A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, January 30, 1881, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *3/6/2013
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “When you take the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then every man shall give a ransom for his soul to the Lord, when you number them; so that there is no plague among them, when you number them. They shall give this, everyone who passes among those who are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) half a shekel shall be the offering of the Lord. Everyone who passes among those who are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to the Lord. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering to the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls. And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; so that it may be a memorial to the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.” [Ex 30:11-16]
A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for everyone who went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men. And the sockets of the sanctuary were cast from the hundred talents of silver, and the sockets of the veil; a hundred sockets from the hundred talents, a talent for a socket. [Ex 38:26,27]
1. Will you kindly first open your Bibles to Exodus 30; for I must begin my discourse by expounding that passage. When the account was taken of the number of the children of Israel the Lord commanded that every male over twenty years of age should pay half a shekel as redemption money, confessing that he deserved to die, admitting that he was in debt to God, and bringing the sum demanded as a type of a great redemption which would eventually be paid for the souls of the sons of men. So the truth was taught that God’s people are a redeemed people: elsewhere they are called “the redeemed of the Lord.” If men reject the redemption which he ordains, then they are not his people; for of all his chosen it may be said — “The Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he.” Whenever we attempt to number the people of God it is absolutely necessary that we only count those who at least profess to have brought the redemption price in their hands, and so to have taken part in the atonement of Christ Jesus. David, when he numbered the people, did not gather the redemption money from them, and hence a plague broke out among them. He had failed in obedience to the Lord’s ordinance, and counted his subjects, not as redeemed people, but merely as so many heads. Let us always beware of estimating the number of Christians by the number in the population of the countries called Christian; for the only true Christians in the world are those who are redeemed from iniquity by the blood of the Lamb, and have personally accepted the ransom which the Lord has provided, personally brought their redemption money in their hands by taking Christ to be theirs and presenting him by an act of faith to the great Father. On earth God only has as many people as believe in Jesus Christ, and we dare not count any others to be his except those who can say, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” We must not count heads which know about Christ, but hands which have received the redemption money and are presenting it to God; not so many people who are called Christians by courtesy as souls that are Christly in very fact, because they have accepted the atoning sacrifice, and live before God as “redeemed from among men.”
2. Observe that this redemption, without which no man might properly be numbered among the children of Israel lest a plague should break out among them, must be personal and individual. There was not a lump sum to be paid for the nation, or twelve amounts for the twelve tribes; but each man must bring his own half shekel for himself. So there is no redemption that will be of any use to any of you unless it is personally accepted and brought before God by faith. Each one of you must be able to say for yourself concerning the Lord Jesus, “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” The doctrine of general redemption, which teaches men to say, “Oh, yes; we are all sinners, you know; Christ died for us, for he died for us all,” lays a very poor foundation for comfort. We do not need so much a general as a personal redemption, a redemption which actually redeems, and redeems us as individuals. The great sacrifice for the sin of man must become for us a personal atonement, for only by this can we experience its efficacy. Each one of you must bring Christ to the Father, taking him into your hands by simple faith. No other price must be there; but that price must be brought by every individual, or else there is no acceptable coming to God.
3. It was absolutely essential that each one should bring the half shekel of redemption money; for redemption is the only way in which you and I can be accepted by God. If birth could have done it, they had the privilege beyond all doubt; for they had Abraham as their forefather: they were lineally descended from the three great patriarchs, and they might have said, “We are Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man.” No, but salvation is not by blood, nor by birth, nor by the will of the flesh: salvation is by redemption, and even the true child of Abraham must bring his redemption money. So you must, you child of godly parents, find salvation by the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, or be lost for ever. Do not believe the falsehood of certain modern divines, that you children of godly parents do not need to be converted because you are born so nobly and brought up so tenderly by your parents. You are by nature heirs of wrath even as others. “You must be born again,” and you must be personally redeemed as well as heathen children, or else you will perish, though the blood of ministers, martyrs, and apostles should be running in your veins. Redemption is the only basis for acceptance before God, and not godly birth, or pious education.
