You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?
Is there something here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.
Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, do you remember in The Wizard of Oz, from the end when the curtain is pulled back and you hear that voice that says, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain? Right, right. Well, when someone says, don't look behind the curtain, all you want to do is look behind the curtain. You kind of know. So in that movie, the curtain was covering a fake.
Right, right. But in the tabernacle today, we'll find out it has another purpose today on More Than Ink. Well, welcome back this morning as we read the Bible. I'm Jim.
And I'm Dorothy. And this is More Than Ink because we are persuaded beyond all doubts that the Word of God is more than just ink on a page. It's living.
It's living. And it speaks to us fresh every time we look into it. And it's central to God's plan for what he has for us in life. So here we are reading it and many times we don't really know what we're going to expect to find. So we are, in that sense, we're sort of adventuring our way into this and discovering things and making comments and pointing left and right about what we see. And we hope that you're doing the same thing, reading with us. We're reading out of the ESV Bible, the English Standard. So that helps if you're following so you don't have to kind of translate on the fly with your version.
Or you can just listen. But we're looking at the ESV and we are now – well, we finished building the tabernacle last week, didn't we? We've got all those tent pieces. Well, the holy place. Yeah.
Yeah. Later on, the entire structure that included the outer court became referred to as the tabernacle. But here at the beginning, it's just the actual central tent, God's house. And as you recall, this all results because God's intention is to want to dwell with Israel. His intention is to dwell with us, among us. In our midst. So this is His way of saying, as we go across the desert in tents together, I'm going to have my tent and I'll be in the center of life for you.
So that's what we're doing here. He's specifically telling us how the tent is supposed to be made because this tent reflects who He is. And we've been making notes as we see things inside the tent as well as the tent itself. And we are still inside the tent today with a couple of fabric barriers, is what I call them.
Really famous ones. Well, and it doesn't just teach us who God is, but it teaches us what is required in order to live in relationship with Him. And so everything that is inside this, God's tent, speaks about that. Yeah.
Who lives here and what is it like to live in relationship with Him? And it's meant to tell us some very obvious things as we walk into this structure. It's God's house. But as we walk into the structure, as we move from the outside to the inside, you see things, you experience things. You see things there that are specifically designed to remind you. Like, for instance, when you go into the tabernacle itself, you know, on your left you see that big candelabra with the lights, right? I mean, man-sized. It's a big thing.
It's big. On the right, this golden table with these lobes of bread on it kind of hints at fellowship with God. The other one, light, enlightenment from God.
Another piece that we haven't looked at yet is the altar of incense, which represents prayers right next to what we're going to look at today, the veil which separates us from the Ark of the Covenant. Are we ready? Well, I guess so. Well, let's do it.
Okay. Well, if you're following with us, we're in chapter 26 and we're starting in verse 31. Okay, and just before, in verse 30, God had told Moses, now make sure that you build it all according to the plan I've shown you on the mountain. So that instruction punctuates all the way through these instructions. So God seems to be indicating that he has given Moses a very clear – there may even have been a model, something that he could see exactly what it should look like. Yeah, because it seems like there's more detail. Because we read these instructions and we're like, what? What does that mean?
How do you build that? Yeah. So in Hebrews says Moses was an architect or he was the executor of God's architecture. So there was some sort of a concrete plan that God was showing Moses. It seems like this written plan here is slightly inadequate, but he does say a couple times, he says to Moses, what you saw on the mountain. Right.
So he might have seen more of them. What you saw. So we are very specific, very specific. So we're only going to deal with these six verses talking about this very important part of the holy place that separates – It separates the inside structure. The holy place from the most holy place.
Yeah. So I'm going to start reading in verse 31. And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twisted linen. It shall be made with cherubim, skillfully worked into it. And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold on four bases of silver. And you shall hang the veil from the clasps and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the holy place from the most holy. You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the most holy place. And you shall set the table outside the veil and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle opposite the table. And you shall put the table on the north side. Okay. Let's just stop there.
Okay. Because that's the veil. That's what we call the veil, which unfortunately when... It's an interesting word, isn't it? It's an interesting word. Yeah.
It's, I mean, it literally, I looked into it. It doesn't mean a wispy, thin piece of cloth. No, but that's what we think of. That's what we think of.
