The Coverings And Curtains

(Exodus 26:1-14).

What we have read together brings before us what we may speak of as the Sanctification, Consecration, Expiation, and Exaltation of Christ.

The first set of Curtains, which is properly called the Tabernacle, was formed of ten curtains, each 28 cubits long and 4 cubits wide. This allowed the Curtains to fall even with the front of the Tabernacle, and to go back and down to the ground at the western end. It would require just 40 cubits to do this, as the Tabernacle was 30 cubits long and 10 cubits high. As each Curtain is only 28 cubits in length, there would be 1 cubit on each side of the boards, which would not be covered.

The inner Curtains were in two sets, five in a set. They were held together by fifty taches of gold, which fastened into fifty loops of blue, forming, as we read, “one Tabernacle.” Exceedingly beautiful these Curtains must have been, with all their mingled tints of blue, purple, and scarlet, on fine twined linen.

The second set was the Goats’ Hair Curtains. These were 30 cubits in length, which covered the cubit left bare by the inner set.

Here again we have two sets, but this time we have five in one set and six in the other. You see that would give one width, or 4 cubits more than was needed to completely cover the Tabernacle. This extra width hangs down in the front of the Tabernacle, only instead of it hanging down the whole 4 cubits, it was doubled back as you see on our picture, and there it hangs down 2 cubits in the double. The taches in this Curtain were brass, not gold. It is called “A covering (or tent) upon the Tabernacle.”

The third was of “Rams’ Skins dyed red,” and is called “a covering for the tent.” Above that and outside all, was a covering of Badgers’ Skins. It is somewhat striking that no measurements are given for these two coverings, and one verse is all that is devoted to them. The exact teaching of this we may yet more fully know, but there are some suggestions which we would offer. Both of the Coverings present Christ in His life, while the Goats’ Hair Curtain brings Him before us as the sin-bearing Substitute of His people, and the beautiful inner set of “Fine twined linen, blue, purple and scarlet,” shows us the One who died on the cross, now exalted to the right hand of the Father. In other words, the two curtains give us Christ in His death and resurrection.

Now the fact that one verse is all that is given to the two coverings, while thirteen are devoted to the two curtains, may well lead us to seek the reason for this.

It cannot have escaped the observation of the ordinary reader of the New Testament, how that less than one chapter tells of the thirty years in Nazareth. This silence on the part of God, as to the life of Christ, may well be a rebuke to men who make much of the life and pour contempt on His vicarious death. That every moment of that life was precious to God, beyond what human language can tell, we know, also that if it were all written, “The world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). But it was not His life, that put sin away; it was His death. And that death is the ground of our hopes for eternity, and His resurrection is the proof that God has been satisfied, yea He has been glorified, and so He has glorified His Son, and the curtains of fine twined linen, blue, purple and scarlet, witnesses to this.

The Badgers’ Skins; or the Sanctification of Christ.

In looking at these Coverings and Curtains we shall begin on the outside. If we view the Tabernacle from the outside, I cannot imagine anything less interesting in appearance. It was a long box-like building without any graceful lines or curves, and it had nothing about it to please the eye. And as if to accentuate its lack of attractiveness, the Badgers’ Skins were on the outside, while the beautiful curtains were hidden underneath. But suppose we go inside. What a wondrous change is there! On either hand the golden covered boards glint in the light of the Seven-branched Lamp-stand. Over our heads is the ceiling formed by the Curtains, before us the Veil, behind us is the Door with all the mingled tints of the rainbow, we might say. Then there is the Golden Altar of Incense

Curtains Of The Tabernacle.

filling the Holy Place with its aroma, the Golden Table with Twelve Loaves of Shewbread, which also omit a fragrant odour. What a marvellous scene! There are two Scriptures to which we will turn. In them we see our blessed Lord presented to us in these different aspects. Isa. 53:2, we read, “He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see Him there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” It would seem as if we were looking at the outer view of the Tabernacle—“No form nor comeliness.” This reminds us of its very plain outlines. “No beauty”: this would suggest its lack of attractive colours on the outside. The other Scripture is in Song of Solomon 5:16, “Yea, He is altogether lovely.” The first of these Scriptures express what we all thought of Christ once, just as truly as it does what Israel thought of Him. Then we viewed Him from the standpoint of nature, and of unbelief. But when we saw Him by the eye of faith, Oh then, what a change! But it was not in Him, for He was ever the “chiefest among ten thousand.” The change was in us, and where we viewed Him from. We were then outside, in unbelief; now, by grace we are inside. We see Him by the eye of faith.

