Also make a covering for the tent out of ram skins dyed red, with a covering of fine leather over it.
1. General arrangement. The tabernacle may be described as a quadrangular enclosure of boards, sumptuously overlaid with gold, and fitted beneath into sockets of silver (vers. 15-30). Over this were placed
(1) the tabernacle-cloth proper - a finely-woven double curtain of byssus, glowing all over with figures of cherubim, in blue, and purple, and scarlet (ver. 1).
(2) A tent cloth of goats' hair (ver. 7).
(3) Exterior coverings. These consisted of rams' skins dyed red, and of skins of seals (ver. 14). Loops and taches united the two divisions of the tabernacle and tent-cloths. The clasps in the one case were of gold (ver. 6), in the other of brass (ver. 11). Internally, four pillars supported a magnificent veil, also wrought in blue, and purple, and scarlet with figures of cherubim (vers. 31, 32). This divided the sacred enclosure into two apartments, the outer, the holy place, and the inner, the holy of holies, the true dwelling of Jehovah. The division, as already seen, "corresponded to the design of the tabernacle, where Jehovah desired not to dwell alone by himself, but to come and meet with his people' (Keil). The holy of holies, accordingly, contained the ark; the holy place, the symbols of the vocation of the people. It was the place of the people's approach to God. Another curtain, "wrought with needlework," and, like the veil, suspended from pillars by hooks of gold, hung before the entrance in front. The pillars, in this case, were five in number (vers. 36, 37). For details, dimensions, and theories of arrangement, consult the exposition. No scheme yet propounded is entirely free from difficulties. The general measurements, and the mention of "pins" in Exodus 27:19, point strongly in the direction of a tent form such as that suggested by Mr. Fergusson (Dict. of Bible, art. Temple). A difficulty, on this theory, arises from the statement that the veil was to be hung" under the taches" (ver. 33). But the expression, "under the taches," may be used of a high-roofed structure with some degree of latitude, otherwise we must suppose that the veil originally divided the sanctuary into two apartments of equal size.
2. Glory and beauty of the dwelling-place. Within the limits of its dimensions, the tabernacle was really a place of great splendour - a costly and magnificent erection. We should err, however, in going much beyond the general effect to be produced in seeking for symbolical meanings. The shittim wood, the precious metals, the colours, the finely-embroidered linen fabrics, have significance only as adding to the beauty and richness of the place designed for Jehovah's abode. The end was, as far as possible, to rear a residence worthy of" the King of glory," or, from another point of view, to set forth, by the external splendour of the dwelling, the surpassing glory and magnificence of him who dwelt in it. Thus also was enhanced the idea of the singular honour enjoyed by those who were permitted to minister before him (see Fairbairn). The cherubic figures woven into the tabernacle drapery, point, if our interpretation of these figures is correct - to the host of angels who continually attend Jehovah, who are his willing servants in all that relates to his kingdom, who take so deep an interest in its progress, who furnish to his people a constant model of obedience (Matthew 6:10), and who may be viewed as joining with them, in all their services, in the worship of their King. They are part of the heavenly community, to which, as citizens in God's kingdom, we belong (Hebrews 12:22). The chapter suggests the following general reflections: -
1. Whatever glory or beauty the tabernacle possessed was derived ultimately from God. Man could but work up materials furnished to him by the Maker of all. So with the "beauties of holiness" in the Church. It is God who gives us of his grace, and who works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
2. The tabernacle, in another aspect of it, was a product of human art and skill. The plan was Divine; the materials were from God; but the workmanship was man's. It is a characteristic of the "spiritual house" which God is now building on earth, that it also is being reared by human agency, and that each individual has it in his power to contribute something to its beauty. Every holy life that is being lived is the weaving of a beautiful fabric for the adornment of this house.
3. God's condescension is seen in his willingness to dwell with Israel in this wilderness-made abode. Magnificent as it was, it was but a paltry abode to offer to the maker of heaven and earth - to the possessor of all things. Yet Jehovah did not spurn it. He sought an abode with men. His dwelling in the tabernacle was, in some aspects of it, a grander thing than his inhabitation of the infinities of space. It told of a God who does not spurn to enter into personal relations with his creatures. He will stoop as far as holiness permits, in his endeavour to reach them, and to lift them up to communion with himself.
4. The tabernacle, glorious as it was, was but the type of dwelling-places more glorious than itself. We have found the antitypes in the once abased, but now glorified, humanity of Christ; in the renewed heart of the believer; in the redeemed Church as a whole. God prefers the temple of the humble and contrite heart to the grandest building ever reared by hands of man (Isaiah 57:15). - J.O.
