The Tabernacle - George Junkin - ebook

This volume exhibits in a clear light the well-known characteristics of its venerable author. It has his vivacity, his point, his fertility of imagination, his unwavering confidence in the truth of what he teaches, and the wonderful power which his imagination and feelings have over his convictions. "This tiny book," he says, "is a compend of Christian theology. I say Christian theology; for I have, long ago, been forced into the conviction that without a diligent study of The Tabernacle, no man ever acquires clear, transparent, and practical views of evangelical truth in systematic order."

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The Tabernacle


The Gospel According To Moses








The Tabernacle, G. Junkin

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849650971

[email protected]


Cover Design: based on an artwork by Toby Hudson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 au,


Printed by Createspace, North Charleston, SC, USA







To the reader.1

Chapter I. Symbolization. 2

Chapter II. Thie Ark of the Testimony. 4

Chapter III. The Tables of Stone—  What do they Symbolize.6

Chapter IV. The Mercy-seat;  its Symbolic Substance.10

Chapter V. The Table for the Bread of Faces.20

Chapter VI. The Candlestick.22

Chapter VII. The Incense Altar.24

Chapter VIII. The Altar of Burnt-Offering,25

Chapter IX. The Laver and his Foot.28

Chapter X. The Priesthood— The Holy Garments31

Chapter XI. The Tabernacle, and its Court,37

Chapter XII. The Symbolic Meaning  of the Tabernacle and its Court.41

Chapter XIII. The Ftitting Tip  and the Taking Down.46

Chapter XIV. The Cloud of Glory— Pillar of Fire.48

Chapter XV. Farther Symbolic Significance. 51

Chapter XVI.  The Holy Anointing Oil54

Chapter XVII. The Relations of the Truths Symbolized to each other and to the Grand System — The Shekinah — The Central Doctrine of Christianity. 58

Chapter XVIII. Relative Position—The Brazen Altar— The Ark—The Golden Altar.63

Chapter XIX. Relative Positions—The Laver— The Candlestick—The Table.68

Chapter XX. Miscellaneous  Suggestive Analogies. 71

Chapter XXI. A correction.75



You have, in these chapters, gleanings from a field in which this labourer has toiled for more than half a century. Four times has he delivered the doctrines here set forth, in the form of lectures: first to his pastoral charge proper; afterwards, to the still more important charges successively, in Lafayette College, Miami University, and Washington College, Virginia. Each delivery was accompanied with a careful revision of the whole matter under consideration. Nevertheless, these are reminiscences, for the fortunes of war have cut him off" from all his books, papers and even letter files: so that, present labour and the remembrances of fifty years back, are here presented, combined, and condensed into this little volume. The tiny book is a compend of Christian theology. I say Christian theology; for I have, long ago, been forced into the conviction, that without a diligent study of the tabernacle, no man ever acquires clear, transparent, and practical views of evangelical truth in systematic order. A few things you will find here, different from commonly received interpretations. Prominence is given to the central point of the moral universe; and care is taken to keep the symbols separate and distinct. My views in regard to the cherubim, which were given to the public twenty-one years ago, have been revised, by such aids as were within my reach; but no material changes from the Lectures on Prophecy have been thought necessary or proper. Reference to other men's opinions have not been made Perhaps it is due to myself and to truth, to remark, that Fairbairn's Typology I had not seen, until nearly through with these chapters, and therefore, it can scarcely be said, that I dissent from his opinions, even where we differ. Dr. Newton's excellent book on these subjects, had almost arrested my long cherished purpose to write out my views. After, however, reading it and finding some points of difference in minor matters, I came to Elihu's conclusion, though for a different reason, "Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will show mine opinion. "

Philadelphia, February 1, A.D. 1866.


CHAPTER I. Symbolization


There is no immediate communication between the souls of men in this world. Without the instrumentalities of our bodily organs, we know nothing whatever of each other's spiritual nature, condition, or character. Indeed, our knowledge of self, is equally dependent on the physical organism with which our thinking substance is connected. John Locke, the greatest of modern metaphysicians, traces the commencement of our ideas to sensation and reflection. This has been by some misunderstood, at least, misapplied. But still, it is substantially true: the first knowledge we have is the immediate result of excitement in our nervous system. The history of man's creation implies, first, the formation of the wonderfully complicated material habitation for the rational spirit; then the breathing into his nostrils the breath of life. What the connection is and how it is formed between the body and the soul, we are entirely ignorant; and yet there is no knowledge more certain, than that such connection exists — that the spirit within us operates upon the body and the body influences the spirit. The mystery here lies in the manner; and is to us, thus far, inscrutable. No person doubts the fact, nor his ignorance of its mode. A man born blind and so continuing, has no knowledge of colours: the deaf has no idea of sounds; and so of all the other senses: and, were all wanting, the mind would have no ideas at all; and so could not engage in those interminable processes of reasoning, which Locke comprehends under the term reflection.

