Jack Carroll - The Boards and Bars of the Tabernacle - Bakersfield - 1938

I Peter 2:5; Exodus 26:15-30; Ephesians 2: 19-11; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 17:20-33; Psalm 133.

 

In the pages of the Old Testament, we have the record of two buildings, one erected by Moses and the other by Solomon — the Tabernacle and the Temple.  These two buildings were typical of the Son of God, the sons of God, and the family of God as a whole.  Jesus said in connection with the temple, “Destroy this house and in three days, I will build it up.”  That outward temple at Jerusalem was typical of the true house of God that was present in their midst in the person of His Son.  When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he said, “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.”  He used the temple also in order to make clear that God’s people as a whole are His house — His home on earth.  When we turn to I Peter 2:5, we read, “Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifice, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.Peter is giving us the spiritual meaning in this our day of the temple that was built by Solomon in Jerusalem.  He says each child of God is a living stone in God’s great spiritual house.  Each stone, small or great, was necessary in the building of this house — each of them filling a place God planned.  Every stone in the temple was typical of the individual child of God.  In order to hold these stones in their right and proper place, it was necessary to have the right kind of mortar.  This is what Peter had in mind when he wrote this fifth verse. 

 

A few weeks ago, I happened to be in a home in England on the evening of the first day of the week.  It was customary in this home for a few of God’s children to meet together on Sunday to study His word, and it happened on this particular Sunday that the study was the 26th of Exodus.  I read over this chapter and when I came to verses 15-30, I was reminded of some things said here at Bakersfield a great many years ago and this morning, I will venture to say them again. We said that in connection with the temple that each stone was typical of the individual child of God, and we might say that the mortar was typical of the graces that unite these stones together in God’s spiritual house.  What I wish to say to you in connection with the tabernacle this morning is this — that the 48 boards that were used in its construction were typical of the individual children of God, and the five bars that were used to hold the 48 boards together as one were typical of the graces that are in your life and mine in holding the boards together.  These boards were made of a certain kind of wood not easily affected by moisture or heat and were covered with gold.  Wood speaks of human nature and gold of divine nature.  In other words, they had to be born again.  It was not a very easy process to get boards for the tabernacle.  This particular wood was not easy to find.  The trees had to be cut down; they had to be sawn into logs and then into boards and hewn into shape.  Each board had to be covered with gold and when 48 boards were all ready we are told they were placed in silver sockets standing up.  These boards were not laid one over the other as is usual in erecting a structure today.  Might I say that silver in the Bible always speaks of redemption and this is a picture of the individual child of God — no longer his own, bought with a price, redeemed by blood, the purchased property of another.  You can watch the priests put these boards together into their sockets, but you know very well that in spite of the fact that these boards were standing in silver sockets and apparently able to stand there alone, a puff of wind would cause the whole structure to go down with a crash.  What was necessary in order that these 48 boards of the tabernacle, typical of the individual children of God, should hold together as one in the spiritual House of God?  The bars were necessary.  These bars were made of the same wood as the boards and there were just five.  Four of these bars were to pass through rings on the outside.  The fifth bar was the key to the whole situation — it locked the whole structure together as one building.  To me, this is a wonderful picture of God’s great purpose for His own people.  It seems to me that when the Psalmist wrote the 133rd Psalm that he had in mind what was typified by the tabernacle erected by Moses in the wilderness, “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”  This Psalm helps me to understand the message of the boards and bars of the tabernacle, for when the boards and bars are in their proper place, then this Psalm is fulfilled.

