Last week, in Wilderness Instructions, Part 10, we learned that the veil in the wilderness is there to remind us of the atrocity of sin and the holiness of God. It helps us understand how incapable we are of working our way into God’s grace, and it helps us remember that the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ has changed it all. Once we are covered by His blood, we have free access to the presence of the living God!
Our lesson today takes us back to
Exodus 26, where elaborate instructions are given regarding the
covering of the tabernacle: "Moreover you shall make the tabernacle
with ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet
thread; with artistic designs of cherubim you shall weave them."
(Exodus 26:1 NKJV)
As you read through
the 26th chapter of Exodus, you will quickly note that there are a
total of four curtains described: The inner curtain of linen,
embroidered with colourful cherubim, as described in
verses 1-6. Next is the covering of woven goat's hair, as described
vs. 7-13, then the covering of ram's skin, died red (see
vs. 14a); and finally, a covering of the hide of another creature,
which is sometimes translated "sea cow", and sometimes "badger" (see
But wait. Why were four layers needed in the first
Pure speculation on my part would say that the multiple
layers was for protection from the elements. The innermost layer was a
work of art, beautiful, but hardly substantial enough to brave the
elements. The second layer, of goat’s hair, which is what the tents of
the people were made of, would provide that necessary protection. And
perhaps the layers of animal hides would then further ensure that the
structure was both dust and waterproof.
Though nothing but pure
speculation, there are some valuable lesson here for our heart-temples.
In the book of Philippians, Paul tells us how to protect our hearts:
"...and the peace of God, which surpasses all
understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ
Jesus." (Philippians 4:7 NKJV). Thus, when we read about
the elaborate description of the coverings for the tabernacle in the
wilderness, let's remember that our heart-temples are also provided with
protection -- The peace of God, which surpasses all
understanding! And the best part is this: God's peace is ours for
But when we look more closely at each of these
layers, we find several interesting symbolisms in these coverings:*
1. The innermost layer: This was made of "fine linen", just like the
garments of the priests (See Ex. 28). The words "fine linen" is also
seen in the book of Revelation, where it is declared to be the
"righteous acts of the saints". (See
Rev. 19:8 NKJV). We know that all of our righteous acts are but
filthy rags (See
Is 64:6), but they shall be seen as "white as snow" (see
Is 1:18), thanks to the blood of Jesus. Thus, the "fine linen"
covering to our heart-temples is to remind us that through Jesus, we are
seen as pure and clean!
There were also cherubim embroidered into
the linen. The Psalmist makes frequent reference to wings in regards to
protection. We are told that we are in the "shadow of His wings"
(Ps. 17:8). Thus, when we think of the rich embroidered cherubim, let's
remember God's protection is always surrounding us, that we are always
hidden in the "shadow of His wings"!
2. The second
covering, made of goat's hair: It is interesting to note that the word
"curtain" in Hebrew had the root meaning of "tremble" or "waive".
Another similar Hebrew root is the word for "fear". We are to honor God
and reverence Him, and the curtains remind us of this.
also remember the goat was the animal pre-imminently used for the sin
offering. Thus, the "goat hair" points to Christ, the great "sin
1 Cor. 5:21).
Finally, the covering of goats' hair
completely hid the beautiful linen curtain, which could only be seen
from the interior of the holy place. This can serve as a reminder to us
that it is not until we have personally accepted Jesus’ gift of
salvation that we can rejoice in His peace, in His comfort, in His care.
3. The third covering of ram's skin: The ram was the sacrifice
used to consecrate the priests (See
Ex. 29:26), and it spoke of devotedness to God. This skin was dyed
red, thus giving us a vivid symbol of Jesus' devotion until death. The
rams' skins covering, then, foreshadowed Christ as the Head of His
people, the "sheep" perfectly consecrated to God.
4. Over the
rams' skins were placed badgers' skins. Interestingly, this is the only
cover seen by the eyes of the people of Israel. It reminds us that when
Christ came to this earth, "He made Himself of no reputation"
(Phil 2:7). He humbled Himself, and the glory of His divinity were
hidden from the eyes of the people.
As we contemplate this
4-fold covering to the tabernacle, let's let it be a reminder to us of
Jesus Christ, who came as a humble servant, who is the head of His
flock, who took the punishment for our sins, and thus, covered all of
our sin. When we accept His sacrifice, we are then brought under that
covering, our sins are removed from us, and we are seen as "white as
snow". Only then can we fully experience being under the
"shadow of His wings", that we can fully experience His protection,
But this covering had to be held up by a framework
of some kind. Are there any lessons we can learn from the frame? Please
join us next week for Wilderness Instructions,
Part 12: The Boards.
In His love,
Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator
for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and
Scriptural Nuggets, a
website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with
** Archaeological Study Bible, Copyright 2005 by the Zondervan
Corporation, p. 153, The Tabernacle and the Ark and p. 133, Commentary
on Vs. 25:37.
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