We think of nylon net that's flimsy and you can see through it. Not that at all. In fact, if I remember correctly, when we get down to Solomon's Temple much later than this, this veil, this big piece of fabric was described as being four fingers wide. Right. Four fingers thick.
Yeah. And we're talking about a very thick thing, completely excluded light into it. I don't think it's that thick here, but it's a substantial thing. It's not a wispy little thing. Well, remember they had to carry it. Yeah.
So it probably wasn't. But I'm just saying, if you're thinking of a wispy, almost see-through kind of piece of fabric, that's not what we're talking about. No, this is a substantial piece of fabric. And this is made to separate, actually to create a barrier in a way, but to separate a third of the space inside the tabernacle from two-thirds. So you came into the two-thirds larger section and then you go into this third section in the back. It's a room divider. It's a room divider. Right. We had a curtain sometimes these days to separate a room into two parts.
Yeah. And this, again, is a very fine kind of fabric. It's inexpensive, hard to find, many threads per inch, sort of wonderful twined linen.
I mean, it's a classy piece. You know, we forget about the fact that fabric during that day was a sign of great luxury and wealth. Well, yeah, linen comes from flax and you had to harvest the flax, strip the fibers, treat them, and weave them into fabric. So we're talking about something that was extraordinarily labor-intensive to create this fine fabric. Yeah, I mean, think about all those flax plants and making a fabric thing like this, this big.
I mean, and then all the work in between. And not only is it just fabric is expensive, that's why they were actually gambling for Jesus' cloak, you know, when he died. Right. Fabric is expensive, but here it's also marvelously dyed. I mean, and has artwork.
Beautiful colors, very expensive to get these kinds of dyes. Yeah, yeah. And you didn't see that. That was always an extra cost. That was something that just royalty, in a way, had.
And then it has this artwork on it of the chairmen. We talked about them last time. They're worked into it. They're woven into it. Yeah.
We're going to find a little later in Exodus that God says, I will give specific gifts of my Spirit to specific designers, weavers, and art workers to create these beautiful things. Yeah. So, but here, we're just talking about this thing that we refer to as the veil.
One, two, three, four, five, five times in these three, four verses, he refers to the veil. Yeah, yeah. Remember, it's not a flimsy, see-through thing.
It's a heavy, substantial screen. It's hung up to divide the room. Yeah. And when we talk about the decoration of the cherubim, this isn't just because that's a nice thing to put on the walls. I mean, we talked about last time that there's actually a couple statuettes of cherubim on top of the mercy seat on the ark inside. And the cherubim always, all the way back to the Garden of Eden, were protective guard creatures. Right, they're guardians. Yeah, they're guardians. And so you see their posture over the ark, and they're guarding.
Their wings are covering over. They're guarding that. They guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden.
They were guards. So when you see cherubim on the walls right here, too, in a sense, what God is saying quite visually is that what is so precious inside here is actually guarded by the cherubim of heaven. I mean, it's guarded. This is valuable.
So don't mess around. So it's not just fun artwork. It's almost warning artwork. Well, yeah, it is. And the whole thing is constructed to put you in your place, essentially, to remind you where you are and who you are approaching.
Yeah, this is a very, very big deal. So we have this veil described to us in 31, how to hang it up. And when you hang anything with clasps, it's got to be gold, because this is... This is inside the most precious place. This is meant to represent holiness in that sense.
How to hang them up there. And what they said in 33, you hang the veil from the clasp and then bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. So that's the only thing that's on the other side of the veil is that ark of the covenant. Yeah, and we talked about that at length before.
So this is going to block entry to that. And now it becomes designated as the most holy place. Most holy. Right, the whole tent was called the holy place. But now once you hang up the veil, the separation in front of the ark of the covenant, now that room becomes the most holy place. Right. So in a sense, it's the heart of where God's presence is. And he says, I'll meet you there on the mercy seat. Right.
So that actually makes sense. So again, we're with this tension that's in Exodus as well as the Bible where God's desire is to live amongst us and us to live with him. And yet, because of our sin, we can't come near. And so in this particular case, the veil keeps you from coming near to the presence of God, represented by that ark. Yeah, so as we said early on when we started talking about the tabernacle, every detail here points to Jesus. It points to God's solution, right? The culmination of God's entire picture of how he has accomplished our salvation.
It all points to the person of Jesus. And so a way to begin studying this passage with the veil here is take your concordance and look up the word veil. Now you're going to turn up a whole bunch of stuff.
A lot of stuff. You're going to turn up a bunch of different words for veil. Some of them reply to the veil a woman would fasten to her face or other kinds of coverings. But this one here, this is only used in reference to the veil in the temple. And when you track through your concordance and come to the New Testament references, there won't be nearly so many. And they will all be very specific about this thing that hung that was torn from top to bottom at the death of Jesus. Right. Hebrews actually even goes so far as to say the veil, which was his flesh.
Was his flesh, yeah. So we know that's worth camping on a little bit. So I would encourage you to just begin looking at those New Testament references to this veil and what the New Testament says. Because that's how we come to understand the Old Testament is by what the New Testament says about it.
It helps us an awful lot. Yeah. In fact, when the writer of Hebrews is looking at that, he says that the veil, well you know how the veil right now as we've looked at it, blocks the way into the most holy place. And yet he says in Hebrews that Jesus is the new and living way, torn like the veil will be torn. He's entered within the veil. And offered us a way. So when Jesus says I'm the way, the truth and life, this is what he's talking about.
This is the way in. A new way into the presence of God. And Hebrews 6 says he's gone in there as a forerunner and anchored, as an anchor for our faith inside the veil. So from a Jewish metaphor perspective, this separation, this barrier that keeps us from God is somehow now taken care of through the breaking of Christ's body. The tearing of the veil. And it says in a very clear way, unequivocally, that now access to God has been radically opened because of what Christ has done for us. So the veil is something that says sin must keep you out, but through Christ we can come in.
There was a separation. I don't want to just think about a veil for a minute because the only way we use a veil pretty much in our age is we all think of the veil that a bride wears. But if you think of the function of a veil, it separates you from something, but it can be protective. Like if you wear sunglasses, you wear those to veil your eyes from the glare. And that allows you to see better because you're not blinded by the glare. So when the scripture says he took on flesh, he veiled himself in flesh, well he covered the glare, the glaring holiness of God so we could actually see in reality who God is.
What he's like in the person of his son. And there's a lot there to unpack devotionally as you think about Jesus in his flesh representing the veil. Yeah, and if you think of it very simply as a screen that keeps you from one place and another place. In fact, when we get to the tabernacle rituals and what goes on there, you know we find out later on that only one person is allowed past this veil and that's the high priest. And even at that he's only allowed once a year on the Day of Atonement to go into this. And he better be carrying blood.
And he better be carrying blood, yeah. It's very specific. The access is extraordinarily limited. And so that veil also provides a warning saying don't come past this point unless you are the high priest and you happen to be bringing blood as a sacrifice and this better be the Day of Atonement. So it's a very restricted access.
There is access but it's very restricted. And yet the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus is now our high priest. He's the one that goes in once for all and he accomplishes going through that veil into this most holy place what all of those string of priests in the Old Testament couldn't accomplish. Jesus now does once for all and enters for us. He's not only the veil that's torn that allows the new way. He is actually the high priest who walks in on our behalf.
Who walks through carrying his own blood. Hebrews unpacks that beautifully. Yeah, that's in Hebrews 9 if you want to go check it out. You know when Paul in 2nd Corinthians 3 is talking about the significance of this new covenant, he turns a corner at one point and talks about how Moses used to veil his face. Oh yeah, he veiled his face.
So that people couldn't see that the glory was fading. Remember he went into the tent of meeting, had his conversations with the Lord came out and his face was glowing and it freaked the people out. So he screamed his face. So he screamed his face. He put on a veil so they couldn't see the glory so they would listen to him. But behind the veil the glory was fading. Yeah. So you go and look at 2nd Corinthians 3.
That's an interesting thing. Because at the end of the chapter Paul says now, but we all on this side of the new covenant. We all with unveiled face beholding in a mirror, as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.
