The Ancient Faith

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Dr. T.W. Brents

When the children of Israel were safe from their enemies, and from their bondage and slavery in Egypt, they gave themselves up to a season of rejoicing in which they ascribed their deliverance to God.  From their expressions of gratitude, we would suppose that they never would have forsaken or forgotten God, whose power had been so plainly seen in their deliverance. But alas, their songs of praise to God were soon lost in shouts of revelry, and dancing around a golden calf.

The cloud in which they were baptized did not forsake them when they were saved from bondage; but went with them in all their journeyings; and was a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. By it God indicated their time, and route of travel; and their place of rest. When it was God’s pleasure that they go forward the cloud began to move; and when it was God’s pleasure that they go into camp the cloud ceased to move. Thus their movements and camping places were selected by God through this cloud, as clearly as though God had said when the cloud moved, “go forward,” and when it stopped, “camp here.”

Guided by this cloud they went to, and camped at the base of Mount Sinai, and there remained in camp forty days. Moses went up on the mountain and God gave him the Ten Commandments written on two tables of stone; and a description of a  building  and  furniture; and a system of worship to be conducted in connection with  it  adapted  to  their  condition  in  their   nomadic state. In this system of worship God gave us another beautiful type of the system of worship offered the world through Jesus Christ in the gospel dispensation. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews, says:

“Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service,  and  a  worldly  sanctuary.  For  there  was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the  candle- stick,  and  the  table,  and  the  shew-bread;  which  is called  the  sanctuary.  And  after  the  second  vail,  the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was  the  golden  pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and  the tables of the covenant; and over it the  cherubims  of glory  shadowing  the  mercy  seat;  of  which  we  cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tab ernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The  Holy  Ghost  this  signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: which was a figure for the time then present,  in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could  not make him that did the  service  perfect,  as  pertaining  to the  conscience;  which  stood  only  in  meats  and  drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ  being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and  more  perfect  tabernacle,  not  made  with  hands, that  is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Heb. ix: 1-12.

Here we learn that the building or tabernacle, a description of which God gave to Moses at Mount Sinai, was a figure of the greater and more perfect tabernacle, which all agree, is the church.

To understand the lesson taught in this type we must know something of the tabernacle of the wilderness, the furniture connected with it, and the system of worship conducted in it.

The word tabernacle literally means a movable building. It was so constructed that it could be taken down, and carried from one camping place to another, by the Levites in whose care it was placed, and put up wherever the cloud indicated that the Israelites should go into camp.

This building was thirty cubits long from east to west, and ten cubits broad from north to south. This equals about forty-five by fifteen feet. It was made of upright boards ten cubits long, and one and a half cubits broad. On the lower end of each board were two tenons set in sockets of silver. If these sockets were made of wood in our day they would be called mortises in blocks of wood. Of these upright boards there were twenty on each side, six in the west end and one at each corner, making fifty boards, and one hundred blocks of silver, each weighing a talent or about one hundred and fourteen pounds, or eleven thousand four hundred pounds of silver in these blocks that were the foundation of this building. The boards were over- laid with gold. In these were staples of gold through which passed bars of wood overlaid with gold. On the top of each board was a ring of gold through which passed a cord, so that when the blocks of silver were placed on the ground, the tenons on the boards put in the sockets, the bars put in position and the cords tightened around the top, it was quite a substantial building. This building was divided by a vail, crossing from north to south, into two apartments. The first was called the holy place, and was twenty cubits long; and the other was called the most holy place, and was of course ten cubits square. I say of course, for the whole being thirty cubits by ten, and twenty cubits being cut off the eastern end, the part remaining would be ten cubits square. This vail was suspended upon four pillars, and was of fine-twined linen, colored blue, purple and scarlet; was made of exquisite workmanship, “with cherubim and cunning work.” The entire building was lined and closed at the eastern end with the same material.

The first ply of the covering or roof was of the same material as the lining; the second ply was made of goat’s hair; the third ply was of ram’s skins, dyed red; and the fourth or outer ply was of badger’s skins.

