Exodus 26: Lessons From the Tabernacle on the Outward Signs of a Believer

Introduction. Today, your body is the modern Tabernacle where the Holy Spirit dwells (2 Cor. 6:16). As a “new creation” in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17), the Holy Spirit will try to slowly transform your heart (Ezek. 36:26). In Exodus 25, God used the gold fixtures inside the Tabernacle to symbolically depict what should be in the heart of every believer. Like the Ten Commandments within the ark, He wants you to hide His Law in your heart. Like the Table of Presence, He wants you to seek out fellowship with God and provide for those in need. Like the Menorah, He wants His light within you to be a light to others. Exodus 26 continues with the outward signs of a transformed believer. Jesus referred to the outward signs of a believer as a person’s “fruits” (Matt. 7:16). In Exodus 26, God uses His descriptions of the exterior coverings for the Tent of Meeting to reveal seven more truths about the outward signs or actions of a believer transformed by faith in Jesus.

First, a transformed believer is pure at heart and acts for the glory of Jesus and not his or her own glory. This is symbolized by the ten pure linens. Pure linens symbolize the “righteous acts of the saints.” (Rev. 19:8; 3:5). Second, a transformed believer constantly turns to Jesus to cleanse his or her sins. This is symbolized by the 11 curtains of goat hair. The goat is a symbol of the lies and deceptions of the flesh. In the Old Testament, those sins were cast onto a goat once a year and then carried away. Our sins were also cast upon Jesus and carried away (Jo. 1:29). Third, a transformed believer shows gratitude for the cost paid for their sins. This is symbolized by the ram skin dyed red. In the Old Testament, the ram was a substitute offering and a guilt, trespass, or restitution offering to God for the cost of a person’s sins. The ram skin dyed red symbolizes the blood debt that Jesus paid for you. You in turn should show gratitude by making your life a “living sacrifice” to Him (Ro. 12:1). Fourth, a transformed believer focuses on holy things and takes refuge in Jesus. The type of animal hide that covered the Tent of Meeting is unknown. God further says almost nothing about that animal. All that is known is that it was tough, and it protected the precious things inside. In a similar way, God doesn’t care what your exterior looks like. He wants you to focus on the holy things inside. He in turn will be your shield (Prov. 30:5). Fifth, a transformed believer depends upon Jesus. He was the gold-covered boards that held the structure together. A believer always turns to Jesus to hold things together when battered by the storms of life. Sixth, a transformed believer uses the access that Jesus gives to God to pray for others. A veil protected mankind in its sinful form from God’s consuming fire in the Holy of Holies. The veil symbolized Jesus’ flesh. His death tore the veil wide open to give every believer access to God to pray for others. Finally, a transformed believer opens the door of his or her heart to Jesus. Jesus is the door, the way, the truth, and the light (Jo. 10:9; 14:6). He promises to come in and dine or have fellowship with you when you open your heart to Him (Rev. 3:20). The actions of a believer always return back to examining his or her heart with the goal of maintaining a relationship with Jesus.

1. A Transformed Believer Is Pure and Acts For Jesus’ Glory, Not His Own. Ex. 26:1-6.

  • The fine linens for the Tent of Meeting. After giving the instructions for all but one of the fixtures inside the Tent of Meeting, God gave Moses the instructions for its exterior coverings. These instructions included: (1) “fine twisted linens”; (2) linens colored in blue, purple, and scarlet; (3) linens depicting the cherubim that guarded the ark; (4) linen curtains measured to exact dimensions; (5) a single linen curtain bound together from 10 curtains; (6) exact specifications regarding the type of loops and clasps used to hold the linen curtains together; and (7) exact specifications for the number of loops and clasps to hold the curtains together: “Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet material; you shall make them with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman. The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall have the same measurements. Five curtains shall be joined to one another, and the other five curtains shall be joined to one another. You shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set, and likewise you shall make them on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set. You shall make fifty loops in the one curtain, and you shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite each other. You shall make fifty clasps of gold, and join the curtains to one another with the clasps so that the tabernacle will be a unit.” (Ex. 26:1-6). Every detail in the Bible has meaning. Each of these seven specifications foreshadows the outward signs or actions of a transformed believer in Christ. “The plans for the tabernacle were revealed to Moses from the inside out, starting with the interior furniture and then working out. We approach the sanctuary from the outside in, but God builds the sanctuary from the inside out. He works in His people according to the same pattern.” (David Guzik on Exodus 26).1

