Dear Gentle Reader,
One important principle which must be observed if the Word of God is to be intelligently studied, is noting carefully the order in which truth is there presented to us. God is a God of order, and infallible wisdom marks all His handiwork; yet His order is often different from ours. In the Scriptures the Holy Spirit frequently ignores the sequence of events and places side by side things which did not immediately follow each other in time. The books of the Bible are not always placed in their historical order: Job takes us back to a period long before the Israelites settled in Canaan. The Psalms and the Proverbs were written centuries before the events described in Nehemiah and Esther. So it is with many of the smaller details in the different books. Take the following as examples. The opening of the graves and the coming forth of many of the saints is mentioned right after the Savior’s death and rending of the Temple’s veil (Matthew 27:51-52), yet, as a matter of fact, these occurred after the resurrection of Christ. So in Luke 23.45 the rending of the veil is recorded before the Lord committed His spirit into the hands of the Father.
The arrangement followed by the Holy Spirit varied according to His several designs. Sometimes the chronological order is departed from for a dispensational reason: sometimes details are arranged so as to present a climax: sometimes the order is a moral one: at others, things are placed in juxtaposition to show the relation between cause and effect. Notably is that the case in Matthew 27:51-53: the opening of the graves there attested the efficacy of the Savior’s death and shows it is the ground of the saints’ walk in newness of life. Sometimes the design of the Spirit is to point a contrast: such is the case in Luke 23:45. There He has linked together the three hours of darkness and the rending of the Veil: in the former we have Christ shut out from God, in the latter the way is now opened for us into the presence of Him who is Light!
The student of Scripture loses much when he fails to diligently bear in mind this principle. Strikingly is it exemplified in connection with the Tabernacle. It is not always easy to discern the Divine plan, and much prayerful meditation is required to discover the perfections of every detail. That which we are now to contemplate is the Entrance into the Tabernacle, and what we would here particularly take notice of is that this "Door" is mentioned immediately after the description of the Veil. Doubtless there is more than one reason for this; but that which is almost apparent on the surface is that the one points a striking contrast from the other, and the details connected with each bear this out. The Veil had "cherubim" embroidered upon it. the Door had not: the Veil was suspended from four pillars, the hanging for the Door from five: the former had no "chapiters," the latter had; the sockets of the former were made of silver, the latter were of brass. But the outstanding difference between them was this: the Veil was to shut out, whereas the Door was to give admittance: the Veil barred the way into the Holiest, the "hanging" was for the constant entrance of the priests into the Holy Place. Let us now consider: —
1. Its Location.
The Door into God’s dwelling-place was no narrow one, but stretched right across the whole of its length, and was ten cubits (fifteen feet) in height. Some of the commentators are in error here through confounding the Door of the Tabernacle (26:36) with the Gate of the Court (27:16). It is important that the student should clearly distinguish between them, for they typically set forth two entirely different lines of truth.
The Door into the Tabernacle spanned the whole of the eastern side. Most significant and most fitting was this, for the east is the quarter of the sun-rising. It is in the east that we discover the evidences of the ending of night and the dawning of another day. Thus a further contrast is here presented. In Genesis 3:24 we read that the Lord God "drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." There, through his sin, man was in the darkness, and in consequence, banished from that place where God had communed with him; and at the east was stationed a flaming barrier. But here, where sin had been typically put away, the priestly family walking in the light, found a door on the eastern side of the Tabernacle which admitted them into Jehovah’s dwelling-place!
2. Its Material.
"And thou shall make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework" (v. 36). The fabric of this hanging for the Door was of the same goods and of the same fine quality that composed the Curtains and the Veil. Fine twined linen formed its basis. It was only as the Son of God became incarnate that the true dwelling-place for Deity on earth was provided. But, as shown in the last article, the Incarnation, though bringing God down to men, did not of itself give men access to God—for that the Veil must be rent, death must come in. Here, too, in the entrance to the Tabernacle, we are shown that it is only through the Man Christ Jesus that God could be approached unto.
