Two Screens and One Veil (1)
Three Stages of
The tabernacle contains two screens and one veil. The first screen is the entrance to the outer court and signifies our need for salvation. When we share the gospel with our friends, we are actually inviting them to pass through this screen into the outer court. Their believing is their entering in. This is the new birth that starts each of us on our Christian journey.
The second screen is the entrance to the holy place and signifies the growth of God’s desirous ones, the priests. Once they pass through this screen, they can participate in the marvelous Christ as the showbread table and the testimony of the local churches as the golden lampstand.
Not all the children of Israel were qualified to enter the holy place. Only the serving ones of the tribe of Levi could enter. While all Christians are qualified by God in serve Him, many choose to disqualify themselves from the experience of serving in the holy place. With the Levites, it was a matter of birth. With us, it is a matter of choice. If we do not love Him absolutely, we will never choose a life of service and of being mingled with Him in nature. To be born of God does not automatically make us Jesus lovers—that is. the consecrated, serving priests.
The third entrance was not a called a screen but a veil, and passing it brought the high priest into the holy of holies, where God Himself met with him at the ark of testimony. This veil signifies God’s desire for mature ones who live constantly before Him.
The First Screen—
Union in Life
“For the gate of the court there shall be a screen of twenty cubits, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen, the work of a weaver, with their four pillars and their four sockets” (Exo. 27:16).
The gate of the outer court and was twenty cubits long with four pillars. However, it must have been attached to a fifth hidden pillar to go the full twenty cubits. This would have made four entrances through the pillars. There were three more pillars on each side of the gate making up the rest of the wall.
This is all very meaningful. The four entrances indicate that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), since the number four in the Bible is the number for all of God’s creatures, especially man. God desires all men from the four corners of the earth to come to Him for salvation. This salvation is supplied by the triune God Himself. The number three typifies the triune God, so we may say the three pillars on either side of the gate indicate that the triune God guarantees His salvation to all who come. This salvation is secure and cannot fail. Once we are saved, we are saved forever. No one can snatch us from His hand (John 10:28–29).
This screen was twenty cubits long, which is ten multiplied by two. Ten is the number of completeness, showing that the curtain of blue, purple, scarlet thread, and fine linen, all the work of a weaver, is a picture of the complete Savior. However, it is multiplied by two, meaning that Christ Himself testifies of His completeness as the Savior, by going through incarnation, human living, death, and resurrection.
Gospel preachers today are gates for others to enter this salvation. Such preachers partake of Christ and share in His experiences—they live a lonely human life under the principle of the cross and enjoy His life of resurrection. If God is the weaver and embroiderer for Christ, then Christ is today the weaver for all who are willing to become an entryway for others to be saved. We cannot be the Savior, but by our voice people can be saved. We cannot save anyone, but when we preach Christ and tell people of His salvation, they can receive Him and enter the gate to enjoy judicial redemption.
The Second Screen—
Mingling in Nature
“You shall make a screen for the doorway of the tent of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen, the work of a weaver. You shall make five pillars of acacia for the screen and overlay them with gold, their hooks also being of gold; and you shall cast five sockets of bronze for them” (Exo. 26:36-37).
The second screen is very different from the first. In principle, the material of the screen is the same. However, the second screen has five pillars of acacia wood, in contrast to the four pillars in the outer screen.
The outer screen signifies the preaching of the gospel. No matter how the gospel is preached, Christ needs the fifth hidden pillar—the testimony of the church or an individual Christian—to bring people into salvation. This is why the apostle Paul said, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). Christ is the gate, but when we preach the gospel to others, we become the hidden pillars He uses to invite people in.
The outer screen is Christ plus a hidden one working together so people can hear the gospel and come into the outer court to enjoy judicial redemption. However, the screen for the holy place is clearly five pillars with nothing hidden, showing that Christ alone will work out the organic salvation represented by the holy place. This salvation produces our growth in life and is uniquely the work of God. It is accomplished through Christ as represented by the showbread table and the church life as represented by the golden lampstand. Only Christ can infuse Himself into us to become our rich organic salvation.
All five pillars of the second screen were covered with gold, which represents God’s divine nature, so the church life God uses here cannot be merely social. We shouldn’t bring anything into the church life that is not gold. It must be filled with the divine element.
Sometimes our singing is exciting and other times it is very sober. One causes us to shout, and the other causes us to cry. But neither matters if God is not in it. Sometimes the speaker is very charismatic, but if the hearers only enjoy spiritual entertainment and are not brought to God, that speaking is only “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). It is not a matter of being religious or nonreligious. We may try to purposely be nonreligious, but without God it means nothing.
Each pillar was topped with a golden cap (Exo. 36:38), indicating that the overall testimony is divine. When people come in, they should sense that they see and feel God. Each should feel that “the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you” (1 Cor. 14:25).
Finally, all five pillars had golden hooks and bars, indicating that a Jesus-lover who desires to serve and grow in organic salvation must be joined to Christ and to those who love Christ. We pursue Christ together. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). We are to flee the negative things and pursue the positive things with those who are joined to the Lord by calling on Him. What a church life!
If we are to be Jesus-lovers who enjoy organic salvation, represented by the holy place, we must have a pure desire for Christ, aim uniquely for Christ, gain Christ, and live a Spirit-dominated church life. Of course many times we fail, but because our goal and aim are right, we learn to quickly repent and return to our first love, Christ.
Finally, each of the five pillars of the second veil had bronze sockets. Of course, bronze signifies God’s judgment, because the altar of burnt offering in the outer court was made of bronze. So, the bronze sockets here show that no matter how spiritual we become, our growth and building still require us to live under the judgment of God.
Paul wrote, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). Paul wrote this because it is too easy for us to think highly of ourselves. It is easy to forget that we are standing in bronze, especially when we do well. If we lead several to salvation, and then get the whole church stirred up with our glorious testimony, we begin to think that even the soles of our feet are golden and that even the angels should appreciate us. But then God reminds us, often through another brother or sister, to not think so highly of ourselves. We are still just sinners saved by grace. Once again we find that we are standing in bronze, the judgment of God. This too is our salvation.
Incorporation in Person
There is one more entrance that God wants His people to pass through—the veil that brings us into the experience of the holy of holies. In the Old Testament, only the high priest was qualified to pass through this veil, and that only once a year. Here he stood before God Himself, enlightened only by the shining of His divine glory. The light of God infused him until his very person was one with God.
From the time of Jesus’ death on the cross, the high priest’s experience was opened to all Christians who are willing to grow and mature through the first two stages. The Bible tells us that at the very moment Jesus died, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38). This was the veil that formerly closed off the holy of holies. The Jews may have repaired the physical veil, but the spiritual veil is still open and the way into the holy of holies will never again be closed. The Bible encourages us all to come forward, saying “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:19-20, 22). Praise the Lord! Let us all come forward!