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The Outer Court of the Tabernacle
A Journey from Outside the complex to the Tabernacle Building
By David A. DePra
The tabernacle in the wilderness, as most Christians know, is a type of Jesus Christ in His Redemptive work. Not only do the materials, items, and structure, all speak of Christ and His relationship with us through the Redemption, but the ORDER and ARRANGEMENT of the items of the tabernacle also hold for us great Truth. They show us, not only the Truth of reality of God’s Redemption, but our conversion.
God gave these Old Testament types and shadows to us so that we would have yet another witness to the Truth. The New Testament teaching is clear, but "just in case" we don’t get it – and many don’t – we have these patterns of the heavenly things to look at. The structure of the tabernacle is an exact physical representation of spiritual reality and Truth.
Outside Looking In
As you look at the tabernacle complex from the outside, all you can see is the white linen fence. You cannot see over the fence, for it is 5 cubits, or 7 ½ feet high. Yet the fence itself provides a stark contrast to the outside world. The linen is the righteousness of God revealed, and you are gazing at it from the outside, not from the inside. It hints at what is on the other side.
Right away we have our first principle which is illustrated by the tabernacle. The complex is out in the open, for all to see. We cannot see inside, but there is a witness to the righteousness of God which is evident to those outside. This is the gospel.
The gospel is an oasis in the wilderness – a light introduced into darkness. The tabernacle was certainly all of that. If you were out in the wilderness and saw the white linen fence of the tabernacle, there would be at least curiosity, if not an attraction to it.
God begins to reveal Himself to people in many ways. For instance, God has given His law as a written manifestation of His righteousness. And He has given us a conscience. Both of these everyone can see. But we still need to see Jesus Christ. So God then begins a work by which He "draws" people to Christ – that is – He begins to show them who Jesus is and how much they need Him. All of this is geared to getting the person to the place where they are able to "come to Jesus." As we will see, God’s drawing is geared to getting the person to where they see the DOOR of the tabernacle.
Jesus said, "No man can come to Me except the Father who sent Me draw him." (Jn. 6:44) But notice: Jesus is NOT saying that the "come to Me" part is something God does. No. In fact, He clearly says, "No MAN can come to Me UNLESS…" If the "coming" part were something God did, Jesus would say, "You cannot come to Me. Instead, one day you will wake up and discover that God has already saved you, and birthed you anew." But no. Jesus describes a process here, and a choice. He says that only God can initiate our salvation. He must DRAW us to Christ. Thus, it is the DRAWING that God does. But it is the coming that man does – once he is drawn by God to Christ.
No where in the entire picture of redemption provided by the tabernacle do we find a person FIRST in the Holy Place, and then later discovering how he got there, and only then placing his faith in Christ. No. You don’t even get INTO the tabernacle complex until you arrive at the Door, and come to terms with the Cross. God draws us to that point. But we must choose whether to come.
The linen fence provides a means by which God might draw a person. It is an indication to one living in the wilderness that the wilderness is not normal – not the best to hope for. There is something on the other side of that fence – which is better.
The worst sinner in the world will remain blind to his own condition, unless something enters in to show that his condition is abnormal. The sinner must begin to sense some NEED. The tabernacle standing there in the wilderness is a type of how God at least begins to arouse the consciousness of people to the fact that they are WRONG with God, and that there is a means by which they might become RIGHT with Him.
God wants to show the sinner not ONLY how bad he is, but by how righteous Jesus is. We can only see sin if we see the righteousness of which it falls short. Again, this is the CONTRAST of the wilderness to the white tabernacle. Thus, immediately we see that the tabernacle typifies a witness – the gospel. The gospel brings LIGHT into our world. It gets our attention and tells us that there is a solution to our condition.
The Bible says that the gospel itself, "is the power of God unto salvation, unto those who believe." (see Rom. 1:16) This means that the message of the gospel – the real one – carries with it something that appeals to the human heart. It carries an appeal to the effect that we are sinners and that there is a Savior.