 

I turn over to John 17, where we get a look into the heart of Jesus and the great anxiety that was in His heart as He looked into the future and thought of the difficulties and problems that His servants and people would have to face on down through the ages until He came again.  In this 17th chapter, He poured out His heart unto His Father and He prayed for that which would be most vital to His people until He returned.  Might I say this morning, as our great High Priest, He is still praying for you and for me and the burden of His prayer is given to us in the 17th chapter.  He knew better than His disciples the difficulties and problems that they would have to face as they went out into the world to represent Him.  He knew that if they obeyed the commission which He gave them later, that they would meet men and women of every race, every nationality and of every religion, and that the message He gave to them to live and to preach, if accepted, would bring about the most wonderful fellowship and friendship among men that the world had ever known.  When men and women are delivered from the kingdom of this world and brought into the Kingdom of God, they enjoy a fellowship and friendship that is found nowhere else in the world.  Paul was thinking of this when writing to the Colossians “In Christ there is neither…etc.” This message that He gave His bondservants and handmaidens is a message that will enable men and women who receive it to forget their race, their nationality and religion, and take their place in the family of God as brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God, as fellow-citizens responsible to strive together to maintain that unity of the spirit in the bond of peace that the Lord Jesus prayed for so earnestly on that last night of His life on earth. 

 

I will read you part of this prayer in verses 11-19:

“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee Holy Father, keep through Thine own Name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy Name - those that Thou gavest Me, I have kept and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

And now come I to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Sanctify them through Thy truth:  Thy word is truth.

As Thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”

 

The prince and god of this world from the very moment that our Lord Jesus unburdened His heart to His Father and prayed that His sheep might be united and be one people until He returned, has sought to hinder, to make this difficult, to make this impossible.  Sometimes he attacks the people from the outside and sometimes he attacks them from the inside.  We can easily recognize His hand…bringing about in this our day an answer to the prayer of the Lord Jesus.  I don’t know of any more serious responsibility than this for each of us in the family and Kingdom of God.  It is not a responsibility that rests on the bondservants and handmaidens of the Lord alone — it is a responsibility that rests upon every child of God, every citizen of His Kingdom, every man and woman that claims to have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  More than once, in this here place have we asked the children of God, and especially the servants of God, to read over Ephesians 4, for in this chapter it is brought home to our hearts, as His servants, our responsibility.  It is made clear that God’s gift to His people is His servants.  You may say we do not need the servants of God.  Those who imagine that they can get along just as well without the friendship and fellowship of the servants are making a big mistake, a very serious mistake.  We all know that the most helpless of all animals is a sheep that has no shepherd.  We know the difficulties that they get into, and we know the tendency is ever to wander farther and farther away from the fold.  The sheep that are most happy and comfortable in the fold are those that keep nearest to the shepherd.  Don’t forget it!  If you have been weak in your love and loyalty to the bondservants and handmaidens of the Lord, you are getting out near the edge and it will only be a little while until you are outside altogether.  God’s gift to His people is His servants, His bondservants and handmaidens.  He has placed upon them a great responsibility for which they have to give an account.  If you read over this 4th chapter of Ephesians, you will be brought face to face with this fact that the object and purpose of all true ministry is two-fold:  First of all, to bring about in the lives of the individual children of God more likeness to the Son of God, and secondly, to bring about in the family of God more unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Any ministry, whether it is that of the youngest or the oldest worker in this field or other fields, that has not this objective in his or her ministry cannot be a blessing and we would like you to measure the ministry of those who are on this platform and those who have spoken in past days from this platform by their standard.  Paul tells us here that God’s gift to His people are His servants, that the saints might come some day to the fullness and stature of Christ, and that they might have that blessed happy unity and harmony, where God can give the blessings we read in Psalm 133.

 

I suspect when Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians, he had in mind what the tabernacle in the wilderness typified.  I think he must have been thinking about the tabernacle, those 48 boards standing in silver sockets.  He used this little expression “fitly framed together” — Ephesians 2:21.  What was necessary?  Some of you builders could answer — these boards could not stand together secure, solid, until the bars were in their right and proper place, then the tabernacle stood as one structure, solid, and secure. 

