READ EXODUS 27
Last week we looked at the bronze alter in the courtyard of the Tabernacle. And, most significantly, we looked at the glorious way Christ fulfilled the purpose of the Tabernacle by being God with us!
After giving instructions for the alter in the courtyard, God gives Moses instructions on what the courtyard itself should be like.
Read Exodus 27:9-19. What is being described here?
What is it’s function?
What specific things do you notice about it?
The overall Tabernacle is not very large, about 1000 square feet by many scholars’ estimation. However, the courtyard that surrounded it was quite large. Like a fabric fence strung up on posts, the courtyard outlined the boundaries of the consecrated space, giving it structure and substance in the community.
And right away, we’ll notice something incredibly significant. The courtyard walls were about 8’ tall. This is taller than most men and women, and these outer walls would have prevented most Israelites’ from seeing what was going on inside. Yes, they would be able to see the smoke rising from the alter and smell the ash of the sacrifice, but they would not be able to see the Tabernacle itself unless they entered the courtyard.
How did one enter the courtyard? Where was there access?
There was one opening in the courtyard wall. One. It was not very large, and it stood opposite the Holy of Holies.
The courtyard is the final piece to the overall structure of the Tabernacle. There were three main sections of God’s dwelling place: The Holy of Holies, the Holy Place, and the Courtyard. While the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place were covered in the Tabernacle tent, the courtyard was an open-air space with limited access. These three spheres served three different purposes in the community of faith. The courtyard opening allowed anyone seeking God to come into the courtyard. The people could come into the courtyard to observe and learn. The Holy Place was the place where the priests could minister before God, following God’s commands regarding the lampstand and the Table for the Bread. And the Holy of Holies was the place reserved for the Mediator alone – the one God had chosen to minister before Him in His presence.
Look back at Exodus 24. When Moses is called up to the mountain, do you see these three spheres included in God’s commands (give specific attention to how God arranges proximity to His presence)?
Access to God’s presence is ordered, as we’ve seen, because of His holiness. God invites the mediator of His choosing to minister on behalf of the people before Him in His presence, like Moses going up the mountain to meet with God. He also invite many to serve Him in proximity to His presence, like the elders He invited half way up the mountain. And God also, in His graciousness, allows access to His presence for the community of faith, like the people who were invited to stand at the foot of the mountain.
In the construction of the courtyard we are reminded that God’s good and gracious desire is for all to come to know Him. God could have only arranged a Holy of Holies. He could have also only arranged a Holy of Holies and a Holy Place where He would be worshiped and served. But God’s invitation stretches far and wide, inviting all to would seek Him to come. The courtyard reminds us that God’s desire is to be among His people, and to call many … MANY … into proximity to His presence.
Truly, this is the great reality of the Good News.
How do you see the Gospel in this?
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that His call to Himself is far and wide. Do you know those who do not know God? Pray for them today that they might come to know Him. Ask Him to give you confidence and courage to share your faith in Him, inviting them into relationship with God.