Listen to audio above while following transcript below (which is also available for download in Word at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)
As we prepare to look in the word let me look at a verse from Ezra 7:9 and this is a verse the Lord gave me, but I hope we can all share in it. This is for me. “Ezra has set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances.” He set his heart to study, and then apply in his own life, and then teach it to others. That’s mainly for me, but especially the practice part. It would be a shame to present great principles and not have the Holy Spirit apply them.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit, and I want to thank You for the One who dwells inside the veil, and I pray He would make this teaching a sweet smelling offering to Himself. Then I pray that the same Spirit that lives in our hearts might make it a savor of light to all of us who hear it. We commit this lesson onto You and thank You so much that You’ve included it in the Bible and privileged us to look at it now. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Welcome again to our meditation on our Lord Jesus. Using the book of Exodus as a window in which we can see the Lord more clearly. That’s why you’re here, I pray. That’s why I’m here. In fact, if we don’t see the Lord, both of us have wasted our time in coming here. In our study we’ve come to the last third of the book of Exodus, and it’s the study of the tabernacle. I reminded you in our last lesson that the tabernacle is a summary of the entire message of Exodus. The message of Exodus is redemption, redemption by power illustrated by the plagues, by blood illustrated by the Passover Lamb, salvation by power and by blood.
At the end of Exodus God takes that message and puts all the eggs in one basket. In other words, everything you’ll ever read about redemption, not only in the Old Testament, not only in Exodus, but in the entire Bible, everything about redemption is included somewhere in the details of this wonderful tabernacle. This is a grand, grand picture. The tabernacle is God’s object lesson of the Lord abiding in His temple and filling that temple with redemptive reality. That’s what it’s all about. Since the Lord has a heart of redemption, everything we’ll study, redemption has a name, and His name is Jesus. It’s a Person. The tabernacle is filled with the story of redemption. Exodus 25:8, “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me that I may dwell among them.”
To get back to our meditation I reminded you, since we’re in the tabernacle section, and since the Lord is going to give us truths of redemption, and spiritual significance in all of those details, wouldn’t you think that being in the tabernacle section that God would begin with the tabernacle? As I pointed out, He did not. Exodus 25:10, “They shall construct an ark of acacia wood, 2 ½ cubits long, 1 ½ cubits wide and 1 ½ cubits high.” He does not begin by building a tabernacle. He begins by a piece of furniture. Usually you make the house and then the furniture fits in the house, but God does it the other way. God says, “Here’s a piece of furniture, now build a house around that.” That was an important piece of furniture. You remember what that was; it was the ark of God, a box with a golden seat on it, with fancy golden arms and a canopy over the top of pure gold, carried by priests who had to carry the ark on poles that were overlaid with gold. In that box, you remember, there were three things: the Ten Commandments, the Law of God, a jar of manna and the budding rod of Aaron. In the ark, in the throne, in Jesus, there are the commandments, everything I’ll ever need to obey the Lord.
In the ark there was manna, a symbol of provision, every provision I’ll ever need is in the ark, in the throne, in the Lord. And the budding twig, rod, dead stick of Aaron illustrates fruit. Everything I’ll ever need for a fruitful life is in the Lordship of Christ. Two verses just to illustrate that the ark pictured the throne. Psalm 80:1, “Give ears, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock, You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth.” It’s a throne and it’s above the cherubim. Psalm 99:1, “The Lord reigns. Let the people tremble. He’s enthroned above the cherubim.”
Remember that you are the temple. I am the temple. How does God build us? The answer is that He starts with the throne. He starts with the Lordship of Christ, and then He builds us around that piece of furniture, around the Lordship of Christ. In a previous study I told you that that symbolic throne of the Kingship of Christ was on a journey. That was illustrated in Exodus 25:12-14, and that throne was being carried by the holy priests. Exodus 25:15, “The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark and shall not be removed.” While the ark was on a journey those poles had to be kept inside those rings. The ark on the move told a spiritual story. This is all redemptive history. It’s teaching us today about the journey on which Jesus is. He’s the Lord and He’s on a journey. In the history that ark had two destinations. Numbers 10:33, “They set out from the mount of the Lord three days journey with the ark of the covenant of the Lord journeying in front of them for three days to seek out a resting place for them.” The ark was on a journey. He had a destination and that was that you and I might rest. He was seeking a resting place for His people. King Jesus is determined, dear Christian, to bring you into rest. No matter how bumpy the road you drag Him on, that ark went on a bumpy road. No matter how long that road or how bumpy the Lord will lead you into rest.