 

Now, what I want to give to you this morning in particular is the message of the bars.  Those bars are typical of the graces that are necessary in our lives as the children of God to enable us to hold together as one.  If I were to ask you this morning what are the special graces which, when manifested by the people of God, will enable them to stand together as one family and one kingdom, I think you would reply those mentioned in Ephesians 4:1-7.  We might read these verses:

 

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love:

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”

 

Here are the five graces typified by the five bars which hold the 48 boards of the tabernacle together as one:  lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, and then that grace typified by that middle bar that puts the responsibility on you and on me in this manner of keeping the unity in the bond of peace.  I have lived now in the family of God over forty years.  I have been for 34 or 35 years in His service as a worker.  I have been to many different parts of the world.  I have watched very closely the servants and people of God in many countries and I have never yet known any single servant or saint of God’s family that possessed the marks that you read about here — lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.  Each passing year we value more those children of God in the little churches everywhere who deliberately and purposefully cultivate in their lives these graces so that wherever you may be placed your influence will tend toward promoting that unity of spirit that is so dear to the heart of God, and for which our Lord prayed so earnestly on that last night of His life.

 

Lowliness is the opposite of pride.  Pride comes from the pit.  It may be pride of face, of race or grace, but the most dangerous form of pride is spiritual pride — that pride that places you on a pedestal and causes you to imagine you can look down on others and gather your skirts around you and take the position that I am holier than thou.”  There is a story told of that old philosopher, Diogenes, paying a visit to Socrates.  Diogenes lived in a tub and dressed in rags in order to parade his humility and lowliness.  After the visit to Socrates when about to leave, standing on a rug in Socrates home, he said, “I trample upon your pride, oh, Socrates!”  Socrates replied calmly, “With greater pride, oh Diogenes.”  That man or woman who is continually advertising his or her lowliness and humility is guilty of the worst kind and the most deadly pride.  Those who are truly lowly do not need to advertise it.  If they are lowly, they forget all about it.

 

Meekness, as we have already said, is not the product of human nature, never was, and never will be.  Human nature will give back word for word, blow for blow, insult for insult, but the meekness of Jesus Christ will enable a man when reviled to revile not again, when caused to suffer will not threaten, when struck on one side of the cheek will turn the other side also.  Meekness is the grace, the fruit of the Spirit which enables you or me to act right toward those who have treated us wrong. 

 

Longsuffering — do you find it hard to put up with some people?  We all do.  I think that Jesus Himself must have found it difficult again and again during His three and a half years of His ministry to put up with those disciples.  They disappointed Him often, they were selfish, ambitious, high and mighty, and many a time He must have felt “I will let them go,” but He did not.  More than once, yes, a thousand times, I have been ashamed of my impatience with some of the lambs and sheep of the flock.  I have said in my heart, “What is the use of trying to help that man or woman?  They are selfish, ambitious, and stubborn.  For years they have not shown a single mark that they have really begun to partake of the divine nature and that the very best thing that could happen would be to cut them off,” — but sometimes we have the joy of seeing those who have tested our longsuffering so severely come to the time and place where a change is manifested and graces of our Lord Jesus Christ were being produced.  Don’t give up too soon. 


This grace is forbearance.  You know those four — the first is near the ground, the next is a little higher up — meekness.  Here is the third — longsuffering and, near the top — forbearance.  These bars passed through the rings and helped to hold the structure together as one.  As long as we live in these tabernacles of clay, as long as we have this human nature in common with one another, there will be a need for the grace of forbearance.  You have got to bear with me and I have to bear with you.  There are none of us in this meeting that have not little oddities, little peculiarities and little idiosyncrasies that make it very difficult for our brethren to keep on loving us.  You find it easy to find fault with your brother and sister but you forget yourself.  The best thing you can do is to go to the looking glass and take a good look at yourself.  You will more than likely be surprised that your brothers and sisters have kept on loving such an ugly creature throughout the years.  I know how difficult some of the brothers and sisters have found it to keep on loving me.  I am no fool to think I have not many of these oddities, etc., and that is the reason I tell you this morning, I owe them a great deal for manifesting throughout the years this grace of forbearance.  But I will tell you something else — they owe me something, too.  I know a little more than most of you about their oddities, etc., and how difficult they have made it sometimes for me to keep on loving them.  If you think my brothers and sisters that you do not owe a great deal to your brothers and sisters in the church for this grace which they have manifested towards you, in spite of all things that made it difficult, you are making an awful mistake.  Can you see those boards going up — these bars in their places?

