“What’s behind the curtain?”
II.) Vs. 1-14 Covered by His presence
III.) Vs. 15-30 An anchor of the soul
IV.) Vs. 31-37 Boldness to enter the Holiest
I have had the opportunity to travel to may countries and in my travels I like to go into churches to look at the architecture. You can tell a lot about those that worship there by the way they have decorated the inside of their church. I have seen the frescos of the ceilings often depicting a biblical seen. At one church by the Sea of Galilee I remember the altar which was nothing more then a bolder, where they claim Jesus stood. I suppose it is natural to decorate the inside of buildings in away that inspires worship. Unfortunately, many times that which was to inspire worship actually becomes the object of worship. There are some folks that quote Ex. 20:4-5 about making no graven image of any thing on heaven or earth to bow down to them as reason not to have any decorations in the church. Yet if you read Lev. 26:1 we read, “You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.” This passage makes it clear that what God forbids is not the making of representational art but rather the worship of it. The same God who told Moses to tell the people not to worship art, on the very same mountain told Moses exactly how to fashion the tabernacle in art that was clearly representing heaven and His presence. Four times in chapters 25-26 Moses was told to make every thing “according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” Clearly the idea was not man’s or Moses, the pattern came from God Himself! God caused Moses to see exactly what He wanted Moses to build in the tabernacle. God created such an environment in which man would experience all of Himself!
II.) Vs. 1-14 Covered by His presence
Vs. 1-6 In looking at this section of scripture I want to paint a picture in your mind of a tent. Not one of those new dome tents but rather one of those old canvas ones. That is how this sanctuary looked from the outside. The tent if was made up of four different layers:
- 1-6 Fine linen with a pattern of cherubim in blue, purple and scarlet yarn.
- 7-13 A goat’s hair layer that was almost black in color that went over the fine linen being two cubits or three feet longer then the first layer.
- 14 Then there was a layer of ram’s skin dyed red which would be like fine leather and provide some insulation.
- 14 On the outside exposed to the elements was badger skin but would probably better be translated purpose or sea cow skin. The purpose of this layer was to make the sanctuary waterproof.
Again, realize that God describes this to Moses from the inside out. Most of the time you describe your house from the outside; yet here clearly God describes the sanctuary from the inside out. The point I’m making is that describing something from the inside and working out is always associated with intimacy. When God gives the vision of the sanctuary to Moses He starts with the inside. God is always most concerned with the inside of things and not the outside.
Isaiah 53:2 says concerning Jesus that, “There is no beauty that we should desire Him.” Based upon this verse we see that Jesus was not all that attractive on the outside, as far as physical features He was probably average. Yet to read the gospels is to realize that all of Israel desired an audience with Him. So what was the attraction? Inward beauty! Far to often I’m making the outside better looking instead of allowing His beauty to shine through me! we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and He has changed us from the inside and is working on our outside by way of our inward change. What is prized in the world is what we see from the outside and not what you see from the inside. Now if you are as fortunate as I am then you are married to a person who is as attractive on the outside as they are on the inside!
There is a curious passage in Rom. 13:14 where Paul says to the believers in Rome, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.” The N.K.J. uses the words “put on” instead of “clothe” but I think the N.I.V. renders it right when they use the word “clothe”. We are to clothe ourselves in Jesus folks. Yet when you read in Judges 6:34 about Gideon we are told that “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon.” It is interesting to read the literal translation of this in Y.L.T., which reads, “the Spirit of Jehovah hath clothed Gideon.” In other words, the Holy Spirit clothed Himself in Gideon. To put these two verses together is to understand then how we are to present ourselves in the world. We ought to allow the Holy Spirit to clothe Himself in us so that we will clothe ourselves in Jesus.
Let’s take a specific look at each of these four layers:
- Vs. 1-6 Fine linen with a pattern of cherubim in blue, purple and scarlet yarn. This was the bottom layer and the only way you could see the beauty of the design was if you were on the inside the tabernacle which was that little 15 feet by 45 feet structure which made up of the Holy Place and the most Holy place. This part of the tent or curtain was made up of ten curtains five on each side, (verse 3). They were joined together by a series of 50 loops of blue yarn coupled together with 50 gold loops, (verses 4-6). Put together this made one tent that was 42 feet by 60 feet, which would not only reach across the temple but also have some room to spare on the sides. The artistic design was that of cherubim made from incorporating blue, purple and scarlet yarn with fine white linen. As you would go into the Holy place you need to realize there was no light accept that of the golden lampstand on the left. As you would look up and around you would see these cherubim. The cherubim are always associated with the place where the Lord dwells and are worshiping Him. This little room was to be heaven on earth. God wanted them to realize that He had come down to dwell with them but in so doing He was taking them to where He was. God was coming down to where man was for the purpose to take Him to where He is! Walking into this room realizing that God desired to fellowship with us but more then that to take us to where He is for all eternity. Jesus tells us in John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
- Vs. 7-13 Here we are told that the 2nd set of curtains were to be a tent over the first ones which were the tabernacle or dwelling place. These were made of goat’s hair that was almost black in color that went over the fine linen being two cubits or six feet longer when put together then the first layer. There were made up of 11 panels five by themselves and six by themselves with the sixth hanging over the back of the tabernacle. They were put together again by 50 loops in the goat’s hair and this time by 50 loops made from bronze which is a metal associated with judgment. The effect this would have is two fold:
- It would protect the inner curtain of linen. The goat was the animal used in the sin offering. In fact, at the time of the Passover the priest would confess the sins of Israel and and lead the goat away out into the wilderness at the same time they would take a lamb and sacrifice it. They called the goat the “scape goat”. If the goat did not return to the camp it meant that God accepted the sacrifice. The only time ever recorded that the goat came back was the year the Jesus became the true lamb of God, thus their sins were not forgiven because they did not put their trust in Him.
