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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Exodus 26

 

 

Verses 1-15

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Exo . Of cunning work] = Mââsey CHOSHEB represents workmanship of a more skilful and costly kind, such as was used in the in working of the figures of the cherubim upon the inner covering of the roof of the tabernacle, the vail before the Holy of Holies, and upon toe ephod and the breast-plate of the High priest. Another peculiarity of this covering of this cunning work was, that its texture exhibited figures on both sides, while the needle-work= mââsey rokem—was without figures of the cherubim, and exhibited the pattern only on one side. The workmanship of the former, maasey chosheb = cunning work, being employed for decoractions of the interior of the tabernacle only, may be taken as symbolising the presence of God in the tabernacle.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

THE CURTAINS OF THE TABERNACLE

In its highest meaning the Tabernacle is the symbol of Christ, in whom God is revealed to His people. What practical truths, then, do these curtains suggest?

I. That the glory of God is hidden to all who stand outside Jesus Christ. These elaborate curtains were to veil the sacred furniture and services of the sanctuary from the vulgar or profane eye. Only such as entered the Tabernacle saw the glory; those who remained outside knew it not. God is only known in Christ. The people of Israel were face to face with nature; as they gazed on the pillar of fire and cloud, they were face to face with Providence; but it was only as they penetrated the Tabernacle that they felt themselves in the peculiar presence of God. The lights of the candlestick, the table of shewbread, the ark speaking of reconciling truth, the mercy-seat and the glory which lighted it, declaring the love and friendship of God,—all these were hidden from the careless and unbelieving outside the Tabernacle. The truth for us is, that the knowledge of God, the righteousness of God, the love of God, the beauty of God, are hidden from all who stand outside Christ. The bright stars are clouds which God has spread on His throne; the heavens He has spread out as a curtain; the course of history is full of mysteries, that is to say, God hides Himself in darkness; the nature of man is a darkened glass, through which filter perplexing gleams of the great Creator. "The world by wisdom knew not God." In the ancient world man felt that God had hidden Himself in nature and the world's government, and in the modern world all who reject Christ find the curtains between man and God, heaven and earth, denser than the ancients found them to be. There were many curtains; the curtains were closely linked to each other; they were fastened to the pillars by nails; there was curtain behind curtain. There was no possibility of any of the interior glories being witnessed by any outside the tent. Man cannot surprise God and penetrate His secrets.

II. That in Christ the glory of God is most brightly revealed. The innermost curtains were very beautiful. "Of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet," and the cherubim worked in with golden thread. These curtains were hooked with golden hooks. Then came the second curtains, of goats' hair, hooked with brass. Then the outermost curtains, of rams' skins and badgers' skins.

1. There is such a thing as regarding Christ from the outside; and then, as the Jews, we see no beauty in Him.

2. There is such a thing as knowing Christ as a great Teacher, a great Example; "the goats' hair curtains hooked with brass."

3. But it is only when we believe in Christ as the Son of God, and rest in Him as such, that we behold the fulness of His glory. "The colours are the symbols of the different names of God; blue signifies the special revelation of God, being the colour of heaven and ether; red denotes the highest dignity, majesty, and royal power; crimson is that which fire and blood have in common, and symbolises, therefore, life in its full extent."—Kalisch. In Christ, the love, the life, the beauty, the majesty of God are most brightly expressed. The Tabernacle was a very different place seen from the outside, with its badgers' skins, and seen within, where the richly-coloured curtains shone with their golden broideries; and it is only when we are "in" Christ that we behold the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Let us penetrate to the heart of the Gospel; let us go beyond the curtains of goats' hair, and of rams' skins, and badgers' skins—the letter and circumstance of Christianity—to gaze with open face on the glory of the spiritual and redeeming Jesus.

III. That in Christ is everlasting security and blessedness. These are sheltering curtains—safety within the tent of the King. "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His Tabernacle shall He hide me." And everlasting blessedness: "And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying," &c. (Rev ). Here we are secure beyond all the tempests of life or death.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES

The curtains on which we have been dwelling were covered with other "curtains of goats' hair," Exo . Their beauty was hidden from those without by that which bespoke roughness and severity. This latter did not meet the view of those within. To all who were privileged to enter the hallowed enclosure nothing was visible save "the blue, the purple, the scarlet, and fine twined linen," the varied yet combined exhibition of the virtues and excellencies of that divine Tabernacle in which God dwelt within the vail—that is, of Christ, through whose flesh, the antitype of all these, the beams of the divine nature shone so delicately, that the sinner could behold without being overwhelmed by their dazzling brightness.