The gospel points out to us that we are living in a wilderness – are lost. It shows us Jesus Christ – the tabernacle – is the solution. It is possible for us to ignore, delay, or reject this Truth, because we will not leave our wilderness. But if we do seek God further, we will eventually come to the DOOR.
Now notice: At this point, the sinner is still OUTSIDE the tabernacle. A sinner cannot make himself good. He cannot even so much as discover his own need. But a sinner can be shown how bad he is – by being shown the good: Jesus Christ. The tabernacle standing there in the wilderness typifies that fact that God brings a standard into our lives which tells us that where we have been living is not normal. There is something better.
The height of the linen fence is 5 cubits, which speaks of grace. Yet the same height which keeps everything in the tabernacle, keeps everything else OUT. We cannot enter the tabernacle area by our own works. Only by grace – through the ONE DOOR – can we enter.
There were 60 pillars holding up the linen fence. Each of them was made of acacia wood, seated in brass sockets, and topped with a silver crown. The pillars where, of course, the same height of the linen fence, 5 cubits. Into the pillars where also eye-hooks through which a silver chain was strung, which ran the length of the top of the fence around the tabernacle.
Acacia wood is always indicative of humanity. This is both Jesus in His humanity, holding up all that encloses the will of God, and then us, who are called upon to do the same with our personal lives, and as the Body of Christ. The 60 pillars were all seated in brass, which always denotes judgment. In other words, the FOUNDATION of the fence is God’s judgment upon sin – which is always what brass pictures. Those brass footings were what allowed that fence to stand and separate what is within the tabernacle complex from that which is without.
Can we see what it is that makes SEPARATION from what is within the tabernacle, from that which is without? Judgment upon sin makes that possible. In the final analysis, you are either "in Adam" or "in Christ." If you are "in Adam," you have never surrendered your sin to God’s judgment in Christ. You are on the outside. But if you are "in Christ," you got that way by entering in through the Cross. The posts which hold up the linen fence are seated in brass, and uphold this separation – that is – are the foundation of it.
Not that the SAME posts and linen fence which keeps those outside from entering in, except by the ONE DOOR, also keep those who are in secure in Christ. Again – the point of separation is the DOOR and the CROSS which is one with it – as pictured by the brazen altar.
Here we see a clear picture that Jesus did die for ALL. There is ONE DOOR, but it is wide, 20 cubits wide, and open to all. But only those who believe – enter through the DOOR and come to terms with the Cross – are saved. This is the separation between the inside and outside of the tabernacle. This is THE ISSUE all of must be deal with.
The fact that the pillars are seated in brass, but then have silver crowns, shows that in the plan of God, things are seated in judgment, but are crowed with redemption. We cannot be saved unless we surrender ourselves to Christ for God’s judgment of our sin through Him. But things do not end there. They end with Redemption. Those who God judges in Christ, He forgives and buys back to Himself.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Rom 5:10)
The death of Jesus Christ took away our sin. In Christ, our "old man of sin" was put to death. This is the foundation which is pictured by the brass sockets into which the pillars are seated. But salvation is not death, it is LIFE. We are raised with Christ unto newness of life. This is pictured by the silver crowns upon the pillars.
So many Christians continue to think that they are saved merely because Jesus "died for their sins," and God has therefore forgiven them. So they define "salvation," as "getting our sins forgiven." There is no question that Jesus DID die for our sins, and because of that, God HAS forgiven us. But there is nothing in that which speaks of NEW LIFE through a NEW BIRTH. It speaks only of the necessary death of the old life. The Bible teaches that we are saved, not solely by the death of Christ, but through His resurrection. Through the resurrection we have the life which IS eternal – which IS salvation.
This is more important to understand that we can imagine. Unless we see it, we will be subject to all kinds of false doctrines which are predicated upon the notion that salvation is nothing more than "getting our sins forgiven." For hundreds of years, Christians have operated under the notion that salvation is nothing more than that – nothing more than God "imputing" the penalty Christ paid to us – in only a legal way – and thus, it resulted in God forgiving us. To them, THAT, and only that, is salvation. They say, "Jesus paid our penalty, and God has imputed that payment to our account, and thus, pronounced us forgiven. We are therefore saved."
