Tabernacle Studies: The Boards and the Building

Edited by Eugene Higgins

The Boards and the Building (Ex 26:15-30, 36:20-34)

The massive framework of the golden boards and bars formed a compact structure over which the curtains and coverings were suspended. Without these boards, the beautiful curtain of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen with cherubim could not have been displayed nor would there have been a tabernacle for the priests in which to serve.

Specifications of the Building

1. Its size: The framework of the Tabernacle was 30 cubits long x 10 cubits wide x 10 cubits high. It was made up of 48 boards: 20 on the north side, 20 on the south side, and 6 (plus 2 corner boards) on the west side. The boards were made of acacia (shittim) wood overlaid with gold.

2. Its stability: The whole structure rested on 96 sockets of silver (two under each board) plus four sockets under the veil pillars. It was held together by 5 bars on each side – the middle bar running the length of each side.

Significance of the Materials

1. Acacia wood: Found in the desert, it resists the effects of weather and insects and has been called “incorruptible” wood. Christ is called “the root out of the dry ground” Isaiah 53. A tree grows out of the earth, and Christ’s link with earth is His perfect, sinless Humanity (Heb 2:14, 17). Incorruptibility reminds us that He is “without sin” (Acts 2:27).

2. Gold: A valuable metal noted for its brightness and beauty, gold is also resistant to rust and tarnish. In Revelation 21:11, 18, 21, the heavenly city, which has the glory of God in it, was of pure gold. Thus, where God is fully manifested in all His glory, the symbol used is gold. Christ’s glory as the Son of God is typified by the gold (John 1:1-3; Col 1:15-17).

3. Silver: This precious metal was ordinarily used in buying and selling. The silver in the Tabernacle was all derived from the atonement money paid by each Israelite who was of age (Ex 30:11-16) as a ransom for his soul when the children of Israel were numbered. This “numbering” is connected with ownership; thus the atonement money would indicate the preciousness of Israel to God as a redeemed people (see 1 Peter 1:18). Each Israelite had to appropriate and appreciate this fact because all had to give the same amount.

Spiritual Teaching of the Framework

It is a type of Christ and an illustration of each individual believer.

1. As a TYPE of Christ:

a) Wood overlaid with gold represents the perfect Humanity and absolute Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see two materials effectively co-joined in one board and two natures eternally co-joined in one body.

His Humanity and His Deity

Luke 1:35 & Luke 2:11, 1 Peter 2:22 & Isaiah 7:14, 2 Cor 5:21 & Isaiah 9:6, 1 John 3:5 & Micah 5:2, Galatians 4:4 & Heb 1:1-3, 1 Tim 2:5 & 1Tim 3:16.

b) The boards were ten cubits long. Ten is the number which speaks of the divine measure of human responsibility (e.g. the Ten Commandments). Only the Son of God who became Man was able to measure up to this standard. He said, “Father … I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.”

c) The boards were to be made “standing up.” Here is another feature which presents Christ in contrast with “fallen” mankind. He was upright in all His ways (Heb 7:26).

d) The boards were held together by bars which served to give unity to the structure. The wooden bars overlaid with gold portray the two natures in Christ and the bars show the perfect union between them. Though He is very God of very God and very Man of very Man, yet He is not two persons but ONE. “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9).

e) The whole structure, made one by the bars, rested on a foundation of silver. Solely on the basis of redemption has Christ become the meeting-place (tent of meeting) between a holy God and sinful people (Mark 10:45; 1 Tim 2:6).

2. As an ILLUSTRATION of each individual believer. The Boards were:

a) Brought to Moses (Ex 40:18; 1 Peter 3:18).

i) Standing in the wilderness (Eph 2:1-3; Phil 3:4-6).

ii) Selected according to Divine purpose (Gal 1:13-16 ).

iii) Sawn from a tree which cannot grow straight (Romans 3:23).

iv) Stripped of its branches – natural adornment (Phil 3:7-9).

v) Set in and set apart to a place in a habitation of God (Eph 2:18).

b) Overlaid with gold (Ex 26:29; 1 Cor 1:30).

Since gold speaks of Deity, what is there of God in the believer? Upon believing he is:

i) A new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17).

ii) Accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6).

iii) A partaker of the Divine nature by the new birth (2 Peter 1:4; John 1:12-13).

c) Added to other boards (Ex 40:18; Acts 9:26-28).

i) They were set in place with other boards. Paul recognized that his place was with the other disciples in Damascus.

ii) They were put in place to be a dwelling-place for God. Each board was necessary to complete the structure (Eph 2:21-22).

iii) They were held in place by bars which pass through golden rings.

One bar was invisible (John 17:11-12).

Four bars were visible. Acts 2:42 suggests four visible things which held believers together in public witness.

Rings – the symbol of love (Eph 5:25).

iv) They were strengthened in place by the corner boards. Christ is the source of the believer’s strength (Phil 4:13).

d) Resting on a solid foundation: 96 silver sockets around the perimeter (Ex 26:19).

i) Standing on redemption ground (1 Peter 1:18-19).

ii) Standing on costly ground (Ex 38:27; I Cor 6:20).

iii) Standing on an individual base for each board. This suggests a personal salvation as given in Acts 16:31; 2 Tim 2:19

e) Doubly secure (Ex 26:17; John 10:28-29).

Two “tenons” or “hands” held each board in place. This reminds us of numerous “pairs” that secure the child of God:

i) The Word of God to assure (John 5:24) and the Spirit of God to confirm (Rom 8:16).

ii) Christ’s hand and the Father’s hand to hold Christ’s sheep (John 10:28-29).

iii) Redemption by blood (Ex 12; 1 Peter 1:18) and redemption by power (Ex 14; Eph 1:14).