I. LET US LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL CURTAINS THAT FORMED THE TABERNACLE.
Curtains.I. THAT THE GLORY OF GOD IS HIDDEN TO ALL WHO STAND OUTSIDE JESUS CHRIST. Man cannot surprise God and penetrate His secrets.
II. THAT IN CHRIST THE GLORY OF GOD IS MOST BRIGHTLY REVEALED.
1. There is such a thing as regarding Christ from the outside; and then, as the Jews, we see no beauty in Him.
2. There is such a thing as knowing Christ as a great Teacher, a great Example; "the goats' hair curtains hooked with brass."
3. But it is only when we believe in Christ as the Son of God, and rest in Him as such, that we behold the fulness of His glory. The colours are the symbols of the different names of God; blue signifies the special revelation of God, being the colour of heaven and ether; red denotes the highest dignity, majesty, and royal power; crimson is that which fire and blood have in common, and symbolizes, therefore, life in its full extent. In Christ, the love, the life, the beauty, the majesty of God are most brightly expressed.
III. THAT IN CHRIST IS EVERLASTING SECURITY AND BLESSEDNESS.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
1. If we view the Tabernacle as an emblem of Christ in His incarnation, the beautiful curtains of cunning work were emblematical of the attributes and perfections of Jehovah, "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Here every perfection meets and shines.
2. These beautifully-wrought curtains were emblems of the perfect graces which adorned the human nature of Jesus.
3. May we not see in this beautiful piece of tapestry the various characters of Christ? Here by faith we behold the Priest and His sacrifice, the King and His golden crown, the Prophet and His teaching, the Mediator and His fulness. Here by faith we behold the Shepherd and His watchful care, the Husband and His everlasting love, the Friend and His faithful counsel. Here in a mystery of grace we may discover the Root and the tree, the Vine and the branches, the Head and the members.
4. The curtains were the same in the holiest as in the holy place. The Church triumphant and the Church militant have the same Christ.
5. These curtains were fastened together by blue loops and taches of gold so as to form one Tabernacle. The loops and taches were exactly over the vail (ver. 33). This may teach us the connection between Christ's work in heaven and His work on earth.
6. These curtains were full of cherubim. May not these cherubim be emblems of believers who are Christ's mystical body? Christ and His members are one.
7. These curtains are emblems of the Churches of Christ adorned with the graces of the Holy Spirit.
8. The loops and golden clasps which united the curtains together show us the place for little deeds of kindness and little deeds of love. Kind words fitly spoken are golden clasps. There is far more power in kind words than some people think. Kind words are very uniting.
9. The Tabernacle was divided into two parts, but it was only one Tabernacle. The saints in heaven and the saints on earth make but one Church.
II. WE MAY NOW LOOK AT THE TENT OF GOATS' HAIR, WHICH FORMED A COVERING FOR THE TABERNACLE. The curtains of goats' hair were emblematical of the righteousness of Christ, which is the justification of the Church. These curtains were joined together by clasps of brass. "And he made fifty taches of brass to couple the tent together, that it might be one." Brass is an emblem of strength. "In the Lord shall one say, have I righteousness and strength." "In the Lord Jehovah " — Jehovah Tsidkenu — "is everlasting strength." May we not have an emblem in these two large goats' hair curtains, of righteousness in its twofold aspect? Christ's righteousness imputed is our justification. Christ's righteousness imparted is our sanctification. We cannot have one without the other; they must be in our experience "coupled together." Jesus Christ is our Righteousness and our Sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30). Christ for us is our perfect righteousness. Christ in us is our perfect sanctification.
III. OVER THE TENT WAS A COVERING OF RAMS' SKINS DYED RED. Beautiful emblem of the protecting blood of Christ.
IV. ABOVE THE COVERING OF RAMS' SKINS DYED RED WAS A COVERING OF BADGERS' SKINS. These skins were probably dyed blue. Perhaps a part were dyed purple. If so there would be seen on the outside, as well as the inside, "the blue, purple, and scarlet." This outside covering teaches us that the Church is under the protection of heaven. The blue skins were over the red skins. Heaven only protects the blood marked. "Kept by the power of God."
(R. E. Sears.)
1. As the outside of the Tabernacle was coarse and rough, the beauty all lying within, so those in whom God dwells must labour to be better than they seem to be. Hypocrites put the best side outward, like whited sepulchres, but "the king's daughter is all glorious within" (Psalm 45:13); in the eye of the world black as the tents of Kedar, but in the eye of God comely as the curtains of Solomon (Song of Solomon 1:5). Let our adorning be that of the hidden man of the heart which God values (1 Peter 3:4).