The fine linens for the Tabernacle2

The completed Tabernacle3

(1) The fine twisted linens. – Let Jesus clothe you in purity and righteousness. In the Bible, fine linen is a symbol of both purity and “righteous acts”. In the context of the Tabernacle, the fine linen covering the Holy of Holies signify that God’s rule is clothed in acts of holy purity and righteousness. As one of the many benefits to being a believer, Jesus has “imparted” some of His divine purity and righteousness to believers by making them “blameless” and “holy” with His blood (2 Pet. 1:4; Col. 1:22, 27). We see this fully manifested at the future marriage between Jesus and His bride (the Church). At that time, believers will each be given “fine linens”, which symbolize their complete transformation through Christ to purity and righteousness: “It was given to her [The Church and bride] to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Rev. 19:8; 3:5; cf. Prov. 31:22). The other occupants of heaven are also dressed in the purity and righteousness of fine linen. For example, the seven angels of God who will bring the final plagues will wear “shining linen.” (Rev. 15:6). Likewise, on the Day of Judgment, Jesus’ army will be wearing “fine linen”: “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.” (Rev. 19:14). By contrast, even our best works are but filthy rags before God if they are not done for and through Christ: “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Is. 64:6). To emphasize this point, Jesus warned that the person who tries to show up at the wedding feast in heaven without the proper wedding garments (someone clothed in their own righteousness) will be thrown out (Matt. 22:11-13). The symbol of the fine linen also has meaning for a saved believer. After repenting and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, there are still things that you should want to do out of love and not obligation. First, you should try to stay pure. Using the metaphor of clothing, the Bible says that staying “unstained” from the world is part of the definition of “undefiled religion”. (Jam. 1:27). The same way you might twist a linens to remove water, twist out of your life any unholy things that might dirty your actions or motives with sin. Second, you should humble yourself and let your outward acts be motivated for Jesus’ glory and not your own. Linen is plain and simple. There is nothing flashy about it. Have you kept yourself pure for God’s use? Are you also submitting to His will and giving Him the glory for all your accomplishments?

(2) The three colors in the curtains. – Let Jesus in heaven keep you pure. The linens also had three colors. Each color carried a special meaning. Purple symbolizes Jesus’ royalty as the “King of Kings”. (Rev. 19:16). Blue symbolizes heaven. Scarlet red symbolizes Christ’s cleansing blood: “ . . . they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:14(b); Heb. 9:14; 1 Jo. 1:7). “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; . . .” (Is. 1:18(b)). When you sin, you should repent and “wash” with His Word (Eph. 5:26). God is faithful to forgive you when you repent (1 Jo. 1:9). Are you turning to Christ each day to “transform your mind” from the filth of the world? (Ro. 12:2).

(3) The linens with the cherubim guarding the ark. – Let the Holy Spirit guard your heart. The cherubim guarded the ark, which symbolized God’s throne room (Ex. 25:22; Nu. 7:89; Ps. 99:1). The ark also symbolizes the heart where the Holy Spirit dwells. Like the cherubim, you must guard your heart: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov. 4:23). The evils in a person’s life all flow from a heart that is not protected and then becomes corrupted: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” (Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21). Job protected his heart by making a covenant with his eyes: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). Are you protecting your heart?