Now, it is this mysterious, but most intimate connection between soul and body, that unites together the two worlds — the world of matter and the world of spirit; and makes it possible for us to illustrate the one by the other. Hence the comparisons, parables, allegories of Scripture. Hence the multitudinous efforts of men, in all ages, to embody deity in visible form. Idolatry is but a perverse abuse of this natural susceptibility: a vain attempt to create a new medium of intercourse and communion between the visible and the invisible. But these abuses constitute no valid objection against symbolical representations of sacred truths; such as we have in comparisons, parables and allegories, where resemblance of relations enables us to make plain, spiritual things, by natural things more plain and easily comprehended. As all the intercourse and communion of spirit with spirit is through the medium of our physical organism; so God has been pleased to make our intercourse and communion with himself, dependent upon material media. He established a covenant with our first parent and set up the tree of life as a symbol of its blessings upon condition of his compliance. When Adam sinned and placed himself and his posterity under a dispensation of wrath, it pleased God, in his sovereign love, to reveal his dispensation of mercy and to guaranty eternal salvation to all who should believe in the promised Messiah — the seed of the woman. He thereupon instituted bloody sacrifices, as the outward sign and symbol of the cardinal truth in the glorious gospel scheme: thus creating a medium of intercourse and communion between the redeemed and the ever blessed Father: thus for ever presenting, in the burning sacrifice, the memento of the promised salvation through the death of the Saviour. This same principle we have, expanded in the whole arrangements established at Sinai; in the somewhat complicated and arbitrary, but yet significant structure of the tabernacle, its furniture, appurtenances, and the worship of which it was the center and the medium.

In process of their exposition, it will be best to follow the order of the sacred text, as given by Moses, in his account of the construction of the furniture, the tabernacle and all its surroundings.

With the single exception of the altar of burnt-offerings, the order of the text is probably the order of importance.

As each several object is taken up, it will be most natural to give, (1) a description of the material structure; (2) then its symbolical substance, that is the doctrine which it represents: then, (3) when we shall have gone over the whole in detail, to bring them together; (4) note their relative positions severally, and in reference to the whole, as one system.


CHAPTER II. Thie Ark of the Testimony


Exod. xxxvii. 1-9. "And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: and he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about. And he cast for it four rings of gold, to he set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it and two rings upon the other side of it. And he made staves of shittim wood and overlaid them with gold. And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark. And he made the mercy-seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And he made two cherubim of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy-seat; one cherub on the one end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side; out of the mercy-seat made he the cherubim on the two ends thereof. And the cherubim spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy-seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy-seat-ward were the faces of the cherubim."

We have here an analysis of the ark into two parts; the chest or body — we may say, the ark proper; and the cover or lid, the mercy-seat.

First, the ark prosper. Let us note the materials of which it is made — shittim wood. From all we can learn, the probability is, that this wood was the black acacia — a species of locust, which abounded in that region. The term implies a thorny tree; and as the boards of the tabernacle, which were twenty-seven inches wide, were made of the same, it must have been a tree of large growth; but of what particular species, is perhaps a question whose difficulty is inversely as its importance. Of this the chest and the staves for transportation were made. The length, taking the cubit at eighteen inches of our own measure, was forty-five inches, the width and the height, twenty-seven; the same as the breadth of the tabernacle boards.

This box or chest and the bearing staves were overlaid with gold. The crown of gold round about the upper part of the chest, was doubtless an ornamental network curving outward and forming a guard to prevent the lid or mercy-seat from slipping out of its place. Rings of gold were attached to each corner on the sides, through which the staves passed and lay continually ready for use in carrying the whole structure.

The cover was a plate of solid gold; the ends turned up and wrought into figures called cherubim, with wings extended toward each other and their faces turned inward and downward, as if looking intently toward the contents of the chest.

These contents were the two tables of the law. The words were first uttered, in thunder tones, from the summit of the burning mountain. Exod. xx. They were afterward delivered to Moses, recorded by immediate divine power on the two tables of stone, a; id handed along ranks of angels. Acts vii. 53: '' Who have received the law by the disposition (into ranks) of angels and have not kept it." These tables, prepared supernaturally — without any human agency — were broken by Moses when he came down from the mount — Exod. xxxii. 19: " And Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mount." Afterwards, by divine command, Exod. xxxiv. 4, "he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first — and took in his hand the two tables of stone." In verse first the Lord says, " I will write upon these tables, the words that were in the first tables, which thou breakest." The statement in verse twenty-eighth, " And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments," must therefore be understood of the Lord and not of Moses. And in Deut. x. 4, 5, we are told, " he (the Lord) wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, — and I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the Lord commanded me."

Here we have an apparent inconsistency in the Scripture statements. Paul, Heb. ix. 4, says of the ark, "wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant." But Moses said unto Aaron, Exod. xv. 33, " Take a pot, and put an omer of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord. * * * * * * And Aaron laid it up before the testimony to be kept." And so, as to the rod. Num. xv. 10, "And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony." These show that there was a prefix — a coffer or shelf appended at the forward end of the ark for these articles. All difficulty vanishes, if we read, instead of wherein, whereupon, or, on which, was the golden pot, &c. And this is allowable; and so we have, as the sole contents of the ark, the tables containing the ten commandments; and this is expressly affirmed, 1 Kings, viii. 9: " There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone."


