Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge. (KJV)
Strong’s concordance defines this Hebrew word, “Excellent: a triple, a three-fold measure, as a musical instrument with three strings.”
God hides threes all over the Bible. Sometimes, when used, God is saying, “I am bearing witness to truth,” a truth such as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, or Prophet, Priest, and King. These threes are complete and perfect!
Sometimes God is showing threes to represent a three-fold progression of maturity, such as thirty-fold, sixty-fold, hundred-fold, or the tabernacle’s Outer Court, Holy Place, and Holy of Holies, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles).
When you see a “3” in the bible, take notice! Then, through God’s Spirit, answer does the 3 symbolize a testimony between the list of 3 items, or is the 3 symbolizing progression? Sometimes a symbol can be progression AND testimony, depending on the context.
So, let’s take 3-fold things: Outer Court, Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place also called Holy of Holies–they are a progression, but sometimes a testimony. As a progression, God is illustrating that Christians start a journey in the Outer Court, but His desire is they enter the Holy of Holies. This is our call as a nation of priests. Certainly the 3 courts can also be a testimony that represents the WHOLE of what we call the tabernacle, but they are not equal as far as your call. God is not looking for a people hanging around at the Brazen Altar, being sin conscious and having to make the sacrifice anew. In other words, Jesus wants us to move to the principle of grace found in 1 John where we walk in the light as He is in the light. It is at that point that the Brazen altar lives in us, continually cleansing us. It is at that progression that our focus changes. We are not Brazen altar focused; we are Mercy Seat focused.
Here is another progression from the New Testament: I John 2:13: We find that the 3 items are little children, young men, and fathers. God gives us items like this to distinguish maturity levels. If you are absorbed by this world system, you obviously you are not currently fulfilling being the father that John is addressing in this verse.
The tabernacle, however, is also a perfect testimony. You have 3 perfect doors entering into each of the 3 courts: the veil to get into the tabernacle (means you are now in Christ, the Sacrifice–the Cleanser), a veil to get into the Holy Place (means you are in Christ and in His literal presence, with light, worship, and as the Bread of Life), and a veil into the Holy of Holies (meaning God has put you in Christ at His Mercy Seat and Ark, the law is hid in Christ, who is the Ark). Not of these things are imperfect, and you may enter them the day you are born again. Today…now…Jesus is always your Way, Truth, and Life–a complete testimony.
We can mess up a type and shadow if we try to make a complete testimony a progression. This misapplication makes the Inner courts of God inaccessible. On the other hand, some symbols should also be applied to this race that we run. We set a hope before us that we quit walking in the outer court of natural light, and move more consistently into the Holy Place where the Lampstand is our light. Our light, then, is produced from oil, who is the Holy Spirit. In the Holy of Holies, the only light is God Himself. This is where the pillar of fire has its source. This where the camps of God know where to move to the next encampment.
Search the scriptures and I am sure that you will find many more examples of threes, both fitting a complete testimony or a way of progression for our life.
John Robert Lucas