4. There were many, no doubt, in the camp if Israel who were men of position and wealth; but they must bring the ransom money, or die amid their wealth. Others were wise-hearted and skilful in the arts, yet they must be redeemed or die. Position could not save the princes, nor office spare the elders: every man of Israel must be redeemed; and no man could pass the muster-roll without his half shekel, whatever he might say, or do, or be. God was their God because he had redeemed them out of the house of bondage, and they were his people because he had “placed a redemption between his people and the Egyptians.” Well did David ask, “What one nation in the earth is like your people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people for himself?”
5. Notice well that every Israelite man must be equally redeemed, and redeemed with the same amount, indeed, with the same redemption. “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel.” Every man requires redemption, the one as well as the other. Kings on their thrones must be redeemed as well as prisoners in their dungeons; the philosopher must be redeemed as well as the peasant; the preacher as much as the profligate, and the moralist as certainly as the prostitute or the thief. The redemption money for every person must be the same, for all have sinned and are in the same condemnation.
6. And it must be a redemption that meets the divine demand, because, you see, the Lord not only says that they must each bring half a shekel, no more, no less, but it must be “the shekel of the sanctuary,” — not the shekel of commerce, which might be debased in quality or diminished by wear and tear, but the coin must be according to the standard shekel laid up in the holy place. To make sure of it Moses defines exactly how much a shekel was worth, and what its weight was, — “A shekel is twenty gerahs.” So you must bring to God the redemption which he has appointed, — the blood and righteousness of Christ, — nothing more, nothing less. The ransom of Christ is perfection, and from it there must be no varying. The price must satisfy the divine demand, and that to the full.
7. Notice that the price appointed effectively redeemed so far as the type could go. Some rejoice in a redemption which does not redeem; for the general redemption by which all men are supposed to be redeemed leaves multitudes in bondage, and they go to hell despite this kind of redemption. Therefore we preach a particular and special redemption of God’s own chosen and believing people: these are effectively and really ransomed, and the precious price once paid for them has set them free, neither shall any plague of vengeance strike them, for the redemption money has procured eternal deliverance for them.
8. This type is full of instruction: the more it is studied the richer it will appear. Every man who is numbered among the children of Israel, and permitted to serve God by going out to war, or to take upon him the duties of citizenship, must, as he is numbered, be redeemed. So must every one of us, if we are truly God’s people and God’s servants, find our right to be so in the fact of our redemption by Christ Jesus our Lord. This is the joy and glory of each one of us: “You have redeemed me, oh Lord God of truth.”
9. Now we turn to the second of our texts, and there we learn a very remarkable fact. In Ex 38:25 we find that this mass of silver which was paid, by which six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty men were redeemed, each one paying his half shekel, came to a great weight of silver. It must have weighed something over four tons, and this was dedicated to the use of the tabernacle: the special application of the precious metal was to make sockets into which the boards which made the walls of the tabernacle should be placed. The mass of silver made up one hundred talents, and these held up the fifty boards of the holy place. They were in a wilderness, constantly moving, and continually moving the tabernacle. Now, they might have dug out a foundation in the sand, or on coming to a piece of rock where they could not dig, they might have cut out foundations with great toil; but the Lord appointed that they should carry the foundation of the tabernacle with them. A talent of silver, weighing, I suppose, nearly one hundred pounds, was either formed into the shape of a wedge, in order to be driven into the soil, or else made into a solid square plate to lie upon it. In the wedge or plate were made mortises, into which the tenons of the boards could be readily fitted. These plates of silver fitted into each other, tenon and mortise wise, and so they made a compact parallelogram, strengthened at the corners with double plates, and formed one foundation, moveable when taken to pieces, yet very secure as a whole. This foundation was made of the redemption money. See the instructive emblem! The foundation of the worship of Israel was redemption. The dwelling-place of the Lord their God was founded on atonement. All the boards of incorruptible wood and precious gold stood upon the redemption price, and the curtains of fine linen, and the veil of matchless workmanship, and the whole structure rested on nothing else except the solid mass of silver which had been paid as the redemption money of the people. There was only one exception where the door opened into the holy place. There the pillars were placed upon sockets of brass, perhaps because, since there was much going in out of the priests, it was not proper that they should tread upon the symbol of redemption. The blood of the paschal Lamb, when Israel came out of Egypt, was sprinkled on the lintel and the two side-posts; but out of reverence to that blood it was not to be sprinkled on the threshold. Everything was done to show that atonement is to be the precious foundation of all holy things, and everything to prevent a slighting or disregard of it. Woe to that man of whom it shall ever be said, “He has trodden underfoot the Son of God, and has considered the blood of the covenant, by which he was sanctified, an unholy thing.”
