The Gate Of The Court

(Exodus 27:16-17).

In giving His instructions regarding the making of the Tabernacle, God began with the Ark and Mercy Seat, His own throne, and ended with the Gate. We shall begin where God ended, which reminds us that as to salvation, we began where Christ ended, with a finished work.

As the Altar is the witness to man’s guilt, the Gate is the witness to man’s distance from God, that he is “far off” (Eph. 2:13), and that he needs a way back.

Now this gate tells me that Christ came to be the Door to God, that man by nature is outside, and Christ is come in grace, that he might be the Divine way of sinners getting back to God. You remember away back in Eden’s garden, that God drove out the man. Once, our first parents were in that garden, but there came that fatal act, that act of disobedience, and then God righteously drove them out—and Cain and Abel were born outside Eden. So has every man and every woman that has ever been on this earth, with one solitary exception. That exception was the Christ of

The Court and the Gate

God Himself. All but He were born at a distance from God—born sinners. All in this meeting were born at a distance from God. The question is, how are we to get back into His presence? The door tells us that. It speaks of getting back into the presence of God, and so the Lord Jesus Christ announces this blessed truth, “I am the Door.” I want you to look at the picture. How many doors are there into the Court? Just one, and that door is on the eastern end. Supposing we were to look at the south side, the north side, or the western end, what would meet our gaze? One long stretch of linen, unbroken, white linen, but no door. It is only linen, but to force an entrance would be to rush to certain destruction. That linen we say, stands there marking off the sacred precincts of the Tabernacle enclosure, and whoever will come to God, must come in the proper way. They must come in at the gate, for to force the linen would be to court judgment. So all along the north side, the south side, the western end I see no door, only an unbroken stretch of white linen. But we come to this eastern end, and we get blue and purple and scarlet on fine twined linen. Now what does this mean? Let me just for a few minutes speak on what I hope to deal with more fully at a later stage of these meetings—the materials that formed this gate.

The Colours Of The Gate.

In the blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen, God gives us the characteristics of the Four Gospels. Let us take these Gospels in order. First we have Matthew, or the purple. Matthew is the Gospel of the Kingship of Christ. The chief point that Matthew has from God to keep ever prominently before the reader is, Christ as God’s Anointed King—the purple. The next is scarlet. The scarlet is seen in Mark. There we have the Lord Jesus Christ in the lowly guise of a Servant. But you say, “How is that shadowed forth in the scarlet?” Well, the word “scarlet,” as those who read the Newberry Version of the Bible will have noticed, is “worm scarlet.” That is, the colour was gotten from a worm dried and pulverized. And herein we see the marvellous grace of One who, from all eternity, was in the bosom of the Father, the One who was the Maker of worlds, who would stoop down, down, until He could say, “I am a worm and no man!” Blue: in John we get the blue. It speaks of heaven, and reminds us of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God. So in John, we see Christ in the bosom of the Father in a past eternity. We read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). So we say in the blue we get the Divinity—the Deity of Christ. But what about the linen? The linen speaks of the perfect, holy manhood of Christ. And this is the burden of Luke. Just as distinctly as it is Matthew’s to point out the Kingship of Christ, Luke points us to Christ as the Holy Man. The linen speaks of the perfect Humanity of Christ.

The One Gate, Or “Made Nigh By The Blood Of Christ”

For all practical purposes, linen alone would have made the gate. But God had a typical purpose to serve that requires there shall be the blood colour in the gate. So wherever there is only linen seen, there is no way of approach to God’s dwelling place.

What does that mean? If I were to come to you to-night and take up that blessed life, that unique life, the life of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth, that drew forth from the Father again and again those words, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased,” and if I presented that life to you as that which you should imitate, and by imitating that life, hope at last to find a place in glory with Him; and if I should bring all the powers given to mortal man to bear upon the minds of others, if I could exercise all the powers of Paul and all the eloquence of an angel, and got you occupied with Christ on earth as Man, with His walk as Man, and held out that as the way of salvation, I would be exceedingly cruel. You might possibly think it would be a grand thing to do, but I tell you it would be an exceedingly cruel thing to do. It is said that in the city of Aberdeen, a preacher was holding forth to quite a large crowd and this was his theme. He was one of those who have no blood in their Gospel, one that did not consider God required satisfaction for the sins of man, one of those who do not believe in the holy sin-hating character of God. He was exhorting the people to imitate Christ. “Christ’s was a beautiful life, a perfect life, imitate that.” There was one poor woman present who had been in her younger days brought in contact with more Scriptural preaching. She had learned how that we are sinners by nature, and that only on the ground of the accomplished work of Christ on the Cross, can a lost sinner have hope. As she listened to this man speaking in the strain I have indicated, she cried out with a shrill voice, “Oh! Sir, your rope’s not long enough to reach a sinner like me.” Now if you were speaking to an unfallen race, to men and women who had never come under the dread sentence of God’s holy law, there might be some reason for preaching the Christ of God as a perfect example to imitate as a Man, but a ruined sinner requires something else first, and this has been provided: blessed be God.