David finally illustrated when they entered rest when he discovered that he could touch the Lord through this book without being incinerated, and he began to dance before the Lord. 2 Samuel 6:14, “David was dancing before the Lord with all his might. David was wearing a linen ephod. David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of a trumpet.” You know that David was king, but not that day, not with that discovery. He took off his royal robe, he took off his crown, he got off the throne, and he put on a priest’s garment, and he said, “I’m glad I’m not king.” He was right in front of that ark, that throne, and he said, “I’m glad God is King,” and he danced and he jumped because he had entered rest. He learned that the Christian life is not a tight wire act, that you’ve got to keep your balance. It’s not tiptoeing and walking on eggs all the time, like God is going to come down and crush you. The Christian life is not tiptoeing past the oven so the cake doesn’t fall. The Christian life is liberty and victory and joy unspeakable. The love of the Lord casts out fear. There’s no fear in David. He can sing and dance because the ark brought Him to rest.
But the ark had a second destination. It’s illustrated in Psalm 132:8, “Arise, oh Lord, to Your resting place, you and the ark of Your strength.” Psalm 132:13&14, “The Lord has chosen Zion. He has desired it for His habitation. ‘This is My resting place forever. Here I will dwell. I’ve desired it.’” The ark came to rest in Solomon’s temple in the Holy of Holies. The goal of the ark; “I will bring My people into rest.” The goal of the ark; “I myself will rest in My people.” It’s one thing to rest in the Lord; it’s another thing to have the Lord rest in you. May God take us on this journey. He’s very patient, and I know in my life He’s been so patient. I hope that sheds light on why the Holy Spirit begins with the Ark and then builds His house around it; because He wants to bring you to rest, He wants to rest in you, and He’s building, building, building, then He can manifest Himself through you. He chooses to live, to dwell, to abide in a house made out of skin, to fill that skin with His glory, to establish His throne in that house of skin, to find a resting place there, and from that resting place to manifest His glory. When the glory came in, the priests went out. God in, man out; that’s when God rests, when He has full reign in my heart and in your heart. So is the picture, so is the reality.
You know this, but let’s hear it from God’s inspired Word, 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God. You are not your own. You’ve been bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” As I said, sometimes it takes a long time for a Christian to get off the throne of his own self-life and allow Christ to become King and live and reign in Him. When that takes place, nothing remains but His will, illustrated by the throne, and His presence, illustrated by the glory. May God bring us there!
Let me review where we left off last time. I told you that we’re going to do a fly-over the tabernacle before we do a walk through. We’re going to do both, God assisting us. In the flyover I wanted you to see the two characteristics of the Lord Jesus. Every detail in the tabernacle history tells us about redemption. The reason I wanted to do the flyover, though we’re going to have many truths of redemption, we don’t begin with truths of redemption. We begin with a revelation of the One who redeems. That’s what I wanted you to see in the flyover. Redemption is a Person. Redemption has a name, and His name is Jesus. I don’t think I put this verse on your sheet, 1 Corinthians 1:30, “By His doing you are in Christ Jesus who became unto us Wisdom and Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption. Jesus became to us redemption. When we study redemption, we’re not studying doctrine. We’ll see a bunch of truths, and praise God for every truth, but let’s begin the right way by seeing the Redeemer, the Lord Himself. Everything that pictures redemption pictures Jesus because He is Redemption.
