Three Entrances: Gate, Door, Vail
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Exodus, chapter 27, verse 16:

Exodus 27

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.

Turn, please, to chapter 38 of the book of Exodus, verses 18 and 19. Here we have another record of the same thing, but it does have some information that we need:

Exodus 38

18And the hanging for the gate of the court was needlework, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: and twenty cubits was the length, and the height in the breadth was five cubits, answerable to the hangings of the court.
19And their pillars were four, and their sockets of brass four; their hooks of silver, and the overlaying of their chapiters and their fillets of silver.
20And all the pins of the tabernacle, and of the court round about, were of brass.

These two passages speak of the gate of the tabernacle. The second passage gives us some information about the pillars that the first passage does not give. In the first passage we find the instructions which God gave to Moses about the building of the tabernacle, and in the second passage we find the compliance of Bezaleel, the architect, with those instructions.

Turn, please, to chapter 26 of the book of Exodus, verse 36:

Exodus 26

36And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework.
37And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them.

Turn to chapter 36 and notice verse 37:

Exodus 36

37And he made an hanging for the tabernacle door of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, of needlework;
38And the five pillars of it with their hooks: and he overlaid their chapiters and their fillets with gold: but their five sockets were of brass.

These two passages of Scripture refer to the door of the tabernacle. I would like for you to keep in mind the names as we are reading. This is called the gate; this is called the door. Keep in mind that this has four pillars; this has five pillars. If you will go back to chapter 26, verse 31, we will read all these passages one at a time–we'll not be rereading them–that we may see the comparisons and the contrasts:

Exodus 26

31And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:
32And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver.
33And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.
34And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.
35And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side.

Now notice, please, Exodus, chapter 36, verse 35:

Exodus 36

35And he made a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: with cherubims made he it of cunning work.
36And he made thereunto four pillars of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold: their hooks were of gold; and he cast for them four sockets of silver.
37And he made an hanging for the tabernacle door of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, of needlework;
38And the five pillars of it with their hooks: and he overlaid their chapiters and their fillets with gold: but their five sockets were of brass.

We have reread the description of the door of the tabernacle that you might notice the difference between the sockets of the one and the sockets of the other. The passages of Scripture which we have just read are a description of the doorway which is called a veil, and which separates the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place.

We have read three passages of Scripture–one of them describing the veil, another describing the door, and another describing the gate, which is in the fence of the tabernacle. In our study of the tabernacle, we have thought about the building itself, we have thought about the furniture, and all that remains for our discussion are these three entrances about which we have been reading. There are similarities in these entrances, and you will notice that there are distinct differences between them. The blessing of our study will come from a comparison and a contrast of these three openings in the tabernacle.

Similarities In the Openings

Let me point out some of the similarities in these openings. The first thing I would like to emphasize is that they were all the same size–listen carefully to what I am going to say–in square cubits; they all had the same number of cubits. But the gate was not nearly so high as the door or the veil, which was the same height. We notice then a similarity and a difference. All the entryways faced toward the east. These things suggest that there must have been a reason why the gates were all the same size; there must have been a reason why the gates all faced toward the east. We have learned from our study of the tabernacle that nothing about it was done by accident.

Let us see whether we can understand why there is such similarity, and so understand the significance of these entry ways. Turn, please, to the book of Genesis, chapter 3, which describes the expulsion of man from the Garden of Eden. We will read from verse 23:

Genesis 3

23Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Notice in verse 24, “He drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden…” The Garden of Eden was the place of fellowship with God. The entrance to the Garden of Eden was on the east. Nothing more was said about a place of fellowship with God from the time man was expelled from the Garden of Eden until the tabernacle was constructed. We have already learned that the inner room of the tabernacle was a place of fellowship. So to be consistent with the teaching of the Word, it would follow that the entryways of the tabernacle would all be on the east–the gate, the door, and the veil.

In the book of Genesis, the guards that were placed outside the Garden of Eden were cherubim with a flaming sword. The last barrier that separated man from the final place of fellowship in the tabernacle was the veil, which was embroidered with cherubim. Cherubim are symbols of God's guardianship of that which is holy. The veil was embroidered with cherubim. The door was not so embroidered, nor was the gate. I trust you are able to see from this comparison that these gates, doors and veils were meant to symbolize–notice what I am saying–a way into fellowship with God.

Representative of the Lord Jesus Christ

We have learned in our study of the tabernacle that everything about it refers to the Lord Jesus Christ in some fashion or other. What can be said about the tabernacle can be said about the entryways which we are considering not because we see a comparison, but because God's Word plainly declares it.

