THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Words of Righteousness)

THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Tabernacle of the Congregation is one of the major (if not the major) types of God’s dealings with us in His plan of redemption.

In this book several areas of study are presented: the general plan of the Tabernacle, including the materials used; the seven pieces of furniture; the boards, sockets and bars; the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies; the Veil; the linen curtain; the tent; the coverings; the door; the gate; the linen fence; the work of the priests and Levites; the order of Israel on the march; the history of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; and the history of the Ark of the Covenant.

Six areas of interest are examined:

The physical description of the parts, furnishings and details of the Tabernacle. The Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The history of the Christian Church. The redemption of the believer. The Body of Christ. The Kingdom of God.

The physical elements of the Tabernacle are interpreted as referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the Christian disciple, to the Body of Christ, and to the Kingdom of God.

All Biblical quotations unless otherwise stated are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

Quotations from the following translations are used by permission of the publishers:

The Amplified Bible, Old Testament, Copyright Š 962, 1964 by Zondervan Publishing House.

The Emphasized Bible, by Joseph Bryant Rotherham, 1971, Kregel Publications.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER I. PRELIMINARY

Two Guidelines for Interpreting Bible Symbols Seven Forms of the House of God Enumeration of the Parts to be Studied Six Areas of Study of the Tabernacle

CHAPTER II. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE PARTS, FURNISHINGS, AND DETAILS OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION

General Plan of the Tabernacle of the Congregation Materials Used in the Tabernacle

Symbolism of materials The people offered willingly Bezaleel and Aholiab

Ark of the Covenant Mercy Seat (Atonement Cover) Table of Showbread Lampstand Altar of Burnt Offering Altar of Incense Laver Interaction and Common Aspects of the Seven Furnishings Sides of the Tabernacle The Holy Place: Furnishings; Door; Walls; Ceiling; Veil; and Floor The Holy of Holies The Two Curtains and Two Coverings The Linen Fence—Its Pillars, Sockets, Gate, Joinings, Pins, and Cords The Three Lights The Setting Up of the Tabernacle Anointing the Tabernacle with Oil The Lord’s Fire Consumes Our Offering The Morning and Evening Sacrifice Following the Glory of the Lord The Work of the Priests and Levites Israel on the March History of the Tabernacle of the Congregation History of the Ark of the Covenant Overall Impression Four Major Types of Redemption Five Areas of Interpretation of the Tabernacle

CHAPTER III. THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

CHAPTER IV. THE HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

CHAPTER V. THE REDEMPTION OF THE BELIEVER

The Seven Furnishings Altar of Burnt Offering Laver

Water baptism Cleansing for priestly service

Table of Showbread

Christ, the living bread Strengthening the inner man The Word meets a need Living bread comes through human ministry Concept of freshness

Lampstand

Lighted during the night The "Pentecostal" experience The cups, fruit and flowers The invisible and the visible

Altar of Incense Veil Ark of the Covenant

Aaron’s rod Jar of manna Ten Commandments

Mercy Seat (Atonement Cover) Three Entrances; Three Places; Three Lights Fire in the Christian Life

Testing our works Baptism with fire

Portability of the Tabernacle

Pressing on The rewards go to the overcomer Following the Lord

CHAPTER VI. THE PERFECTING OF THE CHURCH

The Seven Furnishings The Wife of the Lamb Three Basic Elements of Christian Worship Services

Eating of Christ Manifestation of the Holy Spirit Holy Prayer and worship Altar of Incense First things, first God’s reward Word of caution

Spiritual Leadership

Christian unity Exercise of gifts

Christian Ministries

Giving Divine Directions Tabernacle boards typify the Body of Christ The bars of the Tabernacle Paul’s attitude Apostles Prophets Evangelists Shepherds and teachers

The Design of Christian Ministry

The purpose of the gifts and ministries Free-will offerings Current need for prayer and worship

The Oneness of the Body of Christ

Unified by the ministries of the entire Church Unified by marriage to the Lamb Unified by the Glory of God in Christ Don’t touch the Ark

Christ (the Anointed One) is the Lampstand Differences in the Manifestation of the Holy Spirit The Interest of Heavenly Creatures in the Church The Importance of Holiness

CHAPTER VII. THE SETTING UP OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The Relationship Between the Church and the Kingdom The Seven Furnishings

Mercy Seat (Lid of Atonement) Ark of the Covenant Altar of Incense Lampstand Table of Showbread Laver Altar of Burnt Offering

The Tabernacle of David Set Up On the Earth

Christ will rule on the earth God available through the Church

The Goal of the Christian Life

The promised land is the earth Revolutionary force Practical impact of the Kingdom concept

The Seed of Abraham

The Christian Church is "Zion" of the Old Testament Nations bow before the Church God’s Vine

The Manifestation of the Sons of God The Trumpet of Jubilee The Concept of Resurrection Multiple Application Ezekiel’s Temple Water of Life The Burden of Prophecy The End-time Army The Day of the Lord

The return of Christ Applies to all Israel Rest in the day of trouble "Fireproofing" The Christian and judgment

CHAPTER VIII. HOLINESS

The Necessity for Holy Living

The nature of holiness Holy behavior A balanced concept of grace Grace and works Christians are held accountable for their actions The context of Romans 8:1

Three Traps

Righteousness by faith means God overlooks sin Holiness consists of do this and don’t do that Creating holiness by human will power

Holiness and the Day of the Lord

Apostolic warnings Godly living and the Day of the Lord Overcoming sin The overcoming requirement The victorious saints The holiness of the holy city The saints administer the judgment The first resurrection The relationship of the present to the future The royal priesthood

CHAPTER IX. ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS

Exactness of Directions Incompleteness Requires the Spirit of Revelation The God-centeredness of the Tabernacle God Faced the Land of Promise

CHAPTER X. REVIEW AND CONCLUSION

Two Guidelines for Interpreting the Symbols of the Scriptures Seven Forms of the House of God Six Areas of Study of the Tabernacle Physical Description Four Major Types of Redemption The Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ The History of the Christian Church The Redemption of the Believer Three Areas The Perfecting of the Church The Setting Up of the Kingdom of God Holiness

CHAPTER I PRELIMINARY

This book has to do with the Tabernacle of Congregation described in the Old Testament. The book has been written for the Glory of God that His Son, Christ, might build up His Church and draw all men to Himself.

We trust that the Lord Jesus will give the reader the Spirit of understanding and revelation, renewing your mind in Him; and that He will feed you with His holy body and blood so Christ may be formed in you.

Although there are references to the Tabernacle of the Congregation in several places in the Scriptures, particularly in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, a good place to begin studying is the Book of Exodus, starting with Chapter 25 and going through to the end of Exodus.

Two Guidelines for Interpreting Bible Symbols

Two guidelines should be kept in mind when interpreting scriptural symbols, or types, as they are called. The first guideline is this: look at the symbol in a general way, and then turn away and allow the Holy Spirit to cause the main truth to rise to the surface. Look at a scriptural type out of the corner of your eye, so to speak.

Do not focus too long on specifics, trying to force an interpretation from every detail. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for understanding. The spiritual truth will rise from the general shape of the facts.

One should not pursue a type too far. For example, the wilderness wandering of the Israelites is a type of the Christian discipleship. But we should not take each kind of shrub and animal found in the Sinai wilderness and apply it to some part of the Christian experience.

The Passover lamb of Exodus, Chapter 12 is a type of Christ. But we cannot apply each part of the animal, or its disposition, to our Lord Jesus except in the manner specifically set forth in the Scripture. The Lord Jesus is not always lamblike in behavior.

Christians are compared to a flock of sheep, in one setting, and to a fierce, disciplined army, in another setting.

The second guideline for interpreting scriptural symbols is as follows: there should be a direct New Testament reference for every interpretation of a scriptural type. We must always compare Scripture with Scripture. In many instances the writers of the New Testament emphasize the significance of Old Testament types and shadows.

When we state that the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering of the Tabernacle represents the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, and that He was offered there for our sins, there should be teaching in the new Testament stating that Christ is the offering for our sins. Of course, there is such teaching.

If we claim that the black goats’ hair tent over the Tabernacle represents sin in our flesh, and that the rams’ skins dyed red over the tent signifies that the blood of Jesus justifies us in the sight of God, then there should be statements in the New Testament declaring that the blood of Christ keeps us free from condemnation. There are such statements.

The types of the Scriptures are not intended to be rigid symbols that a student can pursue, building from them a system of interpretation. Rather, types provide for us a momentary glimpse, as it were, of a particular spiritual truth. In another setting, or at another time in our own Christian experience, the Holy Spirit may reveal to us a different spiritual application of the same set of material facts.

Perhaps the most effective way in which to gain understanding of the Kingdom of God from the scriptural types and shadows is to approach the Scriptures in a reverent, obedient attitude, looking always to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and knowledge in the things of Christ.

To summarize: (1) Do not force the interpretation of a scriptural symbol or type in a detailed manner using an intellectual approach; and (2) Make sure you have New Testament statements for your beliefs. Ask guidance from the Holy Spirit of God.

All teaching that proceeds from the Holy Spirit is pure, peaceful, gentle, full of compassion and good fruits. The Holy Spirit always brings us to Christ and always creates in us love, joy, peace, and purity of conduct, speech, and thinking. The Holy Spirit never leads us into fear, gloom, or despair.

Get ready to march victoriously with us through the study of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, with the Lord Jesus Christ at the head, bringing each of us to total dominion over everything in our lives that is keeping us from the fullness of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Seven Forms of the House of God

The Tabernacle of the Congregation was one form of the dwelling place of God. The house of God can be found in seven forms in the Scriptures:

1. Moses’ tent, which was pitched far off from the camp (Exodus 33:7-11). This tent is termed "the Tabernacle of the congregation" (Exodus 33:7); but according to our understanding, it is not to be confused with the actual Tabernacle of the Congregation that was set up later (Exodus 40:17). Not much is said about Moses’ tent except that it was the place where the Lord talked with Moses. It served until the Lord enabled the Israelites to construct a tabernacle in keeping with the pattern He had in mind.

2. The Tabernacle of the Congregation (Tent of Meeting), which is the subject of this study. It was the structure that had the linen fence, the Altar of Burnt Offering, the golden Lampstand, the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy and Most Holy Places, and the rest of the elements with which many Christians are familiar. Chapter 40 of the Book of Exodus tells about the setting up of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

Although we use the term Tabernacle of the Congregation because of its frequent use in the King James translation of the Scriptures, the Tabernacle was not a tabernacle, or dwelling place, for the congregation of Israel. The Tabernacle was the dwelling place of God, a tabernacle for the Lord. And the Lord did dwell in the Tabernacle.

When referring to the congregation of Israel, the term Tent of Meeting is preferred. The Israelites gathered at the Tent of Meeting for a meeting with their Lord. But the Israelites did not dwell, or tabernacle, there.

The Tabernacle that is the subject of our book, which the King James refers to as the Tabernacle of the Congregation, actually was the place of God’s residence on the earth. This was especially true of the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place) of the Tabernacle.

The term Tabernacle of the Congregation is in such common usage that we have kept this name when referring to the structure built in the Sinai wilderness, according to the pattern revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. But the student should keep in mind that the correct terminology is Tent of Meeting, when referring to the congregation of Israel; and Tabernacle, when referring to the dwelling place of the Lord.

To be even more precise, the linen curtain that formed the ceiling of the Holy Place and Most Holy Place, and was draped over the gold-covered boards, was the dwelling place of the Lord, the actual Tabernacle. The goats’ hair Tent was then pitched over the linen material; and there were two more layers of material covering the Tent.

3. The Tabernacle of David, a tent that David set up in Zion, which was a city located on one of the hills within the area of Jerusalem. Inside the tent of David was the Ark of the Covenant, which had become separated from the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle of the Congregation because of the ignorance and wickedness of Israel.

David made a place for the Ark within a tent in his city, Zion, and placed the Ark of the Covenant there amid great rejoicing (II Samuel, Chapter Six). The remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation remained at Gibeon, at the "high place."

Because the Tabernacle of David and the Ark of the Covenant are associated with the coming of Christ as king, and there is much prophetic significance surrounding the Tabernacle of David that has not been fulfilled as yet, James made reference to this particular form of the house of God at an important convention of the early Church: 

Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. (Acts 15:14-17)

Perhaps the Lord will give us understanding concerning the fulfillment of the symbolism that has to do with the separating of the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and concerning the prophecy of Amos and the interpretation that James put on this prophecy during the convention of the apostles and elders of the early Church.

4. The Temple of Solomon, that followed the same general design as the Tabernacle of the Congregation but was greatly enlarged and made more elaborate with costly ornamentation. The Temple of Solomon suffered much at the hands of the nations that attacked a sinful Israel, after the death of Solomon. The Temple was destroyed because the invaders wanted the precious metals and jewels of the Temple and because the Temple was a rallying point and center of national pride for Israel.

The Temple was rebuilt after the captivity (Ezra 6:15), and again by King Herod in the first century B.C. It was Herod’s Temple that was standing during the ministry of Jesus and the early Apostles. The Temple of Herod was demolished by the Romans in 70 A.D.

5. Ezekiel’s temple, described in Ezekiel, Chapters 40-48. Although there are many detailed descriptions of the parts of Ezekiel’s temple, it appears that it is to be understood spiritually. There is a possibility that Ezekiel’s temple represents the Church of Christ during the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium). Yet it cannot be that the animal sacrifices will be restored, now that the one perfect Lamb of God has been offered as the eternal sacrifice for sin.

Perhaps the Spirit of God was presenting through Ezekiel a vision of the reign of Christ in the only terms in which the Hebrews of Ezekiel’s day, whose entire spiritual life was involved in animal sacrifices, could understand the wonders associated with the coming of Christ.

It appears that the Scripture is not clear as to the exact relationship between the spirit realm and the physical realm during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. We do not know, for example, whether the saints of God will rule in bodies on the earth, or as spirits from Heaven as Jesus rules us today; or—which seems most likely—in some combination of these two. The description of the Temple of God in the Book of Ezekiel has this half-heavenly, half-earthly quality. So perhaps it has to do with the Kingdom of God during the Millennium.

We do know that Christ and the saints will govern the earth for one thousand years. The Scriptures are clear concerning this rulership. But just how the saints are to rule is not described in detail. Perhaps Ezekiel’s temple shows some of the aspects that will be true during the Millennium, when there is a situation in which flesh and blood people are being ruled by saints who are living in resurrection life. It seems we will have to wait on the Holy Spirit for further understanding before we have more to say concerning Ezekiel’s temple.

Since this book was written we believe the Lord has revealed to us the meaning of Ezekiel’s temple. Let the reader judge.

It seems to us that the first chapter of Ezekiel, the vision of the Lord, refers not only to the Lord Himself but also to the image of glorified man—since man is made in the image of God.

The description of Ezekiel’s temple, beginning in Chapter Forty and continuing through the remainder of the book has to do with the construction of the inner personality of the saint. The stone tables and implements for the sacrifice refer to that which is created within the disciple so he always is ready to offer his sacrifice to God. The guard rooms emphasize the fact that the Christian always must post a guard against the enemy

The repeated measurings are familiar to the saint who knows well how God keeps judging every thought, word, and action until the Divine standard is met. The water that flows in increasing levels indicates the progress of the believer in the Spirit-filled life until he or she becomes a tree of life, ready to bring God’s Glory to the multitudes found in the saved nations.

When one dances lightly on the text this type of truth seems to emerge. The name of the city for eternity will be, "The Lord is there." This name can apply only to the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem.

In any case, there never will be another blood sacrifice that God will honor now that God’s own Son has died on the cross for our sins.

6. The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal dwelling place of God. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He is the Tabernacle, the Temple, of God. God the Father has His eternal abode in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Adam was created by the Lord God; but the Scripture never refers to Adam as the dwelling place of God. Christ is the dwelling place of God and we Christians also are referred to in the Scripture as the habitation of God (Ephesians 2:22).

7. The new Jerusalem, the seventh and final form of the house of God. The new Jerusalem is the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the glorified Christian Church (Revelation 21,22). When each member of the Body of Christ has come into perfect union with the Head, Christ, and when the members of the Body are filled with the Glory of God and flow together in perfect unity, then the Head and the Body will be the perfect and eternal house of God, the Temple of God, the dwelling place of God and the Lamb forever, ages without end.

Do you think you can remember the seven forms that the house of God has taken? Here they are again:

Moses’ tent.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Tabernacle of David.

Solomon’s Temple.

Ezekiel’s Temple.

The Lord Jesus Christ.

The eternal Temple of God, Christ—Head and Body, the Lamb and His Wife, the new Jerusalem.

We may use the term house of God today to refer to a building in which Christians assemble for worship and ministry. However, this is only a figure of speech because God lives in the worshipers themselves, never in the buildings in which they assemble.

But in the seven forms of the house of God we have just mentioned, God actually placed His glory there. The Israelites could behold with their eyes the Glory of God resting on the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

In our study of the second of the seven houses, the Tabernacle of the Congregation, we must grasp the fact that the Tabernacle literally was the house of God. The Creator, God Almighty, actually dwelled between the cherubim in the Holy of Holies. God spoke to Moses there and Moses spoke directly to God.

Anyone who dared to enter the Holy Place, other than the priests in the strict observance of their appointed duties, would have been slain instantly by the glory of the Presence of the Lord.

Do you begin to feel the awesome holiness of the house of God? The Presence of the Lord in their midst set the Israelites apart from every other nation on the earth.

Enumeration of the Parts to be Studied

In this book we will be going over several areas of study: the general plan of the Tabernacle, including the materials used; the seven pieces of furniture; the boards, sockets and bars; the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies; the Veil; the linen curtain; the tent; the coverings; the door; the gate; the linen fence; the work of the priests and Levites; the order of Israel on the march; the history of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; and the history of the Ark of the Covenant.

These physical elements will be interpreted as referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the Christian disciple, to the Body of Christ, and to the Kingdom of God.

Six Areas of Study of the Tabernacle

We have just listed the several aspects of the Tabernacle of the Congregation that we will be examining. We will be working with these several aspects in six general areas of study, as the Holy Spirit helps and guides us. The six areas will be explained further as we proceed:

The physical description of the parts, furnishings and details of the Tabernacle. This is the factual knowledge of the object or incident in the material realm. The people, objects, and history of the Old Testament were real people and actual things and happenings. We will include, in some instances, a brief comment on the significance of the items.

The Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of the types and symbols of the Scriptures reveal the Person and redemptive work of the Lord Jesus, and the Tabernacle and its parts are no exception.

The history of the Christian Church. The order in which God gave to Moses the directions concerning the parts of the Tabernacle provides a history, in type, of the developing of the Church.

The redemption of the believer. The maturing of the Christian is an orderly process. The order of the seven furnishings, commencing with the Altar of Burnt Offering, typifies the seven fundamental aspects of the plan of salvation as a person moves from total chaos of personality all the way to the Throne of God.

The Body of Christ. There is a Divine plan for bringing to perfection of the Christian Church, the Body of Christ. The order of the seven furnishings, commencing with the Altar of Burnt Offering, portrays the growth of the Christian Church from collections of saved believers to the Body of Christ, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb.

The Kingdom of God. The design of the Tabernacle reveals the plan for the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Can you say from memory the six areas of study we encounter as we begin to work with the parts of the Tabernacle of the Congregation?

The physical description

The Person and work of Christ

The history of the Christian Church

The plan of salvation

The Body of Christ

The establishing of the Kingdom of God

The Tabernacle of the Congregation is one of the major (if not the major) types of God’s dealings with us in His plan of redemption. The people and incidents of the Scriptures really existed and took place on the earth. There are other great allegories in literature in which spiritual concepts are conveyed, such as Pilgrim’s Progress, which are not true historical accounts. But the holy Scriptures set forth an accurate record of actual people, places and happenings.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation was a large tent set up in the wilderness region between Egypt and Canaan. That area is a hot, desolate countryside.

At the time of the setting up of the Tabernacle, approximately fifteen hundred years before Christ, there were two or three million Israelites, plus a mixed multitude, following Moses on the pilgrimage from Egyptian slavery to the land of milk and honey. Exodus 12:37 informs us that there were six hundred thousand men on foot and their families.

They were flesh-and-blood people who brought along their struggling animals, sheep, goats and cattle, some of which were to be offered later by the priests on the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering. It was a hot, messy, smelly undertaking overshadowed by sacrificial death, like our own Christian life. But then there was the Glory of God before them and with them, just like our own resurrection life in Christ.

The Israelites could see the cloud going before them during the daytime marches, and the pillar of fire directing the way at night. The pilgrimage of these millions of people remains one of the most significant and astonishing events of world history.

Let’s look now at the physical description of the parts and workings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation as they existed in the material world.

CHAPTER II PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE PARTS, FURNISHINGS, AND DETAILS OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION

General Plan of the Tabernacle of the Congregation

Chapters 25-40 of Exodus tell us much of what we know about the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the dwelling place of the Lord. It was an oblong wooden building, covered with gold, and roofed with cloth covered by animal skins. The building was about forty-five feet long by fifteen feet wide by fifteen feet tall.

The gold-covered boards from which the building was constructed stood upright, having two tenons (projections) on the bottom which were inserted in silver sockets placed on the ground.

Four layers of material were thrown over these upright boards, forming the ceiling and roof. The outside layer of material was badgers’ skins (actually dolphins’ or porpoises’ skins), so the appearance of the sides and back (west end) of the Tabernacle was rough and plain.

There was a beautiful Veil made from blue, purple, scarlet and fine twisted linen with cherubim skillfully worked into the material. The Veil hung inside the building on four gold-covered wooden posts standing on bases of silver.

The Veil was placed two-thirds of the way toward the far end of the building, partitioning off a room cubical in proportion, fifteen feet on a side. This was the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies).

The remainder of the building was called the Holy. In English we add the word place, referring to it as the Holy Place.

The Tabernacle building or Tent of Meeting, stood within an area referred to as the Court, or Courtyard, of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The Court was surrounded by a linen fence hung on posts, or pillars, standing on sockets of bronze. The fence of linen was about one hundred fifty feet long by seventy-five feet across by seven and one-half feet high.

The reason we say about is that the Scriptures give the dimensions in cubits and there is some uncertainty about the exact length of the cubit of the Old Testament. We have estimated the cubit at eighteen inches, which reflects current thinking and probably is close enough for our purposes.

In any case, the linen fence was twice as long as it was wide. So if you think of seventy-five by one hundred fifty by seven and one-half feet high for the linen fence you will have a good idea of its dimensions.

The Tabernacle building was three times as long as it was wide, and it was as tall as it was wide. If you think of fifteen feet wide, fifteen feet high, and forty-five feet long you will be close enough for the Tabernacle building itself. Remember, fifteen by fifteen by forty-five feet for the building, and seventy-five by seven and one-half by one hundred fifty feet for the linen fence.

Measure one of the rooms in your house and you will get a picture in your mind of the size of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. It was quite large.

If you stood back at a distance you would gain the impression of a large fenced area, the fence being sparkling-white linen. The building was twice as high as the fence and its appearance was plain and rough on the two sides and rear. The inside of the building was very ornate and beautiful, as we will be noticing.

Isn’t that just like the Christian life? The world sees only the rough exterior. It cannot see the Glory of God on the inside.

Sometimes the Glory of God can be seen on the "outside" of a Christian during periods of anointed ministry or during the course of a completely dedicated life. So it was with the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The Glory of God Himself could be seen as He came down on the Tabernacle. 

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34,35)

For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:38)

The gate to the Court of the Tabernacle was on the eastern end. It was a curtain that hung from four pillars. The curtain that formed the gate of the Court was about thirty feet wide and seven and one-half feet tall—the same height as the rest of the fence.

The gate was part of the fence that surrounded the Courtyard. The colors of the gate leading into the Courtyard of the Tabernacle were blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twisted linen (white). These colors appear in the same order in several places in the Tabernacle.

The door to the Tabernacle building within the Courtyard also was of blue, purple, scarlet and fine twisted linen. This hanging of material was upheld by five posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and topped with gold capitals.

The beautiful gate to the Courtyard and the higher door to the Tabernacle building gave the Israelite who came with his offering some idea of the magnificence of the gold-covered interior of the wooden Tabernacle building—the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.

From the outside only two of the seven pieces of furniture could be seen. These were the great bronze Altar of Burnt Offering on which the lambs, goats, bullocks, rams, and birds were sacrificed; and the bronze Laver that stood between the Altar of Burnt Offering and the door of the Tabernacle building.

The long sides of the Tabernacle building and of the linen fence ran west to east, with the entrances (door and gate) on the eastern end.

There were five pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle building. When the priest stepped inside the door of the Tabernacle, on his right, that is, on the north side, was the Table of Showbread. It was constructed of wood and overlaid with gold. On his left, the south side, was the solid-gold Lampstand.

Straight in front of him, just this side of the Veil that partitioned off the Most Holy Place on the western end of the building, was the gold-covered Altar of Incense.

On the annual Day of Atonement, when the high priest was allowed to go past the Veil, he carried a censer, an incense burner, into the Most Holy Place (some scholars differ on the exact procedure here). Straight before him in the center of the Most Holy Place, a cubical room about fifteen feet on a side, was the gold-covered Ark of the Covenant.

Serving as a lid on the top of the Ark of the Covenant was the solid-gold Mercy Seat (literally, Atonement Cover) with the two covering cherubim hammered into shape from the same solid piece of gold from which the Mercy Seat itself was beaten into shape by Bezaleel (Exodus 37:6-9).

The Israelites pitched their tents outside the linen fence.

The tribe of Levi had charge of putting up and taking down, watching over, and carrying the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The tribe of Levi was divided into three families: the sons of Gershom; the sons of Kohath; and the sons of Merari.

The sons of Merari camped on the north side of the Tabernacle and had charge of the posts and other hardware of the Tabernacle.

The sons of Gershom camped on the west side of the Tabernacle and had charge of the curtains, coverings and hangings.

The sons of Kohath camped on the south side and took care of the holy furnishings and implements.

The remainder of the Israelites camped around the Tabernacle in the following order: on the east side, the side of the entrances, were camped Moses, and Aaron and his sons. Outside of them, on the eastern side, were the tribes of Zebulun, Judah and Issachar—186,400 soldiers under the flag of Judah.

On the south side were camped Simeon, Reuben and Gad—151,450 soldiers under the standard of Reuben.

To the rear, outside the western end of the linen fence, were camped Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh—108,100 soldiers under the flag of Ephraim.

On the north side of the linen fence were camped Asher, Dan and Naphtali—157,600 soldiers under the flag of Dan.

There were a total of 22,300 Levites and 603,500 foot soldiers.

When Israel set forward on the march these tribes moved out in a specific order, completely protecting the Levites who were carrying the Tabernacle. The entire arrangement shows us plainly that God intended for the Tabernacle of the Congregation, His dwelling place among mankind, to be central in the life and culture of Israel.

The Ark of the Covenant was carried in the center of the line of march. The Ark was of special importance because within the Ark were the two tables of stone, the Testimony, the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were the covenant of God with Israel; therefore the Ark was termed the Ark of the Covenant, that is, the Ark containing the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments were the testimony that God gave concerning His requirements for the conduct of the people of Israel and, in fact, for the conduct of all mankind. Those requirements were in the form of judgment against sin.

The Ten Commandments are prohibitions concerning human behavior. They warn us concerning our conduct until we can make the transition into a life in which we are able, through the Holy Spirit, to put to death the deeds of our bodies—a life in which the fruit of the Spirit is governing the manner in which we act, speak, and think.

We have seen, then, that the Tabernacle of the Congregation was a rather large structure consisting of a gold-covered wooden building, or tent, within a fenced area, set up by the Hebrews in the Sinai wilderness during their journey from Egypt to the land of promise. The pattern of the Tabernacle was shown to Moses by the Lord (Hebrews 8:5). It was the dwelling place of God in a human neighborhood (Exodus 25:8; 29:45).

The Tabernacle was an earthly figure of the Temple of God in Heaven (Hebrews (9:23,24).

The Tabernacle was divided into three main parts. The outer area, the Courtyard, was surrounded by the linen fence (Exodus 27:9). The courtyard was not covered. It was an outside area lighted by the sun.

The second and third areas were inside the wooden structure, which was covered by the linen curtain, the goats’ hair curtain, the rams’ skins dyed red, and the badgers’ skins—four layers of material. The interior of the wooden structure was never seen by the Israelites except those persons set apart for the priestly work associated with the Tabernacle.

The wooden building was divided into the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place). The separating partition was the ornate Veil. The Veil was ripped open from top to bottom by unseen hands when the Lord Jesus died on the cross, signifying that Christians, through the blood of Jesus, now have access to the very Presence of the Father in Heaven (Hebrews 6:7-12; 10:19,20).

In the Holy Place, the larger room of the wooden building (about fifteen feet wide, fifteen feet high, and thirty feet long), were placed the table that held the consecrated loaves of Showbread; the golden Lampstand, which is an important symbol of Judaism to this day; and the Altar of Incense. The Holy Place was lighted at night by the Lampstand.

The Holy of Holies, the western end of the wooden building, was cubical in proportion—about fifteen by fifteen feet. Inside the Holy of Holies were the gold-covered wooden chest, the Ark of the Covenant, in which were placed the Ten Commandments; the memorial jar of manna; and Aaron’s rod that budded. The lid of the Ark of the Covenant was the solid gold Mercy Seat, with a cherub on each end overshadowing the Mercy Seat with its wings. The Holy of Holies was lighted by the Glory of God Himself.

Out in the Courtyard, directly in line with and just before the door of the Tabernacle building, were placed the Altar of Burnt Offering and the bronze Laver.

Hopefully this brief overview of the Tabernacle of the Congregation will aid you in understanding what we are talking about as we go into more detail concerning the materials, furnishings, and parts.

Materials Used in the Tabernacle

The Tabernacle of the Congregation is introduced in the Book of Exodus. 

Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take My offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:2-8)

We will not be discussing the last two materials, the onyx stones and the precious gems to be set in the ephod, because these were for the garments of the high priest. The high (anointed) priest, who is a type of Christ, and the vestments of the high priest, although directly related to the study of the Tabernacle, are important enough to be a separate study by themselves.

Gold—The first material named was gold. This is the same metal

we have today. The term pure gold is stressed, no doubt because the gold was refined until the impurities had been removed.

Silver—This is the same metal we have today.

Brass—Scholars seem to be in agreement that this metal was

either copper, or the brown alloy of copper and tin we know today as bronze. Both the refining of copper and the making of bronze were techniques known to the Israelites in 1500 B.C.

Blue, and purple, and scarlet material probably were linen dyed these colors.

Fine Linen—An excellent quality of the white cloth material made from flax that we still use today in our clothes.

Goats’ hair—A fine, soft wool like cashmere, perhaps black in color. Eastern goats are black.

Rams’ skins dyed red—Leather made from the skin of male sheep, dyed red.

Badgers’ skins—It is not certain what animal this was. The goat has been suggested; also, a fish of some large species. Dolphin or porpoise seems to be favored currently. The animal probably was not the one we know as the badger. In any case, the "badgers’ skins" was some kind of tough, weatherproof, durable animal hide that was chosen for its ability to protect the Tabernacle against the elements of the wilderness. It probably was rough and plain in appearance.

Acacia (shittim) wood—From a thorny tree having knots and twists, able to grow in a dry climate. The wood is hard, durable, close-grained, and suitable for cabinet work. It takes a polish. The tree grows to twenty-five feet in height. It does not rot easily.

Oil for the light—Oil from beaten olives, to burn in the golden Lampstand.

Holy anointing oil—Olive oil mixed with myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, and cassia—four spices. It was used to anoint the Tabernacle and its furnishings, and also the high priest.

Incense—Compounded from stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense, seasoned with salt (King James—tempered together).

Symbolism of Materials:

Gold—This metal, used so much in the Tabernacle building, represents the Substance and Nature of God.

Silver—Silver typifies redemption: the buying back of what has been sold, stolen, or captured. All that has been lost from the possession of its original and rightful owner is a candidate for redemption. Christ redeems us from the authority and power of sin.

Brass (bronze)—God’s judgment on sin.

Blue—That which is from Heaven.

Purple—Purple, being a mixture of blue and red, shows Christ as Son of God (blue) and Son of Man (red). Purple also denotes royalty and stresses the lordship of Christ.

Scarlet—The atoning blood of Christ; also, the humanity of

Christ.

Fine twisted (white) linen—The righteousness of the Law imputed

to us through accepting Christ; also, the righteous conduct of the saints (Revelation 19:8).

Goats’ hair—It is believed that this particular species was

black, representing sin. In addition we have Christ’s statements about dividing the nations into the sheep and the goats.

Rams’ skins dyed red—The blood of Christ, particularly

as a covering.

Badgers’ skins—Probably dolphin, or porpoise skin. The tough

covering God creates around His saints so they can endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ.

Acacia (shittim) wood—The wood used in the Tabernacle is symbolic of human beings.

Oil for the Lampstand—The Holy Spirit in ministry to the Body of Christ, and as the testimony to the world of the Person, Word, will, and eternal purpose of God. 

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. (Leviticus 24:1,2)

Holy anointing oil—The Holy Spirit in Presence and blessing, setting aside us and our works as holy unto the Lord God. 

And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, (Exodus 30:25,26)

And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. (Exodus 30:30)

Incense—The life of Christ which, through the Holy Spirit, is to be mixed with the prayers of all saints. 

And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy: And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy. (Exodus 30:35,36)

"Tempered together, pure and holy: and you shall beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony" signifies that the Holy Spirit has worked in us through the experiences of our discipleship until the life of Christ has been pounded into every part of our personality.

The mixing process is exceedingly thorough so no matter where we turn, God receives from us a sweet savor of Christ. This mixture was an incense. When thrown on the coals placed in the Altar of Incense, or held in the censer, it gave off the Lord’s special perfume.

The people offered willingly. One of the outstanding characteristics of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was that the materials were offered willingly by all the people, as each person was prompted by his or her own heart. The Israelites contributed freely, under no coercion, bringing what they were able to give. When the Tabernacle was completed, many individuals had the satisfaction of knowing that something of themselves was in the place where the Glory of God dwelled. 

The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the Lord had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses. (Exodus 35:29)

So happy were the people to give, the blessing of the Lord being on them, that they soon brought much more than was needed for the Tabernacle. 

And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. (Exodus 36:5,6)

Bezaleel and Aholiab. God called out two men by name from the millions of Israelites. These two were the precise people God wanted and had prepared to perform and supervise the many measurements and designs of the vessels of the Tabernacle and all of its parts.

The Tabernacle was the dwelling place of the Lord God. It was made of costly materials and specified to the smallest detail. There was no part of it left to human ingenuity. The Lord designated Bezaleel and Aholiab in order that His building plan might be followed precisely as He gave it. 

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee; (Exodus 31:1-6)

When we examine the many instances in which God called people by name to be leaders of the tribes, for the work of the Tabernacle, for every aspect of the service and life of the nation of Israel, we understand that the Holy Spirit assigns tasks to every member of the Body of Christ according to the will of the Spirit.

The Apostles of the early Christian Church were called by name, just as were Bezaleel and Aholiab. And not just the Apostles, but every Christian, every member of the Body of Christ, has a specific task to perform in the work of perfecting the Body of Christ.

We must, according to Romans 12:1,2, present our body as a whole burnt offering that we may prove what is the perfect will of God for our lives. This is our reasonable service of worship to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us turn our attention now to the seven main pieces of furniture, presenting them in the order in which they are first listed in the Book of Exodus.

Exodus 25:10—the Ark of the Covenant, made from acacia (shittim) wood covered with gold. Acacia wood and gold were two of the most important building materials of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

Exodus 25:17—the Mercy Seat (Atonement Cover) beaten out of pure gold.

Exodus 25:23—the Table of Showbread (Bread of Faces, or Bread of the Presence). The Table of Presence Bread was made from acacia wood covered with gold.

Exodus 25:31—the Lampstand. This object had a central branch and six side-branches. At the top of each branch was a golden lamp that burned olive oil. The Lampstand and its accessories were beaten into shape from pure gold.

Exodus 27:1—the bronze Altar of burnt Offering. It is referred to in the Scriptures as the "brazen," that is, brass, altar. But scholars are of the opinion that copper or bronze was the metal used.

Exodus 30:1—Altar of Incense. The Altar of Incense stood within the Holy Place before the Veil, in direct line with the Ark of the Covenant. The Altar of Incense was constructed from acacia wood covered with gold.

Exodus 30:18—the bronze Laver. The Laver was a wash basin placed out in the Court of the Tabernacle between the Altar of Burnt Offering and the door of the Tabernacle.

Now we will take a closer look at each of the seven pieces of furniture. 

Ark of the Covenant

And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. (Exodus 25:10-16)

The Ark of the Covenant was located in the Holy of Holies, in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. It was a chest made of acacia wood. Using our equivalent of eighteen inches per cubit the Ark was three feet nine inches wide, two feet three inches deep, and two feet three inches high. It was covered inside and outside with refined gold.

The "crown of gold round about" appears to have been a border or rim that ran around the top, perhaps to keep the Mercy Seat, which was the lid of the chest, from slipping off while Israel was on the march.

There were four receptacles of gold attached to the four corners of the Ark, two receptacles on each side. Two carrying poles of acacia wood overlaid with gold were placed in these receptacles so the Levites would not have to touch the Ark itself when it was being lifted, carried, and set down in place.

The carrying poles were kept in the receptacles of the Ark of the Covenant at all times, unlike the other furnishings from which the poles were removed each time the Tabernacle was set up at a camping site. The Ark of the Covenant was carried on the shoulders of the Kohathite Levites when the Israelites broke camp and followed the cloud and the fire to the new location.