In that flyover I wanted you to see His character and we’re just sort of flying over the whole thing, and I wanted you to see these two truths about God. Number one, God is holy. That’s who He is. That’s His character. Number two, God is love. And only infinite wisdom could bring those two things together, His holiness and His love, so that Romans 3:26 would be true, “He’s just and justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Last time to illustrate first His holiness, we looked at that linen fence that was all around the outer court. It was at least 7 ½ feet high depending upon what cubit you use, and could have been up to 9 feet high, all around the court. That fence had one message, “Stay out! God is holy!” I don’t think anyone was tall enough from the outside to look in, and I don’t think anyone was tall enough from the inside to look out. It’s at least 7 ½ feet high, unless they play basketball or something like that.
To illustrate the love of the Lord, to illustrate His holiness we looked at the fence, stay out. To illustrate the love, we looked at the gate. The gate was wide. It took almost the entire east side of the tabernacle, a wide and beautiful gate. The wall said, “Stay out.” The gate said, “Please come in.” You can see both.
This morning I want to continue that flyover. Lord willing, next week we’ll land the plane, and begin our walk through. Before we land the plane and look at the details of the furniture and so on, we want fly over and we’re going to see some of the furniture, but only in a cursory way, because we’re going to come back and give it in a lot more detail. Let’s fly over and I’ll show you again first His holiness and then His love.
The first thing we see as we’re flying over after we saw the fence and the gate, our eyes fall on the altar, the brazen altar of sacrifice. Even in our walk through this is the largest piece of furniture by far that we’re going to see in the entire thing. In fact, every other piece of furniture could fit inside of this. That’s how large this was. We’re going to look closer at the altar, a lot closer when we land the plane beginning next week, but for now notice this, that as you fly over, you’re heading toward the Holy of Holies. That’s where you’re flying, from the gate into the presence of the Lord. In order to get to the presence of the Lord you have to go through the altar. God is holy.
This wasn’t a golden altar. In the outer court things are made of brass. This is not the golden altar. Brass is connected with fire and with judgment, and it’s judgment against sin. We read in Hebrews 9:22, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” None. So, you’re going to see on this altar a lot of blood. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” We’ll see how important that is in our walk through, but I want you to see this, there is no path to the presence of the Lord without going through the blood, without going past the altar. Oceans of animal blood were going to be spilled and poured out on this altar; twice a day at least for fifteen hundred years the blood of animal victims was spilled out on this altar. Much more blood than that on special days, and special festivals and special occasions. The blood was sprinkled everywhere. When you go through that tabernacle, even on holy things. The people were sprinkled, the priests were sprinkled, the ark was sprinkled, the mercy seat was sprinkled, even the veil was sprinkled with blood.
Why so much blood? The answer is because sin deserves punishment and God is holy. The millions of animal victims looked forward to that wonderful day when everything would be fulfilled. John the Baptizer in his wonderful statement, John 1:29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’” All of those animal sacrifices, oceans of blood, all to picture the ocean fullness of the blood of our Lord Jesus.
Some teach that the Old Testament saints looked forward to the cross and we look backward to the cross. I understand where they are getting that, but that’s not 100% accurate. Just think about Peter. Do you think he was looking forward to the cross in Matthew 16, listen to these verses, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day, and Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord. This shall never happen to You.’” You say that he’s looking forward to the cross. He is not; he’s trying to prevent it. He said that this will never happen to You. The Old Testament sinner did not look forward to the death of Jesus, but the altar did. The Old Testament sinner didn’t look forward, but the animal sacrifices did. The worshipper got saved the same way you got saved and the same way I got saved. They didn’t look forward and we don’t look backward. They looked up and we look up, and we hear God say, “Without the shedding of blood there’s no forgiveness,” and we hear God invite us to come and receive Christ as our sacrifice. They looked up, believed God and offered the picture. We look up, believe God, and offer the reality. It’s the same thing. Actually, you could say that they looked back because He was crucified before the foundation of the earth. So, we all look back. The blood of the animal sacrifices on the brazen altar said, “God is holy; sin deserves death.”
Why do people reject the Lord Jesus today? I’ll give you the answer from Exodus. It’s because they don’t believe God is holy and sin is death deserving. That’s why they reject Jesus. It’s interesting that between God’s command to build the altar and the actual building of it, something takes place, and that something is the sin, the Golden calf. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit put it right in the middle; build an altar, and then the golden calf, and then the altar was built, because it showed them how needy they were for the blood of Jesus. That calf, that rebellion, Moses just came down with the commandments in his hands and they had already broken the first. He smashes it; you break one, you break them all. He just illustrated that.
