The coverings

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The Coverings.

Last time I brought some Lego along, I thought today I’d bring another of Hannah’s toys. You all know them: Russian dolls, one inside another. Think you’ve seen it and there is another, there is more – layer upon layer. It is like that with Jesus. The deeper you look the more there is. It is my desire for us that we will be going deeper, finding more of who Jesus is. Most people know of Jesus – but what you know of Him depends on how deep you look. Those who diligently seek are the ones that find Him. Today I want us to peel of the layers and look deeper into Jesus [pray].  We have been looking at the tabernacle, which I have said pictures Jesus. Last time we looked at the structure of the tabernacle [P], the tent where יְהוָה dwelt among His people. We looked at the boards – which pictured us [P], the temple where Jesus dwells by His Spirit. The wooden boards were covered in gold [P], the Divine nature and stood in sockets of silver [P], redeemed by Christ’s blood, bound together in the bonds of love [P], the unity of the Holy Spirit. Now this framework of boards was covered with the tent, the tabernacle. We are not seen, but Jesus. Let’s look at the coverings that went over the boards [P]. [Exodus 26:1-14 “Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet material; you shall make them with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman. “The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall have the same measurements. “Five curtains shall be joined to one another, and the other five curtains shall be joined to one another. “You shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set, and likewise you shall make them on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set. “You shall make fifty loops in the one curtain, and you shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite each other. “You shall make fifty clasps of gold, and join the curtains to one another with the clasps so that the tabernacle will be a unit. “Then you shall make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; you shall make eleven curtains in all. “The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; the eleven curtains shall have the same measurements. “You shall join five curtains by themselves and the other six curtains by themselves, and you shall double over the sixth curtain at the front of the tent. “You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the first set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set. “You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and you shall put the clasps into the loops and join the tent together so that it will be a unit. “The overlapping part that is left over in the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that is left over, shall lap over the back of the tabernacle. “The cubit on one side and the cubit on the other, of what is left over in the length of the curtains of the tent, shall lap over the sides of the tabernacle on one side and on the other, to cover it. “You shall make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red and a covering of porpoise skins above.] 5 x 4 cubits = 20 cubits + 5 x 4 cubits = 20 cubits a total of 40 cubits. Now the tabernacle was made or 20 boards @ 1.5 cubits wide = 30 cubits, they were 10 cubits high, making a total of 40 cubits. Curtain went up the end (10 cubits) over the top of the holy of holies (10 cubits) the join of gold clasps sat right on top of the pillars holding up the veil separating the holy place from the holy of holies. The rest of curtain (20 cubits) ran over the rest of the holy place. The curtains were 28 cubits long – the tabernacle was 10 cubits high and 10 cubits wide leaving one cubit from the ground on either side – the curtain never touched the ground – it was of heaven, above, not of this world. The goats hair curtains were 30 cubits long – reaching right to the ground. There were eleven of them, a group of five joined together, connected to a group of six by bronze clasps [P] – the extra curtain was folded double lapped over the back of the tabernacle so that the innermost curtain did not touch the ground. These were the two curtains, above them were two coverings, one of ram’s skins dyed red, and the other of porpoise skin. So there were 2 sets of curtains, and 2 sets of coverings. Now I have a confession to make – I have been going contrary to Scripture! If anyone has done any background reading of the passages concerning the tabernacle they will be aware that I have been going opposite to what the Bible describes. The Bible describes from God’s perspective, going from the inside outwards. I, on the contrary, have started on the outside and we are going further in, nearer to God. We are looking from man’s perspective, from the outside in; from man toward God. We look from earth: gate, altar, laver, tabernacle. God looks from above – he sees a tent. Tabernacle means tent – coverings. Remember last time – boards = us. But these boards are not seen from outside – they are covered. We need to be covered. Jesus is our covering – not the word for “atonement covering” here, but that of protection. Jesus protects us, like a hen covers her chicks.  The boards we described last time are not seen from the outside, they are completely covered. Nothing of man must be seen in יְהוָה’s temple – how much flesh, that which is of man, is seen in the church [John 3:30He must increase, but I must decrease.”]. Let’s look at this covering, at Jesus, in reverse order from the outside inwards, deeper into Jesus.

