The Fence of the Courtyard
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Exodus, chapter 27. We have been studying the tabernacle and learning the spiritual significance of the various truths related to the tabernacle. Up to this point we have been studying the furniture in the tabernacle. We want now to begin a study of what is referred to as the court of the tabernacle.

Exodus 27

9And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side:
10And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.
11And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.
12And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten.
13And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits.
14The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.
15And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.
16And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.
17All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass.
18The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass.
19All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass.

These verses describe the court of the tabernacle. This is the last thing that Bezaleel, the contractor of the tabernacle, actually built. That is proper because the court was intended to provide a barrier and a protection for the pieces of furniture at which we have already looked. Those pieces of furniture have a spiritual significance related to spiritual growth, related to spiritual blessing. We can see why the court would be the last thing that was to be built. The Bible makes a distinction between the world and the Christians. The Bible makes a distinction between the people of God and the people of the Devil. These things related to spiritual blessing were protected by the court.

The word “court” here is a translation of the Hebrew word khawtsar , which means “an enclosed area”, or “an area separated”. When we speak of the court, we are speaking not of the fence exclusively, but of the entire area, an area enclosed.

Material of the Fence

The means of enclosure are described in the passage of Scripture which we have just read. Let us see what we have just read. Let us see what we are talking about. When Moses began to give Bezaleel instructions for the building of the tabernacle, he described a stockpile of material, so to speak, in which everything related to the court, the tabernacle, and the furniture–all the material–was piled together. Out of all that came the completed structure.

Of the various things that make up the fence, the first thing that attracts our attention is the curtain of fine-twined linen. Then there were pillars. We are not told the material out of which these pillars were made. However, the pillars in the tabernacle proper were made of acacia wood, so it would be doing no violence to the Scripture to assume that these pillars were made of the same material. These pillars were set in sockets of brass. So we have three things already to consider: the curtains, the pillars, and the sockets of brass.

In addition to these, there were fillets of silver. The word “fillet” simply means “a bar”. It was a silver bar that extended from one pillar to another to hold the pillars upright–to keep them from moving together. In addition to the fillets of silver, there were pins of brass. They were driven in the ground, and cords were taken from the pillar to the ground to support the entire wall.

One other thing we have not mentioned: There were hooks of silver. These hooks were on the pillars and the bars, and from them the curtains were hung. On the east side of the tabernacle, there was an area that was different from all the other linen around the entire tabernacle. That area was known as the gate of the court. It was embroidered with blue and purple and scarlet to cause it to stand out from the rest of the wall, to stand out in a way that individuals would be attracted to it.

Let us note how these various ingredients, if we may call them that, are situated to make the court of the tabernacle. What I am giving you is a summary of what we have just read. There were sixty pillars set in sixty sockets of brass, the sockets of brass buried in the ground. These pillars were placed five cubits apart, and they were held at that distance by silver fillets, or bars of silver, stretching from one pillar to another. The curtains to which we have just referred were suspended from these bars and pillars by hooks of silver, and the entire wall was kept upright by the cords running from the pillars to the pins of brass that were driven in the sand.

Size of the Fence

The linen fence, if we may call it that, was five cubits in height, and it embraced an enclosure one hundred cubits by fifty cubits. The gate in the east side of the fence was twenty cubits wide and five cubits high. We would emphasize again that it was beautifully embroidered with blue and purple and scarlet.

So that we will be able to think intelligently without saying there is any significance to the English interpretation of the size of the tabernacle, for I don't think there is, we might translate these cubits into inches and feet so that we will have some idea how big the enclosure actually was. Using the 21 inch cubit, which seems to be more popular, we would say that this court, the enclosure, including the tabernacle, was 175 feet long and 87 1/2 feet wide. The fence was 8 1/2 feet–nearly nine feet high. The gate was 35 feet wide.

When we began our study of the tabernacle, we said we were not interested in it primarily as a building, but we were interested in the spiritual significance of the tabernacle and its furniture. We do not look at this because we have a vivid imagination; we look at it because the Scriptures say that the tabernacle was made from a pattern of the tabernacle in Heaven that we might learn a spiritual lesson from it, apply it to our lives, and grow thereby.

Significance of the Linen

It is difficult to know exactly where to begin a discussion of the spiritual significance of the fence. That is what we want to look at first–not the enclosure, but the fence. The tabernacle was placed in the very center of the camp of Israel, and all around were the tents of the various tribes of Israel with their individual banners. Those tents were made of black goat skin. Immediately you recognize that in the midst of all the blackness, the thing that would stand out above everything else would be the white linen curtain, because of the contrast between black and white. So I would like for us to think first of all about the significance of the linen curtain.