10. I do not for a moment bring before you the type of the text as a proof of doctrine; but I intend to use it simply as an illustration. It seems to me to be a very striking, full, and suggestive emblem, illustrating most clearly certain precious truths. I feel I am quite safe in using this illustration, because it is one among a group of acknowledged types, and could not have been given without a reason. I do not see why they could not have made the foundation sockets of iron, or why they could not have been content with tent-pins and cords as in other cases of tent building: I see no reason in the necessity of the case why they must be sockets of silver; there must have been another reason. Why was that particular silver prescribed? Why must the redemption money be used, and nothing else? Surely there is teaching here if we will only see it.
11. Moreover, this does not stand by itself; for when the Tabernacle was succeeded by the Temple redemption was still conspicuous in the foundation. What was the foundation of the Temple? It was the rock of Mount Moriah. And what was the hill of Moriah but the place where in many lights redemption and atonement had been illustrated. It was there that Abraham drew the knife to kill Isaac: a fair picture of the Father offering up his Son. It was there the ram was caught in the thicket and was killed instead of Isaac: a fit emblem of the Substitute accepted instead of man. Later still, it was on Mount Moriah that the angel, when David attempted to number the people without redemption money, stood with his sword drawn. There David offered sacrifices and burnt offerings. The offering was accepted and the angel sheathed his sword — another picture of that power of redemption by which mercy rejoices against judgment. And there the Lord uttered the memorable sentence. “It is enough, now restrain your hand.” This “enough” is the crown of redemption. Even as the Great Sacrifice himself said, “It is finished,” so the Great Accepter of the sacrifice says, “enough.” What a place of redemption was the hill of Zion! Now, if the temple was built on a mount which must have been specially selected because there the types of redemption were most plentiful, I feel that without an apology I may boldly take this first fact that the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness was based and founded upon redemption money, and use it for our instruction. With this much of preface we will now begin to feed upon the spiritual meal which is set before us. Oh for grace to feast upon the heavenly bread so that we may grow by it. Spirit of the living God, be pleased to help us in this matter.
12. I. First, I want you to view this illustration as teaching us something about GOD IN RELATIONSHIP TO MAN.
The tent in the wilderness was typical of God’s coming down to man to
hold communion with him: the fiery cloudy pillar visible outside, and
the bright light of the shekinah, visible to him who was called to
enter once a year into the innermost sanctuary, shining over the
mercy seat, — these were the signs of the special presence of the Deity
in the centre of the camp of Israel. The Lord seems to teach us, in
relation to his dealing with men, that he will meet man in the way
of grace only on the footing of redemption. He deals with man
concerning love and grace within his holy shrine; but the basis of
that shrine must be atonement. Rest assured, dear friends, that there
is no meeting with God on our part except through Jesus Christ our
Redeemer. I am of Luther’s mind when he said, “I will have nothing to
do with an absolute God.” God outside of Christ is a terror to us.
Even in Christ, remember, he is a consuming fire, for even “our God
is a consuming fire”; but may none of us ever know what he must be
outside of Christ.
Till God in human flesh I see,
My thoughts no comfort find;
The holy, just, and sacred Three
Are terrors to my mind.
But if Emmanuel’s face appear,
My hope, my joy begins;
His name forbids my slavish fear,
His grace removes my sins.
You must not attempt to have an audience with God at first upon the footing of election. It would be presumptuous to attempt to come to the electing Father except through the atoning Son. “No man,” says Christ, “comes to the Father but my me.” Never attempt to speak with God on the basis of your own sanctification; for very soon you will come to bringing your legal righteousness before him, and that will provoke him. Always enter the holy place with the thought, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” “Not without blood”: remember that! Into the holy place went the high priest once every year, “not without blood.” There can be no coming of God to man on terms of peace except through the one great sacrifice: that must be the foundation of it all.
