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The Court And The Gate

The tabernacle of the LORD was surrounded by a court made with hangings of fine twined linen. These were supported by pillars standing on sockets of brass (copper), and by hooks and fillets of silver. The measurements of the court were one hundred cubits long by fifty cubits broad, and the height of the hangings was five cubits.

There were twenty pillars on the south and the same number on the north; and on the west side there were ten. The east had a gate, on either side of which were three pillars, while the screen of the gate hung upon four pillars. The gate was twenty cubits wide, and it was made of blue, purple and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the embroiderer. See Exodus 27.9-18; 38.9-20.

It will be helpful for us to note two passages in the New Testament which cast light on the subject of the Mosaic Tabernacle. The former is Hebrews 8.5 which reads, "who serve that which is a copy and shadow of the heavenly things." A copy has an original, and a shadow has a substance or body. Thus the tabernacle was merely a copy and shadow, the original thing, the substance, being in heaven. Hup6deigma, translated copy, means a pattern, example; from hupodeikuumi, to give a mere glimpse of. So in our study of the tabernacle we may gain a glimpse of the heavenly dwelling of the LORD.

The latter passage is in Hebrews 9.9 where in connexion with the services in the holy and most holy places of God's dwelling we read, "which is a parable for the time now present." A parable, as is well known, is an allegorical method of conveying instruction by means of a short narrative or story. Thus in the Mosaic services we can trace a heavenly story. There are many today, we fear, who regard the tabernacle story as having no meaning for us.


Sir Robert Anderson says, " The types of Scripture are like the alphabet of a language." If we fail to learn the alphabet we shall make little progress in acquiring the language. Let us bear this in mind when we come to consider the Scriptures, and give due value to the importance of the types of the Old Testament. Ignorance of the types involves failure to read aright the language of the New Testament. The Epistle to the Hebrews will be little understood if we are unacquainted with the significance of the Tabernacle and its services.


Let us now inquire as to the significance of the fine twined linen which formed the court hangings. As they stretched along the hundred cubits of the length of the court and the fifty cubits of its breadth, what story do they tell? to what do the shadows point? "God is His own interpreter," as Cowper says, in what is supposed to be his last hymn, and we turn to Revelation 19.8 where we read: "The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." From this we glean that the Spirit of God presents to us in the type of the linen the great truth of righteousness, and so we judge that the linen hangings speak to us of righteousness (not as in Revelation 19.8 as pertaining to saints), the righteousness of God: As men approach God and the divine dwelling this was what they were confronted with. What a solemn message is thus conveyed from God! Righteousness and judgement are the foundation of Thy throne" (Psalm 89.14), and He would have man acknowledge His righteousness. As shadowed in the hangings of the court it seemed to say, God is inside and man is outside, and the righteousness of God is the barrier between.


There were sixty pillars around the court which stood on the same number of sockets which were made of copper. The copper, we understand, speaks of judgement, as is indicated by the altar at the door of the house being covered with this metal. That was the place where divine judgement fell upon the victim, and thereby we are reminded of the provision of God for the guilty one who seeks to approach Him. The crosswork of the Lord Jesus at Golgotha, where He bore the judgement due to sin, is the foundation on which God can deal with the sinner, and the basis on which we can approach Him.


There were fillets and hooks of silver which connected the pillars, and on which the curtains hung. The upholding work of these hooks and pillars suggests the atoning work of Christ since the silver was obtained from the ransom money of Exodus 30.11-16; 38.28. We can indeed rejoice in the knowledge that the death of Christ, whereby He made atonement, upholds the righteousness of God while He comes out to receive us, and while His people draw near before Him in prayer and worship. The chapiters of silver repeat the precious narrative. May it be that all who read these lines are able, through faith, to glory in that great work of atonement wrought out by Christ when He laid down His life upon the cruel cross.

"The atoning work is done,

The victim's blood is shed,

And Jesus now is gone

His people's cause to plead.

He lives in heaven their Great High Priest

And bears their names upon His breast."


The hangings were five cubits high, and reckoning the cubit at 22 inches, they would be just over nine feet high. As men stood beside this high curtain, unless they were abnormal in size, the hangings would rise above them, and in this, we judge, the Holy Spirit indicates that we fall short of the high standard of God. "Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God" (Psalm 36. 6); "Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high" (Psalm 71.19), are statements which present these facts, and remind us of the New Testament declaration :-" For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3.23).

This is one of the early lessons we must learn when coming to God, and having dealings with Him; and great indeed is the joy of heart in the believer when he comes to realize that what he could never attain by his own efforts is provided for him in the Gospel, as it is written : " For therein is revealed a righteousness of God by faith unto faith" ; and "But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no distinction" (Romans 1.17; 3.21, 22, R.V.M.).


On the north, south and west sides there was no entrance, the unbroken barrier stretched all around; but on the east there was the gate of the court. As man approached this gate his back was toward the east and his face toward the house of God. There is something suggestive in this when we recall that Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt... on the east of Eden (Genesis 4. 16); also that after the Flood men journeyed east in the land of Shinar and built their city and the tower of Babel, thus bringing upon themselves the judgement of God. Alas! that so frequently the LORD had to lament His people's turning their backs to Him" For they have turned their backs unto Me, and not their face" (Jeremiah 2.27); and the prophet who was brought into the Loan's house said, "Behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LOED, and. their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east "(Ezekiel 8.16).


This gateway, being the only entrance to the court, foreshadows Christ as the only way to God. Men vainly try to point to other means of approach, but the Scriptures make it very plain that through the Lord Jesus Christ alone can the sinner come to God. Peter said, "He is the Stone which was set at naught of you the builders, which was made the Head of the corner. And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved" (Acts 4.11, 12).