2. Where God places His glory, He will create a defence; even on the habitations of the righteous there shall be a covert (Isaiah 6:5, 6). The protection of Providence shall always be upon the beauty of holiness (Psalm 27:5).
(A. Nevin, D. D.)
(H. W. Soltau.)
I. TO THE BELIEVER. God, who dwelt within these curtains, condescends to dwell graciously in the heart of every true Israelite — "saints are an habitation of God through the Spirit." As the Tabernacle was more beautiful within than without, so are God's children. They are clothed with the spotless robe of Emmanuel's righteousness, and adorned with humility, love, holiness, and heavenly-mindedness.
II. TO THE CHURCH. Believers, of whom the Church is composed, although scattered among many sects of professing Christians, are yet all one in Christ Jesus. As the curtains though woven separately were afterwards sewed together and formed two great curtains, which, when hung, were united into one by means of loops of blue and clasps of gold, so God's children are knit together by the silver ties of affection and bound together by the golden clasps of love.
III. TO CHRIST. He was the true Tabernacle, which "the Lord pitched and not man."
IV. TO HEAVEN. There angels and saints behold God-shining, not by a mere as symbol He did within the cherub-curtains, but in the "face of Jesus Christ!" There are those glorious beings who are mighty in strength (and whose perfections probably were shadowed forth in the cherubs that stood upon the mercy-seat and adorned roof and walls), even thousands and tens of thousands of holy angels, guardians of the saints while on earth, and their companions and fellow-worshippers for ever in the heavenly temple.
(H. W. Soltau.)Ezekiel 16:10). In this covering there was nothing beautiful or attractive. I can suppose a man to have stood at the top of some high hill, and to have looked down on the long, dark, coffin-like structure, and to have said, "Well, I have heard much about the Tabernacle as being a very costly building, but I see no beauty at all in this long, dark tent"; but the priests who had been within could tell of gold, and silver, and the richest embroidery to be seen there. It was all glorious within, but rough and unsightly without. This badger skin covering sets forth the humility of Christ when on earth among men, who, judging of Him according to the outward appearance, said, "He hath no form nor comeliness; there is no beauty in Him that we should desire Him"; so they despised and rejected Him (Isaiah 53:2, 3). But we know there was much in Christ which did not meet the eye of men generally; and those who, taught of the Father, knew Him as the Christ the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16, 17) were attracted to Him, for He was to them the "chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely" (Song of Solomon 5:10, 16). The rough badger skin outside was as needful as was the beautiful covering underneath; and the humility of Christ was as needful for us, and for the glory of God, as was His exaltation. This covering of badgers' skins was thick enough and hard enough to be an effectual protection from the rain, dew, and fine sand of the desert, and nothing could get through it to stain the fine linen or to dim the gold within. This shadows forth to us the holy determination of Christ to stand as a faithful and true witness for God on earth: the truth was in Him, and He kept it to the end.
(G. Rodgers.)Leviticus 4:11, 12), but the skin of the burnt-offering belonged to the priest who offered it to God (Leviticus 7:8). If the badger-skin covering sets forth the humility of Christ, this covering dyed red sets forth the depth of His humility. This blood-red skin reminds me of Him who when pressed, crushed, and distressed in the garden of Gethsemane, did "sweat as it were great drops of blood."
(G. Rodgers.)Leviticus 16:15, 16). This was "the blood of sprinkling," of which we read so much in the Bible. With this blood in his hand, the high priest entered once a year, and stood in the presence of God. This was the blood which he offered for the errors of the people, and which made atonement for them. This was the blood at which God looked, and with which He was satisfied; it had a voice, and spoke better things than the blood of Abel. When it was sprinkled on the mercy-seat, which covered up the tables of the law, it seemed to speak to God of punishment which had been borne and of a life which had been given up. Observe again, the animal that bore away the sins of the people into the wilderness, where they were found no more, was a goat. I refer to the scapegoat, of which we read in Leviticus 16. This goat going away with the people's sins would show those outside of the Tabernacle what the blood of the slain goat had done within the vail, viz., that it had put away sin and had set them free; and as they gazed on the folded part of goats'-hair cloth, as it hung over the east end of the Tabernacle, it would seem to preach the gospel to them by reminding them how their sin was put away on the tenth day of the seventh month. It would speak of abounding grace, telling them that they had received double for all their sins. The first covering told us of the humility of Christ; the next told us of the depth of His humility; this tells us of the blessed results of His suffering and death, viz., that the sins of the Lord's people are put away, for ever put away.
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