For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough


“And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins,” Ex 26:14.  These two coverings constituted the third and fourth layers of the tabernacle ceiling; and as we have seen the first two to be symbols of Christ, so do we see that these next two also represent Him.

Looking first at the rams’ skins dyed red, we note that the ram was the sacrificial animal offered at the consecration of the priests, Ex 29:15-26. It represents Christ therefore as the great High Priest so completely dedicated to doing the Father’s will that His obedience went beyond the living of a perfect life: it was an obedience that extended all the way to death, “Christ ... through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God,” Heb 9:14.  The sacrifice of Christ went above and beyond the redemption of men: it was first for the glory of the Father, for it is by man’s obedience that God is glorified. 

In its being a male we see the demonstration of the fact that all the energy of His will was devoted to the accomplishment of the Father’s will, for as we have noted in other studies, the male represents activity of the will, in contrast with the passivity which is represented by the female.

Not only do we see Christ’s death implied in the removal of the skin from the ram, we see also the symbolic announcement of the fact that His righteousness was no mere outward thing.  Removal of the skin exposed the inward parts, reminding us that the outward perfection seen by the eye of man was exactly the same perfection as met the eye of God when He surveyed “the thoughts and intents of the heart,” the inward life.

The color scarcely needs comment.  Red is the color of blood, without the shedding of which there can be no remission of the penalty of sin.  As the priests, the sons of Aaron, ministering in the tabernacle, were sheltered under the canopy of the rams’ skins dyed red, so do believers, the spiritual priests and sons of Christ, serve and worship under the shelter of His sin-atoning blood.

Coming now to the outer covering of badgers’ skins, we find another symbolic picture of Christ.  While there is uncertainty as to whether these were the skins of badgers or seals, there seems to be agreement among scholars that the color itself was drab and unattractive, reminding us that He Who is portrayed in this covering is the One described by the prophet as having, “no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not,” Isa 53:2-3.  This drab covering represents Christ as seen by unbelieving men: they find nothing attractive in Him.  Faith, however, sees Him in a vastly different light, for the Christ presented to the view of faith is pictured in the gloriously embroidered tapestry of blue, purple, scarlet and white that constituted the innermost ceiling of the tabernacle.

Somber though its color may have been, that badgerskin covering, impervious to all weather, was nevertheless that which protected the whole tabernacle and its costly furnishings from the elements.  Apart from the Lord’s assumption of humanity, His willingness to veil His glory in order that He might become man’s Substitute, there could be no redemption of men’s souls, no shelter for sinners from the wrath of a holy God.

Another reference to badgers’ skins is found in Ez 16:10 which describes God’s care for His people, “I ... shod thee with badgers’ skins....”  Since the foot is the scriptural symbol of the walk or manner of life, and since the shoe is that which separates the foot from the ground, it represents separation.

God’s provision of badger-skin shoes for His redeemed people therefore declares symbolically that it is Christ (the One represented by the badgers’ skins) Who separates them from a condemned world.  The need for that separation will be the more apparent when we remember that when Adam sinned, the curse that should have fallen upon him was transferred to the ground,“Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” Ge 3:17.  The shoes furnished by God for His redeemed people Israel during their years in the wilderness, are therefore the symbolic assurance that the blood of Christ separates them from the curse, i.e., from all condemnation.  Since, however, the removal of the skin from the animal implies its death, we are reminded that that deliverance has been made possible only through Christ’s death.

Another instructive reference to these shoes provided by God for His redeemed people is found in Dt 29:5, “And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.”  Since the clothing of the redeemed represents the righteousness of Christ that covers the believer; and since, as we have noted, the shoe represents separation from defilement and therefore from judgment or condemnation), the lifelong duration of both assures the believer that his separation from condemnation, like his righteousness received as God’s priceless gift, will endure eternally.

And finally, in the absence of any dimensions for either of these two outer coverings of the tabernacle, we see declared the immeasurable extent and eternal duration of the blessings secured for the redeemed by the death of Christ.



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough