The Path to the Throne of God

 

19. THE FOUR COVERINGS

The Roof of the Sanctuary. The roof of the sanctuary was formed of four coverings. The inner covering was "of fine-twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet; with cherubims of cunning work." Over this was a white covering of woven goats' hair. Next was a covering of rams' skins dyed red; and outside of all a covering of badgers' skins. Ex. 36:8-19. The brass "pins of the tabernacle," like tent stakes, held the coverings firmly to the ground. Ex. 38:31. As we shall see, these coverings represent the four phases of the life and work of Christ in the plan of salvation. They also illustrate a deepening experience in the Christian life. Let us trace these experiences from the outer covering downward to the holy places.

The Coverings Of Badgers Skins. The badger is supposed by some to be like the seal. It was a marine animal found in the Red Sea. Its dark brown or black skin was tough and durable, and often used for show leather and soles. This covering being on the outside would "afford complete Protection," PP 347, not protection from rain and storm, for the cloud was that, but being inconspicuous in color, it was well adapted to shield the sanctuary from the evil eye of Arab marauders who roamed in the desert. As in the case of the other materials given by Israel for the sanctuary, these skins were part of the spoils of Egypt, provided in the providence of God.

What an illustration this safe covering is of Christ, who is our protection from the enemy as we journey through life's desert! "Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust . . . Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday . . . Because thou hast made the Lord . . . . even the Most High, thy habitation" Ps. 91:3-9 - thy sanctuary! This covering of "show leather" fittingly represents Christ's humanity as He walked among men during His life on earth, and as He walks with us in the dust of earth's wilderness, that we may walk with Him on the streets of gold. It is also a symbol of His humility: "Being in the form of God," He "made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself." Phil. 2:6-8.

As this covering had no outward beauty, so of Christ it is written, "He hath no form or comliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him." Isa. 53:2. Christ was a humble man. In His outward appearance, He had no beauty, as men call beauty, but He measured up to God's standard of beauty, for "the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." I Sam 16:7. "Beneath the lowly guise of Jesus" was "the presence of Divinity." Thus "His glory (His true beauty) was veiled." DA 43,63. Passing down through these coverings toward that which represents heaven itself, the badgers' skin covering suggests that we should approach God with sincerity, simplicity, and humility.


The Covering of Red Rams' Skins. The covering of rams' skins dyed red fittingly illustrates the next step in the work of Christ for our galvation, and also in Christian experience. Red being a symbol of sacrifice and suffering, this covering signifies Christ who "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Phil. 2:8. It is the blood of Christ that calls, "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." Isa. 45:22. In the life of the Christian this covering symbolizes the covenant he makes with God by sacrifice. Ps. 50:5. It indicates that, like Paul, he is crucified with Christ. It represents complete consecration, absolute submission and unquestioning loyalty to his Ruler.

Why were skins of the ram designated for this covering? A ram, a mature male sheep, symbolized Christ's sacrifice, when He Is described as "clothed with a vesture dipped in blood. Thus, the covering of rams' skins dyed red is a fit symbol of His sacrifice. The ram was used as:

1.A Burnt Offering - Lev. 9:2 2.Peace Offering - Lev. 9:4

3.Consecration Offering - Lev. 8:22-24 4.Trespass Offering - Lev. 5:15-19; Num. 5:6-8 5.Waive Offering - Lev. 8:18,29.

The burnt offering was of one's "own voluntary will," Lev. 1:3, and indicated complete dedication to the service of God. It secured reconciliation and acceptance with God through the blood of Christ. It was in token of God's acceptance that the Lord provided a ram for Abraham to offer in place of his son Isaac. Gen. 22:13. The peace offering accompanied the burnt offering as an expression of thanksgiving for peace and oneness with God.

As a Consecration offering, the ram represented complete dedication to the service of God. It was the offering used in the consecration service of the priests, when ears, hands, and feet were dedicated to God. Workers together with God will be as fully consecrated. Ex. 8:20; Lev. 8:22-24.

As a trespass offering, in which restitution was required for sins of "ignorance," sins that were "wist not," the ram represented the full restitution which Christ made for man when He assumed our load of guilt, without which we would have paid the great debt with our lives. Lev. 5:15-19.

The waive offerin& was so called because it was waived to and fro before the Lord, thus offering salvation to the four quarters of the earth. It established communion between God and man, and was an acknowledgment of God's willingness to forgive and of His universal right to rule.

All these were “sweet savor” offerings: Lev. 8:21; that is, they were to God like sweet incense. They represented Christ who gave "Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor." Eph. 5:2. How pleasing it would be to Him if all our offerings were "sweet savor!" "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, 0 God, Thou wilt not despise." Ps. 51:17. Such a sacrifice is to God a "sweet savor." It will be accompanied by the fruit of the Spirit - "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, faith, meekness, temperance." Gal. 5:22,23.