Let me give you another truth in connection with the altar that God is holy. Leviticus 6:13, “Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar. It is not to go out.” It’s interesting. I love first mention things, and the first time that altar was set ablaze is Leviticus 9:24, “Fire came out from before the Lord, and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it they shouted and fell on their faces.” The fire on the altar was a heavenly fire. Symbolically it was never to go out. It was never to be extinguished. God lit that fire. The holiness of God is illustrated in the very next verse in Leviticus 10:1&2, “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective fire pans and after putting fire in them, replaced incense on them, and offered strange fire before the Lord which He had not commanded, and fire came out of the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” These are the sons of the high priests. This is Nadab and Abihu. What is strange fire? It’s fire that you ignite. It’s fire that I ignite. It’s not fire that God ignites. The altar said, “God is holy. Sin deserves death.” The altar said, “God is holy. Nothing that man does can be added to that sacrifice and nothing can be taken away from it.”
Am I saying that every time they put an animal on the altar that fire from God came down and consumed it? I’m not saying that at all. He did it once at the beginning to teach the principle. It’s sort of the same thing He did in the conquest of Canaan with the victory. He said in that first battle of Jericho, “All the spoils are mine. You don’t touch anything,” because the principle that the spoil goes to the Victor. Who is the Victor? It’s the Lord Himself. Then later He shared that spoil with them, and they were able to take the spoil. So, He gives the principle that it’s got to be from God, and it can’t be strange fire; don’t add to it and don’t it yourself. But then later the priests set fire, and so on.
The same altar that spoke so clearly about God’s holiness also speaks about His love. Of course, the first way is that God would have in His heart to accept a substitute. My goodness, that’s love! That’s mercy and grace. We see this in the flyover, Exodus 27:2, “You shall make its horns on the four corners. Its horns shall be one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze.” We see in the Bible three different uses for those horns. I’m going to mention the first two, but you’re not going to see that in the flyover, then I’m going to focus on the one that I believe is the purpose, the central issue.
Psalm 118:27, “Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” One purpose of the horns, sometimes the animal that was going to be sacrificed, the goat or the bull or whatever the animal was, would struggle, so they would tie it to the horns of the altar so that it could be slain. That was one purpose. The second purpose was man’s idea, and this was never God’s idea. That is that the horns of the altar can be a city of sanctuary for me. This is illustrated in 1 Kings 1:50, “It was told Solomon, saying, ‘Behold Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon, for behold, he has taken hold of the horns of the altar, saying, “Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.”” His idea was, “I’m going to run to the altar, and I’ll hang onto the horns, and certainly that’s going to be my safety. I’ll be free and he won’t hurt me if I’m clinging to the horns of the altar.” For a while that worked for Adonijah. 1 King 1:53, “King Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and prostrated himself before King Solomon, and Solomon said to him, ‘Go to your house.’” It looked like it worked, unless you read the rest of the story. He got killed by Solomon.
The next chapter we have the same kind of thing with Joab. 1 Kings 2:28, “Joab fled to the tent of the Lord and took hold of the horns of the altar.” 1 Kings 2:34, “Then Benaiah the son of Jehoida went up and fell upon him and put him to death.” He got killed while clinging to the horns of the altar. This idea that man said, “As long as I hold to the picture I’m safe.” There’s no safety there. Anyway, that was man’s idea.
The main purpose of the horns, I believe, really illustrate the love of the Lord. This we see in the flyover. The altar said, “God is holy, and sin deserves punishment.” The horns had a different message. I want you to have in your mind’s eye a picture of these four horns, one on each corner of this square altar. Picture in your mind, like a ram’s horn pointing upward. That’s what the horns did. On each one they just pointed upward from the altar. Leviticus 4:7, “The priests shall put some of the blood on the horns on the altar of fragrant incense which is before the Lord in the tent of meeting, and all the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering which is at the doorway of the tent of meeting.”
