ON THE FOURTH CHAPTER OF ISAIAH. No.5.

(Continued.)

Verse 6: “And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from the storm, and from rain.”

From what is said here, and in other passages of Scripture, it is evident that what is called the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, has its antitype under the gospel dispensation, and that this anti-type, as to its external protecting coverings, and to its glory, will be more fully displayed at a further day. In Ezekiel 37:27, having reference to the same period with the above, God says, “My tabernacle also shall be with them.” In Rev.21:3, it is said, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men and he will dwell with them.” This anti-typical tabernacle the Apostle describes as one which “the Lord pitched, and not man,” {Heb.8:3,} and again as being a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands; that is to say, not of this building, and of which Christ is the High Priest. Heb.9:11.

This anti-type is what we have now to show. By the tabernacle proper, that is the curtains of fine linen and the boards of the tabernacle, {Exod.40:18,} together with what it contained, I understand the gospel church, with its Head and under its peculiar dispensation prefigured; by the several coverings, that protection which is provided for it. The several parts of the type we will briefly notice. First, the ark of testimony, with its enclosed tables of the Law, and covered over with the mercy seat of pure gold represented the Law as magnified and made honorable by the obedience of Christ, and as covered over, or divided from his people by that perfect and divine atonement which he made, pure, and independent of all the works, exercises, feelings, &c., of creatures. As the Ark with the mercy seat and cherubims upon it, the golden pot of manna, the golden censor, with Aaron’s rod that budded, were all placed in the most holy place where alone the high priest had access, so Christ as the head of his church, is seated on the throne of his glory, where he remains as their life, as their righteousness to perfume their prayers, as the fountain of gifts, sovereignly to dispense them to his church; and where he will ever remain to be seen as their bread of life. As the high priest entered into the holiest once every year, not without blood, &c., so Christ as the High Priest of spiritual Israel, entered in once into Heaven itself, having obtained eternal redemption for us, and to appear in the presence of God for us. Heb.9:7,12 & 24. As the Ark was brought forth and carried in the center of the hosts of Israel in their journeyings, so Christ walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and is with his churches in all their difficulties and tribulation.

Second. In the holy place where the golden candlestick, the incense altar and the table of shew-bread; so in the gospel church and in its gifts for the ministry, we have the golden candle stick and its lamps burning, to give light to all that are in the house, and answering to the pure olive oil, which the bowls of the candlestick contained to feed the light, we have the Holy Spirit who dwells with and is in the saints, and who feeds the gifts for the ministry, making them useful. In the ministry of the word, and in the supper is held forth as the Lord our righteousness, by which the people of God are encouraged to go to the throne of grace, as if encompassed with a cloud of smoking incense; and is thus also held to view as the bread of life. The priests, the sons of Aaron only might enter the holy place; to them it appertained to order and trim the lamps, to burn incense on the golden altar, and to set in order the shew-bread on the table and to eat thereof; so none but believers, the sons of Christ our Spiritual Aaron, and who are made kings and priests unto God and the Lamb, have a right in the church or to interfere in its institutions, and it is their province, being in the church, to order and trim the lamps, to judge of the gifts, and to see that they give true light; and no stranger might come nigh to meddle with these things; yea, not even the Levites, lest they and the priests both die. See Num.18:3,5 & 7. How will mission societies, mission boards, theological schools &c., compare with this ordering of the furniture, and Law of the tabernacle?

Third. The Altar for burnt offerings, was in the outer-court, before and near the door of the tabernacle, and the brazen laver between that and the door of the tabernacle. The altar being thus without the tabernacle, taught first that Christ and him crucified is to be preached to the world at large as the only way of salvation; second, that the atonement or offering of Christ should be applied and received by faith before a person should be admitted into the church. As the altar was near the door of the tabernacle, so there needs not much space between a person’s laying the hand of his faith on Christ as his great sacrifice, and coming to the door of the church. As the altar and its vessels were under the charge of the priests alone, {Num.18:3 & 5,} so the preaching of Christ crucified to the world, belongs only to believers, and to be under the direction of the royal priesthood, the church, and no stranger should be allowed to interfere in these things, even though he would give his hundred dollars, twice told, for directorship.

Fourth. As the laver was placed between the altar and the door of the tabernacle for the priests to wash their hands and feet at before they entered into the tabernacle, or came near to the altar, Ex.40:30-32; so believers, notwithstanding their having felt an application of the blood of Christ for pardon, should have clean hands and feet, an upright walk and conduct, before they are allowed to enter and enjoy the privileges of the church, or to minister at the altar. The Master saith, “He that is washed, {that is in the fountain of a Savior’s blood,} needeth not, save to wash his feet;” implying that if the walk of a believer is clean, he is altogether clean.

I now pass to the tabernacle proper. Here a difficulty presents itself as to which is innermost, the boards, or the curtains of fine linen. The general idea is that the boards are innermost, thus it has been described, and thus Calmet, and others have given drawings of it; and so any of us, no doubt would have made and set it up, if left to our own discretion. But Moses had the pattern showed to him in the mount. From all the examination I have been able to make of the descriptions given in the word concerning the tabernacle, I find nothing warranting this general idea; but by comparing Exodus 36:13 & 14, with 40:18 & 19, I am constrained to believe that the tabernacle of fine linen was set up innermost, and the boards being put together by their tenons and bars, formed a protection to it; the tent of goat’s hair, with the other coverings, being over the whole.