The building or tabernacle was surrounded by a fence made by suspending a curtain on pillars set in sockets of brass, and the space thus enclosed was one hundred cubits by fifty; the long way being from east to west, with an opening of twenty cubits in the eastern end; and I may here say, “once for all,” that all the entrances were from the east. The outer court, or “court of the tabernacle” was entered from the east, the holy place was entered from the east, and the most holy place could be entered only through the holy place, hence from the east.



The brazen altar was so called because it was made of durable wood, overlaid with brass sufficiently thick to protect the wood against the fire when the offerings were burned upon it. It was also called the altar of burnt offerings, because on it were burned all the offerings made during the time the tabernacle worship was continued. It was five cubits square and three cubits high. It had four horns, one on each corner; and four rings, two on each side, in the four corners; through these went a rod or staff on each side made of wood covered with brass. These were to bear the altar from one camping place to another. The pans to receive the ashes, the fire pans, shovels, basins, flesh hooks, and grate were all of brass.

The laver was made of brass. Its dimensions are not given, but it had a main sea, and a foot or rim that contained water in which the priests washed at their consecration, and in their daily ministrations. In their consecration they washed the person, (Ex. xxix: 4) and in cleansing from defilement; “Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water.” Num. xix: 7. But in their daily ministrations they washed their hands and feet only. Ex. xxx: 19; xl: 31-32.

The table of shewbread was made of durable wood overlaid with gold. It was two cubits long, one cubit in breadth, and a cubit and a half high. It had a border and a crown of gold. Its dishes, spoons, bowls and cover were of gold. There were two rings of gold on each side, through which passed two rods or staves, one on each side, to bear the table. These were made of wood covered with gold.

The candlestick was of solid beaten gold. It had a central stem and six branches, three coming out of its two sides. Its stem, branches, bowls, knops, flowers, seven lamps, snuffers, and snuff dishes, were all of beaten gold. It required a talent (about 114 pounds) of pure gold to make this candlestick and appendages.

The golden altar, or altar of incense was one cubit square and two cubits high. It was called the golden altar be- cause it was made of wood and overlaid with gold suffi- ciently thick to protect it from damage by fire when incense was burned upon it. It was also called the altar of incense from the fact that on it the priests burned in- cense in their daily ministrations. Its horns and crown were of gold. It had four rings of gold, two on each side, through which passed two rods or staves, one on each side, made of wood overlaid with gold to bear the altar withal.

The ark of the covenant was made of wood and over- laid with gold. It was two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half in width, and a cubit and a half high. Its crown was of gold. “And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it. And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold. And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark. And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat; one cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.” Ex. xxxvii: 3-9.

Much of this description may be deemed more minute than is necessary to a development of the lesson contained in this type. This may be true, but it gives us clearer conceptions of the building and furniture; and it teaches us a lesson of liberality by which we might be benefitted if we would study it. This people were un- settled, and certainly had but little opportunity of making money or accumulating wealth; yet when Moses issued a proclamation calling for material of which to construct the tabernacle and things connected with it. the people brought it with such liberality that “all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made; and they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make. And Moses gave command- ment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing.” Ex. xxxvi: 4-6.

Can a parallel to this be found in modern times? The mind is bewildered in calculating the value of the material used in constructing this tabernacle and appendages; and the eye is dimmed by its dazzling splendor as we attempt to call before us a conception of it: No work of man has ever eclipsed it except the temple that succeeded it; and yet the Jews, in their recent exit from slavery and bondage, brought free-will offerings to the Lord until they had to be restrained; and yet we, in an age of vast resources, when multiplied millions are rolling in wealth until they know not what to do with it, can with difficulty raise money enough to build a meeting house. If the tabernacle had to be built in this country to-day, would it be necessary to issue a proclamation’ restraining the people from giving material with which to build it? We have a better religion than they had; and have more light than they had—do we love the Lord less than they did? Why were they more liberal than we?

We now propose to set up the tabernacle and put the furniture in position. As this is a very important part of our lesson we have made a ground-plan drawing that will assist us in locating every part of it as directed in the bill of instructions given by Moses.

Let the attentive Bible student read carefully the last sixteen chapters of the book of Exodus for a description of the tabernacle and its furniture. In these chapters will be found a minute description of each piece in de- tail; and in the last or fortieth chapter will be found the erection of the tabernacle, and the location of each piece of furniture in its God-appointed position. As he reads the location of each piece let him look at the diagram and see whether or not it occupies just the place in the drawing that the word of the Lord commanded Moses to place it. Let us be specially careful at this point, for a mistake in the location of the furniture will be fatal to our study of this most beautiful of all types.

