Exodus 38:9-20 (ESV)
And he made the court. For the south side the hangings of the court were of fine twined linen, a hundred cubits; their twenty pillars and their twenty bases were of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. And for the north side there were hangings of a hundred cubits, their twenty pillars, their twenty bases were of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits, their ten pillars, and their ten bases; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. And for the front to the east, fifty cubits. The hangings for one side of the gate were fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. And so for the other side. On both sides of the gate of the court were hangings of fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three bases. All the hangings around the court were of fine twined linen. And the bases for the pillars were of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. The overlaying of their capitals was also of silver, and all the pillars of the court were filleted with silver. And the screen for the gate of the court was embroidered with needlework in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It was twenty cubits long and five cubits high in its breadth, corresponding to the hangings of the court. And their pillars were four in number. Their four bases were of bronze, their hooks of silver, and the overlaying of their capitals and their fillets of silver. And all the pegs for the tabernacle and for the court all around were of bronze.
The courtyard is one hundred cubits by fifty cubits (150’ x 75’) – just over a quarter of an acre. The tabernacle (45’ x 45’) sits in the back of the courtyard. So, the dimensions are similar to a typical suburban home with the house in the back of the lot – having a large front yard and no back yard.
Picture yourself standing in this courtyard. As a front yard for a home it wouldn’t be unusually large, but enclosed in a 7½ foot high fine linen curtain it feels spacious. In the rear, the tabernacle is an imposing presence, beautiful and solemn. In the front, there are two large pieces – the bronze altar and the bronze basin. They’re lined up down the middle, leading to the entrance to the tabernacle. They look almost like displays in a museum – rather isolated in this large courtyard.
But they’re not there for show. They are used to sanctify someone so that they may enter God’s house. It’s a fitting entrance for the LORD’s presence. This is the model of the heavenly courts David longs for.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. … For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. – Psalm 84:1-2, 10 (ESV)
Our lives are a symphony of priorities. Finding time for a Bible devotional isn’t easy, but if you’re reading this, you do it. Then it’s back to the old grindstone. We don’t have time to long to be in the courts of the LORD. We’re too busy.
Ask the LORD to kindle that wondrous sense of longing for His presence, just like what David had.
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