- The 2nd thing this layer would do is make the inner layer completely invisible to the outside. Not only did it completely cover it but was made of dark goat hair which is like our felt meaning that no light was able to pass through it. Things in heaven are invisible to those who are not in fellowship with God. God did not want man to observe His beauty from a distance, form the outside of the tent. He wants us to see Him from the inside of the sanctuary!
Putting this together gives us a great picture of Jesus as He has taken our judgment upon Himself becoming our sacrifice for sins. Further more it is only through Him that we have access to heaven.
- 14 Then there was a layer of ram’s skin dyed red which would be like fine leather and provide some insulation. This was what the roof was made out of and it was ram skin dyed red. When I think of this I think of the story of Isaac and Abraham as he took his 30-year-old son up to sacrifice him to the Lord God was testing Abraham’s devotion and love to Him above that of even his only son. In verse 7 of the 22nd chapter Genesis we read the words of Abraham to his son Isaac concerning where the sacrifice would come from, “God will provide for Himself the lamb.” Literally these words are, “God will provide Himself a lamb”. Just as Abraham was about to plunge the knife into Isaac he heard a rustle in a thicket near him and there was a ram stuck by the horns. The interesting part of the story is that this took place on a peak know today as Golgotha and of coarse is the same place where God offered up His son. You see the ram in the thicket was a type of Jesus so to is this covering of protection that is over the tent. We are covered & insulated from the effects of the world by the shed blood of Jesus.
- Vs. 14 Lastly on the outside exposed to the elements was badger skin but would probably better be translated porpoise, sea cow or seal skin. The purpose of this layer was to make the sanctuary waterproof. This was nothing but just plain old skin covering the tent. From the outside no one would know what beauty was on the inside. Yet it kept the tent dry as well as dark. When I think of this I think that this is often how the world looks at Jesus and Christianity. Imagine what this outside looked like after 40 years. We are not immune to the worlds elements are we? But without the protection of Christ our inside would look like or outside.
Vs. 15-30 An anchor of the soul
Vs. 15-30 Here we have the sides or the frame of the tent. The sides of the tent, was made up of 48 boards from acacia wood just as we saw in the making of the ark and the table of show bread and were overlaid with gold as well. The north and south side had 20 boards each and the back of the tabernacle, which was the western side, had six boards with two on the corners. They were to be joined together by a system of tabs with rings through which four bars would run through them. The boards did not touch the earth they were instead placed on a stand of silver, which was given by every male of military age and was called redemption money. The weight of each of the 48 bases of silver was around 264 pounds. Through the center of the boards was drilled a hole in which another bar, invisible, ran to further strengthen the framework. The boards were 15 feet high and 2 feet 3 inches wide, thus put altogether we get the visual picture of a structure that sides and back were 15 feet high the length of which was 45 feet and its width was15 feet. So what does this mean to you and I? The boards reminded us of the Lord’s incorruptible humanity overlaid with His deity. Silver is the metal associated with redemption and the fact that this frame rested upon the unstable earth speaks to me about the stability I have in Christ. I love the fact that every thing was held in place by these bars especial the invisible one. Unity with diversity and what is it that keeps the body of Christ together the bound of Jesus! Can you imagine the beauty of this as the golden lampstands light glistened off of the golden boards? Folk’s everything in heaven is reflective in nature, may we never forget that we to ought to be reflective of God’s glory!
IV.) Vs. 31-37 Boldness to enter the Holiest
Vs. 31-37 There were two barriers or doorways into this structure.
- 31-33 The first separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. It was made up of fine linen, blue, purple and scarlet yarn with cherubim just like the first layer of the tabernacle. It was hung on four pillars made of acacia wood over laid with gold, set on silver sockets. Later on the Jews made the veil much thicker because they did not want any one but the high priest once a year to see inside the Most Holy Place. At the time of Jesus, the veil was four fingers thick or approximately 3 ¼ inches thick. Now spiritually speaking we are told in Mark 15:38 that at the time of Jesus death for the sins of the whole world, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Further more we are told in Heb. 10:19-20 that this means that we can have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.” So we get a great picture of what this veil means to us in that now we can enter into the presence of God through faith in Jesus. You could only enter into the Most Holy Place once a year and only if you were the high priest.
- 34-35 reveal to us the arrangement of the furniture we have already discussed its location before but I want to show you that this furniture speaks to us today about three-fold foundation of our Christian life.
- The altar of incense: This we are told in revelation is for the prayers of the saints, (you and I), thus it reminds us that as 1 Thess. 5:17 says we are to, “pray without ceasing.”
- The table of showbread: This reminds us of need for fellowship and the breaking of bread with one another.
- The golden lampstand: This reminds us of our need to receive illumination form the Word of God. Ps 119:105 tells us that “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Does this remind you of anything? How about in Acts 2:42 at the birth of the early church where we read the dynamics of the church “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
Vs. 36-37 Now this was the screen door if you will to the 45 feet by 15 feet Holy place. It was again made of the same material and was hung from hooks upon 5 pillars of acacia wood again overlaid in gold with the foundation being bronze. Bronze is made by refining over and over again so this speaks of purity by way of trial. This was the only entrance into the Holy Place and we are reminded of Jesus words in John 10:9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”