(4) The linen curtains measured to exact dimensions. - Let Jesus make you complete. Each curtain was 28 cubits long and four cubits wide (One cubit equals approx. 18 inches). Each of these numbers carry special meaning. The number four symbolizes the earth. The linens, like the Church, are both made of earthly things. Yet, through Jesus, both the earthly linens and the earthly believers are purified for His use. The number seven represents completeness. If you multiply the number 4 (the things of the earth) times 7 (the completeness of Christ) you arrive at 28, the length of each curtain (Ervin Hershberger, Seeing Christ in the Tabernacle, Vision Publishers (2010) p. 34). Although each person is a sinner by birth, each person is made complete through Christ. “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” (Col. 1:28). Are you looking to find fulfillment in Him?

(5) The linens bound together from 10 curtains. – Find protection in the Ten Commandments. God protected the Tabernacle with exactly ten curtains (Ex. 26:1; 36:8). Likewise, the tents were held up by boards that were to be exactly ten cubits in length (Ex. 26:16; 36:21). Similarly, the Tabernacle was supported by exactly ten pillars with ten sockets (Ex. 27:12; 38:12). Likewise, God kept the Ten Commandments inside the ark of the covenant (Ex. 25:16; Heb. 9:4). Again, every detail has meaning. The number ten “signifies the perfection of Divine order.” (E. W. Bullinger, Number in Scripture, Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance, Kregel Publications (1967) p. 243). There were exactly “Ten” Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17; Dt. 5:6-21). Jesus said “I AM” ten times in the book of John. The Lord’s prayer also has ten clauses. Money is also to be tithed in tenths. The ten linen curtains covering the ark signify that God’s rule is both based upon and cloaked in divine order and righteousness: “The Rock of Israel spoke to me, ‘He who rules over men righteously . . .’” (2 Sam. 23:3). Moreover, God not only rules in order, He requires order and righteousness to be present. Because the Jews were stiff necked and rebellious, He threatened to leave them so that His holy fire would not destroy them (Ex. 33:3-6). God also wants your life to be ruled by holy order. For a believer in Christ, the Ten Commandments are thankfully not a test for salvation (Gal. 3:13). This grace is represented by the two sets of five curtains that form the ten curtains (Ex. 26:3). In the Bible, five is a number associated with grace (Bullinger p. 135). Two is also a number of confirmation (2 Cor. 13:1). Yet, the Ten Commandments still exist as God’s “standard” for right and wrong. For example, Paul said that he would not have known his covetousness without the light of the Ten Commandments (Ro. 7:7). The Ten Commandments also provide protection from our own sinful hearts by guiding our choices. The full protection of the linens only existed when the two sets of five linens were hooked together into one set of ten. Likewise, mercy and grace have no meaning if you believe that the sin exposed by the Ten Commandments no longer applies. Using the metaphor of a tent covering, when you voluntarily live within the protections of the Ten Commandments, God will cover you with His fine linens. There, He can pour out His promised earthly blessings - - -blessings which are unrelated to salvation - - for those who obey out of love the Ten Commandments (Lev. 26:1-13; Dt. 28:1-14). For example, even though there is no longer an obligation to observe a Sabbath (Col. 2:14, 16-17; Gal. 4:10-11), God promises to both “bless” and “restore” those who observe one out of love and not obligation (Is. 56:2-7; 58:13-14; Ex. 23:12). Likewise, Jesus said that if you love Him you will keep His Commandments (John 14:15). While God wrote the original Ten Commandments on stone (Ex. 31:18), He wrote “not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:3; Heb. 8:10). God wrote the Ten Commandments on your heart to protect you. Stepping outside the protection of the Ten Commandments is like moving from a safe zone in a war area to an active area of combat. You might get lucky and escape the “fiery darts” of the evil one (Eph. 6:16). Yet, chances are that you won’t. Are you living inside the protections of God’s Ten Commandments where He can pour out His blessings on you?

