TYPES OF CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2001 James Melough
TABERNACLE: THE COURT GATE
Of all the types of Christ
there are none more varied or complete than those presented in the tabernacle to
which we are introduced in Exodus chapters 25-40.
As the dwelling place of God in the midst of His redeemed people, the
tabernacle presents us with a picture of Christ as the One through Whom God dwells by
the Holy Spirit in the midst of His redeemed people today.
The symbolic portrait of
Christ, however, isn’t confined to the tabernacle as the dwelling place of God. Every feature of that tent of meeting (which is what the
tabernacle means literally) sets before us some attribute of Him; points to some
special feature of His redeeming work, each part combining with the others to do what
no single part alone could do: set forth the perfections of the Lord Jesus Christ.
While the scriptural record
begins with the ark, Ex 25:10-16, we shall begin with the court entrance which is
described in Ex 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.”
Surely no one will have
difficulty seeing in these curtains a symbolic picture of Him Who is “The way, the
truth, and the life,” Jn 14:6. Just as
there was no other means of access to the tabernacle, the earthly dwelling place of
God, than through that curtain gateway, neither is there access to heaven by any way
other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before examining the
curtains themselves we should note that they were suspended between four pillars; and
since the curtains themselves are a type of
Christ, these pillars are viewed by many as
being symbolic of the four Gospels, for as the pillars held up the curtains, so do
the four Gospels “hold up” or present Christ.
The fact of their being
suspended from silver rods that connected the pillars, and being separated from the
earth by the height of the copper bases upon which the pillars rested, have led many
to see in them a picture of Christ in resurrection.
Having been “lifted up” Jn 12:32, on the cross, He has now been “lifted
up” in resurrection to God’s right hand.
Four, however, is the number
of earth and testing, reminding us that Christ “the Door” is the test of man’s
faith, and therefore of man’s fate. To
believe upon Christ as Savior is to live eternally; not to believe is to perish
eternally. Inside that “Door” is
life; outside, is death.
We note also the
location of the court gate: it was on the eastern side of the tabernacle, i.e., the
direction that speaks of departure from God,
reminding us that the Christ Who is the Way to God, is available to men here on earth
where the whole human race is spiritually “east” of God, in a place of departure
and death. The “Doorway” to life
couldn’t be nearer or more accessible: it is where man is in his desperate need.
The entrance curtains were
of white linen, embroidered, or interwoven with blue, purple, and scarlet; and in
these four colors we are pointed to four aspects of Christ.
White is the universal color of purity, reminding us that the One represented
by this gateway is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” Heb 7:26.
Blue, the color of heaven,
reminds us that He Who deigned to assume humanity, never ceased to manifest in His
human life that He was of heaven, not of earth.
Purple is worn by kings.
As the royal color therefore it declares that He Who once was crowned with
thorns - symbol of the curse (Ge 3:17-18) which He bore on man’s behalf -
is nevertheless God’s anointed King Who will yet wear the crown, and rule
the earth with a rod of iron.
While scarlet is taken by
some to be the symbol of earthly glory, I feel that we come closer to a right
apprehension of its meaning if we view it in the light of Isa 1:18, “Come now, and
let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be
as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
As sin is thus associated with scarlet; and since nothing but blood can atone
for sin, it would seem that the scarlet color in the gateway curtains is intended to
remind us that He Who is portrayed by those curtains is the One Who was willing to
take our sins upon Himself, and go to Calvary to shed His blood so that they might be
There is also a very obvious
link between this four-colored curtain gateway which presents Christ symbolically,
and the four Gospels which present Him literally.
A careful reading of Matthew reveals that it is the presentation of Christ as
King; but since purple is the royal color, the harmony between the purple of the
gateway curtain and the first Gospel is apparent.
It is generally recognized
that Mark is the presentation of Christ as the perfect Servant Whose service was
crowned with the laying down of His life at Calvary.
The pouring out of that life on the cross glorified God, and procured
redemption for man. But inasmuch as
scarlet is the color both of sin and of the blood which makes atonement, it is
scarcely necessary to point out the affinity existing between the second Gospel and
the scarlet color in the gateway curtains.
Scholars agree that Luke is
the Gospel which presents Christ as the perfect Man, but since white is the universal
color of purity, there can be no question in any reasonable mind that the One
presented in the third Gospel is also symbolically presented in the white linen of
the gateway curtains.
There remains then only the
necessity to note the correlation between the blue of the curtains and the Gospel of
John, a correlation that is clearly evident in view of the fact that blue is the
color of heaven, and John presents us with the One Who, though fully man, never
ceased to be the Lord from heaven.