14. Indeed, and not only God’s coming to us, but God’s remaining with us is upon the same foundation; for the tabernacle was, so to speak, the house of God, — the place where God especially dwelt among his people, as he said: “I will dwell in them, and walk in them.” But he never dwelt among them in anything except in a tent that was based upon the silver of the redemption money and you, dear friend, if you have ever walked with God, can only maintain your fellowship by resting where you did at first, as a poor sinner redeemed by your Saviour. They have asked me to rise sometimes to a higher level, and come to God as a sanctified person. Yes, but a rock, though it may be lower than the little wooden stage which some erect upon it, is safer to stand upon; and I do believe that those who walk with God, according to their attainments, and imaginary perfections, have climbed up to a rotten platform, which will fall under them before long. I know no means of standing before God today but what I had at first. I am still unworthy in myself, but accepted in the Beloved! Guilty in myself, and lost and ruined; but still received, blessed, and loved, because of the person and work of Christ. The Lord cannot dwell with you, my dear friend, you will soon have broken fellowship and be in the dark, if you attempt to walk with him because you feel sanctified, or because you have been active in his service, or because you know much, or because you are an experienced believer. No! no! no! The Lord will only remain with us in that tabernacle whose every board is resting upon the silver foundation of redemption by his own dear Son.
15. There can, beloved, be no kind of communion between God and us except through the atonement. Do you want to pray? You cannot speak with God except through Jesus Christ. Do you wish to praise? You cannot bring the censer full of smoking incense except through Christ. It is only within those foundations of silver that you can speak to God, or hear him speak comfortingly with you. Would you hear a voice out of the excellent glory? Do you pray that the great Father would speak with you as with his dear children? Expect it through Jesus Christ, for “through him we have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Even to the Father, though we are children, we do not have access except through Jesus. The tabernacle of communion even to him who lives nearest to God must be built upon the redemption price. Free grace and dying love must be the golden bells which ring upon our garments when we go into the holy place to speak with the Most High.
16. The tabernacle was the place of holy service, where the priests all day long offered sacrifices of one kind or another to the Most High. And you and I serve God as priests, for he has made us a royal priesthood. But how and where can we exercise our priesthood? Everywhere with respect to this world; but before God, the foundation of the temple where we stand, and the basis of the acceptance of our priesthood, is redemption. The priests offered their sacrifice not in groves of man’s planting, or on high hills, which were the natural strength of the land, but within the space marked out by the silver slabs of atonement money; and so we must worship and serve within redemption lines. If we come to the idea of legal merit, and suppose that there is a natural goodness in our prayers, or in our praises, in our observances of Christian ceremonies, or in almsgiving, or in zealous testimony, we make a great mistake, and we shall never be accepted. We must bring our offerings to that court which is fenced off by the most precious foundation which God has laid of old, even the merit of his dear Son. We are accepted in the Beloved, and in no other way; we are shut in within the foundation which Christ has laid of old, not with corruptible things as with silver and gold, but with his own most precious blood.
17. So much, dear brethren, upon one view of this subject. May you learn much about God in his relationship to man while you meditate on it at your leisure and are taught by the Holy Spirit.