But ask: If this is the Truth, then WHAT are we saved from? Under this kind of reasoning, it sounds like we are saved from nothing more than God Himself! His wrath. How about being saved from SIN? How about being saved from death? If all God did was "impute to us" the death of Christ so we could be forgiven, and the obedience of Christ, so we could be righteous, then how does that deliver anyone from SIN? How does that make you and I a new creation? How does that CHANGE anybody?
It doesn’t. What you end up with is someone who is forgiven FOR sin, but who remains IN sin. THAT is error. Indeed, it is heresy.
Now, just to show how widespread this false notion of salvation is, I quote here the Westminster Confession of Faith (underline mine):
THOSE whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves: it is the gift of God. (WCF, Chapter 11, point 1)
In the WCF, it is clearly stated that "imputing" is NOT "infusing." That is clear from the above statement. Thus, the WCF denies that through the salvation process we ever actually receive the life of Christ Himself. Rather, it says we are merely "imputed" – in a legal sense – with the obedience of Christ so that God can have legal grounds for calling us righteous, and we are "imputed" with the legal payment of Christ’s death, so that we can be forgiven.
This is error. It is NOT salvation. Not only does this statement turn salvation into nothing more than a "legal imputation," but it openly states that God does NOT "infuse" righteousness into the saved person. The fact is, that is EXACTLY what God does! You are saved because you "have been planted together in the likeness" of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (see Rom. 6:1-4) You are saved because you have the very life of Jesus Christ in you.
What do we think Christianity is? Paul says it is, "Christ in you." (Col. 1:27) NOT – Christ’s work merely imputed to you. If we don’t see the difference, we will forever be limited in our understanding of salvation itself. The fact is, we are "infused" with the righteousness of Christ because we are made one with Christ Himself. Being made one with Christ Himself is the ONLY KIND OF SALVATION the Bible talks about. Read John 15, where Jesus gives the teaching about the Vine and the branches. Nothing could be more clear.
You mean the WCF is wrong? Yes. Totally wrong on this point. Christians need to warm up to the concept that there is a Person named Jesus Christ, and that He is the Truth. Confessions of faith are fine, but they are not a substitute for knowing Jesus Christ.
Salvation is Christ in us. We live with Christ because we have died with Him. It is all a living reality – not merely a legal imputation. Salvation is NEW LIFE which is the outcome of the death of the old. Imputation cannot truly change a person, or set them free from sin itself. Imputation cannot make us new creations. It can only give us new labels! No. In Christ, we are born again to newness of life – His life in us.
The fact that the pillars of the tabernacle have, as their foundation, brass, and are capped with silver, show this great Truth. The pillars have both as PART of them. They don’t have these things merely "imputed" to them. Indeed, the possibility of the linen fence standing as a separation depends on it.
Real salvation is the result of coming to the Cross. We must die in Christ in order to live with Him – not in theory, not merely in a legal sense – but truly. For Paul, salvation was a real experience – not just faith in the fact that God had "imputed" to us the obedience and sacrifice of Christ:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)
If Christianity is nothing more than an "imputation," then Paul could not have been "crucified WITH Christ," nor could he said that, "Christ lives in me." Salvation is LIFE – real life in Christ. Anything less is NOT the Christianity of the Bible.
Notably, the sixty pillars, which are all 5 cubits high, are each spaced 5 cubits apart. All grace. And sixty is 6 x 10 which is the number of man times the number for God’s perfect order. This shows that the tabernacle complex is framed by what God has done in humanity. What God has done through Christ in us is what creates a complete separation between the reality which is within the tabernacle, and the outside, unredeemed world. This speaks of salvation itself, the fact that we have been born again as NEW creations. (II Cor. 5:17)
As the sinner approaches the tabernacle complex, and the linen fence, he will not find but ONE door. But if he happens to make his approach on one of the three sides which do not have the door, there is a help; a guide. There is, on the top edge of the linen fence, running all around the tabernacle, laced through the 60 posts, a silver chain. Silver always stands for Redemption. Thus, if the sinner truly seeks redemption, he need only follow along the chain, and no matter what direction he walks, it will eventually lead him to the one and only Door: Jesus Christ.
