THE OLD TESTAMENT HOUSE OF THE LORD: NINE
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Nine” is taken from The Tabernacle of the Congregation, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries)
Table of Contents
We have mentioned that the Table of Showbread represents Christ, the living Word. The Table of Showbread is on the right (north) as we enter the Holy Place of the Tabernacle.
Directly ahead is the Altar of Incense. On the left (south) is the golden Lampstand, the symbol of Jewry from ancient times. What does the Lampstand signify?
And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: (Exodus 25:31,32).
And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always. (Exodus 27:20).
Lighted During the Night
The Lampstand represents the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, as described in I Corinthians, Chapters 12 and 14. The Courtyard of the Tabernacle, the location of the Altar of Burnt Offering and of the Laver, was illuminated by sunlight. The part of the Christian experience typified by the Altar of Burnt Offering and by the Laver, that is, the accepting of Christ’s death on the cross and water baptism, is conducted while we still are walking in natural light, so to speak.
But once we enter the Holy Place of the Tabernacle there is little sunlight, little “natural” light. The Holy Place is lighted by the Lampstand at night. The seven lights of the Lampstand represent the gifts given by the ascended Christ during the “evening of the Day of the Lord,” that is, during the two thousand years of the Church Age.
We accept Christ and are baptized while we still are in the world. Receiving Christ brings us into the area of redemption, into the Kingdom of God. But God intends for us to keep on pressing in, to “come into the Holy Place,” to learn to walk in the Spirit of God.
The “Pentecostal” Experience
The Courtyard was dominated by the Altar of Burnt Offering, signifying that the death and resurrection of Christ must always be preeminent when a person approaches the Kingdom of God.
The Holy Place was dominated by the golden Lampstand, revealing that the Holy Spirit is the One who empowers the testimony of the Church. The Holy Place of the Tabernacle represents the Church, the Body of Christ, the Body of Christ, the light of the world, the revelation of God to mankind.
The Holy Spirit has the responsibility for creating and perfecting the Church and for presenting the Church to the Lamb as His Bride. The Holy Spirit is the “other Comforter” who has been sent down to us because the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, has returned to the Father in Heaven.
There are two major works the Holy Spirit always is performing in the Church of Christ. These two works constitute the testimony being wrought in each member of the Body of Christ. The first work is the assigning, directing, and empowering of gifts and ministries. The gifts and ministries given to the saints are ways in which the Holy Spirit is revealed. The second work is the result of the first work. It is the forming of Christ in the saints—the bringing of each of us to the standard of maturity, which is the fullness of Christ.
The first work is that of giving and directing the gifts and ministries of the Spirit. The second work consists of bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit in the believer’s personality.
The Holy Spirit assigns the gifts and ministries of supernatural wisdom and power and then directs their use. The Holy Spirit also is the “law of the Spirit of life” and is the One who provides the wisdom and power to enable us to put to death the deeds of our flesh.
The expression “Body of Christ” means Body of the Anointed One, the One anointed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is sent down from Heaven in order to work the works of the Kingdom of God.
Christ has the Spirit of God without measure. The same anointing will one day rest on the Body of Christ (Psalms 133:2; Isaiah, Chapter 60). But for now we have been given gifts by the Holy Spirit so we may do the work of the Spirit in building the Body of Christ, the Body of the Anointed One.
We Christians are to be coming each day into increased subjection to the Spirit of God. For nearly two thousand years the majority of the Christian churches have spoken of Christ and have attempted to do the works of Christ. But in many instances the Holy Spirit has not been allowed to supervise and empower their efforts.
The work of the Kingdom has been performed by the wisdom and strength of human beings. As a result there has not been the supernatural wisdom and power that always must accompany the Body of the Anointed One. The results of such fleshly endeavor have been disappointing. The world has not seen Jesus to the extent we desire, and it is not seeing Jesus today to the extent we desire.