Porpoise skins: If you saw the tabernacle in the wilderness [P], it stood out – the tent part of it was 5 meters tall, every other tent would be less than 2 meters. But it was not a particularly attractive tent. Its outer covering was made of leather – probably from some marine creature [P]. It provided good protection from weather – wind blown sand, rain but unattractive – there was no beauty that we should desire Him [Isaiah 53:1-2 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of יְהוָה been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.] [P]. This is our first view of Christ; there is no appeal to natural man. Bore the harshness of the world – wrath that was our due fell on Him. Despised and rejected of men. The world sees nothing in Jesus. Need to look deeper. “The old rugged cross so despised by the world a wondrous beauty I see”. Many look merely at the porpoise skins – see the ordinary exterior – just a man. Many made this mistake in Jesus day – they didn’t see Jesus for who He really is., even His own family. John the Baptist suddenly had revelation as to who Jesus really is [John 1:29-34 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ “I did not recognize Him, (Jesus was his relative) but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. “I did not recognize Him, (then he had revelation) but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”]. Prior to this John didn't recognize Him. Isn't that the way with all of us? We think He is just a man, a cousin, Joseph's son. [Luke 4:22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”]Just an ordinary man, they knew his dad. [Matthew 13:55-56 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” Mark 6:3 says “And they took offense at Him”. John 6:42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?”]. They didn’t get it because they were looking at the surface, with natural eyes, with unbelief and scepticism. You will never see who Jesus is with that kind of vision. We are in the dark until the truth is revealed, until we see Jesus for who He is. [John 1:10-14 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.] We need to go deeper, see with the eye of faith, with spiritual eyes, receive revelation. We all start out looking at Jesus from the fleshly point of view – from the human point of view, from self-interest [2 Corinthians 5:16 we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.] We need to penetrate beneath the porpoise skins.

Rams skins dyed red: Under the covering of porpoise skins was another covering: ram’s skins dyed red [P]. The ram is the animal of substitution – remember the sacrifice of Isaac? Abraham was told to offer up his only son who he loved on mount Moriah [Genesis 22:2 “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”]. There he was about to bring the knife down on Isaac when what did he see? – ram caught in a thicket [Genesis 22:11-13 The angel of יְהוָה called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.]. The ram was offered in the place of the one who should have died – a  substitute [P]. I should have died! The death penalty was upon me because of my sin. I come to Jesus in my desperate need. My first approach to Jesus is based on selfish motive – my own terrible need, the need for someone to take the penalty for me. A ram was also used in consecration of priesthood. Jesus consecrated Himself to the work of the cross. Jesus is our substitute – I should have died but Jesus died in my place. This is the covering that our need. We all have a basic need to be covered – a cover for our nakedness, our shame – Adam in the garden of Eden – he disobeyed יְהוָה, he sinned. He felt a desperate need to cover his nakedness. [Genesis 3:7-11 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of יְהוָה God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of יְהוָה God among the trees of the garden. Then יְהוָה God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” (couldn’t bear God seeing him, being near God) And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? Genesis 3:21 יְהוָהGod made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.). The ram skins were dyed red – red like the blood Jesus shed when He died in my place.

