“You shall also make the court of the tabernacle. For the south side there shall be hangings for the court made of fine woven linen, one hundred cubits long for one side. And its twenty pillars and their twenty sockets shall be of bronze. The hooks of the pillars and their bands shall be silver. Likewise along the length of the north side there shall be hangings one hundred cubits long, with its twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of bronze, and the hooks of the pillars and their bands of silver.
“And along the width of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits, with their ten pillars and their ten sockets. The width of the court on the east side shall be fifty cubits. The hangings on one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three sockets. And on the other side shall be hangings of fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three sockets.
“For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver. It shall have four pillars and four sockets. All the pillars around the court shall have bands of silver; their hooks shall be of silver and their sockets of bronze. The length of the court shall be one hundred cubits, the width fifty throughout, and the height five cubits, made of fine woven linen and its sockets of bronze, Exodus 27:9-18. (NKJV)
To this point, we’ve studied something of the instructions God gave concerning the materials to build the tabernacle and the workmen who used those materials. We looked at one piece of the furniture: the Ark of the Covenant. We did that because God gave the instructions starting with Himself, and moving outward from there. Having done that, we’re going to look at the rest of what Scripture says about the tabernacle from the standpoint of an Israelite approaching it from outside, from the camp.
There is some discussion about the length of a “cubit.” The standard view is that it’s 18 inches and that’s the view we’ve taken here. That means the courtyard we’ve just read about was 150′ by 75′ and the wall surrounding it was 7.5 feet high. The wall was anchored by 100 “sockets” or foundation moldings of brass. The curtain was hung from rods (“bands,” “fillets,” depending on your version) of silver.
Some have questioned the extreme detail of these instructions. Granted, they don’t read like we might write them today, but they remind us that God is a God of details. The saying of an unbelieving world is, “the devil is in the details,” as in “you’d better read the fine print,” but it’s not true. God is in the details, even to numbering the hairs on our head. After all, any detail He might “miss” might be the crucial one.
To illustrate this, there’s an old saying,
For want (lack) of a nail, the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the rider was lost.
For want of a rider, the message was lost.
For want of a message, the battle was lost.
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost.
There are innumerable versions of this, and they’ve made many appearances in many places.
The point is of the rhyme is: all those things were ultimately lost, even to the kingdom itself, because of the absence of a nail to secure a horseshoe. Details are important, especially in eternal things. We have no idea of the ultimate result of a seemingly insignificant act.
As the Israelite man or woman would approach or look toward the tabernacle, he or she would see only a fence, except for one side, which we’ll look at later, Lord willing. Everything else was blocked as to view or to entrance.
Revelation 19:8 says, “And to her [the Lamb’s wife] it was granted to be arrayed in fine line, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Some versions say, “righteousnesses of the saints.” So we could say that the linen in the fence surrounding the tabernacle grounds represents righteousness. Why is that a barrier, as in this case?
Because we don’t have any!
At least that God will accept.
The righteousness we have, those religious acts when we do some little thing we think is serving God, God looks at quite differently. Isaiah 64:6 says of them, all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags. The word translated “filthy rags” refers to a cloth a woman might use during her time of the month, or the rags a leper might use. Not very pretty. That’s God’s view of our “righteousness,” our very best. That’s because we’re all sinners. There’s only every been one Person who could honestly ask, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” John 8:46. He’s the only One of whom God said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matthew 3:17; 12:18. The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake, Isaiah 42:21, emphasis added. “His” refers to “the Servant” of v. 1, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Most, if not all of us, can find people who we think are not as good as us in one way or another: the thief, the murderer, the politician. The trouble is, they’re not the standard of righteousness God requires. The Lord Jesus is the standard. For all the boasting of how good people are, probably very few would say that we’re as good as He is. The truth is, we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23.
In southern Colorado, there’s a canyon known as the Royal Gorge. The Arkansas River winds its way along the bottom, 956 feet below the rim. It’s a very scenic and beautiful area. The point is, it would be impossible to jump across that canyon. It wouldn’t matter if one just jumped, or used a pole to assist him, as high-jumpers do in athletics, or had some other device to help him. He would still fall short and fall to his death.
Early in the 1900s, men devised a way to place a bridge over the canyon near Canon City CO. Building it was a masterpiece of construction. Pictures of the work-in-progress are unbelievable.
So it is with us and God. We recognize that we need “something” to bridge the gap between what we are and what we’re supposed to be. So we use baptism, or church membership, or the Catechism, or the Ten Commandments, or any one of a hundred other things to “get us across.” The problem is, none of those things work. They all have their place, yes, but it’s not as a way of salvation. They all fall short.
In Isaiah 45:22, the Lord Jesus says, “Look to Me, and be saved, All the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”
He is the bridge, and He alone.
Have you looked to Him?
Or are you trying to build your own bridge?