The blood and incense had to be smeared on each of the four horns. I like to think of it this way; what was the purpose of the horns? That is, to hold up the blood of the victim before the gaze of a holy God. That was the purpose of the horns, just to hold the blood and the sweet-smelling incense up to the Lord. Friends in Christ, this is a wonderful thing to realize, and only God can teach us, listen carefully with your heart, God never takes His eyes off the blood of Jesus. He never does. In all His dealing with you and all His dealing with me He is focused on the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s all important that I as a Christian keep my eyes on the blood of Christ, but I fail. I don’t always think about the Lord, though He thinks about me all the time. And I don’t always keep my eyes on the blood of Christ. But there’s something much more wonderful about me keeping my eyes on His blood, and that is that God continually keeps His eyes on the blood of the Lord Jesus. Our entire Christian life is regulated by the fact that God never takes His eyes off the blood of Christ. That’s the ministry of the horns of the altar, just to hold before the gaze of thrice holy God the blood of the sacrifice. He’s more pleased with Jesus than He is angry with you, more pleased with Jesus than angry with me. The whole point of the altar is this, there’s no path to the presence of a holy God except through the altar. John 14:6, “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.”
It’s been observed by many commentators that the furniture in the tabernacle was actually laid out in the form of a cross. If you think of the vertical line, you have the altar, and then the laver, and then the golden altar of incense, and then the ark. If you think of the horizontal piece, you’ve got the light on the left and the table on the right. I’m not suggesting that the Holy Spirit intended that. In fact, I would hold that in suspicion. I don’t think that at this time the Jews knew anything about a cross shaped like that. That was a later revelation when Jesus died for our sins on a Roman cross, but it’s a good illustration of our need to see the cross in all of the tabernacle, and it’s also a memory aid to help us see where the furniture is.
Let me give two more illustrations of His purity and then His love illustrated by the same thing. I want to illustrate His holiness by the priests in connection with the laver. As we fly over the outer court we fly over the altar and the next piece of furniture is the brazen laver. It’s a brass laver; it’s a fountain filled with water. Right before the veil into the holy place, again we’re going to walk through and spend considerable more detail on the laver, but after the priests offered the sacrifice for themselves and for the people, they were required to go to the laver and wash. They had to do that. Try to imagine, as the priest was doing his ministry, offering an animal sacrifice, let’s just say that one of the struggling animals kicked a speck of dirt and it landed on the forehead of a priest, one speck of dirt. With all that blood that was shed, let’s say they got some on their hands or something like that. If the priest tried to enter into the holy place with a speck of dirt on his head, what would happen? Exodus 30:20, “When they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, so that they will not die.” Isn’t this an amazing thing! If one speck of dirt was on the forehead of a priest or some other place on his body, if he failed to wash in the laver, God will kill him on the spot. He would die. He put up a wall saying, “Stay out, I’m holy.” He set up an altar saying, “Blood must be spilled; I’m holy.” And then He warned His priests, “I love you, and I’m going to give you a lot of privileges, but you’ve got to come in the God-appointed way. If you don’t come in the God-appointed way, you’re dead.”
The other side is that He said, “I love you; enter by the wide and beautiful gate. I love you. My eyes are continually on the blood displayed on the horns of the altar. I love you.” And He’s so holy that not a single priest could survive unless he was clean, but He also loved the priests. I’ll develop this later, but they were given great privileges. 1 Chronicles 15:2, “No one is to carry the ark of God but the Levites. The Lord chose them to carry the ark of God to minister to Him forever.” He said, “I’ll kill you if there’s a speck of dirt on you, but I choose you to carry My kingdom forward. I choose you. You have this great privilege.” In fact, when they go into the Holy Place, we’ll look at it in another connection, but that was only for them. Nobody else could go into the Holy Place, only the priests. God said, “I love you.” Only the priests could enter into the Holy Place. Hebrews 9:6, “When these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing divine worship.” Not only that, He says, “You priests are so special, I want you to represent all my priests,” and that means us. They alone were representative. 1 Peter 2:9, “You’re a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God loved and honored the priests, but if they weren’t clean, He had to kill them. God is holy, God is love.
