Sermon by Pastor Ron Thomas

"The Tabernacle: Celebrating
The God Who Comes Near"

Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040

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Preached 6/11/2008

The Tabernacle: Celebrating The God Who Comes Near
Lesson Nine: The Veil - Jesus, Our New and Living Way

Key Verse: Exodus 25:8. "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them."

Text: Exodus 26:31-33. "And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: 32 And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. 33 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches (hooks), that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy."

Introduction: When I think of an imposing personality or character behind a veil or curtain, I think of the Wizard of Oz. To everyone in the Emerald City, the Wizard was an imposing personality with a booming voice. When the Wizard spoke, everyone feared Him! Upon their return to the Emerald City, Dorothy and her friends discovered the truth about the great, fearful Wizard, when Toto inadvertently pulled back the curtain that concealed him. Instead of a powerful Wizard, they found an ordinary man, hiding behind the curtain, operating a bunch of buttons and levers. They were outraged at the deception! The Wizard explained that he too was born in Kansas, and ended up in Oz as the result of a run away, hot air balloon. Behind the curtain, was nothing but hot air!

We cannot speak of the Tabernacle without mentioning the curtain or veil that hung as a wall in the Tabernacle proper, separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. This veil concealed another imposing personality whose voice caused people to tremble. Behind this curtain, was the dwelling place of the Most High God of Israel! If Toto ever tugged on this curtain, it would be the last thing he would ever do!

There were actually three curtains or veils that hung in the Tabernacle. The word "veil" in the Hebrew speaks of a screen, something that conceals and separates. Each of these curtains or veils served that purpose.

The first curtain or veil, hung at the courtyard of the Tabernacle. It is mentioned in Exodus 27:16. "And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four." This curtain or veil measured seven and one half feet tall, by thirty feet wide. It was supported by four pillars, which were most probably made of acacia wood, and set in bronze sockets. This curtain or veil along with the white linen wall, separated the people from the Tabernacle court. The curtain or veil served as the only entrance into the outer court. It was always drawn aside, or open so that any Israelite who desired, could pass into the outer court and offer a sacrifice at the brazen altar. This first veil hindered no one, and concealed nothing! It was an ever open door! This is where the priests would met you and examine your sacrifice to see if it was without blemish. If your sacrifice was not acceptable, you were turned away.

We see Jesus Christ clearly as we consider this first curtain or veil. The colors of the veil or curtain speak of Jesus Christ. Blue is the color of Heaven, representing Jesus as the Son of God, come down from Heaven to us. Purple is the color of royalty, representing Jesus as the prophesied king of the Jews. Scarlet is the color of redemption, representing Jesus as the Lamb of God, paying the price for our sins. The "fine twined linen" speaks of the righteousness of God, imputed to us upon faith in Jesus Christ. There was only one entrance, one door into the Tabernacle, and Jesus is the only way to God. This entrance however, is open to anyone. Anyone could pass beyond this first curtain, as long as they were ready to offer an acceptable sacrifice for their sin. We might think of this first veil as the way to access or experience peace with God. Jesus came to make a way to God, to mend a relationship by the offering of His own blood. Colossians 1:19-20 says, "For it pleased the Father that in Him (in Christ) should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."

The second curtain or veil, hung at the entrance of the Tabernacle proper. It is mentioned in Exodus 26:36-37. "And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework. 37 And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them." We can already see that the material and pattern of this curtain or veil is the same as the one hanging at the entrance of the courtyard. It is made of the same blue, purple and scarlet fine twined linen. The only difference is that it was supported by five pillars with gold hooks. The pillars were made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. This curtain or veil separated the priests serving in the courtyard, from the Holy Place.

Only after offering a sacrifice at the brazen altar, and washing themselves clean at the brazen laver, could the priests enter through this curtain or veil into the Holy Place. The priests passed in and out of this door everyday, as they performed the service of the Holy Place. Hebrews 9:6 says, "Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle (Holy Place), accomplishing the service of God." We have already mentioned how that twice a day, the priests filled the lamps with oil and trimmed the wicks of the golden Menorah; they serviced and actually ate at the royal table of shewbread once a week on the Sabbath; and twice a day they renewed the coals and incense on the golden altar. Like the first veil at the entrance of the courtyard, this second veil was used everyday. The first veil was used by all the people as they offered sacrifice for sins. The second veil was used by the priests only, as they went about the service of the Lord and His house.