As the Lord Jesus passed along this earth, how few really knew Him! How few had eyes anointed with heavenly eye-salve to penetrate and appreciate the deep mystery of His character! How few saw "the blue, the purple, the scarlet, and fine twined linen!" It was only when faith brought man into His presence that He ever allowed the brightness of what He was to shine forth—ever allowed the glory to break through the cloud. To nature's eye there would seem to have been a reserve and a severity about Him which were aptly prefigured by the "covering of goats' hair." All this was the result of His profound separation and estrangement, not from sinners personally, but from the thoughts and maxims of men.

C. H. M.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Tabernacle-Thoughts! Exo .

1. Rosenmuller says that the portable temple of the Israelites had in its whole arrangement a resemblance with the temples of antiquity. Lachemacher states that in many of the Grecian temples the back part was not to be entered by anybody; and here the statue of the deity was placed. Spencer shows that in the Egyptian temples the inner or sacred part was shrouded in darkness, and divided from the front or outer portion by a curtain embroidered with gold.

2. Law sees in the Tabernacle a type of Christ—a sketch of that fair frame of Christ, which God the Holy Spirit wrought and planted in this earth. He is the true Tabernacle of Heb , the greater and more perfect Tabernacle of Heb 9:11. It points to a mystic fabric which human hands produce not—which human skill erects not—which human imperfection taints not. Christ is discerned, the end and excellence of the predictive house.

3. Macmillan suggests that it is an emblem of man indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Man's body is a tabernacle sojourning in the wilderness of the world. In his constitution God has wrought out in higher form the great truths which were symbolised in the Jewish tabernacle. But what constituted its glory! The Shekinah—the token and symbol of God's Presence. Without this, its golden furniture and priceless jewels were meaningless, as our world without the shining of the sun. So what constitutes the glory of man is Christ dwelling in the heart.

"As some rare perfume in a vase of clay

Pervades it with a fragrance not its own,

So when Thou dwellest in a mortal soul,

All heaven's own sweetness seems around it thrown."

Divine stheticism! Exo .

(1.) Henry Martyn wrote, "Since I have known God in a saving manner, painting, poetry, and music have had charms unknown to me before. I have received what I suppose is a taste for them; or Religion has refined my mind and made it susceptible of impressions from the sublime and beautiful. Oh, how Religion secures the heightened enjoyment of those pleasures which keep so many from God by their becoming a source of pride!"

(2.) Win-slow says that to the new creature in Christ Jesus even the world of nature seems as a newborn creation, now that he has passed from death unto life. The sun shines brighter—the air breathes softer—the flowers smell sweeter—the landscape is clad with deeper verdure and richer loveliness. In a word, the whole creation appears in newborn beauty and sublimity.

(3) Even so Christ is not seen to be full of loveliness outside. Once in Him, the soul perceives His exquisite beauty; "My Beloved is fair and ruddy, the chiefest amongst ten thousand; yea, He is altogether lovely." Once, he could perceive no beauty in Him that He should desire Him; now he exclaims, "Thou art all my salvation, and all my desire!"

"All over glorious is my Lord,

Must be beloved, and yet ador'd;

His worth if all the nations knew,

Sure the whole earth would love Him too."

Erskine.

Fair Colours! Exo . They shall make the ephod of gold, blue, and purple. "Thou shalt make the breastplate of gold, blue, and purple." Taches of gold were inserted into loops of blue, connecting together the curtains of the tabernacle. Laces of blue, passing through rings of gold. fastened the ephod to the breastplate; and a lace of blue bound the golden plate to the mitre of the high priest. The golden vessels of the sanctuary—with the exception of the ark—were all covered with a cloth of blue. A veil of blue separated the holy place from the Holy of Holies. Every Israelite wore a fringe of blue ribbon to his garments to remind him of the commandments of the Lord. These the Pharisees afterwards enlarged in order that men might praise their scrupulous adherence to the letter of the law. Jesus Himself carried this blue hem to His raiment; and from it, on one memorable occasion, the touch of faith drew out healing virtue.

"There's nothing blue, above, below,

From flowers that bloom to stars that glow,

But in its hue my faith can see

Some feature of Thy SYMPATHY,"—Moore.