Inside the Ark of the Covenant was placed the "testimony," the two tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments. Also, in the Ark were placed a memorial jar of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded. By the side of the Ark was placed a copy of the writings of Moses (Deuteronomy 31:26).

When the Israelites took up their journey, the Ark of the Covenant (with its lid, the golden Mercy Seat, in place) was covered with the Veil used to partition off the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. Over the Veil was placed a protective covering of badger (porpoise) skin; and then, finally, a blue cloth.

The Ark and the Mercy Seat were wrapped around with the Veil, with a protective covering of animal skins, and with an outer wrapping of blue cloth. If you stood watching the columns of Israelites marching through the wilderness, all that you would see of the Ark and the Mercy Seat would be the "cloth wholly of blue" and the gold finish of the carrying poles (see Numbers 4:5,6).

It is important to note that the carrying poles always remained in the receptacles on the sides of the Ark. When the Ark was placed in Solomon’s Temple (II Chronicles 5:9) it seems the poles were partially drawn out so the little Ark of the Covenant could be noticed in the midst of the elaborate cherubim that Solomon had made.

Then, as the anointed priest went into the Most Holy Place of Solomon’s Temple on the Day of Atonement, the extended poles would guide him to the Mercy Seat. It was dark in the Holy of Holies except when God chose to brighten it with His Glory.

The poles remained in the Ark. The Ark is always ready to move on. The Glory of God is always pressing on, pressing on toward the fullness of God’s Glory in Christ.

The Ark of the Covenant was the most important element in the national culture of Israel (except for the Person of God Himself) because it contained the testimony—the covenant, the Ten Commandments. The Ark was lost at the time of the Babylonian captivity (586 B.C.) and will never be seen again until the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15-19).

Mercy Seat (Atonement Cover)

Although we are treating the Mercy Seat as a separate furnishing, and it was made separately, it was placed as a lid on the Ark of the Covenant and was regarded as a part of the Ark so the whole made one unit—the Mercy Seat resting as a cover on the sacred chest, the Ark of the Covenant.

 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou 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: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 25:17-22)

The cherubim made a shelter with their wings over the Mercy Seat (the Propitiatory; Hebrew, MI>kap-PO-reth—lid of appeasement, atonement).

The Mercy Seat was the place of appeasement and reconciliation, the place of atonement, of mercy, of pardon, of covering. It fit exactly the top of the Ark, being three feet nine inches by two feet three inches in dimension.

The winged creatures, the cherubim, were beaten out of the one piece of gold along with the Mercy Seat itself. The Hebrews were acquainted with the art of casting metals, and parts of the furnishings were cast. They could have cast the Mercy Seat into its form much more easily and quickly than was possible by the technique of beating it into shape with a hammer.

Sometimes God has good reasons for accomplishing His purposes in a difficult, painful manner. Have you found this to be true?

The cherubim looked toward each other, toward the Mercy Seat, and covered the Mercy Seat with their wings. God spoke directly to His servant, Moses, from above the Mercy Seat, from between the two cherubim.

There was no wood in the Mercy Seat or in the covering cherubim. The unit was solid gold. This particular furnishing of the Tabernacle had no symbol of humanity in it; the solid gold speaks of what has been fashioned wholly of and from God.

The refined gold of the Tabernacle represents Divinity. The Divine Substance within us has to be beaten into shape. Have you ever wondered why the Spirit of God hammers, hammers, hammers away at you? Christ in you not only has to grow in you but also must be beaten into shape through the multitude of pressures on you each day.

The word seat, in the term Mercy Seat, is somewhat misleading. The Hebrew word kap-PO-reth has nothing to do with a seat. Kap-PO-reth is derived from the word translated make atonement. It means, lid of atonement.

The kap-PO-reth was a cover on the Ark, a lid rather than a seat. God communed with Moses "from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim." There are some who believe God rested on the wings of the cherubim.

In any case, the solid-gold Mercy Seat together with the Ark of the Covenant formed the place of God’s Presence. The Mercy Seat stood for the fact that God desires to reconcile to Himself the race of mankind, which has been brought into the bondage of sin through the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

Once each year, during the Day of Atonement, the blood of a young bull and of a goat was sprinkled on the front of the Mercy Seat, and evidently on the ground where the high priest approached the Mercy Seat (upon and before the Mercy Seat).

 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: (Leviticus 16:15)

So real was the Presence of God that it would not be out of line to state that the Glory of God Himself formed part of the Mercy Seat in that His Presence actually came down and dwelled between the cherubim, over the Ark of the Covenant.

The golden Mercy Seat was only a material object, a symbol of the invisible God. It was never to be worshiped. It was a physical point of reference that God designed to represent His Presence with the children of Israel; a geographical location that God set apart as being the place where His Glory would dwell; and a prophetic symbol of spiritual facts pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Body of Christ. It was patterned after the Mercy Seat in Heaven.

The Presence and Glory of God Himself was with Israel as long as Israel was walking in strict obedience to God’s laws. The loss of the Ark symbolized the loss of the Presence and Glory of God (I Samuel 4:22).

The Mercy Seat with the covering Cherubim of Glory, and the Lampstand, had one extraordinary fact in common—they both were formed from refined gold beaten into shape. The Mercy Seat and cherubim were beaten from one piece of gold, and the Lampstand of the Holy Place was beaten out of one piece of gold.

In this respect, the Mercy Seat, the cherubim, and the Lampstand must be considered as being expressions of the Substance of the Godhead—of the Substance of the Divinity beaten into shape.

The Mercy Seat and the Lampstand represent the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is of pure Divine Substance. He was "beaten into shape" in that He was made perfect through the things He suffered on earth (Hebrews 5:8,9).

The Bride, the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, is of one Substance with Him, being born of Him and partaking of Him continually (Hebrews 2:11). The Body of Christ is of the Divine Substance and is beaten into shape through many sufferings, beatings, denials, frustrations, persecutions, until the Divine Substance that is in us through Christ appears in the shape God desires. We are being fashioned in His image.

There is a part of us, in the holy of holies of our being, the deepest part of our personality, that has been born of God. It is "solid gold." There is nothing of humanity in it. This is true of every person who has been born again.

The Divinity in each believer must be subjected to the fashioning processes of the Holy Spirit until the mercy seat, to speak symbolically, is created at the core of the being of the Christian. Human nature (wood) cannot be "hammered" into shape. Divine Nature (gold) can be "hammered" into shape.

 Table of Showbread

Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about. And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof. Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table. And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them. And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them. And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway. (Exodus 25:23-30)

The Table of Showbread was placed in the Holy Place, on the north side—to the right as the priest entered the Tabernacle. It was constructed from the hard, close-grained acacia wood used for many purposes in the Tabernacle. The wood was then covered with refined gold. The table was three feet long; one and one-half feet broad; two feet three inches high.

There was a crown, a rim of gold, around the center area of the table so the twelve loaves of the showbread would remain securely in place; for the loaves were kept on the table continually, even on the march.

The surface of the table was enlarged by the "border (frame) of a hand breadth round about." The border was a shelf extending out on all four sides from the table top and having its own rim of gold around its outside edge.

The center area of the table top was the table proper. It was separated from the shelf area by a "crown" (rim) of gold. Within this center area were placed the twelve loaves of showbread (literally, bread of faces; or, Presence bread).

The shelf area, a "hand breadth" wide, that increased the area of the table top but may have been somewhat lower than the table top surface on which the twelve loaves were placed, evidently was for the four kinds of golden utensils used by the priest in the service of the Table of Showbread.

The four kinds of utensils were as follows: the dishes that held the showbread when carried to the table, and also when eaten by the priests; the little cups in which the holy incense was kept; and the larger cups and the bowls that held the wine for the drink offering and from which the wine was poured on the Tabernacle floor, apparently near the Table of Showbread, on the occasions when sacrifices were made for the whole nation of Israel.

The rim of gold around the showbread kept the twelve loaves separate from the golden utensils—the dishes, little cups, bowls and large cups. The rim of gold around the outside of the extended area kept the dishes, cups, and bowls from falling off onto the floor (ground).

We see, then, that the vessels of ministry were kept near the Presence bread, being placed on the frame of the table adjacent to the Presence bread but separated from the Presence bread by the "crown" (rim) of gold that surrounded the Presence bread, and perhaps also by being a little lower than the table top surface. In this manner the Presence bread was always kept separate from the dishes, bowls and cups placed on the surrounding ledge.

The Word of God is preached by frail humans; but the Word itself is always perfect. The Word of God, for a season, remains separate from those who preach and teach it while they are still in the process of being made perfect by the Word they themselves preach and teach.

The members of the Body of Christ are imperfect and may fail; but the Word of God, Christ Himself, is perfect and never fails.

The Table of Showbread had its four receptacles of gold so the carrying poles could be inserted in order for the Kohathite Levites to carry the table on the march. When the Table of Showbread was set in place in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle, after the march was over, the carrying poles were taken out—unlike the Ark of the Covenant in which the carrying poles remained even when the Tabernacle was set up at one of Israel’s stopping places in the wilderness.

 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake. And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the Lord. And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord. (Leviticus 24:5-7)

The term "memorial" brings to mind the words of the Lord Jesus, "This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."

 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the Lord made by fire by a perpetual statute. (Leviticus 24:8,9)

Each cake, or loaf, had about four quarts of fine flour in it. Every Sabbath day hot loaves were placed on the table in two rows of six each, and the past week’s bread was eaten by the priests in a place set aside as holy.

When a drink-offering was poured out by the priest on behalf of all Israel, such as on the Levitical convocations, new moons, and the morning and evening offering of the daily lamb, the wine was poured out in the Holy Place, evidently on the floor of the Tabernacle, close to the Table of Showbread. Here we have the bread and the wine, a portrayal of the Communion service—the body and blood of the Lord Jesus.

As the lamb was being burned on the Altar of Burnt Offering at the opening and closing of each day, the wine was being poured out in the Holy Place by the priest. Can you see Calvary in this ceremony?

When Israel went on the march the Table of Showbread had to be prepared in a specific manner: 

And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon: And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put in the staves thereof. (Numbers 4:7,8)

The cloth of scarlet represents the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The showbread, or Presence bread, indicates the body of the Lord; and the wine poured out as a drink offering near the table reveals His blood. We have our sharing together in the body and blood of Christ at the Table of Showbread, to speak symbolically. It is a picture of the Communion service.

The "continual bread" remained on the table even when the children of Israel were on the march.

The term "continual bread" reminds us that the body and blood of Christ are always available to whoever will come and receive. No one has ever come to Christ for the bread of life and been turned away hungry.

Lampstand

Whether one starts from the Mercy Seat, or from the Altar of Burnt Offering, the golden Lampstand is number four in order. The Lampstand represents Pentecost, the fourth Levitical feast (Leviticus 23:15-21). The Lampstand speaks of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in Christ and in the Body of Christ, bearing the Divine witness.

 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: Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount. (Exodus 25:31-40)

When the priest entered the door of the Tabernacle, the Table of Showbread was on the north, that is, on his right. On the south side, his left, was the gold Lampstand. The Lampstand was beaten from one piece of gold and, to a greater extent than the other pieces of furniture, was very ornamental. The Lampstand and its lamps, tongs and censers were all beaten from a talent of pure gold (approximately seventy-five pounds).

The ornamentation suggests to us that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is attractive whereas the cross of Christ is a reproach.

The Lampstand proper, not counting the six side-branches, consisted of a shaft proceeding up from a base. On top of the shaft was a gold lamp containing olive oil and a wick. It seems from the description of the ornaments that the shaft was higher than the branches on either side.

There were three kinds of ornamental details worked in the central shaft, and also in the six side-branches that stood out, three on a side, from the central shaft. The three ornaments were as follows: first, the bowls, or cups. It appears from the language of the text that the cups were designed from the calyx of a flower. The calyx of a flower is the outer part that holds the petals. The calyx is in the form of a cup. There were four of these cups, or calyxes, in the central shaft, and three in each of the six side-branches.

The second ornament was the knop, or knob. Apparently the knob was in the form of a round fruit, that is, in the shape of a ball. There were four of these knobs in the central shaft and one knob in each of the six side-branches. Also there was a knob in the central shaft under each pair of side-branches, at the point where the side-branches came out from the central shaft.

The third ornament was the flower. There were four flowers in the central shaft and one flower in each of the six side-branches. Because there was so much more ornamentation in the central shaft, we believe the shaft was taller than the side-branches and represents Him who is anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows.

The design we have presented seems to be what is set forth in the Scripture, but there may be discrepancies from what actually was the case in the days of Moses. Unfortunately, we do not have the original Lampstand to study.

On top of the central shaft and each of the side-branches was a lamp holding pure beaten olive oil and a wick. Thus there were seven lights coming from the entire lampstand. Unlike the Ark and the Table of Showbread, we do not have the measurements of the Lampstand. We can only surmise how large it actually was. Its size was limited, of course, in that it was beaten from a fixed quantity of gold.

Of the seven pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, only the Mercy Seat with its two cherubim, and the Lampstand, were beaten from solid gold. This suggests to us that the Lampstand is related to the Mercy Seat. The Lampstand represents the Presence of God in the form of the Holy Spirit abiding in and upon Christ, Head and Body.

The purpose of the golden tongs that accompanied the Lampstand seems to have been that of pulling up the wicks when the lamps were dressed in order to increase the light; and perhaps also to trim off any charred parts of the wick.

The censers may have served to remove the charred wick, but especially for placing coals in the Altar of Incense and for carrying coals from the Altar of Incense into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement.

In the King James translation the tongs are sometimes referred to as snuffers, and the censers as snuff dishes, which is somewhat confusing.

During the Day of Atonement the high priest took a censer full of coals in one hand, and a cup of incense in the other, and poured incense on the hot coals so the holy perfume would cover the Mercy Seat. The golden censer no doubt came from the Lampstand, the cup of incense from the Table of Showbread, and the coals from the Altar of Incense. In this way all the parts of the Holy Place would be entering the ministry to the Lord who dwelled between the winged Cherubim of Glory.

The Holy Place was dark, being shut out from the sunlight by the door of the Tabernacle, and from the Glory of God by the Veil. The Lampstand was the source of light for the Holy Place at night, and it made the Table of Showbread, the Altar of Incense, and the Lampstand itself visible to the high priest and to the other priests who were ministering. It appears that during the day the Door was turned back enough to permit the priests to move about in the course of their ministry.

 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the Lord continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations. He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the Lord continually. (Leviticus 24:1-4

"He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the Lord continually." One would suppose from this that the lamps burned twenty-four hours a day. But the expression "shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning" gives us the interpretation. The seven oil cups were lighted in the evening, and the wicks were trimmed and the cups filled with oil in the morning.

And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; (I Samuel 3:3)

Apparently the lamps burned through the night, and then ran out of oil. How the priest could see to trim the wicks in the morning we do not know, unless the light from the coals of the Altar of Incense gave sufficient illumination. Or, the solution could have been to partially tie back the door to let in the daylight. If this were the case, it must have been true that the interior remained hidden so no one from the outside could see the holy vessels. No one but the priest was permitted to see the furnishings of the Holy Place—not even the Levites.

There was a close relationship between the Altar of Incense and the Lampstand, as seen in the following passage. The incense Altar and the Lampstand were especially in the charge of the high priest, although other priests helped in the service of the Lord.

 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:7,8)

We see that the seven lamps were tended twice each day by the high priest—at sunrise and in the evening. At sunrise the wicks were trimmed and the lamps filled with oil. In the evening the lamps were lighted and burned through the night.

The Lampstand was to be kept lighted throughout the night, just as the Presence bread was to be kept on the table continually. Also, the fire was to be kept burning on the Altar of Burnt Offering that stood outside the door of the Tabernacle.

As we notice the manner in which the Lampstand was prepared for the march, we can see that in addition to the golden tongs and firepans there were jars for holding and pouring the olive oil that accompanied the Lampstand.

 And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels [jars] thereof, wherewith they minister unto it: And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put it upon a bar. (Numbers 4:9,10)

Altar of Burnt Offering

Now we have come to the largest of the seven pieces of furniture of the Tabernacle—the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering. All animal sacrifices were made here, at the door of the Tabernacle. It was here that God met Israel, just as God always meets people today at Calvary.

One cannot go around Calvary and find some other way to God. The cross of Christ stands squarely before the entrance to the holy things of the Lord God, and there is no other way.

 And thou shalt make an altar of shittim [acacia] wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits. And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass [possibly, bronze]. And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass. And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof. And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar. And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with brass. And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear it. Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was shewed thee in the mount, so shall they make it. (Exodus 27:1-8)

The Altar of Burnt Offering was made of the same acacia wood found throughout the construction of the Tabernacle. In this case, the acacia wood was covered with bronze, the alloy of copper and tin, or perhaps with copper. The scholars are not certain. It seems likely from the account that it was one or the other.

The four horns sticking up from the four corners of the Altar symbolize the fact that the good news of Christ’s atoning death is to be preached to the ends of the earth; and that His death and the resulting atonement, working through the power of His resurrection, will push with irresistible power and authority until the Kingdom of God fills the earth and Christ is Lord of all.

During the days of the Tabernacle of the Congregation the four horns of the Altar of Burnt Offering were used for tying the animals to be sacrificed.

God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. (Psalms 118:27)

The Altar of Burnt Offering was quite large, about four and one-half feet high and seven and one-half feet square. The Altar dominated the Courtyard area as well as the countryside adjacent to the Tabernacle, because of the ceaseless activity of the priests, Levites, worshipers, animals; the sounds coming from it; and the smell of fat and meat cooking.

In the same manner, Christ on the cross dominates (or should dominate) the activities of the Christian Church. "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." The word altar has the root meaning of "slaying for sacrifice"; and the term burnt offering has the root meaning of "ascending toward God what is acceptable and pleasing to Him."

It appears there was a ledge constructed on the top edge of the Altar. Such a ledge would be in keeping with the design of the ledges on the Table of Showbread, Altar of Incense, and the Ark of the Covenant. It would be of wood covered with bronze.

The ledge would serve as a table, holding the five kinds of bronze utensils—shovels, pails for the ashes, basins for the blood, firepans, and the long forks for working with the meat. Also, the pieces of meat could be laid on it, and the priests could lean on it as they reached over and arranged the parts of the sacrifices. Perhaps animal skins were laid on it to keep the priest from getting burned.

Have you ever tried leaning over and placing an object weighing fifty or one hundred pounds in a certain position? Can you imagine doing this all day, day after day, in the heat of the Sinai desert, without leaning on something?

Why didn’t God tell Moses specifically how to arrange the ledge, and how to construct whatever kind of platform the priests stood on so they could reach the top of the Altar of Burnt Offering?

Perhaps the omission of these practical aspects suggests to us that there is no one right way to approach Christ on the cross. Some come with weeping, some come with great joy. Some come in faith, others in skepticism. Men are brought to Christ by ministers of every type of ability and temperament one can imagine. There are well-educated ministers, unlearned ministers, young ministers, old ministers, fluent orators, and the slow and awkward of speech.

The facts that are unchanging, that are of the essence of God’s intention and have prophetic significance, such as the number five (five cubits square, the five utensils, the five types of sacrifices); the wood covered with bronze; are included in the directions. But other facts of the Altar, the amount of dirt with which it must have been filled, and so forth are not stated.

The omission of some aspects may imply, as we have suggested, that the Holy Spirit prefers to work with people in a variety of ways in bringing them to Christ, and therefore does not want the service of sacrifice to be set forth too rigidly as to its details. Or perhaps the Lord is showing us here that He reserves some information so we remain dependent on Him as we labor in the Kingdom of God.

Then again, the omission of certain facts of construction may indicate that these had to do only with the operation of the Altar of Burnt Offering when it was being used with the children of Israel long ago and there is no prophetic significance attached to them.

The "grate" may have been a fairly heavy network of bronze that covered the upper half of the Altar on the outside, like a massive screen all around the four sides of the upper half of the Altar, commencing just below the ledge and extending halfway down the sides of the Altar. Such a bronze grating would provide the strength needed to keep the hollow wood Altar from being pushed apart, broken at the top, or warped out of shape while it was being carried on the march. Also, a bronze network would tend to radiate away the heat of the Altar.

We are aware there are several versions of the position of the grate, and that we may be the only one who pictures the grate as protecting the top half of the Altar. The Hebrew text is not clear as to the location.

Many view the grate as a cooking grate, located halfway down inside the Altar. Others believe the grate was on the outside and covered the bottom half of the Altar. Yet others conceive of the grate as a platform on which the priests stood as they worked with the sacrificial animals.

The four carrying receptacles were set in the four corners of the bronze grating in order to bear the weight of this—the largest and heaviest of the seven holy furnishings. No doubt the carrying poles were very long and thick (probably not round), perhaps allowing seven or eight Levites on each of the four ends.

There must have been some kind of platform, perhaps a mound of earth built up from the ground around the base of the Altar, two feet or higher, for the priests to stand on when ministering at the Altar. Such a platform would bring the top of the Altar down to their waists.

The height of the Altar was four and one-half feet from ground level, and it would have been impossible for men to work all day in that hot climate, placing hundred-pound pieces of meat on the fire, if they were not standing on some kind of elevated platform. Also, there would have been no way in which the priests could have arranged sacrifices across the seven and one-half foot span, the top surface of the Altar, if they were standing on the ground. The top of the Altar would have been on a level with their faces.

We conclude that the Altar must have been filled with earth, and perhaps mounded in the center. Then, glowing coals were placed on top of the earth, wood was placed on the coals, and the sacrifices on the wood.

To have had the fire down inside the Altar would have necessitated digging a hole at the bottom of the Altar for a draft and for collecting the ashes. The ashes of the sacrifices were handled according to precise ceremonial regulations. It would have been very difficult for the priests to treat the ashes of the sacrifices according to the Mosaic regulations if the bronze grate had been inside the Altar, as some have suggested.

Also, if the fire were not burning up at the top of the Altar on a mound of earth but instead were burning down inside the Altar on a grate, the draft coming from a hole at the bottom, the entire bronze Altar would have constituted a huge bronze oven.

Can you imagine what it would have been like for the priests and Levites standing out in the blazing sun of the Sinai Desert, ministering all day around a red hot bronze oven, four and one-half feet high and seven and one-half feet square, raising and lowering large pieces of bulls, goats and sheep? No doubt the strongest priest would have been completely exhausted by noon.

It seems more likely that the Altar of Burnt Offering was a large box, hollow at both ends, filled with earth to the top. The earth was left behind at the start of each journey and the Altar was refilled at the next stop.

If the Altar were filled with earth to the top, the burning wood would have been higher than the sides of the Altar and the sacrifices laid up where everyone could see them. Christ hung on the cross where He could be seen by everyone, young and old. As Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness on a pole, so the Son of Man was lifted up on the cross that all the ends of the earth might see the redemption God has provided.

If the sacrifices were up at the top of the Altar, the draft of air necessary for a hot wood fire would have come up over the top of the Altar to the burning wood. Under these conditions the bronze sides of the Altar would be warmed only by the desert sun, because the fire was at the surface and earth does not conduct heat readily.

Also, an altar of earth and an earth platform to stand on would have been in keeping with the tenor of the Word of God to Israel. God does not intend that His way of redemption be embellished by the artfulness of the flesh of human beings.

 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon. (Exodus 20:26)

When the poles were inserted in the four bronze receptacles of the grate and the Altar was lifted, the grate of bronze (probably constructed by weaving a network of heavy bronze straps) would be just what was needed to keep this large hollow box square in shape.

The Altar was five cubits square. The number five, as used here, seems to refer to the beginning, or entrance, of spiritual life, just as animal life began on the fifth day of creation. There were five pillars at the entrance to the Tabernacle; and the fifth of the seven holy furnishings, the Altar of Incense, stood at the entrance to the Holy of Holies. The number five appears to be symbolic of the beginning, or entrance, of the Kingdom of God.

The four sides of the Altar portray the four ministries that present Christ crucified: the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, and the pastor-teacher. Therefore, the size and shape of the Altar were significant and not to be changed in any manner. The heavy bronze grating would insure the maintaining of the exact shape of the Altar of Burnt Offering when it was picked up and carried for many miles over rough terrain by the Levites.

It is believed that bronze typifies God’s judgment on our conduct. Bronze can withstand the heat of the fire that consumes the sacrifice. Also bronze is a tough metal symbolic, in the Scriptures, of strength. Gold is a soft metal, unsuitable for war. Bronze is a metal of war, of resistance, of overcoming.

The bronze horns on the Altar of Burnt Offering indicate that the power of the crucified Christ will overcome all other powers of the universe, and will push against them until they are ground to powder under His bronze (or brass) feet (burnished brass, refined in the furnace of God’s judgment—Revelation 1:15).

If we are to offer our bodies a whole burnt offering, a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), then the altar of our soul must be strengthened with a "grate of bronze." Otherwise, when the flesh begins to kick and squirm and many pressures come on us, our altar will fall apart or lose its shape.

God weaves great straps of bronze, a network of judgment, in our life and mightily strengthens our soul so we not only can stand up under the sacrifice and the grueling rigors of the march, as we "follow the cloud by day and the fire by night," but also can push with bronze horns (to speak figuratively) through the wisdom and strength of the Holy Spirit and the blood of Jesus until we overcome the accuser of the brothers, the huge dragon, the ancient serpent who deceives all humanity.

There were five kinds of utensils associated with the Altar of Burnt Offering, all made of bronze: the pails for the ashes, shovels for handling hot coals and for removing ashes, basins to receive the blood, forks to arrange the sacrifice on the altar and to remove portions to be eaten, and firepans (censers) to hold burning coals from the Altar when necessary for the Divine service.

The Altar of Burnt Offering was located in line with the door of the Tabernacle, out in the Courtyard of the Tabernacle, separated from the door of the Tabernacle only by the Laver—the bronze basin at which the priests washed their hands and feet before entering the Holy Place.

The Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver were located in front of the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and it was here that God met the children of Israel.

 And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein. (Exodus 40:6,7)

At the time of the consecration of Aaron and his sons the Divine fire consumed the offering.

And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. (Leviticus 9:24)

The fire on the Altar of Burnt Offering was to be kept burning at all times.

A study of Leviticus will reveal that there were five main types of sacrificial offerings serviced at the Altar of Burnt Offering:

The burnt offering

The meal, or cereal offering

The peace offering

The sin offering

The trespass offering

The priests and Levites were busy all day, commencing with the morning sacrifice, which was a lamb offered each morning as a burnt offering. Many animals were sacrificed each day as the priests ministered to the needs of the tribes of Israel at the Altar of Burnt Offering.

The first five chapters of Leviticus describe the five main types of sacrificial offerings. The first offering, the burnt offering, was not a sin offering. It was an offering of consecration, just as we Christians offer our body to God as an offering of consecration.

Chapter One of Leviticus—the burnt offering, in which the whole animal, except for its skin, was consumed by fire. The burnt offering is especially important because it was mentioned first and because it is from this offering that the Altar derives its name. The idea of the burnt offering is that of a sweet, satisfying fragrance ascending to the Lord.

 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire: And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. (Leviticus 1:3-9)

The burnt offering brought to God’s remembrance the perfect consecration of His Son, the Lord Jesus; also, the dedication and offering of the lives of His saints (Romans 12:1,2). The burnt offering teaches us that every person who is called to be a servant of the Lord, as were the children of Israel, must keep on presenting his life to God as a burnt offering, always ready for the fire of God to come down and consume the offering.

Let us not draw back when God makes extraordinary demands on us. We have presented ourselves before God as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ so we may be perfectly obedient, not so we may be able to maintain our own stubborn will and desires against what God intends for us. The Lord Jesus Christ was the perfect burnt offering before God, completely obedient, completely consumed by the fire of God.

Chapter Two of Leviticus—the meal (cereal) offering of fine flour, oil and frankincense.

 And when any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: And he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord: And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire. (Leviticus 2:1-3)

The meal offering differed from the other four sacrifices in that the life of an animal, and blood, were not involved. The worshiper could not identify himself with his offering in the same manner that was true of the burnt offering, by laying both his hands on the head of the animal and then killing it.

Rather, the meal offering of fine flour, oil and frankincense

represented the work of the man’s hands. In the burnt offering the Israelite was offering himself as a burnt offering to the Lord. But in the meal offering he was offering the works of his hands, his possessions and accomplishments, to the Lord. A handful of his meal offering was burned on the Altar of Burnt Offering, and the remainder belonged to the priests for their food.

All of the frankincense was burned on the Altar because the frankincense was a holy perfume unto the Lord and it was not to be given to the priests.

The meal (grain) offering was made without yeast or honey, for yeast and honey were never to be burned as an offering to the Lord. Also, every grain offering was to be seasoned with salt.

A meal offering could be offered together with another kind of offering that did involve a slain animal (Leviticus 23:18).

Chapter Three of Leviticus—the peace offering.

 And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about. (Leviticus 3:1,2)

The peace offering was unique in that the worshiper was allowed to eat a portion of the meat that was offered. In the other four types of offerings, the priests would receive something—the skin of the animal of the sin offering and some of the meat of the other offerings. But in the case of the peace offering, the worshiper was directed to eat the flesh of his offering within a prescribed time (Leviticus 7:15).

As was true of the whole burnt offering, the worshiper laid both his hands on the head of his bull, or cow, or lamb, or goat, and then killed his animal at the door of the Tabernacle.

The peace offering was a sweet and satisfying odor to the Lord. It could be a thanksgiving for an answered prayer, or as part of a vow, or a freewill offering to the Lord. The Israelite had not sinned, nor trespassed, nor was he offering himself or his goods in consecration; rather, he was maintaining his peace with God much as we Christians do by giving thanks in everything each day. The worshiper who offered a peace offering was keeping himself in conscious fellowship with the Lord. We are able to keep in conscious fellowship with the Lord because the peace offering of the blood of the Lord Jesus always is being offered to God on our behalf.

Chapter Four of Leviticus—the sin offering

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them: If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering. And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty; When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned. (Leviticus 4:1-3,13,22,27,28)

As we study Chapter Four of Leviticus we observe two main aspects of the sin offering: (1) the sins of different classes of people were treated differently depending on their place of responsibility before God—it made a difference whether it was the anointed priest who sinned or one of the common people; and (2) all the sin offerings were for sin committed through error, or unwittingly.

There was no provision in the Lord’s offerings for willful sin. Any Israelite who knew God’s law and deliberately set out to break it was to be cut off from his people. God’s provision for atonement through animal sacrifice was for the person who sinned unintentionally.

Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him. (Numbers 15:29-31)

What does that say to us Christians about behaving in a manner we know to be sinful in the sight of God?

We know that God is merciful and that His great love guides us to repentance when we commit sin. But what about the Christian who, although he understands he is doing wrong, keeps on sinning in spite of being reproved by his conscience, by the Holy Spirit, by the Word of God, and by his fellow Christians?

 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (Hebrews 10:26)

An important fact about the sin offering is that it especially represents Christ. Of the five offerings, the burnt, the meal or cereal ("meat" in King James), the peace, the sin, and the trespass, it seems the sin offering stands out as being central to the Gospel. Christ became sin for us. He takes away the sin of the world.

If the high priest sinned, he had to lay his hands on the head of a young bull and then slay it before the Lord. The priest had to sprinkle the blood before the Veil and put some on the horns of the golden Altar of Incense. Part of the bull was then burned on the Altar of Burnt Offering and part burned outside the camp.

If the entire congregation sinned, the elders of the congregation laid their hands on the head of a young bull and then the bull was killed. Again, the high priest sprinkled the blood before the Veil and put some on the horns of the Altar of Incense. Part of the bull was burned on the Altar of Burnt Offering and the rest burned outside the camp.

When a leader of Israel sinned unintentionally, he put his hands on the head of a male goat and then slew it. This time the blood was not sprinkled before the Veil but the blood was put on the horns of the Altar of Burnt Offering. The fat was burned on the Altar in the same manner as the fat of the peace offering.

When one of the common people sinned unintentionally, unwittingly, he had to lay his hands on the head of a male goat and then slay it. The priest put the blood on the horns of the Altar of Burnt Offering. The fat was burned on the Altar. Or, a common person could offer a female lamb. The result of the sin offerings was that the person breaking the law of God through ignorance or unintentionally was forgiven.

Again, let us stress the fact that there was no provision in the five sacrifices for the Israelite who, knowing God’s Law, set out to break it in defiance of God’s revelation through the Ten Commandments of His will concerning the governing of human conduct.

The Ten Commandments were God’s testimony concerning Himself and His will. The Ten Commandments were God’s covenant with Israel that they should do them and thus find favor with God. When they broke that law unintentionally there was provision for forgiveness.

Chapter Five through Chapter Six, verse seven, of Leviticus—the trespass offering.

 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity. Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty. Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty. Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin. (Leviticus 5:1-6)

If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour; Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein: Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering. (Leviticus 6:2-5)

There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the sin offering and the trespass offering. However, one distinction is that the sin offering involves sinning against the commandments of the Lord, against one of the Ten Commandments; whereas the trespass offering seems to involve specific misconducts, perhaps not quite as serious in God’s sight as adultery or making a graven image.

The trespass offering makes an atonement for such things as refusing to testify, touching something unclean, violating the ceremonial law, behaving deceitfully or violently against one’s neighbor, lying about something that was lost, and so forth.

Sometimes restitution was involved. A lamb, or goat, or bird had to be offered on the Altar to make an atonement, and then the offender was forgiven.

Again, let us emphasize the fact that these animal sacrifices were for unintentional sin. There was no provision for the Israelite who, knowing God’s law and will, deliberately set out to disobey it.

So it is in the Christian walk. The blood of Christ forgives and cleanses us as soon as we confess a sin that the Holy Spirit has pointed out to us, a sin in which we were deceived, perhaps without being fully aware that we were offending God or man.

But if we accept Christ and then make no attempt to live a holy life, obeying instead the desires of our flesh and mind while hardening our heart against the Word of God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, then we will die spiritually. We will not be able to participate in the first resurrection at the Lord’s return.

The blood of Christ does not cover willful sinning. God is merciful, and if we repent in time we can return to the Father’s House. But "he, who being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

The sacrifices of the Lord performed on the Altar of Burnt Offering were for the purpose of accomplishing the several aspects of making of an atonement for sin. The term atonement is difficult to define because it includes so much. The principal meaning of making an atonement seems to be that of reconciling to God a person who has been cut off from God’s Presence and favor.

Included in the meaning of making an atonement are the following concepts: covering sin; forgiving sin; appeasing the wrath of God; peace with God; cleansing from the guilt of sin, from tendencies toward sin, and from the effects and consequences of sin; imputed (ascribed) righteousness, that is, the righteousness of Christ applied to our account while we still are in the bondage of sin; and also inwrought holiness and righteousness, that is, holiness and righteousness worked out in us so we think, speak and act in a holy and righteous manner.

Through the authority and power of the blood of Christ we are delivered from the authority and power of Satan. Through the authority and power of the blood of Christ we are able to maintain our fellowship with God.

Atonement includes the separating of the light of Christ that is in us from the darkness of sin that is in us. Atonement brings us from total chaos of spirit, soul and body all the way to conformity to the moral image of Christ; to perfect union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; to the eternal indwelling of the Father in Christ through the Holy Spirit in us; and to absolute dominion over all things through Christ.

Making the Divine atonement brings a human being from the deepest Hell and lifts him to the throne of Christ. Making an atonement through Christ begins when we are the enemy of God and draws us until we are reconciled perfectly to God; until we are abiding in God and He in us; until we become bone of the bone of Christ and flesh of the flesh of Christ.

The four horns on the upper four corners of the Altar of Burnt Offering, which were used on occasion to tether the sacrificial animals, point to the four corners of the earth, reminding Israel that God’s salvation will one day reach out to include all nations.

The great Altar was kept burning all day and all night servicing the needs of the multitude of Israelites. Aaron and his sons and thousands of Levites attended to the work of the Altar. The smell of burning fat and meat filled the entire camp at all hours.

The Altar of Burnt Offering was much larger than the other vessels of the Tabernacle. The Altar of Burnt Offering dominated the Tabernacle and its services. Remember, the people could not see inside the Holy Place or the Holy of Holies because those two areas were covered. Only the priests could enter there. It was out in the Courtyard at the Altar of Burnt Offering that the people could see what was taking place and have their needs met directly.

When the peoples of the earth look at the Church they should see the Altar of Burnt Offering, so to speak. This Altar represents the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

People should hear of the crucified and resurrected Christ from the lips of the Church, and they should see the crucified and resurrected Christ in the lives of the members of the Church. They shall see Christ if we present our bodies a "whole burnt offering unto the Lord" (Romans 12:1,2).

When the Altar of Burnt Offering was to be prepared for moving, as Israel followed the cloud by day and the fire by night, the ashes were removed and a purple cloth was spread over the Altar. The "purple" cloth is a dramatic picture of the royal majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then the censers, forks, shovels, basins, and pots for ashes were put on the purple cloth. Next, a weatherproof covering of porpoises’ skins was spread over the whole, and the bronze-covered acacia-wood carrying poles were inserted into the receptacles of bronze.

After all this had been done, and the rest of the sanctuary and all its vessels had been covered by the priest, and the whole camp was ready to move forward, then the sons of Kohath were allowed to come and pick up the two carrying poles and place them on their shoulders. But the sons of Kohath under no conditions were to touch the seven holy furnishings (Numbers 4:13-15).

Altar of Incense

And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about. And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal. And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon. And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the Lord. (Exodus 30:1-10)

The Altar of Incense was located in the Holy Place, directly in front of the Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat was in the Holy of Holies, and the Veil separated the Altar of Incense from the Mercy Seat.

The burning of incense on the Altar of Incense was one of the principal responsibilities of the high priest and there are several passages of Scripture that link the priesthood and the offering of incense. Typical of these passages are the following:

 And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? (I Samuel 2:28)

Again, in Deuteronomy 33:10:

 They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.

