And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, of cunning work: with cherubim shall it be made: And 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. And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the veil the ark of the testimony: and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy."-Exodus XXVI. 31-33.
THINGS are not what they seem. All things are veiled. The whole created universe is the veil or investiture of the Deity. The divine love clothes itself with the divine wisdom, and this with the divine power which creates and sustains the universe, "in which we live and move and have our being."
"Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain," is the sublime utterance of the Psalmist (Ps. CIV. 2). "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed."-Ps. CII. 25, 26. Systems, suns, and worlds, are all the gorgeous covering of the Spirit of God, the veil of the eternal love. "The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead."-Rom. 1. 20.
That which is true of the universe as a whole, is true also of every part. Each grain has its covering, each flower its sheath, each tree its bark. The body is a covering of the soul. The brain has its covering, the heart, the lungs. Each vessel has its skin. All things are veiled.
A little reflection will teach us that this must be so. Things cannot manifest themselves but by covering themselves with a veil, which adapts and accommodates them to the object to which they tend. Love can only manifest itself in thought; in burning thought perhaps, but yet in thought. Thoughts can only manifest themselves in words. All things manifested are but clothings, fold upon fold it may be, but yet clothings of inner essences which they cover and protect, and yet reveal.
Such are the meditations which flow in upon us while we contemplate the Veil of the tabernacle.
The Veil was the protection for the ark, the mercy seat, and the commandments: these were within the Veil. It was the division between the Holy of holies, and the holy place. It concealed the holiest things from common gaze; yet its colours and its embroidery revealed their true and holy character.
The whole tabernacle represented heaven; the most holy place, the inmost heaven. There the angels are filled with highest love, as all the objects within the veil, except the tables of the commandments, were golden. The appearance within was simple though the objects were immensely valuable. And so, probably, the child-like ones who inhabit the highest heaven, and who unite the highest innocence with the highest wisdom, to those who see them would appear simple, unadorned, and thus adorned the most. "Let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay": our Lord said, "for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."-Matt. v. 37. Unutterable things were experienced within the veil, for there the Lord revealed Himself in the glories of divine splendour; but still, the ordinary state of things there would be a holy simplicity, yet containing within itself things of divinest worth. The Lord had there written the treasures of His commandments, as He writes them on the hearts of those with whom His new covenant is perfectly made. " I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." -Jer. XXXI. 33.
The divine simplicity of the Holy of holies, yet containing the commandments of God in the ark, would seem to correspond to the inmost degree of a soul entirely ruled by the Lord. Of such an one it is written, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee."-Ps. CXIX. 11. And, again, "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom."-Ps. LI. 6. The law of the Lord, surrounded and embraced by supreme love, forms the inmost of a celestial man, and of the highest heaven, the abode of celestial men, who have now become angels.
We know but little of what took place there. It represented the ineffable. The blessedness of the inmost heaven is to man in this world very faintly comprehensible. The Apostle, speaking it is believed of his own experience, says, he knew a man caught up to the third heaven, which he calls paradise, who there heard unspeakable words (2 Cor. XII. 2-4). The thoughts, the views, the deep raptures of the angels of the third heaven must be so immensely different from those of men, as to be almost inconceivable. Yet in some of their most general characteristics, we may obtain a faint idea of them. They would be feelings and thoughts of child-like innocence, including entire dependence on the Lord. Secondly, they would be feelings and thoughts of love to the Lord. And, thirdly, they must include the raptures caused by the divine presence. "There," said the Lord, " I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee, from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony."-Exodus xxv. 22.
First, then, the deep peace of the celestial angels, and of celestial men, which comes from entire child-like dependence on the Lord, was represented by the silence within the Veil. "Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them."-Ps. CXIX. 165.
The Lord Jesus presented this attribute of the highest angels very impressively, when He was asked by His disciples, who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He "called a little child unto Him and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven;"-Matt. XVIII. 2-4.
When we consider the fretful anxieties which are so common among men; the wearying cares, and restless fears which afflict so many; when we remember the thousand complaints which are often made, because we do not have something which we do not need, and which would do us no good; when we reflect how we pain ourselves often at the thought of troubles which may never come, or by the time they do come will find us well prepared, how strongly do we see the contrast our worldly states present to the deep peace of the celestial, the "peace of God which passeth all understanding."
What a blessed state is that of a soul at rest! How calm is every feeling! How deep and heart-felt the satisfaction! It is like a morning sunrise without clouds. All is calm, bright, serene, and happy. The birds are carolling their joy, but everything else is still. It is said of the mountain on which Abraham had been willing to offer up Isaac, that there is written upon it to this day, "THE LORD WILL PROVIDE." So in the celestial state. In that mountain of inmost, holy love, distrust can never come. Heart-felt confidence ever soars far above the region of anxiety, and so completely removes all fear for the morrow, that the soul is like a child at the lap of its Infinite Heavenly Father, and no cloud ever dims the sweet assurance, "The Lord will provide." "Surely," said the Psalmist, describing this state, " I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the Lord, from henceforth and for ever."-Ps. CXXXI. 2, 3. This, then, is the deep ground of the highest happiness, "within the Veil."