If you will glance at chapter 27 again, you will notice that the hanging to the linen curtain was made of fine-twined linen, very closely woven linen. What is the significance of the fine-twined linen? Remember that when you endeavor to learn the typical significance of anything, the first thing to do is notice the first place it is mentioned in the Scripture, then notice how it is mentioned thereafter, and you will arrive at an understanding. Turn, please, to the book of Genesis, chapter 41, by way of an illustration. This chapter tells the story of how Joseph was taken out of prison because Pharaoh had had a dream that no one could interpret. Joseph interpreted the dream and Pharaoh was very well pleased with what happened. Pharaoh said unto Joseph:

Genesis 41

41And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
42And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen [this is our same fine twined linen] , and put a gold chain about his neck;

This is the first time fine-twined linen is mentioned in the Bible; and if you will consider Joseph in his nasty, dirty prison garb being given fine-twined linen vesture in exchange, you will recognize that linen will be used in the Scriptures as cleanliness opposed to filthiness. When you follow it through the Scriptures, you will find that is true, but the interpretation grows even in spiritual terms.

A Type of Righteousness

Turn, please, to the book of Revelation for an illustration of that fact. In chapter 19, we have the story of how the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ will have appeared at the Judgment Seat of Christ, will have had her works judged and her garments cleansed, and will be ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb. One particular phase of that truth is emphasized in verse 8:

Revelation 19

8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white [there is our material again] : for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Here we discover that fine linen is not only a type of cleanliness, but it is a type of righteousness. When we look at the linen hangings of the fence of the court, then we are reminded of righteousness.

Think with me: What is on the outside of the court? The dirty, black tents of the Israelites in their natural condition. What is on the inside of the court? Everything is related to holiness; everything is related to an approach to God. What separates these unlovely people from this that is holy and spiritual? A fence of righteousness. When we keep in mind that everything about the tabernacle is meant to present to us some phase of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are reminded that the fence is representative of the righteousness of Christ. Think about that for a moment. Then ask yourself this question: Does my righteousness measure up to the righteousness of Christ?

We are reminded of the words of Daniel in chapter 9 of the book that bears his name. In verse 7, there is a prayer he prayed:

Daniel 9

7O LORD, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.

There is no way for mortal man to measure up to the righteousness of Christ. That is evident in the fine-twined linen curtain. We would be forever on the outside of these spiritual things, barred from the righteousness that separates, if it were not for the gate in the fence at which we will look a little later. That what I am saying is borne out in the Scriptures can be seen even more clearly by a glance at Psalm 118. Remember that the book of Psalms was the hymn book of the nation of Israel. It contained the songs that Israel sang. In these songs there are references to many spiritual truths and to many religious activities:

Psalms 118

19Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD:

If you read that verse in the light of the entire Psalm, you will realize that David was not uttering some imaginary words. He was speaking literally, not figuratively. He was saying, “If the gates of righteousness are open to me, I will go in, and I will praise the Lord.” Keep in mind that any Israelite could come inside the enclosure. Only the sons of Aaron could come into the first room of the tabernacle. Only Aaron himself could come into the Most Holy Place. So David is not asking that the gate to the Most Holy Place be opened, nor is he asking that the gate to the inner sanctuary be opened for him; he is asking that the gates of righteousness be opened, which bears out what we are saying. The fence is typical of divine righteousness.

Righteousness Rooted In Judgment

Turn, please, to Psalm 97 and notice a similar exclamation:

Psalms 97

1The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.
2Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

Not only righteousness, but also judgment. When we read that verse, we are reminded of something else about the fence of the tabernacle. The fence was supported by pillars that were set in sockets of brass, upheld by pins of brass. We have learned that brass stands for the judgment of God. Sometimes people get the idea that the righteousness of God and the judgment of God are incompatible. If you think that, then you do not have an understanding of God's dealing with men. The tabernacle presents a perfect picture of it.

Turn, please, to the Gospel of John, chapter 16. This chapter tells what was to occur after the Lord Jesus Christ went back to Heaven. He said, “I will send the Holy Spirit to continue the work that I have begun. He will take everything that I have done and will amplify it for you. He will apply it to you. He will make it real to you.” Notice in verse 8:

John 16

8And when he is come [that is, when the Holy Spirit is come] , he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

Notice the word “reprove”. Another word would be “convince” or “convict”, or “make conscious”. It does not mean “rebuke”. It means “to make the world conscious of sin”. And you will notice that it is not “sins”.