The two altars of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the Altar of Burnt Offering (the ascending of a sweet savor unto the Lord by burnt sacrifice) and the Altar of Incense (the ascending of a sweet smell unto the Lord from the holy incense) are listed fifth and sixth in order of the Tabernacle furniture in their first presentation by the Lord.

The two altars were especially the responsibility of the priests, particularly of the anointed (high) priest. The Altar of Burnt Offering had to be listed first of the two because no one can approach with praise unto the Lord God until he first has come by way of the cross of Christ and received the atonement made there for him.

The holy incense that was burned on the Altar of Incense was compounded from stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense, seasoned with salt (King James—"tempered together"). This mixture was the only incense allowed in the Tabernacle, and if any person made perfume like it for his own use he was to be cut off from Israel.

It seems the holy incense was kept in cups on the ledge of the Table of Showbread and thrown on the hot coals of the Altar of Incense according to the specific directions of the Lord. The censers for use within the Tabernacle building were of pure gold, being made from the same refined gold as the Lampstand.

As we said, the burning of incense was a particular responsibility of the high priest of Israel. The incense burned continually, day and night, in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. The high priest replenished the coals and the incense at sunrise and at sunset, twice in each twenty-four hour period, at the same time that he added oil to the seven lamps and adjusted the seven wicks (at sunrise) and lighted the lamps (at sunset).

One very important ceremony involving the holy incense occurred during the annual Day of Atonement.

 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not: (Leviticus 16:12,13)

It seems likely that the censer mentioned here is identical with the censer mentioned in Exodus 25:38, where the word "snuffdishes" should be translated censers. The high priest was to put some coals from the Altar of Incense into one of the golden censers from the Lampstand, and with his other hand bring a cup of incense from the Table of Showbread.

With these he went behind the Veil and stood before the Atonement Cover (the lid on the Ark). While standing there he poured the holy incense on the hot coals in the censer. Immediately a cloud of perfume filled the Holy of Holies, especially covering the Propitiatory (Mercy Seat).

To neglect covering the Mercy Seat with a cloud of the holy perfume was to run the risk of death.

Hebrews 9:4 places the Altar of Incense in the Most Holy Place with the Ark of the Covenant. However, it appears unlikely that anything except the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat remained all year within the Holy of Holies.

Perhaps the writer of Hebrews was referring to the Day of Atonement when only the high priest of Israel went within the sacred Veil, perhaps bringing the Altar of Incense with him. He then would take the golden censer from the Lampstand containing coals from the Altar of Incense and pour the holy incense on the glowing coals. All the other days of the year the golden censer would stay with the Lampstand, where it was employed to carry the coals that were placed twice each day on the Altar of Incense.

Another possibility is that the Holy of Holies had been empty for so many hundreds of years, the Ark having been captured by Nebuchadnezzar (about 586 B.C.), that by the time the Book of Hebrews was written the priests had moved the Altar of Incense into the Most Holy Place so the room would contain a holy vessel (the Altar of Incense) during the ceremony of the Day of Atonement.

The golden Altar of Incense was much smaller than the Altar of Burnt Offering, being only eighteen inches square and three feet high. It was, however, higher than the Ark and the Table of Showbread by nine inches.

The Altar of Incense had four horns, similar to the great Altar of Burnt Offering, showing that all the ends of the earth will one day offer praise and prayer to Almighty God. Also, the four horns pointed to the four divisions of Israelites camped around the Tabernacle, indicating that the Church is to offer prayer and praise to God without ceasing.

Acacia wood was used in the construction of the Altar of Incense. The wood was covered with pure gold, including the horns. There was the crown (rim, border) of gold around the top as in the case of the Ark of the Covenant and the Table of Showbread. It had its two golden receptacles for the carrying poles, the receptacles being located just under the crown on two opposite corners. The carrying poles were acacia wood overlaid with gold.

Only one kind of incense was to be burned on this smaller altar—the special holy incense. Animal sacrifice was never to be burned on the Altar of Incense, nor a cereal offering burned on it, nor a drink offering poured on the coals of it. It was for burning the holy incense and for that purpose alone.

In the case of certain sin offerings, blood was put on the horns of the Altar of Incense.

When Israel prepared to take up its journey, following the cloud by day and the fire by night, a cloth of blue was spread over the golden Altar of Incense. Then the protective cover of porpoises’ skins was wrapped over the blue cloth. Finally, the two gold-covered carrying poles were inserted in the two gold receptacles.

Any remaining utensils of ministry of the sanctuary that had not been prepared for moving as yet were put in a cloth of blue, then covered with porpoise skin and put on a frame for carrying.

There was no provision for removing the coals or incense when Israel was on the march. Perhaps the incense was to be kept burning perpetually, even while the Israelites were journeying through the wilderness, but this is unlikely. Keeping the incense burning on the march would present serious practical problems. Also, the incense was only for the Lord to smell.

The Altar of Incense was the fifth piece of furniture of the Tabernacle if one begins at the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering. The celebration of Trumpets was the fifth of the seven Levitical convocations (Leviticus 23:24).

The close relationship between the Altar of Incense and the convocation of Trumpets, each being number five in a series of seven, can be seen in Revelation 8:2-6.

 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. (Revelation 8:2-6)

It can be seen from this description that the Altar of Incense has great significance in the sight of God. It is associated with the Blowing of Trumpets and therefore with the judgments of God in the last days.

Laver

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord: So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations. (Exodus 30:17-21)

Less is said, as far as details of construction are concerned, about the bronze Laver than any other of the seven pieces of furniture. The size is not given. The way in which it was to be prepared for carrying is not described.

It appears that God has told us exactly what He wants us to understand, meditate on, and act on as far as the Tabernacle of the Congregation is concerned. Therefore, what is given is to be observed and what is omitted makes it possible for the Holy Spirit to work with the disciple in a variety of ways.

Since the Laver speaks to us of the manner in which God works with each person in the sanctifying of his or her life, perhaps the lack of detail tells us that there is wide room for differences among Christians when it comes to living a holy life. What the Holy Spirit demands of one person is not always true for another.

Sometimes the Spirit of God will speak to a Christian about giving up a certain behavior or performing a particular duty. That Christian is not to go out and bring his fellow Christians under the same obligation—it is just for him. It is his own sanctification. God has not required it of others.

In some aspects of the Christian walk, all are to share. Every one of us is to share in the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, for example. But in daily habits of life, of prayer, of Scripture reading, of liberties we may or may not have, the Holy Spirit adjusts these requirements to the spiritual needs of each saint depending on the responsibilities God has laid on that saint as far as the Kingdom of God is concerned, and also in terms of the believer’s level of maturity at that time.

Perhaps the lack of detail in the description of the Laver frees each of us to work out his own salvation as the Holy Spirit leads. We are not under someone else’s obligations and he is not under ours.

The Laver was located "between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar," which seems to indicate that the Laver was placed directly in front of the door of the Tabernacle between the Altar of Burnt Offering and the door of the Tabernacle.

The water in the Laver enabled the high priest and the other priests to wash their hands and their feet before they went into the Tabernacle to minister before the Lord. This reminds us of the words of Paul concerning the Church: "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:26).

The Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver stood out in the Courtyard of the Tabernacle, out in the sunlight. They seem to say, "Receive the atonement made by the Lamb of God, Christ, and be baptized in water, washing away your sins."

The source of the bronze for the Laver and its base is interesting.

 And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Exodus 38:8)

God’s Word is a mirror. When we look into it we see ourselves. We can tell from a mirror if we are clean and neat or if there is dirt that needs to be washed away.

If we would minister in the holy things of the Lord we must wash daily through means of the Word of God.

As we read the Word, the Holy Spirit brings to our minds and hearts the things we are doing that are not right in God’s sight. Then we must confess our sins; and the Lord Jesus is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Scholars have differing ideas concerning the form of the Laver and the way it worked. As we have thought about this, two facts seem to stand out: first, when the Laver is mentioned, the foot (base) of the Laver is also mentioned, suggesting that there was something of special importance about the base; second, there were no receptacles in the Laver, no directions for covering or transporting it.

The lack of directions for transporting the Laver is striking indeed when we compare the elaborate precautions taken with the other six pieces of furniture. It seems as though God didn’t care whether the Kohathites carried the Laver, or if it was put in one of the carts, or if anybody standing around did with it as he wished.

However, the Laver was one of the holy objects of the Tabernacle, so we know it actually was covered and transported on the march with the greatest of care.

In addition to the emphasis on the base and the lack of directions for carrying the Laver, a third factor must be considered. The priests ministered all day in a dirty, bloody occupation. The Courtyard of the Tabernacle of the Congregation had some of the problems of a stockyard. The priest would not put his hands or feet into the water while it remained in the Laver. The water was poured on his hands and feet by servants.

Did you ever picture in your mind what it must have been like working all day in the midst of that much blood, bawling animals, people standing in line in the hot sun, the constant lifting of the heavy sides of beef and mutton? The priests would have become very sweaty and dirty. It is easy to understand why God required that the priest entering the Holy Place to minister before the Lampstand or Altar of Incense must first wash his hands and feet at the Laver.

A servant may have used a dipper to pour water on the hands and feet of the priest. An interesting design has been presented by Ben Uri, who has made a study of ancient water fixtures (described in The Tabernacle: Camping with God, Stephen F. Olford, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, New Jersey, 1973, p. 183). Ben Uri suggests a basin pivoting on a rod.

Putting together the lack of directions for carrying the Laver, the emphasis on the base, and the fact that the bronze from the mirrors of the women who ministered at the door of the Tabernacle may not have added up to much bronze, one could conclude that the Laver of the Tabernacle of the Congregation may have been quite small.

In fact, the Laver may have been a small basin of bronze placed on a bronze pedestal—too small to have receptacles and carrying poles, which might have made it look ridiculous if indeed it were of small size. Perhaps it was a low wash basin filled with water; and every time a priest washed it was picked up off the base, poured on the hands and feet of the priest, and then replaced on the base and refilled with water.

If this were the case, the Laver and its base may have been placed in the cloth of blue and carried on the frame with the small golden utensils of the Tabernacle. But, as seems more likely, it probably was placed on the purple cloth with the bronze utensils of the Altar of Burnt Offering and carried along with that altar.

It seems probable that the Laver was carried with the Altar of Burnt Offering, for three reasons:

The Laver was solid bronze, and the Altar was covered with bronze and its utensils were solid bronze.

The Laver is closely related in meaning and experience to the Altar of Burnt Offering—each has to do with the bondage of sin in our life. Accepting Christ as our atonement, and being baptized in water, go together. The Spirit, the water, and the blood bear witness in earth (I John 5;8).

The Laver being carried with the Altar of Burnt Offering provides a symmetry having to do with the overall design of the furnishings of the Tabernacle.

The symmetry is as follows: in the Holy of Holies there were two pieces of furniture that remained together on the march—the Mercy Seat and the Ark of the Covenant. The Mercy Seat was solid gold and was carried on top of the Ark of the Covenant, which was wood overlaid with gold; and the two pieces of furniture were closely related in meaning and experience.

In order to balance these two, thereby enhancing the symmetry of the arrangement of the seven holy furnishings, the two vessels out in the Courtyard also may be considered together. The Laver was solid bronze, the counterpart of the solid gold Mercy Seat; and it may have been carried on top of the purple cloth that covered the Altar of Burnt Offering, which was wood overlaid with bronze—the counterpart of the Ark of the Covenant which was wood overlaid with gold.

There were no directions for carrying the Mercy Seat—it accompanied the Ark of the Covenant. Perhaps the reason for there being no directions for carrying the Laver was that the Laver accompanied the Altar of Burnt Offering.

Interaction and Common Aspects of the Seven Furnishings

Have you ever thought about the common factors that linked the seven holy furnishings? First of all, the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver were together in the Courtyard of the Tabernacle, so they had placement in common—a common location. The Table of Showbread, the Lampstand and the Altar of Incense were together in the Holy Place. The Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat were together in the Holy of Holies. Their common placement suggests that they tend to be grouped together in spiritual fulfillment.

There was much interaction among the seven furnishings. On occasion, the blood was taken from the sacrifice on the Altar of Burnt Offering and brought into the sanctuary, there to be sprinkled on the Mercy Seat or before the Veil; or perhaps put on the horns of the Altar of Incense, depending on the particular observance.

Because of the heavy work of sacrifice at the Altar of Burnt Offering the priests would become very sweaty and dirty. If a priest were then to go into the Tabernacle to minister at the Table of Showbread, the Lampstand, or the Altar of Incense, or the Mercy Seat, he first had to wash at the Laver.

We can see from these examples that there was much interaction among the seven holy furnishings of the Tabernacle. It is true today that the actions of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ are interrelated and depend on each other for the accomplishment of their purposes. This is why competition among Christian groups can never be more than the futile striving of ambitious people (I Corinthians 1:13).

The incense cups from the Table of Showbread were used to put incense on the Altar of Incense, and also on the golden censer during the Day of Atonement. The hot coals were picked up by means of the golden tongs from the Lampstand. The incense from the Altar of Incense covered the Lampstand and the Table of Showbread.

On the Day of Atonement the anointed priest slew a young bull at the Altar of Burnt Offering, bathed at the Laver, took a censer from the Lampstand, filled the censer with coals from the Altar of Incense, took a cup full of incense from the Table of Showbread, went behind the Veil and put the incense on the glowing coals in the golden censer he was carrying, and then sprinkled some of the blood of the young bull on the Mercy Seat and before the Mercy Seat.

The Day of Atonement was a most important observance of the Hebrew religious year. All the vessels of the Tabernacle worked together on that day. So it is that the Body of Christ is built up and operates by that which every part supplies.

There were other common factors among the seven holy vessels. For example: both the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Altar of Incense had four horns. This signifies that the sacrifice of Christ, and worship and supplication, are to go to the ends of the earth.

 . . . so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11)

Also, horns in the Scriptures mean power—power to push back an enemy. There is great power in the cross of Christ, power to overcome the enemy. There is tremendous power also in the prayer and praise of the Altar of Incense. Power is revealed by the four horns on these two altars.

The Ark, the Altar of Incense, and the Table of Showbread had crowns. The crowns speak to us of the lordship of Christ, and also of the crown awaiting each overcomer. The Mercy Seat and the Lampstand were both created from solid gold beaten into shape. These two furnishings in particular reveal the Persons and work of the Godhead.

Both the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver contained bronze. Bronze in the Scriptures represents the fire and strength of God’s judgment. The Mercy Seat, Lampstand, and the Laver were created from solid metal—no wood was included; this they had in common. The Mercy Seat, the Laver, and the Lampstand remind us of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit of I John 5:7. The Altar of Burnt Offering, the Table of Showbread, and the Lampstand had in common that specific utensils were included with them. Perhaps these utensils, symbols of human service, were included with them because the three furnishings represent critical elements in the salvation of people.

If we include the Laver as part of the Altar of Burnt Offering, we have the primary aspects of salvation: (1) the atonement made by the offering of Christ—the Altar of Burnt Offering; (2) the cleansing of water baptism—the Laver; (3) the eating and drinking of the body and blood of Christ, the born-again experience—the Table of Showbread; and (4) the Holy Spirit through whom we are baptized into the Body of Christ—the Lampstand.

The remaining three holy vessels have more to do with our service toward God than they do with our own salvation. They meet God’s requirements rather than our needs, speaking broadly. The turning point between our needs and God’s needs is the fourth of the holy furnishings, the Lampstand. It is at the Lampstand that we begin to change from the saved person, occupied primarily with the meeting of his own needs, into the servant of the Lord who is intent on meeting God’s needs.

The Altar of Incense, the Lampstand, and the Altar of Burnt Offering were the three vessels that contained the Lord’s fire—a fire that was to be kept burning.

The Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver had in common that they were lighted by the sun. The three vessels of the Holy Place were lighted (at night) by the Lampstand. The two vessels in the Holy of Holies were lighted by the Glory of God.

The seven holy furnishings had in common that they were carried on the shoulders of the Kohathite Levites rather than in wagons, as were the remaining parts of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

There probably were many other characteristics held in common among two or more of the seven holy furnishings of the Tabernacle. But we will end for now our discussion of the physical characteristics of the seven pieces of furniture of the Tabernacle. How well can you remember the facts we have discussed?

 Sides of the Tabernacle

The Tabernacle building had wooden walls on both sides and a wooden wall on the rear (western end) of the structure. There was a door on the front made of material hung on five pillars, or posts. The three walls were constructed of wide, thick boards standing on end, having two tenons inserted in heavy silver sockets. The sockets were placed on the ground.

This long, rectangular, barn-like building was about fifteen feet across, fifteen feet high, and forty-five feet in length. It was partitioned off by the cloth Veil into two rooms. The front (eastern) room was the Holy Place. It occupied two-thirds of the length, being about thirty feet long.

The Holy Place: Furnishings; Door; Walls; Ceiling; Veil; and Floor

The rear room on the western end, the Holy of Holies, was cubical in proportion, fifteen feet wide, high, and long. The roof was fine twisted linen protected by a tent of black goats’ hair wool, a covering of red leather over the black goats’ hair, and a final covering of porpoises’ skins over the red leather. There were five bars running horizontally through rings on the outside of the three wooden sides. Now, let’s look at some of these parts in more detail.

The north, south, and west walls were constructed from thick, heavy boards standing in sockets of silver placed on the wilderness floor. The floor of the Tabernacle, from the Holy of Holies to the outer court, was the desert ground.

God wants His saints to have their feet on the ground. When Moses and Joshua were at the beginning of their ministries, God made them take off their shoes. This means all our works are to be removed and taken out of the way when we come before the Lord.

All of our pretenses, facades, hypocrisy, conniving, self-centeredness and self-seeking, personal ambition and so forth must be stripped from us if we are to approach God.

No matter how ornate were the glorious and beautiful robes of the high priests; no matter how costly and gleaming the golden vessels of the sanctuary, the stunning blues, purples and crimsons of the Veil, the door of the sanctuary and the gate of the Court; the woven cherubim in the sparkling white linen; in spite of all of this spectacular glory and beauty the floor of the Tabernacle remained the dust of the earth. For man was made from the dust of the earth, and it is wholesome for people to recall this fact every once in a while.

 And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of Shittim wood standing up. Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board. Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle. (Exodus 26:15-17)

The thickness of the boards is not mentioned, but the other dimensions that are stated suggest one-fourth cubit (four and one-half inches) of thickness for each board, thereby forming the inside dimensions of symbolic significance for the Holy and Most Holy places.

The boards were fifteen feet long, twenty-seven inches wide, and perhaps four and one-half inches thick. Each board was anchored by means of two pegs, or tenons, in the lower end of the board, set into two sockets of silver estimated at one hundred twenty-five pounds apiece.

If you can visualize the picture, each of the forty-eight boards being of this massive size and anchored in a total of six tons of silver, and then covered with four layers of heavy material, you can see that the strongest wind blowing through the wilderness could not move the Tabernacle of the Congregation, just as the forces of Hell can do nothing against the Body of Christ once it has been built on Christ.

 And thou shalt make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward. And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons. And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards: And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. (Exodus 26:18-21)

The silver for the Tabernacle was obtained from an offering required of every Israelite man of twenty years and older. The half shekel of silver was an "atonement" for their souls (Exodus 38:25-28).

 And for the sides of the tabernacle westward thou shalt make six boards. (Exodus 26:22)

This last verse (Exodus 26:22) contains the expression "sides of the tabernacle westward." It seems likely that there was only one side on the western end of the Tabernacle. The western end is the back wall of the Holy of Holies, and it is very unlikely that it was shaped like a blunt arrow, which is the only way there could have been two sides on the west end.

The Amplified Bible refers to it as the "west side." (The Amplified Bible, Old Testament. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1965.) Rotherham translates it "the hinderpart of the habitation westward." (The Emphasized Bible, translated by Joseph Bryant Rotherham, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, reprinted 1971.) Apparently the Hebrew phraseology is difficult to convey in English, so we probably should ascribe this obscurity to problems within the translation of the Scripture from Hebrew into English. In any event, there seems to have been just one side on the west, and it was constructed from six boards.

 And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides. (Exodus 26:23)

Scholars have worked with the two corner boards in different ways. The solution appealing to us is that the two corner boards were ripped and mitered, and joined at right angles, forming two corner sections—one each for the northwest corner and the southwest corner.

This would make a better joint than just butting the corners, and would account for the inside dimensions of the room. Allowances had to be made for the thickness of the Veil and the thickness of the boards so the inside dimensions of the room would be exact.

Has it occurred to you as we have gone along that we have had to say several times, it must have been like this or it must have been like that?

It certainly would make our task a lot simpler if God would show us what the Tabernacle looked like. God showed the Tabernacle to Moses while Moses was up in Mount Sinai. God commanded Moses to make all things according to the pattern showed to him in the mountain. Moses did not have to rely on the written directions. He had seen the Tabernacle as God wanted it constructed.

So it is today. We cannot construct the Church of Christ solely from the directions in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit must assist us and give us the Spirit of revelation. If we do not have the current revelation of the Holy Spirit, and attempt to build just from what is written, too much will be left to human judgment. The result will be strife, arguing, divisions in the Body of Christ.

It is time now for the Holy Spirit to be put in charge (by us) of the building of the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit must become much more prominent in church government and operation as we approach the coming of the Lord. "Saul’s day" is quickly coming to a close. It is time for our "King David" from Heaven, the Lord Jesus, to come into His own inheritance in the Church and the world.

Still speaking of the two corner boards, the Scripture states:

 And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. (Exodus 26:24)

This is speaking of the reinforcing of the corner sections with rings.

 And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. And thou shalt make bars of Shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the two sides westward. (Exodus 26:25-27)

Again we come to the statement "the two sides westward." The Amplified Bible renders this, "five bars for the boards of the rear end of the tabernacle, for the back wall to the west." (The Amplified Bible, Old Testament. ) Rotherham translates, "five bars for the boards of the side of the habitation, at the hinderpart westward." (The Emphasized Bible. )

Again, there apparently was only one side on the west. The problem seems to be merely one of translation of Hebrew into English. No writer on the Tabernacle whom we have studied indicates more than one side on the west.

 And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall reach from end to end. (Exodus 26:28)

There were five bars running horizontally around the three wooden sides of the Tabernacle, inserted in rings of gold. There has been some discussion about how these bars were placed, especially the middle bar. The opinion that seems reasonable to us is that the middle bar ran the whole length of each of the three sides, while the two bars above and the two bars below were somewhat shorter, but long enough to give the necessary added strength to the walls.

The long bar in the middle of the shorter bars presents the same design as the long branch of the Lampstand with the shorter branches on each side. We mentioned previously that the number five speaks of beginnings, especially in the sense of entrance. The Altar of Burnt Offering was five cubits square; five pillars supported the hanging for the door of the sanctuary; the Altar of Incense was the fifth of the seven holy furnishings and stood at the entrance to the Holy of Holies.

The fence around the Court of the Tabernacle was five cubits high. The fifth day of creation was the beginning of animal life. The fifth Levitical convocations was the Blowing of Trumpets, which marked the first day (New Year’s Day) of the Jewish civil, or agricultural year.

The Blowing of Trumpets symbolizes the beginning of spiritual warfare and the coming of the King, who is announced by trumpets. In the symbolism of the wilderness wanderings, the silver trumpets were made after Mount Sinai (after Pentecost, the fourth feast—Sinai and Pentecost are related in symbolic meaning) and reveal the organizing of the congregation of wandering sheep of Israel into the host of the Lord that always follows the Ark of the Covenant into battle against the enemies of God. The number five appears to speak of the beginning, the entrance into the Kingdom of God.

The five bars suggest to us that the Body of Christ, the fulfillment of the symbolism of the Tabernacle building, is held together, first of all, by Christ Himself—the long bar running around the outside of the building; just as Christ is shown by the long central branch of the Lampstand. Additional support is then given to the Body of Christ by the four ministries of Ephesians, Chapter Four: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the shepherd-teachers.

It is possible that the fifth bar, the one representing Christ, ran through holes drilled through the sides of the boards rather than being on the outside, and served to keep the boards in perfect alignment. This design would follow the concept that, while Christ Himself is invisible He is in the four apostolic ministries and keeps them in alignment.

There are four ministries and four Gospel accounts. Four is the number of the light of God, the communication of the Holy Spirit. But Christ is central to all. He Himself is the Center of the Christian Church.

We have said the number five indicates the entrance into the Kingdom of God. So it is that the Body of Christ, as symbolized by the Tabernacle building, is the beginning, after Christ, of the Kingdom of God in the earth. First came Christ, the King of the Kingdom. Next the entire Body of Christ will be brought to the fullness of perfection in the beauty of holiness. Finally the Presence of God in His Tabernacle will fill the whole earth and God will be all in all.

The long center bar represents Christ who is the Center and Circumference of all things. The other four bars reveal the "gifts to men," or the "gifts consisting of men" as Rotherham has it, of Psalms 68:18 (The Emphasized Bible ). The four ministries are the ascension gifts of Christ. The four ministries are the expressions of the resurrected Christ through spiritually-gifted people, people given by the Lord for the building of the Body of Christ.

The apostles are those who are sent from the side of Christ to establish the Church on the foundation, which is Christ. The evangelists are God’s heralds who go everywhere, bringing the good news of the Savior and of the Kingdom of God.

The prophets keep the Church in touch with the burden of the spirit realm. They hear from God the burden for the hour and bear witness of the immediate Word from the Lord. It always is the will of Christ that the Church know the Lord’s immediate thinking, not only what He said hundreds of years ago.

The apostles establish; the evangelists herald the good news; the prophets keep on announcing the present burden of the Holy Spirit, not only to the Church universal but also to particular groups of Christians.

The pastors and teachers work among the Christians, feeding them with the Word of God and guiding them as they begin to grow. The pastors and teachers remain on guard in case "wolves" enter in and attempt to harm the Lord’s sheep, or try to lead them off so the false apostles, prophets, and teachers can satisfy their own lusts.

When the four ascension ministries, the apostle, prophet, evangelist, and shepherd-teacher, are all moving in the Holy Spirit, the members of the Body of Christ will grow toward maturity—the standard of maturity being the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

There also were four basic ministries under the old covenant: the patriarch, the prophet, the administrator-warrior, and the priest-teacher. There was an intermingling of these ministries in people, as is true in the new covenant ministries as well.

Abraham and Job were patriarch-prophets. Moses was an administrator-prophet. David was an administrator-warrior-prophet. Daniel was an administrator-prophet. Ezekiel was a priest-prophet. There were some ministries more sharply defined, such as Elijah the prophet, Nehemiah the administrator, and Aaron who was a priest-teacher.

The five bars of the sides of the Tabernacle represent the ministries of Christ given to His Church. The one bar longer than the others is our Lord Jesus. The four shorter bars are the ascension gifts given to the Church so the Church may be founded on the Rock, Christ, and may be built up in Him. The four ministries are expressions of His resurrection life.

 And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars: and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold. And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was shewed thee in the mount. (Exodus 26:29,30)

We have seen, then, that the interior of the Holy Place was glorious to behold. The white linen, with its blue, purple, and scarlet colors was seen at the door, on the ceiling, and on the Veil. Also, in the ceiling and Veil were fashioned the cherubim. On the pillars and walls was the polished fine gold of the Tabernacle.

Within the Holy Place were the Table of Showbread, Lampstand and Altar of Incense. The room was lighted at night by the seven lamps of the Lampstand. The area was filled with the fragrance of the perfume from the Altar of Incense.

Every aspect of the room and its furnishings is symbolic of the Person and work of Christ; of the growth of the individual Christian into spiritual maturity; of the coming of the Body of Christ to the fullness of Christ; and of the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth. How great God is! How greatly to be praised in His holiness!

In contrast to the lavish interior was the floor of the Tabernacle. The floor was the earth, the wilderness ground. God does not want us to forget that we are creatures of the dust; and while He has elected to lift us to the throne of glory, yet it is none of our doing.

Adam was formed from the dust of the ground just as Christ was formed from God Himself. Adam was ground just as Christ is God, being of the Substance of God.

When a man is standing on the ground in his bare feet there is nothing between him and that from which he was formed—no invention, no covering, no device, no deception. God wants us to come to Him that way. He wants us to be absolutely honest, sincere, without pretense, invention, device of any kind. It is just God and I—not even another human being until we are ready for God-ordained relationships.

There are times when we must come to God that way. If we attempt to throw up a protective screen or pretense of any kind, God immediately strips it away so He and we can see exactly what we are in personality, in imagination, in motive, in word, in behavior.

The great acacia boards were completely covered with gold and then stood up on end. Each board had two tenons on the bottom. Each tenon was inserted in a silver socket having a weight of one hundred twenty-five pounds, making a total of two hundred fifty pounds of foundation for each of the forty-eight boards.

The Tabernacle building is a portrayal of the Body of Christ, the Anointed Deliverer, the Servant of the Lord. Every member stands upright in the Lord. Every member is the same height; there are no priests among the believers. Christ is our priest. Every member of the Body of Christ is a human being (acacia wood) covered with the Glory of God in Christ (gold). Each member of the Body of Christ is anchored immovably in the redemption (silver) of Christ.

The great weight of silver symbolizes the purchase price of our redemption, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each of us was sold into the bondage of sin and death through the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The blood of Christ is the purchase price of the mortgage that Satan has on the spirits, souls and bodies of mankind. The blood is the full price, and Christ has paid it for every person.

Thus the Body of Christ is anchored in the "silver" of Christ’s redemption. It is this "silver" that separates the Christian from the rest of the people of the earth, who still are in the bondage of sin and death.

The Holy of Holies

The Holy Place of the Tabernacle was a rectangular room about fifteen feet wide, fifteen feet high, and thirty feet long. The dimensions are approximate but they give an idea of the actual size and shape of the Holy Place. The Veil separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.

 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. (Exodus 26:33)

On the north side of the Holy Place was the Table of Showbread. On the south side of the Holy Place was the Lampstand. On the west side of the Holy Place, standing just before the Veil, was the Altar of Incense.

The door of the Tabernacle, on the east side, was constructed from material hung on five pillars, or posts.

 And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework. And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of Shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them. (Exodus 26:36,37)

And he made an hanging for the tabernacle door of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, of needlework; And the five pillars of it with their hooks: and he overlaid their chapiters and their fillets with gold: but their five sockets were of brass. (Exodus 36:37,38)

There were three hangings included in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The first hanging was the gate of the Court leading into the area surrounded by the linen fence. The second hanging was the door of the Tabernacle, where so many events of significance occurred. The third hanging was the Veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.

All three hangings were of the same colors: purple, scarlet, and fine twisted linen (white). The expression "wrought with needlework" implies that the colors were worked into the linen in a beautiful and detailed manner.

The material of the door of the Tabernacle was hung on five pillars, or posts, constructed from acacia wood. The wood was covered with gold. The hooks for the hanging and the other joinings were of gold. The pillars were crowned with ornamental gold capitals. The pillars stood in sockets of bronze.

The number five speaks, as we have said, of an entrance. In this case it is the entrance into the Body of Christ. By one Spirit we are baptized into the Body of Christ.

The pillars of gold-covered wood represent the victorious saints, who are "pillars in the temple of God." The gold capitals speak of the authority and power given to the saints through their Lord, Christ.

The sockets of bronze reveal that both Christ and His saints are rooted and established in God’s judgment. Those who stand at the entrance to the Temple of God have been through the fire with God and have had their senses exercised to judge between good and evil. They have chosen, in Christ, to love righteousness and hate sin. They have, through Christ, overcome the ancient dragon, the accuser of the brothers.

The glory within the Christian must be anchored in God’s Word of judgment. The golden pillars must be founded in the bronze of judgment. The fire of God must try every work, separating the light of Christ from any darkness in the individual.

The Israelite standing with his sacrifice at the door of the Tabernacle could gain some idea of the beauty of the interior from the gold, blue, purple, crimson and white of the door. For him to go into the Holy Place would have resulted in his death. But he could at least imagine what it looked like!

The door of the Tabernacle, or door of the Tent (both mean the same thing), was the place where God met Israel. The Altar of Burnt Offering was there, as was the Laver. It was the center of the activity of the Tabernacle. The door of the Tabernacle is mentioned several times in Scripture, in Leviticus and Numbers in particular. Be on the lookout for the door of the Tabernacle, or door of the Tent, as you study about the Tabernacle.

The interior walls of the Holy Place were the gold with which the acacia boards were covered.

The ceiling of the Holy Place was especially interesting. It was the linen curtain, the first piece of material thrown over the acacia-board sides. The acacia boards with the linen curtain constituted the Tabernacle proper. The second material, the black goats’ hair, was a tent over the Tabernacle. The third and fourth layers of material, the red leather and the porpoises’ skins, were coverings over the goats’ hair tent.

The ceiling was beautiful to behold. It was of sparkling white linen with colors of blue, purple, and scarlet. Figures of cherubim were worked in it. At the far end of the Holy Place was the Veil, also showing forth the blue, purple and scarlet hues skillfully worked, and cherubim woven into the material.

 And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of Shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. (Exodus 26:31-33)

We shall notice a little later that the first two layers of material that covered the Tabernacle boards, that is, the curtain of linen, and the curtain of goats’ hair that formed a tent over the curtain of linen, were each composed of two large pieces of material held together by clasps (taches—Authorized Version). The clasps were positioned directly over the four posts holding up the Veil.

The two large sections of the linen curtain were joined (clasped together) over the Veil, and the two large sections of the goats’ hair tent were joined over the Veil. Evidently the Lord wants us to regard the separation marked off by the Veil as a significant division, a line of demarcation.

The four posts were wood covered with gold, holding up the Veil on hooks of gold and resting in silver sockets, similar to the sockets of the boards that formed the sides and western end of the Tabernacle building. The Veil was about fifteen feet square, being fashioned from the same blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twisted linen as the door of the Tabernacle and the gate of the Court.

Figures of cherubim were woven in the material of the Veil. This was not true of the door of the Tabernacle or of the gate of the Court.

The only occasion on which anyone went beyond the Veil into the Holy of Holies was the annual Day of Atonement. On the Day of Atonement the high priest burned incense in a golden censer in the Holy of Holies and sprinkled blood upon and before the Mercy Seat. Otherwise, the Ark of the Covenant and the covering Mercy Seat remained invisible throughout the year.

It was the counterpart of this Veil in Herod’s Temple that was torn asunder when Christ was crucified (Mark 15:38).

In all the glory and beauty of the Tabernacle, God did not want the priests ever to forget they were only men made from the dust of the ground. They came before Him walking on their bare feet on the face of the earth, with nothing between them and the earth from which they were created. If they did wear sandals it was not recorded when their clothing was specified. 

And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. (Exodus 28:4)

The Holy of Holies

Behind the ornate Veil was the smaller room called the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place). It was a cube, about fifteen feet on a side. The walls, ceiling and floor were identical to those of the Holy Place.

Located within the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant with its Mercy Seat (Atonement Cover) serving as the lid. It was here that God dwelled between the Cherubim of Glory. The light from the golden Lampstand did not enter this area. It was dark except for the light of the Glory of God.

Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest dared to enter the Holy of Holies and make an atonement for himself and for the people. This was the most awesome day of the Jewish year and the anointed priest entered in danger of his life.

The Veil of the Temple of Herod was torn on the occasion of the crucifixion of Christ. Now, through His blood, every believer may come boldly to the Throne of God and find forgiveness, wisdom, and strength to help in time of need.

Only someone who had once stood trembling in awe and fear at the door of the Tabernacle, waiting for the high priest to emerge, still alive after having made an atonement before the Mercy Seat, could ever fully appreciate the fact that now every person—Jew and Gentile alike—who puts his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ may come before God, a privilege once reserved for the high priest, and him but once each year.

There is only one reason for this reversal: it is that the sacrifice of Christ was so perfect, so completely fulfilling of all that God requires, that what was once the fearful responsibility of one man in the whole world, the anointed priest of the nation of Israel, is now available to every man, woman, boy and girl on the face of the earth through the blood of God’s Offering, Christ. Each of us may come boldly at any time before the throne of grace that we may obtain help as we strive to overcome the forces of darkness.

 The Two Curtains and Two Coverings

There were four layers of material placed over the forty-eight upright boards from which the sides of the Tabernacle building were constructed. The first layer was the linen curtain, which we have just discussed in connection with the Holy Place. The linen was sparkling white with hues of blue, purple and scarlet. Cherubim were wrought in the linen curtain as a design. The upright boards of the Tabernacle, with the fine linen that formed the ceiling and hung down over the outside of the boards, constituted the dwelling place of the Lord.

The second layer of material, which was placed over the fine linen, was the curtain of goats’ hair. The goats’ hair curtain apparently was black and woolen in texture. The goats’ hair curtain was a tent—it was the tent over the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle, the place of God’s dwelling, was the gold and the fine linen. But there was a tent of goats’ hair material that covered the linen. The goats’ hair was placed over the linen curtain and covered the top and sides of the building.

The third layer of material, which covered the goats’ hair, was rams’ skins dyed red. It was a red leather covering. The fourth layer of material, which covered the rams’ skins dyed red, was the badgers’ skins, believed by modern scholars to have been the skins of dolphins, or porpoises. In any case, it was a rough, weatherproof outer covering over the first three layers of material.

Can you think of a more vivid picture of the Christian? In the heart of the Christian is the righteousness of God. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. This is the fine linen, pure and white.

Also in the heart of the believer is the blue, revealing that salvation comes down from Heaven; the purple of the lordship of Christ; and the crimson of the broken body and shed blood of Christ, the continual eating and drinking of which gives life to the disciple. The figures of the cherubim in the linen ceiling portray the spiritual power that governs the life of the disciple of Christ.

