And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was showed you in the mount.
An idea, to be realised, must be embodied; e.g., thoughts must be expressed in words; the vision of the artist must take form on canvas or in marble. So, too, with the Divine ideas; they also must be embodied, and as presented for man's instruction, they must be so embodied that man may apprehend them. The unseen must be made visible; the pattern on the mount must be modelled and reared up upon the plain. Notice -
I. THE DIVINE IDEAL. Moses was shown the original Divine embodiment, not a mere toy model which he was to enlarge, but the actual God-fashioned tabernacle, in all the perfection of its related parts. So far as man was concerned, it might be a purely ideal structure; but the ideals of earth are the realities of heaven. The holy of holies, and the holy place, and the outer court - all these must exist, or Moses could not have been shown them. May we not also discern dimly that reality which Moses saw? The holy of holies, where God's throne is set - heaven in its innermost recesses, screened off from earth by the blue sky-curtain, which no unaided eye can pierce. The holy place and the outer court, God's earthly sanctuary, his Church in this world, related on the one side to heaven, and on the other to the world around it; the visible heavens are, in some sort, an expression of this Divine idea, illuminated by the sun (cf. Psalm 19.), and with the earth - from man's standpoint - forming a kind of outer court. Even this true tabernacle (cf. Hebrews 8:2) is only an embodiment of the Divine idea; but then it is the Divine embodiment, the expression found for it by God himself.
II. THE HUMAN COPY. The divine ideal as divinely embodied is still beyond man's understanding; it needs to be translated for men into language with which they are familiar. The child must be spoken to as a child (Isaiah 28:11), "with stammering lips and a feigned tongue." The tabernacle of nature expresses God's idea in polysyllables; the tabernacle which Moses reared translates it into easier language. Notice -
1. The holy of holies.
(1) The sanctity of the Divine dwelling-place emphasises the sanctity of its Divine inmate. "Clouds and darkness are round about him." "Holiness becometh his house for ever."
(2) "Righteousness and judgment are the establishment of his throne;" it is founded upon a guarded law.
(3) Mercy rejoiceth over judgment. God is just, or righteous, but also the justifier who makes righteous. "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
2. The holy place. God has made it possible for man to approach him. They who may not bear the presence may yet be admitted to the ante-chamber. The Church is the link between heaven and earth, as the high priest is the link between the Divine and human. Notice -
(1) The golden altar. The fumes of the incense may penetrate the veil, which shuts out the priest who offers it. Prayer can go where the worshipper cannot go.
(2) The golden candlestick. No lamp needed in the holiest place (cf. Revelation 21:23). Here, when man meets with God, for man's sake the lamp is needed. The light derived from God must be guarded by man, so only is the required illumination to be secured.
(3) The golden table. Furnished week by week with food satisfying alike to God and man. Such the Church - a heaven on earth. Prayer ascending towards the unseen holy; light from God carefully guarded; offerings wherein God and man both find satisfaction - such are the notes of a true Church, one wherein man may have communion with his Maker, holy as preluding to the holy of holies.
(4) The outer court. Here we have the first stage in man's progress from the world God-wards. The altar and the laver, sacrifice and purification, must come before communion. Consecration and cleansing precede intercourse and fellowship, and these again prepare for the beatific vision. Conclusion. - What is the central thought thus shadowed forth? Is it not this: -God's holiness can only be approached step by step, whilst the road by which we must approach it is that which will ensure for us growth in holiness. "The pure in heart shall see God;" the beatific vision is for those only whose spiritual eyesight has been prepared for its reception. We cannot come up to the throne of God save through the outer court and through the sanctuary; sacrifice and cleansing, illumination and communion; then, for those who can receive it, the open vision and the presence of God. - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was shewed thee in the mount.