Monday, August 8, 2011

The Tabernacle: A Foreshadow of Messiah... Part 2 - The Outer Court

The Design of the Courtyard

The outer court of the tabernacle was outlined with sixty pillars - twenty on the north and south sides, and ten on the east and west sides. The pillars were made from wood with copper on the bases and silver on the capitals.  The entire courtyard was then surrounded by fine white linen, hung up on silver rods and hooks and bronze pins.  The length was 100 cubits (about 150 feet) by 50 cubits (about 75 feet).  The bases of bronze on the pillars remind us of the voluntary suffering of Yeshua.  The silver-laid capitals on top of the pillars remind us that He gave Himself as a ransom, and they can also be likened to the 'helmet of salvation' in Isaiah 59:17 and Ephesians 6:17.  The pillars represent believers (see Galatians 2:9) who are pictured around the tabernacle as witnesses of the Lord Yeshua.

The only door through which one could gain entrance to the outer court of the tabernacle was located on the east side.  It was a beautiful door, embroidered with four colored threads of blue, purple, crimson, and white; 20 cubits (about 30 feet) wide.  The four colors are a perfect representation of Yeshua:  Blue for the Son of God coming from heaven, purple for the King of Kings, crimson for the Suffering Servant, and white for the Pure Spotless Lamb.  There was only one way into the tabernacle - through the door prescribed by God.

It is interesting to note that each tribe was assigned a specific place to camp around the tabernacle in Numbers 2.  Which tribe was in front of the entrance?  Judah, the tribe from whence came the Messiah - the only way to the Father!

What a sight the beautiful white tabernacle must have been to a people who were living in a desolate, unclean land.  Entering into the courtyard, they found themselves surrounded by the pure white cloth.  What a change from the outside!  It is the same when we come to Yeshua today.  New life in Him offers a complete change to each sinner who repents and obeys the inviting call of the Savior to receive Him!

The Two Elements of the Courtyard

Once inside the entrance of the courtyard, we arrive at the altar.  The Hebrew root word for altar means "slay" or "slaughter."  The altar stood raised on a mound of earth, higher than its surrounding furniture. This is a projection of Christ, our sacrifice, lifted up on the cross, His altar, which stood on a hill called Golgotha. The edges were formed with acacia wood, and then overlaid inside and out with bronze, which resists the blazing flames of fire - a picture of how Yeshua bore the fury of God's wrath.    Horns were a symbol power and strength in biblical times. When the sacrifice was made, blood was dabbed on the horns of the altar, signifying the power of the blood to atone for sins. In the same way, there is mighty power in the blood of Messiah.  Yeshua is the “horn of our salvation” (Psalm 18:2, Luke 1:69).  

The other element of the tabernacle that was located in the courtyard is the bronze basin, or laver.  The priests were to wash their hands and their feet in it before entering the Holy Place.  The laver was located in a convenient place for washing and stood as a reminder that people need cleansing before approaching God. The priests atoned for their sins through a sacrifice at the brazen altar, but they cleansed themselves at the laver before serving in the Holy Place, so that they would be pure and not die before a holy God. 

These two elements - the altar and the laver - represent our justification and sanctification.  Forgiveness through the sacrifice of Yeshua is symbolized by the altar (justification), and then the process of the Lord cleaning us up - sanctification - is pictured by the laver.

Watch for my next post, in which we will look at the tabernacle itself.

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