By Edward Dennett
THE brazen altar having been prescribed, the court of the Tabernacle follows. This, it will be remembered, was the open space surrounding the Tabernacle, enclosed by hangings of fine twined linen, as detailed in this scripture. It formed the third division — when considered as a part of, or rather as connected with, the Tabernacle proper. In this, as shown before, there were the holy of holies, the innermost compartment; then, passing outward, the holy place; and then the court which is here given. This is also a manifestation of God — teaching how that Christ is ever before the mind of the Spirit in every part of the sanctuary; and that Christ is thus the only key to unlock its mysteries.
"And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side: and the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver. And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits; their pillars ten, and their sockets ten. And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits. The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three. And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three. And for the crate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework; and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four. All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass. The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass. All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass." (vv. 9-19.)
It appears from this description that the court of the Tabernacle was one hundred cubits long, and fifty cubits broad. (vv. 9-13.) It was made as follows: first, there were twenty pillars on each of the two sides, north and south (vv. 10, 11), and ten pillars at each of the two ends, east and west — the pillars on the east side, the side of entrance, being made up of three on each side of the entrance, and four for the hanging of the gate of the court. (vv. 12-16.) Altogether there were sixty pillars. On these pillars — or, to speak exactly, on fifty-six of them — excluding the four which were for the hanging of the gate — were suspended the fine twined linen which formed the court. Of this there were one hundred cubits on each side, fifty cubits at the west end, and thirty on the east (vv. 9-15) — altogether two hundred and eighty cubits. The gateway, at the east end, was composed of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework — the same in every respect as the hanging for the entrance into the holy place — and was twenty cubits in length. The sockets of the pillars were all of brass, and the hooks and the fillets for the hanging were of silver. (v. 17.) The typical teaching of these things will be perceived to spring from their twofold symbolical presentation of Christ and of the believer.
The fine twined linen is an emblem, as shown more than once, of the spotless purity of Christ, of the positive purity of His nature. Here it may be seen in another way. The measurement of these hangings of fine twined linen was two hundred and eighty cubits. In the curtains of the Tabernacle (Ex. 26: 1, 2) there were also two hundred and eighty cubits — there being ten curtains, and each curtain being twenty-eight cubits in length. The measurements of these two were therefore equal. The curtains of the Tabernacle present Christ, Christ in His nature and character, and Christ in His future glories and judicial authority; but as so presented He was for the eye of God, and for the eye of the priest. As such He could not be seen from without, only from within. The fine twined linen hangings present Christ also, but not so much to those within as to those without. They could be seen by all in the camp. It is therefore the presentation of Christ to the world, Christ in the purity of His nature. He could thus challenge His adversaries to convict Him of sin; Pilate had to confess again and again that there was no fault in Him; and the Jewish authorities, though they sought with eagle-eyed malice, failed to establish, or even to produce, a single proof of failure. Not a single speck could be detected upon the fine twined linen of His holy life, His life of practical righteousness which flowed from the purity of His being.
There is another thing. These hangings were five cubits high (v. 18); and their lengths at the two sides one hundred cubits, and at the two ends fifty and thirty cubits. These latter numbers can all be divided by ten and five. Accepting then the power of these numbers as responsibility towards God, and responsibility towards man, it follows that the spotless purity of His life sprang from His perfectly meeting this twofold responsibility. He loved God with all His heart, and His neighbour as, yea, more than, Himself. To those therefore whose eyes were opened these curtains proclaimed the coming of One who should perfectly answer in His life and walk to every claim of God.
The pillars, their sockets, fillets, etc. The material of the pillars is not stated. It might seem, at first sight, from the tenth verse, as if they were of brass; but on comparing Ex. 38: 10, it is most probable that the brass refers alone to the sockets. It might be inferred from analogy that they were of shittim-wood overlaid with brass; but where Scripture is silent human inferences are, even if permissible, uncertain. Two things, however, are mentioned. They were socketed in brass, and capped with silver. (Ex. 38: 17.) Brass is divine righteousness testing man in responsibility. Hence, indeed, brass is characteristic of the outside, as gold is of the inside, of the Tabernacle. Man's responsibility must be tested and met before he can be brought into God's presence. Christ in presenting Himself to the world, as symbolized by the line twined linen hangings, stands upon the ground of having met every claim of divine righteousness. This is the foundation of His character as Saviour. Silver speaks of redemption. The pillars were capped with it, and the curtains were suspended upon it. So Christ displays the efficacy of His work. It is His crown of glory even at the right hand of God. If therefore He searches the sinner by the sockets of brass, He declares to him at the same time the value of the blood as shown by the silver. Brass testing man discovers his need, and as soon as the need is known, the silver is there to meet it. The pillars were fifty-six in number — excluding those for the gateway — on which the hangings were suspended. Fifty-six are seven times eight. Seven is the perfect number; and eight is that of resurrection. The practical righteousness of Christ, perfectly displayed in His earthly life, is sealed as it were by His resurrection. He was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." (Rom. 1: 4.)