Next is the black goats’ hair curtain. This is the tent. The "tent" of the Christian is his body, and the Scripture states that the body of the Christian is "dead because of sin" (Romans 8:10). Covering the black tent (body of the Christian) is the protection of the blood of Christ, the atonement, the rams’ skins dyed red.

Over the entire structure is a tough hide. Christians do not make much progress until they develop a thick skin. Frail, wilting, timid people who are looking for an excuse to not serve the Lord will quickly find such an excuse. They will soon be offended, either by the world or by members of the churches. A Christian has to be strong and resilient to survive in this life.

Israel never did fully possess the land of Canaan (Judges 2:2). The tribes did not have enough faith to follow the Lord into the land of promise. We miss God’s gift when we do not have the faith to follow Christ where He leads us. We must keep on pressing along, day after day, week after week, year after year, and take many blows and discouragements without quitting.

Notice why the lazy servant buried his talent: 

And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. (Matthew 25:25)

"I was afraid."

This is where the covering of porpoises’ skins comes into use. We must be able to survive all kinds of blows from the environment without letting trouble get past the outer covering into our heart where it can interfere with what God is doing within us.

It was necessary for the Tabernacle and its holy furnishings to have a weatherproof covering to protect them from the elements. It is necessary for us also to have a tough covering so we will not give up when the journey becomes difficult.

First, righteousness in the heart; next, the law of sin and death in the body; covering the sin of our body is the blood of the Lord Jesus; finally, a tough hide so we can persevere through whatever comes against us while God is dealing with our inner man. Meanwhile our spirit and soul are becoming strong enough to embrace holiness of word, deed, imagination and motive.

 Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them. The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure. The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another. (Exodus 26:1-3)

This is a description of the linen curtain that constituted the Tabernacle proper, the other three layers being the Tent and the coverings. The linen curtain that formed the ceiling of the Tabernacle was made of ten smaller curtains. These were sewn together into two sections of five curtains each.

Each section was twenty-eight cubits (forty-two feet) long, and twenty cubits (thirty feet) wide. The two sections, each twenty-eight by twenty cubits in size, were fastened together over the Veil.

The total width was forty cubits. Twenty cubits covered the Holy Place. Then came the golden clasps that fastened to loops of blue. Of the remaining twenty cubits, ten covered the Holy of Holies and ten hung down over the back (western end) of the Tabernacle.

The length of the curtains was twenty-eight cubits. Since the Tabernacle was ten and one-half cubits wide (outside dimension) and ten cubits high, the linen curtains cleared the ground by about a cubit on each side.

There were fifty taches (clasps) of gold that held together the two sections of the linen curtain.

Next came the curtain of black goats’ hair, the "covering upon the tabernacle."

 And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make. The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure. And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle. (Exodus 26:7-9)

The construction of the goats’ hair curtain was similar to that of the linen curtain. The eleven curtains, thirty cubits long and four cubits wide, were sewn into two large sections, one section having six curtains and one having five.

The two sections were made one whole curtain by means of fifty clasps of bronze. Being thirty cubits long instead of twenty-eight cubits, the goats’ hair curtain nearly reached the ground on either side. The two sections were joined over the Veil.

Forty cubits of the curtain covered the Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, and the western end.

However, the section that had six curtains instead of five had one of the four-cubit pieces left over. This piece came down over the front of the Tabernacle, over the door, and then doubled back, making a kind of band across the top of the door—"and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle."

The third material was the first of the two outer coverings—the rams’ skins dyed red.

 And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins. (Exodus 26:14)

The coverings were for the "tent," that is, for the goats’ hair curtain; whereas the goats’ hair curtain was a tent over the actual Tabernacle of the Lord, which consisted of the linen curtains and the gold-covered boards.

The final, outer covering was the badgers’ (porpoises’) skins.

The ram was the animal used for the consecration of the priests. When Aaron and his sons were consecrated, a ram was offered for a burnt offering. Another ram was termed the "ram of consecration," and its blood was put on the tip of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the great toe of his right foot; also on the sons of Aaron in the same manner (Leviticus 8:22-24).

No doubt God intends for us to view the rams’ skins covering of the Tabernacle as having to do with the priestly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as portraying the covering of Christ’s blood over our sinful flesh.

There were two sets of fifty clasps directly over the Veil that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place. One set of fifty gold clasps joined the two sections of the linen curtain. One set of fifty bronze clasps joined the two sections of the tent of goats’ hair.

The Holy Place speaks of the Church Age, and the Most Holy Place portrays the coming Kingdom Age.

The number fifty is symbolic of Pentecost, and also of the Year of Jubilee. The fifty bronze, and then fifty gold, reveal that the transition from the present Church Age to the Kingdom Age will include judgment and deliverance (redemption) in the earth. The great earth-wide redemption (Jubilee) will be accomplished by the fire and sword of God’s Word, which is the majesty and power of Christ (the fifty bronze clasps); and by a surpassingly great outpouring of the Holy Spirit (the fifty gold clasps).

The Kingdom Age will be a Millennial Jubilee, a period of time during which there will be extraordinary blessing and revelation, as the Glory of God covers the whole earth as the "waters cover the sea."

Following the Millennial Jubilee will be the eternal new heaven and earth reign of Christ. On the new earth will be the holy city, the new Jerusalem, which is the spiritual fulfillment of the Glory of God dwelling between the cherubim of the Lid of Atonement (Mercy Seat) of the Ark of the Covenant.

We meet our old friend, number five, the number that symbolizes entrance into the Kingdom of God, in the segments of the linen curtain and the goats’ hair tent. The five segments of the linen curtain covering the Holy Place speak of the righteousness of Christ that insures that the Church remains acceptable to God.

The five segments of the linen curtain that covered the Holy of Holies and hung down over the back of the Tabernacle reveal that the same righteousness of Christ that covers us now will continue to be necessary throughout the coming Kingdom Age. The blood will keep on protecting the Lord’s people until each is perfect.

Then on throughout eternity the spiritual being of each member of the Body of Christ will unfold and develop in the image of the Almighty God as the result of abiding in His Presence and beholding His Person and His Face.

Five segments of the goats’ hair curtain covered the Holy Place, showing that the mortal body of the Christian is being brought forward to the Day of Redemption, at which time the body of the saint will be redeemed. The sixth segment of the goats’ hair tent, that hung down over the door and was folded double, typifies the nature of man, which must be "doubled back" (circumcised) if he is to be received of God.

God always makes His covenant with people with fire, with the sword, and with blood. We must be circumcised in heart. There must be a point at which Christ "kills our flesh." We cannot abide in Christ and continue in our old self-seeking ways. The Lord brings us into death to self, and then renews us by means of His Spirit. Until we accept the deaths the Lord sends our way we can never experience the fullness of resurrection life.

The five segments of the goats’ hair tent that covered the Holy of Holies and hung down over the back of the building suggest to us that the fleshly nature of people will still be present during the Millennium. The "rod of iron" is necessary because mankind will continue to be capable of rebellion. The Scripture states that after the thousand-year Kingdom Age Satan is able to "deceive the nations" (Revelation 20:8).

The visions of the prophets show us that the thousand-year Kingdom Age will be a period when righteousness is learned by God’s people. The Spirit will be "poured upon us from on high," and the "work of righteousness shall be peace;" (Isaiah 32:1, 15-18; 40:11; 42:3,4; 54:13,14; Malachi 3:3). God will "cause righteousness and praise to spring forth" (Isaiah 61:11).

The ten cubits of goats’ hair that hung down over the back of the Tabernacle, the western end, reveal the fact that all sin in God’s creation will have been judged and put away by the end of the Kingdom Age. The new heaven and earth reign of Christ will be a new beginning—a new creation indeed!

The Holy Place of the Tabernacle, which is symbolic of the Body of Christ, is the means by which the Kingdom of God will enter the earth. The Church has the keys of the Kingdom. We are, as James says, a kind of firstfruits of God’s creatures. The Kingdom of God will be perfected during the Kingdom Age. Then the Kingdom of God will develop and expand forever, as God in Christ in the Body of Christ reigns over the new earth.

The Linen Fence—Its Pillars, Sockets, Gate, Joinings, Pins and Cords

And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side: And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver. And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten. And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits. The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three. And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three. And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four. All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass. The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass. (Exodus 27:9-18)

The Courtyard of the Tabernacle was a large area, rectangular in shape, enclosed by the linen fence. Its one gate faced the east as did the door of the Tabernacle. The material used for the fence was a high quality, pure white linen.

When someone standing on the outside viewed the Tabernacle arrangement, the first impression was the whiteness of the linen fence, seventy-five feet wide and one hundred fifty feet long, approximately. The same impression was true when standing on the inside and looking toward the linen fence. The viewer was surrounded by whiteness, reaching a height of seven and one-half feet.

Clean white linen, as used in the Scripture, symbolizes the righteous behavior of the saints (Revelation 19:8). It is the righteousness of God through Christ, first imputed (ascribed) to the Christian and then fashioned in his personality until he is able to act and think righteously. The conduct of the saint of God, the Christian disciple, must be free of the influence of unclean spirits.

There were one thousand five hundred square cubits (300x5) of material in the linen fence; two thousand cubic cubits of volume in the Holy Place (20x10x10); and one thousand cubic cubits of volume (10x10x10) in the Holy of Holies.

One thousand five hundred was the approximate number of years from the building of the Tabernacle to the first coming of Christ. Two thousand years, we believe, will be the period of time from the first coming of Christ until the second coming of Christ, although that time period may be cut short (Romans 9:28). According to the Book of Revelation there will be one thousand years from the second coming of Christ until the descent of the new Jerusalem to the earth.

How wise, knowing, and powerful God is that He can lay out four thousand five hundred years of history like that. Truly, God is God!

There was no roof over the Courtyard of the Tabernacle. It was lighted by the sun. The Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver were located in the Courtyard, at the door of the Tabernacle building. It is believed that the Tabernacle building itself, under its tent and two coverings, was placed toward the western end of the Court.

The fine twisted linen fence of the outer Court was hung on pillars, or posts. It seems likely that the pillars were made from acacia wood. There were twenty pillars on the north side, twenty pillars on the south side, and ten pillars on the west side.

On the east side was the gate of the Court. There were three pillars on each side of the gate and four pillars holding up the gate material, making a total of ten pillars on the east side. There was a total of sixty pillars, making it necessary for there to be two posts (pillars) at each corner.

The fence was five cubits high and the number of pillars was five times twelve. Twelve represents the family of God. Five is the number of entrance to the things of God. The linen fence symbolically separates the Kingdom of God from outer darkness. All people within the fenced area, the Court of the Tabernacle, are within the righteousness of God in Christ. All who are outside of the linen fence are outside of God’s righteousness, outside of God’s family (Ephesians 3:15).

Each pillar of the fence was set in a socket of bronze. Bronze speaks of the judgment of God, that is, the Word of God expressing itself in the rewarding of righteousness and the destruction of sin.

A horrible situation exists when a person is living his life without reference to God’s judgment. The thoughts, motives, imaginations, words and deeds of the person are a chaos of righteousness and unrighteousness whether or not the person is a Christian. When God’s Word works in judgment in our lives, then we begin to be able to judge between the good and evil in what we think and do.

Little by little God separates the light from the darkness in us. Judgment always falls on sin wherever it may be found. That which has been accepted as righteous by the Lord always lives and cannot be destroyed. Therefore God’s judgment is a desirable force to have working in our lives, and we ought always to run to the Holy Spirit in order that all that we think and do may be brought into judgment.

The hooks of the posts, by means of which the linen was hung and the posts were tied to stakes driven into the ground, were of silver. Silver represents the price of redemption, the value exchanged that is necessary to set free a person who has been sold into slavery. The price must be paid if redemption is to occur. The price of our redemption was and remains the blood of Christ.

The joinings, or "fillets" as King James has it, may have been rods of silver connecting each pillar to the adjacent pillar, thereby running around the perimeter of the fence. Three purposes would have been served by such rods: as drapery rods to keep the curtain from sagging between posts; as additional strength to hold the posts upright; and as measuring rods to keep the posts the correct distance apart.

Such silver rods would symbolize the common bond of redemption that connects each believer to every other person who has been redeemed by Christ. The rods would support each pillar against the desert winds, helping each pillar to remain standing, to keep upholding God’s righteous ways, as typified by the white linen of the fence material.

The gate of the Court was the familiar blue, purple, crimson, and pure white linen found in the Veil, the linen curtain, and the door of the Tabernacle. The linen of the gate was intricately wrought with skillful needlework. There were four pillars holding up the gate materials, which were twenty cubits wide and five cubits in height. On each side of the gate were three pillars on which was hung the ordinary linen material of the fence.

Every Israelite who approached the gate of the Court, bringing his animal to be sacrificed at the Altar of Burnt Offering that stood within the Court area, saw the blue of Heaven, the purple of royalty, and the red blood of sacrifice portrayed on the gate material through which he passed with his sacrifice.

He had to walk between two of the four pillars on which the gate was hung, the four pillars suggesting to us the four Gospel accounts, and also the four ascension gifts of Christ—the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastor-teachers.

Each acacia-wood pillar was topped with an ornamental silver cap, reminding us again of our need to be redeemed through the blood of Christ. Every man, woman, boy and girl in the world, until he or she has been redeemed, is in the possession of Satan. We were sold into the slavery of sin and death when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. No man, no woman, no girl, no boy, has in his or her possession the price of his redemption. We are spiritually destitute.

But then comes our "kinsman," the One who chose to call Himself the Son of Man. He gave His body and blood as the payment—to pay off the mortgage Satan holds on our spirit, soul and body. Christ paid off the mortgage. Now we have been set free to choose to obey righteousness, to enter the Kingdom of God.

Before Christ paid our redemption we did not have the ability to choose to live righteously. We belonged to the kingdom of darkness. Only the blood of Christ has the value needed to pay the price of our redemption. All the righteous deeds of the most law-abiding, moral person cannot, under any circumstance, add up to the purchase price of his redemption. Only the body and blood of Christ can provide redemption for human beings.

The pillars were held upright against the wilderness winds just as a tent post is held up today. There were cords fastened to silver hooks on the pillars and then tied down to bronze pegs, or pins, driven into the wilderness ground. It does not specify what material the cords were made of. Perhaps they were leather thongs taken from the same material as the red leather covering of the Tabernacle building.

 The Three Lights

There were three basic areas of the Tabernacle of the Congregation: (1) the Courtyard area; (2) the Holy Place; and (3) the Holy of Holies.

One important way in which these three areas differed from one another was in the manner in which they were lighted. The Courtyard was lighted by the sun. The Holy Place was lighted (at night) by the Lampstand. The Holy of Holies was lighted by the Glory of God.

When we first come to Christ and accept the redemption made for us on the cross, we do so in the light of day, as it were. Christ was crucified in plain view of the world; not in a church building but outside in the daylight for all people to see. However, when we enter the mysteries of the Body of Christ we pass from sunlight to the supernatural ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit—to the light of the Lampstand, to speak symbolically.

As the disciple presses into Christ each day he learns more and more to discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit and leans less and less on his own understanding.

During the Kingdom Age we will pass from the light of the ministries and gifts of the Spirit to the light of Christ Himself. Christ always walks in the fullness of the Glory of God, not in ministries and gifts. Paul explains this transition in I Corinthians, Chapter 13 when he indicates that the gifts of the Spirit are temporary, incomplete in the ability to reveal God, and are not a sign of maturity. Rather, they bring us to what is perfect, which is the fullness of the Glory of God in us.

The Lampstand was lighted at night. This tells us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the "evening" of the Day of the Lord, which is the two-thousand year Church Age. During this period we see through a glass dimly. When we come to the "third day," the Kingdom Age, we shall be in the "morning" of the Day of the Lord. Then the gifts, the flashes of light from the darkness, no longer will be needed. We shall have that which is perfect.

We notice the transition from the partial ministry, in the following verse:

 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. (Luke 13:32)

During "to day and to morrow," the two "days" of the Church Age, we experience the casting out of devils and the curing of illnesses. These are works of partial redemption. But during the "third day," the Kingdom Age, the Body of the Lord will be brought to perfection. The emphasis of the third day (and it is beginning already) will be the perfecting of the Bride of the Lamb in preparation for receiving the fullness of the Bridegroom.

However, this is not to discredit the need we all have for ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is our opinion that one of the greatest needs of the Body of Christ in the present hour is the restoration of all the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit; for it is through the ministries and gifts that we all shall come to maturity as measured by the fullness of Christ.

It is good, however, to keep our eyes fastened on the goal, which is the fullness of God’s Glory through the Lord Jesus Christ. The fullness will come to us when the Lord Jesus returns from Heaven to the earth, bringing with Him our eternal houses.

The Setting Up of the Tabernacle

In the fortieth chapter of Exodus we read of the setting up of the "tabernacle of the tent of the congregation." The Tabernacle was erected on the first day of the first month of the second year of the forty years in the wilderness.

 And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars. And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark: And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail. And he set the bread in order upon it before the Lord; as the Lord had commanded Moses. And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward. And he lighted the lamps before the Lord; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail: And he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle. And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. (Exodus 40:18-33)

All things were done "as the Lord commanded Moses." Moses was very careful to do exactly as God had commanded—no more and no less. He was obedient to the Lord.

Numbers 4:16 states that Eleazar, the son of Aaron, had considerable responsibility in the work of the Tabernacle:

 And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest pertaineth the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil, and the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof.

Anointing the Tabernacle with Oil

All the parts of the Tabernacle had to be anointed with the holy anointing oil, just as it is true today that every person and activity of the Christian Church must have the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Apart from the anointing of the Holy Spirit, nothing of eternal value is accomplished in the Kingdom of God.

 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. (Exodus 30:25-30)

The Lord’s Fire Consumes Our Offering

At the first consecration of the priests, Aaron and his four sons, the fire of God consumed the burnt offering:

 And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. (Leviticus 9:24)

If we hold up our body as a whole burnt offering on the bronze altar of our soul, in due time the Lord will pass by and accept our offering. We have need of patience when presenting ourselves to the Lord. Sometimes the Lord waits to see what we are going to do. If we hold steady and keep on presenting our life to Him, in His time and in His manner He will accept our offering. He will consume our sacrifice in the fire of His holiness and love.

The Morning and Evening Sacrifice

Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even: And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the Lord. This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. (Exodus 29:38-43)

There were several ceremonies that the priests were commanded to observe twice daily, at sunrise and at sundown. First, as we have seen, there were the morning and evening lambs—burnt offerings to the Lord. Then a drink offering of strong wine was poured out in the Holy Place, by the Table of Showbread, on each occasion of the offering of the morning and evening lambs.

 And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the Lord for a drink offering. (Numbers 28:7)

The Altar of Incense was replenished twice each day, at the time the seven lamps were refilled and the wicks were trimmed.

 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:7,8)

The high priest had four major responsibilities to be performed twice each day, including the Sabbath day: (1) the morning and evening lambs; (2) the drink offerings; (3) filling and trimming the wicks of the Lampstand in the morning and lighting the lamps in the evening; and (4) replenishing the Altar of Incense.

What a picture of Christ was portrayed twice each day! First the lamb was offered as a burnt offering, a sweet savor unto God—the perfect offering of Christ. Next, the blood of Christ was shed, in type, in the pouring out of the drink offering adjacent to the twelve loaves of showbread—the showbread being the type of the broken Body of Christ.

The seven lamps were trimmed and filled, and then lighted in the evening showing, in type, that the revelation of Christ through the Holy Spirit in ministries and gifts is to be kept blazing through the Christian Church during the dark night of the Church Age. The ministries and gifts are expressions in the earth of the resurrected and ascended Christ.

Finally, the holy incense was burned on the coals, bringing up before God the sweet smell of His beloved Son, the Perfect One, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. This aroma comes from the unceasing prayers of those who are dying to their self-will and are worshiping God in faith and obedience.

Following the Glory of the Lord

The Tabernacle of the Congregation was the Glory of God to the Israelites, just as Christ is the Glory of God to us. They were to stop with the Tabernacle and move with the Tabernacle, just as we are to follow Christ through the Holy Spirit each day, stopping when He stops and moving when He moves.

 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:34-38)

The cloud over the Israelites would shade them from the burning heat of the desert sun. So it is that we are protected when we are following the Lord closely.

Also, clouds are associated with rain, for clouds actually are water vapor. Water is life when one is in the wilderness of Sinai. Following the cloud is symbolic of following the protection and blessing of Christ. But there come times when it is not as apparent that we are experiencing the blessings of the Lord. During such periods we are to follow the fire.

We follow the fire at night, that is, when we cannot see the way we are going. To follow the Lord’s fire at night means to adhere to His Word in the Scriptures during seasons of fiery trial. All of us must experience the refreshing blessing of the Spirit, and all of us must experience the fire of God’s judgment on our behavior, if we are to be healthy, strong Christians.

The Work of the Priests and Levites

The high (anointed) priest, the common priests, and the Levites performed the work and service of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

Jacob, the son of Isaac, had twelve sons, one of whom was Levi. Levi had three sons—Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

The oldest son of Kohath was Amram. Amram had two sons, Aaron and Moses. All the priests of Israel, without exception, were descendants of Aaron. It was the Aaronic priesthood. So we see that the priests were a special branch of Levi through Kohath. The priests were of great importance to the service of God, so we will discuss them first. Then we will mention the Levites.

The main task of the priests was to perform the animal sacrifices that made an atonement for Israel; also to minister at the Altar of Incense, at the Lampstand, and at the Table of Showbread. The priests waited on the Altar of Burnt Offering, performing the ordinances associated with the burnt offerings, the meal offerings, the peace offerings, the sin offerings, and the trespass offerings.

Although the Levites were appointed to assist them, it was the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who were to minister before the Lord in the making of an atonement through the slain animals and in the golden furnishings of the Holy Place.

The Altar of Burnt Offering was placed in front of the door of the Tabernacle building, the location also of the Laver. There the blood ran continually as the Israelites made peace with God through the ordinances of sacrifice God had ordained through Moses, and that the priests administered.

The priests carried the ashes from the Altar of Burnt Offering. They pronounced judgments concerning leprosy. They ate of the sacrifices of Israel. They taught the Law to the people. The priests officiated in the rites of purification. It was the responsibility of the priests to minister in the Holy Place.

Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest went inside the Holy of Holies, having the golden censer and the holy incense. He threw the incense on the coals of fire in the censer. A cloud of incense filled the Holy of Holies. The high priest then sprinkled the blood of a young bull and of a goat on the Mercy Seat and in front of the Mercy Seat.

The high priest had charge of the Altar of Incense that was located in the Holy Place in direct line with the Ark of the Covenant, the Ark being on the other side of the Veil. The incense was to be kept burning day and night just as the prayers of God’s saints are to ascend to Him continually. The high priest bore on himself the sins of Israel and their needs before the Lord. On the Day of Atonement he confessed the sins of Israel and placed them on the head of the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:21).

In the fourth chapter of Numbers we find the furnishings of the Tabernacle had to be wrapped carefully by the high priest and the other priests before the Kohathite Levites were allowed to approach the holy vessels and pick up the carrying poles inserted in the receptacles of the vessels.

Aaron and his sons were chosen by the Lord to minister before Him, and their priesthood lasted until Christ, the Lamb of God, was offered for the sin of the world. A careful study of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers will give the student an understanding of the Aaronic priesthood. A modern translation is useful in this kind of study.

The Levites were given to the priests as helpers, and the priests directed their activities. The Levites assisted in the multitude of duties associated with the Altar of Burnt Offering; but they were not allowed into the sanctuary, the Holy Place, under penalty of death.

As you can imagine, with two or three million people engaged in offering animal sacrifices for their sins, the Altar of Burnt Offering was a center of activity. The priests and Levites were busily engaged, attempting to keep up with the needs of the Israelites who were waiting their turn within the Courtyard.

One of the main tasks of the Levites was setting up, taking down and transporting the Tabernacle. The sons of Gershon had charge of the curtains, the coverings, the linen of the fence, the gate of the Courtyard, the door of the Tabernacle, and the necessary cords. They carried these parts in two wagons when Israel was on the march.

The sons of Kohath were in charge of the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle: the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Laver, the Table of Showbread, the Lampstand, the Altar of Incense, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Mercy Seat. They carried these on their shoulders by means of carrying poles.

The sons of Merari were responsible for the hardware of the Tabernacle—the great boards, the bars, the posts (or pillars as they were called), the silver sockets, the bronze sockets and pins, and the cords that accompanied the hardware. These were transported in four wagons.

To give some idea of this mass of material, just think about the fact that one of the acacia boards, of the forty-eight boards that made up the Tabernacle building, was fifteen feet tall, twenty-seven inches wide, and perhaps four or five inches thick. The silver used in the sockets is estimated at six tons.

God is particular about who does what in His Kingdom, and He made abundant provision for the care of the Tabernacle. There were 7,500 Gershonite Levites to take care of the coverings, curtain, and hangings; 6,200 Merarite Levites in charge of the boards, pillars and other hardware; and 8,600 Kohathite Levites to attend to the seven holy vessels.

Israel on the March

It must have been thrilling to see Israel on the move after the tribes left the Sinai area and started toward Kadesh Barnea. At the forefront went the great Divine cloud by day and the blazing pillar of fire by night. Following the Lord came Judah, then Issachar, then Zebulun.

Following the tribe of Zebulun were the Gershonite Levites with two wagons carrying the skins and cloths that composed the coverings, curtains, hangings, the gate of the Courtyard, the door of the Tabernacle, and the cords that went with these materials.

Following the Gershonite Levites were the Merarite Levites with four wagons full of the hardware of the Tabernacle, the boards, bars, silver sockets, wooden pillars, bronze pins, and the cords that held up the pillars of the Court.

Following the four wagons of the Merarites were the tribes of Reuben, Simeon and Gad. Next came the Kohathite Levites carrying the Ark of the Covenant and its Mercy Seat lid, and the remaining five holy furnishings of the Tabernacle. These were not to be put in wagons but carried on the shoulders of the Kohathite Levites.

Following the holy furnishings were the rearguard tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher and Naphtali.

The sounds and sights of the procession, as the priests blew the silver trumpets and the mighty army of God took up its march—mighty because Almighty God was in their midst—truly must have been one of the greatest sights ever witnessed in the history of man on the earth. The more so because of the contrasting appearance of the desolate countryside through which they were marching.

It is possible that there will never be seen the like again until the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth at the head of His army (they being clothed in the pure white linen that is the righteous behavior of the saints), having the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

History of the Tabernacle of the Congregation

The Tabernacle of the Congregation was set up on the first day of the first month, in the second year of the wilderness wanderings (Exodus 40:17). God had directed that the history of His people should begin with the first Passover (Exodus 12:2). Some believe the work on the Tabernacle was begun six months after the exodus from Egypt and that it required six months for its completion. Thus it was set up at the beginning of the second year.

At the time of the consecration of the priests, the fire of God came forth in the Tabernacle area and consumed the offering on the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering (Leviticus 9:24). The fire of the Altar of Burnt Offering and the perfume arising from the Altar of Incense were maintained day and night. In addition, there always were twelve loaves on the Table of Showbread—even on the march.

It appears, although scholars differ somewhat, that the Tabernacle was set up about 1445 B.C. and was incorporated in Solomon’s Temple around 959 B.C. So the Tabernacle of the Congregation was in existence nearly 500 years.

In fact, I Kings 6:1 informs us that it was four hundred eighty years from the first Passover until the time when Solomon began building the Temple. Since the Temple was seven years in building, and dedicated eleven months after the structure was completed, it seems a little more than four hundred eighty years transpired from the time the Glory of God first filled the Tabernacle of the Congregation, as described in Exodus, Chapter 40 until the Ark and the remainder of the Tabernacle were placed in the Temple of Solomon, at the dedication of the Temple (I Kings, Chapter Eight).

What happened to the Tabernacle of the Congregation during those four hundred eighty years? After the Tabernacle was erected Israel traveled north to Kadesh-Barnea where the spies were sent out (Numbers, Chapter 13). Because of the unbelief of these scouts, and of the people to whom they reported, Israel was condemned to turn back into the wilderness until forty years of wanderings were fulfilled.

For thirty-eight years Israel journeyed from one camp to the next, in the wilderness region between Kadesh-Barnea and Elath. The Tabernacle was set up, taken down, carried, and set back up as Israel went from place to place.

When the time came to cross the Jordan River into the land of promise, the Ark of the Covenant became prominent in the crossing and in the battle of Jericho. But the Tabernacle itself is not mentioned very much in the account of Joshua. However, you might want to study the following Scripture references: Joshua 6:24; 9:23; 18:1; 19:51; 22:19,29; and 24:26. It appears that Joshua had a camp at Gilgal (Joshua 9:6; 10:43), and it is possible that the Tabernacle was maintained for a while at that camp. However, the main location of the Tabernacle was at Shiloh, although it may have had a temporary location at Shechem (Joshua 24:1-26).

Joshua 18:1 is especially informative because we find the Tabernacle was set up at Shiloh where it remained for more than three hundred years. In fact, the Tabernacle was still at Shiloh when the Ark was removed from the Most Holy Place by Hophni and Phinehas and then captured by the Philistines (I Samuel, Chapter Four).

Shiloh, which means rest, was a city a little more than twenty miles north of Jerusalem, twelve miles north of Bethel, and ten miles south of Shechem. Shiloh was a central location for the tribes of Israel.

Joshua 19:51 indicates that the land of promise was divided among the tribes by means of Joshua and the elders casting lots at the door of the Tabernacle. In the Book of Judges, the Tabernacle was located at Shiloh and was referred to as the "house of God" (Judges 18:31; 19:18; 20:18; 21:2; for example).

We come now to the birth of Samuel, about 1105 B.C. In the first three chapters of I Samuel we find the story of the boy, Samuel, who used to sleep in one of the tents outside the Tabernacle building near the high priest, Eli.

One night, just before dawn, Samuel heard the voice of the Lord. By this time the Tabernacle was called the "Temple," not to be confused with Solomon’s Temple, which came about one hundred thirty-five years later. Also, it appears that doors had been put on the Tabernacle building in place of the hanging that God had commanded Moses.

We note in many places in the Scripture that the Israelites changed the specific directions that God gave Moses, perhaps to adjust to "practical requirements." So it has been true that throughout the two thousand years of the history of the Christian Church there have been many adjustments because of "practical considerations."

It is the opinion of this author that if we would wait on the Lord and do exactly what He says, without attempting to be "creative," we would take a huge step forward in the Kingdom of God.

About 1075 B.C. the Ark of the Covenant was removed from the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle, as described in I Samuel, Chapter Four, and it was never returned as long as the Tabernacle was in existence—another hundred years or so.

When David was fleeing from Saul, about 1020 B.C., the Tabernacle was located at Nob (I Samuel 21:1). Nob was a small town in the vicinity of Jerusalem. From there the Tabernacle was removed to the idolatrous "high place at Gibeon," its last stop before being placed in the Temple of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple (about 959 B.C.).

As we said, the Ark of the Covenant had been removed from the Most Holy Place around 1075 B.C., as described in I Samuel, Chapter Four. The Ark was taken to Ashdod and Ekron, two cities of the Philistines, and then started on its journey back through Israel, going from Bethshemesh to Kirjath-Jearim, a short trip to Gibeah, then back to Kirjath-Jearim to the house of Obed-Edom.

It was then brought by King David to his city, Zion, a suburb of the larger city of Jerusalem. The Ark arrived in Zion about 1000 B.C. Therefore, the Ark was taking this circuitous journey from the Tabernacle at Shiloh back to Zion over a period of seventy-five years or so. Remember, these dates and times are approximate.

From around 1075 B.C. until it was folded up and incorporated in the Temple of Solomon (about 959 B.C.), the Tabernacle of the Congregation was without its most important furnishing—the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat (Atonement cover). The remaining five sacred furnishings, the Altar of Incense, Lampstand, Table of Showbread, Laver, and Altar of Burnt Offering, were still in the Tabernacle. But the moral law had departed along with the Ark.

To add to the confusion, the Tabernacle was set up at the great high place at Gibeon, a center of idolatrous heathen worship. The native tribes of Canaan practiced the worship of demons on top of hills.

Gibeon, it may be recalled, was the tribe that outwitted Joshua and saved their lives. As God had warned, the idol-worshiping Gibeonites proved to be a snare to Israel, and the Tabernacle of the Congregation was erected at the abominable high place at Gibeon.

 And Zadok the priest, and his brothers the priests, before the tabernacle of the Lord in the high place that was at Gibeon, To offer burnt offerings unto the Lord upon the altar of the burnt offering continually morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the law of the Lord, which he commanded Israel; (I Chronicles 16:39,40)

While the Tabernacle remained at Gibeon, David brought trouble on himself and Israel by numbering the people. As an outcome of this sin and its consequences, the Lord directed David to set up an altar for offering on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, on Mount Moriah.

This was a very unusual command, because the Lord had stated previously that offerings were to be made only at the Altar of Burnt Offering at the door of the Tabernacle, this being one of the strictest of the Levitical injunctions. In obedience to the Lord, and contrary to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses, David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings at the new site (I Chronicles 21:26). God answered David by fire on this altar.

 At that time when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there. (I Chronicles 21:28)

Then David said, This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel. (I Chronicles 22:1)

David knew now for certain that God was indicating to him that the Temple of God was to be built on the site of the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. The Temple was not to be established at Zion, where the Ark was, nor at Gibeon, where the rest of the Tabernacle was, but at the new location.

The change in site typifies that at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (the Kingdom Age being symbolized by David’s Tabernacle at Zion) God will create a new heaven and a new earth. All the ministries and operations of the Spirit in the Church and in the world by that time shall have brought forth the end God has in mind. The Church will be in a state of total reconciliation to God, and God and the Lamb will be dwelling in the Church in perfect love and harmony of being.

In that day there will be no more temporary tabernacles. The entire Christian Church will be the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb—the spiritual fulfillment of the Temple of Solomon. The Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it forever.

We find just before David’s death he gave specific instructions for the offices of the priests and Levites, in preparation for the building of the Temple (I Chronicles 23-26). David’s charge concerning the building of the Temple of God is found in I Chronicles, Chapters 28 and 29.

Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering at the high place at Gibeon (I Kings 3:4), and the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream. Solomon then went to Jerusalem, to the place of the Ark of the Covenant in the city of Zion, and stood before the Ark of the Covenant and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, followed by a feast for his servants.

There was some kind of altar of sacrifice at the site of the Ark in Zion. 

So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God. (I Chronicles 16:1)

We can see that by this time, with the Ark at Zion, the remainder of the Tabernacle at Gibeon, and the newly-designated site of the Temple at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, the Divine commandment concerning the Tabernacle of the Congregation was being withdrawn in order for the Presence of God to be associated with the coming Temple.

Solomon now undertook to build the Temple of God, and it was seven years in the process of building. Eleven months after it was completed the Temple of Solomon was dedicated with great ceremony. Part of the ceremony was the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant from Zion, and the remainder of the Tabernacle from the high place at Gibeon, and the incorporating of them in the new Temple.

This event marks the formal conclusion of God’s use of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. 

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. Wherefore all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto the king in the feast which was in the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came; and the Levites took up the ark. And they brought up the ark, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, these did the priests and the Levites bring up. Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude. And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims: For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day. There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt. (II Chronicles 5:2-10)

It is sad to think of the coming to an end of the glorious history of almost five hundred years of service of the Tabernacle of the Congregation to the children of Israel. Yet it was not an end, for the elements of the Tabernacle found their permanent rest in the Temple of Solomon.

The swallowing up of the Tabernacle of the Congregation by the Temple of Solomon is typical of our own mortal body being swallowed up by our house of resurrection life, which will descend on us from Heaven at the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the kingdom-wide interpretation of the Tabernacle, the incorporating of the parts of the Tabernacle in the Temple of Solomon typifies the gathering together of all the members of the Body of Christ in the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

We are sad to leave, speaking figuratively, the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Table of Showbread, the Lampstand, the Ark of the Covenant—all the parts that have been so precious to us as we have plodded our way through the wilderness of this life, learning our lessons from God, gaining victories over all obstacles through His strength and wisdom.

But then we rejoice, because none of these has been lost to us. They have been brought to an eternal glorified state in the new Jerusalem, the holy city, where we shall reign with God and see His glorious Face forever.

Speaking of the Tabernacle of David, that is, of the tent David pitched for the Ark in his city of Zion while the rest of the Tabernacle remained at the idolatrous high place at Gibeon, James comments:

After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. (Acts 15:16,17)

James was quoting from Amos 9:11,12. When we study Amos 9:11-15 we notice that this passage refers to the glories of the Kingdom Age that are yet ahead of us. No doubt we are in the days when the Ark is at the house of Obed-Edom, to speak symbolically, and our heavenly King David, the Lord Jesus Christ, is even now preparing to set up the Ark in the heavenly Mount Zion. Then the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and He shall reign forever (Revelation 11:15-19).

 History of the Ark of the Covenant

The history of the Ark of the Covenant was closely identified with that of the entire Tabernacle of the Congregation until the fateful day when the two wicked sons of Eli, the high priest, removed the Ark of the Covenant from the Most Holy Place (I Samuel, Chapter Four).

The Ark of the Covenant was established in the Most Holy Place when the Tabernacle was first erected (Exodus 40:21). When Israel went on the march toward Kadesh-Barnea, after receiving the Law on Mount Sinai and setting up the Tabernacle, the Ark was wrapped in the Veil and carried on the shoulders of the Kohathite Levites in the center of the line of march (Numbers 10:21).

On one occasion the Lord evidently directed Moses to put the Ark at the head of the line of march, to "seek out a resting place" for Israel (Numbers 10:33). The cloud hovered over them while the Ark led the way. It must have been a great blessing to have the cloud of the Lord’s Presence over them because the sun burns with terrible heat in that wilderness area.