CHAPTER III. The Tables of Stone—What do they Symbolize.


These were made, as we have seen, before any part of the tabernacle furniture. Their history heralds forth their transcendent importance. No compend of moral truth may pretend to compare with them, for glory and grandeur of origin; for simplicity and completeness of adaptation to man's necessities; or for sublime exhibitions of the Divine perfections. Such an illustrious transcript of the moral attributes of God and his claims upon the supreme adoration of men, and of their obligations to one another, is sought for in vain among the records of human wisdom. And how should it be otherwise? Who so fit to adapt law to his creatures as their Maker? Who but Jehovah himself can reveal the perfections of his own being? Whose right is it to dictate law to the moral universe, if not its Author? But Jehovah exists as the Elohim — the plurality of persons in the essential unity. Has the issuance of these ten words any special reference to this personality? Certainly; the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. All that man knows truly of the Divine perfections, he knows through the teachings of the second person in the Elohim — the divine Logos, by whom the world was made and without whom was not anything made that was made. It was the voice of the Word, afterwards made flesh —the same Word which said Let there be light, and there was light, that thundered from the summit of the burning mountain these ten words, and afterwards delivered them to Moses along the ranks of angels. This will be evident upon a comparison of a few scriptures. In Psal. Ixviii. 17, 18, 20, we read, "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them. * * * * And unto God the Lord belong the issues from death." But now this is applied, in Eph. iv. to Christ: "When he ascended up on high he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? " Thus demonstrably plain it is, that it was the Lord God our Saviour who ascended, at a later period, from the tomb of Joseph to the throne of his glory in the heavens. He it was, the Man of Calvary, who, midst his thousands of angels, was in Sinai and dispensed this law. " The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them: he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from, his right hand went forth a fiery law for them. Yea, he loved the people." — Deut. xxxiii. 2. This fiery law and this burning mountain consumed no one, for it emanated from the gracious King of Zion. At the very interview in which he re-wrote it on the stones hewed out by Moses, "He passed by before him, and proclaimed The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." The entire system of ceremonial observances is evangelical — all relate to the gospel scheme of salvation. "For unto us," says Paul, Heb. iv. 2, "was the gospel preached as well as unto them.

As to the kind of stone used, we are left even more in the dark than as to the wood, and therefore infer it to be a matter of no consequence. Only this is plain, that they were fragile, being shattered to pieces when thrown from Moses' hands. Nor have we anything specific as to their size, unless it be that Moses seems to have carried them down the mount, Exod. xxxii. 19, in his own hands, whence we may infer they were not very thick, and they could not have been more than forty-two or three inches long, and twenty-six wide.

The first suggestion of a symbolical meaning is durability. Engraving on stone intimates permanency. Job, in his sorrows, exclaims, chap. xix. 23, " Oh, that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! that they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever." Then he proceeds to express his faith in the living Redeemer and his hope in a glorious resurrection: truths these, which he wished to perpetuate forever. The first tables represented the law of God as written in the heart of man at his creation: or, we may say, human nature — Adam, with the law created in him. The breaking of the tables sets forth the fall of man and the utter defacement of God's law and image. The replacement of the tables by Moses, and the re-writing of the law upon them, by the power of the great Redeemer, forcibly illustrates his entire work of restoring man to the full dominion of the holy law, or, in other words, the restoration of the law to its ruling power over him; or may we not say the" second Adam, the pattern of all the redeemed. Such symbolical meaning seems to rise up before us on the surface of the whole matter; and thus Paul seems to suggest, 2 Cor. iii. 2, 3, "Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men: manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart." So he speaks of "the work of the law written in their heart;" and Jeremiah says, "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;" and, citing from Ezekiel, Paul, Heb. viii. 10, says, " I will put my laws into their mind, and write them, in their hearts." The bringing of man under the power of law, the protection of the law from violence and profanation, and the security of its rightful dominion, is therefore the grand idea herein set forth. All around it is encased within its golden enclosure. The casket indeed is precious, costly, and beautiful, but the jewels it contains are the priceless treasure.

In connection, however, with the remarks above, that the ceremonial observances are Gospel ordinances, it is important to distinguish them from the legal matter of the old covenant. The ten words and the various applications of their principles throughout the pentateuch, are quite different from the sacrifices, the lustrations, the incense burnings, the cities of refuge, &c. The former are legal and whenever separated from the latter, become a law of works — the very covenant made with Adam. But the latter, coalescing with and qualifying and pointing out the way of fulfilling the former, transmute the whole into the new covenant, or true gospel, which was revealed to Adam before his expulsion from Paradise. The Israelites then, as nominal Christians now, by neglecting this distinction, converted the very doctrines of grace into a law of works. For example, when men affirm that the act of believing, subjectively considered — i. e., the action of the sinner's own mind — as his own is accounted to him for righteousness, and justifies him; what is this but justification by works? What, but the old covenant made with Adam? Thus the Judaizing Galatians converted, by perversion, the gospel in Moses, into a covenant of works: to refute which corruption Paul wrote them this argumentative epistle.