The exterior lines enclose the Outer Court, 50 cubits by 100. The Tabernacle was 30 cubits by 10, and was covered with a four-ply covering.


Ex. 40:16-33 says, “Thus did Moses: according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he. And it came to pass in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars. And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark: And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, with- out the vail. And he set the bread in order upon it be- fore the Lord; as the Lord had commanded Moses. And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward. And he lighted the lamps before the Lord; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail. And he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle. And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto altar,  they  washed;  as the  Lord  commanded   Moses. And he reared up the court  round  about  the  tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work” (Ex. 40:16-33).

This Scripture locates the furniture too plainly to admit of mistake.  The  mercy  seat  was  placed  upon  the ark, and its contents put within  it,  and  it  was  brought into the tabernacle and the vail put up, covering it from sight. Then the table was placed on the north side without the vail, and the candlestick was put on the south side over against, or opposite  the  table.  The  golden  altar  was  placed  before  the  vail.  Then the hanging was set up at the door, closing the tabernacle; thus showing that nothing more was  to  be  put  within.  Then the brazen altar or altar of burnt offering was placed by the door, and the laver was placed between the altar and the door. To this agrees the letter to the Hebrews, saying:  “For  there  was  a tabernacle  made;  the  first, [that is in the first apartment] wherein was  the  candle- stick,  and  the  table,  and  the  shew-bread;  which  is called the sanctuary. And after the  second  vail,  [the first vail was at the door, the second vail divided the tabernacle into  two  rooms]  the  tabernacle  which  is called  the  Holiest  of  all  [Most  Holy  place];  which  had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that  budded,  and  the  tables of the covenant; and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.”    Heb. ix: 2-5.

There is a remarkable emphasis given to  the  fact  that this furniture was located as God  commanded  Moses. The Lord not only gave him specific directions for making  every  thing,  but  also  for  the  location  of  every thing; hence whenever a piece was put in position it was by divine authority, “as the Lord commanded Moses.” He had no discretion in the matter; and any departure from God’s order was punishable with death. The priests’ robe had on it “a golden bell and a pomegranate upon the hem of the robe round about. And it shall be upon Aaron to minister; and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord and when he cometh out, that he die not.” Ex. xxviii. 34, 35.

“For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat; when they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord; so they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not.” Ex. xxx: 19-21.



During the patriarchal dispensation the father was the priest of the family, and conducted the service for the family; and in his absence the first born son officiated in his stead. When the first born of the children of Israel were saved from death on the night of their departure from Egypt, God claimed them as his, and for a time settled the priesthood with them, but when the two sons of Joseph were made heads of separate tribes, making thirteen of the original twelve, God abandoned the first born as priests, and settled the priesthood in the tribe of Levi. “And I, behold, I have taken the_ Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the first born that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine.” Num. iii: 12. From this time the family of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi, became the priests, and the other Levites were engaged in the service of the sanctuary.

But it was not enough to make a man a priest that he be a Levite, and have the blood of Aaron in his veins —he must be consecrated to that service in accordance with a ceremony given by God to Moses. And the ceremony was very lengthy and somewhat complicated; but only a few features of it were brought into the new dispensation, and these are all that are of practical value to us. There was a sin offering made at the brazen altar, or altar of burnt offerings where all sin offerings were made. This done he was taken to the laver at the door of the tabernacle and washed in or with water. Next he put on the priestly garments. And it is worthy of note that the same term “flesh” is used to indicate the extent of the washing that is used to indicate the parts on which the holy garments were to be worn. “Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.” Lev. xvi: 3, 4.

Having accepted the sin offering, been washed in water, and clothed in the holy garments, he enters the tabernacle and officiates as a priest—is a priest. He can go to the candlestick and attend to the seven lamps on it, which give all the light there is in the holy place. He can go to the table and on the Sabbath day eat of the shew-bread kept on it. He can go to the golden altar, and there burn sweet incense before the Lord. This is close to the vail, and is the nearest approach that can be made to the mercy seat where God is, except by the high priest alone, and he only once a year.