Israel wandered for thirty-eight years in the desert between Kadesh-Barnea and Elath. No doubt the Levites had plenty of practice setting up the Tabernacle and taking it down.

The next time we see the Ark out of its customary position, in the center of the marching order, is at the end of the wilderness wandering when Israel was getting ready to cross over Jordan into the land of promise. In the third chapter of Joshua we read that the Kohathite Levites stood in the Jordan River, and God held back the Jordan until the children of Israel passed over.

The Ark was prominent in the assault on Jericho (Joshua, Chapter Six). The Ark at the battle of Jericho represented the Presence of the Lord of Hosts as the Israelites fought their way into this, the first of the cities of the land of promise (see Joshua 8:33).

The Ark contained the Ten Commandments on two tables of stone (the testimony; the covenant). It was the holy Law that was coming against the ungodly lusts and worship of demons that prevailed among the Amorites, the Philistines, the Jebusites, and the other tribes who lived in Canaan.

The Ark of the Covenant remained in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation while the Tabernacle was located in Shiloh, until the days of Samuel. During a battle with the Philistines the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, brought the Ark to the Israelite camp at Ebenezer at the request of the elders. The Philistines captured the Ark and brought it to Ashdod, one of their own cities, and then moved it to Ekron.

When the Philistines had their fill of the plagues the Lord sent on them because of the Ark, they sent the Ark back to Israel. The Ark came first to the Israelite village of Bethshemesh, where the Lord slew many people for looking into the Ark. Then the Ark was brought to the house of Abinidab at Kirjath-Jearim. After a side trip to Gibeah it was returned to Kirjath-Jearim and remained there until David went after it (II Samuel 6:2).

The Ark had been at Kirjath-Jearim for fifty years or more at the house of Abinidab. Abinidab’s two sons, Uzzah and Ahio, drove a new cart with the Ark in it toward Jerusalem. Uzzah reached forth his hand and took hold of the Ark because the oxen were restive. Uzzah died there by the Ark, struck down by the hand of the Lord.

The Ark was then brought to the house of Obed-Edom. After three months David went after it again, this time having it carried on the shoulders of the Levites as the Lord had commanded Moses. In this manner the Ark was brought safely to the tent David had pitched for it in Zion, David’s fortress city within the area of Jerusalem. The remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was by now at the high place at Gibeon.

From the time Hophni and Phinehas removed the Ark from the Tabernacle during the battle with the Philistines at Ebenezer, until the Ark and the Tabernacle were placed within the Temple of Solomon, the Tabernacle was without its Glory. The Presence of the Lord had departed from the Most Holy Place.

The Veil still partitioned off the cubical room ten cubits on a side, but the room was empty. There was nothing to sprinkle the blood on during the Day of Atonement. The walls and ceiling were still there but the authority and power had departed from the Most Holy Place. There was a form of godliness but no power. The rituals were still observed, but the Glory of God, the Ark of His Covenant, in particular the Ten Commandments, was gone.

The Ark never returned to the Tabernacle. David kept the Ark at Zion all through his reign, setting up the ministry of Levites to minister before the Ark (I Chronicles 16:4). There were praisers, singers, porters and musicians. David also assigned priests, musicians and porters to minister at the Tabernacle of the Congregation at Gibeon (I Chronicles 16:40), for the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering was located there.

The Ark of the Covenant remained in the Tabernacle of David in Zion until the Temple of Solomon was completed. Then, at the dedication ceremonies of the Temple, the Ark was placed within the Most Holy Place in the Temple of Solomon. This occurred about 959 B.C., as we have stated previously.

A little over three hundred fifty years later, when King Jehoiachin surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar II, all the vessels of gold in the Temple of Solomon were cut in pieces (II Kings 24:13). The Ark of the Covenant was never again seen on the earth as far as we know.

For eight hundred fifty years the Ark of the Covenant had been the most holy possession of Israel, being the place of the testimony—the Ten Commandments on two tables of stone. But Babylon succeeded in destroying the testimony of God, just as the forces of darkness of the days immediately preceding the victorious return of our Lord and Savior Christ will succeed in crushing the testimony of the saints (Daniel 12:7; Revelation 13:7).

Nearly six hundred years passed after the carrying away into Babylon, and then we see Jesus, the Word of God, the Ark of God from Heaven. He Himself is the testimony, the Law of God in human flesh. Jesus is the true Ark of God, the place of atonement.

But the Ark of the Covenant will be seen again, and its appearance is of the greatest significance imaginable.

 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

And then, four verses later:

 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. (Revelation 11:19)

No doubt the appearance of the Ark of the Covenant ("ark of his testament") symbolizes the restoration of David’s Tabernacle, of which James spoke (Acts 15:16), revealing the glorious work of God during the Kingdom Age in making the kingdoms of this world the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.

The separation of the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle of the Congregation seems to us to portray the moving of God on His saints in preparation for the return of our Lord from Heaven. As soon as the firstfruits of the Bride have been fully prepared for total reconciliation to God in Christ (which is the marriage of the Lamb), then our Lord Jesus will return, fulfilling spiritually the Old Testament event of the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Zion.

There is much praise and rejoicing in the churches in the present hour because the Ark is getting close to its resting place in Zion, to speak figuratively; and King David, our Lord Jesus, is dancing and rejoicing before it.

Finally, in Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22 we see the time portrayed by the Temple of Solomon when God Himself, now dwelling in His fullness in the perfected Wife of the Lamb, comes to the earth to rule forever over His creation. This is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah:

 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. (Jeremiah 3:16,17)

Overall Impression

If one had stood back and viewed the Tabernacle as a whole, there were at least three major impressions that would have come to the onlooker.

First of all, the whole layout, including the Tabernacle and the Courtyard, plus the appearance and actions of the priests and Levites, illustrated that this structure had to do with the worship of a holy, living God. His Presence could be seen in the cloud and in the pillar of fire.

The whiteness of the fence, the constant washing of the priests, the attitude and appearance of every person and object associated with the Tabernacle of the Congregation, gave the impression of a holy God whose Nature is as high above flesh and blood as Heaven is high above the earth; One who requires the same holiness of those who would approach Him. We must always remember that the Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit, and that the new Jerusalem is referred to as the holy city.

Second, the entire Tabernacle spoke of righteousness, that is, of the observance of equitable law. The Mosaic Law working together with the animal sacrifices proclaimed the necessity for maintaining the perfect balance of the scales of the Divine Justice.

As far as sin between man and man was concerned, the Mosaic law stipulated that the loss of an eye would be the punishment for a blinded eye and the loss of a tooth would be the punishment for a tooth that had been knocked out. There was no hesitation in the judgment of crime. You had to treat other people in an equitable fashion. If you did not, justice swift and certain was executed upon you.

Relationships between person and person were set forth in writing. If you injured someone, or a charge was made against you, you were brought before Moses or the elders for judgment. Sometimes the Lord Himself was sought in order to insure that justice was carried out. If you lived honestly and decently you were protected against those who would attempt to take advantage of you. The laws of God were just, and when people observed them there was peace in the camp.

As far as sin between man and God was concerned, the onlooker would be impressed with the constant shedding of blood and with the offering up of the sacrificial animals. Here was a God whose laws were being broken constantly and who required that He be appeased by the shedding of innocent blood. Animal life was being offered in order to save human life—human life that was in jeopardy because of violated Divine Law.

Jesus did not find fault with the Mosaic statutes. How could He? He Himself gave those statutes, He being the Word of God from the beginning. Rather, He brought to us the mercy of God that works side by side with the justice of God.

The Lord was merciful and compassionate under the old covenant and He is merciful and compassionate under the new covenant. His endless mercies have been revealed to us by the grace that has come to us through Christ.

In some instances today we find Christian people are under a misconception concerning the relationship of sin to the grace given to us under the new covenant. Christ has never changed as far as the application of Divine Law is concerned. Grace does not do away with Divine Law nor does grace turn a lie into the truth; lust into cleanliness; murder into love.

When a Christian sins the judgment of God is upon him (I Peter 1:17).

While grace in no manner alters the standard of Divine equity, it does make marvelous provisions for human beings to become reconciled to God. Grace comes to us as the Word of God, as the body and blood of Christ, and as the resurrection Life of the Holy Spirit. These are three aids to perfect reconciliation to God Almighty.

We can become one with God in Christ if we so choose, no matter how deep may be the pit in which we may find ourselves at this moment. But to continue in sin under the assumption that the Law of Sinai has given way to a more elastic set of rules, or that the Lord has changed His Divine Nature, or that there is some way to please God other than by doing His will, is to turn the grace of God into an excuse for lust and rebellion.

Third, the whole arrangement announced that the Tabernacle had its origin in Heaven. The gorgeous colors, the gold, the silver, the unearthly beauty of the building, the fragrance of the holy anointing oil and the perfume of the burning incense—all declared that this was a portrayal of the throne of God set up in a wilderness area of the earth. The Tabernacle came from Heaven, as anyone could see at first glance.

We understand, then, that the Tabernacle spoke of the holiness of God Almighty; of equitable law governing the conduct of people, necessitating the shedding of atoning blood when that law was violated; and of the Divine origin of the pattern of the structure. Such was the overall impression that a person would gain when viewing the Tabernacle of the Congregation for the first time.

Four Major Types of Redemption

There are four major types in the Scripture of God’s plan of redemption through Christ. Redemption is restoring to the rightful owners of what was stolen from them, or what they forfeited for some reason, or what was taken from them by force.

The natural right of mankind is to be in God’s image, to be in union with God, to be fruitful, and to have rulership over God’s handiwork. These original rights were taken from mankind by evil, unclean spiritual forces in the heavenlies. Through Christ, God has set in operation a complete plan that will totally redeem His obedient children and restore all that was taken from them by the ancient adversary, who seeks their ruin.

The four great types of redemption, or salvation, are as follows:

The seven days of creation described in Genesis, Chapter One.

The journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the land of promise.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The feasts of the Lord listed in Leviticus, Chapter 23. Each of the four types of redemption has seven aspects, seven being the number that symbolizes the fullness of the plan of redemption. It should be kept in mind as we study the seven aspects of redemption that they do not represent levels of attainment, such as grades of progress through school. Rather, they are seven facets of the one salvation in Christ.

Time and sequence are not the main considerations. Growth in Christ is somewhat like an ascending spiral in that we keep coming back to the same aspect of grace but at an increasingly mature plane of growth and achievement.

The seven days of creation are an important symbolic portrayal of the redemption that is in Christ as well as being a factual record of the creation of the material universe. The days may have been twenty-four hour periods, or seven minutes, given the power of God. On the other hand, the seven days of creation may have little reference to time as we know it. God’s days are periods of significant accomplishment. A day with the Lord is as a thousand years. God is quite able to work independently of time.

The first of the types is the days of creation. The days of creation were seven in number:

Day one—the creating of light, the dividing of the light from the darkness, and the naming of the light and the darkness.

Day two—the placing of a firmament in the midst of the waters, and the use of the firmament to divide the waters that were under the firmament from the waters that were above the firmament.

Day three—the pulling back of the waters under the firmament to allow dry land to appear, the naming of the land and the waters under the firmament, and the creating of vegetation on the dry land.

Day four—the creating of the sun, moon and stars in the firmament to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and night, to divide the light from the darkness, the day from the night, and for signs.

Day five—the creating of fish in the water, and birds to fly in the firmament.

Day six—the creating of animal life on the earth, and of man in the image of God, male and female, and the assigning to mankind of fruitfulness, and of dominion over all the works of God’s hands.

Day seven—the ending of God’s work, and His rest.

The second of the four major types of redemption is the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the land of promise.

There were seven episodes during the pilgrimage of the children of Israel:

The Passover, and the judgment on the gods of Egypt.

The passage through the Red Sea.

The safe arrival on the east bank of the Red Sea, and the beginning of life in the wilderness.

The giving of the Law on Sinai, the ordinances, and the directions for the construction of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The organizing of Israel into an army, and skirmishes under the leadership of Moses.

The crossing of the Jordan, and the battle against the inhabitants of Canaan.

Rest in the land of milk and honey.

The third of the major types of redemption is the seven articles of furniture of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. These seven were carried by the Kohathite Levites while Israel was on the march.

Altar of Burnt Offering.

Laver.

Table of Showbread.

Lampstand.

Altar of Incense.

Ark of the Covenant.

The Mercy Seat, the Cherubim, and He who dwelled between the Cherubim.

The fourth of the four major types of redemption is the seven Levitical convocations, or feasts of the Lord as they are sometimes called (Leviticus, Chapter 23):

Passover.

Unleavened Bread.

Firstfruits.

Pentecost.

Trumpets.

Day of Atonement.

Tabernacles.

We see, then, four great types of God’s plan of redemption. The number four is symbolic of the communication of the knowledge and Glory of God to mankind—the bringing of light. Each of the four types is divided into seven dimensions, seven being the number of God’s work of redemption, or salvation.

There are seven dimensions of the one plan of salvation in Christ. We shall see later that the seven have been grouped by the Lord into three platforms of salvation and three aspects of the establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth. But for now, let us look at each of the seven separately.

By grouping the four types together you will see that each of the types has something unique to reveal about a particular aspect of redemption, and also the four types have much in common.

Before we start with the seven dimensions, or aspects, of salvation, we might note that the unredeemed human being is graphically illustrated in Genesis 1:1,2 ("without form and void"), and also by the condition of bondage of the Israelites in Egypt. Chaos and Egyptian slavery are types of the unsaved person.

The "heavens and the earth" are present in each person, to speak in a figure, but the person is "without form and void" and he or she lives in spiritual darkness. The unsaved person is in a chaotic condition of spirit, soul and body, being one mass of confused elements. Slavery to the Pharaoh in Egypt is another type of the unredeemed person.

This is the way it was before Christ came into our lives. We were in personal chaos, at least in the spirit realm. We were in slavery to the powers of darkness. But then the Lord Jesus Christ came to us with His perfect program of redemption for spirit, soul, and body.

Phase One. Taking the first element of each of the four types, we have as follows: the creating of light, the dividing of the light from the darkness, the naming of the light and the darkness; the Passover, and the judgment on the gods of Egypt; the Altar of Burnt Offering; and the feast of Passover. Do you see how we have placed together the first aspect of each of the four types of redemption?

The points that stand out are the division between light and darkness; judgment on the gods of the world; the blood of the Lamb as our protection from judgment; and the making of an atonement for our sinful condition through the shedding of blood.

The first step, then, in the plan of redemption, is the bringing to us the consciousness of the existence of good and evil, light and darkness. God makes us aware that we are to come out of the world, out of the land in which we have been held in slavery.

For the first time in our lives, perhaps, we learn that we are dwelling in spiritual darkness. Immediately God makes provision for us through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. This marks the first step in our journey toward complete redemption. 

Phase Two. The placing of a firmament in the midst of the waters, and the use of the firmament to divide the waters under the firmament from the waters above the firmament; the exodus from Egypt and the passing through the Red Sea; the Laver; and the feast of Unleavened Bread.

The main elements are the separation of the lower and upper waters by the firmament of heaven; passing through the Red Sea; the washing of the priests in the bronze Laver; and the removal of leaven from the bread of the children of Israel.

Phase Two portrays the various concepts involved as we descend into water baptism. Our first personality is assigned by faith to the death of Christ on the cross. Heaven enters us, as it were, and divides between our natural, soulish life (the waters under the firmament), and our born-again spiritual nature (the waters above the firmament—the waters of spiritual life and blessing in the Presence of God).

The body of the Christian is dead because of sin but his life is hidden with Christ in God. The redeemed person is divided into the natural man and the spiritual man, which is not true of the unredeemed person.

We leave Egypt, the world, in water baptism, putting away the filth of the flesh that we may be separated unto the Lord God and received of Him. The old leaven of malice and wickedness is thrown out and the new bread of sincerity and truth is brought in.

 Phase Three. The pulling back of the waters under the firmament to allow dry land to appear, the naming of the land and the waters under the firmament, and the creating of vegetation on the dry land; the safe arrival of Israel on the eastern bank of the Red Sea and the beginning of life in the wilderness; the Table of Showbread; and the feast of Firstfruits.

The main thoughts are the appearing of the land and vegetation; the beginning of life in the wilderness; the twelve loaves of the Presence together with the drink offering of strong wine; and the offering to the priest of the first sheaf of the barley harvest.

These speak to us of coming up out of the waters of baptism. We now enter resurrection life in the Lord Jesus Christ and it is a wilderness of trials to us. The dry land is the emergence of the Life of Christ in us, the waters of our soulish life pulling back enough that Christ can be revealed. Also, the vegetables and fruit indicate that the first signs of Christian behavior have appeared.

The twelve loaves of the showbread [bread of the Presence] and the accompanying drink offering speak of the Communion table and the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are born again into the Kingdom of God, and our new life is sustained through feeding on the body and blood of Christ. We now are free to choose to live righteously, no longer being under the authority of "Pharaoh."

The authority of darkness was judged at the Passover, and the legions of Hell were drowned in the Red Sea as we came up out of the waters of baptism. They could not follow us through those waters because the waters of baptism represent the death of Christ on the cross, and emerging from the waters signifies our sharing in the resurrection of Christ.

The waving of the barley sheaves in the feast of Firstfruits reminds us that when we are born again a firstfruits of our personality, our reborn inner nature, ascends to the right hand of God in Christ. This is the first reaping of our personality, and because the firstfruits is holy our entire personality is holy to the Lord.

The first three phases speak of what we term "salvation." We are saved through the blood, baptized in water, born again, and partake of the Lord’s table. We are made one with the death and resurrection of Christ, being raised to sit in heavenly places together with Him. We are accepted of God through the reconciling authority of the blood of Christ. We begin to think, speak and act like a Christian.

 Phase Four. The fourth aspect of the plan of redemption is of special significance in that four is halfway between one and seven. In all three scriptural orderings of the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle, the Lampstand is always number four.

In the seven Levitical feasts, Pentecost was observed by itself apart from any of the other six observances. It is at Pentecost, or at the Lampstand if you will, that we begin to grow past the aspects of redemption that are limited to our personal benefit, our salvation from destruction, and move into the areas of grace in which we become the servant of the Lord.

After we move past number four, in the typology of Scripture, we grow beyond what merely is of benefit to us and press into the areas of redemption that fulfill the purposes of God in creating mankind.

Some of the purposes of God in creating mankind are as follows:

The creation of a bride for the Lamb (Revelation 21:9).

The creation of a living temple for God (Ephesians 2:22).

The creation of the Body of Christ, the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 42:1; I Corinthians 12:12).

The creation of a vehicle for the end-time revival (Isaiah 60:1,2).

The creation of people who can restore Paradise on the earth (Romans 8:21).

The creation of a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9).

The creation of witnesses of God (Isaiah 43:10).

The creation of sons of God (Revelation 21:7).

The creation of brothers of Christ (Romans 8:29).

The creation of overcomers of the accuser (Revelation 12:11).

The creation of governors for the saved nations (Revelation 2:26,27).

The creation of judges of men and angels (I Corinthians 6:2,3).

The creation of a wall of defense around the Glory of God (Revelation 21:14).

The creation of the revelation of Himself—God in Christ in the saints (Revelation 3:12).

The creation of nations of saved people to serve as an inheritance for the Lamb and His Wife (Revelation 21:24).

Taking the fourth element of each of the four major types of redemption we have as follows: the creating of the sun, moon and stars in the firmament of heaven to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and night, to divide the light from the darkness and the day from the night, and for signs; the giving of the Law on Sinai with the Levitical statutes and ordinances, and the directions for the construction of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the solid-gold Lampstand with its seven lamps; and the feast of Pentecost.

The main elements are the creating of the sun, moon and stars; the Law from Sinai and the design and construction of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the Lampstand; and the waving of the two loaves of wheat (the feast of Pentecost) signaling the end of the wheat harvest.

Here we find the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church, and on us as individuals; also, our baptism into the Body of Christ. We begin to understand that the Head and Body of Christ, the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah, Chapter 42) will show the light of the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord to the farthest reaches of the earth.

The two leavened wave loaves of the feast of Weeks (Pentecost) speak to us of the double portion of God’s Spirit that will be poured on the earth in the days to come.

The Lord Himself has sworn that the knowledge of the Glory of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. The Glory of God and of the Lamb will light the new Jerusalem so the holy city will have no need of the sun or moon.

It must have been the Glory of God and the Lamb that lighted the heaven and the earth at the beginning, for there were no sun, moon or stars during the first three evenings and mornings of the creation.

When discussing the four major types of redemption we are not suggesting that these elements did not exist exactly as recorded in the Scripture. The history of the creation found in the first chapter of Genesis, for example, is accurate in every detail.

What we are claiming, however, is that all these real things and people of the Scripture have symbolic meaning for God’s plan of salvation in Christ. They were written for our admonition on whom the end of the age has come and were freely used by Christ and the Apostles as symbols and illustrations having to do with the Church of Christ.

Jesus Himself is the "Lamb" who was slain before the creation of the world, and all persons, circumstances and things in the Scriptures have reference to Him and to the redemption that is in Him, by Him and through Him. Christ retains all preeminence forever, ages without end.

The sun, of the fourth day of creation, represents Christ Himself. The moon is the Church. The stars are the saints of all ages whose lives have guided Christians throughout the long night that is the beginning of the Day of the Lord.

The heaven was an empty blue vault prior to the fourth day of creation. So it is that before we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit we do not have the insight into the spirit realm that comes with the baptism.

Up to heaven we go for the fourth day of creation. Back down to earth we come for the remaining days; for they speak to us, among other things, of the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

 Phase Five. The creating of fish in the water and birds to fly in the firmament; the organizing of Israel into an army, and skirmishes under the leadership of Moses; the Altar of Incense; and the Blowing of Trumpets.

The points that stand out are the beginning of animal life in the waters under the firmament, and the creating of birds to fly in the firmament; organizing for spiritual warfare; perfume from the burning of incense; and the festival of Trumpets announcing the first day of the new agricultural year.

The fifth aspect of the plan of redemption should be of great interest to us because it is the next step after the Pentecostal, or charismatic experience. The creation of fish symbolizes the soul-winning activities that should follow the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We are to receive power to bear witness of Christ after the Holy Spirit comes upon us. We become fishers of men.

It is not being stated here that every Christian has the same type of ministry, for the Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit provides a variety of ministries and gifts in the Body of Christ. There are many kinds of "fish." Each of us has a part in the revelation of Christ through the Holy Spirit. We share what we have.

The appearing of birds reminds us that after we are born again our new nature is seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father. Our life from now on consists of heavenly preparations for an earthly Kingdom, just as birds fly between the earth and the heaven.

The creation of birds symbolizes also the angelic activity that becomes increasingly pronounced as we grow toward maturity. Angels participated in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles, were active throughout the events described in the Book of Acts, and will be prominent as we approach the end of the age, as revealed in Revelation.

The fifth day of creation is a backdrop for the crowning work of God—the creating of mankind in the image of God.

The fifth day is the beginning of serving God in the earth, and also the concept of getting ready for the conflict of the ages and entering the land of promise. This is the last experience we will have under the ministry of Moses, so to speak, for we are getting ready for a change in the style of leadership.

The Altar of Incense (the fifth of the seven pieces of Tabernacle furniture) is related in spiritual significance to the blowing of Trumpets (the fifth of the seven feasts of the Lord), as we may observe in Revelation 8:2-6. It is the time of entrance into the Day of the Lord and of war against the enemies of God.

The holy perfume that arises to God from the incense is the blending of the Person of Christ through the Holy Spirit with the prayers of all saints. It is the contact of humans with Almighty God, through Christ, rising in unprecedented power and anointing in the days just before the return of Christ, that will move the Father to command the seven angels to sound their trumpets. The seventh angel will announce the return of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords to take over His rightful place as ruler of the kingdoms of the world. 

Phase Six. The creating of animal life on the earth, and of man in the image of God, male and female, and of the assigning of fruitfulness and dominion to man; the crossing of the Jordan River and the battles against the inhabitants of Canaan; the Ark of the Covenant; and the Day of Atonement.

The principal elements are the appearance of animal life on earth, and then man, male and female, in the image of God; warfare against the inhabitants of the land of promise; the Ark; and the sprinkling of the blood of reconciliation upon and before the Mercy Seat.

A little thought will reveal that the works of God during the first five days of creation were for the purpose of bringing about the creation of man in God’s image on the sixth day.

The Day of Atonement was the most critical of the seven feasts of the Lord, because the decision was made on this day whether or not God would accept His people, Israel. Access to the Ark of the Covenant and the covering Mercy Seat was available to Israel only on the Day of Atonement.

The purpose of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and of the multitude of trials they experienced in the wilderness, was to bring them into rest in the land of promise. Israel was not called of God to leave Egypt and dwell in the scorching Sinai desert. Israel was called of God to settle permanently in a well-watered land, there to enjoy the Lord in the abundance of peace and material abundance.

We see, therefore, that the sixth aspect of the four major types of redemption brings into view the purpose of God and the climax of salvation. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit to the day of redemption, of salvation, that is yet ahead of us.

In the sense in which we are now speaking, we haven’t been fully redeemed as yet. We have been sealed. God has put His mark on us so when sin and righteousness come to maturity in the last days, and the wrath of God (which has been kept in reserve since the time of the rebellion in Heaven) is poured on the rebellious and disobedient, we shall not be destroyed but shall be saved to enter the fullness of eternal life.

We have been "saved" by accepting the Lord Jesus. But the fullness of salvation is yet ahead of us, just as the days of creation looked toward the sixth day; the pilgrimage of the Israelites looked toward the invasion of the land of promise; the furnishings of the Tabernacle looked toward the Ark of the Covenant; and the feasts of the Lord looked toward the solemn Day of Atonement—the day when God either accepted or rejected the priesthood, the Tabernacle, and the twelve tribes of Israel.

In order for the Church to realize the fullness of the Glory of God, and to serve as the light of the world, we first shall have to go to war with Christ against all who oppose Him as King of kings and Lord of lords. The Ark of the Covenant represents the Glory of God that will return to the earth with the Lord Jesus Christ and establish the rule of the Kingdom of God.

Christ will see the travail of His soul and be satisfied, as the Spirit of God extends redemption to the farthest reaches of our planet. Christ will receive the nations for His inheritance and the ends of the earth for His possession. All the sin of the earth will be led away (not only the guilt of the sin, but the sin itself), just as the scapegoat was led out of the camp and left in the land of separation (Leviticus, Chapter 16).

Salvation is deliverance from both the guilt and the power of sin.

It is during the sixth aspect of salvation that we reach the fullness of redemption, of reconciliation to God. During the Millennial Jubilee, the thousand-year Kingdom Age that is to come, the authority of the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit will flow to every saved person of the nations of the earth.

All the peoples of the earth will be touched with the Life of Christ. The entire earth will be brought under the personal rule of Christ and will learn righteousness. The Church will mature into the Wife of the Lamb. The prayer of Christ in John, Chapter 17 will be answered to the smallest detail.

Before the new heaven and the new earth are created and brought into view, the work of redemption will be finished in every respect.

We are not teaching that every person ultimately will be redeemed. Hell is as real as Heaven and we know of no indication that the Lake of Fire is redemptive. If we refuse the gentle Savior we will face the wrath of the fiercest of emperors. To believe otherwise is to reject the Word of God.

The firstfruits of the Bride, God’s remnant, is now coming into the spiritual fulfillment of the blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. It is a time of the most intense conflict as the Holy Spirit prepares the Church of Christ for the total overthrow of all the works of darkness. It is the day of victory! Perfect victory is ahead. Christ is coming as King over the nations of the earth.

God’s people who are at "Pentecost," so to speak, must listen to the Holy Spirit as He teaches us how to fight in the spirit realm. We now are preparing to bring judgment and liberation to the earth. We are nearing the redemption of the creation, the conquest of the power of sin and death. The death on the cross and the resurrection of Christ are the basis for total victory over the enemy.

The Blowing of Trumpets, the fifth feast, announces the Day of Atonement, which is the sixth feast. The trumpets herald the Day of Atonement, the Day of the Lord.

In the kingdom-wide interpretation of the feasts of the Lord, the celebration of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24) portrays the sounding of the seven trumpets of God (Revelation, Chapter Eight). At the sounding of the last of the seven trumpets, the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and His Christ. It is the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with His saints to destroy rebellious spirits and their sins out of the earth. This coming is the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.

On the sixth day of creation man was made in the image of God. Man was not created as an independent entity but male and female. Christ has chosen to be Male with reference to His Bride so not only He but she also will be in the glorious image of the invisible God. Christ and His Bride are one. All that He is, she inherits.

The battles against the cities of Canaan portray in type our struggle in the Spirit against our fleshly nature, the devil and his hordes, and the spirit of the age in which we live. We must overcome, through the Holy Spirit, every spirit, every circumstance, every thing, every desire that stands between us and perfect reconciliation to the will of God.

It is God’s will in Christ that we overcome every hindrance to our perfect rest in God. We are to be in the image of Christ in spirit, soul and body. We are to be perfectly obedient to the will of God, giving thanks to Him for all situations. We are to become the dwelling place of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.

The Ark of the Covenant, the sixth of the furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, portrays Christ—Head and Body. It is perfect Man. The three elements within the Ark speak of the character that is formed in the Servant of the Lord. When we have been completed as an integral part of the Ark of the Covenant, the Glory of God will rest upon us.

If we remain faithful to Christ through every trial we will receive authority and power over the nations and the entire material creation. The sons of God are destined to serve God in His Presence and to govern the works of His hands (Hebrews 2:8).

When the victory of holiness, righteousness, and obedience has been won by the saints of God it will spread to the whole earth until sin has been destroyed from every part of God’s creation.

The Day of Atonement is the day of reconciliation to God of all that has been alienated from Him through wickedness, treachery, deceit, perversity, and every other sin.

It appears that the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the "third day" in which Christ "walks," is the period when mankind finally will be made in God’s image and the warfare of Jerusalem will be finished in the spiritual and physical realms. 

Phase Seven. The ending of God’s work, and His rest; rest in the land of milk and honey; the Mercy Seat, covering cherubim, and He who dwelled between the cherubim; the feast of Tabernacles.

The main elements are the completion of God’s efforts, His rest and joyous contemplation of His handiwork; possession of the land of abundance of good things; the solid-gold Atonement Cover (Mercy Seat) and He who dwells between the Cherubim of Glory; and the completion of the harvesting of all things grown in the earth, as celebrated in the feast of Tabernacles.

The end of a successful battle against sin and rebellion is rest, peace, and the possession of good things and circumstances. In the days to come there will be battles until every rebellious spirit is destroyed out of me and you, out of the heavenlies, and out of the entire earth. Sin will be conquered in all persons everywhere. The result will be children of God who are in His image.

Quietness, peace, and perfect rest and joy will prevail throughout the creation of God. The presence of Satan brings unrest, striving, tension, pressure, sickness, weakness, confusion, disorganization, heartache, worry, frantic activity, despair, gloom, pessimism, and every other evil work. But the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The rule of Christ will result in righteous conduct on the part of the inhabitants of the earth. Righteous conduct on the part of the inhabitants of the earth will bring peace. Peace will bring joy—the joy of the Lord. This is the kingdom that is coming. The only manner in which peace can be brought into the earth is by means of Christ’s rule with the rod of the iron of God’s strength.

It is God’s will that the meek inherit the earth, and so they shall. Yet a little while and the King will return. This time He will not be the helpless baby of the manger, the boy asking questions in the Temple, or the meek and lowly Lamb that men can abuse as they will. Christ is coming as the Lion of Judah, as King of kings and Lord of lords, to destroy out of the earth all who oppose Him.

The entire realm of nature—people, animals, the vegetable and mineral creation—everything will be reconciled to God during the thousand-year Jubilee. Every crop God has sown in the earth will bear fruit, and the fruit will be harvested and processed by the Lord Jesus.

The seventh aspect of the plan of redemption is described in Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22. We see the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, coming to rest on a great high mountain of the new earth. She is perfect in every detail and the Throne of God and of the Lamb is in her.

The new Jerusalem is the Church, the holy city, the center of government for the whole earth. It is the dwelling place of God, the light of the world. God has finished His work and is now at rest. The descent of the holy city marks the end of the plan of redemption, the restoration of every particle of inheritance that has been tricked, stolen, taken by violence, or otherwise wrested from Adam and Eve and their descendants.

After the celebration of the seven days of Tabernacles, to speak symbolically, the "eighth day" will begin. It appears to us that when the new heaven and the new earth are brought into view, and the holy city descends to the earth, every creature having found his assigned place in God’s economy, there then will be a period of unimaginable rejoicing over what God has brought forth; of giving glory and praise to Him because of His endless love and mercy; of taking in all the sights, sounds, feelings and other experiences of the new creation.

There will be nothing lost except those spirits and people who have rebelled against Christ. Every person and every thing of the creation that we have known and cherished, and that is worthy of the Kingdom of God, will be brought forward in a glorified state, because God knows every detail concerning each of us.

How long will it take you to praise God for His almighty goodness when you stand in your place and see what God has done in keeping intact all you hold dear? Will you ever have time enough to give Him your love and praise?

The rejoicing will continue as long as is necessary for every soul to rejoice in God’s goodness and to give thanks to Him for all He has accomplished in us and for us, as typified by the seven days of the feast of Tabernacles.

There was an eighth day of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:36). The eighth day symbolizes the first day of the week of eternity, the week that has no end. After we all have had the opportunity to love and praise God and Christ for their goodness to us, and for the astonishing wisdom, power and love that has brought into being the reconciliation of the creation to God, we shall pass into the eighth day, the first day of eternity and settle down to our endless life of serving God and Christ forever.

We have just described the kingdom-wide fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. There is a personal fulfillment of Tabernacles at hand for the Church of Christ. After we have been reconciled to God by the blood of the cross, by the overcoming of sin through the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, and by our obedience to God during problems and sufferings, continuing each day in obedience to the Word of God, then God and Christ will come to us and take up their abode with us to a much greater extent than we have experienced thus far (John 14:23).

Christ dwells in our heart when we first receive salvation. Christ is formed in us as we continue being ministered to and ministering to others.

But there is coming to each victorious Christian a far greater indwelling of the Father and the Son, the indwelling typified by the feast of Tabernacles. In that day the Lord will be dwelling in the Church just as the Father dwells in Christ.

The Father and the Son are coming to dwell eternally in us. This is a personal coming, not the visible second coming of the Lord to the earth.

The Lord Jesus will return to the earth exactly as promised, descending just as He ascended—in the sight of all people. The second coming of the Lord to the earth is for the purpose of setting up His Kingdom on the earth, to assume the rulership of the nations of the earth.

 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7).

The coming of our Lord in that day will not be primarily to the Church, although the Church will rise from the earth in transformed bodies to meet the Lord in the air. The Lord Jesus will be coming to the earth, appearing to the world in and with His saints.

When Christ who is our life appears from Heaven we shall appear with Him. The second coming of Christ will be the kingdom-wide fulfillment of the feasts of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, and the completion of the personal fulfillment of Tabernacles in the saints in that they will receive the redemption of their bodies.

However, before that great Day of the Lord arrives there will be an inner tabernacling of God and Christ in the saints. In order for such tabernacling to occur, we Christians must come to a more perfect reconciliation to God than has been true of us. That reconciliation is in process now as the Holy Spirit begins to deal with us concerning the sins of our flesh, and as God brings us into tribulation that works an ever-deepening righteousness, holiness and obedience in us (I Peter 4:1,2).

The saints will experience a personal fulfillment of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement (Day of Reconciliation), and Tabernacles before these three feasts are fulfilled throughout the world in the kingdom-wide manifestation.

The tares of wickedness are coming to maturity in our day. The personal fulfillment of the last three feasts of the Lord represent the coming to maturity of the wheat of righteousness. Whoever would survive and bear fruit during the age of moral horrors that is on the horizon must enter the spiritual fulfillment of the last three feasts. Apart from an increase in the Presence of God none of us will be able to stand during the days that are ahead.

The resurrection and ascension of the Church to meet Christ in the air is part of the kingdom-wide fulfillment of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. It will occur at the second coming of Christ, the Day of Christ. It is a climactic expression of the work of redemption that has preceded it.

What is important now is the preaching of the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth, accompanied by mighty signs and wonders, in preparation for the return of Christ to the earth. Occurring simultaneously with the great end-time witness of the Church is the perfecting of the reconciliation of God’s saints to Himself, and the dwelling of the saints with the Father and the Son in individual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles (John 17:21-23).

The fact that God could so perfectly portray His plan of salvation by means of these complicated and vast undertakings, such as the seven days of creation, the journey of several million people through the wilderness, the Tabernacle of the Congregation and its history, and the seven feasts of the Lord, reveals the absolute knowledge, wisdom, authority and power of God Almighty.

Truly, God is God. All persons, events, and objects are always and forever in His perfect control.

We have outlined the four types of redemption. We trust that the Holy Spirit will make this knowledge a blessing to you as you follow the Lord Jesus Christ in daily discipleship. This is our prayer for you.

Five Areas of Interpretation of the Tabernacle

At the beginning of our discussion of the Tabernacle of the Congregation we stated that there are at least six areas of study associated with the Tabernacle.

The physical description of the parts, furnishings and details of the Tabernacle.

The Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The history of the Christian Church.

The redemption of the believer.

The Body of Christ.

The Kingdom of God.

We have just finished the physical description, adding a bit of the spiritual symbolism, and hope you now have in mind what we are speaking of when we refer to various aspects of the Tabernacle. We followed this with a brief history, and then gave an outline of the fulfillment in the Kingdom of God of the Tabernacle and of the other three major types of redemption.

