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seem entirely meaningless. But truth is always gradual in its development. It cannot be grasped at once. It is so in respect to every one of the settled doctrines of christian theology. There are passages and doctrines which now are clear, which the ancients never fully understood. There must be patient study and investigation. It was by books that Daniel was made to understand some of the mysteries of what was written before his day. And it is a feeling execrable indeed, which would so confine us to what is plain and easy as to prevent our inquiring into what is yet doubtful or obscure. I hold it as a christian duty to search out as far as we can the whole mind of God, whether that mind be communicated in the form of types, symbols, visions, or plain declarations.
The position of the Tabernacle in the Jewish system of worship renders it an object of no small importance. Being the centre of the Hebrew ritual, our view of the genius and scope of the Mosaic economy depends essentially upon our idea of its forms, its uses, and its ends. And though in the present stage, which is at best only the middle stage of the unfoldings of the Divine mind to man, we may not be able to take in the entire reach of meaning which is couched under this significant structure; yet, much may be obtained by giving it its due attention which should interest and edify us.
When speaking of the Tabernacle, it is well for us to bear in mind that it was a thing of Divine devising. The wbole plan of it was a matter of revelation. The Lord exhibited to Moses on Mt. Sinai a pattern, exactly like which he solemnly enjoined the prophet to make and arrange everything concerning it. So that whatever the symbolic import of the Tabernacle and its furniture was, it is to be regarded as just as much the mind of God as the precepts which his own fingers wrote on the tables of the decalogue.
The Tabernacle consisted of three apartments, each of which was designed for a particular purpose in the Jewish service, and each having its appropriate furniture. The first apartment was the court of the Tabernacle. The second, which was within and at the one end of the court was the Tabernacle proper. The third, in the deepest interior of the Tabernacle was the most holy place, or chamber of the Divine presence.
The court was an uncovered enclosure one hundred and fifty feet long by seventy-five feet wide, fenced in by a sort of wall, seven
feet and a half high, made of moveable pillars and strong cords, stakes, and curtains. This was the space which received the worshiping congregation. About the centre of this enclosure, between the entrance gate and the Tabernacle proper, was the altar of sacrifice. This was a sort of brazen chest seven and a half feet square, and four feet and a half high, with horns or projections at the corners. Of this altar the Lord said, “Seven days shalt thou make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth it shall become boly.” No peace or pardon could be secured according to the Mosaic law, but through the use of this altar. It was evidently intended to prefigure the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. Its sole sufficiency, its nature, and its infinite merit are here distinctly represented.
Between this altar and the tabernacle proper was the brazen laver. This was a large and magnificent vessel filled with water for the use of priests when conducting the sacrificial ceremonies. The doctrine which it symbolized is the necessity of moral purity. Its position was between the altar and the sanctuary as an intermediate something which had an important relation to the entrance within the outer veil. The priest on his way from the altar to the Tabernacle was arrested by it, and summoned to pause and first attend to the requisite personal cleansings. Thus showing that there is no entering into the church of Christ or kingdom of heaven without a previous washing in the laver of regeneration. The altar set forth the way of justification, the laver the way of sanctification. The one typified the pardon of sin, the other salvation from the pollution of sin.
The Tabernacle proper was a splendid structure of an oblong rectangular form, forty-five feet long, fifteen broad, and fifteen high. The two sides and western end of it were made of boards of a very beautiful and substantial wood overlaid with gold, and fixed in solid sockets of silver. They were secured by bars overlaid with gold, and passing through rings of gold which were fixed to the boards. It was covered with four layers or covering of different materials and workmanship. The inner covering was made of fine linen magnificently embroidered with cherubic figures in shades of blue, purple, and scarlet, forming a most beautiful ceiling. The entrance at the east end was inclosed with a rich cur
tain suspended from the golden pillars. As has been intimated, this glorious pavilion was divided into two apartments. The first was the holy place, or sanctuary. This consisted of about twothirds the space of the Tabernacle, and was divided from the other part by four golden pillars and a veil. This was called the second veil, and is the one which was rent at the crucifixion of Christ.
“The first wherein was the candlestick.” By the first Tabernacle here, the apostle means the first apartment of the Tabernacle proper—the Sanctuary or holy place. The first object among the furniture of this room to which he directs attention, is the candlestick. It is well to observe that the Tabernacle had no windows, and candles were needed for light. The candlestick of the Sanctuary was a magnificent stand for lamps made of gold. It consisted of a central perpendicular beam with a lamp on the top, and three arms coming out on each side of this beam opposite each other, and extending up to a level with the top of the centre lamp. Each of these arms also bore a lamp; so that there were in all seven lamps, and hence is sometimes spoken of as “the seven golden candlesticks."
