Exodus 38:9 “And he made the court.”
So, what’s the big deal about a verse like the one above? Who cares, in this day and age, what the Bible says about such a minor detail as the court in the construction of the tabernacle? Does it have any meaning to us at all? I would suggest, if you are a believer, much in every way.
First, it’s important to realize that in the physical design of the tabernacle, there are wonderful types or shadows of spiritual truth, but we have to take a careful look, to see them. First, some thoughts about the word “court.” In the Hebrew language in which the Old Testament was written, “court” has a meaning of “a yard (as enclosed by a fence); also, a hamlet (as similarly surrounded with walls).” The same word is translated elsewhere as “tower,” or “village.” It was the outermost courtyard of the tabernacle into which the common people of Israel could enter. It was surrounded by poles on which curtains were hung. As people entered this sanctuary, its construction offered a sense of separation or protection as the worshipers came into a place apart from the wilderness that surrounded them.
But then as we look at the curtains, we find out that they were beautiful. They were skillfully woven of finely twined linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn. They were embroidered with figures of cherubim, a type of angel (Exodus 26:1-6). Exodus 27 tells us that the court was 150 ft long and 75 ft wide, and the curtains extended almost 23 feet high. As people entered the court yard from the dull, harsh, and arid surroundings in the wilderness, they entered a place of beauty, and as they looked up to these curtains, they saw angels, all around.
So, what does this all have to do with you and me. For some insight on this, we need to look to a place like Psalm 84, which says “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of host. My soul longs, yes, faint for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. . . Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!” Here we see this idea of protection and beauty afforded by those who dwell in courts of the Lord. Thinking of the church today, we are the tabernacle – the temple – of the Lord. He dwells in us and with us as His people. It’s the idea in the name of Immanuel which was given to Jesus, meaning “God with us.” The court of the Old Testament tabernacle speaks to us of the beauty of our situation and the protection given us by God and His holy angels, no matter where we are – even the valley of the shadow of death. In fellowship and communion with the Lord, we are in a safe place, a place where we need not fear. It’s like when the servant of the prophet Elisha quaked with fear at the surrounding armies of the King of Aram as they approached to attack Israel. To this Elisha prayed “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” God’s powerful angels, though unseen, were surrounding them. What a cure for fear, and what a beautiful place to be.
That’s how it is for every believer who spiritually dwells in the house of the Lord. We’re dwelling within the unseen beauty and heavenly protection that surrounds us like curtains stretching from the heavens to the earth. And as the curtains were sure to ripple in the breeze in the wilderness, we are sure that the Holy Spirit is present, Whom Jesus likened to the wind that “blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes (John 3:8).”
And one other thing. There’s the protection and refuge of God’s Word to every believer. Think of the refuge given by the following words from Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” What a fortress this is “for those who love God.” In these powerful words sent from heaven to earth we have an impregnable defense against anything that comes against us or threatens us. It’s a more powerful fortress than any anti-ballistic missile shield, any army, or any wall. It’s a beautiful promise any believer can rest in as they travel through the wilderness of this world filled with all its dangers and the many enemies of Jesus and His followers. It’s the very same idea that Paul expressed in Philippians 4:8 where he says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
So, what’s the big deal with the court of Exodus 38? It’s a very big deal, indeed, as we consider its wonder as a type of the presence and protection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.