Goats’ hair curtain: Under the rams skin covering was, not another covering, but curtains. There was more work and structure in this layer. It was made of goats’ hair [P] – a set of 11 curtains each 30 x 4 cubits – total 30 x 44 covering tabernacle in its entirety 10 (side) x 10 (top) x 10 (other side); 30 (length) x 10 (end) took the length of 10 curtains, the 11th was folded in half and visible. You will see that my picture of this layer is different from the others – that is because it had the colour of the goats’ skins as white (just like my model). But almost certainly the colour was black. That is the colour of their goats – look at a Bedouin Goat’s skin tent [P] – they are black, even to this day in the east. Why quibble over the colour – well the white of the linen in the court represented righteousness – white and clean. But the goat skin was black – goats used as a sin offering and on the day of atonement – sins of the people were placed on two goats, one was sacrificed as a sin offering the other was sent out into the wilderness carrying away (symbolically) the sins of the people. It pictures sin, the sin offering [P] – the very opposite of the white of righteousness. Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh [Romans 8:3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,] [2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.] The most amazing deed! The sinless, holy God – became sin! There were 50 bronze rings that held the two sets of curtains together – judgement, the judgement due to us fell upon Him. This was not just covering – coming to Jesus for our need, but an appreciation of Him, His work – just what He has done for me! [1 Peter 2:24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.] What a wondrous work! We have gone deeper – beyond selfish need but to an appreciation of what Jesus has done – His marvellous deeds.

Curtains of fine twisted linen: When you walk into the tabernacle, the place where יְהוָה dwells, this is what you see when you look up at the ceiling, the curtain of embroidered fine twisted linen [P] – gold boards on the side but these curtains above. Like the Sistine chapel you could get a neck ache just looking up. In contrast to other coverings, this one has structure; it is intricately embroidered, beautiful colours, a work of art. You only look at the others briefly but this you could examine for hours. You are now looking at the fullness of who Jesus is! [P] It is made of fine twisted linen – called מִשְׁכָּן – that is tabernacle. This curtain is the tent, the tabernacle, from which the whole gets its name. So this is central, this is the heart of the tabernacle. It is the roof without which the building is not a true house. 10 curtains 28x4 cubits (1 cubit short of the ground on each side) – doesn’t come in contact with the earth, this world. This is the heavenly Jesus – we have penetrated deep to the heart of who He is when we have reached this curtain. Sewn together in two sets of five – two sets joined by 50 gold hooks – speaking of Divine glory. 5 x 4 cubits = 20 cubits – 10 cubit up back wall, 10 cubits in takes you to the dividing veil between holy place and holy of holies. The join ran right over the pillars holding up the curtain dividing the two rooms of the tabernacle – that’s where the Divine glory sat. As we get closer in  the more precious the metal, bronze above, gold beneath – not judgement but glory! 50 clasps remind us of Pentecost – Holy Spirit acting in judgment (baptism with Holy Spirit and fire - judgement) as Annanias and Sapphira found out – when you are close to God you have to be holy – anything unworthy of יְהוָה’s presence is consumed. But there too in His presence, where the Holy Spirit is, there is glory – the presence of God. Judgment and glory are both there at the vestibule to יְהוָה’s presence. The fabric was fine twisted (woven) linen [P] – we saw this in the outer court – it represents purity, righteousness [P]. It is good to gaze upon the beauty of Jesus’ absolute righteousness. He is undefiled, separate from sinners, completely without sin, holy, perfect, pure, spotless, faultless. Christ the sinless one. Righteousness is so rare in this sin-tainted world – but pure righteousness is a beautiful thing. It was worked, embroidered, in blue, purple and scarlet with a design of cherubim. Blue the heavenly colour, colour of the sky – the Divinity of Jesus [P]. He is God! Wonder of wonders – here is God Himself! With wonder the apostle says [1 John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands!]