John 14:6 -- I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 10:9 -- I am the Door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
John 6:37 -- He that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.
John 5:39-40 -- Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
John 6:44-45 -- No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Mat 11:28-30 -- Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
John 7:37-38 -- In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
This one door to the tabernacle is covered by the first of three "veils." The veil which covered this entry door was 20 cubits wide. This is 4 x 5 which is the number for the world, times the number for grace. The grace of God by which we enter this door is offered to all the world, not just to some. The height of the door, of course, is also five, in correspondence to the linen fence. It too shows the grace of God.
The veil over this door spoke of the nature and character of the Door Himself, Jesus Christ. It was, as were the other two veils, FOUR colored. The colors were blue, purple, scarlet, and white. Blue is Jesus as God. Purple is Jesus as King, or Messiah. Scarlet speaks of Jesus as the perfect man who shed His Blood for us. And the white speaks of the Lamb without blemish, the perfect man Jesus was, who gave Himself in our stead. These colors were all interwoven – just as Jesus was all of these things in one Person.
Jesus is the only Door by which we might approach God, let alone enter into His purposes. The four-colored veils continually remind us that Jesus is not an impersonal, far-removed Savior. He is God, King, man, and Savior.
The Brazen Altar
Jesus is the Door of the tabernacle. No man enters except by Him, and no man will come to the Door except the Father draw him. But the moment you enter that Door, you meet the Brazen altar. You cannot proceed until you come to terms with it. God drew you there. But He will not force you to go any further.
The Brazen Altar – again "brass" stands for judgment upon sin -- was elevated on a mound. This is obviously because it represents Jesus’ Cross. Jesus was "lifted up." To be "lifted up" certainly means to be made visible for all to see. It likewise shows the importance and prominence of that which is lifted up. The brazen altar was, in fact, the largest and HIGHEST piece of furniture.
The Brazen Altar measured 5 x 5 x 3, was foursquare, and had four horns at each corner. Through this God is showing that God’s grace is for the WHOLE WORLD, and is perfect and complete. Indeed, the scope of the Redemption of Jesus Christ equals the scope of sin – and extends to the four corners of the world, indeed, to all of God’s creation.
The fire of this brazen altar was NEVER TO GO OUT. It was to burn continually. This shows three things: First, the Cross of Christ is always available – as we have seen, to the entire world. Secondly, the Cross is always VISIBLE in the blackest of nights. Thirdly, the effects of the Cross are eternal.
This was an altar of burnt offering, which denotes a COMPLETE and unconditional surrender of ALL to God. You cannot come to the Cross and make a partial surrender. You cannot be partly crucified with Christ. It is all or nothing.
The Door and the Brazen Altar are linked together as one – as are Jesus and His Cross. Of course, you COULD come through the Door, but then refuse the altar. Does this not aptly describe those into whose lives LIGHT has come, but who have chosen darkness? (John 3:19)
There are many today who celebrate the Person of Jesus, but refuse His Cross. Yet if we look at the picture of the tabernacle we see that it is not possible to proceed at all until we come to terms with the Cross.
Let’s understand something here: Coming to terms with the Cross is NOT merely saying, "Yes, I believe Jesus died for me." It is NOT merely giving assent to the fact that there is an offering in the Person of Christ which is burned upon that altar. No. Coming to terms means that I place myself on that alter with Him. Unless I surrender my old life to Christ at the Cross there is no new birth – indeed – no salvation. That is why you had to bring an offering – give "something of yourself." You had to acknowledge your sin and place your faith in the death that was to take place as equivalent to your own death for your sin.
The Brazen Altar is the place of death – the place where we must fully relinquish the old life which we have brought to the Door. Again – we cannot proceed in our spiritual journey unless we come to the Cross.
