The Gate of the Court

 •  31 min. read  •  grade level: 8
AT the east end of the court, the curtain for the gate hung from four pillars. This hanging was twenty cubits long; and as the width of the court was fifty cubits, there were thirty cubits left. The gate being in the center, these thirty cubits were divided, fifteen on each side: three pillars, with the hanging of fine twined linen suspended from them, filled up these respective spaces.
The word Hanging (mah-sahch) is in the Hebrew, exclusively used for the vail-for the door of the tabernacle-and for the gate of the court. When connected with the vail, it is often translated Covering. Ex. 35:12;39: 34; 40:2112The ark, and the staves thereof, with the mercy seat, and the vail of the covering, (Exodus 35:12)
21And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the Lord commanded Moses. (Exodus 40:21)
; Num. 4:55And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: (Numbers 4:5). It is once translated Curtain. " The curtain for the door of the court." Num. 3:2626And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof. (Numbers 3:26). The peculiar use of this word serves to connect together in type, the vail, the door of the tabernacle, and the gate of the court. Each of these hangings covered or hid the interior from the eyes of one approaching from the outside. Each had the character of a door: indeed, the word door is once used for the gate of the court. (Num. 3:2626And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof. (Numbers 3:26).) " The curtain for the door of the court." All three were made of the same materials, arranged in precisely the same order; " blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen:" and all three were of the same dimensions, as regards their area, for, the gate of the court was twenty cubits long by five high, making a hundred square cubits. The door-curtain and vail each occupied a space of ten cubits wide by ten high, or a hundred square cubits each.
The same truth seems therefore to be embodied in each of these typical curtains. The same Jesus, God manifest in the flesh, is portrayed in each There could be no access to God, of any kind, whether of comparatively distant worship, or of closest intimacy, but through the one door, the Lord Jesus. " I am the door." John 10:77Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. (John 10:7).
The Israelite, who came to the brazen altar with his sacrifice or gifts, must first pass through the gate of the court. The priest, that placed incense on the golden altar within the tabernacle, entered through a second door-curtain. The high priest, who alone had access into the holiest, passed through the vail, a third hanging of the same kind; and realized the thrice repeated truth of the only way to God.
Cain was the first who tried another path: and instead of being able to draw near, his very attempt ended in his going out from the presence of God, into the land of banishment. The path, thus at first trodden by only one evil man, has since become a broad way, " the way of Cain." Thousands follow in his footsteps, and think to worship and to offer, without passing through the door.
Salvation and worship are inseparably united. The Samaritan, who had his holy mount Gerizim, and a liturgy derived by tradition from Jewish sources, though acknowledging the name of Jehovah, worshipped an unknown God, as much as the Athenian, who knew not the very name of the true God: for neither the one nor the other knew God's way of salvation.
The Lord Jesus, in John 10, seems to have these two thoughts in His mind. Himself the door to God; and the door of salvation. The Pharisees, who had usurped the place of shepherds in the Jewish fold, had cast out one of the true sheep. The Good Shepherd found this outcast one, and spoke to him: and the sheep immediately heard His voice. The Lord then proceeded to speak the parables recorded in John 10, respecting the Shepherd and the sheep. He had first proved Himself the Shepherd, by entering in by the door, the way appointed by God. To Him the porter had opened.
It has been suggested, and probably with truth, that the porter, who ushered the Lord Jesus into the fold, was John the Baptist. He had been sent to prepare the way of Jehovah, and stood in a remarkable place, at the end of all the prophets, proclaiming the kingdom of heaven as at hand, and announcing the Lamb of God. The sheep, hearing the Shepherd's voice, followed, and were led by Him out of the fold.
