H Rhodes, Leeds
Five times in the book of Exodus Moses is enjoined to make the tabernacle according to the pattern that God showed him, 25. 9 (twice), 40; 26. 30; 27. 8. Nothing was left to the will or judgment of Moses; compare Paul, a wise masterbuilder, 1 Cor. 3. 10.
What did the children of Israel see as they surrounded the tabernacle? The curtains were possibly some nine feet high - higher than the tallest man. The white enclosure would indicate the holiness of their God, and the fact that they were outside. In them we see that which separates the world of sin from the holiness of God. The first object inside the gate was the brazen altar, the place of sacrifice, indicating salvation by blood. The next object was the brazen laver where the priests washed their hands and feet constantly, showing the truth of sanctification. Inside, the holy place (two-thirds of the tabernacle structure) was the place of service accomplished daily by the priests. The holy of holies, into which the high priest went once every year, depicts the truth of divine satisfaction.
This pattern is found in the orderly arrangement of the chapters of the gospel by John; “the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us”, 1. 14 R.v. marg.
- 1-11:The Lord treads the court, in the place where everyone can contact Him and listen to His words.
- 12: The brazen altar - “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”, v. 32.
- 13: The brazen laver - “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me”, v. 8.
- 14-16: The holy place - the Lord teaches His disciples what it means to have part with Him in a life of service.
- 17: The Lord stands alone in the holy of holies.
Regarding the materials used, the estimated value in terms of present-day money is given as greater than half-a-million pounds. If the type was so valuable, how precious is the One of whom it speaks? The full value of the Lord is known only to God; it is given to us to appreciate Him according to the measure in which God reveals Him to each of our hearts.
There is progress in the basic nature of the metals used: brass, silver, gold. In the court, brass forms a foundation while silver forms the tops of the pillars. In the holy place, the foundations are silver while all around is gold. In the holiest of all, we find the ark overlaid with pure gold. This teaches us that the nearer we come to God and the more we know of His presence, the greater will be our appreciation. Brass speaks of the judgment of God on sin, and when we come to Christ we learn that He has died for us. Then we discover that Christ has won for us eternal redemption (silver), and that we are blessed with divine righteousness (gold). In the holy of holies we see the pure gold that speaks exclusively of the glories of the Lord as the eternal Son of God. We should note that “gold” has divine righteousness and glory in view, but “pure gold” always speaks of the deity of Christ.
Moses was commanded to make the tabernacle exactly as he had seen it on the holy mount. So exact was it that in Exodus 25-27 we have three chapters of divine command in which God tells Moses just what to make, and in chapters 36-38 the people make exactly what God had commanded them. As a result, God makes His presence known by the cloud covering the tent and by the glory filling the tabernacle, Exod. 40. 34.
The pattern embraced colours as well as metals. The only way in was through the entrance gate, the fine white curtain of which was embroidered with blue, purple and scarlet, teaching that righteousness alone could never give access to God. But when the white linen is combined with all that which is implied in the various colours, then any Israelite could pass through the entrance gate to find access by means of the brazen altar.