Bible Studies - Sanctuary

9. The Court Yard Fence

Before we go into the court yard fence we need to understand about the measurement that the Israelites used. The measurement that Moses used to build the sanctuary was not inches and feet, or centimetres and metres, but cubits.

What is a cubit? It is an ancient measure of length. Approximately only, it applied to the length from the elbow to the tip of the longest finger. The Hebrews had several cubits, a small cubit, and ordinary cubit, and a longer one used by Ezekiel for measuring the Temple. The one use by Moses in the construction of the sanctuary was probably the 17.5 inch cubit, which was the common Egyptian cubit.

The court yard of the sanctuary was surrounded by a fence one hundred cubits long on the north and south sides and fifty cubits wide on the west and east sides (Exodus 27:9-13). The gate was on the eastern side so that those who came to make sacrifices and worship God did so with their back to the east just like the original sacrifices made by Adam and his sons at the east gate of Eden.

In the sanctuary there are two walls – the wall or fence of linen around the court and the walls of shittim wood covered with gold which surrounded the Holy and Most Holy places (Exodus 27:9; 26:15, 29). As with everything in the sanctuary, they are a type or figure of something far greater in the antitypical or true heavenly Sanctuary. These two walls are very similar in that they set boundaries, but one is inferior to the other, just as linen is inferior to gold. As the outer court represents this earth which is where our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ died for our sins (John 12:31-33; Vol 6 Testimonies to the Church by E. White, page 366), so the fence of the outer court must represent something to do with this earth. As this earth will one day be done away with and replaced with something better, so whatever the court yard fence represents must also be replaced with something better. Likewise, as the other wall represents the heavenly sanctuary which will last forever, so whatever they represent must last forever.

So we need to find two things that are similar in that they set boundaries, one must be inferior to the other, one represents something earthly while the other heavenly, and one must be down away with while the other lasts forever.

There are only two things that we have found that fits all these criteria and that is the ceremonial law or the law associated with the earthly sanctuary and God's Law or the Ten Commandments. They both set boundaries for our actions. The ceremonial law was inferior to the Ten Commandments, as the book of laws or ceremonial law was placed in a pocket on the side of the Ark while the Ten Commandments were placed inside the Ark (Deuteronomy 10:2; 31:26). The ceremonial law was to do with the earthly sanctuary and its services which were to be down away with (Hebrews 10:1; Galatians 3:24; Colossians 2:14), while the Ten Commandments are the basis or foundation of God's government and His eternal law (Exodus 31:16-18; Isaiah 66:23; Early Writings by E. White, page 215).

The fabric or hanging of the outer fence was fine twined linen (Exodus 27:9). Strong's Concordance says that "fine twined linen" means "bleached stuff, that is, white linen or marble." So the fabric was fine white linen which represents the righteousness of the saints (Revelation 19:8).

This fine white linen fabric was to be held up by brass pillars set in sockets of brass. There were 20 pillars on the north and south sides, 10 pillars on the west side, 3 pillars each side of the gate, and 4 pillars for the gate (Exodus 27:9-16). In all there were 60 brass pillars.

The 60 pillars, their sockets, and the pins or tent pegs of the court yard were made of brass (Exodus 27:17, 19). Brass is an alloy metal made of copper and tin. The temperature at which copper melts is higher than the temperature at which tin melts and then vaporizes, or evaporates. Thus, it is not practical to try to simply melt the two materials together to make brass. The method used is to melt the copper separately and then add heated tin in small pieces. Most of the tin quickly dissolves into the copper to form brass before it can evaporate.

What is the significance of brass? Well, copper represents perfection, the love of God in Christ, as copper can be as perfect or precious as gold (Ezra 8:27). Tin, on the other hand, represents the sin of sinners which God will purge away like dross (Isaiah 1:25).

Combining copper and tin to make brass signifies strength, stability, endurance. If we unite our lives with Christ we will have strength, stability, and endurance (Deuteronomy 33:25; Micah 4:13). This can be seen in the change that took place in the life of Peter – see Matthew 26:69-75 and Acts 4:13.