Tabernacle-Unity! Exo .

1. It was necessary that the tabernacle should consist of many parts, on account of its

(1) Movable and

(2) Mystical character. Yet though of many parts, particular emphasis is laid on its essential unity: "It shall be one tabernacle." It does not mean that only one tabernacle was to be erected to His name. The oneness spoken of here is not singleness—not uniqueness—but UNITY.

2. If, as some say, the tabernacle is a type of the Church of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, we see the importance of this typical unity. Jews and Gentiles—Barbarians and Scythians—Britons and Red Indians—Germans and Japanese, are all different nationalities, and the Christian converts form themselves into different churches; but all are parts of one whole, and are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph ).

"Like a double cherry, seeming parted,

But yet a union in partition,

Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;

So, with two seeing bodies, but ONE HEART."

Shakespeare.

Curtain-Weaving! Exo . According to the Greek idea, the ancient art of weaving curtains was gathered from the web of the spider. The mythologies of the ancients relate how the goddess Minerva changed Arachne into a spider, because she surpassed the goddess in weaving; and hence we have a spider-species called "Arachnida." So far as can be traced, weaving first assumed the form of matting—i.e., simple interlacings of shreds of bark, lacustrine plants, vegetable stalks, &c. By and by, skill employed fibres, such as flax, hemp, and silk. These were in turn supplemented by the introduction of wool and hair, if we credit Homer. These wools were dyed all colours, as here described by Moses. Homer, to whom we have already referred, narrates how Alcandria, the Queen of Egypt, presented Helen, the consort of Menelaus, with such gifts on their return from the siege of Troy:—

"And that rich vase, with living sculpture wrought,

Which, heap'd with wool, the beauteous Phyle brought;

The silken fleece, empurpled for the loom,

Rivall'd the hyacinth in vernal bloom."

—Homer's Odyssey.

Curtain-Coupling! Exo .

(1.) The tabernacle had two divisions, called respectively the holy place and the Holy of Holies, the one being separated from the other by a very thick veil. But the utmost care is taken to couple the curtains and tenons and taches. Under one covering, overshadowed by the same cloud, and filled by the same glory, were these two compartments, until the veil that separated them was rent (Mat ).

(2.) This curtain-coupling signifies the essential oneness of the Hebrew and Christian Churches. The Great High Priest Himself declared that the saints of the Old Testament dispensation desired to penetrate the veil which concealed from them the mysteries within. Yet were they one, coupled together by the mystic bonds of faith and hope and love; and when the veil was rent, the new compartments of Hebrew and Christian became one in Christ Jesus.

(3.) In Hebrews 9 St. Paul says further that the outer room typified not only the Hebrew but the Visible Church, the "world-sanctuary," and that the inner room was a peculiar type of heaven, whither the Forerunner hath for us entered; and if so, the twice-repeated caution to couple the curtains, taches, &c., plainly indicates the essential unity of the Church Militant and Church Triumphant. Over both is the covering of God's omnipresence. Over both is the banner of His love waving. Between them and us hangs the veil, but each Christian has his turn to pass within. And as at His first advent the veil was rent, so in His second advent will the other veil be riven.

"One family, we dwell in Him,

One Church above, beneath,

Though now divided by the stream,

The narrow stream of death."

Wesley.


Verses 15-30

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

THE BOARDS AND BARS OF THE TABERNACLE

Christ is the true Tabernacle, the ground of the world's reconciliation, and refuge, and hope. What living truths are suggested to us by this passage concerning the Saviour and His great salvation?

I. That invincible strength underlies the apparent weakness of the Gospel. When we regard the vails and curtains of the Tabernacle, we might think it a frail structure to be swept away by the winds; but under these draperies are solid boards fixed in solid sockets, and strong bars, giving to the whole frame-work of the building the greatest consistency and compactness. In the days of His flesh how weak Christ appeared, and yet what power dwelt in His word and spirit! "He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God." How contemptible the Gospel in the eyes of worldly wisdom, and yet how powerful and invincible! How feeble the Church of Christ often appears, and yet the mightiest storms of persecution have failed to sweep it away! We learn—