(6) The blue loops and gold claspsLet Jesus in heaven bring unity to the body. The curtains of fine linen were held together with sets of blue loops on each curtain (Ex. 26:4-5). The curtains were in turn held together with golden clasps (Ex. 26:6). The meaning behind this is that Christ (the gold) in heaven (the blue) will unify and hold together the body of Christ: “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:3-6, 13; Col. 3:14). Through Christ, are you working for the good of the body or yourself?

(7) The 50 blue loops and 50 gold claspsLet Jesus in heaven give you your freedom. In the Bible, the number 50 symbolized three things. First, it symbolized the fullness of God’s revelation. Exactly 50 days after God saved His people from death at the Red Sea, God revealed His will for their lives through the Ten Commandments (Lev. 23:15-17; Dt. 16:9-10; Ex. 19:20-25; 20:1-21). This became the “Feast of Weeks.” It was also the birth date of modern Judaism. Exactly 50 days after Jesus’ death, God revealed His will for our lives by pouring out the Holy Spirit unto His believers (“Pentecost”) (Acts 2:3). This was the birth of the Church. Second, the number 50 symbolizes freedom. Every fifty years the Jews celebrated the Jubilee year (“yovel”) (Lev. 25:8-12). During the 50th year, the Jews were to “proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” (Lev. 25:8). As the fulfillment of this, Christ came and proclaimed “liberty” and freedom to those who were once under the bondage of sin (Lk. 4:18-19; Is. 61:1-2; Jo. 8:36; Rom. 6:6; 6:17-20; Titus 2:14). Thus, the sets of 50 blue loops and the 50 golden clasps represent the fact that Christ is the one who has freed His and holds it tightly under His protection. Third, if we multiple five (the number of grace) times ten (the number of the Ten Commandments) the total of 50 represents “grace completed.” (Hershberger p. 34). If you are struggling with some type of bondage to sin, are you turning to Christ for His revelation, freedom, and complete grace?

2. A Transformed Believer Constantly Turns to Jesus to Cleanse His Sin. Ex. 26:7-13.

  • The 11 curtains of goat hair. God ordered that the Jews cover the fine linens with 11 curtains of goat hair: “Then you shall make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; you shall make eleven curtains in all. The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; the eleven curtains shall have the same measurements. You shall join five curtains by themselves and the other six curtains by themselves, and you shall double over the sixth curtain at the front of the tent. 10 You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the first set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set. “11 You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and you shall put the clasps into the loops and join the tent together so that it will be a unit. 12 The overlapping part that is left over in the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that is left over, shall lap over the back of the tabernacle. 13 The cubit on one side and the cubit on the other, of what is left over in the length of the curtains of the tent, shall lap over the sides of the tabernacle on one side and on the other, to cover it.” (Ex. 26:7-13). If the fine linens were visible inside the heart of the Tabernacle, the goat hair was like the flesh that covers the body. Like the flesh, the 11 curtains of goat hair symbolized the sin and chaos of a life of the flesh. The bronze clasps also symbolized the judgment that comes with a life of the flesh.

  • The goat hair. – The sin of our flesh without Jesus. In the Bible, the goat is a symbol of deception and evil. Rebekah took goat skins and put them on Jacob to deceive his father Isaac (who had poor eyesight) into believing that Jacob was his older brother Esau for the purpose of stealing his first-born blessing (Gen. 27:11, 15). Years later, Jacob was in turn also deceived with a goat. After selling Joseph into slavery, his brothers took his coat and dipped it in a goat’s blood (Gen. 37:31). They then took the coat to Joseph’s father Jacob to deceive him into believing that Joseph had been killed (Gen. 37:32-34). David’s wife also used goat hair to deceive Saul’s messengers (1 Sam. 19:12-17). On Yom Kippur, the High Priest cast the sins of the nation onto a goat and then drove it away (Lev. 16:7-8). On the Day of Judgment, Jesus will also separate the goats (non-believers) from the lambs (believers) (Matt. 25:31-46). As symbolized by the goat hair, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Ro. 8:8). Are you letting the lusts of the flesh rule your life?

  • The 11 goat skins. – The chaos of a life of the flesh. The fact that there were 11 curtains of goat hair also has meaning (Ex. 26:7). The number 11 in the Bible is a symbol of chaos. It was an 11-day journey from the place where the Jews received the Ten Commandments to the place where they could have invaded the Promised Land (Dt. 1:2). Chaos also resulted after Judas betrayed Jesus and left Him with only 11 apostles. There was also chaos in Jacob’s family after the sons sold Joseph and left Jacob with 11 sons. If you are living in the flesh, you will reap chaos: “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:8; Hos. 8:7). “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,” (Ro. 8:6). Are your decisions leading you down the road to chaos?

  • The clasps of bronze. – God will judge all sin. The 11 curtains of goat hair were held together with fifty bronze clasp (Ex. 26:11-13). Both the metal used and the number of clasps had special meaning. In the Bible, “bronze” is a symbol of judgment. The animal sacrifices were performed in the courtyard of the Tabernacle at an altar called the mizbeach (Ex. 27:1-8). This altar was made of acacia wood with bronze overlaid on top of the wood (Ex. 38:2). Jesus is described as having “bronze” feet (Rev. 1:15). His bronze feet will bring judgment to Satan by crushing him (Rom. 16:20). God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29; 10:27; Ex. 24:17; Dt. 4:24; 9:3; Ps. 97:3; Is. 33:14; 2 Thess. 1:7). Thus, believers cannot take sin lightly (Rom. 6:26). “For the wages of sin is death, ...” (Rom. 6:23). Because God is just, He must judge sin. Are you testing God’s mercy with your sins?

  • The foreshadow of Jesus. - Jesus will carry your sins and set you free. Because the goat was a symbol of sin, God ordered that it be sacrificed for the people’s sins. In the Torah, there were 11 occasions when God ordered goat sacrifices for a sin offering (Hershberger p. 34). During the day of Atonement, the High Priest also cast the sins of the nation upon a goat and drove it away (Lev. 16:10, 20-22). This all foreshadowed Jesus. Our sins were cast onto Christ who “knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). Like the goat, Jesus will carry away our sin: “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (Jo. 1:29; Acts 3:19; 1 Jo. 2:2). The fact that there are 50 bronze clasps signifies the freedom from judgment that comes from Christ’s completed work on the cross. With your sins being taken away, you are no longer condemned for your prior sins (Ro. 8:1). God even promises to forget your sins (Heb. 8:12). If you are feeling weighed down by your old sins, that is the enemy seeking to keep you from serving God.

3. A Transformed Believer Shows Gratitude for the Cost Paid For Their Sins. Ex. 26:14 (a).

  • The covering of rams’ skins. God ordered the Jews to cover both the fine linens and the goat skins with two outer skins. The first was a rams’ skin that was dyed red: “14 You shall make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red . . ” (Ex. 26:14(a)). Abraham first offered the ram as a substitute sacrifice for Isaac (Gen. 22:8). Later, God ordered the Jews to sacrifice a ram as trespass, “guilt” or “restitution” offering for sins against God (Lev. 8:18; 5:15; Nu. 28:19). This was to pay the cost to God for any wrong that a person committed. Jesus became our “guilt”, trespass or restitution offering: “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering.” (Is. 53:10). Jesus paid the cost of your sins. A transformed believer lives his or her life in gratitude to Christ for paying a cost no human can pay. If you are thankful, you can make your life a “living sacrifice” for Him (Ro. 12:1). Are you living for Christ out of gratitude?

4. A Transformed Believer Focuses on Holy Things and Takes Refuge in Jesus. Ex. 26:14.

  • The outer covering of unknown material and unknown size. Beyond the ram skin was one additional layer of protection. But the material that God required is the subject of debate. In Hebrew, the outermost covering is called "תחש" or “tÿkhashim”. The Jewish Study Bible translates this word as “dolphin” skin. The New American Standard Bible follows the Jewish translation with the word “porpoise” skin: “14 You shall make a covering for the tent of . . . porpoise skins above.” (Ex. 26:14(b)). Yet, other translations bear no similarity. For example, the King James Bible calls this a “badger” skin. Likewise, both the English Standard Version and the New Living Translation call this a “goatskin.” The English Revised Version picks a different sea mammal by calling it a “sealskin” hide. The New International Version doesn’t even try to name the animal it comes from. It simply calls this “a covering of the other durable leather.” In addition to questions about what it is, there are also questions about its size. While God specified in great detail the size of each curtain in the Tabernacle, He says absolutely nothing about the size of this outermost covering. Again, everything in the Bible has meaning. This can also include the absence of detail.

  • God cares about what is on the inside and not on the outside. A person would only see the beautiful and carefully prepared fine linens while standing inside either the Ten of Meeting or the Holy of Holies. That is also where God kept the beautiful fixtures made of gold. Looking from the outside, a person would only see a nondescript leather covering with no special patterns, designs, or ornaments. It existed merely to protect the valuable things on the inside from rain, the sun, and sand. God did not put any specifications on what the outside looked like because He cares about what is on the inside and not on the outside. He instead cares about what is in your heart. He doesn’t care if you have white skin, black skin, brown skin, wrinkly skin, freckled skin, old skin, or youthful skin. He also wants you to focus on your interior. Yet, most instead sadly focus on the vanity of a fleeting perfect outward appearance. God warns that these things fade like grass: “For, ‘all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass, the grass withers, and the flower falls off.’” (1 Pet. 1:24; Ps. 103:15; Is. 51:12; Jam. 1:10). Are you focused on the things that quickly fade with time?

  • Let Jesus be your protection. Jesus was also the outermost protection. When you take refuge in Him and focus on the holy things inside that matter, He will be your shield and your protection: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5(b); 2 Sam. 22:31). Are you trusting God to protect you? Or, are you trying to fight your own battles?

5. A Transformed Believer Depends Upon Jesus. Ex. 26:15-30.

  • The boards and sockets. God also specified with great detail the exact number of boards and sockets that were needed for each side of the Tabernacle: “15 Then you shall make the boards for the tabernacle of acacia wood, standing upright. 16 Ten cubits shall be the length of each board and one and a half cubits the width of each board. 17 There shall be two tenons for each board, fitted to one another; thus you shall do for all the boards of the tabernacle. 18 You shall make the boards for the tabernacle: twenty boards for the south side. (Lit toward the side of the Negev to the south.) 19 You shall make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards, two sockets under one board for its two tenons and two sockets under another board for its two tenons; 20 and for the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side, twenty boards, 21 and their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board and two sockets under another board. 22 For the rear of the tabernacle, to the west, you shall make six boards. 23 You shall make two boards for the corners of the tabernacle at the rear. 24 They shall be double beneath, and together they shall be complete to its top to the first ring; thus it shall be with both of them: they shall form the two corners. 25 There shall be eight boards with their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board and two sockets under another board. 26 Then you shall make bars of acacia wood, five for the boards of one side of the tabernacle, 27 and five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle for the rear side to the west. 28 The middle bar in the center of the boards shall pass through from end to end. 29 You shall overlay the boards with gold and make their rings of gold as holders for the bars; and you shall overlay the bars with gold. 30 Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to its plan which you have been shown in the mountain.” (Ex. 26:15-30). The support system consisted of seven components: (1) gold-plated acacia / shittim boards; (2) boards cut to exact lengths and widths; (3) the 40 boards on two sides; (4) eight boards on the west side; (5) three sets of five support boards; (6) a bar in the middle that supported the structure; and (7) 40 silver sockets. Each of these seven components foreshadowed Christ.

