In this chapter, we are given some details about the design of the Tabernacle itself. This sanctuary was basically a large movable tent that was made of layers of curtains stretched over an interior framework of walls. The innermost layer of curtains (verses 1-6) were to be very rich. They were to be embroidered with cherubim, signifying that the angels of God pitch their tents round about the Church (Ps. 34:7). These interior curtains were made of 10 pieces of fine linen, each measuring about 42’ (12.8 m) long and 6’ (1.8 m) wide. Five of these curtains were attached together, and the other five were attached together. Then these two sections were attached to one another by 50 golden clasps. The fact that these curtains were made of fine linen represents Jesus’ pure and holy righteousness that is imputed unto believers by grace.
The next layer of curtains (verses 7-13) was laid on top of the linen. These were made of 11 pieces of goat-hair fabric – each piece being 45’ (13.7 m) long and 6’ (1.8 m) wide. Six of these pieces were joined together, and the other five were joined together; and then then the two sections were attached by 50 brass clasps. The extra curtain in the six-panel set probably hung over the front or the back end of the Tabernacle, or perhaps a little on both ends. Throughout the Bible, goats were used as a symbol of human failure and sin.
Above the layer of goat-hair fabric was a covering made of rams’ skins (verse 14) that were dyed bright red. This, of course, represented the blood of Christ – without the shedding of which, there is no remission of sins (Heb. 9:22). Finally, the outer layer of the Tabernacle consisted of a layer of badgers’ skins (verse 14) – a high-quality, tough leather that would shed water, resist the elements, and preserve the interior beauty of the Tabernacle for years.
It is worth pointing out that while the interior curtains of the Tabernacle were very costly and beautiful, the outer coverings would present a very ordinary and even rough appearance. In the book, Seeing Christ in the Tabernacle, author Ervin N. Hershberger says, “Non-Christians never see the inner beauty of Christ. They may see Him as an ordinary man (leather), or perhaps as a good man and a spiritual leader (fine leather). But looking deeper, we find Christ to be the Blessed Redeemer – the atoning Sacrifice (rams’ skins dyed red) – by whom God can justly redeem fallen man from human failure and sin (goats’ hair curtain). Jesus Christ is the ‘righteousness of saints’ (ten curtains of fine twined linen), bringing home ‘to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish’ (Eph. 5:27). Acceptable righteousness is available only through Christ (Rom. 3:22-26; 4:22-24; 10:3; Phil. 3:9). ‘Yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend’ (Song of Solomon 5:16).”
For the framework of the Tabernacle, sockets of silver (thought to weigh about 115 pounds each) were laid in rows upon the ground. In every pair of these sockets, a strong wooden board – measuring 15’ (4.6 m) by 2¼’ (0.7 m), and covered with plates of gold – was stood upright and fitted by mortises and tenons. In this manner, walls were formed for the two sides and the back end of the Tabernacle. Each of these walls was held together by five bars, which passed through golden rings that were attached to the boards. And then, across this framework of walls, the curtains and coverings were spread. Although the Tabernacle was movable, it was strong and firm; and the materials were very costly. In all of this, it was a picture of the Church of God, which was established upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, with Jesus Himself being the chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20, 21).
Inside the Tabernacle, a veil separated the holy place (the front room) from the Holy of Holies (the back room, where the Ark of the Covenant rested). This veil was hung from pillars; and it served as a partition between the two rooms, forbidding anyone to look into the Holy of Holies. In Hebrews 9:8, the Apostle tells us that the ceremonial law could not make its observers perfect, nor would the observance of it bring men to heaven; for there was no free access into the Holy of Holies while this Tabernacle was standing. Life and immortality were hidden until they were brought to light by the Gospel, which was signified by the rending of the veil of the Temple when Jesus died (Matt. 27:51). By His blood, we now enjoy the freedom to enter into the presence of God Himself, in acts of worship.
Another veil served as the outer door of the Tabernacle. This curtain was the only defense that the Tabernacle had, teaching us that God takes care of His Church on earth. If God is pleased to do so, He can even make a curtain to be a strong defense to His house – as if it were protected by brass gates of brass and iron bars.
As we see some of the many ways in which the Tabernacle represented our precious Savior, what are our thoughts on these matters? Do we see any glory in His Person? Do we behold anything precious in His work of redemption?
Blessed Jesus! We praise Your name that the veil has been torn down; and by Your blood, we now have boldness to enter into the presence of our God! Help us to draw near to You with a true heart, in full assurance of faith. Amen.
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illustration: Inside the Tabernacle Image | clker.com