The covering of rams' skins dyed red represents the sacrifice of Christ not only when He poured out His blood on Calvary, but the entire experience of His sacrifice to the very end of His redemptive work. What a picture this gives of the sanctuary covering made of rams' skins dyed red.


The Goats’ Hair Covering. Go still deeper, still closer to “heaven itself.” What do we find? A pure white covering of woven goats' hair. Inspiration does not mention the color, nor does it mention the color of the badger skin which formed the outer covering. So in deciding this matter we must appeal to some other source of reliable information. On this point a standard encyclopedia says that the hair of the Cashmere goat of Kashmir, India, is white and the hair of the angora goat is long, white, and silky. From the hair of both these goats cloth is woven. When Israel brought their offerings for the construction of the sanctuary, among the gifts listed in Exodus 25:3-8, goats' hair is mentioned. The people had just arrived at Sinai and all these gifts had been brought as spoils from Egypt, a wealthy and powerful nation that traded with the nations of the world. "All the women whose hearts stirred them up in wisdom spun goats' hair." Ex. 35:26.

As white is a symbol of purity and perfection, Rev. 19:8, and as the white goats hair covering follows the covering of rams skins dyed red, it seems safe to conclude that the white goats hair covering fitly illustrates the truth that Christ was made perfect through suffering. It also represents progressive Christian experience, for "though your sins be as scarlet, (represented in the red rams' skins) they shall be as white as snow." Isa. 1:18,19. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" is the Christian's goal. Matt. 5:48.

This covering was composed of eleven curtains, each four cubits wide and thirty cubits long. It was just long enough "to cover" the sanctuary. Ex. 26: 13. Five of these curtains were coupled by themselves, and six by themselves, the sixth being "double in the forefront of the tabernacle." On one long edge of each of these large curtains were fastened fifty loops - one hundred loops in all. Into these loops fifty taches, or clasps, coupled the tent together into one large covering. Ex. 26:7-

13. These taches were of brass, which as previously noted represent our earthly sufferings, our struggles, and our victories. These brass taches, come just before we reach the inmost covering with

its gold embroidered angels. Like the brazen sockets at the entrance of the holy place, they fittingly represent the last trace of earthly struggle before we enter the presence of the heavenly angels illustrated by the inner covering.

Why was this covering made of goats' hair? The goat was the animal chiefly used for the sin offering, Lev. 9:3, and was always used in connection with the cleansing of the sins of repentant Israel were in type blotted out. Atonement is at-one-ment, at one with God - perfect peace - peace after a life-long battle with the enemy. As a flag of surrender is a white flag, so this white covering was an emblem of complete surrender to God. White is also a symbol of purity, of righteousness. And in the new earth where all is righteousness, the redeemed shall be clothed in white garments of light. The goats' hair covering was therefore a type of the righteousness which Christ imputes to all who come unto Him, and which He imparts to those who continue faithful to the end. In the Lord's goat, the last offering of the typical year, the atonement was completed, and when the antitypical atonement is finished, a people are prepared who "have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Rev. 7:14.


The Inner, or Royal Covering. Deeper yet. Where are we? We have passed the brass taches, past the last battle with sin, and a royal covering, woven in the loom of heaven, is ours. This covering was made of blue and purple and scarlet "yarn" (Moffatt), which "wisehearted women did spin." Ex. 35:25. These colored threads were woven in ten curtains or strips the required size by wise- hearted men, each curtain being four cubits wide and twenty-eight cubits long. On them, under the direction of Aholiab, who was not only the master weaver but also the master embroiderer, wise- hearted men embroidered with real gold thread "cherubim of cunning work." Ex. 25:25; 36:8,14. We are not told the size or the number of these embroidered angels, but on ten large curtains each six feet wide and forty-two feet long, or even fifteen feet long if we count only the ceiling, there was room for a number of good sized cherubim. Doubtless the reason the number is not given is because they represented an "innumerable" company. Heb. 12:22.


When these ten curtains were ready, five of them were coupled together, and the other five likewise coupled one to another, thus making two larger curtains, each twenty cubits wide and twenty-eight cubits long, or at least thirty by forty-two feet. On one long selvedge edge of each were fastened fifty loops of blue, (blue representing obedience to heavenly truth), so that by means of fifty taches, or couplings, made of pure gold, gold representing the Almighty, these two large curtains were joined together. So it became one covering, and it was called the "tabernacle." Ex. 36:8-13. When placed over the building framework, the taches of this covering were exactly below the brass taches of the goats' hair covering. How significant that under these taches of brass and gold was hung the inner veil, Ex. 26:33, symbol of the flesh, (the humanity) of Christ! Heb. 10:20.

 

This covering woven of royal colored thread must have been very beautiful, similar to changeable silk, the different colors appearing according as the light shown upon it. And when on it figures of angels were embroidered in sparkling gold thread or wires, Ex. 39:3, the effect produced was surely gorgeous. Even the exquisite embroidery of skilled Chinese artists represented in beautiful designs of lovely flowers, brilliant birds, and their "sacred" dragon, can in no way compare with this magnificent tapestry with its rich and resplendent embroidery of golden angels on royal colored linen or silk. And well it may thus be, for it represented "the angelic host who are connected with the work of the heavenly sanctuary, and who are ministering spirits to the people of God on earth." PP 347.

