“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Courtyard - One Way

Exodus 27:9-18 - “You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings of fine twined linen a hundred cubits long for one side. Its twenty pillars and their twenty bases shall be of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. And likewise for its length on the north side there shall be hangings a hundred cubits long, its pillars twenty and their bases twenty, of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. And for the breadth of the court on the west side there shall be hangings for fifty cubits, with ten pillars and ten bases. The breadth of the court on the front to the east shall be fifty cubits. The hangings for the one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. On the other side the hangings shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework. It shall have four pillars and with them four bases. All the pillars around the court shall be filleted with silver. Their hooks shall be of silver, and their bases of bronze. The length of the court shall be a hundred cubits, the breadth fifty, and the height five cubits, with hangings of fine twined linen and bases of bronze.

THE COURTYARD

The white linen hangings were 5 cubits tall, or about 7.5 feet. Considering that the average height in those days was around 5’6” or less, you can see that these hangings were fairly formidable walls to the average Israelite. In other words, one couldn’t ‘peek’ into the courtyard easily! This physically delineated the sacred and the profane in the life of the Israelite… To those outside the courtyard, it was impossible to see what took place within. These hangings illustrated, tangibly, the reality that God is holy and separate. The linens being white, also symbolize purity and righteousness; God was ‘fenced’ off from the Israelites by their unrighteousness.

As I thought about the courtyard this week, I began to envision the fence from the outside. It is all well and good to talk of the wondrous things inside the courtyard, but how many are outside, trying to climb over the fence using their own works, or knowledge? Ephesians 2:8,9 -- For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Bronze pillars supported the courtyard hangings. Bronze speaks of God’s judgment, and these bronze pillars are set into bronze sockets. The righteousness of God requires judgment for sin. Yet, God in His wisdom capped the pillars with silver, allowing those outside the wall to glimpse the beauty that lie within. This reminds me of the reality that the Lord has revealed His redemptive plan via His Word, this allows even the unbeliever to get a glimpse of His salvation offering. The blood (silver) caps the judgment, what a beautiful picture! 2nd Corinthians 5:21 -- For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

THE GATE

So the wall prevents anyone from coming in; however God has placed a single door in the midst of the hangings. Only one door, not many doors, there was only one approach to the Lord, and this door led straight to the brazen altar. This door pointed directly to the sacrifice that was required.

This gate, or door, was made of beautiful colors, scarlet, blue, purple, and linen. It is a beautiful picture of our Messiah. The red obviously speaks of the blood He shed for us -- Romans 5:8,9 -- But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Blue speaks of the heavenly realm that He left to come to earth and die for us; John 6:38 -- "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me…” The purple speaks of His kingship; 1st Timothy 6:13–16 -- I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. And of course the white linen speaks of His righteousness; 1st Peter 1:17–19 -- And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

I can see my own redemption in this picture. I walked around this white wall, seeking to enter in through my own works; I pursued knowledge, ‘spiritualism’ and good acts, but none of these allowed me entrance into the place where God dwelt. Until the Holy Spirit regenerated me, I was unaware of the door that was there, when my eyes were opened to this door, it was every bit as beautiful as the gate in the Tabernacle. The Lord had spoken these words several millennia before I arrived at the door; John 10:9 – 11 -- "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…”

I wonder how many people are sitting in churches today that have never heard these words? I mean really heard them? Churches are as infected with the salvation by works syndrome as anybody in the world. We bring people in, and we get them involved in ‘things’ in the church, maybe it is Sunday School teacher, or maybe it is parking car attendant, but we have never ensured that they know who the door is. People will often tell me they have gone to church for years but never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel! May we never be so self-absorbed, that we rush people into ‘helping’ before they have come through that door. As long as people are outside the wall, we have a job to do!

May we never stop telling people this one truth: John 14:5,6 -- Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me..."

Many people are OK with Jesus saying that He is the Way, the truth and the Life, they rank Him with all of the other great sages of history, but the minute that we make the claim that no one comes to the Father except through Him, then we have stepped over the line. Sadly, many churches, for the sake of political correctness and a misguided concept of tolerance, have stopped proclaiming this great truth.

Just as the Tabernacle had but one door, which led directly to the altar of sacrifice, so too, there is but one way to the Father, and that is through the Messiah -- and this way leads directly to an altar of sacrifice!

FINALLY A CHALLENGE

So, my Christian friends, have we been sitting on our collective duffs smugly, and safely, ensconced in our C'Christian ghetto', while outside the doors of our churches live millions who are looking at the outside wall of God’s righteousness! You know the way to the door, are you sharing that information? We are not a secret organization, yet we sometimes act as though we are.

Have we been guilty of forgetting the beauty of the Gate? Have we taken our salvation lightly, have we forgotten what it was like outside the walls of the Tabernacle? God forbid that we ever become so callous as to watch the lost head to destruction without it breaking our heart! We know that there is but one way in, and yet, how often do we avoid discussing it? Is this knowledge really something we should keep to ourselves?

My friends let us listen anew to the words of Paul in Romans 10:13–15 -- For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"

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