II. That the Gospel, despite all its natural and human aspects, has a Divine character and basis. "The tenons were not fixed directly in the ground;" for the habitation of God should have no connection with earth; but they are fitted into sockets; and these are inserted in the ground, so that one socket always corresponded with one tenon."—Kalisch. Christ is not of the earth: before He ascended into heaven, He first descended. The whole scheme of salvation is a Divine and supernatural work. This Tabernacle "descended out of heaven from God." Our faith rests in the power of God. The sockets of silver supporting the Tabernacle, and disconnecting it from the earth, symbolises the great truth that the Church of Jesus rests, not on human wisdom, or strength, or love, but, whilst it touches earth, it belongs altogether to heaven. The solid silver, and not the shifting sand, reminds us that faith in Christ rests on a Divine and firm foundation, and not on the yielding opinions of men, and the changing fashions of the world.

III. That out of the strength of Christ spring the highest glory and joy. "And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold: and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold," Exo . The salvation of Christ is not a bare salvation, but it brings with it also beauty of character, joy of heart, and a hope full of glory. Let the world know their mistake in attempting to realize beauty and blessedness without the strength of God—the strength of righteousness. It cannot be. Beauty of life and joy of heart can never be real and lasting if not based on the immortal love and strength of God. "Strength and beauty are in the sanctuary." And let the Church seek to realize its full privilege in Christ. In character, we are often satisfied with the bare boards of mere honesty and uprightness; in experience, we are content with the boards and bars, a mere sense of safety: in hope, we rest content with the bare expectation of pulling through in the judgment. The gilded boards of the Tabernacle are eloquent illustrations of the New Testament doctrine, that in Christ we must rise to beauty, to brightness, to bliss.

IV. That Christ is an everlasting dwelling-place to His people. The Tabernacle was built of boards of acacia-wood. The wood of the acacia is so durable, that it is said even not to rot in water. The strength of Christ is everlasting. "We are born not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible; by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever."

Let us hide in Christ, forsaking all refuges of lies.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Tabernacle-Thoughts! Exo .

1. Rosenmuller says that the portable temple of the Israelites had in its whole arrangement a resemblance with the temples of antiquity. Lachemacher states that in many of the Grecian temples the back part was not to be entered by anybody; and here the statue of the deity was placed. Spencer shows that in the Egyptian temples the inner or sacred part was shrouded in darkness, and divided from the front or outer portion by a curtain embroidered with gold.

2. Law sees in the Tabernacle a type of Christ—a sketch of that fair frame of Christ, which God the Holy Spirit wrought and planted in this earth. He is the true Tabernacle of Heb , the greater and more perfect Tabernacle of Heb 9:11. It points to a mystic fabric which human hands produce not—which human skill erects not—which human imperfection taints not. Christ is discerned, the end and excellence of the predictive house.

3. Macmillan suggests that it is an emblem of man indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Man's body is a tabernacle sojourning in the wilderness of the world. In his constitution God has wrought out in higher form the great truths which were symbolised in the Jewish tabernacle. But what constituted its glory! The Shekinah—the token and symbol of God's Presence. Without this, its golden furniture and priceless jewels were meaningless, as our world without the shining of the sun. So what constitutes the glory of man is Christ dwelling in the heart.

"As some rare perfume in a vase of clay

Pervades it with a fragrance not its own,

So when Thou dwellest in a mortal soul,

All heaven's own sweetness seems around it thrown."

Divine stheticism! Exo .

(1.) Henry Martyn wrote, "Since I have known God in a saving manner, painting, poetry, and music have had charms unknown to me before. I have received what I suppose is a taste for them; or Religion has refined my mind and made it susceptible of impressions from the sublime and beautiful. Oh, how Religion secures the heightened enjoyment of those pleasures which keep so many from God by their becoming a source of pride!"

(2.) Win-slow says that to the new creature in Christ Jesus even the world of nature seems as a newborn creation, now that he has passed from death unto life. The sun shines brighter—the air breathes softer—the flowers smell sweeter—the landscape is clad with deeper verdure and richer loveliness. In a word, the whole creation appears in newborn beauty and sublimity.

(3) Even so Christ is not seen to be full of loveliness outside. Once in Him, the soul perceives His exquisite beauty; "My Beloved is fair and ruddy, the chiefest amongst ten thousand; yea, He is altogether lovely." Once, he could perceive no beauty in Him that He should desire Him; now he exclaims, "Thou art all my salvation, and all my desire!"

