By Thomas Newberry
THE TABERNACLE REARED UP
IN verses 9-16, we have the anointing of the Tabernacle and all therein, its vessels, the altar, and layer. Also the clothing and anointing of Aaron and his sons; but as we have had this subject previously, we now proceed at verse 17.
THE PERIOD WHEN THE TABERNACLE WAS REARED.
Verse 17. "And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up."
The first day of the second year of Israel's experience as a redeemed people, was an important period in their history. On this day the Tabernacle was set up.
On the day of the SECOND month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, the commandment was given for the numbering of the children of Israel from twenty years old and upward; all that were able to go forth to war in Israel (Numbers 1.1, 2).
And on the day that Moses had FULLY SET up the Tabernacle, and anointed it and sanctified it, and all the vessels thereof, the princes of Israel that were over them that were numbered, presented their offering to Jehovah of six covered wagons, twelve oxen, with twelve silver chargers, and spoons of gold full of incense, with the ascending offerings, sin offerings, and peace offerings, and twelve days were occupied with the presentation (Numbers 7.).
During the FIRST year the lessons of the wilderness were learnt: What the wilderness was; what the flesh was, both under grace (Ex. 19.4-6), and under law; and what God was in the various manifestations of His character.
With the SECOND year, Israel's experience in connection with the Tabernacle commences, and to this period the books of Leviticus and Numbers apply.
The FIRST year is typical of the Christian's individual experience; the SECOND, of his experience in connection with the Church of God, and in association with others professing Christianity.
THE TABERNACLE SET UP.
"And Moses reared up the Tabernacle."
The Tabernacle is first mentioned before the tent of the congregation; for the first thought in the mind of the Spirit is a habitation for God, before that which represents the assembly of God's saints is spoken of.
"And fastened his sockets." The sockets of silver composed of the redemption money of the children of Israel. Thus, typically, the foundations of God's Tabernacle are laid in redemption.
"And set up the boards thereof." Typical of those believers who are gathered together to the confession of the name of Jesus, individually, standing firm on redemption, and collectively forming God's Tabernacle or dwelling-place (Eph. 2.22).
"And put in the bars thereof." For the compacting and establishment of the whole. Like the joints and bands, the gifts of the Spirit for the edifying of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4.).
"And reared up his pillars." The four pillars which held up the vail, corresponding with the four inspired historians of the life and death of Jesus; and the five pillars which supported the hanging of the door; answering to the apostles and prophets, the evangelists, pastors, and teachers, who exhibit Jesus as the way of entrance into the Tabernacle of God. And thus the Church becomes not only the house of God, and Church of the living God, but also the pillar and ground of the truth, for the manifestation and maintenance of the truth of God in the world.
THE TENT OF THE CONGREGATION SPREAD.
Verse 19. "And he spread abroad the tent over the Tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as Jehovah commanded Moses."
The tent over the Tabernacle, or the tent of the Congregation, represents the assembly of believers, meeting in the Name of Jesus, who, in Spirit also, compose the habitation of God.
The covering of the tent was twofold. First, the covering of Ram's skins dyed red, typical of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus, under the shelter of which the Church is seen by God.
Secondly, the covering of badger's skins, above and over all, significant of the external lowly form and pilgrim character of the Church on earth. All done according to the Will and Word of God.
The Overshadowing Cloud and the indwelling Glory.
Exodus 11. 34, 35.
MOSES having set up the ARK in the most holy place, and brought the ALTAR OF INCENSE, the LAMP-STAND, and the TABLE into the sanctuary or holy place; and having reared up the COURT, and brought in the LAVER, and the BRAZEN ALTAR, "as Jehovah commanded Moses."
Verse 34. "Then the cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of Jehovah filled the Tabernacle."
The EXTERNAL and INTERNAL manifestation of the Divine presence, protection and glory; Divine and almighty protection above, and Divine glory within. For "he that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." God Himself is "a wall of fire round about His people, and the glory in the midst." "The Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon them." "The eternal God is their refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
This overshadowing cloud and this indwelling glory was a prefiguring of what took place at Pentecost, when the Church of God first commenced its history and its course, and when believers were first builded together for a habitation of God, through the Spirit.
