Life-Study of Exodus

Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-7363-0397-9
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 101 of 185 Section 1 of 4

LIFE-STUDY OF EXODUS

MESSAGE ONE HUNDRED ONE

THE CURTAIN FOR THE DOOR OF THE TENT

(1)

Scripture Reading: Exo. 26:36-37; 36:37-38; 40:5, 28

In this message we shall consider 26:36 and 37. We may think that these verses are easy to understand. Verse 36 says, “And you shall make a curtain for the door of the tent of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of an embroiderer.” This verse speaks of a curtain for the door of the tent. Verse 37, however, speaks of the screen: “And you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold; and their hooks shall be of gold; and you shall cast five sockets of bronze for them.”

THE COVERING, THE VEIL, AND THE SCREEN

The curtain for the door of the tent was made of the same material as the first layer of the covering and the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. Thus, the ceiling, the inner veil, and the curtain for the door were made of the same material and of the same colors, design, and workmanship. Whenever a priest came into the tabernacle, he could see above, at the front, and at the rear curtains or a veil of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen. The inner curtain is called the veil, whereas the curtain for the door is called the screen.

In his translation of verse 36 J. N. Darby says, “And thou shalt make for the entrance of the tent a curtain.” Darby uses the word entrance instead of door. You may think that there is no difference between an entrance and a door. Although these words are similar in meaning, nevertheless an entrance denotes something more specific than a door. A door may be used both as an entrance and an exit, but an entrance is not an exit. It is for going in, but not for going out. The door in verse 36 serves both as an entrance and an exit. However, its primary purpose is to serve as an entrance, not an exit.

I agree with Darby’s rendering of verse 36. Actually the front of the tabernacle did not have the appearance of a door. There were no doorposts, and there was no lintel. Instead, there was a curtain supported by five pillars to serve as an opening for an entrance. For this reason, I prefer to speak of a curtain for the entrance, instead of a curtain for the door.

We have pointed out that the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was the same in material and workmanship as the curtain, or screen, at the entrance of the tabernacle. But although they were the same in design and appearance, the one is called the veil and the other is called the screen.

It is significant that the matters related to the tabernacle are described not from the outside in, but from the inside out. For example, the four layers of the covering are described from the innermost layer, that of the fine twined linen, to the outermost layer, that of the porpoise skins. Likewise, concerning the two curtains, the inner veil and the screen, the divine record first describes the inner veil and then the screen at the entrance of the tabernacle. It is important to understand the significance of both the veil and the screen.

A veil hides something from our sight and keeps that thing away from our presence. Often a veil is used to conceal things that are very precious. When something is covered by a veil, we are separated from that thing. The precious things are not invisible, but we cannot see them because of the veil. In the tabernacle, certain precious things were covered with a veil, and fallen people could not see them. The ark in the Holy of Holies was the first of the precious things hidden from God’s people. We have seen that the ark signifies Christ as the embodiment of God. This ark is related to God’s history. God’s history includes all that He is and all that He has accomplished, obtained, and attained. All this is embodied in Christ as the ark. Furthermore, upon Christ as the ark there is a place called the propitiatory cover, where God can meet with us and speak to us. This is where God’s glory is expressed, as signified by the cherubim. In addition, the redeeming blood was sprinkled on this propitiatory cover, the lid of the ark. Therefore, with the ark we have God with His history, His embodiment, His expressed glory, and Christ’s redemption. How precious is the ark and all the things related to it!

In the Holy Place we have the table of the bread of the presence, the lampstand, and the incense altar. At the table we receive the life supply for our nourishment, at the lampstand we are enlightened, and at the incense altar we have Christ as the frankincense, which signifies Him as the sweet fragrance for God’s acceptance of us. Thus, in the Holy Place we have supply, enlightenment, and acceptance. Now we must go on to see that the contents of the ark—the tablets of the law, the hidden manna, and the budding rod—correspond to the three items in the Holy Place. In the Holy Place we have the bread, but in the Holy of Holies, the manna. This indicates that the bread in the Holy Place becomes the hidden manna in the Holy of Holies. Also, in the Holy Place we have the lampstand with its light, and in the Holy of Holies we have the law as God’s testimony. Thus, at one end, in the Holy Place, we are enlightened by the lampstand, but at the other end, in the Holy of Holies, we are enlightened by the law as God’s testimony. Furthermore, in the Holy Place we have the frankincense at the incense altar for our acceptance. But within the Holy of Holies we have the budding rod signifying the resurrection life becoming our acceptance. Thus, the incense in the Holy Place becomes the budding rod in the Holy of Holies. The budding rod and the frankincense both signify the resurrected Christ.

The correspondence between the manna, the law, and the budding rod and the bread, the lampstand, and the incense altar can be illustrated by the correspondence between grace and truth in the Gospel of John and love and light in the First Epistle of John. On our side we have grace, but on God’s side grace is love. Likewise, on our side we have truth. But when we trace this truth to its source on God’s side truth is light. Therefore, at our end we have grace and truth; at God’s end there are love and light. In like manner, the bread corresponds to the manna; the lampstand, to the tablets of the law; and the incense, to the budding rod. In the Holy Place we have the life supply of Christ, the light of Christ, and the incense, the acceptance, of Christ. But in the Holy of Holies, we have Christ Himself as our life supply, enlightenment, and acceptance. However, as long as we remain in our fallen nature, the ark with its precious contents is veiled from our sight and kept away from our presence.

It is significant that the outer veil, the curtain at the door of the tabernacle, is called in verse 37 a screen. The function of a screen is, on the one hand, to allow air to come in, but, on the other hand, to keep out insects and other pests. If we did not have screens on our windows, the way would be open for flies and mosquitoes to come in. As we shall see, the screen at the entrance to the tabernacle serves to keep all negative things out of God’s dwelling place.

We have seen that the first layer of the covering, the veil, and the screen were all made of the same material with the same colors, design, and workmanship. However, this material is called by three different terms: the covering, the veil, and the screen. Material of the same color and with the same embroidery has three functions. First, it covers the standing boards; second, it veils the preciousness of the processed Triune God; and third, it keeps away negative things from God’s dwelling. We have seen that both the covering and the veil are Christ. With this understanding of the covering and the veil as a basis, we may rightly conclude that the screen also refers to Christ.


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