 

The beauty of this covering was surpassed only by that which it symbolized. The blue representing, as elsewhere, obedience to God's eternal truth, woven with the scarlet of sacrifice, made a covering of royal purple, fit for those who enter the companionship of ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels symbolized by the gold embroidered cherubim. These royal colors are emblems not only of the character of heavenly beings, but they symbolize the qualities of truth and sacrifice which shape the characters of all who become members of the family above.

 

In these coverings, we recognize the garments with which God desires to clothe Jerusalem. He says: "I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee with fine linen, and covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments and I put a jewel on thy forehead (the Father's name or character, His seal, Rev. 14:1; 7:3,) and I put ... a beautiful crown (of glory and victory) upon thine head. Thou wast decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work." Eze. 16:10-13.

 

This inner covering with its gold-embroidered angels also represents Christ in His exaltation. 'Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2:9,10.


The Four Coverings Complete. Summing up these four coverings which symbolize Christ in the four divisions of His redemptive work, we have:

Badgers' Skins - A Lowly Saviour - "He humbled Himself" to walk among sinful men. Phil. 2:8

Rams' Skins dyed red - A sacrificial Saviour - He "became obedient unto death. even the death of the cross." Ibid.

Goats' Hair, White - A sinless Saviour - He was made loperfect through sufferings. Heb. 2:10.

The Royal Covering - An exalted Saviour - "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him." Phil. 2:9.

 

These coverings represent true beauty of character, not only of Christ, but of every true Christian: as the gold, the rich embroidery, and the royal colors within, are all beneath the plain outer covering, so "the King's daughter is all glorious within." Ps. 45:13. Outward adorning indicates a lack of inward beauty, of true Christian character. Humility, sacrifice, sinlessness, and royalty - this is the road that leads into the secret chamber of the Most High. It is the road to victory, The Path to the Throne of God.


The Finished Temple a Type. From the foregoing, it seems self-evident that the sanctuary as a whole represented Christ, for He was typified in practically every part of it, from the gate of the court to the ark in the most holy place, and from the silver foundation to the coverings which formed the roof. In fact, speaking of the temple at Jerusalem, John says that Christ 'bpake of the temple of His body." John 2:21.

The church also is represented as the temple building. On this point Paul says: "Ye are . . . built upon the foundation... Jesus Christ ... in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." Eph. 2:19-22. Again Paul says Christ is "Son over His own house, whose house we are, if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." Heb. 3:6. And lastly, this beautiful prophecy from Zechariah 6:13,15: “He (the Branch) shall build the temple of the Lord . . . and they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord.” Emphasis supplied.

 

The temple also symbolizes each individual Christian. “What?” exclaims Paul, "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost . . . and ye are not your own?" I Cor. 6:19. And again, "Ye are the temple of the living God, wherefore be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers," but "come out from among them.. . and touch not the unclean thing, and 1 will ... be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters." II Cor. 6:14-18.

 

Solomon's temple "was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither, so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building." I Kings 6:7. Likewise, this earth is the quarry where, if we are to occupy a place in the heavenly temple, we must be hewed and polished and all the rough places hammered off before we are ready to be "brought thither." The trials of this life are the tools of iron, God's workmen, with which we are prepared for our place in the temple of the Eternal. Peter says, "Ye also, as lively (living) stones, are built up a spiritual house. . to offer up spiritual sacrifices." I Peter 2:5. If we put wood, hay, and stubble into our character temple, it will all be burned, "for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire." Only the gold, silver, and precious stones will bear the testing fires. 1 Cor. 3: 12,13. Day by day each Christian is building his "spiritual house," and his body becomes a "spiritual sacrifice" - "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." Rom. 12:1.


“We are building in sorrow or joy

A temple tfie world may not see, Which time cannot mar nor destroy:

We build for eternity.


"Are you building for God alone?

Are you building in faith and love A temple the Father will own

In the city of light above?"

- N.B. Sargent.

 

The Table of Shewbread


The golden table had two borders, each mounted with crowns. The shelf enclosed by the lower border provided a place for the golden dishes which were “upon the table” – the bowls, the saucers, the spoons, the flagons or pitchers and the chalices or goblets for the wine. Ex. 25:29; 37:11, 12, 16, Moffatt. The Kohathites prepared the bread and brought it every Sabbath to a priest who set it in order upon the table and put frankincense on each row. 1 Chron. 9:32; II Chron. 13:10, 11; Lev. 24: 5-8. Christ was the Bread that came down from heaven. The wine represented His blood shed for us. John 6:48-56. Thus, the table was indeed “the pure table before the Lord.”