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." See also the inspired prayer of the Apostle in Eph.3., that being strengthened by God's Spirit in the inner man, Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, believers might be filled into all the fulness of God. Seven times the Word of God testified that Moses had done each particular as Jehovah commanded. Then, and not till then, the cloud covered the tent, and the glory filled the Tabernacle.
There is a principle of the utmost importance which throws a Divine light on many a perplexing question. Jude said unto the Lord, "How is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me he will keep My Words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him" (John 14. 22, 23).
So when Solomon had finished the house of Jehovah, according to the Divine will and pattern, then "the cloud filled the house of Jehovah, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of Jehovah had filled the house of Jehovah" (1 Kings 8.10,11).
Isaiah prophesies of the future blessing to Israel, when "Jehovah will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defence" (Isaiah 4.5).
Ezekiel, who saw in a vision the glory taking its gradual departure from the first Temple (Ezek. 10, 11), afterwards also in a vision saw the glory returning to the millennial Temple. "And, behold, the glory of Jehovah filled the house of Jehovah" (Ezekiel 44.4).
John, in the apocalyptic vision of the Church's future blessedness, as the Bride of the Lamb, saw that great city, the holy Jerusalem, but "saw no Temple therein, for Jehovah, God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof" (Rev. 21.22,23).
There no Temple rose before him,
There no glory shone above;
All was Temple, all was glory,
All in all was God and love.
The saints in glory will dwell in God, and God in them. His glory is their overshadowing cloud; His presence is their indwelling glory.
Verse 35. "And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of Jehovah filled the Tabernacle."
And so on the Mount of Transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in glory, there came a bright cloud and overshadowed them, and the disciples feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, hear Him." And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone (Luke 9.34-36). Thus, whether it be Moses the servant of God, or the priests in Solomon's Temple in their priestly ministry, or the two men on the Mount of Transfiguration, all give place to the glory of God and of the Lamb.
THE GUIDANCE OF THE CLOUD.
Exodus 40.36-38. "And when the cloud was taken up from over the Tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys; but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of Jehovah was upon the Tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the House of Israel throughout all their journeys."
The people of God are a journeying people, yet He will never leave them nor forsake them. The great thing is to walk with God, so as ever to enjoy the light and guidance of His presence. Moses said, "If Thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence" (Ex. 33.15). Who that values that presence, but will often be presenting the same petition? The PRESENCE OF GOD with us - How seasonable! How suitable! Shade in sunshine! Light in darkness! Abiding with us while we tarry !.. Going before us when we move.
There is one thing of all-importance taught us here. God's guidance of His people, and the manifestation of His presence with them, is connected with the Tabernacle, His dwelling-place among them. It was "when the cloud was taken up FROM OVER THE TABERNACLE, the children of Israel went onward." Their individual movements were controlled by God's acting in connection with the Tabernacle. So with us, if our individual actions are not influenced by the manifestation of God's presence and actings with the assembly, no wonder if we miss His guidance, and walk in darkness.
Not only were the children of Israel to pitch round about the Tabernacle, having it as their centre, the very place of their tents being regulated by the position of the Tabernacle, because it was God's dwelling-place; but their every movement was to harmonise with God's movements in connection with it.
Oh, for grace ever to remember and to act on this! We are so prone to make self our centre, and our individual interests and comforts, temporal or spiritual, the guides of our actions, that we need every now and then to be broken off from them, and to be brought back to God, and to the things of God.
May we value the presence of God with us, and the unclouded sunshine of His smile in our individual pathway. But may we also seek the manifestation of His presence in the assembly of His saints, so as ever to see His power and His glory as we have seen it in the sanctuary.
May the chill and the darkness, occasioned by the loss of His smile, be to us a warning of our wandering, if we turn aside to the right hand or to the left; whether it be in our individual course, or in our Church associations. May we walk, O God, in the light of Thy countenance, the confident language of our hearts being this, "Thou shalt guide us with Thy council, and afterward receive us to glory."