There is one added word here in connection with the fine twined linen which claims our notice: it was "wrought with needlework." This was not said in connection with the Curtains or Veil, and is only mentioned elsewhere in the description of the Gate in the outer Court (v. 27:16) and the Girdle of the high priest (v. 28:39). We may add that the Hebrew word here for "needlework" is, in Exodus 35:35, rendered "the work of the embroiderer," in 1 Chronicles 29:2 and Ezekiel 17:3, "divers colors," and in Psalm 139:15 "curiously wrought." Combining these slightly varied meanings, the term would denote minutely variegated. Thus, it appears, that the Holy Spirit here intimates that attention should be fixed upon the manner in which the different colors were wrought into and interwoven with the fine linen.
3. Its Colors.
The "blue" points to Christ as the Heavenly One, the Son of God; the "scarlet" refers to Him as the Son of man—suffering in the past, glorified on earth in a coming day. The "purple" speaks, distinctively, of the kingship of Christ, but also points to the wonderful union between His Deity and His humanity. The mention of the "blue, and purple, and scarlet," is repeated no less than twenty-four times in connection with the Tabernacle’s accessories and priesthood, yet never once is the order varied. This suggests an important truth and lesson in connection with their arrangement. So beautifully has this been brought out by another in a book long-since out of print, we transcribe freely from its most helpful interpretation:—
"If we are to place the blue and the scarlet side by side, without the intervention of some other color, the eye would be offended with the violent contrast; for, though each is beautiful in itself, and suitable to its own sphere, yet there is such a distinction, we might almost say opposition, in their hues, as to render them inharmonious if seen in immediate contact. The purple interposing remedies this unpleasing effect: the eye passes with ease from the blue to the scarlet, and vice versa, by the aid of this blended color, the purple. The blue gradually shades off into its opposite, the scarlet; and the gorgeousness of the latter is softened by imperceptible degrees into the blue. The purple is a new color formed by mingling the two: it owes its peculiar beauty alike to both; and were the due proportion of either absent, its especial character would be lost.
"The scarlet and the blue are never placed in juxtaposition throughout the fabrics of the Tabernacle. Does not this intimate a truth of an important character? Would the Spirit of God have so constantly adhered to this arrangement had there not been some significant reason for it? Are we not hereby taught a very precious fact respecting the Lord Jesus? He is God and Man; and we can trace in the Gospels all the fullness of the Godhead, as well as the dignity and sympathy of the perfect Man. But besides this, in His thoughts, feelings, ways, words, and actions, there is an invariable blending of the two . . . In contemplating Christ it is well to remember that the first syllable of His name, as given in Isaiah 9:6 is ‘Wonderful’: and part of this marvel is, that in Him are combined the deep thoughts and counsels of God, with the feelings and affections of man.
"Three instances are recorded in the Gospels of the dead being raised to life by Christ: Jairus’s daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, and Lazarus of Bethany. Together they afford us a complete display of His mighty power: for, in the first case, death had only just seized its victim; in the second, the sorrowing mother was on her way to commit the body of her only son to the grave; in the third, the corpse had already been deposited sometime, and had become corrupt in the tomb. In each of these scenes the three colors may be traced. We can have no hesitation in recognizing the blue in the manifestation of the love of God, when. His blessed Son at the entreaty of the sorrowful father, went to the house to heal the dying child. On the way, the message came, ‘Thy daughter is dead, why troublest thou the Master any further?’ Little did they, who spoke these words, understand who the Master was: or the depths of trouble in which He would be overwhelmed, in order that the dead might live. They knew not that God was present with them, manifest in the flesh: but He at once stilled the fear of the damsel’s father; thus doing what none but God could do—commanding peace into his bosom in the very presence of death! Again, the voice of the Mighty God sounds forth to hush the boisterous grief of those who have no hope, saying, ‘Weep not: the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth’. But they perceived not who it was that thus spoke. Death was to them a familiar sight; they knew its palor; but they laughed Christ to scorn; ought not the believer to exactly reverse this? In the presence of the Lord, he may well laugh death to scorn. Lastly; were not the power and the grace of the One from Heaven now known, when He spake those words—‘Damsel, I say unto thee, arise’!
