Now we shall read of the making of the courtyard of the Tabernacle, and of the two pieces of furniture that stood therein. The courtyard had only one opening or doorway; and the hanging for this doorway was made of needlework of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen that was supported by four pillars of brass, ornamented with silver. Whoever wished to enter the courtyard could only do so through that one opening. Does this not remind us of Jesus, Who said, “I am the Way… No man cometh unto the Father, but by me”? And again, He said, “I am the Door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
The doorway of the courtyard was exactly opposite the doorway of the Tabernacle; and in a straight line between the two, but closer to the entrance, stood the brass altar of burnt-offering. This was the first thing a person came to when he entered the courtyard. What should we learn from this altar? Indeed, it has much blessed truth to teach us, and it is all about Jesus! It was made of very strong metal, in order to bear the weight of the sacrifices that was laid upon it; but unlike the pieces of furniture inside the Tabernacle, it was made of brass, not gold. This reminds us how our Redeemer was “despised and rejected of men” during the days of His earthly ministry. Nevertheless, He was strong enough to bear our burden of guilt and sin, and He was mighty to save us from its punishment. The altar was openly accessible on all sides, just as Jesus stands ready to receive all who come to Him. From north, south, east, and west – all are welcome. He will refuse none! No one who comes to Him shall be cast out!
The other item in the courtyard of the Tabernacle was the laver for the priests to wash at. Surely it is not hard to find out the spiritual meaning of this laver! The priests had washed and purified themselves before they came into the presence of God in His house. But the laver stood full of water, in front of the Tabernacle door; for after presenting their offerings upon the altar, they would need to wash their hands and feet again before going into the Holy Place.
Pure water is a picture of the Holy Spirit. The laver, then, teaches us that although we are saved and justified – that is, counted holy in God’s sight – on account of the death of Jesus in our place; yet we need the daily cleansing and purifying of the Holy Spirit to make us what our heavenly Father likes His children to be, and to enable us to please Him in our daily walk. We are saved by the blood of Christ, in order that we may be sanctified – that is, made holy – by the Spirit of Christ. God desires His people to be conformed more and more to the image of His dear Son, and this is done by the continual application of His cleansing blood to our souls by the Holy Spirit. But in order to avoid any confusion, we must emphasize that this daily washing is not needed to make believers more safe than they are already. They are safe as soon as they cast themselves upon Jesus; and they shall never come into condemnation, for they have peace with God through the Savior’s blood. And so the daily cleansing by the Holy Spirit is not necessary to win heaven for them (which Jesus has already done); rather, it is to make them more like Christ – holy and pure.
Let us now take a look at the courtyard itself, in which the sanctuary, the altar, and the laver stood. It was not made of walls; it was surrounded on all sides by curtains of pure white linen. These were hung upon pillars that were fitted into sockets of brass, and ornamented with silver. The fact that the courtyard was only made of curtains suggested that the Tabernacle was movable and changeable. Its curtains would one day be taken down and folded up, when the tent would be enlarged (so to speak) in order to make room for the multitude of believers who would be brought into the Lord’s house by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ (Whom the Tabernacle pictured and foreshadowed all along).
This courtyard enclosed and separated the Tabernacle from the common camping-ground of the Israelites in the wilderness. Whoever wanted to worship God had to go in by the only entrance. And is not the true Church of Christ on earth separated and distinct from the world? Whoever will be a child of God must go to Him through Jesus, the Door (John 10:9). The believing Israelite was taught this great truth when he came to the beautiful curtains, which represented Christ. Upon entering in, he brought his offering to the brass altar. He saw its blood poured out upon the ground, its inwards consumed in the fire, and its body burned outside the camp. And knowing that the true Lamb of God was to be similarly offered to make atonement for sin, he found peace for his soul.
The end of this chapter gives us an interesting notice of the orderly way in which everything for the Tabernacle was done. According to Moses’ orders, regular accounts had been kept of all the gold, silver, and brass that had been given for the Lord’s work, and then delivered into the hands of the workmen. His record shows that the Israelites contributed to this project with a self-denying generosity which we Christians would do well to imitate. In addition to over 8,500 pounds of brass that was used in making the Tabernacle, the gold amount-ed to nearly 3,600 pounds (worth about $115 million*), and the silver added up to nearly 12,100 pounds (totaling over $4.8 million*).
Lord Jesus! Help us to keep our eyes steadily fixed upon You while we look at the furniture of the Tabernacle. At the altar of the burnt offering, help us to see that in Your sacred Person, we find the offering for our sin! Amen.
Join other families all around the globe! Receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day, and enjoy a FREE copy of my e-book A Call to Family Worship! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
*based on the current values of gold and silver on March 26, 2022
illustration by aguilasdefuego | Shutterstock.com