The boards and bars
In considering these component parts of the Tabernacle we come to consider that which gave structure and form to the dwelling place of God among men. The Tabernacle – ‘dwelling place’ of God – was nothing without these boards and bars. They are a powerful illustration of the person of Christ as God incarnate. The curtains speak of His work as the suffering, substitute sin offering sent from Heaven but His work is necessarily linked with His Person. The two cannot be separated without a collapse of any meeting place with God. To trust Christ’s work is to trust Him, to trust Him is to trust His work. As in the other constituent parts of the Tabernacle, Christ is to the fore here.
I THESE BOARDS AND BARS PRESENT CHRIST IN HIS TWO NATURES.
The sides of the Tabernacle were formed of boards and bars that were made of —
a) Shittim wood, Exodus 26:15.
As we have already observed the shittim wood represents the sinless and therefore incorruptible humanity of Christ. He possessed true humanity yet it was a specially prepared humanity, without sin. Cp Hebrews 2:14-17,10:5, John 1:14, 1 Timothy 2:5. There could be no dwelling place for God among depraved and fallen mankind, nor could there be a meeting place for for such men and God provided without the incarnation of Christ.
It is striking to see the emphasis on the fact that these boards were standing up, v15. In the midst of a fallen race, Christ as the second Adam lived an upright life. He lived according to an unvarying standard of righteousness and holiness.
b) Gold, Exodus 15:29.
The gold of the Tabernacle represents deity. Christ took into union with Himself a true body and a reasonable soul. Yet He was and remains God. The gold was brought into union with the shittim wood by the skill of men empowered by the Holy Ghost. It was joined with and yet remained distinct from the wood. Here is how Christ is the meeting/dwelling place for God — He is God and man. A mediator must of necessity represent two parties.
The glory of Christ’s deity is to the fore here. How striking to see the normal view of Christ reversed here. His humanity is hidden by His Divine glory! This is the very opposite to the natural man’s view of the Saviour — Cp the external view of the tabernacle! Here in the Sanctuary we have the believing worshipping, servant’s view of Christ. His ministry is so vividly portrayed here. The golden boards reaching from an open heaven to the dust of earth. Cp Luke 1:35, 2:8-14.
II THIS STRUCTURE PRESENTS CHRIST AS THE UNSHAKABLE REFUGE FOR SINNERS.
The stability and solidity of the tabernacle is very instructive. It was no ordinary tent though it may have appeared quite ordinary! It was a very solid structure indeed.
a) The physical dimensions of the boards, Exodus 26:16.
The thickness of each board is not revealed. It is suggestive that this dimension is left unknown! Certainly there is no measurement of the power and strength of Christ as the great upholder of the scheme of redemption. While certain features of His person and work are revealed there is much that is beyond measure. The curtains were hung on walls of massive strength. The mighty strength of Christ as the Saviour is seen here. All the work of salvation; everything necessary to provide a meeting place betweeen God and men rests upon Him. A ‘tent of meeting’ rests on no other support.
b) Corner boards, Exodus 26:23-24.
In each of the two corners of the west side there were corner boards — acting as braces. Christ is referred to as the corner in a double sense. Cp Isaiah 28:16, Psalm 118:22-23 (Luke 20:17-18).
c) The bars, Exodus 26:26-29.
The purpose of the bars was to join the boards together and make them one solid, secure structure. Their significance is unity — the uniting of the dual natures in Christ into one person; one purpose etc. One dwelling/meeting place formed. There is only one way to God — no man cometh unto the Father but by me. The bars were of the same composition as the boards showing that in and of Himself Christ was one!
d) Tenons and sockets, Exodus 26:17, 19.
The silver sockets were set into the ground, the tenons on the boards were then set into the sockets.
(i) The foundation of a meeting place with God is the work of redemption. The sockets were cast from the silver paid by each soul to redeem himself from death during the numbering of the people, Exodus 30:11-16. The silver of the tabernacle was a constant reminder to Israel of the price paid for their souls. There is no meeting with God on any other basis. The work of Christ as He paid the price of our sin is the basis of meeting with God.
(ii) There was a meeting place because the tenons of the boards firmly gripped this foundation. Tenon = ‘hand’. There is a picture of Christ in His work as Saviour of sinners. Why is there a place where God dwells among men? a place where God is to be met? Because Christ with both His hands embraced the work of redemption as His own. He put all His power into it, singlemindedly He went about this work and provided a basis for sinners to meet God. The gift of redemption is in His hands — will you take it?
Christ as the sinner’s refuge is presented as the rock of ages (eternities), Isaiah 26:4 — a solid, enduring place of safety for all who trust Him. This security and enduring place of abode with God is typified in the Tabernacle structure.
The stability, massive strength and glory of the boards and bars was something that was hidden from view. On the surface the Tabernacle looked like any other tent in the wilderness. Christ appears as a man to the natural unbelieving mind. For this reason men see no reason why some other tent will not do just as well to meet God and to take refuge from sin in. Yet He is much more — an eternal redeemer and a secure refuge of soul. This is only learned by those who as NT priests come into Christ and learn of Him.