"Let them make Me a Sanctuary."
The Tabernacle, made with hands, was devised by the Lord Himself, who showed the "fashion" of it to Moses on Mount Sinai, at the same time strictly enjoining him to see that all things were made according to this Divine "pattern" (Exod. 25:9, 40; 26:30; 27:8, Heb. 8:5).The Lord also chose the chief artists under whose superintendence it was to be constructed Exod. 31:1–6). Are not these circumstances alone sufficient to invest the sacred building with an abiding interest? As a work of art, it was far more beautiful and costly than many persons are apt to suppose.
Even Dean Stanley, in the second series of his "Lectures on the Jewish Church," at page 227, says: "There is no inherent connection between 'ugliness' and 'holiness,' and there was a greater danger of superstition in the 'rough planks' and 'black hair-cloths' of the Tabernacle than ever was in the gilded walls and marble towers of the Temple."
No one unacquainted with the Bible description of the Tabernacle, on reading these words of the late Dean, would ever imagine that the foundation of this sacred structure was formed of solid silver; that the "planks" composing its sides were all very smooth, and, moreover, gilded with gold; that its pillars were graceful and adorned with capitals; that even the capitals of the pillars of the surrounding court and their connecting rods were overlaid with silver; and that the goat-hair curtains, even granting they were black (though most writers are of opinion that they were manufactured of fine, white, soft, silky hair, similar to that of the Angora goat), were draped with the most brilliant and gorgeous tapestry, into which figures of cherubim were beautifully interwoven. There certainly was no roughness or coarseness or ugliness either within or without. The structure was worthy of its Divine Architect; honoring to the willing-hearted Israelites, who have two hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling worth of gifts for its construction; and creditable to the many skilled artisans who vied with each other in carrying out the design of their God and King.
There are not a few, who, like the late Dean Stanley, have a very inadequate idea of the Tabernacle, and who, without studying the subject, but trusting to what he and some others say, or to their own imagination, both in speech and writing belittle this portable Temple. To him and them the splendors and glory of Solomon's and Herod's Temples so loom in their view as to all but eclipse the poor Tabernacle. Not so was it treated by the inspired author of the Hebrews; he passed by these two grand and world-wide celebrated Temples as if of no consequence in comparison with their great antitype the Tabernacle, on which he fixes his attention and regard. It is of it he speaks, of its holy places, of its golden vessels, of its veil, of its ark and overarching cherubim, of its ministering servants, of its priests, of its high priest, of its serves and sacrifices—it is of these that he discourses and eloquently and effectively shows their typical and spiritual significance.
Though it is not right in every case to judge of the importance of a Bible subject by the space it occupies in Holy Writ, yet it may not be unworthy of remark that much more is said about the Tabernacle than about Solomon's Temple, both in the Old Testament and in the New. Nearly three hundred verses in Exodus are devoted to an account of the Tabernacle and it furniture, whilst the corresponding account of the Temple and its furniture, in 1st Kings and 2nd Chronicles, is comprised in half that number of verses.
The Tabernacle, its priests, its rites, and its sacrifices have all passed away, but the description and history of them remain, and form part of those sacred writings which testify of Christ, who said of Moses, "He wrote of Me."
Many of the most important words and phrases employed in the New testament have either arisen from, or are illustrated by, the Tabernacle and its rites, of which the following are examples:—"Veil," "Mercy-Seat," "Propitiation," "Laver of Regeneration," "Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world," "Washed," "Cleansed," "Purged," "Reconciled," "Sacrifice," "Offering," "Atonement," "Without shedding of blood is no remission," "Gave Himself for us," "Bore our sins in His won body on the tree."
The pages of Exodus, our text-book of the Tabernacle, are all gilded with the rays of the Sun of Righteousness. Exodus is the most picturesque book of the Bible. It contains more word-pictures than any other. And they can all be turned into real pictures, a task which in a rough way we have tried to perform with many of them in order to illustrate out book. Those connected with out subject portray speak of Him, they all sing His praise, and they all unite in the one loud, grand, and ever resounding chorus, "Christ is all and in all."
An earnest and prayerful study of the Tabernacle, and the purposes it served, cannot fail to increase our knowledge of the grand truths of redemption. That you may find the following chapters in some degree interesting, and derive some profit from their perusal, and may, while studying this earthly sanctuary, be growing in meekness for the heavenly and its unutterable joys, is the prayer of your friend the author. May David's choice be yours: "One thing I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His Temple."