“Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another.
“And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle.” – Exodus 26:5, 6
Every reverent reader of the Bible, when he reads of the minute details given for the construction of the tabernacle, must feel that there is some heavenly meaning for us concealed therein. The details concerning the materials to be used and the construction of the tabernacle were not from Moses’ own mind, but were revealed to him out of heaven.
The thought is familiar to us that the tabernacle represents the dwelling place of the Lord. It represents heaven, and it represents the Lord’s church on earth and human society in its true order. It represents the Lord’s dwelling-place in every human heart, and above all it represents the Lord’s own Divine Humanity in which He dwells among men.
It is with the tabernacle as the representative of the church and of human society that our thought will be concerned at this time, and particularly with the loops and taches by which its curtains were fastened together. Spiritually this tells us of the mutual relations of man with man, by which the whole body of the Lord’s church and of human society is joined together into one.
With the general construction of the tabernacle we are familiar. It was a tent fifteen feet by forty-five, surrounded by a court. The walls were planks of wood covered with gold, standing on end edge to edge in silver bases and made firm by poles running through rings in the planks. The roof was a tent, and the roof and sides inside and out were overhung with a curtain. The tabernacle throughout was made of many separate parts carefully joined together to make one whole.
When we think of the tabernacle as representative of human society in its true order in heaven and on earth, we cannot fail to see that society is composed of many members united by the Lord by many wonderful links of interrelation, so that from many distinct members there results one complete whole. The Lord does not merge human beings into one homogeneous mass either on earth or in heaven, but He gives to each one an individuality and an independence which become more marked as society becomes more perfect, and at the same time He provides means to unite individuals together.
Heaven, which is the ideal of human society, is as unlike as possible to the Oriental concept of Nirvana, where personal identity is lost. Heaven is separated into provinces so distinct that they are called so many heavens, and each heaven is formed of societies carefully distinguished according to the nature of those who compose them, those of like general character being drawn together by common affections; and in each society each individual finds his own place and use. He could no more be happy outside of his place than a part of the physical body can be comfortable and useful if its orderly relation to the body is disturbed. But although there is this distinction between the provinces, the societies and the individuals of which heaven is composed, still one society or angel is not cut off from the rest, but is intimately joined with others, both to give and to receive of blessedness; for the very nature of heavenly delight requires that there shall be nothing selfish in its enjoyment, but that it shall find its perfection as it is shared with others.
And when we turn to human society on earth, we know that no one can live cut off from association with others. His physical life and comfort require him to meet with others and to exchange services with them. And though we think little of it, an unseen influence extends also from everyone on earth which affects either for good or for harm all whom it reaches. These unseen influences are more real than we are accustomed to think, and play a more important part in human society. Were these invisible bonds of influence severed so that one should be cut off from others, he would fall dead; all power of affection or thought would cease, and he would be as lifeless as a hand or foot severed from the body.
We are more or less aware of this influence. There is that in the presence of some people that draws us to them, and there is that which repels us from others. Children are quick to know their friends, though they cannot say how they know them.
The links of union between men are of two kinds, the external relations which draw them together and the interior unseen bonds of spiritual influence. These mutual relations are represented by the loops and taches of the tabernacle. Our text describes the joining of the inner curtain. This was not made in one piece, but in ten long narrow curtains which were fastened together very securely in two sets, and these two sets were made one by fifty loops of blue upon the edge of each set, which were joined by fifty taches or clasps of gold. These loops and taches on the inner curtains represent especially the more interior and spiritual bonds of unseen influence, those of thought and affection. The loops are the spheres of affection and thought reaching out from one being toward another. The command to make loops upon the border means that it is not right for an individual to live for himself alone, to confine his affection and thought to himself, caring only for himself and his own welfare, indifferent to the welfare of others. Such a life repels rather than attracts, and there is no heavenly union of such a one with others. There must be loops upon the border.
The loops were to be of blue. Nothing else is said of them. Their form is not described. The form of thought varies. All that is required is that the loops be of blue, which is the symbol of truth from a celestial origin. Our thoughts must be pure, true thoughts springing from love to the Lord and to one another. They must be fifty in number, which means that they must exist in abundance, and taches of gold must unite the blue loops together. The taches of gold are the pure love with which the Lord unites those who reach out unselfishly toward each other.
There was also an outer curtain of the tabernacle which was likewise made with loops and taches. This outer curtain has to do with life on a more external plane, and its loops and taches picture the external contacts of one with another in the life of the world. Here, too, there must be fifty loops. An individual must not seclude himself from his neighbors. He must meet them kindly and justly in the relations of business, not seeking to take any advantage of them. The whole border of life, even the outward life, should be full of loops, of goings out of self to meet with others.
The taches here were to be made of brass – or, more correctly, of copper. The copper represents natural goodness, kindness, and helpfulness in the plane of external conduct. Society in its outward form is bound together by friendship and faithfulness in outward natural dealings and relations.
And the same principles apply to societies and larger groups as well as to individuals. A church society must not look inward and think only of itself. A nation must not think only of itself. It is through the loops and taches of blue, of gold, and of copper – true thoughts, unselfish love to the Lord and to the neighbor, and mutual friendship and service – that the tabernacle is made one.