18. II. I think we may, in the second place, apply this illustration TO CHRIST IN HIS DIVINE PERSON. The tabernacle was the type of our Lord Jesus Christ, for God dwells among men in Christ. “He tabernacled among us, and we beheld his glory,” says the apostle. God does not dwell in temples made with hands, that is to say, of this building; but the Temple of God is Christ Jesus, “in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
19. Our Lord is thus the Tabernacle which the Lord has pitched and not man; and our first and fundamental idea of him must be in his character as Redeemer. Our Lord does come to us in other characters, and he is very glorious in them all; but unless we receive him as Redeemer we have missed the essence of his character, the basic idea of him. Just as the tent in the wilderness was founded upon the redemption money, so our idea and conception of Christ must be first of all that “he is the propitiation for our sins”; and I say this, though it may seem unnecessary to say it, because Satan is very crafty, and he leads many from plain truth by subtle means. I remember a sister, who had been a member of a certain denomination, who was converted to God in this place, though she had been a professed Christian for years. She said to me, “I have so far believed only in Christ crucified: I worshipped him as about to come in the second Advent to reign with his people, but I never had a sense of guilt, neither did I go to him as putting away my sin; and hence I was not saved.” When she began to see herself as a sinner she found her need of a Redeemer. Atonement must enter into our first and chief idea of the Lord Jesus. “We preach Christ crucified”: we preach him glorified, and delight to do so; but still the main point upon which the eye of a sinner must rest, if he would have peace with God, must be Christ crucified for sin. “God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Do, then, my dear hearer, let the very foundation of your faith in Christ be your view of him as ransoming you from the power of sin and Satan. Some say they admire Christ as an example, and well they may; they can never find a better one: but Jesus Christ will never be truly known and followed if he is viewed only as an example, for he is infinitely more than that. Neither can any man carry out the project of being like Christ, unless he first knows him as making atonement for sin, and as giving power to overcome sin through his blood. Some writers have looked upon Christ from one point of view and some from another, and there is no book that is more likely to sell than a “Life of Christ,” but the most essential view of him is to be had from the foot of the cross. No complete life of Christ has been written yet. All the lives of Christ that have yet been written amount to about one drop of water, while the four Evangelists are as a whole ocean. The pen of inspiration has accomplished what all the quills in the world will never be able to do again, and there is no need they should. However much we dwell upon the holiness of our Lord, we cannot complete his picture unless we describe him as the sinner’s ransom. He is white, but he is ruddy too. Rutherford said, “Oh then, come and see if he is not a red man. In his suffering for us he was wet with his own blood. Is he not well worthy of your love?” When he comes out in the vesture dipped in blood many shun him, they cannot bear the atoning sacrifice; but he is never in our eyes so matchlessly lovely as when we see him bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, and putting away transgression by making himself the Substitute for his people.
20. Let this then be your basic idea of Christ — “he has redeemed us from the curse of the law.” Indeed, in reference to Christ, we must regard his redemption as the basis of his triumphs and his glory — “the sufferings of Christ and the glory that shall follow.” We cannot understand any work that he has performed unless we understand his vicarious sacrifice. Christ is a lock without a key, he is a labyrinth without a clue, until you know him as the Redeemer. You have spilt the letters on the floor, and you cannot figure out the character of the Wonderful until first you have learned to spell the words — atonement by blood. This is the deepest joy of earth and the grandest song in heaven. “For you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood.”
21. I ask you to observe, in connection with our text, that just as the foundation of the Tabernacle was very valuable, so our Lord Jesus as our Redeemer is extremely precious to us. His redemption is made with his precious blood. The redemption money was of pure and precious metal, a metal that does not lose weight in the fire. “The redemption of the soul is precious.” What a redemption price Christ has given for us; yes, what a redemption price he is! Well did Peter say, “To you who believe he is precious”: silver and gold are not to be mentioned in comparison with him. To me it is very instructive that the Israelites should have been redeemed with silver in the form of half shekels, because there are many who say, “These old-fashioned divines believe in the mercantile idea of the atonement.” Exactly so: we always did and always shall use a metaphor which is so expressive as to be abhorred by the enemies of the truth. The mercantile idea of the atonement is the biblical idea of the atonement. These people were redeemed, not with lumps of uncoined silver, but with money used in commerce. Paul says “You are not your own: you are bought” — listen — “with a price” — to give us the mercantile idea beyond all question. “Bought with a price” is doubly mercantile. What do you say to this, you wise refiners, who would refine the meaning right out of the word of the Lord? Such people merely use this expression about the “mercantile idea” as a cheap piece of mockery, because in their hearts they hate atonement altogether, and the idea of substitution and expiation by vicarious sacrifice is abhorrent to them. Therefore the Lord has made it so plain, so obvious that they may stumble at this stumbling-stone, “whereunto also,” I think, as Peter says, “they were appointed.” To us, at any rate, the redemption price which is the foundation of everything is extremely precious.
