The Tabernacle, its Spiritual Significance, Part 21
ISRAEL'S TYPICAL TABERNACLE, part 2
In our previous post we noted the remarks of a typical nominal Minister in regards to the Tabernacle and
likewise supplied an illustration typifying what we best believed he perceived. Not wishing to interrupt the
flow of the previous article, we would here now like to take another look at both and examine more
thoroughly some of the various errors we noted.
Once again the Ministers words:
"Suppose yourself approaching the Tabernacle at some desert camping place… It is a brilliant sight; the
white hangings of the court contrast with the dark coverings of the tabernacle within. The gorgeous
entrance curtain is looped up, for the Court is full of worshipers bringing sacrifices. White-robed priests
are burning offerings at the large bronze altar in the center, while another is using the sacred laver near
the Tabernacle entrance preparatory to entering. The many-colored curtain is here looped back on its
golden pillars. From within we catch a gleam of the golden table and exquisitely wrought lampstand, while
a fragrance of rare incense floats out upon us. Deep in the recesses of the Holy Place we can see the
resplendent curtain, and we tremble as it seems almost luminous with the shining of the Shekinah behind
it. All is so reverently silent that we hear the chime of bells on the high-priest's garment as he moves
forward, and, turning, we read above his beautiful robes and glittering breast the crown and meaning of it
all, "Holiness to the Lord."
First of all as was pointed out by the author in the previous Reprint, the Tabernacle was never
designed as a church edifice, or a place of worship for Israel, thus the assertion that “the court
was full of worshipers bringing sacrifices” is quite erroneous. In fact as previously stated the people
were not even permitted within the Tabernacle enclosure. Only the Levites appointed to perform the work
of the tabernacle of meeting (Num 3:5-8) were permitted entry, they and the priests alone. As for the
children of Israel, they “shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and
die.” (Num 18:22)
Thus even the illustration is flawed in that it shows the people themselves wandering about the enclosure,
remember that except for on the Day of Atonement when the High Priests was dressed in his white
sacrificial robes (Lev 16:3, 4), he was dressed in his usual glorious garments “Garments of Glory and
Beauty” (Exod 28:1, 2), whilst all the under-priests were always dressed in white tunics, (Exod 28: 40-
43). The writer has it correct in this respects, the illustrator, not.
The only time the children of Israel approached this enclosure was when offering sacrifices, and this only
at the door to the tabernacle of meeting (i.e. the “entrance curtain”), at which point the priests
would then take the offering into the enclosure to perform the sacrifice. The people could offer the
sacrifice, but only the priests could present the sacrifice upon the Lord’s altar. Since the brazen altar was
holy, any offering placed upon it was then made holy and acceptable, but only as it was sacrificed by the
The tents of the Levites were set up at a respectable distance around the Tabernacle, to the north, south
and west with the area in front of the Tabernacle, in the east toward the sunrise being reserved
specifically for the tents of Moses, 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”
The so-called “twelve tribes” (the children of Israel) whose encampment was to be at a respectable
distance—“far off” (Num 2:2)—from the Tabernacle were also placed to the North, South, East and West
of it, and based upon Joshua 3:4 it is believed that this distance was about 2,000 cubits, or a little over
a half mile in distance.
As can readily be seen from the above illustration the children of Israel were kept at a respectable distance
from the Tabernacle rendering it the honor it was given. As for the Levites there is no direct statement as
to what distance they positioned their tents around the Tabernacle, but one would rightly assume that
even they gave the Lord’s dwelling place it’s just due honor and so were not found camped right up
alongside the structure as is depicted in many illustrations such as the one below.
Although no number was given as to how many Levites there were one can imagine them to be numbered
in the same percentages as most of the other tribes, i.e. in the thousands (not including women and
children), this then would encompass quite a few tents. We believe the illustration below more accurately
depicts the respectable distance one might assume was given between the tents of the Levites and that
of the Tabernacle.
The camp of the Levites as well as that of Moses and the priests acted as a buffer zone if you will
between the people and the Lord’s dwelling ensuring that no unauthorized individual came to near.