I want to read this passage from Malachi 2:4-7 to show the relationship between the priests and the Lord, “’You’ll know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.’” Isn’t that a wonderful description of the Lord’s union with the priests!
I’m going to leave it there for now with the priests. There’s more about them, and their garments and their food and their ministry, and we’ll pick some of that up in the walk-through. Just for now I want you to see the tabernacle in the flyover. It shows the Redeemer; it shows the character of God. He is holy and He is love. The forbidding fence said, “Stay out,” and the gate said, “Come in.” The altar said, “You can’t go beyond this without the shedding of blood.” The altar said, “God will never take His eyes off the blood.” The laver said, “I’ll kill you if there is a spot of dirt on you.” The laver is also going to show about cleansing, and the privilege of the priests.
We come to the close, and I want to give one more illustration of His holiness and His love. I began the flyover by observing the high linen wall around the outer court. I want to continue with this wall, the veil, but I want to say a few words about the famous veil, the great veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. We’re going to look in a lot more detail when we get there in our walk-through, but what I want you to see now is the chief purpose of that veil. The beautiful veil was a barrier, a forbidding wall. It was beautiful, indeed, but the message was like the message of the fence, “Stay out. Do not come in.”
There are many curtains as you go through this, and many veils. In fact, as you go through the tabernacle, if you went into great detail, you would have to study twenty-one different veils. That’s how many veils there were. In addition to that, there were coverings, fine twisted linen curtains and eleven goat hair coverings, and there were ram skins dyed red covering, and badger skin and some say porpoise. I just want to focus, as we wrap this up, on the one veil.
Exodus 26:33, “You shall hang a veil under the clasps. You shall bring in the ark of the testimony there within the veil, and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies,” a great divide. I think you are familiar with the fact that once a year, and once a year only, could a human being walk beyond that veil and into the presence of the Lord. Nobody could go beyond that curtain except the high priest. Hebrews 9:7, “Into the second only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people.” Once a year on the day which is called The Day of Atonement, this was a sample of God’s holiness and love blended together. The hanging veil said, “Stay out.” But once a year God said, “You may come in,” this is a foretaste, “if you come through a representative, if you come in through a high priest,” but symbolically he must be perfect, not any old representative (strange God would use Aaron to picture this, if you know anything about Aaron), but the point is that symbolically he had to be perfect.
You can trust me on these facts and then read Leviticus 16 to prove it, the high priest had to wear on that day a special garment called a garment of beauty. We’ll look at that in more detail. On that one day of atonement, he had to take five complete baths and wash his hands and feet ten different times. God is holy. If he violated any of the requirements connected with the day of atonement he would be killed. Some have suggested that’s why he had bells on the bottom of his garment, so you could hear when he walked, and some have suggested, though this is not in the Bible, that there was a rope around his leg, and if they didn’t hear the bells, they could drag him under the curtain. The high priest alone was allowed to enter, but under tremendous conditions because he’s going to illustrate… See, this is a foretaste of what was to come.
In this connection listen to Hebrews 9:8, “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing.” In other words, in Exodus we see the veil, but it’s meaning is not yet been disclosed. We know it says, “Stay out.” We know that there is a hint that you can come in if you come through a representative. We had that little hint. It was a foretaste. This Day of Atonement was different than all the days of the year. It was national forgiveness. It was group forgiveness, and not just everybody, but every sin. Usually when we confess sin or think about forgiveness we think about individual sins, “I lied, I was proud, I was stubborn, I swore, I was mean to my life partner,” something like that. I like to call that microscopic forgiveness, when you take a microscope, the individual sins, “I did this and I did that.” But on the Day of Atonement when the high priest as our representative was allowed to go into the presence of God, he pictured telescopic forgiveness, not microscopic. What a glorious truth is pictured here. It’s in the shadow and it’s still a foretaste and it’s seed form, and it can be abused, and it is abused, but that doesn’t take away from the reality, not only forgiveness for each day and each sin moment by moment, but God has made perfect provision through the veil for telescopic forgiveness.