. He became Man – scarlet [P] – red the colour of the earth in Israel – red, Adam, man, earth – all have the same root. Jesus is not only Divine – He is fully man. [Isaiah 1:18 says: Come now, and let us reason together,” says יְהוָה, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”] Scarlet shows Jesus bearing the sin of man, suffering the punishment for sin as a Man. The beauty of Jesus is seen in this beautiful inner tent. Son of God, Son of Man. Mix blue and scarlet together you get purple [P] – both man and God are there together. Nearly all the early heresies and most of the cults today err in either of two directions – saying Jesus is God and so He was not man. Or that He was man and not fully God. But the blue and red are together inseparable in the purple – a mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus [1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,]. Purple is also the colour of royalty. Jesus is King of kings! Coming to reign in righteousness and justice, there will be no end to the increase of His government and peace. On these curtains were embroidered cherubim. Cherubim are first encountered guarding the gate of the Garden of Eden, keeping the way of the Tree of Life [Genesis 3:24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.]. They were on the Mercy-seat – the lid on the ark of the covenant – guarding the sprinkled blood. Cherubim, the plural of cherub, are angelic beings, spiritual beings that are found in the presence of יְהוָה [Ezekiel 1:13 In the midst of the living beings there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches darting back and forth among the living beings. The fire was bright, and lightning was flashing from the fire.] Fiery creatures, glorious beings – they speak of protection, they speak of glory. They guard the way to the glorious presence of יְהוָה Himself! – John and Isaiah, like Ezekiel, also had visions of heaven – angelic creatures surrounding יְהוָה’s throne, seraphim, but similar angelic creatures – the vision of which totally overwhelmed them. Cherubim are glorious angelic beings serving there in the presence of God – guarding it from unauthorised entrance. יְהוָה is glorious and majestic – not just anyone can enter there. You go to London and try to stroll into Buckingham palace! You won’t get far, the royal guard is there on sentry duty. These cherubim are protecting the sanctity and glory of יְהוָה’s glorious presence! Covering all is Jesus; the sinless One, God, Man, Mediator – the wonder of the Person and Being of Jesus! Glorious heavenly beings guard the way into the presence of God, the place where יְהוָה dwells. You can gaze upon the curtain, meditate upon the beauty of Jesus in the sanctuary [Psalm 27:4-5 One thing I have asked from יְהוָה, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of יְהוָה all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of יְהוָה and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.] – That is Jesus. It’s a strange thing: when you think of it, there are four layers but only really the outer and inner layers were seen – part of the goats’ skin was visible by being folded double – we are always aware of Jesus’ offering for sin. But either you see Jesus as ordinary or wondrously beautiful – either you know Him or you don’t. Why then are there so many layers when they aren’t even visible. The key concept of the tabernacle is holiness. It is יְהוָה’s dwelling. He is other! He is not of this world, He is separate from it. This world would contaminate and defile his holiness and glory – so there must be a barrier between Him and it, Him and us. Not just a barrier, not even two but four layers to separate the glory of his presence from the defilement of this world.

So there we have the four layers covering the frame of boards: [P] what do we see in the coverings of the tabernacle? Jesus! [P]

·         Porpoise skins [P] – we come to Him and there is no appeal. Many see Jesus and have no interest – they fail to see who He really is. The one despised by the world.

·         Ram [P] – we come to Him realising our great need. I don’t want to die; I want someone to do it for me – essentially self interest, selfish motive. Come to Jesus as our Substitute, dying instead of us.

·         Goats’ skin [P] – we come to Him having our sin dealt with and we then begin to appreciate what a wonderful thing Jesus has done for me! He offered Himself up for my sin – I begin to appreciate His wonderful work, what He has done [Psalm 103:7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.] Israel only knew יְהוָה’s deeds; we need to go further, deeper, like Moses to know His ways, to know Him.

·         Fine linen [P] – that is when we come to the fine linen. We see Jesus for who He is and meditate upon His beauty. Isn’t He beautiful?! – He is righteous! He is God! He is Man! He is King! Glorious! We come into His very presence! Where the cherubim are! We used to sing “Between the wings of the cherubim I will meet with Thee”. There we gaze upon and delight in the exquisite indescribable beauty of our Lord! The fullness of who He is, His being!

Oh Lord, You’re beautiful, Your face is all that I seek!

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