Hence the tabernacle of fine linen is first to be noticed. “Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet; with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.” Ex.26:1. By this tabernacle I understand the everlasting covenant, as being the heavenly places in which the people of God are blessed with all spiritual blessings, {Eph.1:3,} to be represented. Parkhurst, in his Lexicon on the word shesh, here rendered fine linen, makes it so named to denote the cheerful, vivid whiteness which linen is susceptible of. The root signifies to be sprightly, cheerful, to rejoice, &c. It therefore fitly represents that peace and joy which a soul feels when by faith it views itself sheltered under the provisions of the everlasting covenant, or enabled to take hold of its better promises. It was twined linen, made strong; so the covenant in all its provisions is made sure, and all its blessings ultimately connected together, not to be separated, its promises are not yea and nay. These curtains were also made with blue, azure, or sky blue. So the blessings of this covenant, are not earthly, but heavenly and spiritual. They were also made with scarlet and purple. So the everlasting covenant, whilst it recognizes the inflexible demands and purity of the fiery law, shows also the purple fountain of a Savior’s blood as having satisfied the law’s demands, removed its wrath, and changed it, from being an object of dread, to an object of delight and confidence to the believers.

These curtains were also wrought with cherubims of cunning work. There a difficulty occurs as to what the cherubs were, and consequently as to what they represent. The literal idea of the term, may be as a child, or young man, to increase in knowledge, or to become great, &c. If we look for a description of them, we find none in the history of the tabernacle or temple, excepting that they had wings and faces. In Ez.1:5-12, compared with 10:6-9, we have a particular description of the cherubim which he saw, and which corresponds with the four beasts or more properly four living creatures, of Rev.4:6-8, and which are generally thought to be like the cherubims on the mercy seat. By turning to Rev.5:8-10, it is evident these unite with the Elders in worshipping the Lamb, and in saying, “Thou hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood, out of every kindred, tongue and people, &c.” Hence the cherubims could be designed to represent, neither the Trinity in union with the man Christ, or angels, for these were not redeemed out of the kindreds, people and nations. They must represent some chosen from among men. And from their standing upon the mercy seat which represents the atonement of Christ, one on the one end and the other, on the other, with their faces inward looking toward the mercy seat, I think the prophets which prophesied before the coming of Christ, and the Apostles are intended, or rather the prophetic gifts; hence Christ is spoken of as the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Eph.2:20. The appearance and several faces of these cherubims, were designed to represent the qualifications of those for their office; but I will now take time to particularize. As the apostolic stands at the head of the several gifts for the ministry, so through them I understand the ordinary gifts according to their measure represented. But corresponding to the cherubims on these curtains, we find cherubims and palm trees carved on the wall of Solomon’s temple. I Kings 6:29. And corresponding to these we find Ezekiel describing the cherubims and palm trees carved on the wall of the temple of which he had a vision. Ez.4:1,18 & 19. As these cherubims were so intimately connected with palm trees, so that each of the faces of a cherub described looked toward a palm tree, and as palm trees seems intended, as from Ps.92:12, and Songs 7:7 & 8, to represent gospel churches, they seemed intended to represent ordinary gospel ministers. These cherubs had only two faces, the face of a man, denoting that they possessed understanding, and the face of a lion to denote their boldness in declaring the truth and testimony of God, and each face looking toward a palm tree to denote their entire relation to, and dependence on the churches. Therefore they are not our modern missionaries. Whether these cherubs had the bodily appearance of a man, to denote the ministers of the gospel being men of like passions with others; straight feet and divided hoof, to denote the steadfastness and correct walk which ought to belong to a minister, and wings to denote their soaring above the earth and earthly considerations in the ministry of the word, as those described, Ez.1:6-12, had, is not said. But from their bearing the same name it is presumable they had the same general appearance. Now from the cherubims being wrought on these curtains we are taught that the gifts for the ministry are an important provision in the everlasting covenant.

Next to, and connected with the tabernacle were the boards of shittim wood, overlaid with gold, and fastened together by tenons and bars, so as to form one building. These boards, being of incorruptible wood, and overlaid with gold, and thus closely connected together, represented the whole mediation of Christ in its various parts, and as embracing the union of his divine and human natures. As the tabernacle was thus encompassed with these boards, so by the mediation of Christ the church is secured and the everlasting covenant is sealed and its blessings made sure to the heirs of promise. The sides only were enclosed with the boards, the top only being left open, teaching that the mediation of Christ was not designed to secure to the people of God an earthly inheritance, nor to confine their views and expectations here but to lead them to look forward toward a heavenly and eternal inheritance; and also to raise their hopes and expectations heavenward for their salvation and defense. The east side was not enclosed with boards, but pillars of the same wood, and overlaid in the same manner with gold were placed on that side; and on these were suspended for the door of the tabernacle, a hanging of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needle work; this to afford a passage in and out for the priests.