Now it is time for the Church of Christ to give back to the Holy Spirit the responsibility that is His—that of perfecting and empowering the testimony of Christ in the earth. The Spirit of God is God! He is able to perform all the operations and tasks of the Kingdom of God. Our job is to bring ourselves into subjection to the Spirit of God. Will we do this?
One of the main concerns of the Holy Spirit is the holiness of the members of the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit always is guiding us toward increased holiness and obedience to God. Further on in this book we will be discussing the importance of holiness in the Kingdom of God. It is the Holy Spirit and only the Holy Spirit who has the wisdom and power to create holiness in the members of the Body of Christ.
The Lampstand was solid gold, signifying that the testimony of Christ is Divine in Substance. We humans can tell others about the testimony, but the testimony itself cannot be brought into being by human wisdom or energy. Gold represents Divinity.
The Table of Showbread and the Altar of Incense—even the Ark of the Covenant itself—contained wood, the symbol of humanity.
But the Lampstand, the testimony of God to the earth, was pure gold. Only the wicks resting in the seven lamps were not gold. The wicks symbolize people, the channels through which the oil of the Holy Spirit flows.
It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to bear witness of the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and ye shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8).
As we mentioned before, the Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation corresponds to the Levitical feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16). Each is item number four in a series of seven elements. The seven elements portray, among other things, the development of Christ in the believer. They teach us that Pentecost, for all of its glory and power, is not the fullness of the development of Christ in the believer. There is more for us to press into, as Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:14.
Since four is midway between one and seven, both the Lampstand and the feast of Pentecost may be interpreted as symbols of a midpoint experience, a turning point in our Christian experience. The person who has come thus far with Christ has “tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come.” He is fully at rest neither in the soulish realm nor in the spirit realm. He is torn between the world and the fullness of resurrection life in Christ.
When we are referring to the Lampstand (Pentecostal) experience of receiving the Spirit, with the accompanying speaking in tongues, as being a midpoint in Christian growth, we are speaking of a certain amount of experience at this stage of the life in the Spirit.
A person can accept Christ, be covered with the Passover blood, be healed in his body, be baptized in water, be born again, be baptized in the Holy Spirit, prophesy, share in the Lord’s Supper—all in one evening. He also can reject his experience the next day. It would not be true that this person had come to a midpoint place in Christian development even though he had been baptized with the Spirit of God.
So when we are associating the Lampstand with a halfway experience in Christ we mean after the believer has had the opportunity to live for a while on the Pentecostal level of Christian growth.
Each of the elements of the Tabernacle of the Congregation and their counterpart in our Christian life may be thought of as being a concept on a particular level on an ascending spiral. We keep working at that concept on that level the Holy Spirit is stressing to us personally at a given moment. We may then leave that lesson and go on to another. Later we may come again to that particular concept, but this time it is on a higher level.
The Lampstand (Pentecostal) experience is like that. Although we may attend a “Pentecostal” church and have been doing so for many years, this is no guarantee that we have learned all there is to know about how to live in obedience to the Spirit of God.
The development of Pentecost in our lives means we have received the baptism in God’s Holy Spirit and are ministering, in whatever capacity Christ has assigned to us, with the anointing of God on our life. It also means we are coming under the control of the law of the Spirit of life and are learning to live twenty-four hours of each day in obedience to the Spirit of the Lord.
Keeping in mind the idea of having a few years of “Lampstand experience, Pentecost can be likened to a halfway point, a spiritual “adolescence.” The believer no longer is a “child.” Perhaps he is not a battle-wise saint as yet.
He may find that he no longer is content to remain on the plane of the happy spiritual lamb whose Christian experience is bound up in lilting choruses and good times in church social activities (although musical and social activities may prove to be necessary stages in his growth and development into the full stature of Christ, and he may continue to enjoy them throughout his life).
There is a proper time for the elementary level of spirituality just as there is a proper time for physical childhood. The youthful stages of both the physical and the spiritual life are essential to further development. The Lord does not dislike us because we are children!
