This veil was between the Holy Place (aka Inner Court) and the Holy of Holies which contained the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. The light from the lampstand, on the side of the Holy Place (aka Inner Court), shining upon it would reveal how beautiful it was. It was woven or embroidered with cherubim. The word "Cherubim" is plural for cherub and they do not resemble the sappy little fat babies with wings on Valentine's cards. We will look at Cherubim a little farther down. One side of the Veil was seen by human eyes, as the Levites ministered in the Sanctuary; the other side was beheld only by Jehovah. The object of a veil is to hide because sinful man cannot come near a holy God. It symbolized how far fallen man was from God. We are separated from our Creator, our God, our King because of our sins. How can we, sinners, get to God? Only through Jesus Christ! His work on the cross saved us from our sins if we will only accept His gift. We can have a brand new spirit (born again) and the Holy Spirit residing in us to teach us the way. We don't have to be separated from God any more!
Hebrews 10:19-20 Therefore, brothers, having boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;
The perfect Manhood of Christ exhibited the only humanity which can approach God and live in His presence. The perfect Manhood of Christ exhibited the only humanity which can dwell in the blazing light of His manifested glory. Men might admire the beauty of the Veil; as men may today admire the human character of Christ and His teachings. And yet, the more perfect the Man, the more man realizes that we cannot ever be that perfect. Even though God had a dwelling place with His People at the Tabernacle, He was still separated from His People by the Veil. Jehovah gave instructions as to how Israel’s high priests might go behind the Veil into the Holy of Holies, and that was, by the blood of sacrifice (Lev. 16:19). The only way for sinful man to go to God was by sacrifice and that through the High Priest only. The common man nor the other priests could enter into this part of the Tabernacle. And if the High Priest entered in a way that was not prescribed by God, He would die on the spot. There were little bells on the hem of his High Priestly garment that would tinkle as long as he was still moving. He also wore a rope so that if the other priests heard the bells stop tinkling they could pull out the body of the High Priest without going behind the Veil into the Holy of Holies.
Exodus 28:31-35 And you shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. And there shall be a hole in the top of it, in its middle; a binding shall be all around its mouth, of woven work. It shall be like the mouth of a corselet; it may not be torn. And on its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, all around its hem. And bells of gold shall be amidst them all around. There shall be a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe all around. And it shall be on Aaron to serve. And his sound shall be heard when he goes in to the holy place before Jehovah, and when he comes out, so that he will not die.
The blood sacrifices that the High Priest made only foreshadowed the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. There was need of a veil until His Work was completed. His death, His blood, has opened up the way to His presence. The perfect sacrifice had now been made and those who are saved now have access to the Father. We have no need for the Veil any more!
Let's take a deeper look at Cherubim. The first time they are mentioned is in Genesis when God banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. He places a cherub at the entrance with a flaming sword to keep them out. The reason God did this was so that Adam and Eve would not eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in their sin. He wanted mankind to be saved and restored to a relationship with Him. Sin brings death but, through death, those who are saved through Jesus Christ, can live again for eternity with God. But if Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of Life they would live forever in their sin and not have the chance to be set free from sin and an earthly body of death. So, even though God's discipline seemed harsh in banishing them from the Garden of Eden, it was really an act of mercy and love. The Cherub guarded it, not against, but for man, against the time when man will be fit to enjoy it and never lose it.
"The purpose of God has now been accomplished. The Corn of wheat, having fallen into the ground and died, now bringeth forth much fruit (John 12:24). The Blood has been shed, the Sacrifice has been offered, the Veil has been rent; and Christ, an the Forerunner of His people, has passed into the Holiest. We then may draw near. Because Christ received the wages of sin which were due us, we share the reward which was due Him. We may boldly enter in. By faith we have unhindered access into the Heavenly Sanctuary. Every barrier haying been removed, the believing worshipper may, with perfect liberty, draw near to the Throne of Grace. Then 'let us draw near, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience' (Heb. 10:22)." - Gleanings in Exodus, Providence Baptist Ministries
There is a good description of Cherubim in Ezekiel 1. I encourage you to read this chapter thoroughly. Don't skip it!
