You are to make upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle.
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.
2 Peter 1:4); as they had been separated, cut off from the place in which nature had placed them, so the members of the true Church of Christ have been cut off from the place in which they stood by nature, which was one of guilt and condemnation, and they have been joined by living faith to the living Jesus. Nature provided no foundation on which to build the Tabernacle, and nature has provided no foundation on which the sinner can build his hope; but as God provided a foundation for the Tabernacle in the redemption-money of the people, so now He has provided a foundation for His people in the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. And as no board could be a part of the Tabernacle without being built upon the silver foundation, so no person can be any part of the true Church of God if he be not built by faith upon Christ.
Boards for the Tabernacle.I. THAT INVINCIBLE STRENGTH UNDERLIES THE APPARENT WEAKNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
II. THAT THE GOSPEL, DESPITE ALL ITS NATURAL AND HUMAN ASPECTS, HAS A DIVINE CHARACTER AND BASIS. Our faith rests in the power of God.
III. THAT OUT OF THE STRENGTH OF CHRIST SPRING THE HIGHEST GLORY AND JOY (ver. 29). Let the Church seek to realize its full privilege in Christ. In character, we are often satisfied with the bare boards of mere honesty and uprightness; in experience, we are content with the boards and bars, a mere sense of safety; in hope, we rest content with the bare expectation of pulling through in the judgment. The gilded boards of the Tabernacle are eloquent illustrations of the New Testament doctrine that in Christ we must rise to beauty, to brightness, to bliss.
IV. THAT CHRIST IS AN EVERLASTING DWELLING-PLACE TO HIS PEOPLE. Tabernacle built of boards of acacia, a wood so durable it does not rot even in water. The strength of Christ is everlasting.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
(H. W. Soltau.)
(R. E. Sears.)
Sockets of silverExodus 30:16; Exodus 38:27), but of some other material, God certainly would not have acknowledged the Tabernacle which rested on them as His palace-temple. He never would have enthroned Himself invisible symbol on the mercy-seat. In like manner, those who substitute their own good works, or anything else in the room of the Redeemer, on which to build their hope of salvation, are building on the sand, and cannot form a part of that building which is an "habitation of God through the Spirit," for "other foundation can no man lay than is laid, which is Christ Jesus."
Tenonson, but in their respective sockets, or they would not have been upheld. In like manner sinners, in order to be saved, must not only be on, but in the spiritual foundation. Unless they are by faith rooted in Christ Jesus, as the boards by their tenons were rooted in the ransom money, they cannot stand.
1. There was a sevenfold bond of union. The five bars, the silver sockets, and the corner boards. Paul gives us the gospel meaning of this in his Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 4:4-6).
2. The centre bar which passed through the boards from one end to the other, was a lively type of the indwelling of the Godhead in all believers. All the Three Persons of the Trinity are spoken of as dwelling in the renewed heart. "Christ in you the hope of glory." "Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love Me, he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him." "What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own." What a glorious bond of union is this! Christians of all denominations are one here; for without the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and power of the Holy Ghost, no man can be a Christian.
3. These bars remind us of the encircling arms of love and mercy. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth even for ever." All Christians are one in the Divine protection. "All His saints are in thy hand."
4. All Christians are one in love to God.
5. Another bond of union is reverence for the Word of God. Christians may differ in their interpretations of the Word. All may not have the same measure of wisdom to understand its mysteries; but all Christians are one in their esteem and love for the grand old Book! Is it not the one revelation of the Divine will?
(R. E. Sears.)
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