Up to the time of the Lord's death, there had been a people, separated off from the other nations of earth, into a locality chosen by God, and fenced in with a pale of ordinances and commandments; the effect of which was still to preserve them folded off from the rest of mankind. But directly the Lord Jesus had established His title to be the Good Shepherd, by giving His life for the sheep-from that time, no bond of creed or confession, of ordinances or liturgical ceremonies, distinguished the sheep from other men. Jesus Himself became alone the object, the life, and the leader of each individual member of His flock. The badge and safety of the sheep were recognizing His voice, and following Him. To draw to Himself, away from every support; to be the one object of the heart's affection; to be known, trusted, loved, followed, and worshipped, was, and is the great purpose of Christ. And so, in this beautiful chapter, He presents Himself as leading them out, and putting them forth, in order that no hedges or barriers might keep them in the right track, but that they might alone be dependent on His voice, and trace His footsteps.
The Lord then speaks of Himself as the door of the sheep; a remarkable expression: not the door of a sheep-fold; but the door of the sheep. The door of their life, of their existence as sheep. The door which constituted them sheep; the door to God, the Father and Owner of the sheep. Again the Lord repeats the words, " I am the door," and then adds, " By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." He gives the general invitation, "if any man." Jew or Gentile, enter into God's presence by Him, salvation is the immediate result. He opens wide the door to the whole world, as we find throughout this Gospel of John.
"Whosoever believeth..."3:15. "If any man eat ... "6:51."If any man thirst... "7:37. "If any man enter in..." 10:9, are all so many intimations of salvation presented in Christ to the world, instead of being narrowed up, as heretofore, to Israel. The brazen serpent; the manna; the smitten rock; and the gate of the court, are all thus offered to any one, be he who he may, Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond or free.
"And shall go in and out, and find pasture." The sheep, saved by entering in through Christ and Him crucified, would be safe henceforth in all circumstances; and would find pasture, whether in immediate worship within the tabernacle before the Lord, or whether passing through the wilderness paths of the world. In contrast with Israel of old, who were obliged to go up to Jerusalem, in order to feast in the presence of the Lord; and who, if they wandered from their own land, could not sacrifice, or serve God.
One privilege of a believer now, having life through Christ, and union with Him, is to find in every circumstance of common life, an occasion for trusting God, and for the exercise of faith, and for blessing to the soul. Pasture now springs up in the wilderness. As the Apostle expresses it, "The life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." The valley of Baca, the dry valley of grief, becomes a well; the rain also fills the pools. Psa. 84:66Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. (Psalm 84:6)
"I am come, that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:1010The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10). Christ is the door of life; the way, the truth, and the life; eternal life already to every one that enters in by Him. Life in all its fullness also in the day of resurrection: in accordance with the words before spoken by the Lord in chap. vi. 40, 54. "This is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise Him up at the last day. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:22But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. (John 10:2) Again the Lord returns to the fact of His being the Shepherd; but now adds the word good, and proves His right to that title by giving His life for the sheep. For them, He would die; He was the Shepherd that was to die. To them, He was the door, by whom they could draw nigh to God; the way of life. The Shepherd and the door are remarkably interchanged.
"I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine, like as the Father knoweth me, and as I know the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." ver. 14, 15. The Lord Himself was the Lamb of God. He knew the shepherdly care and love of the Father. In like manner as the Father knew Him, He knew His own sheep; and as He knew the Father, His own sheep knew Him.
"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold. Them also I must bring; and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, and one Shepherd. ver. 16. Our version has inaccurately used the word fold, instead of flock, in the latter clause of the verse just quoted. There was indeed a Jewish fold: but out of that, the sheep were to be brought: and other Gentile sheep, who had never been of any fold, Jesus would also bring to Himself. Lifted up on the cross, He would draw all men unto Him. Jew and Gentile would lose all characteristics of the flesh, and become sheep alike belonging to one flock of God. Saved by the death of the good Shepherd, and placed under the care of the great Shepherd of the sheep.
