1. Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them. 7. And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make. 14. And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins.
|Four layers of the tabernacle (goats hair curtains were likely black instead of white).|
First covering, the badger skins. The badger skins used in the roofing of the tabernacle were likely not from a badger as we know them today, but some other animal such as a dolphin or sea cow. This formed the outer skin or roof of the tabernacle that would be visible. It would suffer abuse of hot sun, rain, hail, and other forces of nature continually forcing themselves upon the tabernacle, yet it protected the contents from exposure to any of these forces. It was therefore worn and ragged, probably not pleasant looking, but more utilitarian. Likewise, Christ, the protector and covering of those who trust in Him, He stretches himself from one end of the universe to the other in an effort of save His children. "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2, Mosiah 14:2).
Second covering, ram skin dyed red. These were placed under the badger skins as an additional layer. The ram is the animal of substitution or proxy, taking the place of another, as in the story of Abraham and Isaac and in the offerings made under the Mosaic Law. It is also the animal used in the consecration of the priesthood (see Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8). Christ is symbolized in the ram as he was consecrated from the foundations of the earth to be our great High Priest and foreordained to suffer and die for our sins. The red of the rams skins represented His blood. It is thought that Christ may have been born in early April, and under the Greek zodiacal system, His sign would have been Aires, the ram, which spans the 1st 30 degrees of celestial longitude. We are not told what type of skins were used to substitute for the fig leaves worn by Adam and Eve after they were driven from the Garden of Eden, but perhaps they were ram skins.
First curtain, goat hair. Curtains of stitched goat hair formed the walls of the (tent) Tabernacle. They were likely black as most all goats in the Middle East had black hair. Many depict these walls as white, representing purity. Black is more likely because it is the color of sin and death, and the absence of light. Goats were the sacrificial animal used in the sin offerings (Leviticus 9:3). Two goats were sacrificed on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:5-28). Sheep and goats represented saved and unsaved people (Matthew 25:32). Christ, although perfect, came in the likeness of (sinful) man (Romans 8:3). There were 11 such curtains. 11 is the number of disorganization (11 apostles after Judah's betrayal, 9/11, 11 stars in Joseph's dream). Christ disorganized the work of satan, the god of this world, and brought the possibility of salvation to all who would follow Him. In the structure of the tabernacle, all but one (1/11th) of these curtains was exposed to sight, the others (10/11ths) were hidden underneath the two layers of covering/roofing materials. So to is only 1/11th of Christ's mortal life visible to us; the short time around his birth and as a boy in the temple, and then between the his 30th and 33rd years. At age 30, John revealed Christ saying "Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Truly, He is a pure and perfect offering for our sins.
Second curtain, fine cloth linen. This layer constituted what was seen from the interior of the Tabernacle's Holy Place, forming its walls and ceiling. They were made from finely twisted linens of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and had the designs of cherubim woven into them. These same colors are included in other fabric used in the Tabernacle: the gate, the door, the veil, and the High Priest's ephod. The colors are always listed in the same order, with the blended or harmonizing color of purple in the middle. Blue represents heaven, divinity, and grace. The sky is always blue, although we do not always see it that way because of clouds, pollution, or other obstructions, but Christ is always there, eternal, unchangeable. Blue represents Christ as the Son of God or Heaven. Skipping purple for a moment and focusing on scarlet. The name Adam comes from a root word meaning "red earth". Adam was made from the dust of the earth. We go from the blue heavens to the red earth. Christ was also born as a man on the earth, as a human, although with divine characteristics, thus scarlet can represent Christ as the Son among men or the Son of Man. Purple is made by mixing blue and scarlet. If we have both the divine and human in our Savior Christ, we have a Mediator. The colors were woven into fine linen, to create tapestries of cherubim. Cherubim serve as protection. They serve at the throne of God and protect both the gate to the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life. They sit above the mercy seat, guarding the sprinkled blood. Inside the Tabernacle they become the ceilings and the walls. One looking up would see that they protected the sanctuary of the Tabernacle. There were 10 such curtains, sewn together (at their ends) in pairs of five. The number 10 is a divisible number, like the 10 commandments can be divided into five requiring our duty towards God and five our duty towards man or the 10 virgins with five being wise and five foolish. Christ is a divider of people: 1) He divides those who believe in Him from those who do not and 2) He divides us from the world and our old way of life and unites us unto Him. Holding the linen curtains together were 50 golden clasps. Those on the goat hair curtains were made of bronze, showing progression, as the metal increases in value as we move from outside in. These 50 clasps are along the ceiling of the Tabernacle and forms the border separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. Fifty is the number of Pentecost. The Day of Pentecost came 50 days after Christ's crucifixion, the day after the seventh Sabbath. On this day, the Holy Ghost descended upon each disciple of Christ, who was strengthened and empowered by its presence. Entering into the Tabernacle's Holy Place contained much symbolism of the Holy Ghost, which will be covered in later posts.
So, in summary, the skin of the badger represented Christ's covering and protection for those who follow Him, the red dyed ram skin covering represented His atoning sacrifice for us where He is our substitute, and the goat hair covering represented Christ's offering for sin. Lastly, the cloth linen curtains represented Christ Himself, as the Mediator of the covenant between God and His People. The imagery of the Tabernacle is truly something we should contemplate to see the great love and order of our Father in Heaven.