Sunday School pictures of the tabernacle and temple present them as something akin to a great English cathedral. In reality they were more like abattoirs! Here is Bonar commenting on Leviticus 7:1-2:
The must be ‘sprinkled round about upon the altar.’ Surely Israel must have felt that their souls were reckoned very guilty by their God, since he spoke to them so continually in the language of blood. None but a heavy-laden sinner could relish this never-varying exhibition of to the eye of the worshipper. The pilgrims to Zion, in after days, must often, as they journeyed through the vale of Baca, have wondered what was to be seen and heard in the courts of the Lord’s house, of which the worshippers sang, ‘How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God … Blessed are they that dwell in thy house!’ (Ps. 85:1, 2, 4). And when they arrived, and saw in these courts blood on the altar, blood in the bowls of the altar, blood on its four horns, blood on its sides, blood meeting the eye at every turn, none but a deeply-convicted soul, none but a soul really alive to the guilt of a broken law, could enter into the song, and cry with the worshippers, ‘How amiable!’ Even so with a preached Saviour at this day, and a sin-convinced soul!
Those who in recent debates have questioned the doctrine of substitutionary atonement must surely be those who are not deeply-convicted and not alive to the guilt of a broken law. But the -drenched floor and -spattered walls of tabernacle and temple testify to the depth of our sin and the need for a life to be poured out in exchange for atonement.
But I do not want to finish with the current debates and questions. I want to finish with that image of everywhere. It was, no doubt, an horrific sight to the eyes. But to the heart of a deeply-convicted sinner ‘how amiable’ for we see in the God’s love, God’s justice, God’s holiness, God’s grace, and God’s welcome.