22. But there is one other thing to remember in reference to Christ, namely, that each one of us must view him as our own, for out of all the grown-up males that were in the camp of Israel, when they set up the tabernacle, they all had a share in its foundation. We read: “And all the women who were wise-hearted spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.” [Ex 35:25,26] The men could not spin, perhaps; they did not understand that art; but every man had his half a shekel in the foundation. I want you to think of that. Each believer has a share in Christ as his redemption: no, I dare not say a share in him, for he is all mine, and he is all yours. Brother and sister, have you by faith laid hold upon a whole Christ and said, “He has paid the price for me?” Then you have an interest in the very fundamental idea of Christ. Perhaps you are not learned enough to have enjoyed your portion in certain other aspects of our Lord; but if you are a believer, however weak you are, though you are like the poor among the people of Israel, you have your half shekel in the foundation. I delight to think of that. I have my treasure in Christ; “my Beloved is mine.” Do you say he is yours? I do not deny it. So he is, but “he is mine.” If you deny that fact we will quarrel at once, for I affirm that “my Beloved is mine.” Moreover, by his purchase “I am his.” “So am I” you say. Quite right: I am glad you are; but I know that “I am his.” There is nothing like getting a firm, personal hold and grip of Christ: my half shekel is in the basis of the tabernacle; my redemption money is in the divinely glorious building of grace; my redemption is in the death of Christ, which is the foundation of everything.
23. III. Time fails me, and yet I have now a third thought to lay before you very briefly. The tabernacle was a type of THE CHURCH OF GOD as the place of divine indwelling.
24. What and where is the church of God? The true church is founded upon redemption. Every board of shittim wood was tenoned and mortised into the sockets of silver made of the redemption money, and every man who is in the church of God is united to Christ, rests upon Christ, and cannot be separated from him. If that is not true of you, my dear hearer, you are not in the church of God. You may be in the church of England or of Rome, you may be in this church or some other; but unless you are joined to Christ, and he is the sole foundation upon which you rest, you are not in the church of God. You may be in no visible church whatever, and yet, if you are resting upon Christ, you are a part of the true house of God on earth.
25. Christ is a solid foundation for the church: for the tabernacle was never blown down. It had no foundation except the talents of silver; and yet it braved every desert storm. The wilderness is a place of rough winds — it is called a howling wilderness; but the sockets of silver held the boards upright, and the holy tent defied the rage of the elements. To be united to Christ by faith is to be built on a solid foundation. His church will never be overthrown let the devil send what hurricanes he may.
26. And it was an invariable foundation, for the tabernacle always had the same basis wherever it was placed. One day it was pitched on the sand, another on a good piece of arable ground, a third time on a grassy plot, and tomorrow on a bare rock; but it always had the same foundation. The bearers of the holy furniture never left the silver sockets behind. Those four tons of silver were carried in their wagons, and put out first as the one and only foundation of the holy place. Now the learned tell us that this century requires “advanced thought.” I wish this century was over; I have heard it bragged about so much that I am sick of this century. We are told that this is too sensible a century to need or accept the same gospel as the first, second, and third centuries. Yet these were the centuries of martyrs, the centuries of heroes, the centuries that conquered all the gods of Greece and Rome, the centuries of holy glory, and all this because they were the centuries of the gospel; but now we are so enlightened that our ears ache for something new, and under the influence of another gospel, which is not another, our beliefs are dwindling down from alps to anthills, and we ourselves from giants to pygmies. You will soon need a microscope to see Christian faith in the land, it is getting to be so small and scarce. By God’s grace some of us remain by the ark of the covenant, and intend to preach the same old gospel which the saints received at the first. We shall imitate those who, having had a silver foundation at the first, had a silver foundation for the tabernacle, even until they came to the promised land. It is a foundation that we dare not change. It must be the same, world without end, for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.
27. IV. Fourthly, and lastly, I think this tabernacle in the wilderness may be viewed as a type of THE GOSPEL, for the gospel is the revelation of God to man. The tent in the wilderness was the gospel according to Moses. Now, as that old gospel in the wilderness was, such must ours be, and I want to say just two or three things very plainly, and then I am finished.
Redemption, atonement in the mercantile idea, must be the
foundation of our theology — doctrinal, practical, and experiential.