"Let us now turn to the scarlet in this beautiful picture. Who but the Son of man would have pursued the path of kindness and sympathy, notwithstanding the rude scoffs with which His ready love was met? and who but One that knew what hunger and exhaustion were, would have added to this mighty miracle the command, ‘Give her something to eat’? And does not this also exhibit to us the purple? With sympathy and love for the child, deeper than the mother’s, and yet presented in the scene as one who was Lord in it and above it; He can call the dead to life and at the same moment enter into the minutest want of the little maid. The mere human beings who were present, even the very parents, were so over-powered with what they had witnessed, and with the joy of receiving the dead one back to life, that their human sympathies failed. None but God could thus have abolished death; and none but He who was God and Man, could have so combined power, majesty, grace, sympathy and tenderest care!
"The next instance, already alluded to, depicts in few but full sentences, the same lovely colors. Unsolicited, the Son of God went to the city where He knew the stroke of death had fallen, and had inflicted another wound upon another heart already stricken with grief. He timed His visit so as to meet, at the gate, the mournful procession, bearing to the grave the only son of a widowed mother. If any hope of God’s intervention had at one time cheered her, whilst she watched her dying child, all such hope must now have fled. A little interval only remained and the earth would close over her lost son. But attracted by the very extremity of the case, He, who declared the Father (John 1:18), drew nigh. With the authority of God, He touched the bier, and arrested the bearers in their progress to the tomb. Struck by a sudden consciousness that they were in the presence of One who had a right to stop them on their way, they stood still. They did not, like the attendants on the dead in former case, laugh Him to scorn; and, therefore, they had the blessing of witnessing His mighty act. He commanded the young man to arise from the bier, as He ordered the child to rise from her bed; and in like manner, He was obeyed: ‘He that was dead sat up, and began to speak.’ Here, then, the heavenly color was evident, so that even they that looked on said, ‘God hath visited His people’. But the heart of Christ was occupied with the mother as well as the child. As the voice of the risen youth reached His ear, He knew how the widow felt, as she heard it. Himself undisturbed by the exercise of His life-giving power, yet fully occupied in sympathy and grace with the yearning of the mother to embrace her son, and thus to assure herself of the reality, which even the evidence of her eyes and ears could scarcely credit, He gave completeness to the scene by delivering him to his mother. Here was the perfection of human sensibility, such as no man could have exhibited in such circumstances, unless that man were also God.
"But perhaps the most complete manifestation of ‘the Word made flesh,’ is to be found in John 11, if we except, as we always must do, the Cross, where all was marvelously concentrated. It seemed to the sisters as if the Lord had strangely disregarded their urgent message: for He still abode at a distance, and allowed not only death to bereave them of their brother, but the grave to close upon his remains, His very reply to their announcement (‘Lord, he whom Thou lovest, is sick’) contained in it a paradox which they were unable to comprehend, and which the subsequent circumstances apparently falsified; for, His answer was ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.’ And yet He tarried till death had, for four days, retained its victim. Thus, love and truth in Him who is Love, and who is the Truth, for a while appeared to have failed; but in reality the glory of God was the more to shine forth in His Beloved.
"What mingled feelings occupied the heart of Christ, when, seeing the grief of Mary, and of those around, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled! He grieved over their unbelief and ignorance or Himself; and yet He wept in sympathy with them, and sorrowed for the very sorrow which His presence might have prevented. Who could have shed tears in such circumstances but Christ? Had a mere man been gifted by God with the power to raise the dead, he would be so eager to exhibit that mighty power, and thereby still the mourners’ grief, that he would be unable to weep whilst on the way to the grave. He must be more than man who could display what man in perfection is. The tears of Jesus are precious, because they are those of true human feeling: but they are most precious because they flow from the heart of Him who is the Mighty God. And, when those tears plenteously fell from His eyes, all questions as to His love were at an end; and even the Jews exclaimed, ‘Behold, how He loved him!’