The common priests dare not even lift the vail and look into the most holy place. Even Aaron, himself was specially warned to “come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not.” Lev. xvi:2.

We now have our type sufficiently before us to see the application of it in the antitype. The court or yard was a place where all the people had a right to enter, and fitly represents that state called the world. The place where the seed of the kingdom was sown, in the parable of the tares. Matt. xiii: 38. That state which distinguished the people from the disciples. “These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John xv: 17-19. From this state the people must be converted or they never can be saved.

But what will they be when converted? In our type the sons of Aaron of the tribe of Levi only, could be priests; but under the more perfect system all Christians are priests; and how men and women are converted from the world into priests is the great feature of our lesson.

But is it true that all Christians are priests? “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet. 2:5. Verse 9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Surely all Christians should do this. Again: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Rom. 12:1. It was the business of the priests to offer sacrifice, and here Paul admonishes the brethren at Rome to offer their bodies as living sacrifices in contrast with the animals slain in sacrifice under the law.

Other Scriptures might be quoted, but these are enough to show that all Christians are priests under the gospel, and sustain the same relation that priests did under the law. Hence the importance of our inquiry— how do we come to the priesthood? or, how are we made priests under the gospel? There must be some resemblance between type and antitype.

First then, there was a sin offering made—our sin offering has been made. Jesus Christ is our high priest and as such made our sin offering for us. “For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s; for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” Heb. vii: 26, 27. Again: “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us; for if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanc- tifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your con- science from dead works to serve the living God.” Heb. ix: 11-16. Once more: “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” Heb. ix: 24-28. Finally on this point: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” Heb. x: 10-12.

Many other Scriptures bearing on this subject could be produced, but these are quite enough to show that Christ is our high priest, and that he offered himself without spot to God, and that he entered heaven with his own blood having obtained eternal redemption for us. The candidate for the Jewish priesthood accepted his offering at the brazen altar, but our offering thus made by Christ we accept by faith in him. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Rom. iii: 24, 25.

But the candidate next went to the laver at the door of the tabernacle and had his flesh washed in water, so Jesus says: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” and speaking of this typical lesson the Hebrew letter says: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; Let 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.” Heb. 10:19-22.

Having received the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ by faith in his blood, and having our bodies washed with pure water, what next? What did the Levite do next? We have seen that he next put on the holy garments. So we must put on the Christian character. “Our old man is crucified with him that the body of sin might be destroyed.” Rom. vi: 6. “That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Eph. iv: 22-24. “Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” Col. 3:9, 10.

When a Levite put on the priestly garments he entered the tabernacle—so we are delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear son; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Col. i: 13, 14.

The order of worship in the tabernacle is nowhere given that I remember, but we know something of what was done. The priest waited upon the golden candle- stick, the seven lamps which furnished all the light in the holy place, which we have already seen was a figure of the church or kingdom of God’s dear Son. We have found our high priest ruling over the house of God (Heb. x: 21) and Paul tells us this is the church of God. (1 Tim. iii: 15).

As the seven lamps on the candlestick furnished a perfect light to the holy place, so the word of God furnishes a perfect light for the church of God. David said: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Ps. cxix: 105. Verse 130: “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” “We have also a more sure word of prophecy whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.” 2 Pet. i: 19. We read of certain characters who believed not, “lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Cor. iv: 4. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Tim. iii: 16, 17. The perfection of this light precludes the necessity for more; and as it is our only light it is unquestionably the antitype of that which gave the only light in the type.

The priests ate of the shewbread every Sabbath day. There is a striking analogy between this and the Lord’s supper in the more perfect tabernacle. It was set in order every Sabbath day, and the priests ate of it on every Sabbath, which was the day devoted to the service of God during that typical age. The disciples met together on the first day of the week to break bread. When the Jew was required to observe the Sabbath day he understood that to be every Sabbath day. Then when we learn that the disciples met together on the first day of the week to break bread shall we not understand that to mean every first, day of the week? The observance of the Sabbath day passed away with the law written on tables of stone. —2 Cor. iii: 3-11. The first day of the week Christ rose from the dead and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, and the disciples kept this day as regularly as the Jew kept the Sab- bath day. The shewbread was lawfully eaten only by the priests. The Lord’s Supper was for the Lord’s people only. But it was for all of them.