The hanging, like the curtains of the tabernacle represented the spiritual blessings with which the people of God are here blessed, as before showed. But no cherubims on it; ministerial gifts are not to be manifested, but in the church; neither are they to be the door of entrance into the church. This hanging was wrought with needle work and suspended on the pillars, to show that the blessings thereby represented must not be merely learned but wrought in the experience of a person, and he brought to hang entirely on the mediation of Christ, without any other standing as to his acceptance with God; in order to his being entitled to the privileges of the house of God.

I now pass to notice the coverings of the tabernacle. The first was the tents of goat’s hair, that is curtains made of goat’s hair spun. This formed a tent well calculated to turn the weather. As goat’s hair is distinct from sheep’s clothing, there may be some difficulty as to what is to be understood by it. It may denote that outward protection to the church and religion of Christ derived from the world, signified by the earth’s helping the woman. Rev.12:16. Or rather I think, it denotes the worldly deportment of believers; that is, their intercourse with the world, and in the business thereof. This being upright and harmless as it ought to be, is well calculated to secure to them toleration of their religion and protection to their persons. This may properly be denoted by goat’s hair; first, to distinguish it from their religious acts and exercise, more properly termed sheep’s clothing, and because this intercourse is the actings of the natural life, and relating to its concerns; though it ought always to be under the influence of their religion. Second, because when believers look at their own outward deportment they see nothing good in it, and often think it bespeaks their being goats. Hence the surprise of those on the right hand; Matt.25:37-38.

Over this tent was a covering of ram’s skins died red. This was calculated to denote the fiery law of God and the influence it often has in restraining the enemies of the cross from doing violence to the people of God.

Outside of all was a covering of badger’s skin. There is a great diversity among Lexicographers and translators as to the true meaning of the word thehashim rendered by our translators badgers. That badgers were not intended is pretty evident from the fact that they are northern animals and not likely to be found in Arabia. Calmet thinks a color resembling sky colors was intended. The Editor of Calmet suggests that seals were the animals intended. Pagninus gives as the meaning of the word, the yew-tree, hence supposes the bark of that tree used, but quotes the Targum as thinking an animal of many colors designed. Parkhurst gives azure blue as the meaning, but thinks it a lighter sky color, than the color generally called blue, and suiting the more ordinary appearance of the sky. This also was the rendering of all the ancient translators. Hence the two leading ideas on the subject have been; on the one hand, that something coarse was intended, on the other, that the colors of the heavens are designed. To us the most natural idea would be that this outside covering designed to protect the others from the weather was something coarse. And in reference to the church, as it has existed, it is evident that its having been led to assume the coarseness incident to a wilderness and obscure state has been a great protection to it. But to me it is no less certain, that, that heavenly and divine interposition {denoted by the sky colors of this covering, which after the destruction of the Beast and the churches coming up out of the wilderness, will be so clearly seen as having been exerted in her preservation during the reign of the Beast, and now so gloriously exerted in her deliverance, the God of Jeshurun being seen riding upon the heavens in her help and in his excellency on the skies {Deut.33:26,} will strike a dread upon all who remain unregenerated, and deter them from making any attempts to annoy the people of God; as the miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egypt, struck a dread upon the nations around. Hence I believe it was designed of God that these two ideas should be attached to that word, suiting the two states of the church, its oppressed, and its more glorious state.

The promise in the passage under consideration contains two leading ideas. 1st. As suiting also the promise already quoted from Ezekiel 37:27. “My tabernacle shall be with them,” it implies that as the tabernacle was, in all its parts made according to the pattern showed in the mount, and of God’s appointing, no human planning about it, so that the church, when it shall have been washed from all its defilements, and brought out of the wilderness, shall be in all things conformed to the word of God, that God shall then be worshipped and served, not according to the plans of men, but according to his own revealed order, and by his own appointed institutions. 2nd. That then the protecting coverings of the church will have their full effect to preserve the people and religion of God from every annoyance, so that, according to Isa.11:9, “They shall not hurt, nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain.”

We are not to understand by this that the Church of Christ has not now, all these protecting coverings for her defense. But as I have before noted in the course of my remarks upon this chapter, God has left his church and people to experience these buffetings for their good, and to reclaim them from their base wanderings from him; and that they might experience these severe rebukes from those lovers which they have gone after in their conformity to human religions. God, as he hardened the heart of Pharaoh, has suffered the hearts of the enemies of truth to become enthralled by their false systems of religion, has given them up to believe a lie, and thus to become emboldened to assault the truth and people of God, in the face of those awful threatenings in his word against them. But then these false systems by which men are led to think that they are doing God service in reviling and persecuting the saints, will all have been swept away in the destruction of the man of sin, and the saints will be shielded by a correct walk, protected by the declarations of the divine law, and upheld by the manifest interposition of an arm almighty, so that none will dare to molest them. May this glorious period soon arrive, and may we in the mean time, have grace to take patiently all the ignominy and persecutions that may be heaped upon us by those who are rearing the Image of the Beast.

S.TROTT.
Fairfax Court House, Va., July 7th, 1837.