The Tabernacle, its Spiritual Significance, Part 2
“Our Journey Begins”
In most studies involving the tabernacle the author tends to begin with an explanation of the courtyard
leaving out “the camp”, and that which resides “outside the camp”, yet for us this is a very important
part of our study of the Tabernacle seeing as we all started our journey from one point or other.
What is the camp and what lies outside the camp?
In the typical tabernacle picture the camp consisted of the various tribes of Israel encamped about the
tabernacle, the professed people of God, outside of this laid the Gentile nations. This condition of things
continued even to our Lord’s Day, with all the Jewish people who professed to be in harmony with the
Lord constituting the camp while the Gentiles remained without. Today things have changed; today the
camp does not consist of the Jewish people but rather the Gentiles, the Lord having cast off his natural
people because of their disbelief opened the door to the Gentiles. This situation of matters is of course
“Blindness in part is happened unto Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in; and so
all Israel shall be saved” saved from its blinded condition and alienation from God, and placed in a
position to attain eternal life under the conditions of the Millennial age.
However as it was with respects to the Jews so too with regards to the Gentiles, the camp consisting
predominately of nominal professors, the professed people of God, i.e. the professing Christian Church,
“those who proclaim they are Jews (the true “Israel of God”) but are not…” (Rev 3:9; Gal 6:16)
The “camp” condition at the present time, however, we could not think would represent the world in the
broad sense, but rather the worldly church. It would represent all those who with more or less desire wish
to be in accord with God and who profess his name, but through ignorance or superstition or love of the
world are not in the proper attitude of heart to receive the deep things of God, the spiritual things at the
time in which this spiritual work, the work of Atonement, is being carried on. We do not understand that
these were ever begotten of the Spirit. They are merely moral, or outward Christians, (i.e. “Nominal
Christians”, in name only, "having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof” 2 Tim 3:5)
alas the Christian world, Christendom.” (R4607:2)
The camp today represents Christendom.
So what then lies outside the camp?
Outside the camp lies the world, lost without God and without hope.
If you were raised in a professing Christian family the chances are you began your journey from the camp,
if not, your journey commence from the world. “… among whom also we all once conducted
ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by
nature children of wrath (under the just sentence), just as the others.” Eph 2: 3
Returning once again to the typical tabernacle picture, the Tabernacle was set up in the midst of
people, it was surrounded on all sides by the various tribes with the Levites the ones chiefly responsible
for the tabernacles maintenance directly adjacent to the tent (Num 1:50) while those of the other various
tribes were situated some distance off.
“Every one of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard, beside the emblems of his
father’s house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting,” (Num 2:2) and
based upon Joshua 3:4 it is thought that this distance was about 2,000 cubits, or a little over a half mile
“The area in front of the Tabernacle, in the east toward the sunrise, was reserved for the tents of Moses
and of Aaron and his sons, who had the final responsibility for the sanctuary on behalf of the people of
Israel. Anyone other than a priest or Levite who went too near the sanctuary was to be put to
death (that is to say anyone who attempted to enter into the tabernacle contrary to God's
appointment).” (Num 3:38 “The New Living Translation”)
Now the question is asked, and rightly so,
Why such a strict law and penalty for just being curious? There was a similar ordnance with respects
to the Levites when working in the courtyard, when the priest went into the Tabernacle to perform their
duties it was forbidden upon death for them to gaze in as the priest lifted the curtain and passed under
it. Why? Why such a stringent penalty for merely seeking to have a look at what goes on beyond
these two curtain walls?
The first ordnance was put in place to protect the people from approaching to close to the entrance of the
tabernacle (possibly attempting to enter) and thereby catching a glimpse at the holy things contained
within such items were considered holy unto the Lord and the people were forbidden to gaze upon them
(with the exception of the Laver which was only visible to them in their travels). As to the second
ordnance, in similar fashion the Levites who worked within the courtyard although permitted to look upon
the holy items there were nevertheless forbidden to gaze upon the holy things contained within the
What is the reasoning behind this?
The reasoning is this, when you look at our diagram at the top of the page what you see are various
“zones” or “places” where certain works or activities take place, symbolically however these “places”
represent “conditions”. Each of these conditions more or less are completely separate and distinct one
from another, viz., the first condition “outside the camp” represents the condition of those without
God and without hope, whilst the “camp condition” represents the condition of those residing in
Christendom. These first two tend to merge somewhat as both are considered part of the world. Next
we have the “courtyard condition” note closely that those in this condition are completely separated
from those in the camp condition by the curtain wall surrounding the courtyard. The courtyard represents
the faith justified condition. Next we have the tabernacle itself with its two separate chambers, the
first, the “Holy” represents the spirit begotten condition, whilst the second the “Most Holy” represents
the Spirit born condition. These two are similar in that they both are spiritual conditions.
Basically the people residing outside the courtyard represent one condition of being or mindset, the
Levites in the courtyard another and then again the Priests another, each group or condition being
separate and distinct from the others.
So you see through the strict enforcement of the type, (in this case the death sentence appointed for
violators of the ordnances), the Lord assured the antitype, (the substance or reality, which he intended
to emphasize), that it is forbidden (nay impossible) for one abiding in one condition to look upon,
to perceive, that is to comprehend the things hidden in the next.
Recall what the Apostle Paul stated in this regards that these things, the particulars of the tabernacles
construction, its various services and ordnances (rules and regulations) are but the copies and shadows
of the heavenly things (the reality) Heb 8:5, thus the Lord’s insistence that every minute detail
associated with its construction and services be exact.
We shall continue with our next post.
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