By Thomas Newberry
"And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up" (v. 15).
REGARDING the Tabernacle as typical of Christ, these boards of shittim wood overlaid with gold, the framework of the Tabernacle, represent Him in the combination of the human and divine natures in His blessed Person, the foundation truth of Christianity, "God manifest in flesh." But, taking the Tabernacle as typical of the Church, these boards represent the individual believers of whom the Church of God is composed.
Boards of shittim wood "standing up." This intimates that they had been previously cut down. Believers were once the children of wrath, even as others, growing wild in nature's forest; but they had been selected by divine grace, and had been brought low by the convictions of the Spirit, and they are here seen standing in grace (Rom. v. 2).
This is stated in Exodus 25. 8, "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." These boards represent believers in Christ, builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2. 22). This is God's ideal of the Church as a whole, according to the pattern shewn in the Mount (Heb. 8. 5). It is also designed to be a model for believers gathered together in Church fellowship on earth.
THE DIMENSIONS OF THE BOARDS.
"Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board" (v. 16).
Taking the cubit to be nearly one foot ten inches in length, the height of each board would be about eighteen feet three inches, and the breadth two feet nine inches. Thus, ten cubits was the height of the Tabernacle, one third of the height of the holy place in Solomon's Temple, which was thirty cubits, and half the height of the most holy place there, which was twenty cubits.
Though every regenerate soul is born into the family of God, and as such has his place in the Church of God, yet, in order to fill that place profitably in the assembly of believers, three things are requisite - faith, hope, charity. Faith in the atonement, hope of the glory, and love to all saints. Faith, hope, charity, these three-depth, height, and breadth. DEPTH - down to the sockets of silver, FAITH in redemption. HEIGHT-up to the rings of gold, HOPE of coming glory. BREADTH - extending to the other boards on either side. "Love in the truth" to all them that have known the truth, for the truth's sake which dwelleth in us (2 John 1.2).
"Two tenons [hands] shall there be in one board, set in order one against another [made parallel one to another]; thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the Tabernacle" (v. 17).
According to their Hebrew name, they appear to represent the HANDS of faith, laying hold of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; and according to their position at the bottom of the boards, they suggest the idea of the FEET of faith, standing firm on redemption, and the redemption price.
"Set in order." So as to fit exactly into the sockets. No slackness, no wavering, but steadfast and unmovable, stablished, strengthened, settled.
THE BOARDS ON THE SOUTH AND NORTH SIDES
"And thou shalt make the boards for the Tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward. And for the second side of the Tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards" (v.18, 20).
Twenty boards, of a cubit and a half, measure thirty cubits, which would be about fifty-five feet long. The length of the holy place and of the most holy together, of the Temple, was sixty cubits, or double the length of the Tabernacle.
THE SOCKETS OF SILVER.
"And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons [hands], and two sockets under another board for his two tenons" (v. 19).
"The comparison of Exodus 30. 11-16 and 38. 25-28, with 1 Peter 1. 18, 19, will give us most clearly and beautifully the spiritual import of these sockets of silver. Every Israelite passing among them that were numbered, whether rich or poor, was required to give a ransom for his soul, of half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, in value about fifteen pence. Peter explains this, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with such corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
All God's people are numbered as a RANSOMED people; to be reckoned among them on the ground of profession merely, is to come under judgment. This ‘is illustrated by the numbering of Israel by David, as recorded in 2 Samuel 24., where no mention is made of the redemption price having been paid. In the instance recorded in Matt. 17. 24, the tribute required was not the tribute to Caesar, but the half shekel of the sanctuary; the Son of Man required no ransom for His soul. But from the abundance of the sea, the piece of money, "the stater," value two shillings and sixpence - was provided, double the ransom price, as Christ said to Peter, "For Me and thee." In Exodus 38. 25-27, we read, "And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was a hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels after the shekel of the sanctuary.. And of the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary, and the sockets of the vail; a hundred sockets of the hundred talents, a talent for a socket." A talent of silver is computed at £342 3s 9d; a talent being about 114 lbs. weight.
Each board had two tenons, and under each tenon there was socket of silver, each weighing a talent. What an idea this gives us of the security of every believer as founded on the atoning work of Christ; securing at once a firm foundation for the foot of faith, for it is redemption from the wrath to come; and a firm grasp to the hand of faith in laying hold of eternal life, and hope of everlasting glory.
THE BOARDS FOR THE WEST SIDE.
"And for the sides of the Tabernacle westward, thou shalt make six boards. And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the Tabernacle in the two sides. And they shall be coupled [twinned] together beneath, and they shall be coupled together [perfected together] above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board" (v22-25).
The corner boards were coupled or twinned beneath. So believers are one in the confidence of FAITH. Each board standing firm in the sockets of silver, and each believer established in the faith of the gospel. The corner boards were also coupled or perfected together to one ring above. Believers are one in the rejoicing of HOPE. We have "ONE FAITH" and "ONE HOPE OF OUR CALLING." Christ crucified is the foundation of our FAITH, and Christ glorified the substance and centre of our HOPE, Christ Himself being "the chief CORNER STONE," uniting the Jew and the Gentile in one, on earth beneath. And He is also the HEAD STONE of the corner, uniting them together in one in heaven above. Thus we read in Hebrews 3. 6, "Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." And again, v14, "For we have been made partakers of Christ, if we bold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end."