Justice from the Lord the Spirit. So under the old covenant the glory was fading. But under the new covenant that Jesus established the glory is increasing as we are transformed internally and changed into the image of the Son of God.
It's a beautiful picture. We have unveiled face. There's nothing between us and God anymore.
There's nothing between. Jesus is opened that way. Yeah and that's one of Jesus' several roles when you look at him is he's the one who removes all the barriers. He removes all the barriers.
He's the way maker as a current song says. And he allows us a way, a single way into the presence of God's glory and seeing who God is. I mean that in general is like the biblical thrust of the Bible is God's intent to live with us and God's intent for us to come into his presence and to see his glory and experience him and to live with him. That God is a very relational God and Jesus solves the problem that the veil reminds us is a problem, our sin. You know I'm thinking about veils even today in countries where women are veiled in public where do they take the veil off?
Inside their homes in the presence of their husbands. Right, right. So it's a relational thing. It's always relational. Yeah. It's always relational. Yeah and you know I just had a, I just had a trivia moment.
Be careful here. This is about Roman history, the great general Pompey, he was actually a pretty ruthless man about five or six decades before the birth of Christ. Pompey goes around, he does a lot of stuff around the world. His hero was Alexander the Great so Pompey was just a nasty guy. And he did actually come into Israel and came into Jerusalem and saw the temple and said well what's the big deal?
And he forced his way into the temple. This is I think it's 50 B.C. Was it Pompey that did that?
It was Pompey, yeah, in 50 or 60 B.C. He comes in, pushes, well there's another one even earlier than that. I was going to say yeah there's another guy.
This is the last one before Jesus. And he comes in and when he pushes his way into the temple, past the priests who were warning him don't go in there, don't go in there. And he goes inside and he's absolutely flabbergasted by what he doesn't find. He doesn't find a statue or an idol in there.
He finds the box. So he says well who makes a temple and doesn't put their God in the temple? And so he was just gobsmacked by the fact that well where's your God? Well God is there. He's just not as a statue. He's not as an idol that's right there.
It's interesting. In fact Josephus, the famous historian, I'm pretty sure is the one who wrote that down. This was Pompeys reaction when he went inside the temple. He went well where's your God? Where's your God?
I think that was around 60 B.C. Interesting thing. Because you won't see God as a statue inside the temple.
Unlike every other religion. Well that just triggered a whole train of thought for me but I won't unpack it now because I don't want to use up our time. We still have a little bit of our own passage left. Well let's hit this last piece because we just talked about the veil.
We'll probably come back a little bit more when we come back. But that's a barrier to the Holy of Holies. There actually is an external barrier to coming into the whole tabernacle itself.
And so I'll just read for it. Just remember that we said before that the description of the walls of the holy place there were walls on three sides but the east facing side was open. Well this is where we find out what covers the entrance side. This is how we close the entrance side.
Sorry I interrupted you. No no that's really good because we've got three sides covered and not the entry side. So here we go. 36, so you shall make a screen for the entrance of the tent, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen embroidered with needlework and you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia overlay them with gold.
Their hooks shall be of gold and you shall cast five bases of bronze for them. So this is just a second sort of barrier screen to coming in because you know there were restrictions about coming into the general tabernacle. Not just the Holy of Holies but even the Holies on the outside. So this was the only entrance by the way. Jesus is the only way. There is no back door to the tabernacle of the presence of God.
There's only one way in and this is the way in. The interesting thing to me, well there's two interesting things that jump off the page for me. One is that this is a different Hebrew word.
It is yeah. They both mean a separating curtain, a thing that's hung that separates you. But I wonder about the significance of the difference between those words and I didn't dig into it as far as I could. So this is a different word which is why in English it's translated a screen instead of a veil. And the other thing is that this one doesn't have the cherubim on it. Otherwise the description is the same.
It has something embroidered on it but we don't know what. But it doesn't have the cherubim. So there's something, it's a little bit farther out from the deep holy presence of God.
And it's a little more accessible. Yeah so there's sort of a progressive things you go through as you come closer to the presence of God. Even still, if you put this in your mind's eye for a second, if you stand outside the tabernacle once it's erected, the tent. You see the other three sides we were just talking about which has the goat's hair and all the layers of leather on the top and all that kind of stuff. It's kind of rough looking. If you went around all the four sides of the tabernacle you'd see those very utilitarian high durability sides. And then you'd come to this wonderful linen thing with all these colors in it and you'd go, well you know that's probably the direction you go to get toward God.