There seems therefore, in this discourse of our Lord, to be an intimation that the door-gate of the tabernacle-court would be alike open to Gentile as well as Jew. The righteous, whoever they might be, justified in the way of faith, would enter this gate of the Lord, (Psa. 118:2020This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. (Psalm 118:20),) this door of faith, opened to the Gentiles.
This Gate of the Court, or hanging, was suspended from four pillars. Being twenty cubits long, ample space would be allowed between each pillar for the admittance of the altar of burnt-offering, which was five cubits in breadth. The curtain for the door of the tabernacle hung upon five pillars: as it was ten cubits wide, the separation between each pillar would be two cubits and a half, which would exactly admit the ark of the testimony.
It is possible that these measurements had reference respectively to these two principal vessels of the court and tabernacle, In Ex. 38:1818And the hanging for the gate of the court was needlework, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: and twenty cubits was the length, and the height in the breadth was five cubits, answerable to the hangings of the court. (Exodus 38:18), where the gate of the court is again described, these words are added: " And the height in the breadth five cubits, answerable to the hangings of the court." The height is here considered breadth. This may arise either from the fact that the gate of the court was so hung, as to make the spaces of entrance exactly five cubits square, so that the breadth and height were equal; or because of the contrast between the mode of measuring the court-gate, and the mode adopted in measuring the curtains of the tabernacle. In the case of the curtains, their height from the ground is called their length; whilst their extent from west to east is called their breadth. This is exactly reversed in the gate of the court, where the length is its breadth from south to north, and its breadth its height.
The court itself, with the exception of the gate already mentioned, was closed by a hanging of fine-twined linen, five cubits high. As it has been before remarked fine linen seems to be used in Scripture as a type of righteousness-a righteousness equal to all the demands of God; enabling him who possesses it to stand in God's glory: in contrast with sin, by reason of which, all come short of the glory of God. The Israelite, who entered through the gate of the court, would be encompassed, shut in, and protected, by this hanging of fine twined linen. Though in a wilderness, he stood on holy ground; and the fine linen by which he was surrounded, shut out from his eye the dreary barren prospect, through which he was wending his way. The lovely tabernacle of God stood partially revealed to his gaze. The courts of the Lord's house, overshadowed by the cloud of glory, were before him. The altar, with its lamb for the burnt-offering, sent up an odor of a sweet savor on his behalf. The laver, filled with water, told him of a fountain, filled with life and purity, which would cleanse away even the ordinary defilement contracted whilst passing through a wilderness of death. He had entered through the gate of the court, the appointed doorway: within, every object proclaimed life, peace, righteousness, acceptance, and nearness to God. Well might the Psalmist say, " How amiable are thy tabernacles, 0 Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." Psa. 84 I, 2. Moreover, no deadly foe could enter those precincts. The. presence of the living God, manifested over the ark of His strength, abode there. The hosts of His people encamped in close and well-ordered ranks all round; and the court of the tabernacle itself was screened even from the gaze of an adversary.
Thus this court presented a place of security, of holiness, and of intercourse with God. Jerusalem on earth will hereafter afford some such place of refuge for the nations of the earth. On referring to Rev. 11:1,21And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (Revelation 11:1‑2), we distinctly learn, that Jerusalem, the holy city, was in type represented by the court of the temple.
The court of the tabernacle had much the same analogy as regards the tabernacle itself, as the court of the temple had with respect to the temple. So that we may without much fear of mistake, suppose that the earthly Jerusalem, as it will hereafter be fashioned, subsequently to the Lord's return, is prefigured by the court of the tabernacle. It will be a strong city; its strength consisting in salvation. " In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." The righteous nation will enter in through its gates; righteous, because justified by faith in the Lord Jesus; the sheep who have entered in by that door. " Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation, which keepeth the truth, may enter in." The Rock of ages will manifest Himself there. Living waters will flow from that city. A fountain will there be opened to the house of David for sin and uncleanness. It will be the city of the Great King. God will be known in her palaces for a refuge. The house of prayer for all nations will stand there. The uncircumcized and the unclean will no more enter within those walls. It will be a city of solemnities. The light of God's glory will stream down upon it from the heavenly courts above, the dwelling-place of the risen saints of God; those mansions of glory, which Christ is gone to prepare. Blessed time! when Satan shall be bound; and the Lord, the Prince of Peace, will reign gloriously with his church, (the sharer of His throne, and the army of His power,) and will subdue all things under His feet.
