Into the Outer Court Fence
Make a courtyard for the tabernacle. The south side shall be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains of finely twisted linen, with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts. The north side shall also be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains, with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts.
“The west end of the courtyard shall be fifty cubits wide and have curtains, with ten posts and ten bases. On the east end, toward the sunrise, the courtyard shall also be fifty cubits wide. Curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on one side of the entrance, with three posts and three bases, and curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on the other side, with three posts and three bases.” (Exodus 27:9-15, NIV)
“This translates to an area 75 feet wide by 150 feet long. The tabernacle, including the courtyard fence and all the other elements, could be packed and easily moved when the Jews traveled from place to place. The fence set the holy ground of the tabernacle apart from the rest of the camp. No one could casually approach the holy place or wander into the courtyard.
Linen was a valuable cloth made from the flax plant, widely cultivated in Egypt. Workers stripped long, thin fibers from inside the stems of the plant, spun them into thread, then wove the thread into fabric on looms. Because of the intense labor involved, linen was mostly worn by rich people. This fabric was so delicate; it could be pulled through a man’s signet ring. Egyptians bleached linen or dyed it bright colors. Linen was also used in narrow strips to wrap mummies.
The linen of the courtyard fence was white. Various commentaries note the contrast between the dust of the wilderness and the striking white linen wall wrapping the grounds of the tabernacle, the meeting place with God. This fence foreshadowed a much later event in Israel when a linen shroud was wrapped around the crucified corpse of Jesus Christ, who is sometimes called the “perfect tabernacle.” Jack Zavada
The fenced-in Tabernacle grounds at 75 feet by 150 feet are about the size of a city lot. The white linen was about 300 feet long by 7.5 feet high. It surrounded the Outer Court, where all people had access. The greater number actions of praise and worship took place within the Outer Court. Yet this is the lowest stage of spiritual communion, yet it stands for whatever was the most fundamental and most important. From this place the Altar of Sacrifice (redemption) and the Brazen Altar (repentance) were widely visible and was the absolute center of the sacrificial system.
“Blessed is the one You choose and bring near to dwell in Your courts! We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your House – Your holy temple”. Psalm 65:4
“For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else”. Psalm 84:11
As we enter into the Outer Court through the Gate of the Tabernacle, we see the fence from the inside, the white linen fence. When I meditated on this, I suddenly had a flash. The fence is there to close us in, not keep us out. There is a gate to the Tabernacle and everyone is welcome to come in.
The fence is a type and shadow of the Tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl. We all know but we don’t think about is the fact that Jesus wore a tallit. Just like any good Jew, Jesus wore His tallit all of the time as a reminder of living a lifestyle of prayer, and His tzitzit, the fringes hung out just as we see how orthodox and Hassidic Jews wear their tallits today. We are familiar with what happened to the woman with the issue of blood in Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34 and Luke 8:43-48. This woman had the audacity to reach through the pressing crowd and grab onto the fringe of Jesus’ Tallit, the tzitzit of His Tallit so she can be healed! But this woman wasn’t the only person who touched the tzitzit of Jesus’ tallit for healing. Many did this, read Matthew 14:34-36, Mark 6:56.
In Mosaic law, the Lord instructed His people regarding the corners of their garments, they were instructed to make fringes or tassels to hang from the corners of their garments (Numbers 15:37-41). It doesn’t make sense to us because of our own culture, how we wear our clothes today. Our garments no longer have “corners” like the outer cloaks of the ancient Middle Eastern people. They wore as an outer garment a large piece of cloth with a hole in the middle for their heads. After putting it on they would tie it around their waist with a piece of twine, cloth or leather. The ancient Middle Eastern people would mark the corners of their outer garments as part of their identity. The Lord, when He called the children of Israel to be His own, called them to place tassels on the corners of their outer garments to mark them as His own people. The children of Israel were to take on the LORD’S identity from now on. No longer were they to identify themselves as slaves of the Egyptians, they are now entering into their own destiny as a kingdom of priests, serving the Great I AM. (Exodus 19:6)
Remember the story of Ruth? In Ruth 3:9, this woman asked Boaz to “extend the borders of his garment and cover her”. What Ruth was asking of Boaz was she wanted to be one of his people, one of God’s people. She was requesting for herself to be identified with him.