“… You shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony, over all its furnishings, and over all
things that belong to it; they shall carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they shall attend to it and
camp around the tabernacle. And when the tabernacle is to go forward, the Levites shall take it down;
and when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The outsider who comes near shall
be put to death. The children of Israel shall pitch their tents, everyone by his own camp, everyone by his
own standard, according to their armies (at some distance); but the Levites shall camp around the
tabernacle of the Testimony, that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the children of
Israel; and the Levites shall keep charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony.” Num 1:50-53
As for the Minister’s suggestion (as depicted in the top illustration) that both the “entrance curtain” and
the “door” or “First Vail” to the Tabernacle were supposedly “looped up” or “looped back upon its
pillars” to expose both the courtyard and the interior of the Tabernacle to outsiders we must object. The
whole purpose of the entrance curtain as well as the white curtain wall which surrounded the courtyard
was to keep prying eyes out, likewise with regards to the First Vail; in fact the Lord imposed very strict
penalties against such intrusions.
If indeed things were as our Minister friend suggests and as is depicted in the accompanying
illustration one would have to ask why to the following questions?
Why did the Lord issue a degree that any outsider (not appointed to the work or service of the
Tabernacle) was to be put to death if they approached to near the structure? (Num 1:51; 3:38)
Why were the various items of furnishings (with the exception of the Laver) always covered in
Whilst in transit the “Brazen altar” was always covered thus concealing it from the eyes of the people, it
was only uncovered and visible when set up in the courtyard and this only to those permitted within the
courtyard, the Priests and the Levites who performed the work and service of the Tabernacle.
The “Brazen Altar” represents the fully consecrated believers, faith, obedience, and sacrifice which is
completely hidden from the sight of the world by the dark seal skin coverings placed over the altar when
in transit. The world only sees our flesh, as represented in the rough, unsightly seal skins and judges us
accordingly, our true relationship to God hidden from their sight. Only those true believers residing within
the “courtyard condition” (typified by the Levites), and those in the “Holy” or “spirit begotten
condition” (represented by the Priests) can perceive this.
Likewise the various furnishing found within the Tabernacle (with the exception of the Ark of the
Covenant) were similarly covered whilst in transit uncovered only once the Tabernacle was set up.
Here however we note a distinction is made between those in the “courtyard condition”, Levites, and
those in the “spirit begotten condition” as represented by the priests who were the only ones
permitted within the Tabernacle when set up.
According to the scriptures the sons of Kohath (Levites) would first bring the Ark of the Testimony
into the “Most Holy” once this was accomplished they would then exit the area (most certainly completely
from the courtyard enclosure thus insuring they’re own safety), after which Aaron and his sons (Priests)
would come in and remove its various coverings, the last of which being the “Second Vail” which they
would then promptly hang upon its golden pillars. Then the sons of Kohath would return once again
bearing the furnishings of the “Holy”, the Table of Showbread, the Golden Lampstand, and the
Golden incense Altar, once again after departing the courtyard Aaron and his sons would come in and
remove the various coverings from these items and set each one up accordingly, their last duty in
respects to the Tabernacle proper hanging the screen for the door of the tabernacle (i.e. the “First Vail”)
upon its golden pillars. (Compare Exod 40:1-5 with Num 4:4-20) But note expressly the Lords
warning concerning the sons of Kohath (Levites) who were appointed to carry all of these various items
into the Tabernacle, “but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die.” (Num 4:15) Nor shall
they be present to watch while the holy things are being uncovered, lest they die. (Num 4:20)
The furnishings of the Holy and Most Holy represent the things of the spirit, the hidden things of God,
the deep things, things which are incomprehensible to the natural man, even though he be a (Levite), a
believer in the “courtyard condition”, these are the things of the spirit of God known only to the spirit
begotten, hidden behind the “door” or “First Vail” to the Tabernacle, accessible only to priests.
And so the Lord maintained not only the division between the unjustified (represented in the typical
Israelites, the people, those in the “camp condition”) and that of the tentatively justified (represented
in the typical Levites, those in the “courtyard condition”) with regards to all the “holy things” contained
within the tabernacle by insuring that they were constantly hidden from their sight at all times including
while in transit, but likewise he insured the same with respects to the “Spiritual divide” which separates
the “natural man” (the anti-typical Levites, those in the “courtyard condition”) from the “spiritual
man” (represented in the typical Priests, the fully justified, those in the “spirit begotten condition”)
by insuring that all the “holy things” representative of the spirit nature contained within the tabernacle
proper were kept hidden from the eyes of the natural man (in this case the Levites who did the work and
service of the tabernacle).
With this in mind it should now be apparent to all that any depiction of the courtyard or Tabernacle itself
as being openly exposed to outsiders is fundamentally wrong and is evidence that the individual who so
depicts things has not truly studied the Tabernacle as he ought.
We will not here again explain how wrong this illustration is in depicting the posts of the courtyard on the
outside of the curtain walls as we have already discussed this erroneous idea in Part 4 of this study.
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