 

Then the fifth bar endeavoring.  Do you think you can manifest the grace of lowliness without effort?  Not as long as you have human nature.  It will never be easy for anyone to be lowly; it will never by easy for any of us to have meekness or longsuffering or forbearance.  It will necessitate effort.  Some people expect these graces to kind of spring up.  They will spring up from a yielded heart, a yielded life, and surrendered will.  They are the natural fruit of living wholly yielded to God.  They were seen in all their beauty in Him who blazed the trail.  They are seen in us as we surrender.  Yielded-ness to God is after this pattern.  It will take an effort to say, “No,” to nature that seeks to hinder you.  If any of these graces are to be manifested by you or me, there is a necessity feeling towards your brethren inside the kingdom and a new responsibility towards those who are without, or outside.  If we do this, this convention has not been in vain as far as you are concerned, and the testimony of the Psalmist will be fulfilled in coming days.  “How good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

 

I cannot close without a word of warning — that warning is to be found in this chapter, too.  We have gone over together the graces necessary in the lives of God’s people to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  I will now mention some of the vices, which manifested in a child of God through yielding to our human nature and ceasing to yield to the divine nature, will disturb the “unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”  I will name them.  Paul says, “Put awaylying, bad temper, lack of self control, anger, and wrath.  Wrath is anger boiling over.  Malice is what is left after wrath has cooled down.  Malice is that thing which a man or a woman is guilty of when in cold blood they seek to injure one another.  Corrupt communications:  beware of that in men or women whose conversation is not clean, whose jokes are unclean.  You can very easily see, my brother, my sister, that if these vices are in evidence, how disturbing they would be to the people of God and how destructive to that unity and harmony that is so pleasing to the heart of God.  Evil speaking:  do you find it easy to speak evil of another?  I told you the story some years ago of the peasant that had been guilty of speaking evil about a brother and whose conscience bothered him.  He went to the priest and confessed his sin.  The priest shook his head and then gave him the necessary penance — at least what he thought was necessary — “You go and get a sack of feathers and when you have filled the sack, go and put one on the doorstep of every house in the city, then come back to me.”  This man got the sack and filled it with feathers, went to every doorstop and then went back to the priest.  He felt, “Now I am alright, now my conscience will not bother me or be troubled.”  Then the priest said, “Not yet! Take the sack and go gather up the feathers from the doorstep of every house and then come back to me.”  This man said to the old priest, “Oh, I cannot do that; the wind has blown the feathers away.”  The priest said, “That is so.  That word of slander you spoke against your brother is gone — you cannot recall it.” 

 

I say to you brother or sister, think twice, think a dozen times before you speak a word to another that would hurt or hinder the weakest child or servant of God.  There is a way if you have a difficulty about your brethren, if you have offended in any way — there is a way to straighten it out.  You can read it in Matthew 18, or if you are guilty, before you go to the altar with your gift — Matthew 5.  But when you disregard the clear teaching of Jesus in this, or any other matter, then you are guilty of one or more of these vices that are mentioned in Ephesians 4:30.  What will you do when you leave this convention?  Are you going to put these bars in their proper places?  Are you going to keep them there?  Are you going to pull out the middle bar that speaks of the responsibility we have, then the other bars will go down also.  Your influence will only tend to disturb the redeemed people of God.  Supposing I were to ask for a show of hands of this, supposing I were to ask the question how many honestly and truly purposed in their hearts as they have listened to His word these days and today, that unreservedly they are going to put a little more effort into keeping these bars in their proper place?  You have your part to do — so have I.  I have purposed to do mine.  What are you going to do about it?  May God help us for His name’s sake.

 

Hymn 172 or 131