Exodus 26 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of Exodus 26)
Two meanings in the tabernacle and its form

Next we have the tabernacle itself, which was one, though separated into two parts. There were (as the word teaches us) two meanings in the tabernacle and in its form. In general it was where God dwelt and revealed Himself, hence, the heavens, God's tabernacle; and the Person of Christ, God's dwelling [1]. The heavenly places themselves, says the apostle, had to be purified with better sacrifices (Heb. 9: 23). So Christ has passed through the heavens, as Aaron up to the mercy-seat (Heb. 4: 14). Again, it is used in the same sense as a figure of the created universe (Heb. 3: 3, 4), where it is also used as a whole as a figure of the saints, as the house over which Christ is as Son. The veil was, we know on the same divine authority, the flesh of Christ, which concealed God in His holiness of judgment—in His perfectness as sovereign justice itself, but manifested Him in perfect grace to those to whom His presence revealed itself.

The tent, the veil and the cherubim

The tabernacle [2] itself was formed of the same things as the veil; figurative, I doubt not, of the essential purity of Christ as a man, and of all the divine graces embroidered, as it were, thereon. To this was also added cherubim, the figure, as we have seen, of judicial power [3], conferred, as we know, on Christ as man: God "will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained:" and again, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son . . . and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man."

The outer coverings

It seems to me that the other coverings point to Him also: that of the goat-skins to His positive purity, or rather to that severity of separation from the evil that was around Him, which gave Him the character of prophet—severity, not in His ways towards poor sinners, but in separation from sinners, the uncompromisingness as to Himself, which kept Him apart, and gave Him His moral authority, that moral cloth of hair which distinguished the prophet; that of the ram-skins dyed red points to His perfect devotedness to God [4], His consecration to God (may God enable us to imitate Him!); and that of the badger-skin to the vigilant holiness, both of walk and in external relationship, which preserved Him, and perfectly so, from the evil that surrounded Him. "By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer." "He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." Besides what may be called His Person, these things correspond to the new nature in us, the new man, and of Him, so far as born of the Holy Ghost at His incarnation—His birth in the flesh in which He was the perfect expression of it; but I speak of the thing itself in practice, or what is produced by the Spirit in us, and by the word.

[1] We may add, as Christians, "whose house are we." The body is never the subject in Hebrews: we are pilgrims walking by faith. Nor is the Father.

[2] If we examine the details more closely, it will be found that in the tent and veil there was no gold, but there were cherubim; in the ephod gold, but no cherubim; in the hangings before the holy place neither Within, in both holy place and holy of holies, all was gold. So Christ as man (and the veil we know was His flesh) had the judicial authority and will have it as man, not only in government, but in final divine judgment; but He was man, and walked as man; within all was divine The priesthood in its Aaronic character could not have the cherubim that is judicial authority in heaven, but His presence there is identified with divine righteousness. As He appeared outside down here all was perfect grace, but in outward appearance He took neither.

[3] When fully depicted, the cherubim shewed the powers of creation and God's attributes as displayed in the throne, in the four heads of the earthly creation: man, cattle, wild beasts, and birds; intelligence, stability, power, and rapidity of judgment. Man had made gods and idols of them; they formed the throne on which God sat.

[4] This is drawn from the occasions on which the ram was used in the sacrifices.