God requires absolutely nothing of us for salvation. Nothing – except one thing: We must come to Jesus and relinquish our old life. That we can do and that we must do. We cannot do works which are good enough to be saved, and we cannot birth ourselves anew. But we can come to Jesus and relinquish the old life. If we do that, God will do that rest.
Walking FROM the outside TO the inside of the tabernacle pictures the fact that we are answering God’s call FROM the world TO Christ. But again – this simply brings us TO the Cross. The first step is the Cross. It is one thing to say that I want to forsake the old life. It is another to actually relinquish it at the Cross.
It is here that we must we understand SIN. The root of SIN is self-ownership. All "sins" come from that one root. Self-ownership is the sin nature which we inherit from Adam. But we affirm that root sin of self-ownership by refusing to surrender our self-ownership. That refusal is unbelief.
So we see that sin is self-ownership. Unbelief is the refusal to surrender that self-ownership. This makes sense, because, in contrast, faith is an unconditional surrender of myself to Jesus Christ, and results is being set free from SIN. Sure. If I surrender myself to Christ, I no longer belong to myself. I am therefore free from the sin of self-ownership!
Of course, you and I are NOT responsible for being born in Adam with the sin nature. We did nothing to choose it. We were born into it. So THE SIN is not that we were born in Adam. THE SIN is that we stay that way once we see Jesus Christ. The sin of the human race, in the final analysis, is unbelief – the refusal to relinquish the old life to Christ and be saved.
So what we see is that SIN – by very definition – is possession of self. By definition, SIN is that I belong to myself by birth, and then through unbelief, continue to belong to myself by choice. Thus, the ONE SIN I must repent of in order to come to Jesus is exactly that: The sin of unbelief. I must repent of belonging to myself. But if I do, then I obviously cannot continue to belong to myself. Rather, I must relinquish myself to God. There is no other possible outcome of such a repentance.
We must see this. If THE SIN is belonging to myself through unbelief, then THE SIN I must repent of is the sin of belonging to myself through unbelief. But if I repent of the sin of belonging to myself through unbelief, then I must do so by relinquishing myself to God by faith! And God says there is only one way to do that: I must come to the Cross and surrender to Jesus.
Notice something here: By definition, this must be conscious and voluntary. By that I do not suggest that any of us really see the depth of the meaning of the Cross BEFORE we surrender, or necessarily understand the theology of it. I simply mean that – by definition – I cannot repent of owning myself unless I do it consciously and voluntarily. A simple "I surrender to you, Jesus, by faith," will do.
The fact is, we need only see that we have been WRONG with God, and unconditionally desire to be RIGHT with Him. We need to hand our old lives to Christ at the Cross. That is ALL we have to do to be saved, and it is the one thing we CAN do and MUST do. God will bring us to this choice – but WE must make it.
The point is this: Relinquishment of the old life to the Cross of Jesus Christ is the first step towards salvation. But surrender – if it IS surrender – must be conscious and voluntary. Otherwise it isn’t surrender. So there is no way that this first step of surrender can happen without it being the outcome of a free will choice. The Bible says that this step is the choice to which God DRAWS us. But it is grave error to say that this step is one which God DOES TO US, or "elects" FOR US – and which we simply "find out about" later. No. That would not be conversion at all.
What could more clearly illustrate that we must first relinquish our old lives to Christ by faith BEFORE we can be born again? – than the tabernacle? There is no concept in the Bible of being born again first, and then because of it, coming to believe. No. You must FIRST "repent and believe." THEN, through that death, you are raised and born again.
The fact that I cannot even so much as reach the inner tabernacle building until I first meet the Cross, and until I first meet the Laver, which symbolizes being born again through water and Spirit, ought to show us the order of things. Indeed, this is why God made the tabernacle. He wanted us to have a picture lesson of salvation which would guard against false teaching.
The brazen laver contained water for washing and cleansing, and it’s placement AFTER the brazen alter, but before the tabernacle building, carries great significance. For one thing, it shows that we don’t have to make ourselves clean to come to the Cross. Rather, our cleansing is the OUTCOME of coming to the Cross.