The hanging for the gate of the court is the same as the curtain forming the entrance into the holy place, and, as in that, adumbrates Christ in all that He is in connection with the earth, His heavenly character, His royal glories as Son of man and as Son of David, and His spotless purity. Once again there are no cherubim, and this is because He is here the Door, the Way, as presented to the world; for we are told that God sent not His Son to judge the world (that was not His mission then), but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3: 17.) There are now no cherubim and a flaming sword to keep the way of the tree of life, for that flaming sword has descended upon that holy victim which was offered up to God on Calvary, and thus having satisfied, and that for ever, the claims of God's holiness, He can now present Himself in all the attractions of His person and grace to the world, as the way, the truth, and the life. There, before the eyes of all, this hanging for the gate was displayed, and while every colour told of Christ, all together, in their harmony and beauty, united in the proclamation, "By Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." It may be observed also that Christ is the way into the holy place, and into the holy of holies as well as into the court. "He is the only doorway," one has remarked, "into the varied fields of glory which are yet to be displayed, whether on earth, in heaven, or the heaven of heavens."
But there is yet another aspect of the court of the Tabernacle. If, on the one hand, it presents Christ, it gives, on the other, and because it is Christ, the standard of the believer's responsibility. No lower one can be raised or accepted; for He has left us an example that we should walk in His steps. The measurements, considered in this aspect also, are significant. The curtains of the Tabernacle were, as stated, two hundred and eighty cubits. These display Christ before the eye of God. But as He is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4: 17.) They are therefore the curtains of privilege — revealing, as they do, our perfect acceptance before God. The fine twined linen hangings were also two hundred and eighty cubits, and inasmuch as they display the practical righteousness of the life of Christ, His blameless walk, His spotless purity, they are the curtains of responsibility. In the Revelation it is said that the fine linen is the righteousnesses of saints. (Rev. 19: 8.) The responsibility of the saint is measured by his privilege, by what he is before God. There is another thought. Our responsibility to walk as Christ walked (1 John 2: 6) is our responsibility to God. But these curtains were five cubits high. Five, it will be recalled, is the number of responsibility towards man; and thereby it may be learned that we are responsible to man as well as to God — responsible to present Christ in our walk and conversation.
The pillars may also point to the believer. Socketed in brass, grounded in divine righteousness, whose claims have been met, and with the value of redemption, as typified by the silver upon our heads, are prerequisites for such a display of Christ. There were also pins and cords. (Ex. 27: 19; Ex. 35: 18.) These were for stability — to keep the pillars with the fine twined linen hangings in their place. Interpreting this of the believer, it will teach that the source of his strength is not in himself, that he needs a power from without if he is to maintain the exhibition of practical righteousness before the world; and, indeed, the wider truth, that, though he is given a standing on the ground of divine righteousness, and is under the value of redemption, he could not maintain the position for a single moment if left to his own resources. The pins and cords therefore reveal that the believer is "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1: 5.) All is of God; all that the believer is, has, and enjoys, is the gift of His grace. His position as well as his responsibility can only be maintained in dependence on the Lord. All these pins, equally with the vessels of the Tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, were of brass. (v. 19.) Thus everything outside the holy place and the holy of holies, was characterized by divine righteousness, but divine righteousness testing man in responsibility because it was the meeting-place between God and the people. (See Ex. 29: 42.) Since, however, man cannot of himself meet its claims, the righteousness of God is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe. While therefore he is saved by grace, he stands, as so saved, upon the immovable foundation of divine righteousness before God. For grace reigns, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 5: 21.)