The Badgers’ Skins tell of the Sanctification of Christ. There is one other place where we read of these Badgers’ Skins—Ezek. 16:10, “I shod thee with badgers’ skins.” God sometimes gives very important clues in what we might say, a very incidental way. “I shod thee with badgers’ skins” would suggest separation from evil. Sandals protect the feet from the earth, keep them separate from it. Badgers’ skins then suggest what it was which made Christ so undesirable to men who had not faith. Had He mingled with the people as their champion, and not witnessed against their sins, they would have thought very differently of Him. But He would not do that, “He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:28). And this separation was what they resented. It was going too far, and so it made the Son of God in their eyes like this outer Covering of the Tabernacle. And in the measure that our separation is thorough, we too shall find that we are not desired by the world. Nothing calls forth such opposition as true separation does. Remain in an unscriptural association, religious or otherwise, and it is wonderful how much you may say about its defects. But leave it, as God’s Word commands, and at once you will encounter opposition. Alas! how many of the people of God are trying to please Him and at the same time retain their connection with organizations and associations whose principles are utterly opposed to His Word.

Now suppose we lift the Badgers’ Skins and look at what is underneath. Does not the action suggest looking for the hidden motive, the secret spring, that which—shall we say—produced that separated life of the Lord Jesus.

Rams’ Skins Dyed Red; or the Consecration of Christ.

Here we reach the Rams’ Skins, which speak of the Consecration of Christ., “Rams’ Skins dyed red.” In Exodus xxix we read of the “ram of consecration.” Now in our days when there is so much loose interpreting of the Word of God, we get consecration and sanctification hopelessly mixed up together. But there is a difference between them. What is it? Sanctification speaks of separation unto God; consecration, occupation with God. The word “consecrate” comes from a word which means “to fill the hands.” Thus, when Aaron and his sons were put into the priesthood, Moses cut the ram of consecration into pieces, and they held out their hands, and he placed upon their hands those pieces to present to God. And thus the word means the “ram of the filling of the hands.” Let us see how blessedly this is seen in our Lord when He was on earth. You will remember those words, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business,” and “I do always those things which please Him.” And that other word, “My meat and My drink is to do the will of Him that sent Me.” Away back in the past, as we have it in the Psalms, He could say, “Yea, Thy law is within My heart, I delight to do Thy will.” That was the secret of His wondrous life of consecration, the secret whence flowed all that separation from evil which is seen in Him, the Holy One. There was constant occupation with God. His hands were filled. He was the Consecrated One. And it were good for His people if they see, in some degree, that these Coverings of the Tabernacle speak, too, of what they ought to be, as separated unto God, and set apart from all that is opposed to Him. All separation that is worth the name, or that gives joy to the heart of God, is separation that grows from occupation with Christ Himself.

Then we read, the Rams’ Skins were dyed red. What think you is that? Why not put them on as they were? Why not use them as they came from the back of the ram? Would not that skin speak of consecration just as well in its natural state as dyed red? White, grey, or brown, they would speak of consecration, since they came from the ram of consecration. But “dyed red” is more. You remember the word in Phil. 2:8, “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.” That was the measure of His consecration, it was measured by the Cross. His was consecration unto blood. His was devotedness to the Father, that would not stop short of that Cross. The Rams’ Skins dyed red surely tell us how that consecration was tested, and being tested, was not found wanting. And so too it ought to be with all who belong to Christ.

While we cannot apply to believers personally the Goats’ Hair Curtains or the innermost set of fine Linen Curtains, for they surely speak of what Christ is for His people, in which they are accepted. But in the two Coverings, we have that which ought, in measure at least, to be reproduced in all who are Christ’s, leading to practical separation from all that is opposed to the mind and heart of God.

The Goats’ Hair; Or The Expiation Of Christ.

The goat is pre-eminent in the Word of God as the sin offering. It was never absent from the feasts, and on the day of Atonement the interest centres in it. In the feast of Tabernacles its place is almost as prominent. That feast lasted seven days, and on the first day thirteen bullocks were offered as a burnt offering. As the days passed, the number of bullocks dwindled down, till on the last day, only one was offered. These bullocks were for a burnt offering, but the goat for the sin offering was offered daily from the first to the last.

In Matthew 25 our Lord gives us a view of the judgment of the living nations. Those on His right hand are called the sheep, they are saved. Those on His left hand, the unsaved, are called goats. The goat then represents the unsaved sinner. But, it may be asked, How can we take it as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ? It speaks of Christ taking the sinner’s place. As I view the sin offering, it speaks to me of Christ bearing my sin, suffering under the hand of a holy God for the guilty sinner. So it is very appropriate that the goat, which represents the sinner, should typify the holy Son of God, when He stood in the sinner’s place.

The goat’s hair is the memorial accomplished atonement, and everything in connection with it bears out the thought of atonement. The beautiful set of inner curtains were just 28 cubits long, so as the Tabernacle was 10 cubits high and 10 cubits wide, the inner set of curtains would leave one cubit of the boards on each side exposed. The goats’ hair curtain completely covered this. Then the wording of verse 7 sustains this thought, “To be a covering upon the Tabernacle.” Again, while the taches which held the inner set of curtains together were gold, speaking of Christ glorified, the taches holding the goats’ hair curtain together are brass, which turns our minds to the Altar, the place of atonement.