Again in this second curtain or veil, we learn more about Jesus Christ. Jesus is not only the door to salvation and eternal life, but He is the door to a fulfilled life of service and blessing. In John 10:9-10 Jesus said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." The best life we can live is spent in the house and service of God! We might think of this second veil as the way to daily access or experience the power of God. Jesus came not just to die for us, but to live in us and through us! It is as we enter this second curtain or veil, that we participate in the life of Jesus. We feed on Jesus, the Bread of life everyday at the table of shewbread; we are illuminated by the light of His Holy Spirit everyday at the golden Menorah, and offer our worship, prayers, and praise to Jesus everyday at the golden altar of incense. It is through this daily experience, this daily celebration and participation in the life of Jesus Christ, that we are encouraged and empowered to live for Him!

The third curtain or veil, hung at the entrance of the Most Holy Place. It divided the Tabernacle proper into two separate rooms, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. Exodus 26:31-33 says, "And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: 32 And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. 33 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy." This curtain or veil like the first two, is made of blue, purple, and scarlet fine linen. It is described as a "cunning," or skillful work, which made it beautiful. Once again, we see that God is the author and lover of all things beautiful. The third veil was supported by four pillars made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. Tradition says that it was as thick as the width of a man's hand.

This third curtain was different in that there were figures of cherubim woven into it. What are cherubim, and why are they present on this third curtain? A study of the Bible will reveal that cherubim, (the plural of cherub), are always associated with the presence of God! Cherubim are symbolic of God's guarding, protective presence at the entrance to the Most Holy Place. We find them in Genesis 3:24, placed by God in the garden of Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve. They were set there to protect against an unauthorized intrusion.

As the priests entered the Holy Place to perform their daily service, they had to stop at the third veil. Why? It would be sudden death to forge your way into the Most Holy Place! This curtain or veil separated the priests from the Most Holy Place, where the presence of God dwelt. Beyond this veil rested the ark of the covenant, the mercy-seat, which was overshadowed by cherubim. Only the high priest could pass through this veil, and that only once a year, on the day of atonement. It was on this special day, that blood was offered on the mercy seat for the sins of the people. This entrance on the day of atonement was repeated year after year after year! There was nothing final about it. As long as the curtain or veil remained, access into the presence of God was restricted and limited! The veil would remain, until there was a final solution to, or putting away of man's sin.

This third curtain or veil represents the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our sin, once and for all! Notice Hebrews 10:19-20. "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh." Jesus veiled Himself in human flesh, however, He was the virgin born, sinless Son of God. As such, Jesus met the demands of the Law in every way to the last detail! Veiled in human flesh, Jesus was nailed to the cross. The prefect, sinless body of Jesus was bruised, beaten, pierced and broken as He bore our sin! Having accomplished our redemption, Jesus cried out, "It is finished!" Matthew 27:50-51 tells us what happened at that moment. It says, "Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent."

The veil separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was torn, rent from top to bottom, not bottom to top! This was nothing short of a miracle! What a picture of the perfect work of reconciliation between God and man! Jesus Christ by His redemptive work on the cross, took our sins away and in doing so, removed the barrier between us and God permanently. We might think of this third veil as the way or access into the very presence of God. Jesus opened the way of access to God! The veil is rent, the way is open, Jesus as our High Priest has become our "new and living way," into the presence of God! The age of animal sacrifice is over! Jesus is our "once and for all" sacrifice for sin. The age of having an earthy priest represent us is over! Jesus is our perfect, permanent High Priest, ever living to intercede for us before the throne of God. The age of limited access into God's presence is over! As believers in Jesus Christ, we are covered by His blood, therefore at anytime, we can come boldly into the presence by Jesus Christ! Jesus has made us the sons and daughters of God, removing a fear based relationship! Paul in Romans 8:14-15 says, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."

As we began our journey, we were standing in the wilderness of our sin, outside the Tabernacle. A wall of white linen, representing the righteousness and perfection of God, stood as a barrier. However, on the east side, there was a blue, purple, scarlet door made of fine linen and crafted with needlework. Recognizing Jesus, we entered that first curtain by faith; we faced the bronze altar and on it, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for us. Moving on into the courtyard, we came to the brazen laver where we cleansed our hands and feet, preparing to enter into a deeper fellowship with God. A second curtain or veil stood before us. Recognizing Jesus as our living Lord, we entered into the second veil through service, into the Holy Place with the priests or brethren, to be illuminated by the Light, to feast on the Word of God, to praise and to pray. We can now enter the third veil boldly. This is where the Old Testament priests, had to stop. Jesus had not yet come to die on the cross. They looked forward by faith to His coming. Today, the veil is gone! Because of Jesus Christ, our "new and living way," we can come boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in our time of need. These three veils challenge us today.

Veil one: Have you believed?

Veil two: Are you are servant?

Veil three: Are you a prayer warrior? Do you call upon the Lord boldly in prayer?

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