Reproved By Sins

Many people are troubled with sins. They preach against sins. They create a problem when they do, because if we preach against sins, we give the idea that we think one thing is wrong, but we don't think another thing is wrong; it is impossible to name every sin. The Holy Spirit reproves sin. Why? Look at verse 9:

John 16

9Of sin, because they believe not on me;

If a person is in the right relationship to Jesus Christ, sins will be taken care of. Notice verse 10:

John 16

10Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

Of the righteousness of Christ, which was vindicated by His Resurrection from the dead. In verse 11, the Holy Spirit reproves of judgment because the prince of this world was judged. You can see how the righteousness of Christ is impossible without judgment. If the prince of this world had not been judged, if sin had not been judged, there could be no righteousness. It is appropriate, then, to find the pillars in sockets of brass.

We mentioned when we were looking at all the materials of which the fence was made that the pillars were held together with bars of silver. We neglected to mention that on the top of each pillar there was a chapter, a capital, if you want to use that word; a top, if you want to use that word. All of these words apply. It was of silver. We have already noticed in our study that silver is a type of redemption. So the righteousness of Christ has its roots in the judgment of God on sin. But the righteousness of Christ could not stand on that because if a man is convicted that he is a sinner and no provision is made for him, then there is not much he can do about it. The story is not complete without the bars of silver.

Turn, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 3, verse 20:

Romans 3

20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but sinners are justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. All of that is summed up in the phrase, “the righteousness of God”, which is available for everyone but only upon all who believe.

Barrier Broken By Faith

That brings us to the gate in the fence. Even though this fence represents the righteousness of Christ, it can be nothing more than a barrier unless by faith the individual goes through the gate; then instead of its being a barrier, it becomes a protection. We are told in I Corinthians, chapter 1, the last two verses:

I Corinthians 1

30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Turn, please, to chapter 8 of the book of Romans and notice how the fence becomes a protection instead of a barrier. Paul asks the question:

Romans 8

34Who is he that condemneth?…

The reason he asks that question is that he has just asked another one:

Romans 8

33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

Which of you has any right to say anything against me and my relationship to Jesus Christ? To which of you have I the right to address my remarks of criticism about your relationship to Jesus Christ?

Romans 8

34Who is he that condemneth [who dares to condemn? No one has this right] ? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

The righteousness of Christ, which was once a barrier, becomes a protection if we go in at the gate.

Significance of the Colors

Let's think for a bit about the gate. The first thing that attracts our attention is that the fine linen of which the fence is made is embroidered with beautiful, striking colors. There are three colors, and they are mentioned always in the same order–blue, purple, and scarlet. I think there is a reason for this. Blue is the color of Heaven. Every time you find the color blue in a typical illustration, it reminds one of Heaven. Actually, the Hebrew word for “blue” is the same word as that for “mussel”, a fish. The reason for this is that the color blue on the gate of the tabernacle was obtained by killing this mussel and taking the blood out of the mussel to make the blue dye. Scarlet to most people represents blood, but that is not the primary significance of the color scarlet. The Hebrew word for “scarlet” has the same root meaning of the Hebrew word for “earth”. Adam was of the earth–earthy; that is why he was called “Adam”.

You will remember in chapter 25 of the book of Genesis, in the story of the birth of Esau, it is told that he was born red all over and hairy; and that is why they called him “Esau”, which means “red” or “earthy”. You will remember that Esau became a profane man–that is, a man related not to spiritual things, but to earthly things. So the word “scarlet” has for its primary meaning the idea of earthiness, the idea of lowliness, or something insignificant. As a matter of fact, derived from this root word in Hebrew is the common word for “worm”. Job referred to himself as a worm. Well, that is exactly what he was. That is exactly what you are. That is exactly what I am in my natural state. We are unlovely in every sense of the word.

Embroidery on the curtain was blue. Embroidery on the curtain was scarlet. I have reserved the color purple for last in our consideration because purple is obtained by mixing red and blue. We said the curtain was representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gate would be even more so, because it was the access into the place where the spiritual things were. If the gate was representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, it was fitting that these thee colors should be embroidered on the gate, because the Lord Jesus Christ came from Heaven. That is symbolized by the blue color. He became in fashion as a man. That is symbolized by the scarlet color. He came from Heaven, was pure and holy, typified by the blue and the white. He came down to this earth and became as unlovely as sin could make an individual. What did He do? He went back to Heaven, did He not? What is He doing in Heaven? He is carrying on a mediatorial work in your behalf and mine.

Remember what we read in Romans, chapter 8? “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died.” That is the blue and the scarlet. “Yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us”; that is the purple. How do you get purple? By mixing the red and the blue. How did the Lord Jesus Christ become our intercessor? By becoming man, being crucified, rising again, and going back to the right hand of the throne of God. The Lord Jesus Christ was never the intercessor for man until He came to this earth. It is fitting, I repeat, that the gates of the tabernacle should be embroidered with blue and purple and scarlet.