"As with authority He had touched the bier, so now He commanded that the stone should be removed. But Martha interposed her objection and though she owned Christ as Lord, and had heard from His lips the wondrous words, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life,’ yet she believed not that there could be a remedy for one who had already seen corruption. It was then that Jesus reminded her of the message He had returned when they sent to inform Him of Lazarus’s sickness—that it should not be unto death, by answering, ‘Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldst believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? God’s glory was ever His object: and to accomplish that He had been content to bear the questioning of those near to Him. who could not understand why He had not at once come to their aid.
"The sepulcher was now laid open; and Jesus lifted up His eyes from that receptacle of death to the Heaven above, resting His spirit in the bosom of His Father, and audibly expressing His dependence on Him, before He cried with a voice of almighty power, ‘Lazarus, come forth’. What a wondrous blending was here of subjection and authority, of obedience and command, of ‘the open ear,’ and of the great ‘I am’! The dead, hearing the voice of the Son of God, came forth. The corrupt corpse stepped out in life. What a moment of astonishment and delight must that have been to the sisters, as well as to their brother! But here again the Lord alone entered into the minutest details of this astonishing act of power. He saw, or rather felt (for He loved Lazarus), that His friend was still encumbered with the relics of the grave; and he left it not till others awoke from their surprises, to perceive the clothes that bound and troubled the risen one, but gave another command, ‘Loose him, and let him go.’" (Mr. G. Soltau.)
4. Its Meaning.
The "hanging for the door" shut off the court of the Tabernacle from the holy place, yet also formed the entrance to it. It was that which gave the priests access to accomplish their service within. It spoke, then, of the Christian’s worship and works being acceptable to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from the Mediator even the saints can offer nothing which the great and holy God will receive. We give thanks unto the Father "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20). It is "by Him" we are to continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15). Our spiritual sacrifices are acceptable to God only "by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:12). In our ministry, God is to be glorified in all things, "through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 4:11). It is striking to note that the "cherubim" are absent from the Door-hanging. They view the Son of man in His judicial character. Whereas, in the "hanging" He is presented in grace to those that were without, as the Way into the privileges of priests.
5. Its Pillars.
"And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold" (v. 37). The number of the "pillars" confirms what has just been said above respecting the significant omission of the "cherubim" from the "hanging": for five is the number of grace. These pillars served to support the "hanging" and also to display its beautiful colors. Their materials intimate that it is the God-man, in wondrous grace through whom entrance is given into the sphere of priestly privileges. And where is it, in Scripture, that we have these distinctively set forth? Not in the Prophets, nor in the Gospels, but in the N.T. Epistles. And is it not something more than a curious coincidence that the Epistle-writers were just five in number? Just as the Veil was stretched between four pillars, corresponding to the four Gospels; so the Entrance-curtain into the place of worship hung between five pillars, anticipating the ministry of Paul and Peter, James, John and Jude—note how this very term "pillars" is expressly applied to them in Galatians 2:9!
6. Its Chapiters. (crowns)
"And the five pillars of it with their hooks: and he overlaid their chapiters and their fillets with gold" (36:38). This was in striking contrast from the "pillars" which supported the Veil, for they had none—foreshadowing Christ as the One "cut off" in the midst of His days. But here, as giving access to the antitypical priestly family into the place of worship and service, Christ is pointed to as the One who is "crowned with glory and honor"! And this is the very viewpoint taken in all the Epistles: their writers proceed on the basis of Christ being at the right hand of God!
7. Its Sockets.
"And thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them" (v. 37). These formed the foundation for the "pillars" and speak therefore, of redemption. "Brass," when used symbolically, always prefigured the capability of the Savior to "endure the cross." Thus is the worshipper reminded once more, that Christ is the Door by reason of His sufferings in death. May the Spirit of God ever keep before us the tremendous price which was paid to enable the redeemed to come before God with sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving.
To be continued . . . .