In due time the healthy spiritual (and physical) adolescent should be growing toward adulthood and will proceed along a satisfying and fruitful course when he is in contact with Christ. Growth to a higher development should be neither forced nor delayed, or else the process may get out of harmony with God’s plan.
Growing up spiritually can prove to be a frightening experience. The person senses in himself the ever-deepening consecration and death to the self life which necessarily accompanies the increasing development of resurrection life. He has been called, like Abraham, to leave the familiar and to wander in a strange country.
There is a deep appeal in the call of the Spirit toward the fullness of the life lived in the Presence and power of God. There is a heavenly joy that accompanies total consecration. But there are transitional pangs as one is crossing from the life of the soul to the life lived in the Spirit of God. The transition means death to the “old man.” Death is not a condition into which a healthy person rushes with joy.
He who would follow God with a perfect heart, as did Abraham, must be prepared to be fully obedient, as was Abraham. He must be faithful in the things of God (Hebrews 3:3-6).
From our point of view, we “Pentecostal” people are in just such a transition today. On the one hand, we may attempt to go back and recapture the “fun” we had during our “Courtyard” days: the musical programs, the “old campground” atmosphere, the Christian games and contests, the good times with others of the newly-saved, the reminding of each other that we have been born again, the lively testimony meetings. Surely these all are profitable activities for Christian people.
On the other hand, we may have come in contact with teachers of the deeper life who call back to us from a place farther out in the spirit realm. We begin to think about “higher planes” and “passing through the veil.” The Spirit of God in us testifies to our spirit that there is a land of promise out there where the spiritual grapes are ripe and abundant; where the good things of the Spirit can be harvested—no more of this light “manna” coming down each day!
There is a place where the Father and the Son live in and commune with the Christian believer in a far more satisfying manner than we have known (John 14:23; I Corinthians 13:10).
We stand at Sinai, as it were. We turn and look longingly back toward Egypt (the world), for there God wrought miracles for us—wondrous deeds the world does not understand. We look up at this Sinai and wonder if we will be able to live with the dread Lawgiver who rumbles and thunders in His holiness until “we be all dead men.”
Then we turn and look northward toward the land of promise, a place where we have never been. There are no familiar faces, no friends, no relatives. God has said we will be happy there, but we do not know… we just do not know!
We can’t stay where we are. The Sinai desert is a frightening wilderness. The only reason we do not have to fight to hold our ground at Sinai is that no other tribe wishes to live in such a barren furnace. We are God’s own people, down here at Sinai, but it is no place to stay after God moves on. The only neighbors are the wild animals.
There is a major problem with going forward and occupying the land of promise. It is inhabited already—and with fierce warriors! The Egyptians are occupying the land of Egypt, and the Canaanites are warlike people and resolute concerning their possessions. Perhaps we should unpack and live in the Sinai desert. Nobody will bother us in this area. It is a good place for people who have no heart for a fight.
But God will not take this attitude or remain here with us. God will find His Joshuas and His Calebs and will bring them up into His promised land, His rest and inheritance.
The way of God is a supernatural way. This is underscored by the fact that the Holy Place was lighted by the Lampstand. When we come into the Holy Place with God we are one step removed from the life and understanding possessed by the world. Not that we no longer are of service to the world. Paradoxically, the deeper one goes with God the richer one’s service to the world becomes. Service to mankind is a fruit of obedience to God.
The promise of God to Abraham was that in his seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed. The promise was given after a terrible act of obedience. The best way to serve and bless mankind is to seek God with the whole heart as did Abraham.
No other man has ever served mankind in as effectively as did Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, He is the embodiment of holiness and total consecration to God. He is the living fulfillment of the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.
If we desire to move past the first steps of salvation we must enter the Holy Place. When we go past the heavy curtain of the door of the Tabernacle we leave the world and most of the daylight (direction by the human mind) outside. Not that we ever forsake our common sense, but we do learn to commit our way to the Lord and to lean not to our own understanding.