We invite you to come to the eastern end of that Court wall, we ask you to take a good look at the colours mingled in that gate, and we ask you as you gaze on those colours to mark that one especially: the scarlet. Of what does it tell? It tells that He who was the eternal Son of God—who is represented by the blue—that He who was from all eternity in the bosom of the Father, came down to this sin-cursed earth of ours, became Man—represented by the fine twined linen—a real Man, yet unlike all other men, for He was the God-Man. He was Jehovah-Jesus, Emanuel—“God with us.” Well, that scarlet tells us that He who could calm the waves, He who could speak the dead back to life again, He who gave such manifest evidence that He was indeed the Jehovah of Israel in their midst, humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the Cross, shed His precious blood that through that blood-shedding sinners might be righteously brought back to the presence of God. The righteousness of God drove out the man. The righteousness of God will ever frown upon any attempt to get back into His presence by any way save that way which He Himself has ordained, He Himself has provided, and provided at the infinite cost of His own Son’s precious blood. We say that way is the one way, not one of many. Jesus said, “I am the Door.” There was just one door into this Court, and there is only one door back into the presence of God, into the favour of God, and that door is the Christ of God Himself.

The Gospel Gate, Or John 10:9.

There is one other remarkable thing about this gate, and it is very suggestive. The gate is 20 cubits wide; out of 50, the width of the Court, 20 is allowed for the door. If there is only one door, that door is very ample. Is it not? Very ample, 35 feet! You say that was unnecessarily wide. Well, for practical purposes, I suppose it was. I do not for a moment suppose that the whole width of the door was ever required in the ordinary uses of a door. But what do we learn from it? That God, by the very width of that door, has illustrated beforehand these blessed words of His Son, “Verily, verily I say unto you, I am the Door, by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” Oh, how wide! “If any man”—that is just another way of putting John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now there is no need for any single one in this meeting remaining outside. You cannot say, “Will that door admit me?” My dear friend, Jesus declares, “If any man,” and that means you, much better than if your name were mentioned. It means just you. Will you enter to-night? That 35 feet wide gate reminds me also of the door into the Ark. The mightiest beast of the forest could walk through its door just as well as some of those tiny Creatures. The great eagle could enter there just as well as the little titmouse. It served for all, and it matters not whether you are a big sinner or a little sinner, it matters not whether you are an old sinner or a young sinner, that door will suit you—and let me say, the Lord Jesus Christ beckons you to enter it now. We were saying a little while ago, it makes all the difference in the world which side of the door you are on. This reminds me as I look at that enclosure, that God has on this earth a people marked off to Himself. It tells me that there are on this earth a number who are His. They are those who have received Christ as their Saviour, no matter by what name they are known, whether Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregationalism or any other name, I care not. If as lost guilty sinners they have closed with Christ, then they are unto God, what this enclosure represents in type. They are in the world but not of the world. Now, how do you get there? By a personal acceptance of Christ. Some are inside. Of these, He says, “They are not of the world.” But all who are not in Christ, are still on the outside of the Door. When the Deluge was predicted to Noah, and God had given him instructions to make the Ark, and when that Ark was completed and that door stood open, it stood open to be a sanctuary and refuge from that awful judgment just about to fall on the earth. There came a time when God said from the inside, “Come.” In response to that invitation from God, Noah and his household stepped in, and God shut the door. Seven days later, the windows of heaven were opened; the door of mercy was shut—soon to open the door of judgment. And then, but oh! too late, the poor ante-diluvians saw how terrible it was to be on the wrong side of the door.

“In Christ.”

This expression, which the apostle Paul used of himself in 2 Cor. 12:2, and uses so often in the epistle to the Ephesians, finds a good illustration in the Israelite being inside the gate. To the believing sinner we can say, stepping inside that enclosure, you find yourself completely surrounded by a wall of linen, so a simple act of faith, trusting in Christ as a lost and guilty sinner, puts you into the grandest place we can ever be in—out of heaven or in heaven—“In Christ.” I say, one step across that threshold, and the Israelite stood in a place which typifies the position of every child of God—“In Christ.” The one step did it. Once outside, now inside. Once far off, now made nigh by the Blood. Once without God and without hope, now in that blessed love-linked, blood-bought family of the children of God, looked at as “In Christ,” not in their sins, not under judgment, but “In Christ,” waiting for the glory. Now, how many of you have taken that step? Some perhaps are close to the gate, and perhaps have been exercised many a time about making your decision for Christ, stepping in. Oh! yes, at times perhaps your friends thought you would do it, but you have not done it yet. What if to-night is the last chance? A man came running to a railway station in Ireland. He was going to Dublin, and it was very important he should be there. As he came up to the station, the iron gate was drawn to by the porter, and he was just in time to see the end carriage disappearing down the platform. He threw up his hands and exclaimed, “My God! £1000 lost!” Well, you say it was too bad; just a few minutes, and that few minutes to involve so much. Oh! dear friends, what if you are too late? I stood on the deck of a little steamer that made a daily trip to an island off the coast of California, and as it was just leaving and the gang plank had been drawn ashore, and we loosed away, some people came running down. Someone remarked in a jocular way, “We’ll call for you to-morrow.” Well, it did not matter very much. Perhaps it would be a grievance to those missing the boat, and inconvenience them, but there was one on the morrow. But, oh! let me say, once God closes this door, once Christ comes for His own, there will be no other chance for the unsaved.