Chapter 13 Courtyard Curtains
Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 4, 2016
Exodus 27:9-21 NLTse “Then make the courtyard for the Tabernacle, enclosed with curtains made of finely woven linen. On the south side, make the curtains 150 feet long. (10) They will be held up by twenty posts set securely in twenty bronze bases. Hang the curtains with silver hooks and rings. (11) Make the curtains the same on the north side–150 feet of curtains held up by twenty posts set securely in bronze bases. Hang the curtains with silver hooks and rings. (12) The curtains on the west end of the courtyard will be 75 feet long, supported by ten posts set into ten bases. (13) The east end of the courtyard, the front, will also be 75 feet long. (14) The courtyard entrance will be on the east end, flanked by two curtains. The curtain on the right side will be 22 feet long, supported by three posts set into three bases. (15) The curtain on the left side will also be 22 feet long, supported by three posts set into three bases. (16) “For the entrance to the courtyard, make a curtain that is 30 feet long. Make it from finely woven linen, and decorate it with beautiful embroidery in blue, purple, and scarlet thread. Support it with four posts, each securely set in its own base. (17) All the posts around the courtyard must have silver rings and hooks and bronze bases. (18) So the entire courtyard will be 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, with curtain walls 7 feet high, made from finely woven linen. The bases for the posts will be made of bronze. (19) “All the articles used in the rituals of the Tabernacle, including all the tent pegs used to support the Tabernacle and the courtyard curtains, must be made of bronze. (20) “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. (21) The lampstand will stand in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron and his sons must keep the lamps burning in the LORD’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel, and it must be observed from generation to generation.
It seems there is a consistent lack of information Moses failed to record. His description for each item included information on details such as size, color, and materials, but no where does Moses record detailed features. We don’t know what designs on the curtains actually looked like. We don’t know how the Ark was joined at the corners, how large the cherubim were, how they looked, or what they wore. We don’t have any idea what the silver bases at the entrance of the Tabernacle looked like, how much they weight, or how they were cast. We know they must have been of sufficient weight to support the uprights, with a base wide enough to hold up against winds. We have to ask why certain details were included, and why others were omitted.
It would have been nice to have a detailed set of plans such as drawings that listed the size, materials, colors and patterns. But Moses provided nothing of the kind. People working on each part of the Tabernacle had to listen to Moses as he guided them along every step of the process, explaining all the minor details from memory.
It would be nice to know what those curtains actually looked like. By the description given here, we can’t be sure if they are white with blue, purple, and scarlet patterns sown in, or solid colors, using the other two colors for patterns. Thus far, Moses hasn’t provided enough details for anyone to duplicate a model of the Tabernacle. Some people will disagree with that statement, but examine Moses’ record thus far. He didn’t record enough information to duplicate every detail in the Tabernacle.
Why do you think Moses followed this pattern? He was not only shown the pattern for the Tabernacle, he was told which details to record. This is a reminder Israel decided to tell Moses to talk to God then come back and tell them what He said. Moses is not going to give them the full story. They gave up that right when they turned down God’s offer.
We see the same thing happening today. People don’t want to read the Bible. They want someone to read the Bible for them, then give a brief summary of what God says. The world can’t see they are drifting away from God because it has become part of human nature. I wonder how many people read some of those best selling books like, Looking Out For Number One, and other self help, self examination, and self made success books. Movies about the Bible can draw millions to theaters. I’d like to take a survey to find out how many of those people read through the Bible.
It’s not hard to tell a Christian whose never read the Bible from one who has. Christians who never read the Bible will often have one or two pet peeves they complain about, and feel like they earn their way into Heaven by telling the world what bothers them. I refer to them as six shooters. If anything, they have about six proof texts they’ve memorized. They look at those texts as an answer to everything. In a debate, they use up their proof texts in a minute.
People who constantly read the Bible answer questions in a different way. When using scripture, they relate the entire story to a situation or debate. Unlike the six shooter who quickly runs out of ammunition, they dwell deeper and deeper into the stories, drawing on details supporting scripture they started with.