However, if tin is not mixed with copper it corrodes and rusts and falls apart. Likewise if we don’t unite out lives with Christ, the tin in us, or sin, will corrupt us totally until we just fall apart, or die. Sin separates us from God who is the source of all life (Isaiah 59:2; Proverbs 11:19; Romans 6:23.)

In the Bible numbers have meaning, e.g. 7 is completeness, 1 is unity, 2 means it is established by God, etc. 6 represented imperfection - the number of a man (man was made on day 6 and Revelation 13:18). 10 denotes fullness, entirety, the sum of all that exists of something. (10 Commandments - Exodus 20; 10 Virgins - Matthew 25:1; 10 Plagues on Egypt – Exodus 7 - 12; 10 Pieces of silver - Luke 15:8; 10 Servants - Luke 19:13, 16, 17.)

Is 60 significant? As 60 is a multiple of 12, do these pillars represent the participation of all the tribes of Israel in the sanctuary services? 60 is also a multiple of 10 meaning complete or full, and 6 meaning the number of man – did they represent man's full and complete duty to God for that time? Or are they 60 principles or main services that hold up the ceremonial law? Something that is noteworthy is that there were 12 tribes of Israel and each of these pillars were 5 cubits high - 12 x 5 = 60 - which is the number of pillars. Pillars represent sturdy support. As the disciples and church were the pillars of the New Testament Times because they upheld the faith, so these pillars could represent the Israelites holding up or obeying the ceremonial law (1 Timothy 3:15; Galatians 2:9). It certainly has some significance, but exactly what that significance is we are not fully certain.

The furniture of the outer court, the pillars and their sockets, and the pins were all made of the alloy of brass. This represents the sinner uniting his life - the tin - with that of Jesus Christ – the copper -, which is the first part of salvation, which is justification.

How closely united are we to be with Jesus Christ? As close as the copper is to the tin in brass which is so close that the naked eye cannot see that there are two metals, but can only see one.

Brass was not the only metal used in the court yard fence. Silver was also used for the fillets which were either rings clasping a pillar or rods between the pillars, and hooks which suspended the linen curtain (Exodus 27:17).

Silver in the sanctuary represents redemption through Christ. Every man, from twenty years old and upward, when numbered among the tribes, was required to give half shekel of silver as "a ransom for his soul," the men representing the women and the children in the family (Ex. 30:11-16). Not that redemption is worth only half a shekel given from time to time, or that it can be purchased with any amount of money; redemption is priceless (Isaiah 55:1; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8).

A half shekel was valued at 32 cents or about two days’ wages. This money was from the spoils of Egypt, and the amount was within the reach of all. It was called the atonement or redemption money, and as the cost of redeeming rich and poor is the same - the blood of Christ - "The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel." Exodus 30:15.

Jesus Christ Himself paid the "tribute money (the temple tax, Moffat)" "the piece of money" a shekel, that Peter at His command took from the fish’s mouth. This shekel was the atonement money, sufficient for two - "for me and thee." Matthew 17:24-27. Not that Christ needed atonement any more that He needed baptism, but He was obedient "for", said He, "thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." Matthew 3:15.

In the middle of the east end of the court yard fence was a gate through which all must enter to come into the sanctuary where God's presence abode (Exodus 27:13-16).

Jesus said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." John 10:9. To go through a door you must make a decision to do so, or use your mind. Proverbs 23:7 tell us, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: ..." The Hebrew word for 'thinketh' here means 'door' according to Morris Lewis. Just as the ancient Hebrews had to make a decision to enter the court yard with their offerings, so we today need to make a decision to enter into Christ – the door - to be saved.

This gate or door was originally only for the Jews or Jewish converts. This is also true for the door that it represented – Christ - "to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16. The meaning of the word 'Greek' here is Greek or Gentile, and therefore covers anyone who is not a Jew. This fact is confirmed by Acts 14:27, "and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles." Jesus Christ who is the door, said "if any man enter in" showing that salvation is open to all. He came "to seek and to save that which was lost" which includes all mankind as "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Luke 19:10; Romans 3:23).