Concerning doctrine, they say a fish stinks first at the head, and
men first go astray in their brains. When once there is anything
wrong in your belief concerning redemption you are wrong all
through. I believe in the old rhyme: —
What think you of Christ? is the test
To try both your state and your scheme,
You cannot be right in the rest
Unless you think rightly of HIM.
If you go wrong on atonement you have turned a switch which will run the whole train of your thoughts onto the wrong track. You must know Christ as the Redeemer of his people, and their substitute, or your teaching will give an uncertain sound. Just as redemption must be the foundation of doctrinal divinity, so it must be for practical divinity. “You are not your own: you are bought with a price,” must be the source of holiness, and the reason for consecration. The man who does not feel himself to be specially “redeemed from among men” will see no reason for being different from other men. “Christ loved his Church and gave himself for it”; he who sees no special giving of Christ for his Church will see no special reason why the Church should give herself to Christ.
29. Certainly redemption must be the foundation of experiential theology; for what is an experience worth that does not make us prize every day more and more the redeeming blood? Oh, my dear friends, I never knew, though I had some idea of it, what a fool I was until recent years. I tell you that those dreadful pains, which may even make you long for death, will empty you right out, and not only empty you, but make you judge yourself to be a hollow sham, and cause you to loathe yourself, and then it is that you cling to Christ. Nothing but the atoning sacrifice will satisfy me. I have read plenty of books of modern theology, but none of them can heal so much as a pin’s prick in the conscience. When a man gets sick in body and heavy in spirit he needs the old-fashioned Puritan theology, the gospel of Calvin, the gospel of Augustine, the gospel of Paul, the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our theology as a matter of experience must be based upon redemption.
30. Ah, brethren, and not only our theology but our personal hope. The only gospel that I have to preach is what I rest upon myself: “Who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree,” “For the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed”: “He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Oh, dear hearers, build on that and you will never fail; but if you do not take Christ’s redemption as the foundation of your hope — I do not care who you are — you may be very learned, but you know nothing at all. May the Lord make you to know that you know nothing, and then you will know something: and when you have learned as much as that, may he teach you the redemption of his Son, and reveal Christ in you.
31. This, beloved, is henceforth the burden of our service, and the glory of our life. Those silver sockets were very precious, but very weighty. I dare say the men who had to move them sometimes thought so. Four tons and more of silver make up a great load. Oh blessed, blissful load, to have to put the shoulder to the collar to draw the burden of the Lord — the glorious weight of redemption. My soul, blessed are you to be made a labouring ox for Christ; always to be bearing among this people the divinely precious load of the foundation which Christ has laid for his people. You, young brethren, who preach, take care to always carry your four tons of silver: all of you preach a full and rich redemption. You who go to the Sunday School, do not let the children have a place to live which has no foundation: the first wind will blow it over, and where will they be then? Left naked under the ruins of that in which they had hoped. Lay Christ for a foundation. You cannot do better, for God himself has said, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious.” Lay this silver foundation wherever you are.
Indeed, but though the ingots were heavy to carry, every Israelite
felt proud to think that that tabernacle had a foundation of silver.
You Amalekites out there cannot see the silver foundation under it
all; you Moabites cannot perceive it. All you can see is the badger
skins outside, — the rough exterior of the tent. You say, “That tent is
a poor place to be a temple: that gospel is a very simple affair.” No
doubt it is to you, but you never saw the silver sockets, you never
saw the golden boards, you never saw the glory of the inside of the
place lit up by the seven-branched lampstands, and glorious with the
presence of God. Brethren, redemption is our honour and delight.
In the cross of Christ I glory
Towering o’er the wrecks of time:
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.
This the first and this the last; the bleeding Lamb slain from before
the foundation of the world, and yet living and reigning when earth’s
foundations shall dissolve. That blessed Lamb of God is in the midst
of the throne, and his people shall all be with him, for ever
triumphant. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,
the foundation and the headstone. Oh Saviour of sinners, glory be to
your name. Amen and amen.
[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — 1Pe 2:1-10 Ex 26:15-25 30:11-16 38:25-28]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 84” 84]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Redeeming Love” 440]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — The Solid Rock” 549]
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 84 (Song 1)
1 How pleasant, how divinely fair,
Oh Lord of hosts, thy dwellings are!