The pillars of the court were surmounted with chapiters or capitals of silver, with fillets and hooks of the same precious metal; the fine linen curtain, which enclosed the court, being suspended from these silver hooks. The silver, thus employed, was the remaining portion of the atonement-money. " And of the thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels, he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their chapiters, and filleted them." Ex. 38:2828And of the thousand seven hundred seventy and five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their chapiters, and filleted them. (Exodus 38:28).
The fact of the fine linen curtain hanging from silver hooks, fillets, and capitals, which were made of the atonement-money, very significantly directs our thoughts to the inseparable connection between Christ our righteousness, and Christ our redemption.
These two truths have, in systematic theology, been too often severed; so that it has been taught, that we are saved from sin by the death of Jesus; and that we are made righteous by the imputation of His life of obedience.
This virtually depreciates the wondrous cross, and loosens the fine linen hangings of the tabernacle-court from the silver capitals. The truth is, that the justification of a sinner depends alone on the death of the blessed Lord Jesus, succeeded by His resurrection, as a necessary consequence of the value of His death.
The one offense of Adam ruined us all. Sin was introduced by him into the world; and death, with all its miseries, entered in consequence. Every child of Adam inherits the complete ruin in spirit, soul, and body, which was the result of his sin. Filthiness of the flesh and spirit, a desperately wicked heart, a carnal mind at enmity with God, together with mortality, arid its inseparable attendant, corruption, are the melancholy ills, to which men in the flesh are heirs. One finished righteousness has forever canceled all this list of fearful evils, and justified ruined sinners for life and glory. The payment of the true atonement-money, the precious blood, not only cancels every debt which stands against the sinner, but entitles him to be entered in the book of life as a son, and servant of God. In Rom. 5:99Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Romans 5:9), we find justification attributed immediately to the blood: and in a subsequent part of the same chapter, it is attributed to one righteousness, v. 18. This verse, (" as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life ") would be more accurately translated, if " one fence" were substituted for " the offense of one," and " one righteousness" for " the righteousness of one." It manifestly exhibits a contrast between the one breach of commandment, committed by Adam, and the one perfected righteousness accomplished by Christ on the cross. The word translated " righteousness " (dikaioma) see also Rom. 8:44That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4), is peculiar. It expresses a completed act, a finished righteousness; and must refer, not to a variety of actions spread over a whole life, but to some deed of perfection, in itself complete, which has made righteousness manifest in every possible sense, in every variety of aspect. Such was the cross of Christ. Faithfulness, obedience, subjection, and dependence upon God, were there perfectly exhibited by the blessed Lord. He trusted, though cast off: He prayed, though unanswered: He loved, though overwhelmed with wrath and judgment. He vindicated the honor, majesty, and truth of God, though Himself unprotected, unavenged, and given over to shame and dishonor. He justified the holiness of God at the very time He was bruised by His hand for no iniquity of His own. The two great commandments, " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," and " Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," upon which hang all the law and the prophets, had their fulfillment under circumstances of trial, to which no other being has ever been, or could ever be subjected. And the two were so marvelously blended, that they became as it were but one. For the blessed Lord loved man because He loved God. He died to save the sinner, because that sinner was dear to His own heart, being dear to the heart of God. " Thine they were, and Thou gavest them me... All mine are thine, and thine are mine."