"The man that feels interior peace,
Alone can know its worth;
From wisdom, love, and righteousness,
This peace derives its birth."
The second source of happiness is, the participation by the celestial, of the love which flows into them from the Divine Being, and which disposes them to feel interior joy in cooperating with Him. His joy is in them, and their joy is full. " He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, for God is love." From inmost love to the Lord they not only have perfect peace, but in the ministries of hea ven they have perfect joy.
Their mutual love flowing from love to the Lord, fills them with life and bliss. "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the bretbren."
The joys of love are not so much the joys of receiving as the joys of giving, of imparting, of doing, of adding to the bliss of others. It is a central bliss; a delight in radiating; a joy in itself in imparting joy to others; a joy unspeakable, deep, silent, full. Such is the divine joy. Systems, suns, and worlds are formed that He may create an ever-increasing number of immortal souls, and train them up for heaven. He creates that He may bless; He teaches that He may bless; He redeems, He saves, He regenerates, that He may bless. Men can add nothing to Him. When they worship and praise Him, it is but that they may receive more of His wisdom, more of celestial ability and more of peace. The sun of nature is for ever pouring forth its heat and splendour, and thus images to all the Sun of heaven. The best of the angels, those who belong to the world within the veil, and those men who are like them-who turn many to righteousness, shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and are blest in their degree with a love like His. Oh, that men would everywhere emulate this glorious, god-like principle and taste its ineffable joy. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Everyone knows the happiness that parents have in giving to their children; that friends have in imparting to those towards whom they feel affectionately; that the patriot has in labouring for his country. The celestial love of others is all this deepened and purified by principle flowing from the love of God, and filled according to the glowing language of the Prophet with "peace as a river, and with righteousness as the waves of the sea" -Isa. XLVIII. 18.
Within the Veil, thirdly, there is from time to time the presence of the Lord Himself. "There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee." All that is involved in this promise of promises, it is impossible to express. The soul that yearns after communion with its God and Saviour, will feel, rather than be able to describe, the unutterable bliss which is enjoyed in the presence of the Lord, and in communing with Him.
The divine promise to Abram was, " I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."-Gen. xv. 1. The divine-love itself is the soul and centre of every blessing: conjunction with that is its own exceeding great reward. He who is conjoined with the Lord is conjoined With everything holy, pure and good. The yearning of the truly converted soul is ever that of the Psalmist, " 0 God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee : my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is: To see thy power and thy glory so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.. Because thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live; I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips."-Ps. LXIII. 1-5.
The ecstasies of interior delight which are experienced by the soul in holy communion with the Lord within the Veil, are only to be expressed in Scriptural language as "fullness of joy." It is as if every fibre thrilled with delight. It is joy welling up from the very depth and centre of our being. It is a bliss that fills the understanding and passes all understanding; a bliss unspeakable, divine. The soul filled with this rapture exclaims, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." Such is the blessedness that fills the highest heaven, and fills the soul of him who has progressed in the path of regeneration until he has entered into the Holy of holies.
But let us now pass on to consider the Veil itself. And, here, allow me to call your attention to the fact that in all true divine coverings the objects sought are twofold, protection and revelation. The heavens not only clothe the divine principles of love and wisdom which sustain them, but they reveal them. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handywork."
This twofold attribute is very manifest in the skin, which may be regarded as the veil of the human body. It covers and protects the exquisite textures underneath. It defends them from cold and other injuries. It is also a revealer not only of the condition of the body, but also of the emotions of the mind. Fear blanches the skin, modesty covers it with blushes. Care and jealousy make the skin sallow, and joy covers it with a fresh and rosy hue. Thus that covering which is most exquisitely woven to conceal the wondrous forms of flesh and vessel, is yet a mirror to reveal the general play of feelings and sentiments which are colouring both mind and body.
In like manner the Veil of the Holy of holies was a covering to preserve the precious things therein from intrusive gaze or approach. At the same time the colours and the structure of the Veil are representative of the principles which prevailed within. The Veil manifested the Holy of holies as well as protected it.
