The Boards Of The Tabernacle

“Builded together for an habitation of God”—(Eph. 2:22).

Here we have the framework of the Tabernacle. 48 boards, 10 cubits (17 ½ feet) high, and 1½ cubits (2 feet 7½ inches) broad, 20 on each side, and 8 on the end.

The boards were acacia wood, overlaid with gold. Five bars of the same two materials held them together. They stood upon ninety-six silver sockets—two under each board, or about five tons of silver in all in the foundation. In looking at the boards, we will consider them as typical of the saints of God; the sockets, as Christ Himself, their Foundation. As a whole, the Tabernacle is a type of Christ, as also its various parts, but it speaks also of His people.

Let us turn to Eph. 2:19-22. We see here God engaged in the work of making a habitation for Himself. Now, that is just what the Tabernacle was. His Word was, “Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” And this is His object In gathering out the Church as we see here. The Tabernacle was the type of this. The very language employed would suggest this. “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Corner-stone. In whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

The Boards Of The Tabernacle.

As we think of the getting, fitting, and placing of these boards, we are reminded of how God is now building His habitation as in Eph. 2:19-22.

Some of the workmen of Israel set out in quest of trees which would furnish these boards. Some of these trees may have been growing up on the hillside, others down in the valley. They start upon them with the axe. First they are laid low. Then boughs, branches, and leaves are all taken away, and only the trunk remains. This is cut up into boards, and these are fitted and fashioned, covered with gold, and set up with all the others to form a dwelling-place for Jehovah. Such is the picture. Now for its application. Those Ephesian saints were boards. Once, some of them grew upon the hills of religion and morality, while the many grew down in the low places of sin and vice. But alike they drew their enjoyment from the earth, not from God. But the Word of God, like an axe, came and it detached them from the world. They saw themselves to be dead in trespasses and sins, all their fancied goodness and false profession was taken away. Then as the boards were fashioned for their places in the Tabernacle, so were they raised up and builded together for “an habitation of God.”

It might have looked cruel to see the trees despoiled of their beauty. But that beauty would soon have faded. Not so the gold which has been put upon these boards. It will endure. So we lose our own righteousness, self-righteousness, to get the righteousness of God. This is Christ Himself.

The Sockets.

There were two under each board. In each socket there was a mortise, and on each board two tenons (or hands) which entered into the mortises. A very precious thought. Why two sockets under a board? The socket tells us of Christ, upon whom we, as individuals, rest for salvation. And all of them together proclaim Him as “the Church’s one foundation.”

Two” suggests testimony better than one would. And how blessed it is, in such a vital matter, that God has given us competent testimony. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, (1 Cor. 15:1-8) about the Gospel he had preached, which they received, and by which they were saved, shows upon what authority the fact of the resurrection of Christ rested. After he had spoken of various witnesses, he says that He “was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.” That means that at the time he was writing, some three hundred men in Judea could have been interviewed who had seen Christ after He arose from the dead. Pretty good evidence! Peter, writing to “them who have obtained like precious faith with us” says, “for we have not followed cunningly devised fables, we were eye-witnesses of His Majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16). The child of God has very solid ground for his faith. To-day as we see people on every hand resting upon the fables, opinions, and dreamings of men, while they reject the sure Word of God, we think of what the first Napoleon said concerning one of his Generals, “He would believe anything if it was not in the Bible.” The boards were separated from the earth by these silver sockets. Once as trees, they were in and of the earth. Now they are on the earth, but not in it, nor of it. Not only does the Cross of Christ separate believers from their sins, and the wrath of God due to them because of these, but it separates them from their old standing, takes them out of the world in which they once lived. What a picture we get here of an assembly of saints! Each board covered with gold, standing on the silver sockets, all bound together by the five bars to be an habitation of God. We think of such words as “That He might gather together in one the children of God” (John 11:52), and “All that believed were together” (Acts 2:44). In these early days, believers seemed to do so by instinct. Sects and systems had not then perverted that blessed instinct as, alas! seems to be the case now. It is, however, the responsibility of all who know Christ, to seek a fellowship such as we see pictured in these boards of the Tabernacle. Saved people (not saved and unsaved) gathered together on the foundation of redemption by the blood of Christ—the silver sockets; to Himself in the midst— the glory in the Tabernacle; and held together by no human bond, but by Christ Himself.

The Five Bars.

These bars, as has already been remarked, were acacia wood covered with gold. And just as the five pillars of the door set forth Christ, so do these, only the relation He sustains toward us is different. He is here as the One who binds all in one, who secures the unity of His people.

The middle bar has been spoken of as a type of the Holy Spirit. But the fact that it was wood and gold, is against this interpretation. “The middle bar in the midst” are words which lend themselves easily to express what makes the difference between a church or assembly and a mere congregation. Jesus known as the One “in the midst,” the One around whom we are gathered. That is what makes an assembly, and to neglect the assembling of ourselves together, is a cause of loss to our souls. And to turn away from such a company is to turn our back on Christ, who is in the midst. It has been said that the middle bar passed through each board like a dowel. That is, a hole was bored in the board, and the bar, like a long dowel-pin, went through from end to end of all the twenty boards. Now the hole would have to be so large as to weaken the boards if the bar was to be of a strength sufficient to be any material help, and as it was wood, its size would have to be considerable. But if some of the rings were on the inside of the boards, and this bar passed through these, it would act as a key to the others, giving stability to the boards, and the truth taught would be just the same. I just suggest this, as the more reasonable interpretation to us. At any rate, the truth taught is clear. Nothing holds together a company of believers like seeing that Jesus is the Centre, and that as Lord we are gathered “unto Him,” owning His authority.