We may be ready to go on to five interpretations of the Tabernacle: The Lord Jesus Christ Himself; the history of the Christian Church; the redemption of the believer; the perfecting of the Body of Christ; and the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

We will present an overview of the five areas of interpretation, and then discuss each in more detail.

1. The Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Tabernacle of the Congregation is one grand illustration of the Lord Jesus Christ and His work of redemption. From the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering to the golden Mercy Seat, the Tabernacle reveals Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; as the great High Priest who fulfills all the requirements of God; and as the coming King of kings who one day will rule over the nations of the earth. Christ is demonstrated to be All in all.

2. The history of the Christian Church. The order in which the Tabernacle and the priesthood are first presented in the Book of Exodus seems to reveal in symbolic form a general history of the manner in which the Christian Church was instituted in the earth, and takes us on through the glorious ministry of the Church during the ages to come.

3. The redemption of the believer. Here we find the spiritual pilgrimage of the Christian from his beginning in total chaos of spirit, soul, and body all the way through to his transformation into the image of Christ in spirit, soul and body; to his becoming the Temple of God; and to his receiving, through Christ, abundant fruitfulness and dominion over the works of God’s hands.

The redemption of the believer follows the order of the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle, beginning with the Altar of Burnt Offering and finishing with the Mercy Seat and Him who dwells between the Cherubim of Glory.

4. The Body of Christ. The Christian Church starts out as small and large collections of believers: some very devout and fervent; some indifferent but who still attend church; some of one doctrinal persuasion and some of another.

When God has finished with the Christian Church it will be the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb. The Church will be absolutely holy, absolutely in unity, perfect and complete to the last detail. The Church will be as Eve from Heaven, built on the body and blood of Christ, having the Glory of God, loved by the Father with the same love He has for His firstborn Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is God’s will that the Body of Christ be built up in the day in which we are living. It is certain that the Church of Christ will attain much more maturity in the future than it has today; otherwise the prayer of Christ in John, Chapter 17 would never be answered.

It is our point of view that the Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, will make spiritual progress during the age to come. The thousand-year Kingdom Age is the sixth day of creation, to speak symbolically, and it is during the sixth day that man is made in God’s image—male and female.

The Divine Man is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is in the image of the Father and who was made perfect through suffering.

The heavenly Eve, the perfect helpmate for the heavenly Adam, is being formed now on the body and blood of her Lord. Do we see her ready now? Not nearly! But we know from the Scripture that she will be mature one day, for she will descend from Heaven in perfection (Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22).

It is our understanding that the Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, will be formed and perfected over a period of "three days." The "third day" is the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The Kingdom Age, in some respects, may not prove to be as drastic a change for us as we once had supposed.

It is not true that the saints will be taken to live in Heaven while Satan inherits the earth. This is not scriptural.

There will be the fierce battle of Armageddon, the war between Christ and His saints and the devil and his forces. Then Christ shall take over the rule of the nations of the world and shall exercise His will with and through the saints. But the flow of Christian teaching and the developing of the Church will continue without interruption, although greatly enhanced by the absence of the devil and by the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the earth.

The expression of the authority and power of the redemption made on the cross of Calvary will be increased many times over, and the laws of the Kingdom of God will be taught to every nation in a greater way than ever before (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-4).

In Luke 13:32 we find these words:

 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

We find the same thought expressed in Hosea 6:2,3:

 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we will live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

It appears that Christ, in Luke, was referring primarily to the fact that He would cast out devils and heal people for a period of time, and then He would be crucified and resurrected. We believe there also is a symbolic meaning. It seems the Kingdom Age will be the "third day" of Luke 13:32 and Hosea 6:2, and that Christ will raise us up on that day and we will go on to perfection. Since we are His Body, He uses the expression, "I shall be perfected," referring to His Body.

The coming of Christ signals our redemption, and so we lift up our heads. He, our Redeemer, will come to bring us salvation and glory and we shall reign with Him on the earth.

Then shall the nations of the earth be blessed and every person will have his Divine inheritance restored to him. It is the thousand-year Jubilee, the Day of Atonement, of redemption, of salvation. It is the last step before the coming of the Sabbath day rest of God, which is the new heaven and the new earth, and the descending of the Tabernacle of God to be among men forever.

5. The Kingdom of God. The plan of redemption and the perfecting of the Body of Christ follow the order of the Tabernacle furnishings, from the Altar of Burnt Offering to the Mercy Seat and to Him who dwells between the Cherubim of Glory. It appears, however, that the setting up of the Kingdom of God in the earth reverses this order. It begins with Him who dwells between the cherubim and proceeds out to the Altar of Burnt Offering.

Have you ever noticed that God is economical? He makes full use of every scrap of material. He never wastes anything and commands us to gather up the fragments that nothing be lost. He uses one set of types and shadows to symbolize several different (although related) spiritual realities.

The setting up of the Kingdom of God in the earth has three major dimensions, phases, levels, however one wishes to think of them. The three aspects are important very significant and may be observed in the design of the Tabernacle of the Congregation commencing with the Holy of Holies, moving to the Holy Place, and finally to the Courtyard of the Tabernacle.

The Kingdom of God is the keeping of the laws of God—the laws that were described by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. The Kingdom of God is the doing of the will of God, particularly in the earth.

The first stage of the setting up of the Kingdom of God in the earth is portrayed by the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle. This is the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to the earth the first time. Christ came as the King of the Kingdom, announcing the laws of the Kingdom. Then He died, and by His death paid the price for the Kingdom, wresting from the enemy every bit of authority over the creation.

The second stage of the setting up of the Kingdom of God in the earth is portrayed by the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. The Holy Place represents the Church, the Body of Christ. It is God’s will that the Church keep the laws of the Kingdom of God, be a helpmate for the Lord Jesus Christ, and teach the laws of the Kingdom to the nations of the earth.

Thus far in history the Church (with some notable individual exceptions) has been unable to accomplish the will of God. The laws of the Kingdom of God are not, generally speaking, being observed by God’s people. The Church is a very imperfect helpmate for the Lord Jesus. The Church, in numerous instances, has been more occupied with serving its own interests that it has with teaching by doctrine and example the laws of the Kingdom of God to the nations of the earth.

God cannot be prevented from carrying out His will and so we know the Church is moving toward better things.

At the present time God Almighty is sending the Holy Spirit for the purpose of building the Body of Christ. There is being formed in the Church the Divine Nature and Substance of Christ. The Nature of Christ causes us to judge and overcome sin and to obey God through fiery trials. The victorious saints shall rule with Christ and shall help all Christian people enter the perfect will of God.

Praise the Lord for those who are strong in the Lord and who help us to know God better and to do His will more perfectly! (Hebrews 12:12,13; Romans 15:1,2).

As soon as the Church begins to keep the laws of the Kingdom of God, or perhaps we should say while the Church is growing in the ability to act righteously, the Church will be preparing itself to bring the laws and blessings of God to the third stage of the Kingdom of God—the Courtyard of the Tabernacle, representing the nations of saved peoples of the earth.

The day finally will come, as we observe in Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22, when the Church is established on a high mountain, shedding forth the glorious light of Christ to the nations of the earth. The saved people on the earth will then be walking in the laws of the Kingdom of God with the blessing of God on each individual.

So far in our study of the Tabernacle of the Congregation we have discussed the physical details of the Tabernacle; we have mentioned some of the meanings of these symbols, or types as they are sometimes termed; and we have indicated that we will examine the interpretation of the Tabernacle along five lines:

As Christ Himself.

As the history of the Church.

As the progress of the plan of redemption in the life of the believer.

As the perfecting of the Body of Christ.

As the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

We are ready now to go on to the first area of interpretation, which is the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

CHAPTER III THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Quite a few books have been written on the subject of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and all that we have read do an excellent job of portraying the Person and work of our Lord and Savior, Christ. Christ comes forth from these portrayals as the King of kings and Lamb of God that He is. They leave no doubt that Christ is Lord of all and that He alone is the Redeemer of all people, the Savior of the world.

The portrayal of the Lord Jesus as the fulfillment of the Tabernacle symbolism has been covered so thoroughly, so devoutly, that we will only touch on it.

In our view, the Tabernacle of the Congregation reveals Christ more perfectly than does any other type in the entire Scripture. The seven furnishings, and all the other parts and details seen individually and as a whole, present the Lord Jesus in His majesty and His redemptive work. The interpretation that views the Tabernacle of God Almighty as representing Christ is particularly accurate because Christ is the eternal dwelling place of the Father.

As we behold the holiness, the glory, the beauty of the Tabernacle in its bleak surroundings in the wilderness of Sinai, the Lord Jesus Christ steps forth as the holy Son of God in the dark world in which we exist. The construction and the priestly ordinances teach us that Christ is utterly holy.

The Glory of the Presence of God resting on the entire structure, especially on the Holy of Holies, portrays the Glory of the Almighty God that abides on Christ without measure. The breathtaking beauty of the blue, the royal purple, the crimson, and the sparkling-white linen states that here is the King of kings, mighty in authority and power, righteous in all His judgments.

Standing out boldly against the backdrop of this heavenly array of color and beauty is the Altar of Burnt Offering with its basins of blood and its burning sacrifices. Then we discover that the King is also the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

The extraordinary vision is before us of One who redeemed us out of slavery through means of His obedience, suffering, and death but who now rules with all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth. The Lamb who was slain is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

The Ark of the Covenant, with its atonement cover, the Mercy Seat, speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ. The wood of the Ark represents the Son of Man and the gold portrays the Son of God. The Mercy Seat and the Cherubim of Glory reveal that the fullness of the Glory of God abides on Christ eternally.

The Table of Showbread, including its cups for the drink offering, is a portrayal of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. The Lampstand is the seven-fold Holy Spirit who abides on Christ without measure.

The Altar of Burnt Offering is His death on the cross of Calvary. The perfume arising from the burning incense on the Altar of Incense is the fragrance of Christ that must be mixed with the prayers of the saints through the Holy Spirit if our prayers are to be acceptable to God.

The water of the Laver is the Word of God (Christ) that comes to us in instruction, teaching us to put away the filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

The covering of rams’ skins dyed red speaks of the blood of Christ that is the covering on the sins of our flesh so we may be accepted of the Father.

The Veil separating the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place is the flesh of Christ that was broken for us so we may be able to enter with boldness into the Presence of God and find strength and wisdom to help us in our struggle against sin.

The morning and evening lambs offered as burnt offerings, continually bring to our remembrance the offering of the Lamb of God, whose perfect consecration and innocent life made it possible for Him to please the Father on behalf of mankind.

The high priest was a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the priest ministered at the Altar of Burnt Offering, at the Altar of Incense, the Lampstand, and the Table of Showbread. The high priest especially revealed Christ on the annual Day of Atonement as he, with the blood of animals, made an atonement (reconciliation) for the Tabernacle and the nation of Israel. Christ is our High Priest who bears each of His people on His heart and continually makes intercession for us before the Father in Heaven.

Everywhere we turn in the Tabernacle the royal authority and power of Christ, and the atonement made by Christ for us, are pictured in the colors, the material, the design, and the activities. The Lamb of God was slain obtaining eternal redemption for us; and so there was much silver, signifying redemption, in the Tabernacle.

Christ is able to redeem to the uttermost those who come to God through Him. He rose triumphantly from the grave, leading captivity captive. He is coming again soon as King of all kings and Lord of all lords. However, to the saint He already is King and Lord.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation proclaims: "Christ died for your sins and you are saved by His blood. Repent, and believe the good news. The King has come down from Heaven and redeemed you. Now you are free to serve Him forever.

"He is absolutely holy and righteous, and He has made provision for you that you may partake of His holiness and righteousness to the salvation of your soul. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who refuses so great a salvation shall be judged."

CHAPTER IV THE HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

The order in which God gave to Moses the directions for the construction of the Tabernacle, for the establishing of the Aaronic priesthood, and for the related necessities pertaining to the Law of God, the Tabernacle, and the services of the priests and Levites, seems to be generally symbolic of the history of the construction of the Christian Church and of the Church’s ministry. This order is found in Exodus, Chapters 25-31. God looked down on the drab wilderness called the earth. He then determined to build for Himself a sanctuary in order that He might dwell among men.

His first step was to designate the materials to be used for His sanctuary; and since God’s temple is to be a living temple made from people, the first requirement was the setting aside of all the various humans in whose personalities the Holy Spirit would place the "blues," "purples," "scarlets," and "linens."

Some of the materials come from Heaven and some from the earth. Thus we have the creation of the Church, the ekklesia, the called-out from the peoples of the earth—called out to be the Church, the Temple of God.

Therefore the first step in the history of the Christian Church, as symbolized by the account in Exodus, was the setting aside of the materials—the election of those who are to compose the Temple (Exodus 25:3-7; Romans 9:11; II Timothy 1:9).

In order for an edifice to be constructed there must be a cornerstone and a foundation. Since the building is to be the everlasting temple of God Almighty, exceeding care must be taken that the cornerstone and the foundation are laid with the greatest of precision. Therefore the second step was the designing of the Ark of the Covenant.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Ark of the Covenant—the cornerstone and foundation of the Church (Exodus 25:10). In Him is the Law of God (the Ten Commandments); resurrection life (Aaron’s rod that budded); and the Divine body and blood that are the life of every person who will be saved (the memorial jar of manna) These are the contents of the Ark of the Covenant).

The Mercy Seat (atonement cover; lid of atonement, or reconciliation) was placed on Christ, with the Cherubim of Glory (Exodus 25:17). The fullness of the Glory of God rests on Him who was born of a virgin in a manger so many centuries ago; who grew up in Nazareth, and then ministered for three short years. Three short years; but the history of the earth is measured in the years before and after His birth.

The Table of Showbread was set forth next (Exodus 25:23), because Christ gave His precious body and blood for the life of the world. Apart from His body and blood no man, woman, boy or girl on the earth has any eternal life whatever. This world is the valley of the shadow of death. We are surrounded by those who are living in spiritual death. But those who choose to partake of Christ have eternal life already.

The golden Lampstand was fourth in order (Exodus 25:31). The Holy Spirit was poured out on the first Pentecost, and from that point the disciples were filled with the Divine Life shed forth by Him who has ascended to the Father, His blood having made the eternal atonement upon and before the Mercy Seat in Heaven.

The curtains and coverings followed, in the description in Exodus, because they portray the grace of God that abides on the Christian believer (Exodus 26:1-14). The linen curtain speaks as follows: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

The black goats’ hair curtain declares: "The body is dead because of sin."

The covering of rams’ skins dyed red replies: "God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiation [appeasement; atoning sacrifice] through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission [forgiveness] of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God."

The covering of badgers’ (porpoises’ skins) answers: "Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Christ."

This is the Christian disciple—born again and having the righteousness and Life of Christ in his inner man; still in a mortal body of sin and death but having the sin and death covered by the blood of Christ. The saint himself is protected by the whole armor of God: truth, righteousness, the preparation of the good news of peace, the helmet of salvation, the Word of God, and Spirit-filled prayer (Ephesians, Chapter Six).

The boards were described next, portraying the fellowship of believers standing shoulder to shoulder, the Body of Christ (Exodus 26:15). The members of the Body of Christ are all the same "height"; and while there are anointed ministries among them, yet in the Body of Christ they are all equal brothers in the Lord. There is no priest among them, or master. God is the Father of each, and only Christ is exalted as Lord and Master of the Church, the Body of Christ.

The five bars that served to strengthen and align the sides of the Tabernacle reveal the resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus plus the four major types of ministry to the Body that flow from Him—the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, and the pastor-teacher (Exodus 26:26). The purpose of the ministries of the Church is to build the Body of Christ (Ephesians, Chapter Four), just as the purpose of the five bars was to bind together in strength the boards that formed the sides of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The partitioning Veil, forever rent because of the offering of Christ, speaks to us that by prayer we now have access to the Throne of God (Exodus 26:31). The piercing of the flesh of Christ opens the way for us into the holiest of all. By His broken body and shed blood, each person who will believe may enter boldly into the Presence of God and find forgiveness, Divine Virtue, strength, and wisdom to help in time of need, as he struggles against sin, seeking to obey God in all matters.

The "door of the tent" signifies the entrance that we have into the holy elements of the Church, the Body of Christ. Within are the Communion service—the body and blood of Christ; the manifestation of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit; and the Spirit-empowered prayer and praise that bring us into the Presence of the Father (Exodus 26:36).

The fence and the gate of the Courtyard are described next in order, portraying the boundaries of the Kingdom of God (Exodus 27:9-19). Every person who will enter through the gate, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, is redeemed (the silver on the fence pillars) and has the righteousness of God (the white linen of the fence).

Everyone outside the gate is lost in the darkness and bondage of sin and death. Everyone inside is saved, redeemed, having God’s own righteousness applied to him. The good news of the Kingdom is to be preached in every place throughout the world so multitudes can be brought into the Courtyard of the Tabernacle. The only way to God is through Christ on the cross.

The olive oil, the fuel for the Lampstand, is mentioned at this point because it is by the Holy Spirit abiding in each believer that the testimony of Christ is presented to the world and people are brought into the Kingdom—into the Courtyard, to speak figuratively (Exodus 27:20). The Holy Spirit is the One who brings the knowledge of God to the earth. He is the Spirit of truth. He always testifies of Christ and shows to us the things of Christ (John 15:26; 16:7-15). The Holy Spirit, the olive oil of the Lampstand, dwells in the members of the Body of Christ (John 14:16,17).

The passages that follow in Exodus describe in detail the garments of the high priest, and the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Exodus 28 and 29). Christ is our great High Priest and He is revealed in His glory and beauty by the high priest of Israel, showing forth the holiness and Glory of God Almighty to Israel, and bearing on himself all of Israel before the Lord God.

Christ sanctified Himself for our sakes, and we are enabled by His virtue to sanctify ourselves so we also may serve as priests, bringing the Glory of God to people and bearing them up in intercession before the Lord.

The Altar of Incense comes next, in the Exodus account, and it has to do with the power in prayer of the saints as they prepare the way for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to the earth (Exodus 30:1; Revelation 8:5). As the Life of Christ is being created in the believers the Holy Spirit is coming upon them; and the authority, power and intensity of the cry coming up from the earth to the God of Heaven will finally attain the degree of purity and strength needed to bring back the King.

God has been waiting for this moment since the day when He had to withdraw from mankind because of sin in the earth (Genesis 4:26). In the last days, the Spirit-empowered supplication and adoration of the saints, thoroughly mixed with the incense of Christ Himself, will ascend to the Throne of God with such compelling holiness, righteousness, and persistence that God will command the seven angels to sound. When the last trumpet sounds the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever. 

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15).

Continuing with the order of presentation in Exodus, the tribute silver is mentioned (Exodus 30:12). The collecting of the tribute money from each Hebrew male informs us that the great strength of the Church of Christ comes from the authority and power of the redemption of Christ in each believer, in that the silver was used for the foundation of the Tabernacle boards and also for the hooks and supporting rods of the fence.

Each member of the Church makes his or her own contribution to the Body of Christ and to the Kingdom of God. We are built up by that which "every joint supplies." Each believer will add to the whole Temple of God the strength and beauty of the redemption given to him by the Lord. The silver speaks to us also of the redemptive Jubilee that will come to us with the appearing of our Lord from Heaven.

The Laver is now presented, representing our cleansing by the Word of God, and also the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus who shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation (Exodus 30:18). The Lord is judging and washing His people. He will, at His coming, complete the work of removing sin from His Church, and then through the Church will judge and remove the power and effects of sin from the entire earth.

The holy anointing oil reminds us that the Holy Spirit must be on every part of the Church of Christ, or else that activity, person or thing will not be accepted in the work of the Lord (Exodus 30:25). All that we are, all that we do, and all that we say must have the anointing of the Lord, or nothing of eternal value can be accomplished in the Kingdom of God.

Music has played a large role in the Christian worship services. Some of this music may be anointed. The part that is not anointed is useless as far as the creation of the Kingdom of God is concerned. It pleases the soul and flesh but does not build up Christ in the listeners.

The holy anointing oil brings to our minds also the exceedingly great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is to take place during the Day of the Lord. The Holy Spirit in that day will anoint each Christian so he can bring the unsearchable riches of Christ to the ends of the earth. The thousand-year Jubilee will witness an unprecedented outpouring of God’s Spirit that will increase until the Glory of the Lord covers the earth.

The incense is the Personality of Christ (Exodus 30:35). It is to be "seasoned with salt" and "beat very small," meaning that the Nature of the Lord Jesus will be worked into the nature of each member of the Body of Christ. Then the saint will be able to call on God, through the Holy Spirit, and the fragrance of God’s beloved Son will be in the prayer and worship as it ascends before the Throne of God Almighty.

Bezaleel and Aholiab were mentioned next (Exodus 31:2,6). It seems as though these two men should have been mentioned earlier in the order of presentation, not at the end of this symbolic pattern. It may be noticed, in connection with the placing of the names of the two builders toward the end of the order presented in Exodus, that the construction of the Tabernacle was presented in two sections: (1) Exodus, Chapters 25-31, in which God laid out all the things to be done; and (2) Exodus, Chapters 34-40, in which the covenant was renewed and the work begun on the Tabernacle.

Perhaps the order of presentation reveals to us that the current era of Church history is, to a great extent, a time of gathering materials and giving the directions for the "Tabernacle" (the Christian Church, the Temple of God). It may be true that the actual work of putting together the Temple of God will begin in earnest when the Lord Jesus returns.

If it is true that the coming into full maturity and unity of the Church, the Body of Christ, has not occurred as yet, and is associated with the return of the Lord, then we would expect to find Bezaleel and Aholiab, the symbols of the actual construction of the Tabernacle, appearing toward the end of this particular order—which is, in fact, where they do appear in the Exodus account.

The last direction to be given is that concerning the Sabbath day (Exodus 31:13). The entire thousand-year Kingdom Age will be a Sabbath, a holy period, in which the Lord will bring to maturity His work in the earth. It will be a time of redemption and restoration of inheritances, especially for the Church of Christ, but also for all the peoples of the earth who will receive Christ as King and Lord.

The new heaven and new earth, which will appear after the final judgment, will be the ultimate fulfillment of the Sabbath covenant. God will have His perfect rest in the earth through His tabernacle, the new Jerusalem, the wife of the Lamb. Each member of the Body of Christ will celebrate eternally his own rest in the Presence of the Father and of the Lamb. Every person living on the earth will abide under his vine and under his fig tree, so to speak, living a happy, fruitful life under the rulership and priestly ministry of God in Christ in the Church.

CHAPTER V THE REDEMPTION OF THE BELIEVER

The Seven Furnishings

Before we present our interpretation of the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering we shall provide an overview of the interpretation of each of the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle in terms of the redemption of the believer. The seven main furnishings portray the development of the Christian from the time he approaches Christ initially until he arrives at the full salvation of God.

Altar of Burnt Offering.

Laver.

Table of Showbread.

Lampstand.

Altar of Incense.

Ark of the Covenant.

Mercy Seat.

The interpretation of the seven furnishings, in terms of the redemption of the believer, is as follows: 

Altar of Burnt Offering. The crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary, brought to our minds continually in the sacrament of Communion; the atonement that Christ has made for our sins; our Passover Lamb. 

Laver. Separation from sin and the world by our crucifixion with Christ, established by water baptism; purification from the filth of the world as we keep ourselves holy by confession, repentance, resistance to sin, obedience to God’s will, the blood of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God; the washing from our sins that comes about by receiving and obeying the Word of God. 

Table of Showbread. The continual presentation of the living Word of God, Christ, the eating of whom builds up Christ within the believer; the receiving of the body and blood of the Lord in the Communion service; Christ, the Bread from Heaven; the born-again experience. 

Lampstand. The baptism with the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ; the Divine testimony; the various ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit; anointing for Christian ministry and service; the law of the Spirit of life; Pentecost; the Head and Body of Christ, who is the Anointed Deliverer, the Servant of the Lord. 

Altar of Incense. The life and Person of the Lord Jesus worked into the life and person of the believer by the Holy Spirit so the believer’s prayers and worship bring the fragrance of His beloved Son before the face of the Father in Heaven; death to self-love and self-will. 

Ark of the Covenant. The saint of God who is overcoming sin in his daily walk and who is learning perfect obedience to the Father. In his heart are the following three graces: (1) the Ten Commandments—the Law of God wrought in his character; (2) the memorial jar of manna—daily strength from Christ; the body and blood of Christ, our daily Bread from Heaven; the trait of depending continually on Christ each moment of the day for all matters great and small; and (3) Aaron’s rod that budded—the power of eternal resurrection life that operates in the priesthood God has chosen.

The moral law, the Ten Commandments, is created in the saint’s personality by the working of the Lampstand. The memorial jar of manna is wrought in the saint by the working of the Table of Showbread. Aaron’s rod that budded, life from death, is fashioned in the disciple by the working of the Altar of Incense. 

Mercy Seat. The fullness of the Glory of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit; the image of Christ created in spirit, soul and body; authority and power through Christ over all things; the abiding of the Persons of the Godhead in the Christian in total, untroubled union.

These are the seven holy furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Altar of Burnt Offering brings to our mind the Lord Jesus who was slain for us. Redemption always works through the blood of Christ. Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. God meets man only at the cross.

The Laver speaks of the washing away of the uncleanness of the spirit of the age in which we live. The concept and practice of departing from the filthiness of the world, of our flesh, and of our spirit is commenced in the act of water baptism and is carried on each day as we wash our robes and make them white in the blood of Christ by continual confession, repentance, and resistance to sin.

The Table of Showbread brings to us the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, which is the only eternal life available to mankind. All persons are spiritually dead until Jesus comes. If any person will receive Him and eat His flesh and drink His blood he will live forever. But apart from Christ there is only death. He is the tree of life. When we eat His flesh and drink His blood we are born again and live spiritually.

We are born of the water when we are born of a woman, born physically. We are born of the Spirit when the Holy Spirit of God receives and renews our spirit, thereby making us alive and lifting up our spirit to abide in Christ in heavenly places. We are born of the Word of God when we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood so He Himself begins to be formed in us.

The Christian is to be a branch of the Lampstand, a member of Christ who is the Light of the world. The Holy Spirit is the oil that burns giving light. We are the wick, so to speak. The Holy Spirit has distributed ministries and gifts throughout the Body of Christ so each member has a contribution to make to the Body. The six branches of the Lampstand were lighted when the Holy Spirit fell on the first Christian Pentecost (Acts 2:3).

The Altar of Incense symbolizes the next step after Pentecost. It represents Holy Spirit-empowered prayer—prayer that carries with it the fragrance of Christ. It is at the Altar of Incense that we bow in death to self-love, giving ourselves in total obedience to the Father. As our soul experiences the crucifixion of death to self, the fragrance of Christ arises before the Father. Only as we bow in the death of perfect obedience can we pass through the Veil into the fullness of the Glory of God.

The Holy Spirit comes down on the Church of Christ until the Church begins to communicate with God at the level of authority and power required to move the hand of God against His enemies—the destroyers of the creation. Included in the communication is supplication, travail of spirit, intercession, battle against evil forces, petition, praise, adoration, giving of thanks, love, faith, and hope.

The power of the Holy Spirit will increase in our lives until our whole personality, spirit, soul and body, is crying out to God night and day. When we give ourselves to God without reservation we shall be heard!

The Ark of the Covenant typifies our Lord Jesus Christ. It reveals also the character of the overcoming saint. The Ark was wood (humanity) covered with gold (Divinity). It is the will of Christ that we press forward in Him until we become so much a part of Him we reflect the attributes and workings of the Ark of the Covenant.

The victorious saints, according to Revelation, Chapters Two and Three are those persons in the churches who will give themselves over wholly to serving the Lord Jesus. If anyone will do that his reward in Christ will be great and he will rule with Christ over the nations of the earth.

The Mercy Seat (Atonement Cover) is the Glory of God. If we will allow Christ to work fully in our lives, the fullness of the Glory of God will come to us and we will find our rest in the rest of God. The glory that God gave to Christ is to be given to us that we may be one in the Father and in the Son, according to the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John. God loves each of His elect with a very great love.

The seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation show redemption to be a progressive work that commences at a definite point—the crucifixion of Christ and our acceptance of that atonement; and is brought to fullness at a definite point—our being received completely into the Life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Altar of Burnt Offering

The cross of Christ stands at the entrance to the salvation God has provided for mankind. The Body of Christ always must point to Christ on the cross for the world to see and for itself to see. There is no other way through which people can approach God.

The redemption of the believer commences when he or she is in total chaos of spirit, soul and body, without Christ, without hope, in the bondage of sin and death, and under the authority and power of Satan.

The story of creation in the first chapter of Genesis is one of the major types of the Scripture. It reveals that we start out as individuals "without form and void." We are out of harmony with God, with other people, and with ourselves. Sin has brought us personal confusion, friction, frustration, and grief—anguish of body and mind.

But Christ has made an atonement for us. The atonement takes us from our personal chaos of spirit, soul and body, completely destroyed by sin; and by the grace of God in Christ brings us all the way to the express image of Christ in spirit, soul and body, to our being made the Temple of God, and to authority and power through Christ over all things.

The entire process, from beginning to end, is the plan of salvation, or atonement, or reconciliation, or redemption—however you wish to refer to it. It all takes place in and by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Author and the Finisher of our faith.

The Altar of Burnt Offering was placed in front of the door of the Tabernacle. As soon as an Israelite came through the colorful gate of the Court he was faced with the bronze Altar. God always meets people at the cross, at the place of the shedding of blood. The first step in the redemption of the believer is coming to Christ on the cross. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness) of sin. One cannot come to God any other way. This is the alpha of salvation.

Since this altar stood at the door of the Tabernacle, the Hebrew worshiper was reminded continually that God must be approached through a blood sacrifice. The believer cannot come to God in his own righteousness. The scales of Divine equity must be balanced. There must be the offering of a substituted life or else God will not accept the person of the worshiper.

The sinfulness of the worshiper is underscored by the need for the death of the animal. The significance of Jesus’ death on the cross was demonstrated under the old covenant by the constant shedding of blood at the Altar of Burnt Offering.

All the needs of the redeemed are illustrated by the various types of sacrifices. Not only was there the sin offering, which we need in order to approach God; but there also were the offerings of consecration, of fellowship, of peace, of thanksgiving, for minor trespasses, for every need of the believer.

We are to come to God constantly through the blood of the Lord Jesus. We overcome the world, the accuser, and our own fleshly nature every moment of every day by the blood of the cross. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves. If we are walking in the light of God’s perfect will, the blood of Christ is cleansing us from all sin. We need the redeeming authority and power of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ at every moment!

By the time of the Temple of Solomon, thousands of gallons of blood were pouring annually from the sacrificial animals. But the offering of Christ on the cross is the one blood sacrifice that eternally redeems all mankind. 

And he is the propitiation [appeasement; atoning sacrifice] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2).

Not that all men will be saved, unfortunately. Some will not accept the redemption offered freely by Christ. Those who believe Jesus was a righteous teacher who offered his life rather than sacrifice his principles, or who offered his life to emphasize his sincerity and prove his love, are making a dreadful mistake. Christ was a sacrificial blood offering to God the Father!

Life must go for life in order to balance the scales of Divine justice. The blood of Jesus was His life and it was offered to God in place of our life. The soul who sins must die, and each of us has committed many sins during his or her lifetime. Christ died for our sins; therefore, the scales are balanced and our iniquity can be forgiven.

Whether our iniquity is minor or horrible by human standards is not the issue. The only considerations are what God’s law states and the adequacy of the sacrifice on Calvary. Since the offering consists of the life’s blood of God’s Son, the sacrifice is perfect and absolutely adequate for every person.

All persons have sinned and all must come to God through the blood of the righteous Jesus. Any person who attempts to come to God in his or her own righteousness is doomed already.

 Laver

The Laver stood between the Altar of Burnt Offering and the door of the Tabernacle, out in the Courtyard area.

The bronze Laver signifies the cleansing of the believer from the filth of the world, just as the blood of the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering signifies the canceling of the guilt of sin.

The Laver shows that the Christian must remain pure while he walks through this sinful world (John 17:15). In fact, all the elements and rituals of the Tabernacle of the Congregation emphasize to us that God expects us, while we are in the world, to live a life of holiness and dedication to Himself (John 17:15). The Kingdom of God is a holy kingdom. Holiness is one of several principal messages that the Tabernacle has for us.

The heart of the Christian, though he may occupy a place of significance and service in his local community, though he may be working busily in the mainstream of civic life, must remain as holy as separated to God as was the Tabernacle.

It is possible to be a dedicated Christian and at the same time to be a person of competence in secular affairs. Many Christians of deep personal consecration have demonstrated that a victorious Christian can do a superior job in the world’s business, having the commendation of Christians and non-Christians alike. Joseph and Daniel are scriptural examples of devoutness toward God coupled with secular competence.

It is possible that the reader will take the preceding words and use them as an excuse to become heavily involved in the world. We must keep in mind that not many mighty, not many noble, are "called." Joseph and Daniel were exceptions to the rule. In the majority of cases, the Gospel is to the poor. It is the poor, rich in faith, who finally will inherit the Kingdom of God.

No man can serve God and money. He will love the one and hate the other. One of the quickest routes to spiritual death is to possess more material goods than actually are required in one’s life.

Water baptism. The Hebrew Laver and Christian water baptism are related in meaning. Water baptism represents the fact that the new Christian has agreed to die to the world and the filthy lusts thereof. After a person accepts the blood of the cross as the redemption-payment for his sins, he must be baptized in water to show that he is willing for his old unclean nature to be crucified with Christ.

The convert must renounce completely in his heart the world, giving up all for Christ, being ready and willing to die physically for the faith if necessary. Such renunciation of the demands of the world was true of the adoption of the Christian faith by the person of the first century and it remains true for the twentieth century. Christ and His Gospel never change.

Water baptism means this: the believer does now, without reservation, finally and totally forsake and renounce the world that he may cleave to Christ with his whole heart.

There are few things as final as death, and water baptism means death to our first personality. 

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16)

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1).

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. (Ezekiel 36:25).

Cleansing for priestly service. The Laver signifies the cleansing of the believer that he may minister as a priest before God. The position of the Laver at the entrance to the Tabernacle shows that every person who would minister to God must be spiritually clean. 

For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord: (Exodus 30:19,20).

Perhaps washing is an appropriate concept for us Christians to consider today. The priests had to wash their hands (symbolizing deeds) and their feet (symbolizing the path of life) whenever they went into the Holy Place to minister to the Lord. Since each of us Christians is to be a minister to the Lord we need to keep in mind that our thoughts, words, and actions must be holy at all times.

Such holiness requires constant prayer, constant vigilance and continuing sensitivity to the rebukes and encouragements of the Holy Spirit. Every time the Holy Spirit reproves us of a sinful thought, word or action we must be quick to confess our sin (I John 1:9).

The Laver, then, portrays the cleansing of the Christian in preparation for priestly service. The believer first is cleansed in water baptism. Our original personality by faith is assigned to the cross with Christ so the Holy Spirit may render powerless our sinful nature. We then by faith rise with Christ so we may walk in a new life of righteous conduct.

For the first time we have the power to choose to be a servant of righteousness. Prior to our baptism in water we were under the authority of darkness and had to serve sin whether we wanted to or not. But now that our old life has been assigned to the cross with Christ we are free to choose to serve God.

We must keep ourselves clean each day. The reading of the Scriptures will help greatly ("Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."—Psalms 119:11). When the New Testament tells us to put off adultery, fornication, filthy speech, lying, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, then we must cease doing these things.

Time must be spent in prayer each day, and in addition there must be a continuing attitude of prayer on our part. We need help from the prayers, counsel and ministry of other Christians. We are to put aside as unclean the fleshly lusts that war against our soul. We must confess our sins to God as the Holy Spirit points them out to us. Sometimes we have to ask forgiveness of other people, or make restitution if we have harmed someone.

A dirty Christian will be taken and washed by the Lord if he will not wash himself! (I Corinthians 11:31,32; I John 3;3).

Every Christian is called to be a priest of the Lord. We are the "royal priesthood." The Holy Spirit will lead us in a ministry of the Spirit’s own choice. There is no Christian who does not have a place of ministry, be it great or small in the eyes of people. The Holy Spirit expects faithful service in the assigned responsibilities. In order for the Christian to be effective in his ministry he must keep himself absolutely clean, just as was true of an Old Testament priest.

It is our Christian duty to keep ourselves pure, always remaining in an attitude of prayer so our service to God will be acceptable.

God requires of His priests that they be holy in deed, word and thought and that their heart and mind be stayed on Him at all times, day and night. The success of our own ministry will depend to a great extent on our willingness to keep ourselves set apart (sanctified) to the Lord so our priestly intercession and ministry is always acceptable to Him.

Table of Showbread

The Table of Showbread represents Christ, the living Word of God. 

And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway. (Exodus 25:30)

Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. (Leviticus 24:8)

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51).

Christ, the living bread. Christ is the bread from God we must eat if we would live. Christ is being formed in us continually, and that new life must be nourished continually by contact with the living bread.

What does Jesus mean by the sayings recorded in John, Chapter Six? How do we eat Christ ? First of all, we must realize Christ is alive today—right now. He is the Divine Nature, the Substance of the Godhead.

Eating Christ means eating the living, Divine Nature. Eating Christ means eating Christ. To eat Christ is to partake spiritually of the living Word of God. It is a spiritual process and is quite different from the mental process of gaining knowledge from the reading of the words of a book.

Strengthening the inner man. Christ, the incorruptible Seed within us, must be renewed continually by contact with the external Christ—with Him who is at the right hand of the Father. Sometimes Christ comes to us through our Scripture reading. Sometimes He comes while we are in supplication or worship; sometimes in the sacrament of Communion. On other occasions, Christ comes to us as we read Christian literature or as we go about our tasks each day.