(1) The gold-plated acacia / shittim boards. – Jesus will hold you together. Polls made of acacia / shittim / “shih-taw” supported the linens and the outer coverings (Ex. 26:15-16). The boards were overlaid with gold (Ex. 26:29). The ark, the carrying poles, the table of presence, and the altar of burnt offering were all made of this wood covered in gold (Ex. 25:11, 13, 23-30; 27:1-8). Acacia was both strong and resistant to decay. When pierced, its sap can be used as both a pharmaceutical and as a preservative. This symbolized Christ. His body was not corrupted so that it could be sacrificed for us (Ps. 16:10(b); Acts 13:35). His blood also heals and gives life (1 Pet. 2:24; Is. 53:5). The gold symbolized that He is also God who became flesh (Phil. 2:7). Like the support boards to the Tabernacle, He is also the chief cornerstone that later held the Temple together (Eph. 2:20-22). “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:7). “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Heb. 1:3). Are you depending upon Jesus to hold things together in your life?

(2) The length and width of the acacia / shittim boards. – Jesus wants to bring order to your life. Each board was also 10 cubits in length, and one and one half cubits in width (Ex. 26:16). The number 10 represents the Ten Commandments. The three one half units in width represent the Trinity. This again signifies that God expects holy order in your life to hold things together. Breaking the Ten Commandments will not undermine your salvation. Yet, living within the Ten Commandments will allow God to protect you and bless you.

(3) The 40 acacia / shittim boards on two sides. – God will test you to keep your heart pure. On the south and north sides, there were exactly 40 acacia / shittim boards (20 on each side) that held linens and the exterior coverings of the Tabernacles together (Ex. 26:18, 20). The number 40 signifies testing. The Jews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years (Dt. 2:7; Josh. 5:6). Jesus also was in the wilderness without food for 40 days before Satan tested Him (Matt. 4:1-11). God will constantly test your heart: “For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.” (Ps. 7:9(b); 66:10; Jer. 11:20). He tests us to show us where our hearts are wicked (Jer. 17:9). Like David, He wants you to invite Him into your heart to test it to see where it is wicked (Ps. 26:2; 139:23). Once your sin is exposed, He wants you to return and live within the protections of His Covenant where He can pour out His blessings.

(4) The 8 acacia / shittim boards on the west side. –Jesus offers you a new beginning. On the west side, the exterior part of the structure was held together with eight acacia / shittim boards (Ex. 26:25). There were six boards (the symbol of mankind) plus the two additional corner boards (the symbol of unity in the foundation of Christ) (Ex. 26:22-23). The veil hung at the entrance on the east side. The opening looks to the east because the Messiah will come from the east (Is. 41:2). The magi saw Jesus’ star in the east (Matt. 2:2). Jesus also entered Jerusalem through the east gate (Ez. 44:1-3; Matt. 21:2-11). The number eight in the Bible symbolizes a new beginning. David was the eighth son of his father Jesse (1 Sam. 16:6, 12). There were eight people on the ark. A male child was circumcised on the eighth day (Lev. 12:3). After the seven-day festival of Tabernacles, the people were together for a holy convocation to celebrate a new beginning on the eighth day (Lev. 23:36). Christ also rose from the dead on a Sunday, the first day of the week or the eighth day (Matt. 28:1). When Christ enters the door of your heart, He makes you a “new creation” with a new beginning (2 Cor. 5:17). Are you living as a new creation?

(5) Three sets of five outside edge boards. – Jesus offers you mercy and grace. The three sets of five outside boards on the north, south, and west side held the structure together (Ex. 26:26-27). Five is a number of grace, and three is the number of the Trinity. The pattern of boards meant that we are only allowed within the Tabernacle through God’s mercy and grace.

(6) The bar in the middle. – Jesus will keep you one with the body of Christ. There was then one “middle bar in the center of the boards” that held it together (Ex. 26:28). Jesus is the bar that holds everything together as one body (Jo. 17:22-24; Eph. 4:3-6). Jesus also wants you to build up others as part of the body. He does not want you ripping others apart with gossip and slander. Are your words building others up or ripping them down?

