Intro: This past year we have been looking together at the tabernacle – it’s taken rather longer than I anticipated – I want to finish up this series today. Remember back to where we started? [P] An Israelite seeking God, wending His way through the camp to where יְהוָה was. He came in the centre of the camp to the tabernacle. What was the purpose of this peculiar structure? [Exodus 25:8 “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. ] [P] That God might dwell among them! Our hypothetical Israelite wanted to be near God! That should be our desire too. Here we have spent a year looking at the tabernacle – are we any closer to God? We have looked at a lot of detail and symbolism – you may well be asking – how does this lead me to God? Let’s pray that He will do that (pray). What is יְהוָה’s intention? [2 Corinthians 6:16 For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.] [ Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,] That is the whole reason and purpose. We have looked (rather laboriously) through the parts that make up the whole – now let’s see if we can put the pieces together – We are going to look down from above, a bird’s-eye view [P] – an overview.
Review: Our seeking Israelite, after he’d got through the camp where some 2,000,000 were living in tents, first encountered a barrier of white linen [P] – the unassailable absolute unyielding righteousness of יְהוָה! A barrier he couldn’t get through of himself. But he persisted, went around the enclosure until he found a gate [P] – a door! Jesus is the only way in. Immediately inside the gate was an altar, [P] a place where a substitute was killed in the place of the sinner, paying the penalty for sin: death – and Jesus is the perfect and only acceptable sacrifice for sin. The other object in the court is this laver with water for cleansing [P] – we are cleansed through the washing of the water of the Word of God; that is how we keep clean: by living according to His Word. Then we approach the tabernacle itself [P] – the tent where יְהוָה dwells. He said that He would dwell among men – He dwells in a temple, and we are that temple – the boards that are side by side in unity. Jesus lives in us – and He is the tabernacle, the coverings that make the tent. God dwells in Jesus and Jesus dwells in us! Hallelujah! When we enter the tabernacle we see Jesus! [P] Jesus the bread of life, who feeds and sustains His church; Jesus the light of the world [P] – who brings revelation through His Holy Spirit – without Whom we would have no spiritual understanding – we couldn’t see. Then there is the altar of incense [P] – Jesus, the Great High Priest, interceding for His saints at the right hand of God. Then through that curtain is the Holy of holies! [P] The place where יְהוָה in all His glory dwells! It is HOLY! There is overwhelming GLORY! [P] – The place of nearness – covenant relationship [P]. So there is a quick review of the parts of the tabernacle – you can see how they all fit together by looking at a floor plan [P] – the type of diagram you may find in the back of your Bible: The court, where any Israelite could go; the holy place, where only priests could go – we have been made priests, so we have access here; then the holy of holies where only the high priest could go, and only once a year. Jesus is our high priest – not only can He go there, He remains there at יְהוָה’s right side because of His sinlessness, His perfect righteousness and His perfect sacrifice that is effective forever – unlike the atonement carried out by the Levitical priests that had to be continually repeated. We can see the things in the court because the sun shines on them – natural light, there for all to see. In the holy place we can see because of the light from the lamp – by revelation, only those are priests, the redeemed, those with spiritual insight, can see here – things that are spiritually discerned but are foolishness to the natural mind. Last time I spoke about the cherubim in the Holy of holies, one thing you may not have asked is: “How could you see them?” How can you see anything in the holy of holies?! There are four coverings and a veil that tradition says was a hand’s-breadth thick! The only illumination there is יְהוָה Himself! The Shekinah glory illuminates here! – otherwise the high priest could not see what he was doing [Revelation 22:4-5 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.].