As we enter by the door, during the “evening of the Day of the Lord,” we find ourselves in the Holy Place. The light shining from the golden Lampstand (the manifestation of the Holy Spirit) is revealing the Table of Showbread (Christ, the living Bread from Heaven). We are close to the Presence of the Holy One of Israel. There is no place here for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life. We have left those things with the world.
The Lampstand in the Holy Place represents the communication of God to mankind through the Holy Spirit of God. The twelfth and fourteenth chapters of First Corinthians describe the spiritual counterpart of the Lampstand of the Tabernacle, as far as gifts and ministries are concerned.
Christ Himself, the Servant of the Lord, is the Lampstand. In this sense the four Gospels are pictures of the Lampstand in action. In the Epistles of the Apostles to the churches we begin to understand how we as individuals can enter and become part of the shining of the great Lampstand of God.
The Cups, Fruit, and Flowers
And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. (Exodus 25:31).
The three ornaments of the Lampstand and its six side-branches were the “bowls,” the “knops” and the “flowers.”
The “bowls” were designed from the calyx of a flower. The calyx of a flower is made up of sepals that are joined together in the form of a cup. The cup is a symbol of suffering and death.
The “knops” (knobs) were somewhat spherical (ball-shaped), similar to an apple, pomegranate, or bulb.
The “flowers” may have been like the lily in appearance.
The cup represents the death that results from a pouring out. The knob represents fruit—that which yields food to the hungry and seed to the sower. The flower portrays beauty, the beauty of the image of Christ, the beauty of holiness to the Lord.
The Christian life consists of a pouring out, of fruit, and of beauty.
The cup is related to the Altar of Incense. The fruit is related to the Table of Showbread. The flower is related to the Lampstand itself.
The cup speaks of what is poured out in death, thereby yielding to the Father the sweet perfume of Christ and of the wholly consecrated Christian life.
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42).
The cup corresponds to the Altar of Incense. Twice each day a cup was taken from its place on the Table of Showbread, filled with the holy incense, and poured on the coals of the Altar of Incense. The Holy Place was always filled with the perfume of the burning incense, and the Most Holy Place was permeated with incense on the Day of Atonement.
The must be death before there can be fruit.
Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24).
There are three deaths the Christian dies in the process of bringing forth the fruit—Christ. The three deaths are portrayed by the three cups in each of the six side-branches of the Lampstand. The three deaths bring forth Christ in the disciple, and also in other people to whom the disciple ministers and whom he influences.
The first death is death to the world. The second death is death to sin. The third death is death to self.
In the first death, the world is poured out of the cup of the Christian and Christ (resurrection life) is poured back into his cup in return.
In the second death, the bondage of Satan is poured out of the cup of the Christian and Christ is poured back into his cup.
In the third death, self is poured out of the cup of the Christian and Christ is poured back into his cup.
The end result of the three deaths is that the Christian comes into the image of Christ; he enters eternal union with the Father through the Son; he receives the fullness of fruitfulness and dominion promised to mankind; and he becomes a blessing to the nations of the earth in that he is able to bring the glorious liberty of the children of God to all who will believe.
We receive forgiveness of sins through the first death. We receive freedom from sinful practices through the second death. We receive the abiding Presence of the Father and Christ through the third death.
The sixth chapter of Romans teaches us that our first death, represented in water baptism, is a complete separation from the world. Our “old man,” our first personality, is crucified with Christ. This is the end of the world for us. We pour the world out of our cup when we are baptized in water. In exchange, Christ’s resurrection is poured into our cup. We die to the world but we come alive in Christ.
Because we no longer are “alive in the world” the law of Moses no longer has dominion over us. Now we are not just free, as is so often taught; rather, we are free to be married to Christ. Our marriage to Christ brings forth “fruit unto God.” The fruit is Christ in us and the righteous behavior that results from our having Christ in us.