What do I mean by that? I mean the sinner is allowed to confess a season of sin, as well as an individual sin. You say, “Lord, forgive me for pride. Lord, forgive me for lying.” No, no, this is more like, “Lord, I’ve messed up for the last ten years. Can you forgive me for the whole ten years?” That’s the point of the Day of Atonement. It’s telescopic, not only microscopic, forgiveness is in Christ, but telescopic is also, “Forgive me for last week, forgive me for last month, forgive me for the last five years.” Sometimes a doctor will try to do surgery on some cancerous tumor or something like that, and the report comes back, and the doctor says, “I tried my best but I couldn’t get it all.” You’ve heard many stories. Never shall the child of God say about forgiveness, “He didn’t get it all.” Never; He gets it all. He not only washes. We say, “He washed my sins away.” When you take a washing, you think about a surface cleaning. The word that is used in Revelation 1 is surgery; He has purged us from our sin. He went down deep and He pulls it out by the roots.
Let me quote Hebrew 9:8 again, “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is till standing.” But the outer tabernacle is now down, and it has been disclosed. The veil that hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies symbolically in the Old Testament said, “Stay out; God is holy. I’ll give you a hint. There’s a way in through a representative, but he’s got to be perfect.” But now the way has been disclosed. He’s not left in secret what was pictured by the veil.
Let me give this statement and then the illustration. The statement is Hebrews 10:20, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is His flesh.” Who can forget what happened at 3 o’clock Good Friday when our Lord Jesus died? Matthew 27:50, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.” When our Lord Jesus died, in that moment, the very moment He died, that veil in Jerusalem from the top to the bottom was split in two. Don’t forget what they were doing at three o’clock in the afternoon. They were in the temple offering sacrifices, offering a lamb, and can you imagine what went through the mind of the priest when that veil rent from the top to the bottom?
If the un-rent veil said, “Stay out,” what did the rent veil say, “Come in.” Jesus has opened the way into the presence of God, and when the veil was opened it wasn’t only the veil. Matthew 27:50-53, “The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, the rocks were split, and the tombs were opened. Not only was the veil opened, but the tombs were also opened. That rent veil not only pictured His death, it pictured His death and resurrection. It pictured both. When the veil was rent Jesus died and the graves were opened. I not only died with Him, I rose with Him. You not only died with Him, you rose with Him. I just say that in that veil, behold the holiness of God, stay out. But look here, behold the grace of God, come in, come in. The same passage that rent the veil and said, “Come in,” opened the graves. His resurrection was the first fruits, and yours is going to follow and mine is going to follow. We have it now by faith. We have it now in foretaste. We have it now in prospect. We have it now in expectation, but one day it will be actual and literal and we will also come out of the graves.
John 5:28, Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth.” When a Christian dies it’s only the body that drops. The spirit goes immediately into the presence of the Lord. We know that from many scriptures. But their body is still behind the veil, sort of. It’s still in the grave, and that rent veil guarantees that one day that body is going to come up out of that grave and be reunited to that spirit.
Well, that gives you a bird’s eye; the fence says, “Stay out, “and the gate says, “Come in.” The altar says, “Blood must be spilled,” the horn said, “God is continually looking at that blood.” The laver says, “Don’t be dirty or you’ll die.” The laver also says, “I have great privileges for the priests.” And finally the veil said, “God is holy; stay out.” The rent veil says, “Come on into the presence of God.”
I’m not going to place a lot of weight on this, but Exodus 26:32 says, “The veil was held in place by silver sockets.” Some people make a lot out of those details. The only reason I was attracted to the veil, the graves opening, silver sockets, is that Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 describes death this way, “Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”
Fanny Crosby wrote, among her many hymns, “Some day the silver cord will break. I don’t know if that veil hanging on silver and the silver cord, but I’ll tell you one day the silver cord will break and I know more than now shall sing, but oh the joy when I awake within the palace of the King.”
Heavenly Father, thank You so much for who You are. You are so holy, and You’re so loving, and You’ve made a way without violating Your holiness, and without lifting us beyond our corruption, that You could bring together sinful man and a holy God. Oh Lord, we praise You for that, and we pray especially that You’d guide us as we prepare our hearts to walk through and to look and to observe and to digest. Please prepare us. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.