This gate or door was made of blue, purple and scarlet fine twined linen (Exodus 27:16). Hebrews write from right to left, therefore the order of the colours should be scarlet, purple, then blue. To get the middle colour – purple – you mix a little red with blue, or in this case both the outer colours to make the middle one. These colours are significant and although they have a similar meaning throughout the sanctuary, each door has an individual meaning also.

Blue – represents the perfection or obedience of the Law in the life of Jesus. "God had commanded the children of Israel to place a ribbon of blue in the border of their garments, upon which the ten commandments, in brief, should be embroidered. This was to continually remind them of their duty to love God supremely, and their neighbor as themselves." 2 Spirit of Prophecy by E. White, page 74 par. 1 (Referring to Numbers 15:38-41).

The sick woman that had the issue of blood that no physician could heal, only touched the hem of Christ's garment and was made whole (Matthew 9:20, 21). Many others did the same thing, with the same result (Matthew 14:34-36). They all touched that which represented His perfect character or obedience of the Law, the blue hem on His garment and they were made whole.

Red – represents sacrifice, Jesus blood that was shed on Calvary to save us from our sins. Our sins or disobedience to God's law, are to be washed away or cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29; Revelation 7:14; Hebrews 13:12; 1 John 1:7). If Christ had not died and shed His blood for us and administered that blood in the heavenly Sanctuary on our behalf, there could be no forgiveness for sins (Hebrews 9:22-28).

Purple – was the colour worn by rich people and represents becoming part of David's royal family, a royal priesthood (Mark 15:17-19; Luke 16:19, 1:32; Isaiah 9:6, 7; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 3:21.).

Therefore blue + scarlet = purple:-

so obedience of God's eternal Law through the indwelling of Christ by the Holy Spirit
+ sacrifice or the blood that Christ shed for us
= makes us children of God, a chosen people, a royal priesthood.

As royalty we will sit beside Jesus on His throne for eternity, even as He sat upon His father throne when He returned to heaven (Revelation 3:21).

The gate was held up by four pillars. Why four? Here are some possible reasons:-

- The children of Israel were camped on all four sides of the sanctuary under four different standards – Dan, Ephraim, Reuben and Judah (Numbers 2:3, 10, 18, 25).
- There are four gospels written about Jesus Christ – Matthew which depicts Christ as a King, Mark which depicts Christ as a Servant, Luke which depicts Christ as the son of Man, and John which depicts Christ as divine the son of God.
- There are four conditions that all mankind go through before they can go to heaven. That is sinner, justified, sanctified, and glorifies.
- The Fourth Commandment is the one that most people don't keep, and is God's seal and is the great test at the end of time to see who will follow God or man (Exodus 20:8-11).
- The fourth angel's message calls God's people to be separate and not partake of Babylon's sins (Revelation 18:1-5).

The length of the court yard was one hundred cubits, the width was fifty cubits, and the height of the linen was five cubits (Exodus 27:18).

"The sacred tent was enclosed in an open space called the court, which was surrounded by hangings, or screens, of fine linen, suspended from pillars of brass. The entrance to this enclosure was at the eastern end. It was closed by curtains of costly material and beautiful workmanship, though inferior to those of the sanctuary. The hangings of the court being only about half as high as the walls of the tabernacle, the building could be plainly seen by the people without." Patriarchs and Prophets by E. White, page 347 par. 3.

The height of the court fence was only half that of the tabernacle, so that above the beautiful white curtains of the court fence and the glitter of the silver and brass of the many pillars, could be seen the golden walls of the tabernacle, with its gorgeous curtains and coverings. As the one outside the court, in order to behold the glories of the tabernacle, had to look above the court; so the one who by faith beholds the beauties of the heavenly sanctuary, must lift his thoughts above the things of this earth, and centre them upon heavenly things.

In the outer court the Israelites sought justification or received the righteousness of Christ as a gift. Today, we do the same in the antitypical outer court which is this earth.

© S. D. Goeldner

© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2011. Last updated August, 2020.

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