We are free from all guilt—absolutely without condemnation—because of the blood of Christ that has been applied to us through our death with Him on the cross.
Now we are dead to the world—crucified as far as the world is concerned. Christ, the fruit, is born in us and grows in us.
We receive freedom from the control of sin by means of the second death (not the second death of the Lake of Fire but death to the lusts of sin). The second death is described as follows:
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye by the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13).
The first death is accomplished by our association with Christ on the cross of Calvary. The second death (not referring to the “second death” of Revelation 20:6) is accomplished by our cooperation with the Holy Spirit as He brings to us the wisdom and strength necessary for total victory over the sins we keep on practicing.
The first death is instantaneous. The second death requires a period of time, at least during the present working of Christ in the Church. The Spirit of God does not break every bondage in us at once. Little by little the bondages are dealt with and little by little the fruit of Christ takes their places.
The Spirit points up our envying of others. We confess the envying and then, with the help of the Spirit, resist the tendency to envy others who appear to be more successful than we. In place of the envy comes the contentment of Christ.
The Spirit reveals that we are stealing, or lying, or hating, or using profanity. We confess the sinful practice, receive the cleansing of the blood of Christ, and then, through the Spirit of God, resist such sins in the future.
The second death requires a long period of time—perhaps our whole lifetime. We maintain our joy, peace and poise while the Spirit is dealing with the sins of our flesh. The process is a war, a definite, specific overcoming of the sins to which we are prone.
The bondages of sin are poured out of our cup. In their place is formed the freedom from sinful practices that always is true of the Nature of Christ. Christ destroys the works of the devil. The Divine Seed cannot sin (I John, Chapter Three).
Death to the world and death to sinful behavior bring us toward the image of Christ and toward our rightful inheritance of fruitfulness, dominion and service to God. Yet, there still is the need for the inwrought obedience produced by the third death—death to self.
The third death brings us to the place where the purposes of God can be established in the heavens and on the earth. It is death to self.
The difference between sin and self is described in Romans 7:20:
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Can you see, in the above verse, the difference between “I” and “sin?”
After God begins to bring the sin in us under control, then He works with the “I.” The “I,” as Romans, Chapter Seven points out, is quite willing to perform the righteous acts of the Law of God, but on its own terms, in its own way. When God deals with the “I” He is not emphasizing sin, the question concerns stern obedience to the Father.
Abraham, Job and Joseph were righteous men. But God brought them low in order to test their obedience. Christ Himself was perfected in obedience while He was on the earth. Sin is not the issue here. It is the being, the identity, the self of the believer that must be poured out in complete consecration.
We may be as a beautiful flower blooming before the Lord. But then the Lord requires that we be poured out to death. He calls for the “alabaster box” of the perfume of our soul that it may be poured out on Himself.
Our “Isaac,” that which God Himself has given to us, must be returned to God as an offering. We must receive our “Isaac” back from the dead if we are to inherit him. Only by such a pouring out of what God has given can there be dominion over the enemies of Christ, blessing for the nations of the earth, and the filling of the heavens and the earth with the fruit—Christ.
The third death (death to self) is accomplished by self-denial, as we become willing to make Christ the absolute Lord of our life. We have spoken of Abraham, of Joseph, of Job. These were righteous men who were tested concerning their willingness to love and serve God even though “unreasonable” demands were placed on them.
We could mention Jeremiah, Paul, Peter, and a host of others who bore an abundance of fruit because they were willing to deny themselves and follow Christ.
We can be saved and walking in holiness. But God requires further that we give over to Him all of our rights and privileges as creatures of God, as human beings. We are to maintain unswerving faithfulness to death. It is impossible to be an overcomer unless we are willing to love not our lives to the point of death.
We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ wherever and whenever He may lead. We sometimes are required to go places that are not of our choosing, to do things that are unpleasant; and to do so without complaining against God or people.