"All over glorious is my Lord,

Must be beloved, and yet ador'd;

His worth if all the nations knew,

Sure the whole earth would love Him too."

Erskine.

Woods and Forests! Exo .

(1.) Whence did Israel obtain the wood, as trees are now small and scarce! The wilderness was not always without forests. No doubt the sepal, the tree which now sparsely occurs, grew in extensive woods. These were being cut down at the time of the Exodus, in order to serve as fuel in the ancient smelting works, many of which were found by Holland among the Sinaitic mountains. These vast mines could not be worked when the supplies of fuel in the shape of the acacia forests ceased; but recently Captain Burton has resumed their workings, by way of experiment, in behalf of the Khedive of Egypt. He has brought specimens of the metallic ores, as enumerated in this chapter.

(2.) This denudation of the Arabian Peninsula would seriously alter the state of the country, as all who know the service of trees in the economy of nature can realise. Greece and Italy have changed for the worse since their forests were cut down, and no doubt at the time of the Exodus, when timber covered the sides of the hills, streams washed the dry ravines, rains attracted by the foliage carpeted the soil, affording no inconsiderable sustenance for cattle.

"There, interspersed in meads and opening glades,

These trees arise and shun each other's shades;

There in full light the verdant plains extend,

And, wrapt in cloud, the granite hills ascend;

E'en the wild heath displays its purple dyes,

And 'midst the desert grassy meads arise."

Pope.

Tabernacle-Base! Exo . The tabernacle in the wilderness had no foundation. It was pitched in the bare and sterile desert. Its floor was the shifting yellow sand. No marble pavement or cedar hoarding separated the golden furniture and the costly curtains from the naked ground. Barefooted priests in splendid vestments paced over the earth in the discharge of their sacred functions. But it is not so with the spiritual temple. There is no combination in it of beauty and barrenness—preciousness and worthlessness—imperishableness and changeableness—glory and vanity. It is all fair, all glorious. It is built upon solid and enduring bases—the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone.

"Ah! why on sands like these thy temple rear!

How shall its base the storms and billows shun!

Build on the Eternal Rock of sapphire clear.

Art-Studies! Exo . Lytton says that art is the effort of man to express the ideas which nature suggests to him of a power above nature. Hillard says that many persons feel art, some understand it, but few both feel and understand it. Emerson says that the study of art is of high value to the growth of the intellect; in other words, that the refining influence is the study of art. Cousin says that art neither belongs to religion nor ethics; but that, like these, it brings us nearer to the Infinite. Hazlitt says that art must anchor in nature, or it is the sport of every breath of folly. Victor says that the basis of true beauty is moral, which, however, is veiled in nature; and that it is the province of art to bring out this moral beauty, and to give it more transparent forms.

"Happy who walks with Him, whom what he finds

Of flavour, or of scent in fruit or flower,

Or what he views of beautiful and grand

In nature, from the broad majestic oak

To the green blade that twinkles in the sun,

Prompts with remembrance of a PRESENT GOD."

Cowper.

Tabernacle-Materials! Exo .

(1.) Some suggest that the golden ornaments and vessels, the silver sockets and brazen utensils, and the jewels on the high priest's breastplate, represented the mineral kingdom. Law remarks that the gold typifies the transcendent blaze of Deity in Christ, the silver the ran-some-price paid for the redemption of souls, and the brass the enduring strength of the God-man.

(2.) It, is further noticed that the boards of shittim wood or acacia, the table of shewbread, the linen wrappings, and the ornamentation of the furniture, represent the vegetable kingdom. Law says that the wood symbolised the spotless purity of Christ's manhood, the white linen the holy life, and the furniture the various adornments of redemption's scheme.

(3.) The coverings of badgers' and goats' skins, and the crimson colours of its curtains, procured from the juice of a shellfish or an insect, thus represent the animal kingdom. Law suggests that the coverings indicate the meek and lowly guise in which Christ lived on earth; and the crimson colours the stream of precious blood that flowed when the sword of divine justice pierced the side of Christ.

"Thou usest all Thy works,

The meanest things that be;

Each has a service of its own,

For all things wait on Thee."

Bonar.

Beauty's Ministry! Exo .

(1.) Mrs. Stowe says that the human heart yearns for the beautiful. The beautiful things which God makes are free to all ranks in life. A love of the beautiful is implanted in every one; but it rusts out and dies, either because they are too hard pressed with the cares of life, or because they are too much engrossed with the pleasures of sin, to cultivate it. He who implanted the yearning has given ample opportunity for its lawful gratification.