Ezekiel 1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
Eze 1:2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity,
Eze 1:3 the word of Jehovah came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of Jehovah was there upon him.
Eze 1:4 And I looked, and, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud, with a fire infolding itself, and a brightness round about it, and out of the midst thereof as it were glowing metal, out of the midst of the fire.
Eze 1:5 And out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man.
Eze 1:6 And every one had four faces, and every one of them had four wings.
Eze 1:7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot; and they sparkled like burnished brass.
Eze 1:8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings thus:
Eze 1:9 their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.
Eze 1:10 As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and they four had the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four had also the face of an eagle.
Eze 1:11 And their faces and their wings were separate above; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
Eze 1:12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; they turned not when they went.
Eze 1:13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches: the fire went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
Eze 1:14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
Eze 1:15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold, one wheel upon the earth beside the living creatures, for each of the four faces thereof.
Eze 1:16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto a beryl: and they four had one likeness; and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel within a wheel.
Eze 1:17 When they went, they went in their four directions: they turned not when they went.
Eze 1:18 As for their rims, they were high and dreadful; and they four had their rims full of eyes round about.
Eze 1:19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.
Eze 1:20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went; thither was the spirit to go: and the wheels were lifted up beside them; for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
Eze 1:21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up beside them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
Eze 1:22 And over the head of the living creature there was the likeness of a firmament, like the terrible crystal to look upon, stretched forth over their heads above.
Eze 1:23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two which covered on this side, and every one had two which covered on that side, their bodies.
Eze 1:24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings like the noise of great waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a noise of tumult like the noise of a host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
Eze 1:25 And there was a voice above the firmament that was over their heads: when they stood, they let down their wings.
Eze 1:26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above.
Eze 1:27 And I saw as it were glowing metal, as the appearance of fire within it round about, from the appearance of his loins and upward; and from the appearance of his loins and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him.
Eze 1:28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
The ox form represents tame animals, of which he is chief; the lion represents wild animals; the eagle represents birds; man, representing the head of all. The 4 faces could also represent the 4 Gospels: Matthew the Lion, Mark the Ox, Luke the Man, and John the Eagle. It also could show that God's glory shines on all 4 corners of the earth. Then there is this interpretation:
(1) kingly righteousness with hatred of evil, as "the lion springing terribly on the victim";
(2) laborious diligence in duty, as the "ox bound to the soil";
(3) human sympathy, as "the man";
(4) sublime contemplation of heavenly things, as "the eagle."
Revelation 4:5-11 And out of the throne came lightnings and thunderings and voices. And seven lamps of fire were burning in front of the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. And a sea of glass was in front of the throne, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind. And the first living creature was like a lion, and the second living creature like a calf, and the third living creature had the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And each one of the four living creatures had six wings about him, and within being full of eyes. And they had no rest day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was and is and is to come. And whenever the living creatures gave glory and honor and thanks to Him who sat on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fell down before the One sitting on the throne. And they worshiped Him who lives for ever and ever, and threw their crowns before the throne, saying, O Lord, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You created all things, and for Your will they are and were created.
Revelation 5:8-14 And when [Jesus] had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having harps and golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book and to open its seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation. And You made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign over the earth. And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and the living creatures and the elders. And the number of them was myriads and myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a great voice, Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing. And I heard every creature which is in the Heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and those that are in the sea, and all who are in them, saying, Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever. And the four living creatures said, Amen. And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the One living forever and ever.
Exodus 25:10-22 And they shall make an ark of acacia-wood. Two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide and a cubit and a half high. And you shall overlay it with pure gold. You shall overlay it inside and out, and shall make on it a crown of gold all around. And you shall cast four rings of gold for it, and shall put it on its four feet. And two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And you shall make staves of acacia-wood, and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, so that the ark may be carried with them. And the staves shall be in the rings of the ark. They shall not be taken from it. And you shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you. And you shall make a mercy-seat of pure gold. Two and a half cubits shall be the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it. And you shall make two cherubs of gold; of beaten work you shall make them, in the two ends of the mercy-seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end. From the mercy-seat you shall make the cherubs, on the two ends of it. And the cherubs shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy-seat with their wings, and their faces each toward the other; toward the mercy-seat shall the cherubs' faces be. And you shall put the mercy-seat above, upon the ark. And in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. And I will meet with you there, and I will talk with you from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubs on the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give you in commandment to the sons of Israel.