Think of this laver in practical ways. Once the priest was finished with the sacrifice on the brazen altar, he was dirty. There would be blood and other dirt on him. He would come to the laver to wash this all off of himself. Thus, we see that the laver washes away all that speaks of the death of the OLD LIFE. Sure, because THAT is finished. In other words, we are not to walk around with death all over us. Why? Because now we have a NEW LIFE.
Actually, baptism expresses this very thing. God could have used many vehicles to illustrate death and resurrection in Christ, but He used WATER. Why? Well, it not only symbolizes a full immersion INTO Christ – into His death – but the water likewise CLEANSES. Once we come up out of the water, we are, as it were, washed of the old life. We are born anew – free of the old.
While the brazen altar shows the surrender of the old life to the Cross of Christ, the laver shows the washing off of us that old life, and a resurrection unto newness of life. Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (Jn. 3:5-6)
To be "born anew of water" is to come up out of the water. Of course, this is predicated on the reality that when you go down into the water you are dying to the old life. This is exactly what baptism symbolizes. Indeed, Paul is able to say:
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:3-11)
Here we see the brazen altar where we relinquish the old life. That puts us "under the water" – baptized into the death of Christ. But then we find ourselves coming up out of the water of the laver, being washed of all that speaks of sin and death.
Curious that the laver is the ONLY item in the entire tabernacle picture for which we are given NO measurements. God gave such specific instructions for every single detail of the tabernacle, and yet none for this important piece – the laver. Why?
Even the omissions of God are significant and inspired. The reason there are no measurements given for the laver is that the laver, as mentioned, pictures the reality and description of the new birth. While the brass altar pictures death in Christ, the laver pictures LIFE in Him. And regarding that life, Jesus said, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it comes, and whither it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:7-8)
Flesh and blood – material things – CAN be measured. But not that which is of the Spirit. So despite the fact that the laver was a physical item, and necessarily so, it nevertheless pictures one who has died with Christ, but is now born anew through water and Spirit. This cannot be "measured" in flesh and blood terms – any more than the wind, as Jesus said, can be said to have a specific place it started, or a specific place it went.
The laver was made of polished brass, and with clear water in it, would have made a nice mirror. But does this mean that we are to continually look at ourselves, in order to determine whether we are saved, free from sin, or doing ok?
Well, it is always good to "examine yourself, to see if you are in the faith." (II Cor. 13:5) But I have another suggestion for this "mirror" characteristic of the laver. Through the new birth, we are new creations in Christ Jesus. We have a new identity. Indeed, until each of us are completed by Christ we have no real identity, except that of Adam. So could it be that the mirror effect of the laver shows us that the same water through which we became born anew, is also the means by which we become identified with Christ, indeed, is the means by which we have a new identity in Him? When we look into the laver, we see for the first time who we really are, because we are looking at Jesus Christ.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
Here we see that there is certainly an ongoing effect of the laver – that is – a working out of the holiness and sanctification which is ours through the new birth.
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Eph 5:26-27)
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3:3-6)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to (have) cleansed us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
We die once for all in Christ. We are washed of the old life once for all. We are born again once for all. You cannot go back. But because we continue to live in a flesh and blood body, we need a continual cleansing. But don’t misunderstand. This does not mean we need to be born again over and over again. It simply means that once we have been born again, what Jesus has done for us is able to CONTINUALLY be experienced, in an ever-growing way.
Here we see the other aspect of the mirror effect of the laver. In this "mirror" we see that we are a new creation in Christ. We see our identity in Him. But we also see we fall short. Thus, the same mirror which shows us our flaws, likewise gives us the solution: We are cleansed through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Once we deal with the Brazen Altar and Laver, we will find ourselves at the entrance of the tabernacle building. It is again to be noted that you cannot go into this building until you have come through the DOOR, and dealt with the altar and laver. Indeed, the priest were forbidden to enter into the tabernacle building until first washing. (Ex. 30:17-21) The order of things in our conversion should by now be more than obvious.
