Exodus 26:16
Each frame is to be ten cubits long and a cubit and a half wide.
Jehovah's DwellingJ. Orr Exodus 26:1-37
The Tabernacle ItselfD. Young Exodus 26:1-37
Believers Typified by the BoardsR. E. Sears.Exodus 26:15-30
TenonsW. Brown.Exodus 26:15-30
The BarsR. E. Sears.Exodus 26:15-30
The Boards and BarsH. W. Soltau.Exodus 26:15-30
The Boards of the TabernacleG. Rodgers.Exodus 26:15-30
The SocketsW. Brown.Exodus 26:15-30
The Tabernacle Boards and BarsW. L. Watkinson.Exodus 26:15-30
Instructions are now given for the making of the "dwelling-place," of that sacred house or tent which was to be the special abode of Jehovah, and within which, when reared according to the fashion shown to Moses in the mount (ver. 30), the sacred articles described in the previous chapter were to be deposited. We need not encumber our homily with the minutiae of construction. It will suffice to direct attention to the general arrangement of parts, and to the costly and beautiful character of the erection as a whole.

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.

Boards for the Tabernacle.


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.)

Each board of shittim wood, overlaid with gold, seems to pourtray the Lord Jesus Himself, the Son of God, the Son of Man. The shittim wood, incorruptible wood, being a shadow of that great truth, that He "partook of flesh and blood"; "the seed of the woman"; "the Second Man"; "from heaven"; yet "the Son of David"; "of the fruit of His loins"; and at the same time "the Son of the Highest"; born of the Virgin, "the Man Christ Jesus"; made "in the likeness of sinful flesh"; though, unlike any other man that ever lived on earth, incorrupt and incorruptible; having a body prepared for Him by God, in order that He might die; but without taint of mortality or death in Him. The gold also presents the other great truth, that He is "the mighty God"; "the brightness of God's glory"; "the only begotten of the Father"; "the Son" from everlasting, and to everlasting. The boards are like the ribs of truth, the massive framework, without which no dwelling-place of God could be created; no meeting-place between God and man provided. If the wood could corrupt, or if the fine gold could become dim, if the taint of mortality, or mouldering flesh, be connected, by human theory or speculation, with the glorious Emmanuel, the Tabernacle of God must tremble and totter; the great truths of salvation are shaken, and a mis-shapen mass of ruin takes the place of the divinely ordered palace of the Most High. The massive framework of the golden boards and bars formed a compact structure, over which the curtains and coverings were suspended. They were to the curtains what the poles are to a tent. They upheld and sustained the glorious display of the blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen cherubim, as also the goats'-hair curtains. Thus what the Lord Jesus Himself was and is, viz., Son of God, Son of Man — that He has made manifest in His life, and above all, in His death; and His blessed work there derives all its unspeakable value and eternal efficacy from Himself. It is faith in Him that is salvation.

(H. W. Soltau.)

The Church of Christ is here seen in type as the dwelling-place of God. It was set upon the earth and God dwelt in it. The Church of Christ is composed of many persons separated from the world, and built upon the sure foundation, which is Christ. And as those boards were covered with gold, so the people of God are made partakers of the Divine nature (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.

(G. Rodgers.)

Were they golden boards? Every believer is a partaker of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). They are born from above, and they are heavenly minded. Their affection is set on things above. God's people are a holy people. "The beauty of holiness" is the gold with which God will beautify and adorn His people. The knots and grains of the wood were all hidden from view beneath plates of pure gold. God hides all our imperfections from view beneath the gold of His perfect righteousness.

(R. E. Sears.)

Sockets of silver
It is perhaps worthy of notice here that the whole of the redemption money, amounting to 100 talents and 1775 shekels, was identified with the supporting or bearing up of different parts of the Tabernacle. The 100 talents formed the foundations and supported the walls of gilded boards which were the stay of the two sets of curtains and the two-fold skin roof; and the 1775 shekels (little more than half a talent) were used up in making silver hooks for the court pillars, and in overlaying the capitals of these pillars and their connecting rods (fillets) which rested on them, and from which the court hangings were suspended. These odd shekels bore up the linen court walls, and the 100 talents bore up the sanctuary. The hundred ransom silver sockets being worth £40,000 sterling, constituted a very costly basis, from which, whether it had a typical import or not, our thoughts not unnaturally rise to an infinitely more valuable one, even to Him "who gave Himself a ransom for all." Prophets and apostles alike testify that He is that sure foundation on which the spiritual edifice rests. Had the sockets not been made of the atonement money as commanded (Exodus 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."

(W. Brown.)

Although thousands and tens of thousands are resting on the Rock laid in Zion, it is able to bear the weight of countless millions more, and can never by any possibility be overburdened. Those, however, who would build on it, must do so in the way pointed out in the Scripture, or it will not avail them. It was by means of the tenons (Hebrew "hands") that the boards took hold of, and rested on the silver bases. Faith is the hand by means of which sinners lay hold of and rest on the Redeemer. Remember that the boards required to be not merely on, 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.

(W. Brown.)

The bars were all overlaid with gold. One of the bars passed through the centre of the boards from end to end; holes being made, no doubt for that purpose. Thus the boards became one solid wall. But that they might be more firmly united, each board had four gold rings fastened to it, and through these rings the other four bars were passed.

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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