By Thomas Newberry
Exodus 26. 31-33.
"And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet [worm scarlet], and fine twined linen of cunning work; with cherubim shall IT be made" (v31).
THE spiritual signification of the vail is given us by the apostle in the following words: "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new [newly-slain] and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, His flesh" (Heb. 10.19, 20). This vail represents the flesh of Jesus, and, in connection with His atoning sacrifice, it shows Him as the way of entrance, through the Spirit, by faith, into the holiest of all. Before the death of Jesus, "the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing" (Heb. 9. 6-8). But when Jesus expired on the cross at Calvary, "The vail of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom" (Matt. 27. 51). God by this act distinctly intimating that the way of access was clear - the glory could shine out, and the believer in Jesus could enter in. God could be just, while He justified - and manifest Himself as glorious in holiness, whilst the pardoned sinner was accepted and brought nigh by the blood of Jesus. The Lord Jesus told His disciples, "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you" (John 16. 7). The way was thus opened for the Comforter to come down from the ascended Christ, at Pentecost; and it is through Him, upborne by His eagle wings, we enter the Holiest, and draw near to God.
The word "new" in Heb. 10. 20, is literally in the Greek "newly-slain," a beautiful illustration of which we get in the north gate of the temple of Ezekiel (ch. 40. 35-43), where there were eight stone tables on which the victims were slain, and the instruments were laid, and the flesh hung up on hooks on either side, so that the priests on entering passed through the flesh of the slaughtered victim, which was also the Eastern mode of ratifying a covenant (Gen. 15.).
THE MATERIALS OF THE VAIL.
We may trace in the materials, the various excellencies combined in the Person of Christ.
The "BLUE," His perfection as Man, and the heavenly beauty of His character, "the Son of Man which is in heaven."
"And PURPLE." The combination of the heavenly and earthly dignities in Him who was at once, Son of David and Son of God. "And SCARLET." He was born "King of the Jews," and, though rejected of His own, He yet shall reign. The Materials of the Vail. And FINE TWINED LINEN." He was "that holy thing" born of the Virgin, and "separate from sinners" during His whole life and conversation here.
"Of CUNNING" or skilful "WORK." What beauteous blendings, what exquisite harmonies may be discovered in the character of Jesus! How each grace tempers the others, and enhances the glory of the whole.
The "CHERUBIM" on the vail represent the various kinds of service to God, which were seen in perfection in Jesus, who came down from heaven to do the will of the Father, and in whom the apostle and prophet, the evangelist, the pastor, and the teacher were combined and manifested in all their excellency.
THE PILLARS OF THE VAIL
"And thou shalt hang IT upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver" (v32).
This beautiful and significant vail, representing the Incarnate Saviour, Immanuel, God with us, was to be suspended on four pillars of shittim wood, overlaid with gold. Can we be at a loss to ascertain the fact which answers to this foreshadowing? Did not God employ FOUR individuals, men of like passions with ourselves, but divinely qualified by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to hold up to view the great mystery of godliness - God manifest in the flesh? In the four inspired records of the life and death of Jesus as given by the FOUR evangelists, the whole truth of His Person is exhibited as the Incarnate One.
Their HOOKS were to be of gold. The capacity to. take hold of, to select, and to arrange, the various incidents in the life and death of the Man of sorrows, His words and teachings, so as to bring out the truth of His Person in all its fulness, was of God. So that those apparent discrepancies between the narratives of the four inspired historians which so puzzle the natural mind, and so often render futile the attempt to form a harmony of the FOUR GOSPELS - these seeming blemishes are, in fact, the marks and proofs of the handiwork of a Divine Editor.
Under His all-wise guidance and control - MATTHEW selects and arranges those materials which present the Lord Jesus especially as Son of David and of Abraham, in connection with the kingdom, and with the promises made of God unto the fathers. This corresponds with the SCARLET.
MAKE presents Him especially as the Son of God and Son of Man, in His untiring service.
The PURPLE. LUKE shows Him as the sociable Son of Man, in connection with mankind at large. The FINE TWINED LINEN.
And JOHN testifies to Him as the Divine and heavenly stranger, in all the perfection of His character and ways. Answering to the BLUE.
The full-length portrait - the perfection of the truth of the Person of our precious Immanuel, is the result of the whole combined. These pillars stood on four SOCKETS OF SILVER.
For while the four inspired historians were employed and capacitated of God to exhibit the truth of the Person of Jesus, they themselves reposed on His redeeming work, and on His precious and atoning blood.
THE POSITION OF THE VAIL.
"And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches [hooks], that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy" (v. 33).
These taches connected together the two larger curtains, composed of five smaller ones each, thus forming one Tabernacle (ch. 26. 3-6).
The vail was to be hung immediately beneath these taches, dividing the Tabernacle into two parts: twenty cubits for the holy place, and ten cubits for the most holy.
Into the first tabernacle, or the holy place, the priests went continually, accomplishing the service of God; setting forth the ordinary privilege of believers in their priestly service and worship.
But into the second, or most holy place, the high priest alone entered once every year. For while the first tabernacle was yet standing, the Holy Ghost signified that the way into the holiest was not made manifest.
The vail DIVIDED UNTO ISRAEL between the holy and most holy place. But the true light now shineth; the vail has been rent; the glory of God's grace has shone out; and the believer has boldness to enter in through faith in the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10. 19-23).