The Floor of the Tabernacle

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The bare desert formed the floor of the tabernacle; a singular contrast to the glorious curtains, and golden boards and vessels. To the priests who entered the holy place, and to the High Priest on the day of atonement, who within the vail, sprinkled the blood under the cloud of glory that rested on the mercy-seat, it must have seemed singularly out of place, that a dwelling, designed for such holy uses, and so resplendent with costliness, beauty, and glory, should have been pitched in the howling wilderness, on the naked ground. But such was God's appointment. The dust of the earth, of which man was made, and to which the sinner, man, was to return-dust, which was the serpent's food-and dust, which betokened death and ruin, formed the floor of God's dwelling-place. This anomalous connection of beauty and barrenness; of preciousness and worthlessness; the incorruptible with the perishable; of glory and vanity; affords a very striking type of the present dispensation.
The heavens have been opened over our head. We worship and hold converse with God in the highest glory. And yet our members are here upon this earth; and we walk in the midst of a groaning creation, in a world defaced by sin; marred by the presence and power of death; still lying under the curse, and traversed as to its whole length and breadth, by the serpent's path, The blessed work of Christ, and the mighty power of His resurrection, have as yet accomplished nothing with regard to this lower creation. Redemption, instead of effecting any improvement in things around us, has delivered us out of this present evil world; has translated us out of the power of Satan, who rules and reigns here, into the kingdom of God's dear Son. The power of Satan, the state of men in general, and the condition of creation itself, remain totally unaffected by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The devil goes about still as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He is still the god of this world-the prince of this world-the prince of the power of the air. The whole world lieth in the wicked one; and man's heart has not received one gleam of heavenly light. He remains even in grosser darkness; notwithstanding the wondrous cross and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. One universal groan reaches the ears of the Lord of Hosts from the whole creation, resulting from the vanity-death-bondage of corruption, to which it is subject. And we ourselves, by reason of the very intercourse with God, into which we have been brought by the blood of Christ, and because of the very hope of glory, which through the Spirit's power we already taste by anticipation, even we ourselves, groan within ourselves, feeling what a wilderness this is through which we are hastening; and eagerly waiting for the time, when these vile bodies shall be made like the glorious body of our risen Lord. No wonder the Lord's people have such strange and mingled experiences, In one sense, they are already raised with Christ: in another, they yet expect the resurrection.
By faith they can say, that even now they are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: and yet they find themselves toiling in the midst of a restless, unprofitable, heartless world; and having to wage a ceaseless warfare with the rulers of darkness. With truth they are able to declare, that they have already died, and that their life is hid with Christ in God: and yet, at the very same time, they have to put to death their members upon the earth, which are full of sin and uncleanness. Already, by the help of the Holy Spirit, (the first-fruit of the land of glory,) they behold a new creation, altogether of God, stretching out, with its unspeakable joys and glories, everywhere around them. Yet still they sojourn in a world where Satan's seat is, and where all is old, and full of decay and corruption. They are even now, created anew in the image of their glorious God: but the old man, with its affections and lusts, is yet present, and has constantly to be resisted. They are not in the flesh, but in the spirit; for the Spirit of Christ dwells in them: but alas! daily and hourly, the flesh continually lusts. Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; but strangers and pilgrims: kings and priests, yet beggars and outcasts: possessing all things, and having nothing: utterly helpless, and yet able to do all things, through Christ that strengthens them: with (as it were) heads in the glory, and feet in the wilderness. Such are the experiences of the people of God, during the present dispensation, whilst the tabernacle of glory is connected with the wilderness-path.
The floor of the tabernacle is only once mentioned, (Num. 5 17,) in connection with that remarkable ordeal to which a wife was to be subjected, if the spirit of jealousy came upon her husband. The priest was commanded to take holy water in an earthen vessel, and to put into it some of the dust that formed the floor of the tabernacle. He then wrote certain fearful curses in a book, and blotted them out with this water, so that it was as it were pervaded with these curses. The suspected wife stood uncovered before God, with the jealousy-offering in her hands, consisting of the tenth part of an ephah of barley-meal, a memorial to bring iniquity to remembrance; and she solemnly pronounced Amen, Amen, to the curses. A handful of the offering was then burnt upon the altar, and the woman drank the water, which if she was guilty, became bitter within her, and caused corruption and curse to be made manifest in her body. The jealous husband taking this course, freed himself from any participation in her iniquity. The woman if guilty, alone bore it, and was a curse among her people.
May not this be looked upon in two aspects? First, as a type of Israel, once the wife married to Jehovah, now suffering under the fearful judgments of His wrath, the fury of His jealousy, because of their departure in heart from Him, and because of their guilt in putting to death His own Son; that death, like the barley meal-an offering of memorial, calling their iniquity to remembrance, instead of purging it away:-an evil and adulterous generation, which though secretly conscious, to a certain extent, of its own rebellion against God; has yet boasted itself in the law, and said Amen, Amen, to the curses pronounced against the very iniquity which it has committed.
Secondly.-Is not this type to be interpreted also by contrast? The Husband, instead of clearing Himself from the iniquity of His wife, by allowing her to drink the bitter water, has Himself taken the cup, and drained it to the dregs. God, in the fire of His jealousy, because of man's departure in heart from Him, mingled a cup of wrath and indignation, and placed it in the hands of His own beloved Son. " The cup which my Father bath given me, shall I not drink it? " 0 what a draft did that cup contain! holy water, mixed with dust and curses, God's holy indignation against sin; a hatred and antipathy to it in every shape, which none but Himself, the Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty could feel and know, concentrated as it were, in that fearful cup.
Death, the penalty on sin, with all its kingdom of terrors; and curses pronounced to the full because of a broken law; these were the ingredients mixed by the hand of God, and given by Him to His own beloved Son to drink; in order that we, who have indulged our sinful lusts, and gratified our self-will, and reveled far off, might escape the holy vengeance due to us as sinners. On the cross, Jesus drank of "the wrath of the Almighty." He was "filled with bitterness, and made drunken with wormwood." " His heart was melted like wax: all His bones were out of joint." The "hot displeasure" of God, as a fire, burned within Him. He was "brought into the dust of death." The Spirit of God, in the Psalms, seems to have selected language, expressive of excruciating bodily suffering, in order to represent to our souls the fearful agony of spirit, which the blessed Lord endured, when Himself bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. He refused the vinegar and gall at the hands of man, when He had tasted it. But He drank "the water of gall," and "the wine of astonishment," from the hands of God. Believers are often too apt to dwell exclusively on the bodily sufferings of our blessed Lord on the cross, instead of contemplating, as far as we are permitted to do, the unspeakable sorrows of Jesus in His soul under the stripes of God, "when it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him; when His soul was made an offering for sin, and He poured out His soul unto death." May we not, with deep reverence, view many passages in the Psalms in this light; and transfer the expressions we find there, respecting sufferings in the bones, the loins, the throat, &c., to the soul and inward mental feelings and untold woes of the blessed Lord; when He tasted death on behalf of the wife of His affections-the Church-rescued out of an adulterous world, and to be presented ere long, to Himself, without spot or blemish, or any such thing.