When we make an effort to contact Him, and keep ourselves in a spiritual condition in which He can communicate with us, He does come to us. He, Christ, the living Word, comes to us through the Holy Spirit. He feeds us with His body and gives us to drink of His blood.

Christ takes of Himself and feeds the Life of Christ that is being formed in us. The new man of our heart takes of the Substance of Christ as a plant takes sunshine, water and minerals. The Life of Christ that is being formed in us must have continual contact with Christ who is at the right hand of God in Heaven.

We Christians must use our will and judgment to insure that we keep ourselves in the place where our Beloved can come to us and feed us with the Living Bread from Heaven. This is the meaning of the showbread in the Holy Place. It typifies the flesh of Christ that He gives for the life of the world.

The Apostles felt the need to give themselves to "prayer, and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).

The Word feeds the inner man of the Christian. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1,2).

The enormous creative energies of the Word are described in the next verse of John: 

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3).

There is no life apart from the Word. Mankind is dependent absolutely on the Word, Christ. 

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4).

The Word of God became the flesh of the Body of Christ. 

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14).

If we would live we must eat the Word—eat the flesh of Jesus and drink His blood. 

Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:53,54).

Christ is alive today. When we prepare our heart to receive Him, whether in the Communion service, or in prayer, or when meditating in the written Word, or while being exposed to the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in another Christian or in ourselves, Christ comes to us and feeds us with Himself. He takes of His own body and blood, blesses it, and nourishes the incorruptible Seed that is in us.

How can He keep feeding the multitudes of Christians with the one body and blood? He does it in the same manner in which he fed the multitude of followers with the loaves and fish.

Every man, woman, boy, and girl who walks this planet will eat the body and drink the blood of Christ or he or she will dwell in darkness and death. There is no other "bread" that a person can eat and thereby receive eternal life and light. Everything else is an imitation.

We always must keep in mind that Christ is Divine, that He is the Son of God. We are like Him in many ways and are coheirs with Him, being formed during our discipleship in the image of God.

But Christ remains unique, whether in Heaven or on the earth. He moves on the earth and in Heaven at the same time. He is Jacob’s ladder that bridges Heaven and earth. The holy angels of God ascend and descend on Him and on no other.

His fleshly body and blood were the Word of God in human form. Even though we may not understand all the details, the sixth chapter of John states we are to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ.

We are "born again" by receiving into ourselves the Word of God. 

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (I Peter 1:23).

We grow by drinking the Word: 

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (I Peter 2:2).

We grow by eating the Word: 

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14).

The Word meets a need. The presentation of the living Word is in response to specific needs. When Jesus proceeds from God to supply a specific need with the living Word, He is moving with the resurrection Life from God directed toward a certain point.

If we would present the living Word we also must be in the place where we can flow with that same flowing of resurrection life. The entire activity is a dance in which Christ does the leading and we do the following. It is a graceful act of ministry, balanced, harmonious, bringing glory to God.

We, more than anyone else, realize it is God who is active in every detail of our ministry. We are a vessel for the moment. We are as an organ pipe that sounds appropriately as Jesus plays the music God has composed.

Christ communes with an individual and gives him the living bread to bring to a person or group of people. The living bread is the new covenant fulfillment of the showbread of the Holy Place. It must be fresh. It must be renewed frequently and regularly. It is the Bread of the Presence of the Lord.

The person doing the ministering must not feed the people moldy food he was given years ago. An older Christian can share with younger Christians his experiences and the lessons he has learned throughout his life in Christ. But in order to present the living bread, which is Christ, the ministering Christian must be in vital contact with the Lord.

The only time the bread of God is available to us is when the living Lord Jesus Christ—not the record of history but He who is alive now—comes in the Holy Spirit to meet some kind of need in mankind. The need may be milk for a young Christian or strong meat for a saint. It may be strength for someone in despair or wisdom for a perplexed soul.

When the prayer ascends to the Father He sends the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. God opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing (Psalms 145:16).

Living bread comes through human ministry. It is pleasing to the Father that the needed help come through human ministry. In this way He binds people together in love, for God especially is pleased when people dwell together in harmony and love. So in terms of the need of the moment, Christ looks about for a believer, a member of His Body, through whom He can meet the specific need.

If Christ can find a suitable vessel He will give him of His own body and blood to meet the spiritual or physical need. His body and blood are eternal life (John 6:27-58 is clear on this point). In bringing the body and blood a member of the Body of Christ is holding forth the Bread of God for the life of the peoples of the earth. He is ministering the fruit and leaves of the tree of life that bring everlasting life and healing to mankind.

This is the showbread. There is no eternal life in the world apart from the body and blood of Christ.

Each member of the Body of Christ has something to give (I Corinthians 12:4-31). In fact, there are times when a Christian needs to remind the Lord in a most vigorous manner that he (the Christian) must receive from the Lord in order that he may have something to give to those in need (Luke 11:5-13; I Corinthians 12:31).

But we do not intend to bring a heavy feeling of duty on the believer. The things of the Spirit are joyous. There is the widest variety imaginable in the gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ, in their operations, in every aspect of their possession and presentation.

We present the showbread when we give the living Word of God. The living Word of God is the Divine Substance, not just the rote words from the Scriptures. The Scriptures are the Divinely-inspired record of the Word of God and are essential to our Christian life.

But the living Word of God is the Substance of Christ Himself brought to us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritually speaking, we must drink the blood of Christ as we eat His flesh. Jesus declared, "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). It was not long after this statement that "many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him."

As we read the seventeenth chapter of Leviticus we find the drinking of blood is sternly prohibited: 

And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. (Leviticus 17:10).

It is not surprising that some of Jesus’ disciples left.

Leviticus teaches us that the life of the flesh is in the blood. 

For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said to the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whoever eateth it shall be cut off. (Leviticus 17:14).

Jesus speaks to us that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood or we have no life in us. His body and blood are eternal life in us. Whoever eats the flesh of Christ and drinks His blood dwells in Christ and lives by Christ, and Christ dwells in him. The life of the flesh of Christ is the blood of Christ. We must eat His flesh and drink His blood if we wish to share in His eternal life.

The Communion service represents and calls attention to the fact that the Christian believer must partake of the body and blood of Christ. By means of the sharing of the common body and blood the believers are made one through Him and in Him.

Christ is the great High Priest over the household of God. We of the Body of Christ also are priests. Only the priests were allowed into the Holy Place where the Table of Showbread was. We Christians are priests, the members of the Body of Christ, and bear witness of that Bread: 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked.

upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew to you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us;) (I John 1:1,2).

Concept of freshness. The showbread was kept fresh. The concept of freshness is an important one for us to consider.

The quality of freshness of the showbread is not in the dimension of time. God moves in the past, present, and future. Time is not the consideration.

The quality of freshness has to with contact with Christ. It is the communication of resurrection life with which we are concerned. Eternal life either is present in our experience and testimony or it is not.

What matters is this: is resurrection life present at the point of immediate concern? The absence of resurrection life is an invitation for the forces of decay and death to move in. We must keep our experience fresh by maintaining contact with the Life of the Spirit of God. Contact is maintained by faith, obedience and prayer.

Lampstand

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. There also are mime presentations. Sometimes while the musicians are playing someone will sing in prophecy with the music serving as a background.

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 insure 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 insuring 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.

Altar of Incense

The Altar of Incense stood just before the Veil, in direct line with the Ark of the Covenant and the covering Mercy Seat. 

And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. (Exodus 30:6).

The Altar of Incense should be of particular interest to Christians of the Pentecostal experience because the Altar of Incense is a type of the aspect of redemption that follows the Pentecostal expression of speaking in tongues, and other manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

The Altar of Incense is the fifth of the seven furnishings. You may recall that the number five symbolizes entrance into the Kingdom of God. The bronze Altar of Burnt Offering was five cubits square and typifies our entrance into the plan of redemption in Christ. There were five pillars at the entrance to the Holy Place, representing our entrance into the Body of Christ. The Altar of Incense was the fifth furnishing and it typifies our entrance into the rest of God.

On the fifth day animal life first appeared in the creation—fish in the waters and birds in the firmament. The fifth episode of the wilderness wandering was the first organization of Israel into a fighting force, preparing the way for entrance into the land of promise (Numbers, Chapter 10).

The march toward the land of promise was directed by the priests blowing silver trumpets The fifth Levitical feast was the blowing of trumpets. Trumpets signaled New Year’s day (Rosh Hoshanah ) of the civil, or agricultural, year of the Hebrews; and also called attention to the nearness of the Day of Atonement and the feast of Tabernacles.

The Blowing of Trumpets typifies the establishing of the rule of God on the earth.

It is at the fifth stage of the plan of redemption that the Christian matures past the place of being a saved human being waiting to go to Heaven, and is formed into a servant of the Lord. It is then that we enter the purposes of God. Prior to this, the grace of God toward us is perceived by us as being primarily for our benefit. From the Lampstand forward we understand that we are being prepared for the war of God against the Kingdom of darkness.

It may be difficult for us to conceive of something that exists for God’s purposes and not just for us. We have for so long tried to use God as a means of our salvation, of our health, of problem solving, and of getting whatever it is we need or want, that we may never have grasped the fact that God has some purposes of His own and that we have been called according to these purposes.

During the beginning stages of our redemption we are quite self-centered. As we move past the golden Lampstand we pass from self to God. What becomes important to us then is God Himself, and the eternal plan of God to rid the creation of evil.

Proceeding past the Lampstand means death to self, to our purposes, to our plans to use God to help us pursue our own desires. For the first time, perhaps, we become conscious of the eternal plan of God. We groan, as did the Apostle Paul, for the fullness of victory, the redemption of our body, that we may be able to move ahead with Christ in bringing justice and peace to the nations of the earth.

The holy incense that was burned on the Altar of Incense was compounded from four ingredients seasoned with salt. The ingredients were ground together until the mixture was uniform.

Christ became perfect by the things He suffered. As we suffer, the Person of Christ is ground into us, beaten into us by the circumstances into which the Holy Spirit leads us, until the mixture is fine and uniform. We do not enjoy the process, but when we are "thrown on the fire of God" the perfume that arises moves God as few things do.

The Presence of God was lost from the earth because of disobedience. Ever since those first days of mankind, people have prayed to God to return to the earth with blessing. Once God is offended and withdraws it is not a simple matter to persuade Him to return.

When the Christian moves past the Lampstand, to speak figuratively, being filled with the Holy Spirit, has partaken consistently of the body and blood of Christ, has obeyed the other requirements of the Christian life, and then has the Life of Christ ground into him by suffering, he comes into the place of effective communication with God. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

By the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and often intensified by suffering, the saint begins to cry mightily to God night and day for God to meet the needs of the hour. God hears. God smells the perfume of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus. God begins to rouse Himself to the great purposes yet ahead. One person crying out to God under the burden of the Holy Spirit can bring about wonders.

When a group of people call on God in this manner, giving thanks for all things and letting their requests be made known to God, we have the formula for earth-shaking revival.

Just before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the prayers of all saints will be blended with the holy perfume from the Altar of Incense, which is the fragrance of Christ. God will be so moved He will command the seven angels to commence blowing their trumpets. At the sounding of the seventh angel, the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.

The saints who are pressing forward in the overcoming life should attend to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the matter of prayer, intercession, supplication, petition, breaking of unclean bondages, adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. Their communication with God should become stronger each day as the substance of Christ is being ground uniformly throughout their personality.

We trust that God will move on many of His people in these days to keep seeking the Lord until He makes His Church a praise in the earth, and sends the Lord Jesus Christ to earth as King of all kings and Lord of all lords (Isaiah 62:1). 

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20).

As we have stated, the next move of God after Pentecost is the Spirit-empowered, holy communication with God that will bring down from Heaven an earth-wide revival of the preaching of the Word of God—the Gospel of the Kingdom—with unprecedented authority, power, and glory. The amplifying and maturing of the prayer and praise ascending from the Body of Christ will be a sweet fragrance in the Face of God. The holy perfume arising from obedient saints will move Him to command the seven angels to sound, the final result of which will be the return to earth of our Lord Jesus.

The seven trumpets are the heavenly fanfare that announces the Presence of the Lord. This is why the Altar of Incense is mentioned by the Holy Spirit as standing before the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat—it announces the Presence of the Lord.

The next move of God, in conjunction with the earth-wide revival of prayer and praise, will be the preaching of the Gospel with spiritual power never before witnessed on the earth, except for the ministry of Christ Himself. The end-time revival may well be the fulfillment of the "two witnesses" of Revelation, Chapter 11. Here is the double portion of Elisha that will go before the Lord to prepare His way and to make ready a people for the Lord.

Every valley (depressed person) will be exalted (brought up to spiritual victory), and every high place (a person who has exalted himself) will be brought down (to the place where God can commune with his spirit). The crooked places (realms of deception) will be made straight. The rough places (areas of sin and rebellion in God’s people) will be smoothed out, and the hearts of the parents reconciled to the children and the children to the parents (family relationships established firmly).

The above acts of preparation are the kinds of reconciliation to God that must be made before Christ can dwell in the Church. Zion, the Body of Christ, today is characterized by depression, defeat, self-exaltation, deception, sin, rebellion, self-seeking stubbornness, and every other evil work.

God and Christ cannot come and be made one with such uncleanness and confusion. Family relationships must be restored. Our lives must be brought into harmony with God’s Holy Spirit. Only then can the Lord Jesus Christ come to be glorified in His saints.

As soon as the saints have been made ready, the way of the Lord being thus prepared, then He, Christ, will come and feed His flock as the Good Shepherd. To the wicked of the earth He will be the avenging Lamb who will come with His saints to destroy sin out of the earth.

On certain occasions blood was placed on the horns of the Altar of Incense, signifying that our prayers to God must be presented through the blood of the Lord Jesus.

The four horns of the Altar of Incense reveal the fact that this altar, as well as the Altar of Burnt Offering, contains the power of God to overcome the world, our fleshly nature, and the accuser. Horns, in Scripture typology, indicate the power to overcome resistance. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and also by bowing in worship and obedience to the point of the death of the old adamic nature.

Our prayer and praise before the Lord God must increase in frequency, consistency, faith, hope, love, thanksgiving, and single-minded unswerving petition. Our prayer and praise must become filled increasingly with the holy Life of Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. As our prayer and praise grow stronger our testimony becomes more effective. Power with God brings power with men. A weak prayer life results in a weak testimony.

We overcome the accuser of the brothers by the blood of the Lamb (Altar of Burnt Offering); by the word of our testimony (Lampstand—the gifts and fruit of the Spirit); and by loving not our lives to the death (the Veil, opening into the Most Holy Place). When we move past the Altar of Incense we come to the Veil.

Veil

Hanging directly behind the golden Altar of Incense was the ornate Veil, with its beautiful colors and cherubim, serving as a partition between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.

Thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: Thou shalt hang it on four pillars of Shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, on the four sockets of silver. Thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither in the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide to you between the holy place and the most holy. (Exodus 26:31-33).

It is written that the Veil symbolizes the flesh of Christ. 

Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, by the veil, that is to say, his flesh; (Hebrews 10:19,20).

At the time Jesus died the Veil was torn apart, revealing that the way into the Most Holy Place is now open. 

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (Matthew 27:51).

As far as our individual redemption is concerned, both the River Jordan and the Veil of the Tabernacle symbolize the same thing—death to self. It is impossible to enter the battles of the Lord when one is still being led about by self-will and self-direction.

The demolishing of our self life is a lifelong program, and God knows exactly how to point His finger at the sources of our problem with self. Our task is to be patient with God until we find rest in Him. Later on in our spiritual development we shall receive more understanding concerning the various tunnels and prisons we were and are called on to endure.

The Veil of the Tabernacle and the River Jordan typify the death to self of which we have been speaking. During our "wilderness wanderings" we learn how to bring ourselves under the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we are "pressed out of measure"; but we have "the sentence of death" in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.

When we go into spiritual battle we must commit our safety and well-being into the hands of God. The struggle is between God and Satan and we are not able to cope with supernatural wisdom and power. Sometimes we ourselves are the battleground.

By stating that the "struggle is between God and Satan" we are not implying that Satan is equal to God. It is not a struggle of power against power, for God has all power. In addition, every vestige of Satan’s authority over the Christian was stripped from him on the cross of Calvary.

Rather it is true that in the arena of Christian conflict the Lord God is demonstrating to the heavens and the earth the dreadful consequences of rebellion against the Most High and at the same time showing that the Seed, Christ, growing in a human being, will enable him or her to overcome sin and rebellion under the most difficult circumstances.

Meanwhile, Christ is resting in God, waiting patiently until every one of His enemies becomes His footstool.

The battle against self-will and sin is real in each of our lives. When we enter spiritual combat, if there is any sin on our part, any weakness, any fear, any timidity, any lust, any saving of our life, then we falter and God has to stop and deal with our problems so we will not be destroyed.

If we are to see the battle through to glorious victory we must do so by abiding in absolute trust as the Holy Spirit conquers self-love in us. Our death and resurrection in and with Christ can be described easily in a few words. But the actual experiencing of the transition from self life to Divine Life consists of a prolonged series of trials. Our patience and faith are severely tested. Sometimes a considerable period of time goes by before God brings to our attention the exceedingly great wisdom of His strategies in our life.

If we are willing to remain under the hand of God during times of trial and suffering, God’s wisdom and power will be revealed in our life and the complete victory will come in precise timing. If we reassert our own wisdom and desires, God may draw back for a season and teach us the same lessons in a different situation.

The beautiful Veil that represents the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the supreme example of the kind of victory through death we have just mentioned, represents also our own death in the Lord. The Veil is our death. It is only in our death that we will be able, through the Holy Spirit, to conquer the enemies who at the present time are living in our land of promise. Self must wither and die and Christ must be formed in us, if we are to enter the rest of God.

Our land of promise consists of all the promises of God to us. Chief among these promises is that we are being made a royal priesthood to God and that we will serve God throughout His creation forever. Christ will receive, because of the directive of the Father, the nations for His inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession. We Christians are coheirs with Him.

Ark of the Covenant

They shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. (Exodus 25:10).

The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden chest. The wood used in its construction, acacia (called shittim, Hebrew pronunciation shi-TEEM, a derivative of sho-TATE, to pierce, referring to the thorns of the acacia tree), was from a thorny tree native to the wilderness in which Israel wandered.

Ours is a "thorny" experience while we are being fashioned. People around us get "stuck" while we are in process. We ourselves feel a "thorn in the flesh" once in a while.

It is significant that so much of the Tabernacle was constructed from wood. Many Scriptures scholars believe wood, as used in the Old Testament typology, symbolizes humanity. We find the Ark itself, to speak in a figure, will be fashioned from people (wood).

The new covenant fulfillment of the old covenant Ark is the Throne of God. It is the secret place in the bosom of the Father in which Christ dwells. It is the plan of salvation that the heart of the Christian saint be fashioned into the Throne of God.

The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid "within and without" with gold (Divinity), indicating that people (wood) will endure a process that will make them partakers of the Divine Nature. 

Thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make on it a crown of gold round about. (Exodus 25:11).

Acacia wood is thorny, hard, and durable. It is suitable for cabinet work in that it can be polished. God’s elect are like this. They are thorny, hard, durable, and will "take a polish," so to speak.

The saints often are difficult to work with and to shape into the desired form. Once God gets them cut into shape, covers them with Christ on the inside and the outside, and carefully and patiently polishes them, the result is an enduring and beautiful piece of furniture for God’s dwelling place.

The wood (humanity) was covered outside and inside the Ark with gold, pointing toward the day when the victorious saints will have Christ dwelling in them to the full and they will be dwelling in Christ to the full. Humanity totally eclipsed by Divinity. Mortality swallowed up by immortality.

Don’t give up, Christian. We will reap one day if we do not faint along the way. The goal of our life is to be re-created in the express image of Christ, God’s Son, in spirit, soul and body in order that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The Ark of the Covenant was the sixth item of furniture. The number six is believed to symbolize mankind since man was created on the sixth day. Man was created in the image of God during the sixth day of God’s workings.

Man, passing through the Veil and being fashioned into the Ark of the Covenant, into the throne of God, becomes at that time the image of God.

Human character is transformed by continued exposure to the Glory of God in the face of Christ until the believer can claim: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is working until we have been fashioned into the exact image of His Son in spirit, in soul, and in body.

The Ark of the Covenant was constructed from acacia wood, showing that human beings are to be made the resting place of the almighty God. God is preparing a living temple in which He can settle down to rest. The Mercy Seat was beaten into shape from refined gold and placed on top of the Ark. The Ark and the Mercy Seat go together, demonstrating the mutual, interdependent rest of God and the believer (Hebrews 4:3).

Therefore the Ark portrays the completion of the process of redemption. The Ark is the omega of the work of salvation in human beings. The Christian who has been created in the image of Christ in spirit, soul and body, who has been filled with the fullness of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit, and who has been anointed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit for ministry, has an eternity of eternities in which to dwell in the bosom of the Father, to serve Him throughout His creation, and to come to know Him ever more fully.

The Ark of the Covenant contained three items: (1) Aaron’s rod that budded; (2) the jar of manna; and (3) the two stone slabs inscribed with the Ten Commandments.

Aaron’s rod. The three elements in the golden chest, the Ark of the Covenant, portray the fully-developed Christian character. Aaron’s rod that budded shows that the Christian has learned to flow with the resurrection life that proceeds from the Father—the Life of the Holy Spirit of God. "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection."

Flowing in and with eternal resurrection life is one of the principal aspects of the rest of God.

In the seventeenth chapter of Numbers the story is told of the manner in which God demonstrated that the tribe of Levi in general, and Aaron and his descendants in particular, were chosen to lead Israel in the service of God. Of twelve rods left by Moses overnight before the Ark of the Covenant, one rod for each of the tribes of Israel, Aaron’s rod alone came to life.

By a miracle, buds, blossoms and almonds appeared on the rod of Levi on which Aaron’s name had been written. This demonstration was brought about because of the rebellion of Korah, of the tribe of Levi, of the family of Kohath.

The family of Kohath was the branch of the Levites chosen to carry the holy furnishings. Korah’s father was Izhar, making Korah a first cousin of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. Perhaps Korah was envious of the special favor of God shown toward Moses and Aaron. Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben also participated in the rebellion against Moses and Aaron.

The appearing of the buds, blossoms and almonds on the rod of Levi is an outstanding picture of resurrection life. In the first chapter of Romans, Christ is declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead.

Of all the dead bodies lying in the ground from the time of Adam, Jesus’ alone came forth. Of all the religious teachers who claimed to be able to lead people to salvation, whose flesh has long since rotted away and whose bones being the only reminder that they once taught on the earth, only Jesus returned from the land of the dead in stupendous triumph, laughing at His enemies, with the keys of Hell and death in His powerful grasp.

The rebellious scheming of men, even of personalities in the high place of religion and spiritual matters, are brought to nothing because Jesus is the only One who has resurrection life. All other leaders and teachers are dead while they yet live unless they are found in Him.

Each of God’s saints must come to know the power of Christ’s resurrection. Also, each must come to experience the fellowship of His sufferings. The resurrection Life of Christ flows out from our crucifixion with Him.

It is the resurrection life that proves Jesus to be the Son of God. It is the power of endless life that makes both Melchizedek and Jesus the priests of God. It is the power of eternal life that proves the saints have been chosen of God. All who envy the spiritual authority and power of the members of the Wife of the Lamb will be brought to nothing. It is life—God’s Life—that proves who has been chosen of God. 

Who is made, not after the law of a fleshly commandment, but after the power of an endless life [an indestructible life]. (Hebrews 7:16).

There is no other way. God’s power works through our confusion, our weakness, our helplessness. Every day we are brought in some manner to the dying of the Lord Jesus so His living power may have opportunity to come forth according to the needs of the moment.

Resurrection life cannot be gained merely by an assent to correct doctrine, although there is a place for correctness of doctrine. The resurrection force of God works in the spirit, soul and body of people because it is in the deepest parts of the personality that God creates eternal truth. God perseveres with us until the instincts of our nature are righteous rather than rebellious and self-centered.

Death, and life! Death, and life! Death, and life! The process goes on day by day. We have been crucified with Christ and our new life is His resurrection Life. That much we understand mentally from studying the sixth chapter of Romans.

God presses us on the hot mold of circumstances so the crucifixion with Christ and the resulting resurrection with Christ are of substance in us. Death with Christ and resurrection with Christ are wrought in us while we are subject to the problems of the material world. Our "wilderness wanderings" produce eternal virtue in us. 

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. We which live are alway delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (II Corinthians 4:10,11).

God is bringing us into the death of Christ so His resurrection life may be revealed in us. The eternal life being created in us is communicated to other people.

The resurrection Life of Jesus that flowed from Paul’s many afflictions, trials, imprisonments, sufferings, found expression in Paul’s epistles—a source of Divine Life for multiplied millions of people. Paul’s willingness to follow Christ into the fullness of death has resulted in the fullness of the Life of Jesus being brought to the nations of the earth for two thousand years.

In the Day of the Lord, resurrection life will clothe our mortal body. We then shall be redeemed completely. In view of our coming total redemption, which will include the redemption of our mortal body that gives us so much trouble at the present time, we need to be sowing to the Spirit of God and not to the lusts of our flesh.

If we Christians sow to our flesh, living all the time to appease the desires of our flesh and fleshly mind, we will die spiritually—Christian or not. If we keep a strong hand of discipline on the inclinations of our fleshly body and give ourselves to the things of Christ, we will reap eternal life in spirit, soul, and body.

Paul left everything that seemed to be of value to him in order to come to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. If we would have the buds, blossoms and almonds of resurrection life appear on our personalities we must allow God to place us as He will "before the Ark of the Covenant," before His Presence.

Waiting on God does not mean waiting for God. It does not mean ceasing to seek God each day in a determined manner. It does not refer to giving ourselves over to our flesh and the world with the thought in mind that some day—maybe!—God will dump revival on our head. We find God in the day that we seek Him with all of our heart.

If our "waiting on the Lord" is a passive affair, with no time being given each day to prayer and meditation in God’s Word, nothing of eternal value will spring forth in our life. "Aaron’s rod" will not bloom, as it were.

Waiting on God is the first business of the Christian discipleship, and it requires that we give time to seeking the Lord each day—seeking Him in single-mindedness of heart. It requires also we do not run ahead of God, attempting to build the Kingdom of God by our own wisdom, strength, and desires.

If you find yourself at this time in a place of indecision and it seems impossible to find the right way to walk in God, ask the Lord Jesus to place all your alternatives in the Presence of His holiness. You may have to wait for a while, and in the meantime the pressures may build. Hold steady. Pray much. Move cautiously. Stay before the Lord. In God’s perfect timing, not one second too soon or too late, the wisdom He has chosen for you will bloom with His Life.

There is no power in the heavens or on the earth, angelic or human, that is equal to the resurrection life in Christ. If any combination of evil powers could have prevented His resurrection, Jesus never would have been able to come forth with the keys of Hell and death. The same indestructible, irresistible force is at work in you now, if you are a Christian. 

What is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (Ephesians 1:19-21).

Jar of manna. The jar of manna (Exodus 16:33) was a sample of the manna that began to come down on the Israelites as soon as they had crossed the Red Sea.

An important characteristic of manna was that it could not be kept from one day to the next (Exodus 16:20). How this jar of manna was able to keep fresh over a long period of time can be explained only by the power of the Lord.

Israel ate manna for forty years, that is, until they came to the land of promise. No doubt it was some time before the Hebrews got over the habit of going out to look for manna. To remind them of their long drawn-out lesson of dependence on Him, God had them place a jar of manna inside the Ark of the Covenant (Hebrews 9:4).

There is a time coming for us Christians when the manna will cease, so to speak. 

When that which is perfect has come, that which is in part shall be done away. (I Corinthians 13:10).

The day will arrive when we shall see the Lord face to face. We shall be with Him for ever and shall have a glorious body that no longer is subject to "thorns in the flesh."

There will be no more perceiving "through a glass darkly"; no more perplexities; no more attempting to glean God’s will and purpose from tongues, prophecies, and dreams. Every Christian will possess the full revelation of the Godhead (Hebrews 8:11; Revelation 22:3-5).

We shall know and understand in that day as we now are known and understood by the Lord (I Corinthians 13:12). Because of our long "wilderness" experience in which we have learned dependence on God, engraved in our spirits will be the realization of the need for continual reliance on the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems likely we shall bear this mark of dependence on God in our characters throughout eternity (I Timothy 4:8).

Another concept illustrated by the provision of manna is that of our need for continually eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ.

In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, starting with the thirty-first verse, the manna of the Old Testament begins to be placed in context with the bread from Heaven of the New Testament. Christ is the "bread of God... which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world" (John 6:33).

Christ is the "word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" by which every person must live. Except we "eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood" we have no life in us.

It is not enough that at one point only in our life we eat his flesh and drink His blood. The concept that we are to "get saved" and then wait to go to Heaven is only partially true. Just as the Jews ate manna each day, we each day must keep ourselves in the place where the living Lord Jesus Christ can come to us and feed us with His body and give us to drink of His blood.

The Communion service is a practice in the physical world representing the fact that in the spirit realm the Lord Jesus is continually nourishing us and imparting to us His body and blood so we are becoming one with Him in every aspect of our personality.

We must learn to live by Him as He lives by the Father. We begin to understand how important it is to dwell totally and consistently in Christ. It is those who eat His flesh and drink His blood who dwell in Him and He in them. It is those who will rise to meet Him in the first resurrection from the dead. Where the carcass (the slain Lamb) is, there the eagles (those who live by feeding on the slain Lamb) shall be.

Ten Commandments. The two stone slabs inscribed with the Ten commandments were placed inside the Ark of the Covenant along with Aaron’s rod and the memorial jar of manna. The Ten Commandments symbolize the transformed moral character of the Christian (Exodus 25:16; Hebrews 9:4).

Many times in the Scripture the Ten Commandments are referred to as the testimony. We Christians often refer to our testimony. One wonders if we do not miss a vital meaning of the word.

The testimony about which God is concerned is the moral law. When the moral law has been carved into our heart by the finger of the Spirit of God and we have been renewed in God’s moral image, then we become the new covenant—God’s testimony to the world concerning His own Personality.

It is not what we say about Christ (although spoken words are significant and essential) but what we have been made by God’s working, that is the true testimony of God. We attempt to testify for Christ, but it is what the Holy Spirit does in and through us that is the true Divine testimony.

God has commanded us to preach, to teach, and to exhort other people in the Word of Christ. But the Divine testimony, the testimony that is all-important for the world to see and hear, is not only what we say about Christ and His love but also what we ourselves have become—the transformed moral nature.

The transformed character is something other people can see and experience in the saint. The righteous nature of the Christian is a true testimony of the Lord to the heavens and to the earth. Righteousness, holiness, and obedience of conduct run deeper than words spoken by Christians, although words are necessary in their place.

We are not claiming that good moral behavior alone on the part of the Church will save the unregenerate. God has ordained that the unsaved be saved by accepting the atonement made by the Lamb of God on the cross. The preaching of the cross of Christ is God’s provision for the unsaved.

The moral testimony of which we are speaking is the miracle of re-creation wrought in people by the working of forces that operate in the plan of salvation. The new life in Christ is a miracle of reconstitution of the person’s entire personality and way of life. The miracle comes about by receiving the Divine Nature of God in Christ and by receiving the wisdom and power that come to us when we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit of God.

The miracle of redemption is the forming of the sons of Adam into the image of God. Redemption can be accomplished only by means of the Divine Life that comes to us from God through our Lord Jesus Christ. It cannot possibly be accomplished by the striving of human effort no matter how well-intentioned.

We see then that there were three elements in the Ark of the Covenant:

Aaron’s rod that budded (resurrection life operating in God’s chosen priesthood).

The memorial jar of manna (daily provisions of grace from God).

The two stone slabs on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments known as the "testimony" (the transformed moral personality of the victorious saint). 

Mercy Seat (Atonement Cover)

Perfection in the Christian experience is the possession of God Himself rather than any assortment of techniques, spiritual secrets, power with God, or any of the other things set forth from time to time as being goals of the Christian life.

Jesus is a person and He wants us to be occupied with Himself rather than with concepts, experiences, persons, or things related to Him. He who possesses the Person of the Lord Jesus possesses everything of value in the heavens and on the earth. He who does not possess the Lord Jesus is bankrupt—deprived of everything of value.

The true goal is found in the pattern of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The seventh article of furniture is the pure gold Mercy Seat. There was no wood (humanity) in the Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat was beaten from refined gold, indicating that the climax of the Christian salvation has to do with the unalloyed Godhead.

Pure Divinity. "That I may know Him!" Paul cried. It is time now for the Christian believers to exclaim from the heart: That I may know Him! How quickly everything else will be placed in perspective. 

Thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. Thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. (Exodus 25:17,18)

Thou shalt put the mercy seat above on the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are on the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment to the children of Israel. (Exodus 25:21,22).

Some of the verses in the New Testament writings teach us how the fulfillment of the Mercy Seat is wrought in the lives of individuals. 

Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23).

When the Christian believer becomes the fulfillment of the Ark of the Testimony by sharing continually in Christ’s death and the power of His resurrection life; by experiencing the continual impartation of the body and blood of the living Lord Jesus Christ; and by being transformed in character into Christ’s moral image; he then is ready for the fulfillment of the Mercy Seat, God Himself, to crown his personality.

Carefully notice the following expressions of Christ: "He [the Christian] will keep my words." "My Father will love him." "We will come unto him and make our abode with him."

This is the coming of the Mercy Seat, the Godhead, into the life of the victorious Christian in the same manner in which God dwells in Christ. Such is the tenor of several passages of the new-covenant writings, both in the Gospels and in the Epistles. The seventeenth chapter of John probably is the best example of such passages.

The coming of God and Christ to abide eternally with the completely reconciled saint is the fullness of redemption, the rest of God, perfection, full sonship—call it what you wish. It is the completion of salvation, the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, the omega of the pursuit of God, the "all things" of Revelation 21:7. 

Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. (John 14:19,20).

The phrase "at that day" is significant. It refers to the Day of the Lord. The phrase "in that day" is used several times in the Book of Isaiah.

We have a partial fulfillment of the preceding passage from the moment of accepting Christ as our personal Savior and Lord. The fullness of the experience may be ahead for most of us. 

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21).

The above verse is not referring to the second coming of our Lord Jesus nor is it referring to our initial acceptance of Christ. It is the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles and comes after Pentecost—after we receive the Holy Spirit. It is the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in the saint.

And further: 

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe thou hast sent me. The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21-23).

The preceding passage describes the perfect reconciliation of the saints to God through Christ. It is the marriage of the Lamb.

The oneness with the Godhead occurs after the Christian becomes the Ark of the Covenant, so to speak. The Glory of God always comes to rest in a prepared place.

The coming of the Father and the Son to abide eternally in us is the capstone of salvation. It is the placing of the Mercy Seat on the Ark. This is the plan for the construction of the living Temple of God, the Temple of God being the Holy City, the new Jerusalem. There is no temple in the new Jerusalem because the entire city is the Tabernacle of God.

The Christian goes through the process of death to self, and resurrection, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

There must be a continual eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of Christ.

There must be a transformation of moral character.

As soon as these three processes have been completed, or rather as they are being completed (for this is no simple one-two-three procedure, it is a complicated hammering out of one’s life on the anvil of human experience), the Godhead will indwell the Christian and absorb the Christian into the Divine Life. This is the meaning of such passages as the following: 

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (I John 4:16)

There shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: They shall see his face [that which is perfect has come—I Corinthians 13:12]; and his name shall be in their foreheads [His name in their foreheads signifies they always do the will of God rather than their own will]. There shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5).

We have seen, then, that there are two elements in the Holy of Holies: the Ark of the Covenant, and the Mercy Seat. Yet, these two are one since the Mercy Seat fits on top of the Ark, providing the area where God can dwell between the Cherubim of Glory.

So it is that God in Christ in the Christian are joined together making one piece. Together they constitute the place of God’s Presence from which God can dwell and rule earth’s peoples in a successful manner—a manner that neither will permit His own perfect holiness and righteousness to be violated nor will terrify or destroy His subjects and neighbors.

Three Entrances; Three Places; Three Lights

The first entrance to the Tabernacle was the gate of the Courtyard. The gate was the blue, purple, crimson, and pure white linen hung on four of the wooden pillars set in bronze sockets. It opened into the Courtyard of the Tabernacle, the place of animal sacrifice.

The second entrance was the door of the Tabernacle. The door was the blue, purple, crimson and fine linen hung on five wooden pillars covered with gold, topped with gold capitals, standing in sockets of bronze. The door led into the Holy Place of the Tabernacle building.

The third entrance was the Veil. The Veil was blue, purple, scarlet and fine twisted linen, with figures of cherubim wrought in it. The Veil hung on four wooden pillars covered with gold, standing in sockets of silver. It opened into the Holy of Holies.

The gate was twenty cubits wide by five cubits high. The door was ten cubits square and the Veil was ten cubits square. It can be seen that each of the three hangings had the same area of surface (100 square cubits). The sameness of area suggests to us that each of the three entrances to the Kingdom of God is equally important in its place.

Each hanging had 100 square cubits of area, a total of 300 square cubits. Three hundred cubits was the length of Noah’s Ark and the number of Gideon’s men. Three hundred symbolizes the end of an age by judgment, and the salvation of the elect in the Day of the Lord.

The materials of the three hangings were identical, except that the Veil had the design of the cherubim wrought in it.

The pillars, or posts, were all wooden, those of the gate and the door standing in bronze and those of the Veil standing in silver. The pillars of the gate were crowned with silver and had silver hooks. The pillars of the door had gold hooks and were crowned with gold. The pillars of the Veil had gold hooks and were not crowned.