We may be called on to suffer the loss of all things (Philippians 3:8). The rich young ruler was keeping the Law but Christ demanded the “unreasonable” of him. “Sell your possessions and give away the proceeds.”
The young heir turned away in sorrow (Matthew 19:22). He traded the everlasting Kingdom of God for the wealth of his hour—a wealth that today is rotting along with his bones under many feet of accumulated dirt. Meanwhile, the Kingdom of God—that in which he could have had eternal treasure—is approaching in unrivaled glory and splendor.
We are to love not our life. We are not discussing here the pouring out of our sin, we are referring to the pouring out of our life! All that we are or hope to be!
We present our body a living sacrifice. We present it. We lay it on the Altar of Burnt Offering. We watch our loves and ambitions ascend to God in the flame as a sweet-smelling savor to our Creator. Can we offer less?
We drink the cup of death to self and pour out our life before God as an offering. Christ becomes Lord of our life—Lord in truth, in fact, in reality.
The will of God is ground into our will, as the holy incense of the Tabernacle was compounded of different spices, until the two wills are indistinguishable. Then the incense is ready to be poured on the consuming fire of God. When God “smells” that perfume He is blessed.
Then God’s love and blessing pour from the throne and the result is the fullness of fruitfulness, of dominion, of blessing. In the process we ourselves are changed from the “self-seeker” to the “prince who has power with God and with men” (Genesis 32:28).
The Divine Fruit—Christ—is created when a believer is willing to become a cup. When a Christian is willing to lay down his life to the Lord, then Christ is formed in other human beings.
The fruit (knop, knob) portrayed in the Lampstand in its six side-branches represents Christ who is the Fruit of God. The fruit is related to the Table of Showbread in that both portray Christ, who Himself is the true Bread from Heaven.
Christ alone can give eternal life to the eater. In the Substance of Christ is the Divine Seed. The Divine Seed is incorruptible. It cannot sin. It reproduces, bringing forth the image and likeness of God, filling the heavens and the earth with the Substance and beauty of Christ.
It is the will of God that the Body of Christ bear the Divine Fruit of Christ, first building itself up to the fullness of stature and then spreading its influence as a vine that fills the heavens and the earth.
Christ Himself is the true Vine of God, and the Father is the Farmer (John, Chapter 15). The Lord directs us to “abide in the vine.” As we keep ourselves in Christ, by the graces and practices outlined in the Scriptures, the Divine Fruit—Christ—is formed in us. It is not merely that we become righteous people. It goes far deeper than that. Rather it is that the Divine Substance—Christ—is created in us. As Christ is created in us, righteous behavior begins to follow.
As we remain in Christ, being obedient to the Lord in all things, the fruit being created in us touches other people, other lives. The result is that they too experience a transformation. Christ is formed in them. They are healed and released. It is the will of God that each Christian bear much fruit, bringing forth in abundance the image and likeness of God.
He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. (Isaiah 27:6).
The Seed, Christ, is singular in number. But God’s promise to Abraham is that the Seed shall be as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore. The singular Seed is to be large in number. This is because there is only one fruit that is acceptable to God—Christ, and God has determined Christ shall be multiplied in and through the members of the Body of Christ.
The good works of men accomplish useful deeds in the world. But the eternal Seed is Christ. Christ shall fill all the creation. The Church is the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:23).
The grace that comes to us by the Gospel of Christ is for the purpose of bringing forth the righteous Seed.
… that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3).
The Divine edict has gone forth! Christ shall be formed in the Church:
For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11).
Our marriage to Christ is destined to bring forth fruit. For some Christians, a long period of time passes before the desired fruit is produced. This is because God has in mind to produce in them fruit of special quality and quantity. The Scripture has quite a bit to say about barrenness and fruitbearing. Sarai, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth were barren women. But when their desire came it was a tree of life.