None of the other sides. This is the entrance. And it would be such a stark contrast from the other sides, from the materials of the other sides. I'm sure it just kind of blazed as you looked at it.
Wow look at that. That's the entrance right there. And as you would come through that, the colors and the fine linen and you'd walk into the center, into the holy place there. Then you'd be surrounded with curtains that have cherubim suggesting to you that actually the powers of heaven are protecting what's so precious inside of here.
And then you'd see all the gold things. I mean it would be just such a different thing but this would be very clearly a different side of the tabernacle. This is how you go in. And every time I think about that contrast, about what the four sides look like, I think about the fact that Jesus says I'm the way.
And a lot of people today talk about, well no I think there's a lot of ways to God. Right. In the tabernacle there's only one way. Okay and this is the screen that everybody could see. Yes exactly. They couldn't all see that veil before the Holy of Holies. That's right.
But everybody could see this screen. And that set me thinking and reminded me of a woman I talked with once who ministered in Muslim countries. And she said, you know it's very helpful if we understand that there's many, many ways to Jesus. Right. But only one way to God. Exactly.
Through him. And so that kind of came to mind as I was thinking about this veil, this curtain that's out here that everybody can see. Yeah. This one's visible. This is the way in.
Yeah. But it's only through this curtain. This one's visible. And it actually just by its visualness and its contrast the other side says something about hope and promise and the presence of God. Something very valuable. And beauty. And beauty.
Yeah. It's such a remarkable image. That's why God, you know I always thought God could have made that goat's hair thing go around the four sides. But he leaves this side open so that this entrance toward God would be visually stunning and inviting. And you know that this is where you'll find God.
I think that's just great. And it's open. And it's open.
It's a curtain. Right? Yeah. You're not going to go through the side of the tent.
No. But this is deliberately designed to say this is the entry way. This is the entry.
Come in through here. Yeah. So again we have this tension showing in these screens, these barriers that God wants to be in our midst. But he has controlled access. And that the controlled access is just because we were tainted by sin.
That's what it's all about. And yet the New Testament, Jesus fixes that. So who had access now to this holy place? Well, we'll find out later that it was the high priest and all of the Levites and everybody else who did the service that took place in there. The caring for the lights and the bread and the incense, all of that. But only the high priest would go in to the holy of holies. So again it's that. Very restrained.
Progressive access. And the further you got in the more holy and precious everything looked. Which makes sense as a presence of God. You know, just as an idol kind of closing thought, I always wondered when they packed up camp, how much of the insides of the tabernacle you would see as they would carry it away. Oh, I think there's some instructions about that. About covering it up? There's instructions to the Levites about covering the ark before.
Well, I know covering the ark, but I wondered about all the other tapestries, whether they'd see the veil, you know, with the cherubim on it. Well, could be. Although it's possible that they, we'd have to look that up. Yeah, I'm not sure. That they packed that up first.
But when the outer walls came down, all of the very holy things were still hidden. That would make sense to me, but I can't, I couldn't remember off the top of my head. Well, we'll track that down and get back to it.
We'll track that down. Well anyway, you know, next time we're going to come back, we're moving outside of the tabernacle proper, going into the courtyard that's outside of it. There's some significant stuff outside there and there's more to learn about things you pass as you go through the courtyard as you come toward this entry right here.
This courtyard that has a lot of importance. So we're going to come to that as we start into chapter 27. So you want to join us or you can read ahead, you know, and see what you find there.
But there's some specific things outside of the tabernacle proper, which really indicates something special from God's perspective of our approach to God. And that's what we're going to look at. So we hope you're enjoying doing this with us.
I'm loving it. I'm walking through the tabernacle all over again. So I'm Jim.
And I'm Dorothy. And we're delighted you're with us. So come back next time as we look at the outer court of the tabernacle on More Than Ink. More Than Ink is a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City and is solely responsible for its content. To contact us with your questions or comments, just go to our website, morethanink.org. Yay! It's a lot of work.
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