Church of God, Carmichael, CA

Shadows of Good Things

Or the Gospel in Type

Russell R. Byrum, 1922

[Original Page Numbers]


CHAPTER III

THE TABERNACLE AND ITS FURNITURE

(Exodus 25—27, 30, 35—38, 40)

Or allowing eighteen inches for the cubit, which measure is supposed to have been originally derived from the length of a man's forearm, from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, it is 150 feet long by 75 feet wide. It is as big as a large sized city building lot. The surrounding fence or wall is very peculiar in that it consists of hangings of fine linen suspended between posts, which stand five cubits, or seven and one half feet, apart. The fence is also five cubits, or seven and one half feet, high, so we can not see over it. These sixty posts are set in sockets of brass and have hooks and fillets of silver. But the entrance, which is thirty feet wide, including four of the spaces between posts, has instead of the common white hanging a much more beautiful one in gorgeous colors—blue, purple, and scarlet—the colors of royalty.

  Passing through the entrance to the court and looking straight ahead of us, in the further end of the court we see the tabernacle itself, and immediately before us stands the large brazen altar, where expiation is made for sin, and between this and the tabernacle is a large brazen vessel called the laver, filled with water, in which the priests must always wash both their hands and feet before entering the dwelling place of God. We expect to come back to these to examine them more carefully later, so we shall pass on.

  The tabernacle proper is not very different in size and shape from the common flat top, black goats' hair tent of the average Arabian desert dweller as it has been constructed f o r thousands of years. Raising the beautiful hanging of blue, purple, and scarlet and passing between gold covered pillars we stand in the holy place, the first sanctuary, where we common people can never actually enter. It is as large as a large sized living room—a place of beauty and grandeur. The walls and ceiling are of the same fine linen and kingly colors as the hanging at the entrance, and are inworked with figures of cherubs in recognition of the presence of Deity.

  Before us on the south side is the seven branch golden candlestick or lamp stand shedding its light round about. On our other hand is a table overlaid with pure gold. On [26] it are twelve loaves of bread, upon which is frankincense. Moving on we come to a beautiful little altar covered with gold. On this sweet incense is burned daily, morning and evening, for a sweet odor before Jehovah. Also on its horns are marks of blood, the blood of atonement sprinkled on it from the sin offering.

  Now with trembling hand and bowed head we reverently lift the beautiful second veil and quietly enter the sacred inner room, the holiest place. Naturally all is dark, but we know we are in the presence of Him who dwells "in the thick darkness." (1 Kings 8:12.) Here we stand in the awful presence of the Almighty God. We are before the "throne of grace." This inner room is but half as large as the first, and its walls are covered with the same kind of beautiful hangings. The one piece of furniture is the chest like gold covered ark, containing the testimony, and over it serving as its lid the pure gold mercy seat with a golden cherub on either end stretching its wings out over the mercy seat like a golden canopy. Here above the mercy seat and under the shadow of the outspread wings of the cherubim (according to Jewish tradition) the Shekinah light, the glory of the Lord, ever shines. From here Jehovah speaks to and blesses his people. Here also on the mercy seat once each year, on the great day of atonement, the blood of atonement is sprinkled. Here intercession is made for transgressors, and here mercy is extended to sinners.

What the Tabernacle Typified

  One can scarcely contemplate this peculiar structure with its various apartments, its strange furniture, its bloody sacrifices, and its mysterious rites without being impressed with the fact that it must be of symbolic significance, even if the Scriptures were silent as to the fact. We need have no doubt that the tabernacle was a type and therefore also symbolic to the Israelites. The writer to the Hebrews, after giving a description of the tabernacle, says, "Which was a figure for the time then present . . . But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, [27] by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands" (Heb. 9:9 11). Also Jesus is described as "a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man" (Heb. 8:2). And again Christ is spoken of as the "Apostle and High Priest," as a "son over his own house; whose house are we" (Heb. 3: 1, 6). From these texts it is clear that as a house and as the dwelling place of God the tabernacle typified the true, spiritual "house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:15).

  But let it be noticed that only as the house of God does it find its antitype in the church. As a means of worship and ceremonial or symbolic purification from sin, it typified the way by which today the sinner comes to God or obtains salvation through the precious blood of the true Lamb of God from the guilt of sin and depravity of the nature. Of the large number of New Testament texts that teach this, probably the following is sufficient for our present purpose: "Having therefore, brethren, holiness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." ( Heb. 10 :19 22 ) .

The Court
( Exod. 27: 9-19 )

  Surrounding the tabernacle was a considerable space called the "court" enclosed by a high fence three hundred cubits around, or it was one hundred and fifty feet long by seventy five feet wide. This was a screen of linen cloth, and was not very different from what is commonly used in the East at the present time to enclose the private apartments of important persons. The linen curtains as already described were seven and one half feet high and were supported by posts, twenty on each side and ten on each end. These posts were probably of shittim wood, were five cubits [28] apart, stood in sockets of brass, and had chapters of silver and silver fillets, which were probably connecting rods between the posts from which the curtains were suspended. Whether the sockets beneath were for the purpose of keeping the posts upright is not certain; but we are told that there were pins and cords which probably were used for this purpose as a common tent is supported. In the court were located the brazen altar and the laver.

  But what is the typical significance of the court? Into the court came the penitent Israelite to offer sacrifice for sin, to obtain the favor of God. Here he came for justification. Here at the altar of burnt offering he came to God. If, then, those who came into the ancient court of the tabernacle were seeking forgiveness through those symbolic sacrifices, they must be typical of those who are convicted of their sins and are coming to God for salvation through Christ. They have forsaken the outside world, but have not yet come into God's church.

The Brazen Altar
( Exod. 27 :1-8; 38 :1-7)

  The altar is doubtless the oldest of all religious institutions, and dates from the earliest dawn of human history. Doubtless Cain and Abel offered their respective offerings upon altars. Noah built an altar when he left the ark. At the first place Abraham stopped in the land of Canaan he built an altar to the Lord. These altars were of earth or of unhewn stone. Altars were common to heathen peoples —in Egypt, at Athens, among the American Indians of Mexico; and some of the ruins of the ancient Druids are supposed to be a kind of altar.

  When God told Moses to make an altar of brass he was not introducing a new institution, but rather regulating the construction and use of an existing one. This altar of the tabernacle is called by various names, as the altar; the brazen altar (to distinguish it from the golden altar of the holy place); and the altar of burnt offering, probably because the burnt offering was that most commonly offered [29]

   (see illustration on next page)

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