Adam's offense was the disobedient act of eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. Christ's righteousness was manifested in suffering curse, shame, obloquy, death, on the tree, in obedience to the will of God. He tasted death: His bread was ashes.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil was pleasant to the eyes. It attracted and rivetted the gaze of the woman; and as she looked she forgot the commandment, "Thou shalt not eat thereof." The Lord steadfastly set His face toward the tree of the curse; it was the one object that filled His sight. He beheld it wherever He turned. A groaning creation around called up the cross before Him. The sin, misery, death, and ruin, of every perishing sinner that crossed Him in His path, were so many appeals to His heart, urging Him (may it not be said?) on to Calvary. Every sacrifice; every smoking victim; every flame of fire on the altar; every feast; every sound in the temple; told the same tale; and in type and shadow presented to Him the fearful tree. The bread that He brake; the ears of corn which afforded a scanty meal to His disciples; the waves that rose and filled the sinking bark in which He sat; all, all had voices to His ear, telling Him of the bruising, the stripes, the smiting, and the judgment to which, each moment as it passed hastened Him on.
The whole world, the heavens above, the earth beneath, the trees, the withering grass, the fading flowers, everything seemed designed to perpetuate to His eye and ear, the one purpose of His entrance into this world the Cross: and in humble true hearted obedience to the will of God, He kept the tree in sight.
And who can tell the wondrous appreciation of good and evil realized by the Son of Man, when hanging on the Cross, the holy judgment of God on account of sin, caused Him to sink in deep mire, where there was no standing; and when He confessed the innumerable iniquities of others as His own, estimating to the full the fearful evil of every act of disobedience and instruction; and feeling the dreadful heavy weight of the wrath of God pressing upon His soul? And what instruction of wisdom was poured into the heart of the Lord! What a tongue of the learned did He gain from that Cross; that He might speak a word in season to him that was weary!
The Epistle to the Romans, having contrasted the one offense, with the one righteousness; next changes the terms, and proceeds to contrast the disobedience of one, by which many were made sinners, with the obedience of one, by which many were made righteous. Justification, having been previously attributed to the blood, is here declared to be the result of Christ's obedience That obedience therefore, is His death upon the Cross. If the sin of an ungodly person be blotted out by the blood of Christ, that person must be righteous: there can be no neutral condition. If sin be not imputed, righteousness is imputed This is very plainly declared in chap. iv. where the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness, is described by a quotation from Psa. 32 which speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin, because it has been forgiven and covered.
Moreover, righteousness and life are inseparable. The death of Christ can never be severed from His resurrection. He was delivered because of our offenses, and raised because of our justification. Sin having been borne, atoned for, put away, purged, by the Lord in His death, the believer is quickened together with Christ, is accepted in Him, is righteous in Him. " He is the Lord our Righteousness." " He hath made Him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
The type we are considering seems to present some shadowy outlines of these blessed truths. The wor shipping Israelite saw that the boards of the tabernacle owed their stability and sustainment to the fact of a full atonement-price having been paid: since they were sunk deep into, and rested firmly on the silver sockets. He would also perceive, that the fine linen curtain, with which he was encompassed, hung securely from silver chapiters, which were part of the same ransom-money. So the believer stands before God, upon the ground that he has washed his robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. He is righteous, because a full atonement has been made: and he perceives that the new heavens and the new earth, (the whole of God's glory in the new creation,) are the result of the complete answer for sin, which the blessed Lord has made on the cross; and that heaven itself, the true holy places, into which Christ the great High Priest has entered, is erected upon the sure foundation laid in His death.
May not the silver sockets, and silver capitals, also present unto us Christ, as the foundation-stone, and head-stone? He is the first and the last. The beginning and the ending. The socket and the capital. The Rock of Ages. The Father of eternity, on whom rest all the everlasting purposes, counsels, and glories of God. He bears up the pillars of the heavens and earth. He is crowned with glory and honor. Head over all things; filling all in all. The commencement and the completeness of righteousness, holiness, power, wisdom, and glory. The size of the court was determined by the length and breadth of the fine linen hangings. The pillars. from which these hangings were suspended, must have stood within the court. Any one therefore, who approached the tabernacle without entering the gate, could not know upon what the curtains hung. He would see the fine linen, but would not be aware that it hung from hooks and capitals of silver.
