#6 Approaching God
The Outer Walls and the Door
By Pastor Jim May
We will now leave the central focus of the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, where God established His presence in the camp of Israel, and go from the very presence of God to see what it must take for sinful man to be able to approach God’s presence.
No one could enter into that presence without fulfilling ever prerequisite for meeting God at the Mercy Seat. Sin cannot enter into the presence of God and it must be dealt with in a very specific manner, before God’s grace and mercy can be extended.
Let us begin this journey toward God by beginning from the point of view of someone approaching the Tabernacle from outside, far away from the presence of God. We will come as someone seeking to know Him and to experience His forgiveness, for we are so unworthy to be in the presence of our Holy God.
Any member of the encampment around about the Tabernacle who would approach it from the outside would be ever so aware that he would be approaching the very place where the God of Israel dwelt, veiled and unapproachable by someone such as this lowly sinner. The guilt of sin, and the fear of the judgment to come upon his soul would be weighing so heavily upon his heart that he could barely breathe beneath the load. Each family would be represented by the father or male leader as their sacrifice for sin would be carried or led to be offered.
Would our sacrifice be accepted? Will God forgive us for another year, or will we have to live with that guilt of sin upon us for many months to come before we are able to come to Him once again with a proper offering? This family, especially this father, the man that God appointed from the beginning to be the priest of His own household, carries all of the responsibility of making sure that his family is ready for this occasion. It is he, along with the cooperation of each family member, who must choose the sacrifice and prove its worth to the best of his ability. This is their only chance for this year. They are invited only once and somehow their sacrifice must be acceptable. And it can only be acceptable if it is perfect, and if they have truly repented of their sin against God, and worshipped God according to all that they know of the truth.
All of Israel received the invitation and as many as desired came, which included nearly every family. But not all of their sacrifices were accepted because of sin in the camp.
Matthew 22:14, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-29, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."
As they came near to the Tabernacle, they could not help but be awed by what they saw. There it was, the outer wall of the Tabernacle court, a pure white Lenin wall standing in stark contrast to dirt, sand and filth of the camp around it with the dark tents of the people of Israel. They knew that this was a place that was set apart for God, separated from the world, a place of holiness and sanctification, dedicated and committed to one purpose, to worship Almighty Holy God.
The white Lenin curtains were supported by 60 brass pillars each capped with a silver chapiter, or cap and anchored in a brass socket. Brass is an earthy metal, impure and easily tarnished, yet strong it its power to bind things together. It can highly polished to almost look like gold, but it won’t stay for long because its true nature comes forth very quickly as the elements of the world attack it.
We know how to polish our outward appearance to look holy and righteous, but unless the nature on the inside is changed through the New Birth and the creation of a New Creation in Christ Jesus, our old sinful nature will soon let our reputation and appearance be tarnished.
Each pillar had silver hooks attached to be used as a tie-down point where the cord would be attached to an anchor peg in the ground. Each pillar was supported by "cords and pins" and was connected to its neighboring pillars by a silver rod so that each pillar supported those next to it. In all, it was a strong wall to withstand the winds and storms that would come against it.
In Matthew 16:18, remember that Jesus said to Peter"…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Upon the “rock” of the judgment and righteousness of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice upon the cross – that was what will stand the storms that come, for “greater is he that is in you than is in the world.”
The enclosure formed by the curtain walls was 100 cubits long by 50 cubits wide. A cubit is generally accepted to be about 18 long, thus the walls of the Outer Court would be 15O feet by 75 feet. The wall stood 5 cubits or 7 feet 6 inches high. It was twice as long as it was wide, representing after a fashion, the dimensions of the cross whose center beam is much longer than the cross beam.
The white curtains represented God’s righteousness upheld and exhibited as a sign of separation from sin. We must all look upon that clean white Lenin of Jesus righteousness and compare ourselves, in our blackness and dirt of sin, and there recognize just how unworthy we really are. It’s that realization of our sinful condition that brings us to Jesus in the beginning.
Jesus’ righteousness, in order that men may see him as the sacrifice for their sin, must be upheld and displayed by his human nature represented by the Brass pillars. Those brass pillars represented Jesus relationship and contact with the beggarly elements of this world while upholding righteousness and a life without sin.
In John 12:31-32 Jesus says, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
Each pillar was supported by cords and pins attached by silver hooks. It is believed that the cords were located both inside and outside of the curtained wall. They could thus represent the Law and the Prophets, coming to us through human means, represented again by the Brass.
Romans 3:20-21, "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;"
The same thing applies to all the saints in all ages. For in the Law and the Prophets are found those teachings that affect each one of us inwardly; in our mind and conscience; and outwardly by teaching us how to life and do service for God. Therefore, it is the Law and Prophets, standing together, on one side telling us of the Law that we have broken, and on the other side, the Prophets, especially Jesus Christ, the greatest “Prophet” of all, telling us of the mercy and grace of God. Both together giving support and strength to these mortal bodies of flesh as we try to live righteously.
In distinct contrast to the brazen pillars and bases, we find the caps and rods of silver. Silver represented the price of redemption or atonement. It pointed forward, in symbol, to our redemption and deliverance from this body of mortal, weak flesh, to be made into a new man in Jesus Christ. The silver cap represented our Helmet of Salvation through Him.
