Redmond Blair, Vancouver
It would seem hardly necessary to state that the study of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness is one of the most interesting subjects in the Old Testament. The number of books written about it and the ministry given, both with the aid of charts and models testify to this fact. Much profit has been derived from it as to the person and work of Christ and the Assembly of God over many years. While books, charts and models have covered the larger items in the tabernacle such as the vessels and the coverings, there are some smaller things that also play an important part in it as well. The apostle, when writing to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 12:23) said "And those members of the body, we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow the more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have the more abundant comeliness." We are familiar with the prominent and visible members of our bodies, but there are many members that perform unseen work that are necessary to our physical well being. With this thought in mind there are many small items in the tabernacle that perform unseen duties in the service of the tabernacle. There are pins and cords, the gold and brass taches, the connecting rods and the rings, not visible in many instances, but essential to structure as a whole.
RINGS FOR BUILDING
The tabernacle proper was made of the boards resting upon the silver sockets. These boards are a picture of the believer who once, in his natural state, drew his sustenance from the earth. But a change has taken place. Cut down from nature, they now have a new standing upon the sockets of silver.
This is their foundation. Silver speaks of redemption, and the silver sockets were made from the half shekel given by each man that was numbered of the tribes. It may not seem much, but when made into the sockets, each weighed a talent. A talent is about 114 pounds and translated into the currency of today would be a considerable sum. There were two sockets under each board, which would tell us of the cost of our redemption, and atonement made. We rest on two great truths, the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We have been redeemed, not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. They had a covering of gold which speaks of the righteousness of God. "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness" (Isa 61:10).
While each board had a good standing and covering, this was not enough to be standing alone. Something more was needed to make a complete structure. We read of rings on the gold-covered boards into which were placed gold covered bars. The middle bar was hidden; it ran through the center of the boards. A similar word is used in Hebrews 4:12 in relation to the Word of God like unto a sharp two-edged sword. "Piercing" is the word. When these bars were in place, we have three solid walls standing upright but not joined together. One more thing was necessary. The corner boards were put in place and a ring at the top and bottom brought the walls together to make a solid building. "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Eph. 2:21).
The bars are the gifts given by the risen Christ for the purpose of the edification of the church, for the perfecting of the saints (Eph. 4:12). The apostles and prophets laid the foundation; the pastors and teachers followed these. The truth and teaching of the Word of God binds the saints together. The corner boards are seen as the elders in the assembly to maintain the care and wellbeing of the saints. The hidden bar would speak of the Holy Spirit, unseen yet doing that great work in the gatherings of the saints.
RINGS FOR BEARING
The vessels in the tabernacle were borne by the Kohathites. The Ark of the Covenant, the golden altar, the table of shewbread and the brazen altar were carried on the shoulders of the priests. The golden lampstand was carried on a pole. There is no mention of how the layer was carried. Some have gone as far as to say it was put on one of the wagons. In the above first mentioned vessels, cast rings were made and staves placed in the rings to carry them. "And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it" (Exod 25:12). Brazen rings were used for the brazen altar.
It is to be noticed that there was a great deal of work in the making of the vessels in the holy place. They were of beaten work. The pure gold yielded to the blows of the hammer to form these vessels. But strength would be needed for the journey through the wilderness, thus the cast rings, a unique feature. The staves and the rings would speak of our pilgrim character moving forward to our eternal rest. The priests would feel the weight of these vessels and what they spoke of, and we could learn something from this of the weight of divine truth regarding the person and work of Christ and things pertaining to the assembly. Not to be lightly or carelessly handled amidst the changing scene around us, care is needed. Of all the vessels, the Ark of the Covenant is most spoken about as far as movements were concerned. It was at the forefront of the marches and at the miracle of the crossing of the Jordan when it was in flood and also at the assault and overthrow of Jericho. Further in the days of Eli and his wicked sons, it was brought to the battlefield as some kind of a charm or talisman, which in some way would bring victory. But when the people and the priests were away from God it was ineffective. Form is not enough. The Philistines captured it but were soon glad to be rid of it, for while it was of no avail to Israel, God would not let the ark be desecrated before its foes. The men of Bethshemesh lifted the covering of the ark and came face to face with Gods unbroken law and came under his judgment. A further reminder of the ark was when David was bringing the ark up to Jerusalem. He used Philistine methods in the new cart and caused the death of the man who dared put his hand to it. The last mention of interest was when Solomon built the temple, the ark was brought into the sanctuary, and the golden staves were drawn out. Its resting- place had been reached, the pilgrimage was over. What a happy day it will be when our pilgrimage is over and we enter into our eternal rest.
RINGS FOR BINDING
These rings are in connection with the garments of the high priest, garments for glory and beauty. Of all the garments, the ephod is the most outstanding of them all. Five materials went into its composition: gold, blue and purple, scarlet and fine twined linen. Connected with it were the shoulder pieces which coupled it together. Placed on the shoulder pieces were two onyx stones set in sockets of gold. On the stones were graven the names of the twelve tribes. This was followed by the breastplate made like the ephod. It was foursquare. They made it double and it measured a span each way. On it were placed twelve stones in golden sockets. Each was different and placed in order by Divine arrangement with the names of the tribes engraved on each stone. Wreathen chains made of pure gold were joined to the top of the breastplate by two rings and then to the two shoulder pieces. On the lower part of the breastplate two more rings were added on the inside and two rings were attached to the ephod. A lace of blue bound the breastplate to the ephod, and into the breastplate was put the Urim and the Thummin (Ex. 39:2-2 1). The shoulder speaks of strength and in this we see something of the person of Christ. It was on his shoulder that He bore the cross, telling us of his suffering and death. "He bearing His cross went forth into the place called the place of a skull" (John 19:17). It also speaks of security, for it was here that the shepherd laid the sheep that was lost and brought it home rejoicing (Luke 15:5). It also speaks of his sovereignty. "And the government shall be upon his shoulder: And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6). Eliakim is a type of Christ. "And the key of David will I lay upon his shoulder; So he shall open, and none shall shut; And he shall shut and none shall open" (Isa. 22:22). The breastplate speaks of his love and affection. "Having loved his own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1). It is a love that is unchanging and regardless of time or circumstances, it remains the same towards us. The Urim and Thummin were put in the breastplate and not too much is revealed about them in Scripture. It would seem that they were used to determine the mind of God. It is through Christ that we get understanding. "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3). May it be ours to enjoy the gracious ministry of the Lord Jesus in His office as our great high priest. We are forever on his heart.