With long desire my spirit faints
To meet the assemblies of thy saints.
2 My flesh would rest in thine abode,
My panting heart cries out for God;
My God! my King! why should I be
So far from all my joys and thee?
3 Bless’d are the saints who sit on high
Around thy throne of majesty;
Thy brightest glories shine above,
And all their work is praise and love.
4 Bless’d are the souls that find a place
Within the temple of thy grace;
There they behold thy gentler rays,
And seek thy face, and learn thy praise.
5 Bless’d are the men whose hearts are set
To find the way to Zion’s gate;
God is their strength, and through the road,
They lean upon their helper, God.
6 Cheerful they walk with growing strength,
Till all shall meet in heaven at length,
Till all before thy face appear,
And join in nobler worship there.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 84 (Song 2)
1 Great God, attend while Sion sings
The joy that from thy presence springs;
To spend one day with thee on earth
Exceeds a thousand days of mirth.
2 Might I enjoy the meanest place
Within thy house, oh God of grace!
Not tents of ears, nor thrones of power,
Should tempt my feet to leave thy door.
3 God is our sun, he makes our day;
God is our shield, he guards our way
From all th’ assaults of hell and sin,
From foes without and foes within.
4 All needful grace will God bestow,
And crown that grace with glory too;
He gives us all things, and withholds
No real good from upright souls.
5 Oh God, our King, whose sovereign sway
The glorious hosts of heaven obey,
And devils at thy presence flee;
Bless’d is the man that trusts in thee.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 84 (Song 3) <148th.>
1 Lord of the worlds above,
How pleasant and how fair
The dwellings of thy love,
Thy earthly temples are!
To thine abode,
My heart aspires
With warm desires,
To see my God.
2 Oh happy souls that pray
Where God appoints to hear!
Oh happy men that pay
Their constant service there!
They praise thee still;
And happy they
That love the way
To Zion’s hill.
3 They go from strength to strength,
Through this dark vale of tears,
Till each arrives at length,
Till each in heaven appears:
Oh glorious seat,
When God our King
Shall thither bring
Our willing feet.
4 To spend one sacred day,
Where God and saints abide,
Affords diviner joy
Than thousand days beside:
Where God resorts,
I love it more
To keep the door
Than shine in courts.
5 God is our sun and shield,
Our light and our defence;
With gifts his hands are fill’d;
We draw our blessings thence;
He shall bestow
On Jacob’s race
And glory too.
6 The Lord his people loves;
His hand no good withholds
From those his heart approves,
From pure and pious souls:
Thrice happy he,
Oh God of hosts,
Whose spirit trusts
Alone in thee.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Jesus Christ, His Praise
440 — Redeeming Love <7s.>
1 Now begin the heavenly theme,
Sing aloud in Jesus’ name!
Ye, who his salvation prove,
Triumph in redeeming love.
2 Ye, who see the Father’s grace
Beaming in the Saviour’s face,
As to Canaan on ye move,
Praise and bless redeeming love.
3 Mourning souls, dry up your tears,
Banish all your guilty fears;
See your guilt and curse remove,
Cancell’d by redeeming love.
4 Ye, alas! who long have been
Willing slaves to death and sin,
Now from bliss no longer rove;
Stop and taste redeeming love.
5 Welcome all by sin oppress’d,
Welcome to his sacred rest,
Nothing brought him from above,
Nothing but redeeming love.
6 When his Spirit leads us home,
When we to his glory come,
We shall all the fulness prove
Of our Lord’s redeeming love.
7 He subdued the infernal powers,
His tremendous foes and ours,
From their cursed empire drove,
Mighty in redeeming love.
8 Hither then your music bring,
Strike aloud each cheerful string:
Mortals, join the host above,
Join to praise redeeming love.
Madan’s Collection, 1763.
Gospel, Received by Faith
549 — The Solid Rock
1 My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame;
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
3 His oath, his covenant, and his blood,
Support me in the sinking flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
4 When the last awful trump shall sound,
On may I then in him be found,
Dress’d in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Edward Mote, 1825, a.