Tabernacle Studies

Edited by E. R. Higgins

The Court (Ex 27:9-19; 38:9-20)

The Tabernacle, that is the covered building, stood in the midst of an open space of ground that was one hundred cubits long by fifty cubits wide. This area was enclosed by hangings of fine linen and a multi-colored hanging for the gate, suspended on pillars. This area was called the court.

General specifications:

1. It was 100 cubits long x 50 cubits wide.

2. It had no roof, but was open to the sky; it had no paved floor, just the desert sand.

3. The fine linen hangings or wall hung on 60 pillars – 26 on each side and 10 on each end, and was 5 cubits high.

4. The pillars rested on brass sockets and were connected by silver fillets or “connecting rods.” Each pillar had a silver “crown” and was secured in place by cords and tent pegs (Ex 35:18), which provided stability.

5. The linen hanging was attached to the fillets with hooks of silver.

6. One gate – 20 cubits wide – was located in the east side. The hanging for the gate was made of fine linen with blue, purple, and scarlet.

Typical significance in relation to our blessed Lord: (Luke 15:1-2)

1. The anti-type of the court is our Lord Jesus Christ. The court was the place of sacrifice, the appointed place where the Israelites came together and worshiped Jehovah and where He met with them (Ex 29:42-43). Today, Christ is the meeting-place between God and His people. The court foreshadowed Christ on earth tabernacling among men, accessible to all who sought Him.

2. The unpaved court, with the Tabernacle resting on the desert sand, suggests Christ’s link with earth – He was the “root out of the dry ground.” Again the court had no roof – no restriction or barrier to the heavens. So with the Lord Jesus (John 3:13).

3. Fine linen is the emblem of practical righteousness (Rev 19:8). The fine linen hangings present Christ to those without because they could be seen by all the camp. It is the presentation of Christ to the world in the purity of His nature. He alone could challenge His adversaries to convict Him of sin. Here is God’s standard of practical righteousness illustrated in the standing curtain and only One could meet or measure up to that standard (Rom 3:21-26).

4. The white wall served as both a barrier and a protection. A height of 7 feet would surely prevent anyone from stepping over the hanging. To those without, the holiness of which it spoke was exclusion to all who dared approach otherwise than as God had ordered. To those within it was a shield and a shelter as they stood on holy ground (Ps 65:4; 100:4).

5. The white linen wall was supported by pillars which were spaced at intervals of five cubits. Five is the number of grace – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense – and here grace is linked with righteousness, proclaiming that the grace of God is not bestowed at the expense of His justice but that “grace reigns through righteousness”

6. The material from which the pillars were made is not stated. Some think that according to verse 10 they were made of brass, but actually the words “of brass” refer to the socket only. Some feel that they were made of acacia wood because the pillars for the door and the veil (Ex. 26:32, 37) were thus made. A pillar speaks of strength and support. The sixty pillars which were positioned around the sides of the court supported the white hanging. They speak of the strength and sufficiency of that Refuge into which the believing sinner can flee (Isa 32:2; Prov 18:10).

7. The sockets which formed the foundation for the pillars were made of brass, or perhaps more accurately “copper.” This metal is very ductile and malleable, being particularly suited to beating into pots and other vessels. Its chief characteristics are toughness and tenacity. Its symbolic meaning of durability and strength as applied to the nature of God would suggest His unchanging character, His strength, especially in judgment (Num 21:9; Judges 16:21; Ps 107:16; 1 Sam 17:5-6). Here, too, we have the thought of Christ enduring the suffering and judgment as the sinners’ Substitute, but not being consumed by that judgment.

8. Silver speaks of redemption and is seen in the fillets or connecting rods, the hooks and the crowns for the pillars. These were a vital part of the supporting structure for the hangings, as were the sockets of brass. So, too, there is a vital link between righteousness (the linen) and redemption (the silver). Righteousness could never have been imputed to us unless the Lord Jesus had ransomed us by His blood (I Peter 1:2; Titus 2:14; Rom 8:3-4).

Typical significance in relation to the people of God

The Pillars and the fine linen hangings which they supported may be looked at as an illustration of the Lord’s people in the world today.

1. Their Position: The pillars formed the enclosure for the Tabernacle and thus separated it from the world. Here is a distinct line of demarcation between what is in the world and what is in God or in God’s dwelling. Believers are so positioned today – in the world but not of it.

2. Their Purpose: The pillars held up the fine linen. If they were on the inside of the curtains, then the view from the outside would simply be a white linen wall. Above it would be seen the “crowns” of silver on the pillars and, perhaps, the connecting rods. The linen suggests perfect, spotless human righteousness. Just as each redeemed one is able “to put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24), so is the fine linen held up to view and seen by others in the world outside.

3. Their Posture: The pillars were standing. This was due to three things:

a) The Foundation: Our standing before God positionally and before men practically as born-again ones is based on the fact that by faith we are depending on One who has borne the judgment of God on our behalf. The brass sockets bring before us our Lord, who became sin for us, He “who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

b) The Connecting Rods: Our standing is maintained by the fellowship we have with fellow-believers as suggested by the connecting rods. 1 John 1:7 teaches this. Again, Paul exhorted Timothy to conduct himself among the saints so that his example could be followed and in so doing he would save himself and those who heard him. (See 1 Tim 4:12-16; 1 Cor 12:25).

c) The Cords: These are the cords of a Man, the bands of love. We were drawn to Him, away from other objects, and as we continue to contemplate Him, we are kept away from other objects. Thus we are able to stand and withstand (2 Cor. 5:14-15).