"Moreover you shall make the Tabernacle." Exodus
The worship of the living God was well known to Israel's
sons. They had raised altars to His name. The slaughtered victim and the
curling smoke had often declared acquaintance with the way of peace. In holy
rites, at many a bloodstained stone, their faith had used the ordered means.
But until they reached the base of Sinai, no stated house for stated service
had been reared. Here first the gracious word went forth, "I want the people
of Israel to build me a sacred residence where I can live among
them." Exodus 25:8. Here mercy planted the earliest symbol of God's constant
presence. Here earth received her eldest model of a consecrated sanctuary.
Happy the day throughout the camp when this Tent showed its new-born head.
What thrilling joy would beat in every heart? What anxious scrutiny would
scan each part!
Reader! draw near in spirit. Take your stand amid the
wondering crowd. Admire with them the progress of the work. First, a
measure-line is drawn. The length extends to forty-five feet—the breadth to
fifteen. Solid foundations then are placed. A belt of silver sockets is laid
down. Into this base the sides are fixed. These much exceed in preciousness.
They are composed of choicest wood, and clad in purest gold. Their height
ascends to fifteen feet. Especial care joins the corners together. And bars
of gold stretch out their binding arms, to make the walls secure. Five
shining pillars guard the eastern entrance. Rich drapery thence hangs. Such
is the outward frame.
Four pillars rise within, to separate an inner chamber.
These pillars hold a veil of costly work, to screen the Holiest from all
view. This room is fifteen feet in each extent. The breadth, the length, the
height, are one in uniform dimension. The house thus shaped is covered by
four curtains. The first is wrought with brilliant hues, and sparkles with
cherubic forms. A starry canopy thus vaults the roof. Next, a stronger skin
of red is spread. The outward garment is a coarse sheet of rough material.
This last completes the structure. Such is the front which meets the eye.
But mark, God Himself gave this gracious blessing. He
drew the plan. He gave the model. He inspired the skill. Each part, then, is
His wisdom. Each has a Gospel-tongue. Each heard aright reveals that 'Christ
is All.' This is not fancy's dream. It is the Spirit's clear-toned lesson.
He cries to all the family of faith—Look to the Tabernacle, and behold your
Lord. There is a pulpit from which no voice is heard but His. It is the
Bible. Its pages teach, 'Here is the main point: Our High Priest sat down in
the place of highest honor in heaven, at God's right hand. There he
ministers in the sacred tent, the true place of worship that was built by
the Lord and not by human hands.' Hebrews 8:1-2
This earthly Tabernacle, then, is but a sketch of
that gorgeous frame of Christ, which God, the Holy Spirit, wrought and
planted in this earth. Again, like testimony sounds: 'So Christ has now
become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has
entered that great, perfect sanctuary in heaven, not made by human hands and
not part of this created world.' Hebrews 9:11. The word is plain. The
earthly Tabernacle points to a spiritual Tabernacle, which human
hands produce not, which human skill erects not, which human imperfection
taints not. What can this be but Christ in the flesh, but not of flesh?
Surely all doubts take wing. Divine authority decides the fact. Christ is
discerned, the end and excellence of the predictive house.
Reader! pursue the clue thus found—and steep your soul in
depths of heaven-born truth. View through this glass the various parts.
Bright silver forms the base. Where does this wealth
come from? By whom and with what purpose is it given? It is the ransom-price
of souls. Each numbered child of Israel brought a redemption-sum. It was a
silver coin. Wealth might not add, nor poverty subtract. This holy tax
supplied the base. My soul, what lessons cluster here! We see how sin
destroys, how grace redeems. Our liberty is gone, our life is lost. A tyrant
claims us. Justice demands its dues. But Jesus is laid low. The earth drinks
in His blood. His merits are our ransom-price. His death is ransom paid. The
Father testifies content—'Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have
found a ransom.' The sockets add the echo of their proof. The
Gospel-structure rests on a ransom. Remove it, and redemption falls. Without
a price, the Savior has no saved ones. But the foundation is most sure. The
Tabernacle firmly stands. Our Gospel-sockets never can be moved.
Next mark what splendid boards are tightly
fastened to these pure supports. Two substances are here combined. They show
a double nature—and thus proclaim the Incarnate God. Yes! Christ is here in
Deity's transcendent blaze, in manhood's spotless purity. O my soul, how
great, how perfectly fit is your redeeming Lord! All power is His to rescue
and to satisfy, for what can resist the boundless might of God? He is
entirely fit to take your place. He bears your flesh. He wears your form.
This is the fact which wins for Him salvation's throne. This is the truth on
which faith lives and joys and dies and soars to glory. Hence, types
prefigure it, and prophets sing it, and Gospel narrative records it.