Turn, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 10. In chapter 9, a description of the tabernacle is given. In chapter 10, a discussion ensues from what is presented in chapter 9. We read from chapter 10, verse 19:

Hebrews 10

19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
21And having an high priest over the house of God;
22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

You notice in verse 19 a reference to the Holiest–that is, the Most Holy Place, the second room of the tabernacle. We are told here to have boldness to enter through the veil into the Most Holy Place, and we are told that the veil symbolizes the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh, or God incarnate.

If this is true, we should expect other Scriptures to bear it out. Will you turn, please, to chapter 10 of the Gospel of John for a familiar statement concerning this truth. John records that Jesus Christ is not only the veil; He is the door as well.

John 10

9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

This verse of Scripture encompasses both the gate that is in the fence of the courtyard and the door that enters into the tabernacle proper. We have already noticed that the veil is the Lord Jesus Christ; the door and the gate also are the Lord Jesus Christ. You can see why, then, there was a similarity in style, why there was a similarity in material and why there was a similarity in coloring; it was because all threeentry ways were typical of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Difference In the Doorways

However, though we have noticed similarities up to this point, we suggested that there were differences in these three doorways. You may be saying, “How can that possibly be when they are all talking about the same thing? Why are they not exactly the same in every say?”

Notice that the gate in the courtyard fence was lower and broader than was the door into the holy place or the veil into the Most Holy Place. Do you notice the difference? The door into the Most Holy Place was much higher than the gate in the fence of the courtyard. Why is that a necessity if the Scriptures are to present an entire picture?

A Graduated Relationship

Turn, please, to chapter 15 of the Gospel of John as I remind you that though the way into fellowship with God is the same for every person, the comprehension of this fellowship with the Lord by individuals is not the same. There is one sense in which we cannot, if we are accurate, talk about the degrees of fellowship; an individual is either in fellowship or out of fellowship. But we have developed the habit of talking about being close to God, or pretty near to God, or pretty far away from God; and the reason is that we do recognize degrees of consciousness of fellowship. The Bible bears that out. Notice in verse 7 the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 15

7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

I am aware that if we want to be very technical we can say that the terms in this passage of Scripture could be used interchangeably, but I have read the passage because it presents an illustration of what I would like to leave with you. There are three classes of people mentioned in this paragraph. In verse 8, the word “disciples” is used; in verse 13 the word “friends” is used; in verse 15, the word “servants” is used. If you get the sense of what the Savior was saying when He was speaking to this group of people, you will recognize a graduated relationship. It begins with disciples; it progresses to the state of servants; it goes on to a state of friendship. I believe that is why, even though there was a similarity in the entry ways, there was a difference as well.

We might say for the purpose of discussion that every one who goes through the gate is a disciple. There is no other way to be one. Those who go through the door of the tabernacle and officiate at the altar of incense and the table of shewbread and the seven-branched candlestick are servants. But those who go beyond the veil and learn the real meaning of worship are those who are able to spend some time at the Mercy Seat in intercession for others. I repeat, I believe this is a reason for the difference in the entryways of the tabernacle, and I think that becomes more emphatic when we remember that there are three different words used for the entryways. In our English it is gate, door, and veil. In the Hebrew text it is even more evident. For example, the Hebrew word for “gate” is a word for which the root meaning is “to estimate”, “to think”. Anyone who is outside the gate has to give serious consideration to his own separation from God because anyone who is outside the gate is separated from God. He has not contact, no access at all.

We would like to emphasize that no person will ever come to a saving knowledge of Christ until he comes to the place where he estimates, evaluates his own sad condition and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to meet his need. We call that “conviction”. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is in the world for the purpose of convicting men of sin, of righteousness, of judgment.

Suppose a person stands at the gate giving careful consideration to his need and decides to go inside the gate. The first thing he sees is a brazen altar upon which a sacrifice for sin was made. He identifies himself with that sacrifice and he is inside, no longer outside. The next thing he sees is the laver which is provided for his daily cleansing. It is conceivable that a person would stay in the outer court, be a disciple and nothing more; but some of the Levites, the family of the priesthood, were able to go through the door of the tabernacle. The word “door” in the Hebrew tongue means “to let go” or “to give vent to”. I think the Holy Spirit wisely chose that word because of the activity of the servants who go through the door of the tabernacle. What are they doing when they go through the door of the tabernacle? They are standing at the table of shewbread, praising the Lord night and day, the Scripture says; they are standing by the golden candlestick, giving vent to their praise for the Lord. They are standing at the altar of incense, letting themselves go, so to speak, in their praise and their adoration of the Lord. The disciple has become a servant.

