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The Tabernacle Fence
Christ Our Mediator
“And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side: And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver. And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten. And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits. The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three. And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three. 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: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four. All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass. The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty everywhere, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass. All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass. And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always. In the tabernacle of the congregation without the vail, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the LORD: it shall be a statute forever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.” (Exodus 27:9-21)
In the first part of this chapter we see Christ our Altar portrayed in the brazen altar. Here we see Christ our Mediator portrayed in the linen fence surrounding the tabernacle.
“And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side.” (Exodus 27:9)
The Tabernacle court was about 175-180 feet long and 75-80 feet wide. What a small enclosure for those who were worshippers of the one and only true and living God! It seems to have been, even in its size, a declaration that God’s people in this world are few among many, “a remnant according to the election of grace.” Yet, few as they are, even now, in this Gospel Age the measure of the true Tabernacle, the Church of God is beyond the calculation of man (Malachi 1:11; Matthew 18:20). The “hangings for the court of fine twined linen” (Exodus 27:10-21) formed the fence around the tabernacle.
Oil and Priests
The “pure oil olive beaten for the light” is typical of God the Holy Spirit in all his gifts, graces, and operations bestowed upon the church. None but he can enlighten the darkened minds of poor, lost, and ruined sinners. He alone gives us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
“Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?” (Zechariah 4:11-12)
It is by God the Holy Spirit that God’s servants are called and gifted for their work. By this “pure oil olive” their lips, as golden pipes pouring out the oil, preserve the knowledge and worship of God from one generation to another. The “oil olive beaten” signifies the labor of God’s servants in the Word, as they prepare their messages and their hearts to shine forth the light of the gospel.
The work of God’s priests, as declared in verse 21, shows us the work of God’s servants in his house. The pastor, the gospel preacher, is to rule the house of God as a husband is to rule his house (1 Timothy 3:5), ordering the worship of God by the revealed will of God given in Holy Scripture. If we would worship God, we must worship him “in spirit and in truth” (Philippians 3:3) “after the due order” (1 Chronicles 15:13).
The whole structure was enclosed by a fence made of white linen which hung from sixty pillars, twenty on each side and ten on each end. Revelation 3:12 shows us that these pillars represented the church of God’s elect, “the Israel of God,” “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Remember, the number twelve and multiples of twelve (sixty is a multiple of twelve) are used throughout Scripture to represent God’s Israel.
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” (Revelation 3:12)
The four pillars of the eastern end, facing the rising sun, formed the gate of entrance into the tabernacle. The tabernacle was God’s designated dwelling place. The camp was the dwelling place of the people. This linen fence stood between God and man. I remind you again that the tabernacle, in all its parts and in all its furnishings, in all its sacrifices and ceremonies, set forth our Lord Jesus Christ in his being, work, and glory as our God and Savior.
Linen, being made from the fibers of the flax plant, is an earthly thing. It is used in the Scriptures to represent the righteousness of God’s saints (Revelation 19:8). That righteousness is our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). This linen fence, standing between God and man, speaks of our Savior’s perfect humanity, symbolizing Christ our Mediator, specifically symbolizing his accomplishments as our Mediator.
A mediator is one who takes an official, legal, and accepted position between two parties that are at odds. He is a Daysman, a go-between, who offers something that will satisfy both parties. By satisfying each, he is able to reconcile them and make them friends. That is what the Lord Jesus Christ is to us — our perfect, God-man Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6, 12:24).
The tops of the pillars were silver. The bottoms, or bases, were brass (Exodus 27:10). The brass, from which the bottoms of these pillars was formed represents the righteousness of Christ our Mediator.
Brass is a composition that will stand the test of fire; and fire is set forth in Scripture as a symbol of the judgement of God (Isaiah 29:6, 30:30, 66:15). What can stand the test of the fire of divine judgement? — Righteousness, perfect righteousness, nothing else (Nahum 1:5-6; Isaiah 59:16; 63:1-5).
Man’s righteousness is obnoxious to God. It is an offence. Our imaginary, pretended righteousness is the most foul, filthy, obnoxious thing in the universe to the Holy Lord God. Our righteousnesses are filthy rags before him (Isaiah 64:6). Offer the holy God your righteousness, and you will be eternally ruined, consumed by his fury, utterly destroyed in his wrath, and damned forever in hell.
How, then, can a I be saved? I must have righteousness, perfect righteousness, a righteousness worthy of, accepted and well-pleasing to the holy Lord God, a righteousness that has endured the fire. You and I can never stand in God’s presence with anything short of perfect righteousness. It must be a righteousness of infinite merit; but it must be the righteousness of a man. That is what the linen fence represents — righteousness accomplished and brought in by the doing and dying of the Son of God, our God-man Mediator!
When God the Holy Spirit comes to a sinner in the saving operations of his grace, giving the chosen, redeemed sinner faith in Christ, he convinces that sinner of righteousness. He convinces the redeemed sinner that righteousness has been finished, accomplished, and brought in by the obedience of Christ, righteousness with which God himself is well pleased (John 16:7-11).
But God requires more than righteousness. Sin must be punished. Justice must be satisfied. God demands atonement (satisfaction), the satisfaction of his holy justice. That is what is represented by the silver tops on those sixty pillars, set in sockets of brass in the linen fence encompassing the tabernacle.
As no man can bring in righteousness, so no mere man can satisfy the justice of God, even for himself, let alone another. But the Son of God, who came to earth in a linen body, the God-man Mediator, Christ Jesus, did. As the sockets of brass typified the righteousness of Christ that has stood the furious fire of God’s holy wrath and judgment for us, the tops of silver typified the silver of our Savior’s precious blood, his atonement, by which justice has been satisfied and sin has been put away. Silver was frequently used in the ceremonies of the law in connection with atonement (Exodus 30:12-16; Leviticus 5:15-16).
Christ’s obedience as our God-man Mediator is our righteousness before God, our only righteousness. His obedience is the righteousness imputed to us (reckoned ours) in justification (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21). And his righteous nature is the righteousness imparted to us (formed in us) in sanctification (regeneration), making us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), giving us that “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). And it is this righteousness in which we shall be raised (into which we shall be transformed) in glorification at the last day, and the righteousness for which we shall be rewarded in the Day of Judgment. Christ alone is our righteousness. He is our righteousness and all who are born of God are made the righteousness of God in him (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16). His precious blood, the atonement he obtained by his blood, the blood by which our sins were put away at Calvary, is our only atonement for sin (2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 3:13-14).
The sixty pillars portray God’s elect, all saved sinners. The sockets of brass pictured Christ our righteousness. The tops of silver typify Christ our atonement, our redemption. The linen fence was representative of the Man Christ Jesus, our Mediator, by whom, in whom, and with whom we have righteousness and atonement, by whom, in whom, and with whom we stand accepted before the Holy Lord God. By the pure silver of his blood and the pure gold of his Deity, by the white linen of his perfect righteousness in our humanity, he is our God-man Mediator and Savior!
The Son of God was obedient unto death for us. He met our sentence and expiated our guilt when he was made sin for us. And, as he was made sin for us, that he might be damned in our stead, we are made the righteousness of God in him, that we might live in him. The believer is joined to Christ as one spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17). We are members of his body, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh (Ephesians 5:30). I can’t explain that, but I can believe it and rejoice in it — I am one with Christ and Christ is one with me! That is the message of God the Holy Spirit in the tabernacle’s linen fence, with its pillars and their silver tops and brass sockets. Christ is our God-man Mediator, by whom God is reconciled to us and we are reconciled to God.