(2.) The old parchments, with their beautiful thoughts, were marred by minds of a subsequent generation covering them over with puerile representations; but science has enabled man to destroy or erase this obliteration, and so to restore the original writings. The cares of life and the pleasures of sin obscure the taste for the Beautiful; but Divine Grace removes this defect, and disposes the renewed mind to appreciate the Ministry of Beauty.

(3.) A gifted writer says that Beauty was the angel of deliverance that led him out of darkness into light. "My nature was a seething caldron of ungoverned passions; but I loved nature. The beauty of twilight—the sweet influence of a summer night—the purity and freshness of early morning—would soften my most wayward mood." Alas! all this "light" was not the light of life. Beauty cannot lead the soul into that light. As the priest within the holy place could not tee its Ministry of Beauty without the aid of the oil, type of the Holy Spirit, and as the high priest could not when within the Holiest perceive its glories without the Shekinah—light; so the soul cannot enjoy the beauties of religion without the spirit and presence of Christ. Spirit of Beauty,

"What is thy worship but a vain pretence,

If they who tend thine altars, gathering thence

No strength, no purity, may still remain

Selfish and dark, and from life's sordid storm

Find in their ministrations no defence?"—Trench.


Verses 31-37

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

THE TABERNACLE VAILS

What does this vail between the Tabernacle and the court, and this vail which divides the Holy Place from the Holiest Place, signify? and what relation have they to Christianity?

I. They signify that the highest vision and fellowship of God are as yet denied to man. Whilst the Tabernacle was standing, these vails signified the distance of God from man,—His inaccessibility. God withdrew Himself behind impenetrable vails. This is the teaching of the Apostle: "Into the second Tabernacle 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 not standing: which was a figure for the time then present" (Heb ). God's presence is fenced about from sinful man. Because of our sin Paradise is closed to us: because of our sin God has hid His face from us. There are two vails, and Jewish authorities say that the vail between the Holy and the Holy of Holies was four fingers thick, to prevent any person penetrating with his eyes into the Holiest. Does not this powerfully remind us how the holy God has hidden Himself from unholy man?

II. Whilst these vails remove God from the approach of man, they give the promise of a fuiler revelation. Look at the hanging for the door of the tent: "Blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework," Exo . Here, at the threshold of the TaLernacle, the bright colours of the vail are full of promise. The God of mercy, and love, and life shines through the obscuration. The cloud that God has spread on His throne has a rainbow in it: the curtains by which God hides Himself from man are burnished with coloure of hope. And then, as you draw near to the Holiest, the vail is still more glorious. In addition to the rich colours of tlie vail of the door, the vail of the Holy of Holies has cherubim made upon it, and other associations of brightnessand beauty. The vail that God has drawri about Himself is not of forbidding, hopeless blackness; but it promises whilst it prevents, it allures whilst it forbids. Is there not something of this in nature? Whilst the creation is a dense curtain to hide God, does not the beauty of the curtain declare the grace of Him who is behind it, and give us the promise of some day knowing Him better? The Jewish dispensation is full of the same idea—the golden thread, the rainbow colours, give the promise of a fuller vision, a richer fellowship when the fulness of time shall come.

III. That these vails are taken away in Christ. "And the vail of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom" (Mar ). The rent was complete. See Heb 9:11-12. In Christ we stand "within the vail." In Him we realize the presence and joy of God. In Him we realize highest fellowship with God. "There I will meet with thee, and commune with thee." In Him we realize the everlasting vision and felicity of God. Sin wove the vail between us and the heaven above us, but in Christ's atonement and priesthood that vail is taken away. If there are any vails now, they are upon our heart.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES

Blue.—If the gold was a type of the glory, majesty, and eternity of the Son of God, blue will fitly represent the grace and love He manifested as declaring the character of God. "God is love." So inseparably and exclusively is this blessed attribute descriptive of Him, that He affirms it to be His very nature. It is not of earth. As the blue vault of heaven, with its vast dimensions, defies our puny measurements, so the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ passeth knowledge. The thunders of God's wrath and holy indignation against sin may for a time seem to obscure His love. But "His anger endureth but a moment." Judgment is "His strange work," for "He delighteth in mercy."—H. S. Soltaw.