The materials and framework of the tabernacle building is also significant. Therein we see a number of picture lessons. The "boards" which hold up the tabernacle building number 48, or 6 x 8. Six is the number of man, and eight the number of the resurrection. We are about to enter into a place where those people who pass through the death and resurrection of the altar and laver are able to enter: NEW LIFE.
These 48 boards stood vertically upright and were overlaid with GOLD. They stood in 96 sockets of silver and were held together by five horizontal bars running the span of each of the three closed sides of the tabernacle building. At the entrance of the open side of the Tabernacle there was a hanging called "the Door of the Tabernacle" – the second of the three veils. This consisted of the same four colors as the veil of the door of the complex itself, and it pictures the same Christ.
The boards were seated in the silver sockets to show that we STAND solely by the Redemption of what Jesus Christ has done. The five horizontal bars likewise show that we STAND by grace. The rings through which these five bars passed stand for the Holy Spirit, who keeps everything in it’s place – and is really the one who holds all things together.
The entrance of the tabernacle building, with it’s veil, was supported by five pillars. These posts, unlike the boards of the three closed sides, were NOT seated in silver. They were seated in BRASS. This shows that the entry to the tabernacle was paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. FIVE is grace and brass is judgment, and herein we see Christ bore our sin so that we could be set free.
Each of the 48 boards which formed the walls of the three closed sides measured 10 cubits in height and 1 1/2 cubits in width. They were made of shittim wood, and were overlaid with Gold. The boards are a type of believer forming the church. All of the Boards were to measure up this Divine Standard of TEN in order to qualify as a Board in God's Tabernacle. There was only ONE STANDARD for all the Boards. God has but ONE STANDARD for the Church - THE LORD JESUS! To "measure up" means to stand by faith in what Jesus has done – this alone qualifies you to be a "board."
We get ourselves into horrible deception and delusion when we start measuring and comparing ourselves to others. The MAN CHRIST JESUS is the pattern and standard for living.
The boards are a picture of much teaching in the NT:
And he gave some,
apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and
teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for
the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith,
and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of
the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children,
tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight
of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But
speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the
head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted
by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the
measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in
love. (Eph. 4:11-16)
Ye also, as lively stones, are built
up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices,
acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
The Boards were to be TEN cubits high. The number TEN speaks to us of trial and testing, law, order and responsibility. This speaks to us of our responsibility before God. The Lord will have a building made up of those who are TRIED and tested, who have submitted to His Divine law and order and who are not afraid to take responsibility before Him.
The Coverings of the Building
The tabernacle had walls, but no ceiling. Instead, there were four coverings which comprised it’s roof, and extended downward over the sides. These coverings can be looked at in two ways. First, inward to outward, which shows GOD’S view of things. Or, outward to inward, which shows MAN’S view.
The entire building, of course, is a type of Jesus Christ. Thus, the outer covering of badger skins would picture the fact that there was not necessarily anything about Him which made Him stand out. But more, to many today, Jesus is not attractive. They view Him as a negative, not as their Savior.
The second covering, working from the outside in, was of ram’s skins. The ram was the animal sacrificed for the consecration of the priests. So we have a second step in a progression. We see the surrender of Jesus of Himself to God. Not only for the Cross. But even in becoming a man to begin with, and living a fully surrendered life.
The ram’s skin was to be dyed red, and of course, this does point to the fact that Jesus’ surrender was unto a complete death on the Cross. Paul captures this best in Philippians:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Phil 2:5-8)
Working outside towards the inside, the next covering is made of goat’s hair. Here we see Jesus as a prophet. Certainly, because of His sacrifice, as pictured by the ram’s hair, we see that this would include all of the ministry made possible in His church.
The most inward covering was the four-colored cherubim covering. This always symbolizes the presence of God and His glory. Notice how we only get to this covering by first "stripping off" the other three, from the outside, or we get to it by entering into the Holy Place through Christ.
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