The lesson Moses taught still focuses on lessons God gave Israel to prepare them for the priesthood. God showed them a contrast by showing them how much they gave up. Moses had to rely on God to tell him what was under that gold. Moses had to listen, learn details about each piece, which details to share, and which who to share them with. A barrier was placed between man and God, and God was setting the limits of that barrier. As usual, when God established a new pattern, it included multiple lessons.
Moses gave us the basic size if the curtains and the courtyard. There are no details telling how wide or tall the posts were. Moses also omitted the exact dimensions for the bronze bases and those silver hooks and rings. No one could fabricate any one of those pieces based on the information Moses recorded. Did you notice how Moses repeated the details he recorded, but refused to add to them?
Moses had to make the point, God is still in control. Based on their reaction to His offer and the direction they were heading, God knew He had to take them back to lesson number one, and teach the first lesson shown to Pharaoh. God has control over the serpent.
God provided details down to the tent pegs. Then God gave a command. “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. The lampstand will stand in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron and his sons must keep the lamps burning in the LORD’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel, and it must be observed from generation to generation.”
God began to introduce an order of service to the Tabernacle. This is where the Tabernacle gets a little strange and we’re faced with a decision. We can either jump ahead to a few details Moses seems to have forgotten, or give Moses the benefit of doubt that he was instructed to follow a particular order when he wrote this book.
Moses was told to observe those instructions from generation to generation. Did God give an expiration date? Eventually the lampstand disappeared along with other items in the Tabernacle including the Ark. Why? It’s tempting to jump ahead. But I am convinced we need to follow the course God laid out in His book. One interesting verse I found to exemplify this point is another Psalm. Your throne is established of old; You are from everlasting. (Psalms 93:2 MKJV). The Hebrew word David used for everlasting means, concealed, or generally time out of mind. David described God as beyond our comprehension. After looking at what Israel did to God, that shouldn’t surprise us. How many people still refuse to talk to God, or don’t believe God talks to us. Generally they seem to want to convince the world, God doesn’t hear us. Or God doesn’t answer. It falls back to the same mentality seen in Eden. After Eve ate that fruit, she had something Adam didn’t. That was part of what drove Adam to eat the fruit. In her own imagination, hopes, and fear, Eve thought she could fix the problem by returning Adam to her equal. Something in Adam couldn’t stand to see Eve have something he didn’t. Making each other equals seemed to be the easy solution, but created another mess. The first lesson God taught in the garden was, sin upset the entire balance in Heaven. It makes people want to have more than others, prove their better, gain an advantage over people. We don’t have to look far into this world to see the effects of sin.
This world is one big cesspool of competition. People compete in sports, jobs, wealth, relationships, and wars. We compete to win, for money, love, land, power, fame and glory. This world preaches competition from birth. We’ve made competition a major past time, prerequisite for employment, and a necessity in religion. Oh yes, religions are geared to compete. They have to. It is the way of the world. It’s how to attract the most members and their money. Listen to how they present arguments to get your money. They present a picture of a balance between blessings and giving. They are the recipient, and your the person blessed. It’s a system churches copied from the competitive business world.
Churches seem to have forgotten how someone summed up the law. Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” (Luke 10:26-28 NLTse).
Have you ever thought about how to love God with all your mind? Was Israel a good example of that when they turned down God’s offer to be priests? What does it take to love God with all your mind today? Does it take a one minute prayer? Church twice a year? A few coins in a kettle around Christmas time? I’m only asking about the mind phase of the question. I’m not asking about any of the physical aspects. What does it take for a mind to love God? What does it take for a mind to fall in love?
What produces that physical change inside a person that makes them think about the person they fell in love with? That feeling they can’t escape every moment they’re awake. What triggers your mind to fall in love? What keeps that love alive and growing over the years. What causes the pain inside when you suddenly loose someone you love?
When David described God, he also described His love as everlasting and eternal. Something beyond our comprehension. If God’s love is beyond our comprehension, isn’t the pain He felt when Israel rejected Him just as strong, eternal, and beyond our imagination?