The Veil is said to be of cunning-work in fine linen, of the colours blue, purple and scarlet, with figures of cherubim upon it, of gold. The Hebrew words rendered cunning-work, should be, the work of an embroiderer. In the Scriptures there are mentioned three kinds of workers in the production of cloth: there is one word for the worker in one colour another for the worker in three colours; and still a third, when in addition to the three colours, a thread of gold was introduced. It is this latter term which is here used. The Veil, then, represented the principles of celestial men, and of the celestial heaven, as they are represented to others, or as they are portrayed in the intellect. The intellect is a cunning-worker, it weaves the tissues of truth into beautiful forms, and clothes the soul with its manufactures. "The fine linen is the righteousness of saints."-Rev. XIX. 8.
Truths are acquired line upon line. It is the intellect that takes them and weaves them into a system and adapts them to our peculiar needs. Love without truths cannot describe itself; it must appear in the intellect and there arrange its sentiments so that they can be visibly perceived. Love there presents its sentiments, hopes, and desires, as a heavenly representation. It is a Veil, but it is a Veil which reveals what is within.
The blue, that deep heavenly colour, is the symbol of heavenly wisdom. The deep blue of the sky represents the deep lessons of spiritual worth and beauty which lie beneath the letter of the Word. The purple, the deepest red, is the colour of love, warm and hallowed, the royal colour: while scarlet, also a kind of red, is the secondary affection, mutual love. These three represent the principles of the celestial man, as they appear in the region of thought. The golden thread of the cherubim woven everywhere in the Veil, represents the spirit of love everywhere entering into all this heavenly system, and guarding it from rude approach.
The cherubim were always guards. And in reality, where love is supreme, as in the state of the soul represented by the Holy of holies and the Veil, love pervades everything like a blessed instinct, impressing its celestial nature upon every thought, every act, and every word. This appearance of the spirit of love throughout our character, will guard us from the undue approach of uncongenial minds. or from injury to the holy sentiments which glow within. Our character becomes then a veil like that of old, displaying blue, purple and scarlet, and everywhere guarded and intersected by the golden cherubim.
The Veil was supported by four pillars of shittim wood, covered with gold. They rested on bases of silver. The Veil hung upon these pillars with golden hooks called taches.
Pillars correspond to principles which support and sustain our convictions.
When we have principles within, grounded in the recognition of the wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, recognizing the claims of religion as those of love and faith, inward before the Lord, and outward before men, these convictions are like four firm pillars that will keep us consistent and strong.
The sacred cedar, here called shittim wood, forming everywhere the material which was covered with gold, represents righteousness from the Lord Jesus Christ, the only essence of all true righteousness. He is the Divine Cedar from whom all the good comes which enables man to prepare for heaven, or be a heaven in miniature. "Their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord."-Isa. LIV. 17.
True heavenly men surround His righteousness with supreme affection, they cover it on all sides with gold. They feel that from the Lord's mercy all that is valuable in them for time and for eternity is derived, and they bless His holy Name. The pillars, though covered with gold, rested on bases of silver. In the inferior parts of the tabernacle brass was used. This beautiful arrangement is significative of the order of things in their progression. Love leads to wisdom, wisdom to use. Glowing affections lead to bright thoughts.
The representation of the metals guides to many a hallowed lesson in the Word of God, but to none more important than this: Let every heavenly affection be kept in vigour until it has made a base for itself in clear thought.
Often do we find heavenly emotions rising within us, tending to virtues and excellences of inestimable worth. We are pleased and edified and blessed for a time, but we let them pass away and never give them a proper basis in clear views and well-defined convictions. Our pillars are not based On silver. Let us be careful to follow the divine plan. The Lord is said to sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and to purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness (Mal. III. 3).
Holy love is golden, thought is silvery. Let both be conjoined together and a perfection will be produced which neither has alone.
The little golden hooks by which the Veil was attached to the pillars, will represent the minor affections by which the character is bound together. When we are truly heavenly we have little golden hooks in every direction, strengthening us by countless little ministries of good, in our own minds, and in our circle of action. One of our great poets recommends us to bind our true and tried friends to us with hooks of steel, permit me to recommend these hooks of gold,-these attachments of heavenly affections, they will be all-powerful to keep away the storm; they will not rust, and they will last for ever.
Finally, my beloved hearers, let me ask, have we yet made this Holy of holies and its Veil the dwelling-place of the Most High within our souls?
Once make a Most Holy Place by inmost adoring love for Him, our Father and Saviour, our all in all, and He will meet and bless you at the Mercy Seat. "For thus saith the high and holy One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
The Lord thus enthroned within, goes wherever we go, dwells wherever we dwell. In our combats He fights for us; in our sorrows gives us peace. He is our refuge and defence, a very present help in time of trouble, and an unfailing and infinite reward. Where He is, there is light, life, joy and heaven. Let us, then, pray that the Lord Jesus may dwell in our hearts by faith, that being rooted and grounded in love, we may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length ,and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth all understanding, and to be filled with the fullness of God.
Author: JONATHAN BAYLEY --From From Egypt to Canaan (1867)