Hence, at each step of Jesus' life, the Spirit points,
Behold the man—Behold the God! A babe is cradled in a
manger-bed, while wondering angels announce 'Christ the Lord.' A
lowly abode scarcely shelters the young child; while a special STAR brings
distant sages to His feet. He sleeps as weary man; He arises as the mighty
God, and stills the raging storm. He sits a worn-out traveler by the well,
but speaks eternal life to a dead sinner's soul. He weeps in human sympathy
at the grave but utters the sovereign mandate, 'Lazarus, come forth.' He
moves about as lowliest of our lowly race but at His word, mute sing, lame
leap, blind see, deaf hear, the weeping smile, each malady departs, and
homes of anguish brighten with delight!
As dying worm, He hangs upon the cross—as Lord
of life and glory, He snatches a poor lost one from the jaws of
hell. As a weak corpse, the tomb receives Him. As conqueror of the grave, He
strides forth in the strength of God. As friend, He gives last counsels to
His friends—as God He mounts to heaven's high throne. Thus Scripture labors
to fix the deep truth, that a God-man redeems us! O my soul, grasp
tight the glad tidings. In face of sin and guilt and death and hell and
judgment, cry out and shout, Christ is my All, for He is God—Christ is my
All, for He is God in my own form. His manhood qualifies. His Godhead gives
Him power. He is a perfect Savior!
Look now upon the wood co-joined with gold, and
see how the bright Tabernacle's wall reflects this Gospel of God's grace.
All skill was used to tighten and to brace the work. The corners were most
carefully made fast. Five binding bars cemented the whole frame. Thus it was
compact in solidity. This shows our Jesus as redemption's Samson.
What arms of might are needed for His task! Hell's gates are strong;
they must be borne away. Heaven's portals move not at a slender
touch—they must be opened wide. The blows of Satan have terrific force—they
must be all sustained. The weight of one least sin would crush a million
worlds—all must be carried far from the sight of God. The cares and needs of
the redeemed are burdens of unmeasured mass. Beneath this load, Christ
stands unshaken as these mystic walls. Reader! you may confide in Him. He
cannot collapse. Omnipotence cements His skill.
The Tent was divided. There was a lower and a second
room. Faith hence is taught that there are diverse grades in the
knowledge of the Lord. They who see much may yet see more. They who dive
deep may still go deeper. They who soar high find higher heights. My soul,
let not your wings hang down. Let each moment be an onward flight. The veil
will soon be passed, and heaven display full glories to your view.
The entrance-curtain hangs from five pillars. Only four
hold the inner veil. The lessening number seems to teach that opening space
expands to welcome the advancing saint. If any find the first gate to be
strait, let them press on. Each progress leaves some hindrance behind.
The end of holy conflict and unflinching faith is wide admission to the
courts of heaven.
Lastly, the coverings have a voice to speak to us.
Spirit of Truth, speak by them to our hearts. The first has no
inviting look. Its color shines not. Its texture is CRUDE. Thus to the
worldling, Jesus shows no charms. The eye which seeks some tinsel-glitter
will turn away in scorn. But there is much folly and peril here. Offence at
the meek Savior's lowly appearance may be a rapid downfall into hell's worst
depths. But while faith gazes, the features change.
The second covering is RED. The sign is not
ambiguous. It testifies of blood. He who would save must die. From wounded
sides and pierced hands a crimson stream must flow. This cries for pardon.
This atones for guilt. This pays all debts. True Gospel-hope is a rich
treasure from a blood-stained field. Pure Gospel-light shines from behind a
Beneath the red a SNOW-WHITE pure sheet appears. This
sign, also, is a Bible-leaf. We read the spotless purity which shone in
Christ. He bears man's flesh without one stain of sin. We see, also, the
cleansing power of His blood. All washed therein are whiter than the
But look again. The tent now sparkles in variety of hues.
The dazzling forms of shining cherubim adorn it. My soul, look onward to the
day when Christ your Lord shall come. All faithful eyes shall see Him, fair
in salvation's beauty, bright in salvation's glory, crowned with salvation's
crown, praised with salvation's hymns. Reader! in that day will you shout
We cannot leave the Tent, and not observe the absence
of a floor. Solemn the warning! Nothing which pictures Christ may lie
beneath heedless feet. No paschal blood was wasted on the threshold. No type
of Christ is trodden down. Let the poor scoffer fear. The wages of their
contempt are paid in hell.
Another lesson craves our hearing. No door is closed.
All day, all night, the Tabernacle stands open. No bolts, no bars obstruct.
It seems to invite approach. Such is the Savior with His outstretched
arms, calling poor sinners to His very heart. The lips of ever-willing love
are ever open. Why will you perish? Come to Me.
The Tent was a token of a present God. There He
was pledged to commune with His sons—to show His face—to hear their cry—so
in Christ Jesus heaven meets earth, and earth ascends to heaven. The Father
comes and clasps the guilty to His arms. The guilty come and find a home in
God. Eternal smiles chase fears away, and reconciliation claps her hands.
The sinner asks, the Father gives. The Father gives, the sinner asks yet
more. And more bestowed calls forth the louder praise. Here mercy sings, and
grace exults, and happy concord reigns, and love waves high an olive-branch
Reader! Do not leave these humble lines until you find
that Christ, the Tabernacle, makes you thus one with God forever!