Hebrews 9:1-15 Then truly the first tabernacle had also ordinances of divine service and an earthly sanctuary. For the first tabernacle was prepared, in which was both the lampstand, and the table, and the setting out of the loaves, which is called Holies. And after the second veil was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid all around with gold, in which was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. And over it were the cherubs of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat (about which we cannot now speak piece by piece. Now when these things were ordained in this way, the priests always went into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But once in the year into the second the high priest goes alone, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people) the Holy Spirit signifying by this that the way into the Holiest of all was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. For it was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him who did the service perfect as regards the conscience, which stood only in meats and drinks, and different kinds of washings and fleshly ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But when Christ had become a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building nor by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered once for all into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ (who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God) purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new covenant, so that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, those who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
The Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat are mentioned separately in the Old Testament although they are united in one with the Mercy Seat being the lid to the Ark. The Mercy Seat was the throne of God on earth. In Heaven, His Throne was attended by Cherubim and so, He directed the same for the Mercy Seat. This was the place that God met with the High Priest, the representative of His People. It symbolized His Presence among His people.
The Ark of the Covenant was called by several names:
It was made of accacia (or shittim) wood overlaid with gold, the two natures of our Lord: the human and the Divine. The accacia tree has 3 characteristics that make it particularly effective to symbolize Christ. "First it is a tree that can thrive in a very dry soil. Second, it has very long, sharp thorns. Third, it is the tree from which is obtained the gum arabic so largely used in medicinal preparations, which is procured simply by piercing the tree at nightfall, and that which oozes out is, without any preparation, the gum-arabic of commerce. To the spiritual mind these facts are sweetly suggestive of Him who, in a dry and thirsty land, where surely there was naught to sustain His spirit, was in the constant freshness of communion with God, for other than an earthly stream sustained Him. Though indeed crowned now with glory, a crown of thorns was all this world had for Him. And we remember too that it was He who was pierced for us in that blackest night of guilt, when the blood flowed forth from His side, to be the only balm for the troubled soul and sin-burdened conscience" (Mr. C. H. Bright).
The contents of the Ark of the Covenant were Moses' Tablets of Stone with the Ten Commandments written by God, a pot of the heavenly food called manna, and Aaron's (the first High Priest) rod that budded with almond blooms and even yielded almonds.
The manna was the food which God gave to Israel while they were moving from the the slavery of Egypt to the Promised Land. It foreshadowed Christ as the Bread of life, the food of His pilgrim people. The Manna was the grace of God meeting the need of His people in the wilderness. Jesus is the golden pot, pure and holy, that could hold the grace of God for His needy people.
The rod that blossomed is in Numbers 17. The people began complaining and questioning why was Aaron so special that only he could be the High Priest and his descendants the priests. So God instructed Moses to take rods (straight branches cut from trees) from each of the 12 Tribes. One was Aaron's rod as the rod from the Levite tribe. He placed them before the Ark of the Covenant overnight. The next morning, only Aaron's rod developed almond blossoms and even almonds. The matter was taken out of the hands of man and was to be decided by God alone. The question of the priesthood was determined solely by God. Those rods were dead limbs. They had been cut off from the trees. The mighty power of the living God intervened, a miracle was wrought, the dead rod became alive, and resurrection-life and fruit appeared. Man may rebel against God and complain. They may seek other ways to salvation and claim other "gods" are the way to life eternal. But Jesus was put to death. He was dead! And God raised Him from the dead, gave Him life and we are His fruit! The disciples entering the empty sepulcher and beholding the signs that Christ had risen from the dead is the same as Moses entering the Holy of Holies and seeing Aaron's flowering rod. Moses bringing out the rods and showing them to the people (v. 9), is like the resurrection of Christ established before many witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:6).
The tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God were also placed in the Ark of the Covenant. God gave Moses the first set of the Ten Commandments but when Moses descended from the Mount to see the Israelites cavorting in festivities around the idol they made, the golden calf, He dashed the stone tablets to the ground. Later, God gave Moses a second set. It is this set that is in the Ark of the Covenant. The first set being dashed represents how sinful man cannot keep God's commandments. But God's plan is never thwarted despite what man does. So He gave Moses a second set. Christ has answered every requirement of God’s law for His people. Christ's has the Law of God in His Heart and He fulfilled all the Law. The Law was given so that mankind would know that it is impossible for us to keep it. We have an evil nature and we cannot be holy. But Christ could keep it and was holy and He fulfilled the Law. He was the perfect sacrifice.
This part of the Tabernacle was dark. There was no natural light from the sun, there was no light from a lampstand. It was only lighted by the very presence of God. You see, when someone first enters the Outer Court they must be saved at the Brazen Altar with the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We have a new spirit, newly born and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. But we are babes in Christ. We still walk by our own natural inclinations and intelligence. Represented by the natural light of the sun in the Outer Court. But the Holy Spirit in us has the job of growing and maturing and teaching our spirit. Just as our human body grows up, so our spirit man should grow up. We should not remain a child. Unfortunately, many Christians remain walking around in the Outer Court like babies in a playpen. We don't realize that there is more! So much more! So next we approach the Brazen Laver and, through repentance, we wash ourselves in the blood of Jesus. Then, saved and cleansed, we go into the next stage of our spiritual life...the Inner Court or Holy Place. It is here that we begin to recieve light from the Bible though the work of the Holy Spirit. It is illumined to us and the Holy Spirit helps us begin to understand it. "The Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path." We aren't just reading the Bible but we study the Word and get something out of it. It begins to change our life. We also partake in the Lord's Supper at the Table of the Shewbread. I don't mean just eating the little cracker and drinking the little plastic cup of grape juice. I mean you really partake. It becomes very real to you and a precious ceremony because it reminds you of your Savior, Jesus Christ. We do it reverently. We also begin spending time in prayer and worship as represented by the Altar of Incense. Many Christians stay here. They are satisfied to go no further. They are afraid to go further. Or maybe they don't know there is more. So much more! But we can go behind the Veil and into the Holy of Holies, the Most Holy Place and commune with God, our Father. We can fall before Him and let the love flow freely from our heart to His and recieve His love. Our gratitude, our humble thanks, our love and worship that flows more from the heart rather than from the lips. This is the place where we recieve His touch, His Love. I can't describe it! It may knock you off your feet or it may be a quiet revelation but it is here that you worship because it's is all that is left in your heart. The more He touches you, the more you can't help but worship. It flows so naturally. You know that you've connected with God. It's an experience that you desire and you thirst for more. It's all you want! It is so wonderful that you hate it when your body gets tired, or the telephone rings, or the church service is over, or you have to pick up the kids at school. And it makes me long for the day when I will no longer be bound on earth by a body, with a schedule, and work to do. One day I will be able to worship Him without getting tired, hungry or weak. I will be able to bask in His love without a clock or schedule. I will be able to love Him and recieve His love without having to worry if dinner is done or the dogs need to go out. It's so wonderful that I thirst and hunger for that time! I don't want anyone to mourne over my death because it just means that I have been released to go be with my Father and to worship and love Him for eternity and in everything I do! It's what I want with my whole heart!
For this study on the Tabernacle, I drew from several sources: The Bible, Easton's Bible Dictionary, Fausset's Bible Dictionary, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Smith's Bible Dictionary, Matthew Henry's Commentary, Jamison, Faucet, Brown Commentary, Adam Clark's Commentary, John Gill's Exposition of the Bible all through esword. I also did some research on the Internet. I found one really good site that really taught me a lot! http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Gleanings_Exodus/exodus.htm