The Scarlet.—As blue is peculiarly the colour of the heavens, so scarlet is the gorgeous colour belonging to earth. The flowers, the produce of the soil, display its brilliant tints. We do not look above to find it: but it meets our eye when we contemplate the flowers of the field. The Word of God also employs this colour as an emblem of royalty. The beast, and the woman in the Revelation, are both represented as scarlet. Not that the scarlet of itself denotes evil; but because the kingdoms of the world were held under their regal sway. And, when the Lord Jesus was, in mockery, hailed as king, the soldiers of imperial Rome clothed Him with a scarlet robe. (Mat ).—Ibid.

Purple.—If we were to place the blue and the scarlet side by side, without the intervention of some other colour, the eye would be offended with the violent contrast; for, though each is beautiful in itself, and suitable to its own sphere, yet there is such a distinction—we might almost say opposition—in their hues, as to render them inharmonious if seen in immediate contact. The purple interposed, remedies this unpleasing effect: the eye passes with ease from the blue to the scarlet, and vice versa, by the aid of this blended colour, the purple. The blue gradually shades off into its opposite, the scarlet, and the gorgeousness of the latter is softened by imperceptible degrees into the blue. The purple is a new colour, formed by mingling the two: it owes its peculiar beauty alike to both: and were the due proportion of either absent, its especial character would be lost.

The order of the colours, blue, purple, scarlet, repeated at least twenty-four times in Exodus, is never varied. The scarlet and the blue are never placed in juxta-position throughout the fabrics of the Tabernacle. Does not this intimate a truth of an important character? Would the Spirit of God have so constantly adhered to this arrangement had there not been some significant reason for it? Are we not hereby taught a very precious fact respecting the Lord Jesus? He is God and Man: and we can trace in the Gospels all the fulness of the Godhead, as well as the dignity and sympathy of the perfect Man. But, besides this, in His thoughts, feelings, words, ways, and actions, there is an invariable blending of the two. Many mistakes and errors would have been avoided in the Church of God, if those, who have undertaken to write or speak on this subject, had been subject to the definite words of Scripture, instead of adopting abstract reasonings upon the divinity and humanity of the Son of God. The Christ of God is the object of our faith; not a nature, or natures, but Himself.—Ibid.

The linen composing the mystic vail was required to be fine; pure and faultless as the material could be produced: indicating that although Messiah should be found in fashion as a man, He should be clearly exempt from the merest stain of defilement through contact with humanity. What a dignified and courageous appeal was that of Christ to His enemies and accusers! "Which of you," said He, "convinceth Me of sin?" (Joh ); and how altogether extenuating was the testimony of the Judge at whose bar envy and maliciousness had arraigned the Son of Man as a malefactor and a criminal—"I find in Him," said Pilate, "no fault at all" (Joh 18:38). Even Satan found nothing in Him wherewith to work the commission of the smallest inconsistency in the character of Jesus.—Mudge.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Stowe.

Divine stheticism! Exo .

(1.) Henry Martyn wrote, "Since I have known God in a saving manner, painting, poetry, and music have had charms unknown to me before. I have received what I suppose is a taste for them; or Religion has refined my mind and made it susceptible of impressions from the sublime and beautiful. Oh, how Religion secures the heightened enjoyment of those pleasures which keep so many from God by their becoming a source of pride!"

(2.) Win-slow says that to the new creature in Christ Jesus even the world of nature seems as a newborn creation, now that he has passed from death unto life. The sun shines brighter—the air breathes softer—the flowers smell sweeter—the landscape is clad with deeper verdure and richer loveliness. In a word, the whole creation appears in newborn beauty and sublimity.

(3) Even so Christ is not seen to be full of loveliness outside. Once in Him, the soul perceives His exquisite beauty; "My Beloved is fair and ruddy, the chiefest amongst ten thousand; yea, He is altogether lovely." Once, he could perceive no beauty in Him that He should desire Him; now he exclaims, "Thou art all my salvation, and all my desire!"

"All over glorious is my Lord,

Must be beloved, and yet ador'd;

His worth if all the nations knew,

Sure the whole earth would love Him too."

Erskine.

Vail! Exo . The veil of the holiest was Broidered—Beautified and Borne up.

(1.) Blue! Brown thinks the blue was emblematic of God's mercy, while Tanner regards it as representing heaven, and therefore typically imparting that revelation of heavenly things which Christ alone can give us.