You are aware, I am sure, that any number of Christians are Christians because they have placed their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what it takes to make a Christian–nothing more and nothing less. You have received the Lord Jesus Christ as your very own personal Savior. You are aware, I am sure, that many Christians have never learned the ministry of praise. They have never learned the ministry of intercession. They have never learned the ministry of feeding on the Lord Jesus Christ as the Bread of Life. The reason is that even though they have gone through the gate, they have never gone through the door.

Ministry of Intercession

If you will look farther with me, there is another entryway to be considered. Our English text refers to it as the veil. The Hebrew word refers to something that hides, something that screens, something that keeps apart. That is exactly what the veil does. Even though you are in this holy place of service, you are screened from the Most Holy Place because of the veil. It is only when you go through the veil, which is a screen, that you learn the real meaning of fellowship at the Mercy Seat–real intercession.

Permit me to repeat something I have often said. I believe that the greatest service that anyone can render to the Lord is the ministry of intercession. Time and time again people say to me, “I wish I could do something for the Lord.” Usually what they mean is that they would like to teach a Sunday School class or they would like to do something out where people could see them–not necessarily because they want the credit, but because they just don't feel as if they are doing anything unless they are seen. Well, the greatest ministry that anyone can render to the Lord is the ministry of intercession. Keep in mind where the ministry of intercession was carried on in the tabernacle–in the Most Holy Place.

Some folk are disciples; some folk are servants; they are so busy serving; but other folk are friends of the Lord. You remember that God said it was necessary for Him to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah; but He said, “I cannot do it until I have told my friend Abraham about it.” You remember what happened when He told His friend Abraham about it. Abraham immediately began to intercede, and I make bold to say that if Abraham had not entered into a ministry of intercession, Lot would have been doomed. Do you see how important it is to be a friend of God?

Significance of the Pillars

We will now pass from the curtains or the hangings, at which we have been looking, and notice the pillars related to each one of the entryways. You will keep in mind that the pillars related to the gate of the tabernacle were five in number. They were finished in that they had a chapiter on top of each one, and they were set in sockets of brass. When you come to the pillars related to the door of the tabernacle, you find that they were set in sockets of silver. They were beautifully finished, as well, with chapiters at the top. When you come to the pillars which supported the veil, you find them four in number; you find them set in sockets of silver, but you do not find them finished on the top. They had no chapiters nor columns to give them a finished appearance. We do not believe that any of this is a mistake; we believe it is a carefully designed illustration of spiritual truth.

Let us look at the similarities. What is the purpose of these pillars? Let me give my own answer and say that the purpose of the pillars was the display of the hanging. If it had not been for these pillars, this gate would have fallen down into the mud in the courtyard; if it had not been for these pillars, the door with its fine-twined linen and all its beautiful embroidery of blue and purple and scarlet would not have been on display, and likewise the veil. The pillars, then, were meant to magnify the beauty of the curtain. They were meant to magnify the beauty of the hangings themselves. If we keep that in mind, we can understand why the gate and the veil had four pillars. These four pillars were designed to portray all the beauty of the hangings.

If I were to ask you where the Lord Jesus is portrayed more clearly than in any other place in the Bible, I think you would answer, “In the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” I would not want to build a doctrine on this to the extent that we would be in disagreement with anyone else, but I am of the opinion that the reason the four pillars were used for the gate was that the Lord Jesus Christ is portrayed to the unsaved more completely in the Gospels than He is anywhere else.

When you come to the door of the tabernacle, you see that we have not four, but five pillars. Who is it that comes to the door of the tabernacle? Not the unsaved man on the outside; he is a believer when he gets on the inside. Where is the Lord Jesus Christ portrayed to the believer more than in any other section of the Word? Your answer will be, “In the epistles.”

It is significant to me, but I would not want to be dogmatic about it to the point that we would have a discussion about it, because all we can do is to notice the similarity in these things, that there are only five writers of the epistles; and those writers portray the Lord Jesus Christ to the believer as the Gospels do not do. They were Peter and John and Jude and Paul and James; in those pillars the Lord Jesus Christ is portrayed to the believer.

We pointed out to you that the four pillars in the gate of the tabernacle rested in sockets of silver. We have noticed in our study of the tabernacle that brass is a type of judgment and silver is a type of redemption. I think you can make your own analogy. People who are outside the gate are under condemnation, but people who are inside the gate are no longer under condemnation; that is why the Scriptures say that there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). That would be reason for the sockets of the gate to be brass and for the sockets of the door and the veil to be silver.

