The door described
The instructions for the making of the door of the Tabernacle are found in Exodus 26.36-37; 36.37-38. It consisted of hangings of linen on which were woven blue, purple, and scarlet. These are the same materials with which the veil was made, but there were no cherubims on the door as there were on the veil. This door separated the Holy Place from the court of the Tabernacle, serving the same purpose as the veil served for the Holiest of All. The priests, the sons of Aaron, after their service in the court, passed through this door when entering into the Holy Place. For those who came to the Tabernacle with their offerings it was not possible to see beyond the door.
According to the dimensions of the Tabernacle the door measured 10 x 10 cubits, but the gate measured 20 x 5 cubits, the same area for both although of different dimensions. It was hung on five pillars made of shittim wood overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold at the top to hold the door curtain in place. These five pillars sat on five sockets, not of silver as with the boards and the pillars for the veil, but of brass, as did the pillars supporting the hangings surrounding the outer court (27.10). One additional detail revealed later (36.38) is that a "chapiter" or "top piece" surmounted each of these pillars.
The significance of the door
Each entrance in the Tabernacle, the gate, the door, the veil, represented stages in approaching God. In the court, seen in the Brazen Altar and the Laver, there was an appreciation that the shed blood was the only way in, and that it was necessary to be clean. Passing through the door was the act of a priest entering in to worship. The sacrifices on the Brazen Altar were indeed acts of worship, but passing through the door was moving further in. The purpose of the door was to permit priestly worshippers to enter; the purpose of the veil was to prohibit their entrance into the Most Holy. One was a prohibition; the other was an invitation. The priests, moving from the court through the door, signify greater intimacy of worship, an intimacy which today is not limited to one priestly family. "The nearer we approach to God, as His priests, the more intimate our fellowship with Him in heavenly places; the more shall we discern the glories of Christ, and realise his power, majesty and strength."1
Today, therefore, all believers, as priests, can enter through this door; indeed all will enter through this door as all believers will worship. It is only in the Holy Place that the believer can appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ as the food of His people, seen in the shewbread. Only in this place of privilege can prayers and worship ascend from the Golden Altar. It is there that the fragrance arising from that altar leaves its sweet aroma on the garments of the priest. In that place alone can the light of the Lampstand be enjoyed. What a privilege it was for the Aaronic priest to enter through this door. How much greater is the privilege today of entering in, not only to the Holy Place but into the Holiest of All.
This privilege must never be underestimated. The writer of the Hebrew Epistle states that we come "boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (4.16). He also states, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus " (10.19). This boldness, however, is not an attitude of arrogance, neither is it a casual attitude of heart and mind. It is, rather, confidence in the Scriptures that the way has been opened up by the shedding of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The absence of cherubims on the door was striking. Within the Holy Place they were always in sight, whether on the fine linen curtain overhead or on the veil, but on the door and on the gate giving access to the court they were not to be seen. The cherubims were guardians of the presence of God. It has already been noted in these studies, and is worth repeating, that cherubims are first mentioned in Genesis 3. After the Fall the Lord God drove out the man from the garden of Eden and "placed at the east of the garden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen 3.24). They are not mentioned again until the instruction is given to make two cherubims of gold to be set over the Mercy Seat (Ex 25.18). They jealously cared for the holiness of God.
The closer the worshipper approaches God, the greater awareness there is of His holiness. In the court, grace dominates; no cherubims are in view there but an Altar and a Laver. Moving closer, having washed at the Laver, there is an increasing awareness that He is holy and that the demeanour and conduct of the worshipper must reflect an appreciation of His holiness. The word "holy" (6944) is first used at the burning bush when Moses is told, "Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Ex 3.5). Moses had to realise the holiness that marked the presence of God.
The pillars on which the door was hung signify responsibility. There were ten Commandments declaring the responsibility of Gods people towards God and towards their neighbour. Here the five pillars have been viewed as signifying the responsibility of the worshipper to observe the Word of God as the Sanctuary is entered, but the fact that they were made of shittim wood overlaid with gold indicates that they speak of the Lord Jesus Christ. Consistency of interpretation demands this. What is seen in the pillars is the One who fulfilled all His responsibilities to God and man. He kept the Law; He was obedient and prepared to go to death; He finished the work which was given Him to do. Entering in through this door there was an awareness that such a privilege was only enjoyed because of the One who fulfilled every responsibility which He was given to undertake. The fulfilment of all of Gods purpose - the redemption of mankind and indeed of the whole universe; the defeat of the forces of evil - was laid on Him and He triumphed and triumphed gloriously.
The brass of which the sockets were made was also used for the Brazen Altar. It signifies that which can withstand the heat and flame of the altar. This the Lord Jesus did when He died on the Cross, and the brass, therefore, speaks of the One who purchased redemption when He went through the flame and heat of Calvary. Brass speaks of the work itself, and the silver sockets, which supported the boards of the Tabernacle and the pillars for the veil, of the price that was paid to accomplish that work.
It should be noted that the writer to the Hebrews is dealing with Jewish believers who, having acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord, have turned away from the Temple and all that was associated with it. The question which arose was, "What do they have now?". The writer shows them that they have a Great High Priest, they have a Sanctuary, and in the death of the Lord Jesus they have the one offering that is sufficient for all. It is not the Temple that he uses as the basis of his teaching, but rather he draws his lessons from the Tabernacle. That is what makes it vital for every believer to be conversant with Tabernacle teaching, otherwise the great lessons laid out by the writer to the Hebrews will never be understood.
The subject is not one of dry, dusty history, but rather a living and vibrant lesson for all who seek a better understanding of Gods dealings with His people, Israel, and with the Church today. Let all heed the advice given by Paul to the Romans that "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning (15.4).
1 Soltau: The Tabernacle, the Priesthood and the Offerings.