Once we see the whole picture of what these Lenin, brass, and silver walls represent, then we can better understand the purpose of the Call of God upon our lives. We are here to uphold and display the principles of Godly righteousness to those without the walls of salvation. We must build into our own character, the same holiness and beauty as the Lord Jesus Christ. We must strive to be more like Him. He was "God manifest in the flesh", and we, too, must likewise bring God into our lives, if we would live forever.
The Only Way in is through The Door
Exodus 27:16, "And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework:
The family comes to the entrance to the wall with their sacrifice in hand and their heads bowed in reference. It was at this one single door in the solid wall of white Lenin that a way was made for them to approach with their offering.
At the door, a priest, dressed also in while Lenin, would lift only one side of the curtain, allowing the sacrifice to pass through, but no one from the family could enter in. Remember two things about this lifting of the side of the Door; that Jesus said he would be lifted up for all the world to see, and also that his side was punctured by a Roman spear as he hung upon the cross.
Remember that white linen represented righteousness, whether it was on the outer wall or on the priest, it meant the same thing.
In Revelation 3:5 Jesus promises the church, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
Revelation 19:7-8, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
Scarlet represented the blood of all the sacrifices that must be made before sinful flesh can be accepted by God, and most of all, it represented the blood that would be shed by the fleshly body of our Lord Jesus Christ as he paid the debt for sin and death for us all.
Blue stands for the things of Heaven, for we must never forget that Jesus came from Heaven to become mortal man that he could be our sacrifice.
Purple represented at least two things that I can think of. In that day, and in our own time, purple stands for royalty and represents the fact that Jesus, our sacrifice, is also King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Secondly, purple is a mixture of both Blue and Scarlet, representing the fact that the King of Heaven gave his blood for you and I as God manifested in the flesh, becoming the only Mediator between God and man.
The Door of the Outer Court was supported by wooden pillars that were based in brass sockets, with silver capitals, just like the other pillars of the Outer Court curtain. The door curtain was fastened to the pillars with gold hooks, instead of Silver hooks.
It wasn’t the guilt of sin requiring judgment, represented in the silver, that held Jesus to the cross. It was the love of God, his mercy and his grace, that held him to that tree. That love, mercy and grace came from Heaven, represented by the Gold hooks that held the Door in place. All of the colors were woven together to become one complete Door.
John 10:9, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."
John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
What about the four brass pillars? What could they represent to you and I as they stand in support of the Door?
The door represented Jesus Christ, but He has chosen 4 great witnesses to tell of the story of His death, burial and resurrection. They are called the 4 gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and their words stand as a supporting testimony, through the lips of earthen vessels who also had on the Helmet of Salvation.
The Outer Court
THE Sanctuary was divided into three sections: The Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place.
Outside the sanctuary were the tens of thousands of Israelis, representing the countless millions to whom God has extended his invitation to come.
Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
John 7:37, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink."
Inside in the Outer Court, the Priests and Levites performed their service on behalf of the people who approached with their offerings. But those who could, or would enter into that place in God’s presence was very small by comparison.
Even fewer could enter into the Holy Place - only the priests who there carried out their representative service. The closer we want to get to God, the more commitment, sacrifice, cleansing and dedication to service that it’s going to require.
Only two people could enter into the Most Holy Place. One day each year, the High Priest bearing the blood of the Atonement for his sins and those of his people whom he represented, and at different times, Moses, God’s representative in the midst of His people.
Very few ever make into that place of complete and full dedication to God, leaving behind all of the things of this world. The flesh has a strong pull on us. The things of the world have a magnetism that keep us from fully entering in. But if we really want to be in God’s presence, there is a price to pay.
The three sections of the Tabernacle teach us the three stages of entering into a deeper walk with the Lord through Preparation, Application, and Glorification.
The Outer Court represented a mental approach to God. The Word of God must first change our minds, so that our thinking conforms to the "mind of Christ". This makes us ready to receive more from God, opening our understanding of the things of the Spirit and helping us to begin to learn all the Truths of God’s Word. This is the first step towards reconciliation between man and God.
The Holy Place represents a deeper walk, where we choose to walk in the life and character of Jesus who has bought us with his own blood.
The church is to be the Bride of Christ and must learn to lean upon him, trust in him, love him and serve him, above all things. Little by little we are changed into his image. We pick up the cross and follow him. We give our lives in sacrifice to him in repayment for the price he paid for us. In the Holy Place we simply live and move and have our being, so that we can be joint heirs with Jesus.
The Most Holy Place points to our ultimate glorification! After passing through the veil of death, this corrupted flesh is changed, to be incorruptible, and this body of death is changed into an immortal body, bearing the glory of God as a resurrected Child of the Most High God.
We are given these great promises because Jesus purchase it all for us. He was raised from the grave in power and glory. He is seated at the Father’s right hand. All power and majesty is given to him, and his kingdom he will share with all those who follow his example to the end.
Next time we shall enter into the Outer Court to begin our examination of what happens there. There is much more yet to see and learn about Jesus.