The gate was twenty cubits wide. This seems spacious as we consider that the entire width of the court was fifty cubits, and it may remind us of the largeness of the heart of God. "God so loved the world."

" Blessed thought for every one

At the cross there's room

Love's atoning work is done;

At the cross there's room

Streams of boundless mercy flow,

Free to all who thither go;

Oh! that all the world might know

At the cross there's room."


Blue, purple and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the embroiderer, was the material of the screen which formed the gate. The blue suggests the heavenly Origin of the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone of men who trod this scene of earth could say, "I am from above" (John 8.23). He spoke of Himself as "He that descended out of heaven, even the Son of Man"; and John the son of Zacharias says of Him, "He that cometh from above is above all" (John 3.31). Then in chapter 6. verse 38 He tells the great purpose for which He came, "For I am come down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me."

The purple tells of His kingly character. He was born a King (Matthew 2.2) ; He presented Himself as King just before He was taken and crucified: "Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold thy King cometh unto thee" (Matthew 21.5). Alas! that the rulers of the people would not have Him. The sweet voices of the children crying" Hosanna to the Son of David "moved them with indignation:

and He left them to spend the night in Bethany. In the morning as He returned to the city He cursed the fig tree, which immediately withered away from its roots - a symbol of the judgement of God upon Israel which had already rejected her King. Yet we know the Lord Jesus will certainly reign on the earth in that glad day of the regeneration. Meanwhile Ezekiel 21.27 is being fulfilled - " I will overturn, overturn, overturn it ... until He comes whose right it is ; and I will give it Him." This Person with the right to reign is the Lord Jesus Christ. May God graciously hasten that happy day when the King will reign in righteousness!

The scarlet denotes the humility of Christ. It has been called worm scarlet, the dye being obtained from the cochineal insect. What wondrous humility was His when He left the riches that are unsearchable (Ephesians 3.8), and stooped down to poverty on this scene so blighted by sin! "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8.9). "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant (slave) He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross" (Philippians 2.5-8).

His dignity is also indicated by the scarlet as may be gleaned from the references to the use of garments of this colour. As David lamented over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan he directed the daughters of Israel to "weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet delicately," or as the Hebrew word means, with delights (2 Samuel 1.24). Then the virtuous woman is said to be unafraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet. This delightful adornment of the daughters of Israel in the days of Saul, and the protective garments which marked the household of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.21, betoken the dignity which belonged to those so clothed, and so we think of the wonderful dignity of the Man Christ Jesus. Though moving about in the lowly circumstances, both in His private and public life, yet He was marked with a dignity that was awe-inspiring. How deeply Pilate the Roman governor felt this as he had before him a Prisoner whose dignity was compelling! Surely this was what the officers felt when they returned without their Prisoner, and they confessed, "Never man so spake" (John 7. 46).

The fine twined linen speaks of His nghteousness of whom the Holy Spirit says, "My righteous Servant." As such He is set forth especially in the Gospel by Mark: the humility of the Man and His dignity are shown in the Gospel by Luke: the King is the special theme of Matthew, and John sets forth the Son of God from heaven. In this manner we can consider Him who' is seen in the shadows of the gate. He is the eternal, heavenly One as seen in John: the suffering, dependent One as seen in Luke : the sinless, obedient One as seen in Mark: the royal, kingly One as seen in Matthew.


The height of the gate is referred to in Exodus 38.18, where it is said to be five cubits, answerable to the hangings of the court. The shadow here is very precious and reminds us that the Lord Jesus answered to all the requirements of the law of the LORD. The equality of the heights of the gate and the court shows that provision for entrance did not fall short of the requirements of God's righteousness. "It pleased the LORD, for His righteousness' sake, to make the teaching great and glorious" (Isaiah 42.21, R.V.M.). Surely this was accomplished during the life of the Lord as He performed the will of God among men! Where all others fall short He came up to the divine standard. "Think not," said He, "that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished" (Matthew 5.17, 18). Far-reaching are the words of John 19.28: "Jesus knowing that all things are now finished." Telos, means, full performance. The delight of the Lord Jesus even while on the cross was in knowing that He had fully performed the law of His God. It is a sobering thought that instead of magnifying God's law the Israel people so acted as to cause God's name to be blasphemed. But what a contrast is found in the Son of God who magnified it and made it honourable!


Four pillars held up the screen of the gate. The blue, purple and scarlet, with the fine twined linen, were thus held up in the view of the people. As we consider what these fabrics shadow forth of the blessed Son of God may we not link these pillars with those four men who have lifted the Person and work of the Saviour before the gaze of the world! Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have been used of the Holy Spirit to this end, and we cannot spend too much time considering Him as set forth in those divine records. Let us pray too that as the Scriptures come into the hands of the myriads in all lands they may make many wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. The Master still requires pillars to hold up the truth before men. Young men, please take note! To be a pillar necessitates growth, and youth is the time for growth (see Psalm 144.12).

The grace of God which clothes men with divine righteousness, thus fitting them for a place in heaven, is intended also to bring them to His dwelling on earth. Should this purpose of grace fail then we have indeed missed the mark. The gate of the court led not only to the altar, but also to the house where dwelt the God of Israel. Our prayer should be that of the Sons of Korah,

"0 send out Thy light and Thy truth; let them lead me:

Let them bring me unto Thy holy hill,

And to Thy tabernacles.

Then will I go unto the altar of God,

Unto God my exceeding joy " (Psalm 43.3, 4).