The veil: – So there is a gate which we enter, and a curtain here, then between the holy place and the holy of holies there was another curtain or veil. We read about it in: [P] [Exodus 26:31-37 You shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen; it shall be made with cherubim, the work of a skilful workman. You shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, their hooks also being of gold, on four sockets of silver. “You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring in the ark of the testimony there within the veil; and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies. “You shall put the kapporet on the ark of the testimony in the holy of holies. “You shall set the table outside the veil, and the lamp-stand opposite the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; and you shall put the table on the north side. “You shall make a screen for the doorway of the tent of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen, the work of a weaver. “You shall make five pillars of acacia for the screen and overlay them with gold, their hooks also being of gold; and you shall cast five sockets of bronze for them.] If you care to make a study, you will find that there are six veils recorded in Scripture and the thing that they each have in common is that they come between and hide. The veil was there to be a partition, a barrier. As we look at the veil it is interesting to see how many of these symbols are contained in it [P]. It was hung on four wooden pillars [P] – the work of the Man Christ Jesus, but a Divine work [P] – they were covered in gold. The pillars were set in silver sockets [P] – redemption is the foundation and eternal purpose of Christ’s cross work. Often with the tabernacle we have inferred meaning and symbolism but know for certain what the veil is – the Scripture tells us: [Hebrews 10:20 a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,] – the veil refers to Christ’s flesh, His life here upon earth. This was the Word made flesh and dwelling amongst us. The character of the incarnate Son of God is manifested in the wonderful colours of the veil. The material from which it was made was: blue [P] – here was a Man, flesh dwelling among us, but He was from heaven. There was purple cloth [P] – the colour of royalty, He is the Messiah, the royal line of David, come to be King, to rule and reign in righteousness and justice. And the scarlet material [P] speaks of His sufferings – though King, this Messiah was the suffering servant, who was put to death. There was fine twisted linen [P] – Jesus is perfectly righteous, completely pleasing to His Father and without spot or blemish. Embroidered on the veil were cherubim – here was יְהוָה’s glory revealed. Yes, in His sufferings here on earth – here is His glory! Where is the glory in the barbaric suffering of the cross? Think of Charles Upham – was his glorious moment when he received the bar to his VC? Or was it when he was heroically fighting in Crete? The greatest, most glorious work of Christ was His death on the cross! Here, in the veil, in a highly condensed form is Jesus beautifully and wonderfully portrayed – the wonder of God dwelling amongst men in a human body! Beyond all question the mystery of godliness is great – He appeared in a body! “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity; pleased as Man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel!”
Barriers: Now don’t forget the purpose – to get close to יְהוָה! That is the purpose of the tabernacle but it seems that you are forever encountering barriers! Have you ever experienced that? You want to be near to God but all you encounter are barriers: busyness, distraction, interruption, falling in sin, hurt from other Christians, failure to carry out your intention. Barriers [P], barriers [P], barriers [P]. The barriers of our own making (sin, busyness, distraction); but they can also be from God – obstacles that He has put in place in order to prove the earnestness of our desire to seek Him, proof of the genuineness of our faith. Are we going to persist, are we going persevere and press in? Like Jacob – “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” Don’t let the obstacle put you off, pick yourself up and continue to press on, determined to be nearer to your LORD. But the barriers are also to guard God’s holiness, to illustrate His difference. We talk glibly of “coming into God’s presence” – yes, that is true but we must be mindful of the barriers, the separation, God’s holiness – only then do we appreciate what an awesome privilege it is to actually come into God’s presence, what a tremendous thing it was for the barriers to be removed. The purpose of the veil was to keep out – it told man that he could not approach God. Christ in His ministry showed this. [Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing,] Hebrews is saying that as long as the first tabernacle was standing, whilst Christ lived there was no redemption. But He died and, in doing so opened a new and living way. But there is also another way to look at barriers. Look at the biggest man-made barrier [P] – is the Great Wall of China a barrier to Mongols or a protection against them. [P] Is the veil to prevent you coming to God; or to protect you? Behind that veil is יְהוָה! Glorious! Holy! Righteous! No man can look at Him and live! If you crawled under the veil, sauntered into the Holy of holies you would be instantly consumed by the power and glory of a holy God! You cannot just stroll in on יְהוָה! [Numbers 4:20 but they shall not go in to see the holy objects even for a moment, or they will die.] [Exodus 19:21-22 Then יְהוָהspoke to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to יְהוָה to gaze, and many of them perish. “Also let the priests who come near to יְהוָה consecrate themselves, or else יְהוָה will break out against them.”] [Leviticus 16:13 He shall put the incense on the fire before יְהוָה, that the cloud of incense may cover the kapporet that is on the ark of the testimony, otherwise he will die.] [Exodus 28:43 They (the priestly garments) shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they enter the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister in the holy place, so that they do not incur guilt and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and to his descendants after him.] The veil is Jesus – is He preventing us coming to God or is He protecting us from the consuming righteousness and holiness of God? If He in His righteousness was not there, we sinful creatures would have been destroyed. Jesus is there between God and man, preventing our destruction by a supremely holy God! Until we are perfectly righteous and holy we dare not go in.