This is like the Socinian's gaze at Christ. He to a certain extent, appreciates the righteous character of the Lord Jesus: he may speak of His spotlessness and purity, and may admire the righteous precepts which the Lord has spoken. But he enters not by the door, and therefore perceives not the glory and costliness of the ransom paid on the Cross. He values not the precious blood, and knows not Christ as the Son of God. The perfection of righteousness and obedience, as manifested by the blessed Lord when suffering under the wrath of God, are unknown to this follower of Cain. He sees no beauty in the marred visage and form of the Blessed One when made sin for us. Salvation must ever precede true worship. The Lord Jesus can never be rightly known, till He is known as the Savior, who has given His flesh and blood, in order that the sinner may eat, and live forever.
A distant view of the tabernacle and its court would present nothing attractive to the eye. The spectator would only see the top of a long dark coffin-like structure, surrounded by a white linen hanging. The priests, who had entered through the door, were those alone who beheld the wondrous costliness and beauty of the building as viewed from within. And so it must ever be, as it regards our contemplation of Him, to whom this type directs us. A distant view of Christ is ignorance and unbelief. Faith draws near: because faith owns the fact that we, who were once afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
The vail is rent: the way into the holiest is laid open. The glory of the Lord can now be gazed upon with unveiled face. No bounds, about a mount that might be touched, keep at a distance either the worshipper, or even the ruined sinner. No terrific sounds, or sight of wrath and judgment, scare away the affrighted beholder No privileged class are now entitled to wrap up in mystery the things of God, and to keep far off the helpless stranger. The leper full of leprosy, the unclean Gentile dog, the sinner dead in trespasses and sins, may at once approach the very throne of glory. He has but to come, to return: at his first step, he is healed, cleansed, and fully made meet for the immediate presence of God. Christ in all His fullness, Christ in all His glory, is the gift of God to the lost, far-off sinner. And one glance by faith on the Lord Jesus is life, and healing, and nearness to God. The saved sinner is not only loved, and washed in the blood, but made a king and a priest, and stands as high as any other of the redeemed family, having but one priest, but one intercessor, the Lord Jesus Himself. Superstition, which is another form of unbelief, talks of holy mysteries of religion, and appropriates peculiar ceremonies to a consecrated class; seeking to shroud in obscurity the bright and glorious truths, which God has made as manifest as the sun in the heavens, and as free for all as the very air we breathe. It exalts poor wretched sinners, by some human contrivance, into a place of professed nearness to God, which others are not supposed to have. A priestly or ministerial class, to whom is entrusted by men the office of dispensing the sacraments, thus in a measure closes the rent vail, usurping the priestly place, formerly held by Aaron and his sons, but now forever abolished; practically adopting the words-" Stand by, I am holier than thou."
All these attempts are, in reality, denials of the full efficacy of the blood, and the full glory of the resurrection. Ever since the wondrous cross, a human being is either in the first Adam, utterly ruined, sinful, dead as it regards God, and at an unspeakable distance from Him; or, he is in the last Adam, quickened, raised up, seated in heavenly places, and thus brought and ever kept near to God in Christ. To be one with Christ: to have Christ as the life; to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, and thus to have that life sustained; to have Christ as the object of the heart's one affection, and as the prize ultimately to be reached; to contemplate Him, and to have Him dwelling in the heart by faith; to abide in Him, and thereby bear much fruit, to behold Him, and thus to be changed into His likeness from glory to glory; these are the pursuits and privileges of every child of God: this is the life of a believer. It was for this David longed. " 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." Psa. 27:44One 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. (Psalm 27:4). And again, " How amiable are Thy tabernacles, 0 Lord of Hosts! My soul longeth, yea even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." Psa. 84:1,21<<To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.>> How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! 2My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. (Psalm 84:1‑2). And, " 0 God, thou art my God: early will I seek thee. My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary."' Psa.73:1, 2.