Some Christians are used of God almost from the moment of their conversion. Others love God just as fervently but God deals with them by delay as he did with Sarai, with Hannah, with Elizabeth. “Known unto God are all his works from the creation of the world” (Acts 15:18). When a particularly rich fruit is to be formed a particularly prolonged death may be required.
The experience of Abraham and Sarah is known to most Christians. They wanted a child, and the Lord promised them a child. But waiting for God proved to be more than they could bear. The “death” that the Lord required was too prolonged.
The attempt of Abraham and Sarah to bring forth fruit by human ingenuity resulted in an abundance of confusion and conflict. Instead of the promised fruit they brought forth a wild man (Genesis 16:12). We always bring forth a “wild man” when we attempt to fulfill God’s promises apart from abiding in Christ.
Abraham and Sarah were tested by the delay of what God had promised. When the promise was fulfilled, the gift of God far exceeded in glory and abundance anything Abraham and Sarah possibly could have imagined. Abraham became the father of us all.
Sarah became the recipient of the promise:
He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalms 113:9).
Sometimes those who wait on the Lord are cut off from every opportunity for fruit-bearing. They may then be in line for the abundance of God.
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 54:1).
As we study the fifty-fourth chapter of Isaiah, which is written to those whom God draws aside to Himself so their fruit-bearing may be exclusively of Him, we find we soon get into the description of the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. (Isaiah 54:11).
God is good to those who wait only on Him. The new Jerusalem is the perfected Bride of the Lamb. Her fruitfulness will fill all things. All her children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of her children (Isaiah 54:13).
It is the Lord’s will that each Christian bear fruit—the Substance and Nature of Christ. Some are blessed immediately. Others not so quickly or obviously. God looks for perfect faithfulness and obedience. Then the fruit-bearing is as certain as the Word of God. The fruit will be perfect in quality and very great in quantity.
We have discussed the cup and the fruit. The third ornament of the Lampstand was the flower. The flower is thought to have resembled the lily.
The flower is the beauty of the Bride of Christ, the beauty of holiness to the Lord. It is the beauty of Christ Himself. It is the image and likeness of Christ.
The flower is associated with the Lampstand. The Lampstand was by far the most ornate of the furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. It was an article of great beauty.
We understand from Revelation 1:20 that the Lampstand portrays the Church of Christ. The Lampstand is the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Light of the world.
The Holy Spirit has been charged with perfecting the beauty of the Bride of the Lamb. To this end He, the Holy Spirit, has given the gifts of anointing. They are the Life of Christ given by the Spirit for the purpose of perfecting the Bride.
The Song of Solomon describes the beauty of Christ and also the beauty of the Bride of the Lamb, which we know to be the beauty of Christ Himself.
In describing Christ:
My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. (Song of Solomon 5:10).
In describing the Bride:
As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. (Song of Solomon 2:2; 4:7,9).
There are many such passages in the Song of Solomon.
The Bride’s ability to work and her capacity for bearing children are important. In addition, Christ is concerned with the beauty of His Bride. That beauty is His own image that He sees in her.
So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. (Psalms 45:11).
Christ is beautiful in the sight of God, the Father. Christ is the image of God. In Christ, God beholds the expression of Himself—His holiness, His strength, His majesty, His compassion, His faithfulness.
The express image of Christ is being created in the Bride: His Divine attributes, His holiness, His strength, His majesty, His compassion, His faithfulness. The Bride is the expression of Christ Himself just as Christ is the expression of God Almighty.
We do not see the beauty being created in us because we do not see with Divine eyes. The Word of God tells us that Christ is ravished with the beauty of His Bride. The Bride is never the means to an end as far as Christ is concerned. She is the end of the workings of God, the result of thousands of years of travail. She is the “choice one.”
Christ must never become a means to an end to us. He Himself is the end of all our desires. The Holy Spirit is creating a Bride with whom Christ is joyful. Let us be joyful in Christ. He is our Lord. Let us worship Him.