In Ezekiel 16:8 the Lord used a word picture of spreading His garment over His people to cover their nakedness. He was reclaiming His people.
When David cut off the corner of Saul’s garment in I Samuel 24:5, what he did was cut off one of the fringes from Saul’s Tallit. Today we might wonder why David’s heart was pierced. We think, “big deal! He just cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. What’s so terrible about that?” We don’t understand that what David did was that he defaced Saul’s identity and his divinely authorized kingship.
Today, because they no longer wear long robes with 4 corners, over the years the Tallit was constructed. This prayer shawl with its fringes is a symbol of their covenant with the Lord. The Lord has extended His garment to cover them / cover us with His grace.
The Prayer Shawl is symbolic of the Tabernacle.
Whenever the prayer shawl is properly used, the face is covered. This is symbolic of being closed in with the Lord. We wear the prayer shawl to “close us in” away from the distractions of the world so we can spend that time communing with the Great I AM.
Around the Tabernacle was a long white linen fence. The fence around the Tabernacle was a type of Tallit. The fence was not there to keep out. The fence was there to keep us in. The linen fence of course couldn’t keep anyone or anything out. It was made of linen fabric and that fabric could easily tear if someone wanted to get in badly enough. Linen is an expensively made delicate fabric
The Lord wants to cover us with His presence.
Genesis 3:8-11 relates how Adam & Eve suddenly realized they were naked, and they became ashamed and hid from the Lord. The reason why they suddenly realized they were naked was because of their sin they lost the covering of God’s Presence. Without His covering, they were naked! Up to that point, Adam & Eve were “covered” by the Lord’s Tallit. Then, as we know the Lord slaughtered animals to cover them. They only can be “covered” through the shedding of innocent blood.
This is a picture of the Tabernacle. The entire Tabernacle: Outer Court and Inner Court are surrounded by the white linen fence. That is a picture of the Lord’s covering. In a sense, the fence is a shadow of the covering of the Lord’s Presence as what Adam & Eve had before they sinned. Just inside the Gate there is the Altar of Sacrifice, where the shedding of innocent blood was performed daily. That, as we know is a type & shadow of the price Jesus paid on the cross at Calvary. As we enter into the Lord’s covering, we cannot go any further until we see the Cross. We must accept the Cross and the price Jesus paid so that we can enter in.
WHAT THE TALLIT, THE FENCE DOES FOR US:
- The Tallit, the fence covers our eyes so we won’t be distracted by the world (Psalm 101:3).
- The Tallit, the fence covers us, protects us from prying eyes as we enter into the Lord’s Presence.
- The Tallit, the fence protects at that moment from caring about other’s opinions of us.
- The Tallit, the fence protects us from physical harm or danger (Psalm 91).
- The Tallit, the fence protects us from exposure to the world and feeling like we are at another’s mercy.
As we remain in the center of the Lord’s will, we are safe. The safest place we can be, whether we are in the midst of war, or in a far-off jungle, whether we live in a dangerous neighborhood, or whether we live in prosperity in a nice middle class home; the safest place we can be in right in the center of God’s will. It doesn’t matter where we are. We can be confident of the Lord’s protection. We can rest in the Lord, “like a weaned child resting against his mother” (Psalm 131:2).
Right now, if you’re in a place of victory, go in and shut the door. Go into the Tabernacle and have a “praise party”. Go in and rejoice with the Lover of your soul. Sing and dance wildly! The Lord loves it when you crazily and loudly praise Him. Cut loose and praise the One Who created you and gives you victory!
Right now, if you are in a place of confusion or distress, if your spirit is restless and unsettled and you don’t know where to go or who to turn to, I encourage you to go inside the Tabernacle. Go inside and gaze at the linen fence. The Lord is here. Go in, shut the door. Put your head in the Lord’s lap and weep, cry out and travail. You are safe in this place. You have the Lord’s permission to emote. Shut yourself in. Turn off the TV, computer, cell phones. Shut out all external noises and go in.
Right, if you’re in the doldrums, just barely living your everyday life, go into the Tabernacle. Shut the door. Listen for His voice. The Lord wants to speak to you. The Lord wants to share His secrets with you. Go in and sit before your Lord and your God. Wrap your prayer shawl around your face, remove all distractions, go in and meet the Lover of your soul.
He’s waiting for you!