In further considering the structure of the tabernacle, we must still keep before our minds that the first and great thought of God was to have a place where He would dwell, and in which He would display Himself according to His purpose. This must necessarily be in Christ; hence we do not look first for the means of our approach, or participation in the blessing consequent on the display or manifestation of Himself, but for that which is verified in Christ, as the centre of His purpose.
The boards of the tabernacle were made of the same material as the ark and the table of showbread - shittim wood and gold. It is a figure of Christ as the righteousness of God. Nothing but the gold was seen, the wood being covered with it. Everything in the sanctuary, though brought out in man, must be according to God; all is upheld in the power of divine righteousness. Adam's place in the scene that God created was that of an innocent man, not knowing good and evil. Here is the intimation of another scene - the dwelling-place of God - where all subsists in the power of divine righteousness, and Christ is it; there will yet be a new heaven and earth wherein righteousness will dwell.
Thus we have foreshadowed a creation suited to God, where He would dwell. No longer a fair creation made and committed to the hands of an innocent man, and become subject to vanity through sin entering into it by that man, but a creation characterised by Him who is its beginning. Already the saints of this dispensation are created anew in Christ Jesus; the new man is created according to God in holiness and righteousness of truth. In order for this, Christ must go into death, where we were under the judgment of God, that we might be quickened together with Him out of it. We are not here considering the question of man's responsibility to God as man, and set in the earth which He had made. All that must indeed be met - and it is most blessed to think of the fact that the Lord Jesus did not take the actual place of "the beginning of the creation of God" until every question of good and evil had been settled for eternity on the cross. Evil came out fully there, but perfect good was there also, and God was perfectly glorified. There was no passing by of evil; but divine righteousness (ever regarded as subsisting in Christ, whether in purpose or actually when He took part in flesh) was established after in His cross evil had been proved to be evil and had been judged there. Thus believers can now have a place in the holiest as the righteousness of God in Christ.
Under these boards were sockets of silver. Nothing is here said of whence the silver came. We learn afterwards (chapter 38:25-27) that the sockets were made of the money taken from Israel as atonement money, and appointed for the service of the tabernacle (30:16) to be a memorial for them before the Lord. This may show us that a people numbered by God have their memorial in His sanctuary as a ransomed people according to His grace, but in this chapter we have the simple fact that the sockets were of silver. Silver sockets gave stability to the boards. We have thus a definite use of silver. We have seen too that there was no silver in the construction of the temple; the foundations there were large and costly stones. Gold, silver, and brass, each set forth what is according to the holy nature and character of God, but seen in Christ. The work of Christ is needed to give any a place in the holy sanctuary of God; but our approach is not yet the subject, but His dwelling-place and the manifestation of Himself therein. If we let the glory of God be first with us, and perceive that it centres in Christ, our sense of the work which has made us suited to it will be greatly enhanced.
Now the tabernacle was the figure for the time then being of the purpose of God for a universe of bliss, and it was placed among men while they yet stood before Him upon the ground of creature responsibility. While thus a witness of God's future, it was on the way to it, and hence His ways of grace and faithfulness come in. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The words of the Lord are compared to refined silver (Psalm 12:6), and this in contrast to faithfulness failing among the children of men. No purpose will He ever give up, though we might think that our failure and sin would lead Him to do so, nor will He alter the word that has gone out of His lips. If He pitched His tent amongst those who sinned and provoked Him, the establishment of His purpose must be secured apart from their conduct, and this is done in Christ. Whatever are the promises of God "in Him is the yea, and in Him the amen, for GLORY TO GOD," that is the first and great point, but then it is added "by us" (2 Cor. 1:20), for grace gives us a place there, and immutably secures it in Christ. Israel through the atonement money had their memorial in the tabernacle of God, it was a memorial of a people redeemed from Egypt, who would have forfeited everything if God's ways had not been based upon grace. It is a blessed thing that grace gives an unchanging character to the ways of God while working out through those ways the accomplishment of His own glory in Christ, and wonderful that we can say "in us."
The veil divided the holy place from the Most Holy. It was made of the same material as the inside curtains called "the tabernacle." There is this difference, that in the description the fine twined linen is mentioned after the blue, the purple, and the scarlet. In the curtains the fine twined linen is first, because we have there the great fact that the Word tabernacled in flesh; but in the veil (and the veil was His flesh, Heb. 10:20) we have His mediatorial glory, hence the glories that He alone could take up for God are seen first, but they are taken up in a Man. Cherubim are there. All judicial action is vested in Man. It is committed to the Son because He is the Son of man. God will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained, but then He judges for God and according to God.
It is not the rending of the veil which we have here, but the hanging it up. (v. 33.) Behind it God dwelt. It is called, in chap. 35:12, "the veil of the covering," for He was hidden behind it. He could not fully reveal Himself until it was rent, but in hanging it up He indicated to us this mediatorial character of Christ. There is "one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." If any system of blessing is to come out from God to men it must be mediatorially; nor could man in an earthly standing, even as reconstituted in the millennium, be established in blessing save through a mediator. Now the veil is rent, and God is fully revealed, and the way into the Holiest opened, so that believers should enter in by a new and living way. This is man, no longer in an earthly standing receiving blessing mediatorially from God, but man brought into the very place and blessing of the Mediator Himself. In bringing many sons to glory, it became God to make the Leader of their salvation perfect through sufferings; for both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one. The death of Christ has opened the way for God to come out in the full revelation of His own glory, in order to take the sanctified in. The Sanctifier and the sanctified are all of one. This now is the place of believers before Him.
The pillars on which the veil hung rested on sockets of silver, while the hooks were of gold; but besides this there was another hanging made to divide between the holy place and the court. This hung upon pillars of shittim wood and gold, as did the veil, and was suspended by golden hooks, but the sockets were of brass. Cherubim are not here - taking cognizance of and maintaining the holy character of God according to divine righteousness; but the brazen sockets give us the idea, that in entering into the holy place there must be the judgment of evil, and this was, as we have said, by the brazen altar in the first instance, and then by the water of the laver. This hanging was of the same material as the veil, setting forth Christ's mediatorial character. He alone is the door through whom any place of relationship could be entered, either earthly or heavenly. In hanging up the veil, it was based upon the immutability of God's purpose in grace, while the hanging of the holy place was based upon responsibility having been fully maintained and met in Him who loved righteousness and hated iniquity. The entering in of the sons of Aaron to accomplish their service, either at the table of administration or in the lighting of the lamps, was through the door which stood upon the ground of the holy judgment of evil. It is well for us to bear this in mind. May there be with us in our priestly service this sense of the judgment of evil. If we would judge ourselves we should not be judged of the Lord. T. H. Reynolds.