The priests offered, or burned incense on the golden altar morning and evening. This incense was typical of the prayers of the saints which should be offered also morning and evening. “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Ps. cxli: 2. “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having, every one of them, harps and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.” Rev. v: 8. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” Rev. viii: 3.

It will be remembered that this altar was before the vail and the nearest approach to the mercy seat that the priest could make. Let us learn, therefore, that when the Christian is pouring out the earnest prayer of a devoted heart he is as near God as he can get in this life. And if we would make the nearest approach to God that is allowed to mortals on earth, we must make that approach in prayer.

The vail separated between the holy and most holy place, and this vail is the flesh, (Heb. x: 20) the confines of mortality. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Cor. v: 8. When we pass through the flesh, or out of the body, we pass out of the holy place, or church on earth into the Most Holy Place, where God is on the mercy seat, and angelic guards are anxiously looking at the glory of his countenance, and ready to bear the messages of his love.

A few plain questions and we are done, for we have already extended this discourse beyond reasonable limits. Please turn and look on the ground plan while we consider the questions proposed. It is said that a man can go to heaven just as well out of the church as in it. Please notice that all the entrances are from the east, and that there is no way into the most holy place only through the holy place. To enter it at all you must pass into the holy place and through the vail which is the flesh. Now then, as the holy place was a type of the church, and the most holy place a type of heaven, how are you going to heaven only through the church?

The first thing in order was a sin offering made at the brazen altar, then wash at the laver. Now, suppose we go by the altar and begin with the laver, what then? Does anyone do this way? How is it in baptizing a babe? Does this not begin with the laver? But they always washed before putting on the holy garments; suppose we go to the brazen altar and accept Christ, the sin offering, by faith, and put on the holy garments before we wash—perhaps not wash at all—will this do? Does anyone do this? This is a very general practice—get religion—become a Christian by faith in Christ. This puts on the priestly garments or Christian character before washing.

But suppose they go to the brazen altar, accept Christ by faith, put on the holy garments, or Christian character, and are received into the church by vote, given the hand of fellowship, and baptized afterward! This takes the laver from the outer court where God put it, into the tabernacle or holy place, that is, takes baptism from the door into the church. No one in the church was ever baptized by divine authority.

But the golden altar was in the holy place hard by the vail and on this altar the priests offered incense. We have found this a type of the prayers of the saints. Now suppose we take the golden altar (of prayer) out of the church and give it to the world, what then? As the Lord commanded Moses so did he—as God commands us so ought we. If any disregard of God’s order was punished with death what will be our fate if we disregard God’s law and substitute our own will? “If ye love me keep my commandments.” John xiv: 15

Thus, we see a most perfect fitness of this type to the system of salvation taught by Christ and the apostles in the New Testament; but if we attempt to fit it to modern theories, the furniture has to be removed from the positions in which God located it, and re-arranged or, rather, scattered around promiscuously. When each piece was located it was emphasized by, “as the Lord commanded Moses.” But when taken out of the positions in which God placed them and located else- where, it cannot be said, “as the Lord commanded Moses,” but as commanded by men. “If the Lord be God follow him; but if Baal then follow him.” “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” We have seen that any departure from God’s order in the tabernacle was punishable with death; would it not be well for us to take heed how we set at naught the counsels of God; and set up our own altars, and walk in our own ways? Though the punishment come not as speedily as in olden times, it will none the less surely come; and be none the less terrible when it does come.

[This is sermon published in Gospel Sermons (1918) by T.W. Brents.]

 Recommended articles:

Introducing the Church of Christ – Ronny Wade

God’s Sevenfold Unity – Jerry Cutter

Repentance – J. W. McGarvey


The Ancient Faith website is a thematic collection of scholarly yet simple Bible essays and sermons, many of which were composed by Restoration preachers such as J.W. McGarvey, Moses Lard, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Campbell. These courageous men of faith through hours of Bible investigation studied themselves out of denominationalism, asking for “the old paths” (Jer. 6:16) and seeking to return to “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We hope you will join with these men in their fervent plea to restore “the ancient order,” “the ancient gospel” or, as it was sometimes called, “the ancient faith.”