The typical allusion of this candlestick and its light, was to the christian church and its ministry. John was commanded to write by way of interpretation of these mystic symbols, "The seven stars (lights) are the angels (ministers) of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks are the seven churches.” (Rev. i. 20.) The number seven is frequently used to denote an indefinite number. It is here a number of universality; it stands as the representative of the whole. The seven material lights of the Tabernacle, represented the spiritual lights of the entire church; the pure olive oil which fed them typified the Holy Ghost; and the candlestick with its seven branches, was the symbol of the universal church, spread abroad as it is through diversified apartments and numerous particular congregations.
The next thing in the Sanctuary to which the text directs our attention, is the table and the shew-bread.” This table was a stand three feet by a foot and a half in size, overlaid with gold, and ornamented with a crown or rim of pure gold. The sherbread, or bread of the presence, was unleavened bread made into twelve loaves of equal size, and laid up in two piles on this table with thin plates of gold between the loaves. These piles were
renewed every Sabbath. This was very likely intended to represent the same fact of the Eucharist of the christian church. It symbolized that sustenance and bread of heaven which maintains the inner, higher, and eternal life of believers. The New Testament abounds in allusions to the true bread from heaven"__"the bread of God”_" the living bread"_“the bread of life” which nourishes the soul. And it is reasonable to suppose that the mystery of the table of shew-bread was intended as a sensible and lively, though inadequate shero of that nourishment of the holy, hidden, spiritual life of the new-born soul, which is the great blessing of the gospel.
A third particular among the furniture of the Sanctuary, was the altar of incense, or the golden altar as distinguished from the brazen altar of the court. This was a small table a foot and a half square, covered with plates of pure gold. At each of its four corners there was a little horn. Its top was ornamented with a crown or rim of gold. It was placed facing the table of shewbread, and was used every morning and evening by the officiating priest, who burnt upon it a composition of spices. This altar was also to be sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifices.
The general symbolic import of incense is prayer. It is written in Revelations, “ the elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them lamps and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.” Again, “ And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints." It was customary too, while the priest burnt incense on the altar for all the people to be at prayer. (Luke i. 9, 10.) We see then that the burning of incense and prayer are associated as one idea. We may then consider the incense of the golden altar to symbolize the devotions of the saints, and particularly their prayers for the speedy accomplishment of those glorious things to which prophecy directs their hopes.
We come now to the utmost interior of the Tabernacle. after the second vail, the Tabernacle which was called the Holiest of all.” This was the very foundation, heart, root, and marrow of the Levitical service. It was an apartment filled with objects of awful grandeur. The first to which the apostle directs attention, is “ the golden
" This was a fire-vessel, the size and form of which we know nothing about. Moses says nothing respecting it as belong. ing to the furniture of the most holy place. That it was used in the services of the most holy place we learn from the following passage. “And he (the high priest) shall take a censer full of living coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, (the golden altar,) and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil: and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy-seat that is upon the testimony.” This service occurred just as the high priest was about to enter the holy of holies with the blood of atonement. That it had a typical meaning there is no doubt; though there is some difficulty in determining what it is. It may have been intended to symbolize the earnest prayers with which Christ prepared himself for his entrance into heaven to atone for us. But it is likely that it refers to something yet future in the wonderful processes of the work of human redemption; probably to some terms of the christian's final admission into the full fruition of glory.
The second object in the holy of holies mentioned by the apostle, is “the Ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant."
The Ark was a small chest or coffer three feet nine inches in length, by two feet three inches in breadth and depth. It was made of a solid wood, and overlaid within and without with gold. Around the top of it was a rim or cornice of solid gold. And on each side were fixed rings of gold to receive golden rods by which it was carried. It had a lid or cover of solid gold which dropped within the rim. This was called the Mercy-seat.
The Ark contained, according to the text, 1st. “The golden pot of manna.” It is recorded in Exodus, that “Moses said unto Aaron, take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up
before the Lord, to be kept for your generations. And as the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.” The object of this was to preserve a remembrancer of God's goodness and miraculous power in keeping them alive in the barren wilderness.
2nd. The ark also contained “ Aaron's rod that budded." There is an instance on record in which the Hebrews in the wilderness