Upon the base of the brass sockets we have the pillars (Exo. 27:10-16). No one can tell the composition of the pillars of the outer court—it is a mystery. However, on the pillars are the silver hooks and the silver fillets, or connecting rods (Exo. 27:17). What is the meaning of these items? Again, based upon judgment, we have redemption. Judgment brings redemption, and redemption comes by or with judgment. In typology, silver always signifies redemption.
Upon the hooks and pillars of the outer court were the hangings (Exo. 27:9-15). These hangings were just like drapes. They were made of twined linen, very strong, pure, and clean. In typology, linen signifies righteousness (Rev. 19:8). This means that we have judgment, redemption, and righteousness in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the people. By our experiences of the altar and the laver, everything is cleansed and adjusted; so everything is right and just. This is the way we obtain the righteousness, the white linen, as the separating wall of the outer court of God’s dwelling place, testifying the full righteousness of God among His people. When the hangings are set upon the pillars of the sockets, those beholding the tabernacle from without see something white, pure and clean. This is the separating border line, setting us apart for God’s expression, God’s building. There must be such a separating line of righteousness based upon God’s judgment and redemption as a testimony of God’s righteousness to the sinful world.
All the hangings were five cubits high and were divided by the pillars into sections, each in the measurement of five cubits by five cubits (Exo. 27:18, 9-10, 11-12, 14-15). The hangings on the north and south sides were both one hundred cubits long with twenty pillars. Those on the west side, that is, at the rear, were fifty cubits long with ten pillars. And those on either side of the front entrance were fifteen cubits long with three pillars. Thus, all the hangings were divided into foursquare sections of five cubits by five cubits, corresponding with the size of the altar. This signifies that all the hangings correspond with the righteous requirements of God fulfilled upon the altar. Thus, they stand as a testimony of all that is accomplished on the altar. The foursquare top of the altar in the measurement of five cubits by five cubits covers the ground of God’s requirements. The foursquare sections of the hangings in the same measurement stand as the testimony to all that is covered and accomplished by the altar. When we have been dealt with by the cross, our daily living and walk will be a testimony to the work of the cross. In our daily lives and walk there must be such pure and white hangings as a testimony to those without. All we are and all we do must correspond with the work of the cross. Then we will be fit for God’s building.
PURGING IN THE OUTER COURT
For the realization of God’s building, for the practice of the church life, people must be dealt with and purged in the outer court. The Israelites, who would be built up together as God’s building, were fallen people. Once they had fallen into the world of idols; then they were related to the world of sins; eventually they became enslaved in the world of treasure and enjoyment. Now they were separated from all these to be materials for God’s building. The first step in their building was that they must be judged and purged. By judgment they could be redeemed, and by redemption and purging they could become clean, pure, just and right—right with God and right with man.
But although the Israelites were brought out of all the sinful and worldly cities, they still remembered their past; they remembered the onions and garlic of Egypt and retained their taste for these things. In the wilderness they became disgusted with the heavenly manna and said, “This is tasteless. Day by day we are eating the same things! Let us return to Egypt, to the tasteful enjoyments. We are fed up with this simple food.” This is the picture of today’s Christianity. We have all come from such a corrupted and evil background; we are full of all kinds of evil. So we must be judged and killed, cleansed and purged by the experiences in the outer court. These experiences erect the boundary line which separates and keeps us from idols, sins and worldliness. The work of the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit keep us from these things. We must experience the brass altar—the cross—and the brass laver—the cleansing of the Holy Spirit. We must be dealt with by the cross and purged by the Holy Spirit; then there is the possibility for us to share in the building of God.
Notice that the outer court is outside of the building. It is not until we have passed through the outer court that we may enter into God’s building, the tabernacle itself. This is not a matter of doctrine, but something to be experienced. Why are so many Christians not experiencing the proper building of the church on this earth today? Because some are still in Babel, Sodom, or Egypt. Some have indeed departed from these evil realms, but they are still full of idolatrous germs, sinful germs, and germs of worldly enjoyment. In the so-called churches of today, one can sometimes hear the announcements of pleasures and amusements. These are the germs. It is impossible to have a proper church life in this way. The reason for this is that so many have not experienced the dealing of the altar and the purging of the laver. Thus, there is no foundation laid for the boundary line.
God’s building must have a definite boundary line. Within that line everything belongs to His building; outside of that line everything belongs either to Babel, Sodom, or the treasure cities. Today’s fallen Christianity does not have the proper, necessary boundary line. Such a boundary has never been built up; it has never been drawn. The people are still participating in idols, sins, and treasures of worldly enjoyment. They have never experienced the brass altar and the brass laver. They have never been judged and been put to death on the altar or cleansed and purged by the laver. If we would practice the church life and share in the building of God, we must first experience the brass altar with the brass laver. Then we will have the brass sockets laid as the foundation of the boundary line. It is by such experiences that the boundary line of God’s building is drawn.
In the outer court we realize and experience the cross, by which everything is judged, put to death and burned. Here, with the cross, we also experience the working of the Holy Spirit to expose, enlighten, cleanse and purge us. Everything which does not correspond with God and God’s righteous way must be judged and purged away. All the worldly pleasures and enjoyments must be excluded from God’s building. They must be terminated and purged. We must experience the judgment of the cross with the purging of the Holy Spirit. Then we will be a proper and right person, right with God and with man. We will have the righteousness as typified by the white linen hangings on the pillars set upon the brass sockets as the boundary line of God’s testimony. Within this boundary line there is the possibility for us to realize the building of God and practice the church life.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)