All difficulties are solved, when the believer enters the sanctuary, and learns the purposes, and mercy, and love of God, as therein manifest. Two Psalms remarkably declare this. In the 73., the writer draws a vivid contrast between the outward prosperity of the ungodly, and the sorrows and afflictions of the righteous. He is stumbled at the seemingly strange and unequal dealings of God; and is induced, by this survey of mere present things, and circumstances, almost to regret his own path of godliness and purity. But, when he enters the sanctuary, all is made plain to him. There, he discerns the end of the wicked. He learns to estimate, as a vain dream, the life of apparent prosperity, which they are leading. He also perceives that the path of tribulation, through which he is passing, is according to the guidance.of God's counsel, and is the sure way to glory: and the beauty of the Lord so engrosses his soul, that he exclaims-" Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee."
In Psa. 77, the same psalmist describes his own feelings of dismay and desolation, because he receives not an immediate response from God to his petitions; the deliverance he expected does not come. In the sanctuary, however, he learns God's way-His unchangeable course of acting-the eternal purposes of the most High. God's great power to redeem is there displayed. He ever acts upon the same principles, throughout the circumstances of the believer's life. He hath delivered, doth deliver, and will deliver. 2 Cor. 1:1010Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; (2 Corinthians 1:10). And the mighty work of redemption, which He has already displayed in Christ, and which was typified in Israel's deliverance out of Egypt, is the sure pledge that He will ever so deal, in mercy and in power, with His own. If looked at down here, God's way is in the sea, and His path in the great waters. His footsteps are not known. Everything seems to be left in confusion. Satan has his way apparently unchecked: and man cannot understand the mystery of God's dealings. But let the saint get his acquaintance with God, and with the ways of God, from the sanctuary: let him trace the marvelous counsels of wisdom and love, which God has, step by step, unfolded in the gift of His blessed Son: and then let him wait, and patiently expect to see the same skill of wisdom and power, unraveling every tangled intricacy of human life, and bringing to pass His eternal purposes of love and mercy; so as to lead His people by the right way like a flock, skillfully guided into their rest and everlasting joy.
The Tabernacle must have been pitched on level ground; so that those who walked in its precincts stood secure. An allusion is made to this in Psa. 26 David, trusting in the Lord, knew that he should not slide. He loved the habitation of God's house, the place where His honor dwelt. Here he found fellowship and safety. His foot stood in an even place; and in the congregations he blessed the Lord. And so it must ever be. If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we walk securely. There will be no sliding of the foot: but our feet will be like hinds' feet; and we shall be able to stand firmly on our high places. We shall also have fellowship one with another; true oneness of heart, and communion in the blessed things of peace, joy, and glory, which appertain to us. Moreover, while thus abiding in the holy place, we shall experience the value of the blood as cleansing us from all sin As regards all wrath and condemnation, we have been already justified by the blood. But, in proportion as we abide in the secret place of the Most High, we shall discover sins, spots, and defects, of which we were unconscious when out of His presence. The garment which seems to be white, when viewed by the light of a taper, will appear comparatively dark and soiled, when brought into the blaze of sun-light. So it is with the believer. If he be content to pass his time in the busy activities of life, apart from constant intercourse with God, he will not have a tender conscience, or a soul enlightened as to sin, in its defiling and polluting power. He will not perceive the many stains he is daily contracting from the flesh and from the world.
But if he make the dwelling-place of the Most High his habitation, and seek to walk in the light of the glory of God, he will find the unspeakable value of that precious blood, which has not only cleansed, but still maintains its efficacy, and cleanseth from all sin, presenting him spotless in the very brightness of God's unveiled light, and enabling him to abide without fear in the presence of the Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.