THE FLOOR OF THE TABERNACLE
I wish to give credit to The Tabernacle, the Priesthood, and the Offerings by Henry W. Soltau from which much of this teaching is derived.
Moses was instructed by God to build the tabernacle in the wilderness, which speaks to us of the beauty God can impart in our hearts even in the wilderness of the world in which we live. This is a place that only believers are allowed into, and inside it we find walls that glisten with the purest gold, and furniture and adornments which are the most exquisite and beautiful in the world. Consider how we appreciate the great artists of the past ? the works of people like Rembrandt, who was able to depict light in a realistic yet slightly surreal manner which is entrancingly beautiful. Yet, could his work even compare to God?s artwork, for which He specifically gifted individual craftsman and artisans? Would God have gifted Rembrandt more than these? Obviously nothing could compare to the beauty and glory of the tabernacle, which was lighted in the Holy Place with the golden lampstand, and in the Holy of Holies with the dazzling brilliance of God, Himself ? an indescribable light known as the Shekinah glory of God.
Nevertheless, there was one unattractive aspect of the inside the tabernacle ? the floor. It would seem, with all the elaborate and painstaking instructions given to construct the tabernacle, that it would have a floor consistent with the rest of the structure. However, this was not so. The floor was simply the dirt or dust of the desert where the Israelites camped. And as incongruous as this may seem to us, it has a specific application to our walk today.
The Floor of Dust
It was no oversight on God?s part that this resplendent and costly tabernacle had a floor of dust. Does this not speak to us of the dust from which we were created? And do we not see from this apparent contradiction, a comforting statement from God to explain our own often contradictory existence in the world? The dust, which was to be the serpent?s food, was a picture of barrenness which betokened death and ruin ? a symbol of our present world. And yet as one looked up, he would be enveloped in the beauty of that which was made in the pattern of heaven. And so we see the contrast: barrenness with beauty, preciousness with worthlessness, the incorruptible with that which perishes, glory and baseness. It all represents a type of our experience on this fallen earth as redeemed children of God.
The heavens have been opened to us, and we are blessed with spiritual blessings, and yet our bodies are on this earth. We walk in the midst of a creation that groans for redemption. We have been renewed spiritually, but our minds are still subject to the fallen world around us, which is still marred by death and the curse pronounced in Genesis. Redemption has delivered us from this fallen system, but nothing about the system has changed. As we read in 1John 5:19 (NKJV) “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”
Our True Character Revealed in the Tabernacle Floor
These interesting contradictions in the Tabernacle shadow our own lives, and have been allowed to reveal our true character. There is only one place in the Bible where the floor is mentioned, and it involves a supernatural ordeal to determine whether or not a woman was an adulteress. In Numbers 5:12 through 5:31, we read of the process to test her, if she is suspected by her husband. Here is a portion of it:
“The priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water.” Numbers 5:17 (NKJV)
Here the holy water, representing the living water that only God can give us, is purposely made polluted with the dust, which represents the curse that came on man due to the Fall. We are as the “earthen vessel”, filled with the holy water (Holy Spirit) but also the polluted dust. As to the woman, she would not react to the curse of the dust, if she was innocent, or had not “gone astray”. However, in Isaiah 53:6 we read, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
“And the priest shall put her under oath, and say to the woman, ?If no man has lain with you, and if you have not gone astray to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be free from this bitter water that brings a curse. But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, and if you have defiled yourself?the Lord make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your thigh rot and your belly swell; and may this water that causes the curse go into your stomach, and make your belly swell and your thigh rot.? Then the woman shall say, ?Amen, so be it.?” Numbers 5:19-22 (NKJV)
There was no test for the man, which today we would consider discriminatory. However, this modern way of thinking misses the whole point. If we understand that the church is the bride of Christ, then we see that this represents a test of our faithfulness. There was already a law against adultery, and a sentence if the couple was caught ? death by stoning. And this included the man and the woman. Nevertheless, drinking the bitter water was a test ? it would only result in punishment if the woman was guilty. The woman was only suspected of adultery. It would take the cursed earth to test her, even as it takes worldly enticements and earthly trials to test us.
Are We Faithful?
