November 26, 2023 | Duane Roberts
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“Then he made the court on the south side; the hangings of the court were of fine woven linen, one hundred cubits long. There were twenty pillars for them, with twenty bronze sockets. The hooks of the pillars and their bands were silver. On the north side the hangings were one hundred cubits long, with twenty pillars and their twenty bronze sockets. The hooks of the pillars and their bands were silver. And on the west side there were hangings of fifty cubits, with ten pillars and their ten sockets. The hooks of the pillars and their bands were silver. For the east side the hangings were fifty cubits. The hangings of one side of the gate were fifteen cubits long, with their three pillars and their three sockets, and the same for the other side of the court gate; on this side and that were hangings of fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three sockets. All the hangings of the court all around were of fine woven linen. The sockets for the pillars were bronze, the hooks of the pillars and their bands were silver, and the overlay of their capitals was silver; and all the pillars of the court had bands of silver. The screen for the gate of the court was woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and of fine woven linen. The length was twenty cubits, and the height along its width was five cubits, corresponding to the hangings of the court. And there were four pillars with their four sockets of bronze; their hooks were silver, and the overlay of their capitals and their bands was silver. All the pegs of the tabernacle, and of the court all around, were bronze.”—Exodus 38:9–20 (NKJV)
We now come to the making of the final aspect of the tabernacle complex, which was the courtyard. Just as a refresher, the actual tabernacle was a large rectangular tent-like structure which housed four sacred objects: the ark of the covenant, the golden table, the golden lampstand, and the incense altar. Then, just outside of the entrance to the tabernacle were two additional objects: the bronze altar and the bronze laver. Each of these items reflect who God is and ultimately what He has done through His Son, Jesus.
But we’re not done yet! There’s one more essential feature God wanted the Israelites to incorporate. Surrounding all of this was a curtained perimeter that created an area, a kind of courtyard, that separated the tabernacle and its items from the rest of the camp. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Okay, I can see why everything else was so special and even how it points to some deep spiritual truth in some way, but what’s the big deal about all these curtains that ran all the way around everything?”
When you think things through, it would have been incredibly chaotic had there not been an established perimeter around the tabernacle area. We’re probably looking at around two million Israelites densely concentrated into a relatively small area. If you’ve ever been to an outdoor music festival where people are all camped around a central stage, you can probably imagine what this scene must have looked like. There was a lot of humanity, not to mention the herds of cows, oxen, goats, sheep, and a multitude of other animals—and all that comes along with animals!
You get the picture; it was chaotic. But the chaos was controlled by the fact there was this boundary that created a courtyard of space so the things of God wouldn’t get mingled with all the messiness of day-to-day life. It was something that afforded one of the most valuable commodities in life, especially in our day and age . . . margin!
When we think of “margin,” we probably envision text on a piece of paper. The text is what makes that document valuable, but if the text didn’t have an inch or two of margin separating it from the edge of the paper, it wouldn’t read right. Our minds would be instantly frustrated because we inherently sense that margin is a good thing, a healthy thing. We’re made for margin! It allows our souls to relax and rest because we don’t have to worry about going “over the edge.”
In Psalm 18:19, David praises the Lord for bringing him into a “broad place,” which literally means a large or expansive place . . . a place where he could inhale and exhale without worry because he had space—he had margin around his life. That’s what the courtyard of the tabernacle provided, and it’s also what Jesus provides as we increasingly trust in Him and find much needed rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29).
Pause: What did the courtyard of the tabernacle provide, and how does this point to what Christ is able to provide for us?
Practice: Are you honestly living a margined life? If not, consider how can you attain the margin you need and that the Lord has for you.
Pray: Lord, I’m often guilty of running every which way in this life when You call me to a place of rest. Guide me and give me the wisdom I need to order my life in a way that is margined and restful according to Your will. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.