The rent veil: – The tabernacle illustrates the holiness of יְהוָה! – the utter separation and difference between a holy God and defiled man. We are used to churches which are made for people, for us to meet together and gather. They have seats for us to sit on. But the tabernacle was not like that – it was the dwelling of God! – made for Him, not for man – a place for Him to dwell among men, with safeguards and barriers so that men were separated from Him and not consumed by His nearness. But the astounding and wonderful thing that there is a way in! We can come close to God! How do you get behind the veil? The veil refers to Christ’s flesh, His life here upon earth. This was the Word made flesh and dwelling amongst us, going about and constantly doing good. But Jesus living here as a man, doing good, was not the fullest manifestation of the love of God. We are told that the way into the immediate presence of God was not made manifest while the veil remained un-rent. While He was alive there was no way in. [Hebrews 9:8 the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing,] But there is a way in because Jesus died [P] [Matthew 27:50-51 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.] Tradition says that the veil was a handbreadth in thickness – yet it was ripped in two from top to bottom! Hallelujah! [P] So then, this veil is Jesus life, and the rending of the veil His death. His death, of course, was the fullest revelation of the Divine love. Simultaneously with the death of Christ on Calvary came this Divine rending of the veil – so the way was opened, not to a mercy seat and ark (for no ark existed in Herod’s temple) but to God Himself! The veil was Divinely rent – from the top, beyond man’s reach. God Himself did it, it was His work. It says “It pleased יְהוָה to bruise Him.” – God opened the way. From the top right to the bottom in two – rent completely – its effect right down to earth, to man. There is no obstacle – God has cleared the way – there is no obstacle at all. Any barrier is of our own making. There used to be a saying: “Does God seem far away – guess who moved?” Similarly if there is a barrier between you and God, guess who put it there! It is one that you have set up. The barrier has been torn down! Hallelujah! This passage that I’m going to read in Ephesians refers to a barrier between peoples but it also is true of the barrier between man and God [Ephesians 2:14-18 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.]
Coming near to God: I said in a previous message that the greatest commentary on the tabernacle is the book of Hebrews, the converse of that is that you will never understand the book of Hebrews unless you understand the tabernacle. Now we have looked at the background of the tabernacle we can understand the context: [P] [Hebrews 10:11-25 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them,” He then says, “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.] – I always see communion in this passage [Matthew 26:26-28 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” (the veil, His flesh). And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, (the new and living way into God’s presence) which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.] – the veil, the flesh of Jesus – the bread (emblems – break bread, the veil is rent, the way to God is open!); and the entrance through the blood of Jesus – the wine (pour wine – blood shed for the cleansing of sin, opening the new and living way into God). This we are celebrating every time we take communion – the way open into the very presence of יְהוָה Himself! Hallelujah! The rending of the veil was a Divine act but there is a response required from us: I do not approve of making our faith a recipe, a formula to be followed; but I have the response we should make to this Divine work in a recipe – a recipe for a Hebrew’s salad [P] (as you all know the basic ingredient of salad is lettuce): 1/ “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” [P] – our response needs to be to press in, to draw near to God. Seek Him, long to be near Him and genuinely seek that with all your heart – with faith: that assurance “that He rewards those who diligently seek Him”; 2/ “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” [P] – we need to persevere, cling to what we have and hold fast to it. It is our hope and we need to hold fast to our confession of that hope without wavering. Many want some new and exciting teaching. Here is this way to come near to God! What could be better or higher?! Yet, it is nothing new – it is the old message of the cross, of Jesus the way to the Father. But people want something new, something different. There is a multiplication of new ideas and methods and trends, seeking to get our attention. But we must not be distracted. There is nothing better! We need to hold fast to the hope we have and not abandon it for some worthless but tempting bauble. 3/ “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” [P] – I made a mistake in my Christian life, I thought that I could be a Christian in isolation – just me and God. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work! We are a body, we are in this together and we need each other. We come to God corporately, as a temple of many members – that is where יְהוָה dwells. We need to consider one another, encourage one another, to meet together, to stimulate each other to good Christian living: to love and good deeds. As we near the end, times will get more difficult, the love of many will grow cold. We need the encouragement and stimulus of each other to keep us close to God. To come within the veil without any obstacle is an awesome privilege – not available to any Jew (Why go back to Jewish roots and ceremonies?!). The way is open – let us draw near!
Conclusion: So there is the tabernacle – the way to drawing near to God! The Sunday School answer is right – the tabernacle is Jesus [P] – He is the Way to the Father [John 14:1-11 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; (dwelling, tabernacling with God) if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (in God’s presence) “And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”(he was seeking God) Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?] Jesus is the only way to the Father – that is the message of the tabernacle. [P] “To God be the glory great things He hath done, so loved He the world that He gave us His Son, who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the life gate that all may come in! [P] Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the earth hear His voice. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the people rejoice. Oh come to the Father through Jesus the Son and give Him the glory great things He hath done!”
“Within the veil I now would come…”