(7) The 40 silver sockets – Jesus will refine you with testing and trials. On the longer north and south sides, 40 silver sockets held up the poles (Ex. 26:19-21). Silver is a symbol of redemption. Silver was the ransom price that was paid for Christ’s life (Matt. 26:14-16). It is also a symbol of refinement: “For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.” (Ps. 66:10). “And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined . . .” (Zec. 13:9(a); Mal. 3:3). As stated above, the number 40 in the Bible is associated with testing. Jesus refines each believer through testing and trial. You should welcome his trials with joy: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Jam. 1:2-3). Are you welcoming God’s testing and trials as He exposes your sins and refines your walk with Him?

6. A Transformed Believer Uses the Access Jesus Gives to Pray For Others. Ex. 26:31-35.

  • The veil. After providing instructions for the exterior, God ordered that the ark of the covenant inside the Holy of Holes be separated from the Tent of Meeting area for the priests with a veil made to exact specifications: “31 You shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen; it shall be made with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman. 32 You shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, their hooks also being of gold, on four sockets of silver. 33 You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring in the ark of the testimony there within the veil; and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies. 34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the holy of holies. 35 You shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand opposite the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; and you shall put the table on the north side.” (Ex. 26:31-35). This again holds symbolic meaning.

Inside the Holy Place4

  • Sin has separated us from God. The veil was needed because sin separated mankind from God: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God . . .” (Is. 59:2(a)). God has looked down from heaven and observed that not one person is holy and without sin: “[I]t is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”’ (Rom. 3:10-11). “[T]here is no one who does good.” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). “Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.” (Ps. 143:2). For this reason, Isaiah feared that he was doomed to be in God’s presence: “Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”’ (Is. 6:5). “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jo. 1:8). The cherubim guarded the throne room in heaven from all evil, even mankind in its fallen state. Jesus, however, came to restore our access to heaven.

  • Jesus’ tearing of the veil. The veil was Jesus’ flesh: “by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,” (Heb. 10:20). His death caused the curtain to rip from the top to the bottom: “And behold, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.” (Matt. 27:51; Mk. 15:38). His blood made us clean (Heb. 9:8-15). We can therefore now enter the Holy of Holies every day “with confidence” to petition in prayer for ourselves and others: “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16). By contrast, the High Priest in Old Testament times could only enter the Holy of Holies once per year and after making a blood sacrifice to pray for the nation (Heb. 9:7; Lev. 16:17-18, 29). Any believer in Jersus is also part of His nation of priests (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). Are you using your access to the throne room to pray with confidence for both your needs and the needs of others?

7. A Transformed Believer Opens the Door of His or Her Heart to Jesus. Ex. 26:36-37.

  • The screen door. Finally, after describing the veil that led to the Holy of Holies, God described the screen door that led to the Tent of Meeting: “36 You shall make a screen for the doorway of the tent of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen, the work of a weaver. 37 You shall make five pillars of acacia for the screen and overlay them with gold, their hooks also being of gold; and you shall cast five sockets of bronze for them.” (Ex. 26:36-37). The details of the door again symbolized Jesus.

  • Jesus is the door, the way, the truth, and the life. The door to the Tent of Meeting again foreshadowed Jesus: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (Jo. 10:9). “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” (Jo. 14:6). “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). Will you accept Jesus in?

  • The five acacia / shittim pillars to the tent of meeting. The five pillars symbolized God’s grace in opening the door to heaven to all sinners. Only through Jesus (the pillars of acacia / shittim wood) is the door to heaven opened. The study of the Tent of Meeting and the Holy of Holies conclude with the doorway because God wants you to look inward toward your relationship with Jesus. What exists on the outside doesn’t matter. Where is your focus?