 12:1).

It is only ONE house since there is only ONE high calling to be of the Bride of Christ — and this Bride class will be completed when the last “feet” members shall have passed beyond the “vail” at death of the flesh just before “the four winds” are let loose, signalling the beginning of Armageddon.

The “house” of Aaron are the priests, Aaron’s sons (not the tribe from which Aaron descended), just as the “house of David” meant David’s descendants, not his tribe.

Leviticus 16:6 says that the bullock was to make atonement for the Priest “himself:”

And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.

How then can we understand that Jesus required making atonement for “himself” if Jesus was without sin? (2 Corinthians 5:21)

We have the same question in Exodus 30:19, “For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat” (that is, at the laver). “His sons,” the priests, wash — representing that we wash from our sins. But why does Aaron wash, if he represents Jesus? The answer to this question is that Aaron washes in order to be a fitting picture of the sinless Jesus. This then, also answers the question why Aaron is atoned for — in order to be a picture of the sinless Jesus.

Let us now explain this, using the picture in Leviticus chapter eight (about the consecration of the priesthood). Leviticus 8:14 says, “And he brought the bullock for the sin offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering.”

lev 8 - aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the bullock.jpgHere Aaron was consecrated and also his sons were consecrated. Since Aaron here represents Jesus, and his sons represent the priests (spirit begotten, consecrated of the Gospel Age) it is clear that here Aaron as a picture does not include the Church, for they are separately represented in the sons of Aaron. And yet, Aaron had to be atoned for (Leviticus 8:14), and he had to be “washed” (Leviticus 8:6). These are symbols of cleansing, yet Jesus did not need cleansing. Here is Br. Charles Russell’s comment on this in Tabernacle Shadows, page 29. Being but a sinful man, like others, Aaron had to be washed in order fitly to represent the purity of the antitype, Jesus, who knew no sin.”

Similarly, Aaron in Leviticus 16, after making an atonement for himself, was cleansed, in order to be a fitting representation of sinless Jesus. Thus, atonement for Aaron needed to be made because he personally had sin, and also for him to represent the sinless Jesus.

The non-priest Levites are not mentioned in Leviticus chapter eight, nine or sixteen. So they would not be part of the picture needing to have some fulfilment in the antitype. They are simply part of the “people,” part of the “congregation.” In the book of Numbers, we have a different picture. In the opening chapters of that book we have two classes the Israelites in general, and the Levites as a separate, consecrated class. In that picture (where no priests are mentioned), the Israelites represent believers in Jesus during the Gospel Age, and the Levites represent consecrated believers of the Gospel Age.

Aaron and his sons were atoned for by the bullock, while the “people” were atoned for by the Lord’s goat.

  • (b) The Goat

Besides the bullock being sacrificed on the Day of Atonement, there were also two goats presented before the Lord at the entrance of the “Holy” of the Tabernacle.

We read about this in Leviticus 16:8–10,

“8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.

And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.

10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.”

The Lord’s goat represents the Church of the Gospel Age (the spirit begotten and consecrated members of the High Calling).

The scapegoat was a vehicle for showing that the sins of the people were sent away and gone. It is a means of representing the removal of the sins of Israel, as a picture that the sins of the world will be cleansed and gone from the world of mankind, during the Millennium, as a consequence of the antitypical Atonement Day sacrifices of the Gospel Age. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

The sacrifices of the Day of Atonement represent the Gospel Age.

The removal of sin from Israel represents what the world will appreciate in the Millennial Age soon to commence within a generation when the great High Priest (Jesus) will apply the blood of the antitypical goat on behalf of all the world of mankind — who, by restitution and instruction, will be brought into relationship with God as his people. In due time these will all become true Israelites indeed and the Heavenly Father shall become “All in All”  (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Garments of Glory

After offering the blood of the goat, the High Priest put off his sacrificial garments and put on his garments of glory and beauty, typified by the glorious qualities of Christ’s character and the honorable mission to which he had been anointed as the world’s Prophet, Priest, King, Judge, and Mediator. Thus coming forth he represents our Lord’s Second Advent and assumption of divine glory and power, at which time the Church will be with him as members of his Body, to cooperate in the dispensing of the blessings of the New Covenant to Israel and to all the families of the earth.

As on the Day of Atonement the people of Israel put on sackcloth and ate no pleasant food, but fasted and waited for the High Priest to appear in his garments of glory and beauty, so it has been throughout this Gospel Age. The whole world is under the power of the wicked one (1 John 5:19), overwhelmed in sin and death and corruption.

The Apostle Paul declares, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:22,19) — waiting for the Jesus and the Church (the Bride of Christ composed of 144,000 members) to appear to the world in glory and beauty to serve as their priesthood to bring all humanity back to harmony with God.

If in the type a blessing is portrayed, how much greater will be the blessing in reality!

As in days of old the people could then  arise, threw off their sackcloth and fasting and rejoice in their forgiveness, so in the Millennial morning, the world, coming to an appreciation of the great High Priest and the sacrifices of Atonement, will arise from sin and degradation and death and REJOICE in divine favor and in the realization of the many blessings of restitution set before Israel, as declared by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:20).

References

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: R.4427.

Br. Anton Frey: “Notes on the Tabernacle,” pages 362-364; “Wilderness Wanderings.”

Br. David Rice — written content.

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

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/2016/12/10/study-7-the-priests-the-day-of-atonement/

 

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