If we become wholly occupied with Christ, and He is with us, the result will be the Divine Fruit—children in the image of Christ who will fill the universe with the Glory of God. This is the eternal purpose of God toward which all of the creation is moving.
The cup, the fruit, the flower: here is the true Christian life. We receive Christ (the fruit) because someone was willing to be poured out to death (the cup). As Christ grows in us, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit of God, the beauty of the Lord is wrought in us (the flower).
Is the fruit—Christ—being formed in you? Is the beauty of the Lord coming forth in your life? Do not be astonished, then, when God comes down to savor the perfume that will flow from your total consecration to Him—consecration that must pass through fiery trials.
Trust Christ. The inheritance of fruitfulness and dominion you desire is possible only as you are willing to become a cup that the Lord Jesus, the High Priest of God, pours on the fires of the Altar of Incense.
The Invisible and the Visible
The reader may have noticed that every day there was a considerable amount of activity in the Holy Place, particularly the work necessary for the proper operation of the Lampstand and the Altar of Incense. Also, the Bread of the Presence had to be kept on the holy Table. And then there were the ceremonies pertaining to the Day of Atonement, that occurred once each year.
It is significant that most of the priestly routines were not visible to the Israelites for they occurred inside the Tabernacle building. They were holy and not seen even by the Levites.
The same is true concerning the work of Christ in the human being. Most of what takes place, in a healthy Christian development, is not visible to the world. The outer activity which can be seen is the result of holy internal procedures understood primarily by the Lord, to a lesser extent by the person, and not at all by the world.
The work of redemption in the individual is holy. It is not for the world to observe.
The same is true also of church activities. The holy worship and spiritual operations of the assembly of believers are not for the world to observe. They are a service to God.
In our local assembly we worship with banners, tambourines, marching, dancing, and hand and body expression of worship in keeping with the music. All of this activity is holy to the Lord. Those who participate are reminded continually that we are not putting on a show for people but are looking always to the Lord to please and worship Him.
Those with a strong bent for evangelism sometimes complain that we are not reaching out to people enough. Some go so far as to suggest that we should conduct such worship activities out in the street where people can “see them and be saved.”
Our response is that this is to throw that which is holy to the dogs. We believe if we worship God with pure, upright hearts He will ensure that those with the calling of the evangelist will be strengthened and guided in their ministry.
As we see it, there has been altogether too much stress on bringing the local community into the assembly of the saints. We recognize there may be times when the Lord prompts the leadership to reach out to the local community. But ordinarily there should be services conducted for the edifying of the saints that are not directed toward the salvation of the lost.
The various ministries of the Hebrew priests inside the Tabernacle were not visible to the Israelites. The showbread existed to please the Lord. The light of the Lampstand was for the Lord to see. The Altar of Incense was for the Lord to smell.
God grant that in our day we will turn away from our attempts to haul the unsaved into the assemblies, thus ensuring that God’s Presence will be minimal, and concentrate on worshiping and pleasing the Lord. As we said there will be exceptions to this. But until there exists a part of the local assembly that is obeying God implicitly and holding up holy hands before Him in prayer and praise, the awe of God will not be present in anywhere near the intensity that we desire.
There isn’t much said in the Epistles about inviting unsaved people into the assembly of the saints. But there is a great deal said about holiness and righteousness on the part of the saints.
The Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver, representing salvation through the blood of Jesus and water baptism, were placed outside in the Courtyard where they could be seen. So it is that the preaching of the cross and water baptism are to be conducted in the sight of the world. If Christ is lifted up on the cross all will be drawn to Him.
When we enter the Tabernacle, beginning with the Table of Showbread representing the born-again experience, the activities no longer are visible to those on the outside. This is why we do not find, in the Book of Acts, the Apostles crying out to people that they must be born again. Instead they preached repentance and the forgiveness of sins through Christ.
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Nine”, 3173-1)