(2.) Purple! Some say that this symbolised the Divine Righteousness of Jehovah Jesus; others suggest it as portraying royalty, i.e., the setting forth of Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords.

(3.) Scarlet! It has been viewed as emblematic of the Justice of God in the precious bloodshedding of His dear Son; while, on the other hand, it is described as typifying life, and the blood which is the life.

(4.) Fine Linen! This some take to symbolise, as in the Apocalypse, the righteousness of the saints, i.e., sanctifying righteousness, or holiness of heart and life; while others consider it as indicative of the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Himself.

(5.) Cherubim Brown thinks that these represent the redeemed themselves, inwrought upon the veil, and as rent along with the veil at the Crucifixion; thus signifying both the dying of the redeemed with Christ in His death, and their union with Him by the Spirit of Faith.

"Where'er we turn, Thy glories shine,

And all things fair and bright are Thine."

Moore.

Cherubic-Symbols! Exo .

(1.) Were the figures of the cherubim above the mercy-seat in the most holy place compound animal forms, symbolic of creation? And were those embroidered in cunning work of various colours on the veil between the holy and most holy designed to indicate that the material creation is the veil between the seen and the unseen; i.e., like shadows on a window blind?

(2.) Macmillan says that just as on the outer side of the separating veil of the tabernacle there were flat cherubic figures woven on another material, answerable to those which stood out in full outline and relief above the mercy-seat; so the common objects and material every-day uses of the natural world around us are the screen on which we may perceive the figures of what is unseen and spiritual,

(3.) As the manna spoke of the True Bread from heaven—as the water gushing from the rock reminded of the Water of Life, even the Holy Spirit of Grace—as the pillar of light testified of Christ, the Light of Life in this dark world-wilderness of sin; so the cherubim were emblems of spiritual intelligences, either of the angels of God around the Throne exploring the mystery of redemption, or of the redeemed themselves fathoming the deep things of God,—

"In calm humility musing always

Upon those mysteries of grace, which seem'd

Vaster in length and breadth, and depth and height,

The measureless dimensions of God's love,

As still the bridal of the Church drew near."

Bickersteth.

Colour-Symbolism! Exo .

(1.) As the gold was emblematic of the glory and majesty of God so the blue combined with it in the sacred appointments of the tabernacle might be aptly employed to represent God's love and grace. The gold setting, as it were, with the blue gems, are to the eye an emblem of St. John's sentence: "GOD IS LOVE."

(2.) As the priest, whenever he moved within the tent of Aaron, was surrounded by gold and sapphire; so, wherever the Christian (who is a priest unto God) wanders, he finds himself still encircled by the gold and blue of Divine Love. The boundless sky of Divine Love bends over him—wreathes him round, as the horizon embraces the landscape.

"And the mild glories of Thy grace

Our softer passions move;

Pity Divine in Jesu's face

We see, adore, and love."

Watts.

Veil-Embroidery! Exo .

(1.) Morier relates that in passing Lahar he found several encampments of Eelauts, at one of which he stopped to examine the tent of a chief, over the door of which was suspended a curtain curiously worked by the women with coarse needlework of various colours. In the Shah of Persia's tents magnificent hangings of needlework are suspended, as well as on the doors of the great mosques in Turkey.

(2.) The Chinese are perhaps the most laborious and elaborate embroiderers of modern times. The figures are either in coloured silk alone, or in silk combined with gold and silver thread; the figures of men, horses, and dragons, &c., being outlined with gold cord, and filled up, coloured, and shaded with silk. The Persians, Turks, and Hindoos also excel in embroidery. They use, besides silk and gold and silver thread, beads, spangles, pearls, and precious stones.

(3.) Allusion is made to this embroidery in Son , under the name of the curtains of Solomon. These were either the beautiful embroidered hangings of Solomon's palace mentioned in Ecc 2:4; or else, the broidered veil or hangings of the temple. Some think, however, that the word Solomon is not a name here but the title "Prince of Peace," and that the curtains are the veils which adorned the tabernacle of the Prince of Peace when He journeyed through the desert with His people (Psalms 45; Eze 16:14; Mat 22:11).

"O that I knew how all these lights combine,

And the configurations of their glory;

Seeing not only how each verse doth shine,

But all the constellations of the story!"

Herbert.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Exodus 26:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/exodus-26.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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