26:1 “The tabernacle itself you are to make with ten curtains of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet; you are to make them with cherubim that are the work of an artistic designer. 26:2 The length of each curtain is to be forty-two feet, and the width of each curtain is to be six feet—the same size for each of the curtains. 26:3 Five curtains are to be joined, one to another, and the other five curtains are to be joined, one to another. 26:4 You are to make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and in the same way you are to make loops in the outer edge of the end curtain in the second set. 26:5 You are to make fifty loops on the one curtain, and you are to make fifty loops on the end curtain which is on the second set, so that the loops are opposite one to another. 26:6 You are to make fifty gold clasps and join the curtains together with the clasps, so that the tabernacle is a unit.
Enns reminds us of the link between the design of the tabernacle and the story of creation: ‘The precise measurements of the structure combined with the symbolism of the curtains and the furnishings are not without deep significance. The tabernacle seems to represent a microcosm of creation itself. The splendor and beauty of the materials used—fine fabrics, precious metals, and stones—affirm the goodness of the created world. The precise and perfect dimensions of the tabernacle indicate a sense of order amid chaos.’
But also (the same writer adds) there is a strong connection with the story of redemption: ‘In the midst of a fallen world, in exile from the Garden of Eden—the original “heaven on earth”—God undertakes another act of creation, a building project that is nothing less than a return to pre-Fall splendor. The tabernacle, therefore, is laden with redemptive significance, not just because of the sacrifices and offerings within its walls, but simply because of what it is: a piece of holy ground amid a world that has lost its way. If this is a correct understanding of the tabernacle, we begin to see why the writer of Exodus devotes so much space to its description.’
26:7 “You are to make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; you are to make eleven curtains. 26:8 The length of each curtain is to be forty-five feet, and the width of each curtain is to be six feet—the same size for the eleven curtains. 26:9 You are to join five curtains by themselves and six curtains by themselves. You are to double over the sixth curtain at the front of the tent. 26:10 You are to make fifty loops along the edge of the end curtain in one set and fifty loops along the edge of the curtain that joins the second set. 26:11 You are to make fifty bronze clasps and put the clasps into the loops and join the tent together so that it is a unit. 26:12 Now the part that remains of the curtains of the tent—the half curtain that remains will hang over at the back of the tabernacle. 26:13 The foot and a half on the one side and the foot and a half on the other side of what remains in the length of the curtains of the tent will hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on one side and the other side, to cover it.
26:14 “You are to make a covering for the tent out of ram skins dyed red and over that a covering of fine leather.
26:15 “You are to make the frames for the tabernacle out of acacia wood as uprights. 26:16 Each frame is to be fifteen feet long, and each frame is to be two feet three inches wide, 26:17 with two projections per frame parallel one to another. You are to make all the frames of the tabernacle in this way. 26:18 So you are to make the frames for the tabernacle: twenty frames for the south side, 26:19 and you are to make forty silver bases to go under the twenty frames—two bases under the first frame for its two projections, and likewise two bases under the next frame for its two projections; 26:20 and for the second side of the tabernacle, the north side, twenty frames, 26:21 and their forty silver bases, two bases under the first frame, and two bases under the next frame. 26:22 And for the back of the tabernacle on the west you will make six frames. 26:23 You are to make two frames for the corners of the tabernacle on the back. 26:24 At the two corners they must be doubled at the lower end and finished together at the top in one ring. So it will be for both. 26:25 So there are to be eight frames and their silver bases, sixteen bases, two bases under the first frame, and two bases under the next frame.
26:26 “You are to make bars of acacia wood, five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, 26:27 and five bars for the frames on the second side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames on the back of the tabernacle on the west. 26:28 The middle bar in the center of the frames will reach from end to end. 26:29 You are to overlay the frames with gold and make their rings of gold to provide places for the bars, and you are to overlay the bars with gold. 26:30 You are to set up the tabernacle according to the plan that you were shown on the mountain.
26:31 “You are to make a special curtain of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine twisted linen; it is to be made with cherubim, the work of an artistic designer. 26:32 You are to hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold, set in four silver bases. 26:33 You are to hang this curtain under the clasps and bring the ark of the testimony in there behind the curtain. The curtain will make a division for you between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. 26:34 You are to put the atonement lid on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place. 26:35 You are to put the table outside the curtain and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle, opposite the table, and you are to place the table on the north side.
26:36 “You are to make a hanging for the entrance of the tent of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine twined linen, the work of an embroiderer. 26:37 You are to make for the hanging five posts of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, and their hooks will be gold, and you are to cast five bronze bases for them.
The curtains ‘represented the various zones within the sanctuary. Only certain people could pass through these zones and only under certain conditions. These various curtains therefore illustrated that Eden had not yet returned in all its fullness. Just as angels stood barring human beings from entering back into Eden after Adam’s sin, so curtains and veils (some of which had cherubim skilfully woven into them, Exodus 26:1; 36:8, 35), indicated that human access to God was still restricted.’ (Reid)
But (adds Reid) ‘There are no curtains any more, only confidence and boldness to enter God’s presence because of Jesus.’