Thirty cubits long. Is there some significance in this length? Surely. We have spoken of “ten” as the number of responsibility, as seen in the Law the ten commandments, which gives us the measure of man’s responsibility to God, a responsibility man may ignore, but will have to meet. Now thirty is just three times ten, and if ten is the number of my responsibility, which I could never meet, three is the number of God, fully manifested, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The goats’ hair curtains 30 cubits long tells the believing sinner that his responsibility of a broken law, has been Divinely met. What a wonderful word that is in Heb. 9:14. “Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.” How unspeakably blessed; the Triune God all engaged in meeting the terrible need of poor sinners.

Each width, both in this and the inner curtains, was four cubits. Four is the number of the creature, and may proclaim in both curtains, the wondrous grace of the Creator becoming man, that He might bring man to Himself through the cross. God is never weary of reiterating this stupendous truth in these types. And we will never cease praising Him for it.

Another thing. Notice how many Curtains there are. When we have the beautiful inner set, there are just 10. When we read of the goats’ hair, which speaks of atonement, it is not 10—it is 11. This reminds us of a little word which occurs five times in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 5. That little word is “much more.” What does it mean? It means that when Christ died, God was more glorified by that death, than He had ever been dishonoured by sin; and the believer gains more by Christ’s death, than he lost through sin and Adam’s fall. And so that word, five times repeated there, finds its type here in the extra width of the Goats’ Hair Curtain. Ten commandments all broken, but eleven Goats’ Hair Curtains tell that the atonement of Christ has been ample; has met, and “much more” than met the consequences of sin.

There is something else. That eleventh Curtain was not needed for practical purposes; it was not required to cover the building—ten did that. What, then, was the use this eleventh Curtain was devoted to? It hung down over the door, and was doubled back, thus giving two cubits of it always in full view. Suppose, now, that a priest is going in towards the Tabernacle from the Laver. He may chance to be walking as if he had a perfect right to be there; as if, because of his office or merit, it were his place. But he never came into that blessed place without his eye falling on that double cubit of Goats’ Hair Curtain which hung down, and its voice to him would always be: “But for the death that these Curtains are the memorial of, I would not be allowed access here.” And the child of God, in his most sacred moments, when he is nearest to God, is never without the sense of this extra width of the Goats’ Hair Curtain. Take the most sacred meeting (for there is none more sacred outside heaven), when we are sitting around the Lord’s Table, rejoicing in all the nearness which is ours as “accepted in the Beloved,” a nearness angels can never know. As we look on the broken loaf, and meditate upon the Lord’s words, “This is My body which is given for you,” we see, as it were, the Goats’ Hair Curtain. Yet one more application of this. Soon the Church shall be seen in heavenly glory. Gathered around Him there, the sharers of His Throne, having been made more resplendent than the Archangel, shall we ever get away from, or forget that Goats’ Hair Curtain? Listen to the song the redeemed sing there, as they gaze upon the “Lamb as it had been slain.” “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.” Ever and anon, as they view those wounds, the glorified saints will, with adoring hearts, say, “The Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Ornaments of noble orders, the insignia of royalty, stars and crosses, can never be in human eyes, what the wounds in the hands and feet and side of the Lamb of God will ever be to His ransomed people, as the memorials of the death He died on Calvary. Thus we shall see that even there on the Throne of God, that as the priest in the Tabernacle was overspread by the Goats’ Hair Curtains, so will be the memorials of the atoning death of Christ ever be before us.

The Fine Twined Linen, Or The Exaltation Of Christ.

The Curtains of “Fine twined linen, blue, purple, a.nd scarlet; or the Glorification of Christ. We shall find it more appropriate to look at these beautiful curtains when we have spoken about the veil. These curtains witness to the blessed truth, that as Man He is now glorified. It is not without design that each time the material of these curtains are mentioned, it is linen first. It is meant by God to fix our minds on the thought of Christ in resurrection. When a priest went into the Tabernacle, all that could be seen of these beautiful curtains, was what was overhead, as the rest was on the outside of the boards, and thus hid from his view. So he had to look up to see them. Dear Stephen looked up, as we read, “But he being full of

The Holy Palace And Its Furniture

the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). Let us look up, there is a MAN on the throne of God.

In the goats’ hair curtains the taches which joined the two sets were of brass, which spoke of Christ on earth, bearing the judgment of sin. But in the holy place, the seven branched lampstand revealed not brass but golden taches, all now speaks of the MAN of Calvary in glory. So the lamps bring into view the taches of gold and loops of blue and all the colours of the curtains, just as the Holy Spirit, of whom the Lamps spoke, delights to do, as He did with Stephen, fix our eye on a glorified MAN.

We have spoken of the colours and material, and will have to look at then again when speaking of the veil, and so we won’t say more on the curtains now.