The woman was made to agree to this curse, by saying “amen” to it. How many Christians today are sitting in church saying “amen” to all that is spoken, while they are engaging in behavior God has forbidden? Consider for a moment why a guilty woman in Israel would have agreed to this test. She would only have proceeded and gone through with this ordeal if she lacked the understanding of the judgment of God on her sin. She must have figured that no supernatural curse would really come upon her, or she would have admitted her sin. For a torturous death over a prolonged period of time, is a death by inches, and it is far more miserable than a quick one by stoning. Evidently, due to her own sin she was deceived. In Romans 7:11 we read, “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me and by it killed me.” Let us not be deceived in a like manner by false teachers or by a misunderstanding of the judgment of God, for He clearly tells us:
“?be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23 (NKJV)
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7 (NKJV)
The Tests Must Come
Certainly God knows what we will do in our time of testing, because He knows all things, including the future. Nevertheless, His knowledge of what we will do does not preclude our freewill ? we make a choice to sin or not to. It is interesting to note that when the test for the woman was administered, it was done with an offering that lacked two things:
“Then the man shall bring his wife to the priest. He shall bring the offering required for her, one-tenth of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, because it is a grain offering of jealousy, an offering for remembering, for bringing iniquity to remembrance.” Numbers 5:15 (NKJV)
The offering lacked oil, which represents the Holy Spirit, and it lacked frankincense, which represents prayer. These gifts from God would not avail help for the woman at this time, because the chance for her repentance had expired. She was clearly stating by her actions that she was not guilty, and therefore prayer and grace would not mitigate the impending judgment if she was guilty. This speaks to us of judgment by the law. The husband in this ordeal accused the wife, but did nothing to help her. Our case however, is different ? because of the mercy of Christ.
Christ Drank the Cup For Us
“?And Jesus said to her, ?Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.?” John 8:11
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her?” Ephesians 5:25
When the woman caught in adultery was thrown before Christ, and He forgave her, many teach that He did so because the man was not brought, also. However, this misses the point. The fact that the man was not there would not exonerate the woman from her own sin. Instead, this poignant scene represents the forgiveness that became available to all of us, because Christ sacrificed Himself for our sins. Was it not Jesus that drank the cup for us, even though in it was the curse of the sin of the whole world? His words in John 18:11 were, “?Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” The supernatural evidence in this case, was that instead of bringing a curse on Christ, He rose from the dead in victory!
Finding the Hidden Leaven
Remember that the test that was given to the woman was to discover the adultery that was concealed. It was a hidden matter that could only be discovered supernaturally. And so it is with us. The hidden things of our hearts must be probed by the Holy Spirit so that the truth comes to the surface and we can avail ourselves of God?s forgiveness. This is a process that should take place before we take the cup that represents the blood of Christ who was slain for us, so that it shall not become the cup of the adulterous woman. For the Scripture says:
“For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” 1st Corinthians 11:29-31 (NKJV)
Sin that has not been acknowledged and repented of is still a curse on our lives. It is represented by the rotting thigh and swelling belly, which would come upon the woman if she was guilty. The thigh speaks of truthfulness, which both Abraham and Jacob used to confirm an oath in Genesis 24:9 and 47:29. The swelling belly speaks to us of a false pregnancy. Fruitfulness in childbearing was everything to an Israelite woman, therefore being pregnant showed that she had favor from God.
The false pregnancy represents hypocrisy. A Christian who is a hypocrite may appear to be fruitful on the outside, but he or she cannot bring forth spiritual life because of hidden sin. In 2nd Peter 2:18 we read, “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness?”
The Promise of Spiritual Life
We cannot escape the test of the floor of the Tabernacle. Though we may behold the glory of the place, we cannot stand there without planting our feet on the dirty ground. And they must be cleansed by Christ?s forgiveness. Peter learned this lesson when Jesus washed His feet. Christ told Peter that his whole body did not need cleansing, but only the feet, signifying that is where he had contact with the world. Even though we are guilty, if we seek this cleansing, we will be found innocent, and share in the blessing of the woman in the Tabernacle, when her innocence was declared:
“But if the woman has not defiled herself, and is clean, then she shall be free and may conceive children.” Numbers 5:28 (NKJV)
This signifies that she was given the gift of life. And this not only for herself, but that she might bring forth life for others, as well. In the same way, as we are cleansed from our guilt, we become a fountain of life to others, conceiving spiritual children as we live our lives on earth. We may then become part of the bride that Christ is returning for, which is without spot or wrinkle ? not because of our own righteousness, but due to His. The curse will not affect us, not because we are innocent of adultery, for surely we have not been faithful to Him but have rather played the harlot with the things of the world ? but because He has paid the penalty for us. Therefore, as the Scripture says:
“Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, so a curse without cause shall not alight.” Proverbs 26:2 (NKJV)
Being delivered from that curse, we are now careful to stay faithful to Him, knowing that someday our tests and trials will be over, and then the floor will match the rest of the sanctuary. When the moveable tabernacle was replaced with the temple that Solomon built, the floor was then covered with gold, symbolizing a rest for the Israelites. Our permanent rest will exceed the beauty of that earthly gold, even as the glory of heaven supersedes anything on earth.
“And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” Revelation 21:21