Some individuals, in discussing the tabernacle, suggest–I present this as a thought; I do not think it is of primary significance–that the blue, the purple, and the fine-twined linen, which was white, represent the four manifestations of the Lord Jesus Christ in the four Gospels. Matthew presented Him as King; that would be typified by the purple. Mark presented Him as the servant of man; that would be typified by the scarlet. Luke presented Him as the perfect man; that would be typified by the white. John presented Him as the Son of God; that would be typified by the blue. I offer that to you for whatever it may be worth.

Significance of the Numbers

We want to think with you about the significance of the numbers related to the fence of the court. We have noticed in our study of the tabernacle that the Holy Spirit puts a great deal of emphasis upon numbers; there is a spiritual significance in numbers. There were sixty pillars in all, all around the court. If we were to cipher the sixty, we would discover that 60 is five times twelve. We have already learned that the number five is an important number. Five is the number of grace. Grace is the chief characteristic of the tabernacle. Twelve is the number of government.

How do we know these things? The answer is found in a study of the way the numbers are used in the Word of God. They are always used in exactly the same way. Twelve is the number of government. Grace and government are mixed together in this enclosure of sacred things.

The Reign of Grace

Turn, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 5, and notice a discussion of original sin as it is inherited from Adam. The cure for that original sin is by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 5

17For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

We died because of Adam; we live because of Christ.

Romans 5

18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation;…

We are all under condemnation because of Adam's sin. You may not think that is fair; you may not understand it, but that is beside the point. That is what the Word of God says. Every person born into the world is born into condemnation because of Adam's sin. Notice:

Romans 5

18…even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Through the righteousness of Christ the free gift of salvation became ours.

Romans 5

19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
21[Notice] That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

That is a tremendous statement in the Word of God. Think of reign as government. What are we reading here? We are reading that grace is governing us unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. You read in the Word of God various passages of Scripture that speak of individuals being stricken dead for certain things they have said or done in regard to spiritual things. You say that people have done just as bad as that in our time; why are they not stricken dead? The answer is that grace is reigning today. God's government is grace at this hour–not judgment, but grace. That was the reason for the sixty pillars, five times twelve.

The Manifestation of Righteousness

The total length of the fence of the tabernacle with the exception of the gate was 280 feet all the way around the tabernacle. Think for a moment how 280 would be deciphered: Seven times four times ten. That makes 280, doesn't it? Seven is the number of perfection. Four is the number of the earth. Ten is the number of human responsibility. What have we been studying in regard to the fence of the tabernacle? We have said that the fence represents the righteousness of Christ as it was manifested on the earth. What did we read in Romans, chapter 5? By the obedience of one were many made righteous. So you see how even in the very detail of the hanging of the tabernacle the truth of God's Word is emphasized.

Notice one thing about the length of the hanging. The height of these curtains was the same as the length of the covering of the tabernacle. The coverings of the tabernacle represent righteousness in glory. The fence represents righteousness on the earth. If you are thinking with me, you already realize the connection. There is no difference between the righteousness of the believer on the earth and the righteousness of the believer in glory.

In many of the epistles we find a salutation which is misleading and which causes a great many people to miss a real blessing that the light might have for them. So often the epistles' author addresses “those individuals who are called to be saints”. If you will look at the word “to be”, you will find they are always in italics, which means they are not in the original text. We are not called to be saints; we are saints already. Some people say that when an individual gets to Heaven he will stand perfectly righteous in the sight of God. You won't be any more righteous in the sight of God than you are right now. You will be more perfect in the sense that you will not be limited to all the failings of this human body, but as far as standing is concerned, you will be just as righteous then as you are now–no more, no less.

A Present Glorification

Turn, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 8, verse 28:

Romans 8

28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Notice again the words of verse 30:

Romans 8

30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called [that is, passed] : and whom he called [that is, passed] , them he also justified [that is, passed] : and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

He also without fail in due season glorified. Is that the way your Bible reads? No, because it does not say that. It does not say, “in due season He will glorify you”; it says, “He was glorified.” When the Lord saved you, He glorified you. You may not look very glorified and you may not act very glorified, and that is why the Lord has to chasten you. That is why some of the hard places come in our lives. We need some sandpapering. We need some chiseling. As far as God is concerned, we are as glorified as we will ever be, as far as our standing in the Lord is concerned. That is the truth of the fence of the tabernacle in regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, His righteousness on earth, and our righteousness in Heaven.

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