You will remember that each of the hangings was hung with clasps of gold, and we are reminded that gold was representative of deity, representative of glory. We are reminded that though the pillars held up the hangings that we might behold them in all their beauty, it was the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ that supported His manifestation while He was on the earth.

When we are looking at the pillars related to these area ways, we mentioned that the pillars in the gate had chapiters on top which gave them a finished appearance, and the pillars in the door had chapiters that gave them a finished appearance, but the pillars into the Most Holy Place remained unfinished. Was that because they just forgot to finish them? Was it an oversight? I believe not. I believe that even in this detail the Holy Spirit is teaching us a spiritual truth.

Entry Into the Most Holy Place

You remember that the veil particularly represented the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember that we read in Hebrews, chapter 9, that while this veil was yet standing, there remained no entry into the Most Holy Place. There was no way for an ordinary mortal to enter into the Most Holy Place as long as the veil was standing.

Turn, please, to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 27, as I remind you that the veil in the tabernacle eventually gave way to the veil in Solomon's temple; the veil in Solomon's temple eventually gave way to the veil in Herod's temple, which was in existence when the Lord Jesus Christ was on the earth. In chapter 27 of the Gospel of Matthew, in the paragraph beginning with verse 39, there is a description of the crucifixion. It is completed in verse 50, where we read:

Matthew 27

50Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

The main thing in which we are interested is that when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross, the veil of the temple, the second hanging in the tabernacle, was split from the top to the bottom. That which had screened the Most Holy Place from the eyes of mortal man was at last torn asunder. Keep in mind the manner in which it was torn asunder because therein lies the symbolism. According to the passage of Scripture which we have read, the veil was torn asunder from top to bottom. This indicates that it was a divine action. No man could have torn it from top to bottom, for it was several inches thick and very finely woven. Before it was ever hung, according to Josephus, a mule was tied on one end of the veil and a mule tied on the other, and they were whipped in opposite directions to see if the veil could be torn apart. The veil could not be torn apart; that was how strong it was. Yet when the Lord Jesus Christ died, it was torn asunder from top to bottom.

Tradition tells us that after things settled down, the high priest tried to sew the veil back together again, but the stitches never held. That is not scriptural; it is not worth any more than anything else you would read in secular literature. Yet there is no need to discount it any more than you would discount any other thing written in some historical report. I can believe it because the way into the Most Holy Place remains open today, and there is no need for anyone to do other than come to the throne with boldness.

By the Blood of Jesus

Turn with me to chapter 10 of the book of Hebrews that we might re-emphasize in our thinking what we suggested at the beginning of our discussion:

Hebrews 10

18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

“These” refers to the words “sin” in the previous verse. We are told that sins are remitted, and if sins are remitted, there need be no more sacrifice for sin as there was out at the brazen altar. It does not say that there is none; it says that none is needed. Then notice verse 19:

Hebrews 10

19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
21And having an high priest over the house of God;
22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Turn, please, to chapter 4 of the book of Hebrews as we summarize in a few words what we have read. Since the Lord Jesus Christ died, the veil has been rent; therefore let us come boldly into this Most Holy Place–not with fear, not with trembling, but boldly and for a distinct purpose:

Hebrews 4

14Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin [apart from sin] .
16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

As we have been studying the tabernacle, we have realized a tremendous contrast. Under the Old Testament economy, I, an ordinary mortal, could bring my sacrifice through the gate and take it to the altar; my sins could be placed upon the sacrifices and my sins would be rolled forward one year. Then the Levites, members of the priestly family, representing me, could come to the laver and on into the holy place and officiate at the table of shewbread, at the seven-branched candlestick and at the altar of incense. Then once each year–only once–Aaron–only Aaron–could come with the blood through the veil and the the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place. That was the best that man could hope for in the Old Testament economy. But since the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross, symbolized by the brazen altar, and since the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God consistently cleanses me, and the veil has been torn asunder, I, personally, not once a year but every hour, every minute of the day if need be, can come boldly to the throne of grace to find grace and mercy to help me in time of need.

I could not begin to tell you how many times I have been to the throne of grace in time of need. This is a truth that I wish all people could realize.

It is a tragedy to me that “Churchianity” has been preached to the exclusion of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have dealt with individuals about their soul's salvation, and I have encouraged them to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior; and more times than not I have been told, “I want to and I would like to, but I will wait until Sunday.” I say to them, “Why do you want to wait until Sunday?” They say, “I have to walk down the aisle when church takes up and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.” I ask, “Who says you do?” “Well, everyone knows you have to do that.”

Conclusion

Beloved, it is a sad thing when our preaching is so confused that people think they cannot be saved unless they walk down the aisle of a church. What they need to know is that they can be born again the moment they receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.


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