The increasing value of the metals employed reminds us that as we progress to areas of greater holiness we are moving toward the Presence of the Lord. Purity of heart and holy behavior are required in order for us to be received of God (Matthew 5:8; II Corinthians 6:17).

The three places of the Tabernacle were the Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. In the Courtyard were the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering and the bronze Laver. In the Holy Place were the Table of Showbread, the Lampstand and the Altar of Incense. In the Holy of Holies were the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. The Courtyard was dominated by bronze (judgment), and the Holy and Most Holy Places were dominated by gold (Divinity).

The Courtyard was lighted by the sun (natural light). The Holy Place was lighted by the Lampstand (manifestation of the Holy Spirit). The Holy of Holies was lighted by the Glory of the Presence of God Himself blazing from between the Cherubim of Glory.

There are several figures in the Scriptures, in addition to the three places of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, that present three areas of redemption. There were the three levels of Noah’s Ark. The seven feasts of the Lord were grouped into three sets: the feast of Unleavened Bread; the feast of Weeks; and the feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16).

Three levels of fruitbearing are mentioned in Matthew, Chapter 13. Paul was caught up to the "third heaven." There are the fruit, more fruit, and much fruit, of John 15:1-5. Hosea prophesied: "After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we will live in his sight" (Hosea 6:2). Jesus confirmed the statement of Hosea: "Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected" (Luke 13:32).

The first area of redemption is that of the basic salvation experience. It consists of the experiences typified by the bronze Altar and the Laver. We must repent, accept the atonement made by Christ for our sins, and be baptized in water.

Salvation is accomplished in the daylight where all people can see, understand, and participate. Here is the Kingdom of God. It includes all the saved of the earth. Every person outside the linen fence of the righteousness of Christ is doomed to eternal darkness unless he or she is willing to receive Christ before it is too late.

The second area of redemption is that of the Church. The Church is represented by the Holy Place with its showbread, Lampstand and the Altar of Incense. We are baptized into the Church, the Body of Christ, by the Holy Spirit of God.

The Church of Christ has been assigned two major tasks: to build, through the Holy Spirit, each of its members into the image of Christ; and (2) to reveal in the earth the holy Person and righteous ways of the Lord God of Heaven, bearing witness to every nation of the need for repentance because of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

The highest experiences of God are available through the Church to whoever will receive and participate in God’s work of redemption. The Church has been assigned the responsibility, in Christ, of establishing and maintaining the Kingdom of God on the earth (Daniel 7:27), the Kingdom that will come to the earth with the return of Christ and His saints. The only obstacle that holds any person back from experiencing the richest blessings of God is his own unbelief and unwillingness to press forward in Christ.

The Holy Place, the Church, is lighted by the "Lampstand," so to speak. The Church of God ought never to be seeking the advice or help of the flesh in spiritual matters or that which has to do with the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit will guide the Church in every matter great and small, to the smallest detail, if we are sensitive to His teachings and reproofs. The building of the Church and the presenting of a perfect and complete wife to the Lamb of God are the responsibility of the Holy Spirit.

Fleshly effort can only soil and destroy the Church. The Holy Spirit is in charge of bringing to maturity the Body of Christ. The light of day, that is, natural light and understanding, helps in the Courtyard area; but its use in the Holy Place is to be minimal. The Holy Spirit is the Lampstand who lights the Church and who lights the world through the Church.

The third area of salvation is that of the three aspects of the fullness of redemption: (1) the image of Christ wrought in us in spirit, soul and body; (2) the fullness of the indwelling of the Father and the Son in us through the Holy Spirit; and (3) the fullness of fruitfulness and authority imparted to us through Christ so all things are beneath us and only Christ rules over us.

The third area is the place of full victory, the inheriting of the "all things" of God our Father (Revelation 21:7).

The Church is in travail at the present time to bring forth the "male son," the ruler with a rod of iron (Revelation, Chapter 12). The male son symbolizes Christ in the members of Christ’s Body, formed through the travail of the ministries and gifts of the Christian Church (Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:13).

The second area, that of the Church, is "lighted by the Lampstand." This is the realm of the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit, of I Corinthians, Chapters 12 and 13. The third area is lighted by the Glory of the Presence of God Himself.

Paul speaks of the difference between the two areas, in I Corinthians, Chapter 13. He instructs us that when that which is.

perfect is come (the third area), then that which is in part (the second area) will be done away. Once we receive the fullness of Christ Himself there will be no more need for the ministries and gifts, for we will possess the Lord Himself.

We have not as yet reached our full maturity in Christ. There is a great need, at the present stage of development of the Christian Church, for the exercise of the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

It is possible that the program of maturing of the Body of Christ may be delayed if we do not obtain more teaching concerning victorious living in Christ. We are blessed with able and anointed "come-out" ministries—those that have as their goal the rescuing of souls from the bondage of sin and spiritual death.

What is needed in particular at the present time is many more "enter-in" ministries—those that can bring the Christian believers from the wilderness, across the Jordan of death to self, and into the land of promise of the fullness of the grasp on the redemption that is in Christ.

We have not as yet arrived at John 17:21-23. The fullness of the knowledge of Christ is a goal for us to keep our eyes on in order to help us maintain a saving hope and proper perspective on our progress in the plan of salvation.

The four pillars at the gate of the Courtyard portray, among other things, the four major ministries of the Body of Christ: the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, and the pastor-teacher. It is through these four ministries that human beings are led to the full salvation purchased on the cross of Calvary.

The five pillars at the entrance to the Holy Place, the door of the Tabernacle, remind us of the saints of Christ. The five posts have the bronze of judgment under them because the victorious saints will rule and judge with Christ, having first experienced God’s judgment on their own lives.

And the five pillars of it with their hooks: and he overlaid their chapiters and their fillets with gold: but their five sockets were of brass. (Exodus 36:38)

The gold overlaying the top of the pillars at the door portray the authority and power, under Christ, of the saints. The saints stand guard at the entrance to the Church, the sanctuary of God, the new Jerusalem. Five is the number of entrance, or beginning, of the holy mysteries of the Body of Christ. This is the royal priesthood.

The four pillars at the entrance to the Most Holy Place symbolize, among other things, the fullness of Christian development—the four "faces" of the mature believer. These are the lion, the ox, the man, and the eagle (Ezekiel 1:10; Revelation 4:7).

The lion is the spirit of the conqueror, which must be wrought in each saint. The ox is the ability to bear heavy loads of responsibility and service over a prolonged period of time. The man is the image and likeness of God—that with which He can have fellowship and enter union. The eagle is the soaring liberty of the believer who has become free indeed by becoming the bondslave of Christ.

And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. (Exodus 26:32)

There is no gold overlay on the top of these four pillars because the bondslaves of God cast down their crowns before the Lord. When they go out to serve as the kings and priests of God’s creation they wear their crowns of authority and power. Therefore, there are crowns on the pillars of the door of the Tabernacle. When they come into the Presence of the Almighty God they cast down their crowns at His feet in acknowledgment that He is the supreme Lord and Ruler of the universe.

The victorious saints are the Lord’s personal guard, His "mighty men." They are pillars in the Temple of God (I Chronicles 11:10; Revelation 3:12; 14:4).

The saints of God have been redeemed through the blood of the Lamb. They bow in worship, through the Holy Spirit, before the Lord God of Heaven. The Veil of death hangs from them because they have been crucified with Christ and their life is now hidden with Christ in God.

The material of the gate, the door, and the Veil is the same except that the Veil has the figures of the cherubim worked in the material. The blue is Heaven. The purple is the majesty of Him who is King of Heaven and earth. The scarlet is His redeeming blood. The white is the righteousness assigned (imputed) to us and also demonstrated in our behavior. Through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we obtain both ascribed righteousness and a righteous personality that behaves righteously.

Ascribed righteousness is a legal state before God. Actual righteousness of personality and behavior is the Kingdom of God.

The cherubim wrought in the Veil reveal that at the third level we become increasingly conscious of the spirit realm. Paul referred to the "elect angels." As we draw closer to the Throne of God we become aware of the large congregation of creatures now assembled to see the Lord’s salvation. Truly, we have come to "an innumerable company of angels," as the writer of Hebrews informs us (Hebrews 12:22).

The cherubim, in particular, are a part of God, as shown by the fact that they were hammered from the same piece of gold as the Mercy Seat. They are part of the Mercy Seat. When Ezekiel and John saw the Throne of God they saw also the Cherubim of Glory.

When we come to the fifth furnishing of the Tabernacle, the Altar of Incense, we are at the fifth day of creation, speaking symbolically. Therefore, "fish appear in the sea," as it were, portraying the great harvesting of souls that will occur just prior to the Lord’s returning, and then on throughout the entire Kingdom Age.

Also, on the fifth day of creation, the birds appear in the firmament of heaven, suggesting that we shall become increasingly conscious of the righteous and the unrighteous creatures of the heavens who will be directly affected by the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:21).

Some of the creatures of the heavens wait with terror for the coming of the Lord because the end of their activities in the earth will occur as soon as God has His saints prepared. Others of the creatures of Heaven are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation. These look forward with great joy to the perfecting and glorifying of their charges.

The material creation awaits with expectant, joyful hope the most extraordinary spectacle of all time—the sight of the sons of God receiving their inheritance and assuming, under Christ, rulership of all the works of God’s hands.

Fire in the Christian Life

The Altar of Burnt Offering has something to say to us concerning sacrifice to God. It symbolizes the offering of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary—the foundation of Christianity. The bronze Altar portrays also our personal offerings to the Lord.

The fact that fire was involved in the presentation of a slain offering reveals the manner in which God regarded and responded to the offering of Jesus on the cross; and also the manner in which God regards and responds to the things we present continually to Him, including our own life and personality. 

Thou shalt burn the whole ram on the altar: it is a burnt offering to the Lord: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire to the Lord. (Exodus 29:18)

Thou shalt receive them of their hands, and burn them on the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour before the Lord: it is an offering made by fire to the Lord. (Exodus 29:25)

There came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed on the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. (Leviticus 9:24).

Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. (Judges 6:21).

Consider the saying of Jesus recorded in the ninth chapter of Mark: 

Every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. (Mark 9:49).

The test of fire is to God as salt is to us. It makes the sacrifice palatable. The sacrifice is tasteless without it. Well-intentioned fleshly activity is not acceptable to God. Christian platitudes, sentimentality, and fleshly "love" are as honey on the sacrifice (Leviticus 2:11).

Fire represents the Nature of God Himself: absolute holiness, absolute cleanliness, absolute righteousness, absolute justice, absolute love—so pure that anything brought near to God is in danger of being instantly consumed. 

Our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29).

The Lord Jesus Christ was as a burnt offering on the cross. His Spirit was tested by fire to the last measure. There was nothing more that could be consumed. He was a perfect sacrifice, offered through the Spirit of God. No lawlessness, no sin, no rebellion, no self-ambition or self-centeredness—nothing that could not abide the fire of God’s Presence was to be found in the Lord Jesus. He was pure gold, refined in the furnace of affliction (Hebrews 5:7,8).

We are to offer our body to God as a whole burnt offering. 

I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1).

Testing our works. After we have served God for a while the things we have accomplished and the motives that gave rise to the accomplishments are salted with fire. 

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (I Corinthians 3:13-15).

All of our Christian works (for the "work" referred to here is that which has been constructed on the foundation, Christ) will be tested by fire. The above passage may be referring to the great Day of judgment. However, most of us probably have observed that our works are tested, at least on a small scale, here in this present life.

We become so involved! So busy! Our activities go unchecked for a period of time. Then we get a visit from the Lord. Our works and motives are exposed to His absolute holiness, absolute righteousness, and absolute love. The secrets of our heart are displayed before us, before God, and sometimes before the rest of the universe it seems. This is the fire of the Lord falling on our sacrifice.

If our works have been performed by the Spirit of the Lord we have nothing to be concerned about. The Word of God abides forever. Fiery trials refine the Word of God in us.

If our works have proceeded from an obligation of religious duty only, or from our ignorance of the will of Christ for our life, or from our spiritual ambitions, or from an attempt to use the Holy Spirit of God instead of being used by the Spirit, then our works and motives will not stand up under the test of Divine fire.

We will be saved personally if we maintain a steadfast faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, so we can stand and serve God another day. But Christian works that have not been performed in the Spirit of God will not abide before Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire.

When we see Him in all of His perfection of holiness we shall say with Job: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5,6).

Baptism with fire.

 . . . he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:11).

Every Christian must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Every Christian must also be baptized with fire. We all would enjoy being immersed continually in the Holy Spirit. We may not be as anxious to be immersed continually in the fire of God. Yet, the immersion in fire is an essential part of the Christian life.

No one walks with God without being washed with fire every now and then. The meaning of the baptism in fire is given in Matthew 3:12: 

. . . but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

The closer we draw to God the more intense the fire becomes. God is a fire, a consuming fire. He who would dwell with God must be ready to dwell with fire.

The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isaiah 33:14).

There is a difference between the Christian who has not been baptized with fire and the Christian who has been baptized with fire. The difference is in the amount of dross (fleshly motivations) remaining in the life. The less fire the more dross. The more fire the less dross. For some of us it may be true that we have set out our sacrifice but the Lord has not as yet passed between the pieces. 

It came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. (Genesis 15:17).

The first time the fire (judgment) of God comes on us we think God has forsaken us. The "sun goes down" and it is dark. A "horror of a great darkness" falls on our up-to-now happy Christian life.

Peter cautions us, "Think it not strange." This is part of the normal Christian life. If there is no burning fiery judgment, then there no fellowship with Him who is the consuming Fire.

We are not called to be baptized only once with fire but to dwell continually with the fire of God. The reason we find this so unpleasant is that we have so much worthless material in our life. The thought of judgment panics us because we sense we are not "fireproof" in the inner parts of our personality.

Isaiah asks, "Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?"

Then he answers his own question: 

He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; (Isaiah 33:15).

If we desire to live forever with the Lord Jesus we must experience the baptism with fire. There is no need to fear the fire of God unless we are sinners or hypocrites. If our life is being created in God there is nothing in the Divine fire that will hurt us. We can lay our life continually on the Altar of Burnt Offering, so to speak, in the full assurance that nothing but our bonds will be burned (Daniel 3:24-28).

Perhaps this is the meaning of Revelation 20:6: 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

"On such the second death hath no power [authority]"!

It may be that the victorious saints of Revelation 20:6 have become "fireproof" by having the dross burned out of them beforehand. The Lake of Fire, which is the second death, has no authority over them. It cannot harm them. Fire cannot hurt gold; it succeeds only in making the gold more pure.

No spiritual fire can hurt one of God’s saints. The saints can and do live with the consuming Fire. As in the case of Moses’ bush (Exodus 3:2), they are not consumed.

Those of us who have been careless in bringing our motivations before God in prayer may find that the worthless and sinful part will burn, as God draws near to accept the offering of our life. What will be left of us as God approaches? The part that has been wrought in and by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Portability of the Tabernacle

Portability was an important characteristic of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The Tabernacle was constructed while the Israelites were in the wilderness and had to be carried by them on their march toward the land of promise. The furniture of the Tabernacle was fitted out with rings and staves so it could be carried when the cloud and the fire moved on.

The Ark of the Covenant illustrates the portability of the Tabernacle. 

Thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. Thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. Thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. (Exodus 25:12-15).

The staves remained in the Ark at all times, emphasizing that God was on the move. The staves in the Ark and the design of the Tabernacle teach us that we always must keep ourselves prepared to move forward in Christ.

Pressing on. The Holy Spirit today is moving us toward the land of promise. By the expression moving us toward the land of promise we mean the Spirit of God is bringing Christians to a fuller understanding of the writings of the Apostles; to a more perfect righteousness of spirit, soul and body; and to a more perfect union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of Christ is guiding the Church back to the holiness, revelation, and power of the Church described in the Book of Acts, and then beyond that to an even greater fullness of the Presence of Christ. We are exhorted to contend for the faith handed down to the saints (Jude 1:3). The first-century Apostles of Christ spoke of the glory that is to accompany the return of the Lord—the "seasons of refreshing" that shall proceed from His Presence (Acts 3:19).

It appears that it is time now for "the restitution [restoration] of all things" (Acts 3:21). The Spirit of revelation (Ephesians 1:17,18; Colossians 1:9) is ready to bring to pure Christian hearts a fuller understanding of the will of God. We must keep ourselves in an attitude of prayer and be ready to move with God (maintaining vigilance at all times), if we would proceed toward the fullness of salvation.

When we decide that we possess all the experiences in Christ that are available to believers before the return of Christ to the earth, we cut ourselves off from the workings of the Holy Spirit. We lose our portability.

As soon as we come to the conclusion during our Christian experience that the next significant spiritual step for us is an external event, such as the coming of Christ in the clouds (which certainly shall occur in due time), we will not make a serious effort to grow to maturity in Christ. We will lose the attitude of Paul, who exclaims: "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high [upward] calling of God in Christ."

We are not teaching that Christ is not coming, or that we should not be looking for and hastening the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ with the holy angels. Rather, we are stating that when we make the assumption that there are no more significant spiritual experiences available to us before the coming of the Lord Jesus we shall stagnate; we shall lose our portability, cease to grow, become sectarian and therefore divisive, become proud, and shall shut ourselves off from the voice of Christ speaking to us through the revelatory ministries of the Body of Christ. Outsiders may sense a spirit of smugness and be repulsed by it.

We must bring to mind the experience and attitude of the Apostle Paul. He had received Christ as Lord and Savior. He had been born again. He had been baptized in water. He had demonstrated the mighty miracles of the Holy Spirit. His missionary work had been fruitful. He had had revelations of Christ. He had written epistles. 

After all of this he exclaimed: 

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; If by any means I might attain the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11).

The statement "if by any means I might attain (arrive at) the resurrection from the dead" coming from a man of Paul’s background does not agree with the contemporary understanding of the way in which the plan of salvation operates. The present concept is that once a person has accepted Christ as Lord and Savior he has attained the resurrection unto eternal life, as far as is possible in this world.

It appears rather that we are to keep on actively seeking a greater fullness of Christ in our life. We are to remain portable. 

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ. Brothers, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ. (Philippians 3:12-14).

Here is the Apostle Paul’s "creed." It is more than adherence to a set of beliefs. It is a pressing forward toward Christ who Himself is the goal of our pilgrimage.

The Tabernacle would remain in one place for a while. Then it would be taken down and carried a bit farther toward Canaan (although sometimes the Israelites went in circles). Wherever the cloud and the fire led, the Tabernacle and the people were obliged to follow.

We Christians must keep on the move in Christ if we wish to remain spiritually alive. If we desire to grow to maturity in accordance with the pattern that Paul outlined in Philippians, then we must spend time each day seeking the Lord without distraction.

We have not "arrived" as yet, spiritually speaking. The next event in our spiritual calendar may not be the coming of Christ in the clouds, although He certainly will come one day and we want Him to return as quickly as possible. To this end we live each day in as prepared a manner as possible.

From what we see about us it appears that the Body of Christ is not ready yet for the return of the Lord Jesus. Christian people must press toward the fullness of Christ. We have not "arrived" in Christ until we have attained that for which Paul was striving, as described in Philippians, Chapter Three.

The goal of the Christian life is the full development of resurrection life in the believer accompanied by complete transformation of character and the complete indwelling of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Paul had not "arrived." We have not "arrived." The goal of which we are speaking is not a vague, unattainable state. It is as real as being born again, as definite as speaking in tongues. It is a "mark!" We must remain portable so we can keep pressing toward all that God has promised us in Christ.

When Jesus returns, our adoption as sons will be complete. This means we will be clothed with an eternal body. The body we have now will not be discarded, it will be made alive by being clothed with a house of resurrection life (II Corinthians, Chapter Five). We will be recognizable but full of Divine Life, authority and power. Being clothed with immortality is the destruction of the last enemy—physical death.

The rewards go to the overcomer. The practical issue at hand is this: the glorification of our body is the fruit and reward of a lifetime of diligent, consistent sowing to the Holy Spirit. It was toward the fullness of eternal life that Paul was striving. In this light, Philippians 3:10-15 is perfectly understandable.

Many of the scriptural promises quoted by careless, double-minded people are actually directed toward the fervent disciples of the Lord. The rewards of immortality and glory that Jesus is bringing with Him are an area of confusion of doctrine and of misplaced hopes. God has promised these glorious gifts and responsibilities only to the victorious saints, the overcomers.

The Word of God concerning the new covenant has been made of none effect by our ignorance of what the grace of God is. We are defining grace as the forgiveness of sin, with the idea in mind that the image of Christ and union with Christ will be handed to us miraculously when the Lord returns, or accomplished in us somehow with little or no effort on our part. This is incorrect, being contrary to the writings of the Apostles of the Lamb.

Rather, the grace of God in Christ is the Divine Virtue, wisdom, authority, and power to accomplish image and union in our personality as we follow the Holy Spirit. There is a constant receiving of Christ and a constant warring against evil that continues throughout our discipleship.

The greater part of the Christian Church is in mortal error concerning the operation of grace under the new covenant.

The Word of God is emphatic concerning the rewards to the overcomer (Revelation, Chapters Two and Three). In some instances it seems people are under the impression that everyone who makes a profession of Christ will receive the rewards promised to the faithful disciples, whether or not the believer is indeed a faithful disciple. In fact, it is only the faithful disciples who actually are Christians. The remainder of the believers are merely churchgoers.

God means exactly what He has stated in His Word. Unless we seek the Lord in total sincerity and find what He wants done in and through us, and begin to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, we may never mature to the place where we will be eligible for the rewards of authority and service Christ has promised to those who forsake all in order to perform His will (I Corinthians 3:14; II Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12).

We did not say, unless we start working for Christ. We said, unless we find what He wants done in and through us. This is an individual matter with each Christian. We cannot know our own assignment by guessing at what Christ wants done and then attempting to perform it in our own strength. We are to pray, collectively and individually, and to present our bodies as a living sacrifice in order to find God’s will for our lives.

It appears that the Church, the Body of Christ, is a long way from the fullness of maturity and unity. It appears also we cannot accomplish maturity and unity through a program designed and managed by means of human wisdom and strength. It is time for the Holy Spirit to be obeyed strictly, for only He can accomplish the unifying and maturing of the Body of Christ. Our task is to pray, study the Word, and be obedient to the Spirit. His task is to perform the will of the Father in and through us.

Following the Lord. How about you? Do you have a heart to follow the Lord? Are you willing to press on to overcoming strength and glory? Israel followed the Tabernacle as God moved toward His enemies in Canaan. 

When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: If the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. The cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:36-38).

Christ is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Author and the Finisher of our redemption. It does not matter how deep the pit from which we were taken. He shall, if we will follow Him, lift us to the highest throne.

Salvation has a definite beginning, a definite program, and a definite conclusion. This is not to say we will not grow more like the Father as we behold His face and minister in His Presence while the billions upon billions of eternities roll by.

Nevertheless, it is true that the plan of redemption has a definite beginning and a definite ending, a consummation, a maturity, a "mark" as Paul terms it. Are you willing to lay all else aside and press on toward the fullness of the mark?

To move past the Holy Place, the area of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit, we must go through the Veil, the Jordan River as it were, symbolizing the death we must die to our own ways. God cannot carry out His great purposes while we are endeavoring to pursue our own paths—even our own "Christian" ways. He will use us if we will let Him have His perfect way with us and are willing to love not our own lives to the point of death to our ambitions, not seeking our preservation.

The final outpouring of Christ during the present age will be an authoritative and powerful testimony. It will prepare the way for the Kingdom Jubilee. The end-time testimony will be brought through those who have been crucified with Christ and in whom Christ is now being formed. If we save our life we will lose it. If we give our life to Christ He will mix it with His own life, the result being an abundance of fruitfulness and dominion during the ages to come.

Will you press on, and on, and on, and on to the fullness of Christ?

CHAPTER VI THE PERFECTING OF THE CHURCH

The Seven Furnishings

The perfecting of the Church, the Body of Christ, follows the same order of the furnishings that is true of the plan of redemption of the believer. This is because the perfecting of the Church depends directly on the perfecting of each member of the Church.

While there is one imperfect member the Wife of the Lamb is imperfect. Each member must be made perfect. Then the member can be brought into absolute oneness in the Body by the Glory of God. We shall be made one by the Glory of God (John, Chapter 17).

There was no sound of a hammer during the time that the Temple of Solomon was being erected because the blocks of stone had been cut to a perfect fit before being brought together (I Kings 6:7). The Holy Spirit is fashioning the living stones of God’s temple now and we shall come together at the appointed time. The Body of Christ cannot flow together until the time chosen by the Father.

The seven holy furnishings of the Tabernacle typify our coming to the "unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13) This finally will be true of the entire Body of Christ.

1. Altar of Burnt Offering.

2. Laver.

3. Table of Showbread.

4. Lampstand.

5. Altar of Incense.

6. Ark of the Covenant.

7. Mercy Seat.

The interpretation of the seven furnishings, in terms of the perfecting of the Church, is as follows. 

Altar of Burnt Offering. The crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary is brought to our minds when the Church celebrates Communion. The Church is protected, by means of the covering of the blood of Christ, from the judgment God sends on the gods of this world. The members of the Church, the Israel of God, are called out of Egypt—the spirit of the present age—by the Lord God, and protected by the covering of the blood of God’s Passover Lamb. 

Laver. The Church is separated from Egypt by going through the Red Sea of water baptism. The God of this world attempts to follow Israel through the waters but is destroyed. The Church takes its place with Christ on the cross, and is born of the water into the newness of life of the resurrection of Christ.

Christ gave Himself for the Church, that He might "sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:26,27). 

Table of Showbread. Now we are in the Holy Place, the area of the Church, the Body of Christ. Here the Church is formed and comes to maturity in preparation for its ministry as the Body of the Servant of the Lord.

The life of the Church is the body and blood of Christ. The Church is made one in Christ by constantly partaking of Him. Israel is one bread, one loaf in the sight of God. The Substance of the Lord Jesus is in every true Christian.

The Church is the wife of the Passover Lamb because through the "Passover," the Communion service, the Church eats Christ and is built up from the Substance of Christ just as Eve was created from the substance of Adam. 

Lampstand. Christ, Head and Body, is the Lampstand of God, the testimony of God’s Person, way, and eternal purpose. The Church is the light of the world. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is symbolized by the olive oil of the Lampstand of the Tabernacle.

As soon as the Church has attained maturity as measured by the fullness of Christ, the Church will go forth as the Body of the Servant of the Lord. Christ is the great Head of Christ who will bring salvation to Israel, and judgment and deliverance to the peoples of the whole earth. 

Altar of Incense. The Altar of Incense represents the prayers of all saints, the communication of Israel toward God. The Lampstand symbolizes the communication of God toward men. As soon as the intercession, petitions, adoration, and thanksgiving of the saints reach the necessary level of fervency and righteousness the seven trumpets of God will sound, resulting in bringing back to the earth the fullness of the Presence of God in Christ—the Presence that has been lost to mankind from the time of Eden.

In order for the fragrance of Christ to rise from the Church the Church must die to its self-will. The true Church shall die to self-will in the last days because of the fiery judgments of the Lord. The Church, like Samson, shall slay more by its death than it ever has by its life. Satan and his angels shall be cast into the earth because of a holy remnant of saints who overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the death. 

Ark of the Covenant. The Ark typifies the full development of the conquering, ruling Presence of Christ in the Church. Such fullness is available to each Christian, but he or she must pay the price. The Ark is fortress Zion, the fighting, ruling, judging authority and power of the Church that will reign with Christ during the Kingdom Age. It is David’s Tabernacle, to speak figuratively. 

Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat symbolizes the fullness of the Glory of God. The Christian Church is the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb. When God has finished creating the Church, when every member has been made perfect in Christ as an individual and perfect in the whole Body, then the Church will descend from Heaven, having the Glory of God. The new Jerusalem will settle down to its appointed place on a high mountain. The Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the glorified Church.

In our day the Christian salvation is emphasized as being the Divine plan for benefiting the individual believer. We make every effort to "get people saved" and then to assist them as they seek to live the Christian life. This is proper and scriptural.

As we draw nearer to the Lord we discover that God desires something in addition to this. God is building a city, a temple, a holy Jerusalem.

At one time Paradise was on the earth. But there was no governing city, no wall, no resting place for God’s throne so evil could be prevented from entering the garden of God.

We speak of the individual accepting the atonement so he or she can go to Heaven and dwell forever in the bliss of Paradise. But God’s plan is to create a holy city and establish it forever on the earth in the midst of the nations of saved people. In the city will be located the throne of God. Each member of the city will be a king and priest of God and will govern and bless the members of the nations of the saved.

The final result of God’s work in the earth will be a city built on the eternal foundation of Christ the Lord. The Christian Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, is that city.

The Christian Church commences as individual congregations of believers in Christ. By the Word of God, the body and blood of Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and by the operation of the ministries and gifts given to the members of the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, the Church is being built up.

The Church is to be nourished by every part, every member, and joined firmly together until it attains the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, and becomes a mature man as measured by the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

The Wife of the Lamb

The Christian Church will be built up by means of the grace of God through Christ until it becomes the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of the Anointed Deliverer, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the perfect helper for Christ—entirely suited to Him.

The Church, in the sense in which we are speaking now, is not of the earth. The Church starts out in the earth as separate congregations of born-again disciples. When the Holy Spirit of God has completed the building of the Church, the Body of Christ, the Church will be just like the Lord Jesus. The Church will be a suitable helper for the Lord Jesus because the Church eats of His body and drinks of His blood. The Church is the Bride of the Lamb because it lives through partaking of the Lamb of God.

The Church, the Body of Christ, is flesh of the flesh of Christ and bone of the bone of Christ (Ephesians 5:30).

There was no helper found suitable for Christ among the personages of Heaven. He is greater than every creature in Heaven. Therefore, God has been working for several thousand years, and yet will work, in order to bring forth a suitable bride for the Lord Jesus.

Eve is a type of the Bride of Christ. Adam is a type of Christ. Adam was formed from the ground just as Christ was formed from God. Adam was ground, being taken from the ground. Christ is God, being taken from God.

Eve was made from Adam, not from the ground. Therefore Eve was Adam—not that she was the same individual person as Adam, but she was Adam in the sense of being formed from Adam’s substance. Adam recognized that Eve was part of himself, and the two were one in that sense.

The Bride is being created from Christ. She is not Christ in the sense of being the same individual person as the Lord Jesus Christ. She is Christ in that she is created from His Substance. She is Him, possessing His Substance, name, and inheritance.

The Christian Church begins as groups of saved people. Through the many workings of the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit the Church is being transformed from collections of believers into the one Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, being made perfect in every detail.

He who has seen Christ has seen the Father. In the days to come it will be said truly that he who has seen the Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb, has seen Christ Himself; for she is being formed from Him.

The Bride of Christ is not from the earth, in this spiritual and eternal sense. She is being born from above. 

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:16).

In the last chapters of Revelation we see that the Church comes down from Heaven to the earth. God starts out with ordinary people who put their trust in Christ—and sinful, rebellious people at that! When God has completed His work the Church will be the Wife of the Lamb of God, Christ.

The same Glory that God has given to Christ will be upon her. The same love with which God loves Christ will be in her (John 17:21-26). The Church is born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God Himself.

The Church will be transformed by the Holy Spirit from congregations of believers into the holy city, the new Jerusalem; from a variety of denominational backgrounds into perfect oneness in Christ; from an assortment of doctrinal positions into the full knowledge of the Holy One; from a mob of slaves newly escaped from "Egypt," so to speak, into the Body of the Anointed Deliver, God’s Judge who will bring judgment and deliverance to the peoples of the earth.

Christ moving through the Church will crush the forces of wickedness under His feet. The Church has been appointed to bring reconciliation to God, through the blood of Christ and the Life of the Holy Spirit, to the nations of the world.

When Christ has finished with His work in the earth during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the Church by this time having been perfected in union with Christ in God, then the Church will descend from Heaven to the earth as the new Jerusalem. The saints will behold the face of the Father and will reign as God’s kings and priests to the ages of ages.

As we proceed now with the interpretation of the seven furnishings in terms of the perfecting of the Church we shall not say much about the Altar of Burnt Offering or the Laver because they have been discussed elsewhere. We have shown previously that God met Israel at the door of the Tabernacle, that is, at the place of the Altar of Burnt Offering.

The Altar and the Laver stood in the Courtyard, in the area representing the "nations of them that are saved" (Revelation 21:24). Each man, woman, boy, and girl on the face of the earth can be saved only through the righteousness of Christ. There is no other way to be saved. Any person who attempts to come to God other than through the gate of the linen fence, representing the righteousness of Christ, and then by way of the bronze Altar and the Laver, will never be accepted of God.

God has created a clear, simple plan of redemption. It is available to each person. God will not accept any plan of salvation other than His own.

Jesus said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). As soon as we receive the atonement made by Christ we partake of God’s righteousness and immediately are forgiven all our sin.

When we obey God and enter water baptism we are born of the water. God gives us His Holy Spirit because of our obedience in receiving Christ and being baptized, and we are born of the Spirit of God (Acts 5:32). In this manner we are born again into the Kingdom of God. The Spirit, the water, and the blood agree in one and bear witness in earth that Jesus is the Son of God (I John 5:8). When we believe in the Son of God we have the witness in ourselves (I John 5:9).

Three Basic Elements of Christian Worship Services

The Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was furnished with three pieces:

The Table of Showbread, which represents Christ, the living Bread.

The Lampstand, which represents the various forms of communication of the Life of Christ through the Holy Spirit, the testimony of God.

The golden Altar of Incense, which speaks of the offering of holy prayer and worship before the Throne of God, as the worshiper bows to the will of God and dies to self-centeredness and self-worship.

The emphasis of the Holy Place is on holiness, and this is true of the entire Tabernacle of the Congregation. That there was a Holy Place, and then a Most Holy Place, teaches us that there are levels of holiness in Christ that can be attained by the diligent saint.

When a priest of Israel entered the Tabernacle building, coming into the Holy Place, and looked straight ahead, the Veil could be seen at the far end. Beyond the Veil, hidden from the priest, were the Ark of the Covenant and the covering Lid of Atonement (Mercy Seat).

Standing just before the Veil, in the Holy Place, was the Altar of Incense. The Altar of Incense was in the Holy Place but located in line with the Ark and related to the Ark in spiritual experience. Perhaps the identification of the Altar of Incense with both the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place teaches us that prayer and praise, and death to self-worship, bring us from the Holy Place into the Most Holy Place.

On the right (north) was the Table of Showbread. On the left (south) the priest would see the golden Lampstand. The room was lighted by the Lampstand at night, and the perfume of the burning incense filled the area. The ceiling was formed from curtains of fine linen in which figures of the cherubim had been wrought. This was the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Table of Showbread, the Lampstand, and the Altar of Incense may be thought of as representing the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the Father. These three furnishings signify the three practices that must be included in the worship services of Christian disciples:

The eating of Christ and drinking of His blood.

The various forms of the revelation of the Holy Spirit of God.

Supplication, adoration and thanksgiving offered to God the Father by God-centered people.

Each of the three aspects of Divine worship must be developed in the saints and operating in the assemblies of the saints.

The three elements of grace depend on each other for full benefit to the Christian. All three must be working. If one of them, such as prayer and praise for example, is not being developed in power and operating consistently, then the other two aspects—the presentation of the living Word and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit—will not be able to perform their full work of creating Christ in the believers.

There will be a lack of the fullness of the Presence of God if there is not enough prayer and praise being offered, and if the worshipers are not offering themselves as living sacrifices to the Lord.

Eating of Christ. If the eating of the living Word (the living Christ giving of Himself) is absent from the assemblies of believers, the service will be lacking in the Divine Substance that is necessary for the strengthening of the inner man of the Christian. Such is the case when there is a great emphasis on worship and a lack of the presentation of the Word of God. There must be joy and there also must be the two-edged sword.

Manifestation of the Holy Spirit. If the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit are not developed and operating, the worship services as a result will be deficient in the variety of ways in which God can communicate the resurrection Life of Christ to the wide assortment of needs that people have.

The ministries of the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, are not operating through the members of most of our assemblies. Church people, therefore, must fall back on medical doctors and psychiatrists for the diagnosis and treatment of various afflictions.

The vital tool of discernment of spirits is not available to us in the amount necessary for our needs in these days. Mental and nervous disorders, anxiety, depression, are often caused or intensified by demonic pressures. We need to "know" what we are doing in spiritual matters.

While medical experts have their rightful place in God’s economy, it is true nevertheless that many of our problems (not only medical) will be solved as soon as the members of the Body of Christ are able to come into the place where each can be anointed by the Holy Spirit and used for a specific ministry (I Corinthians 12:11).

We are commanded to covet and pray earnestly for the gifts and ministries!

Lack of understanding, lack of vision, deception, sickness, anxiety, depression, material needs, ignorance of the Word of God, confusion, inability to accept authority, restlessness, fear of the present and future, lukewarmness in spiritual concerns—these ailments and many more abound among the people of God. Can the reason be that the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit are in short supply among us?

We need to have restored and operating the many kinds of communications of the Holy Spirit that are set forth in I Corinthians, Chapters 12 and 14. The ministry of the apostle and the prophet must be present if the churches are to have authority, discipline and effective wisdom and power in spiritual battle. Anointed teachers who have learned directly from the Master are in great need.

A careful reading of I Corinthians 12:12-26 brings to our minds that the Body of Christ, like the physical body, is composed of many members. Each of the members gives to and receives from the rest of the Body. There is no possible way in which the Body of Christ can be brought into unity and maturity other than through the development and operation of the gifts and ministries that have been given to each member of the Body of Christ—to every true Christian.

Holy Prayer and Worship. If supplication and adoration are present only in small amounts in the assemblies, the corporate spiritual life will be diminished greatly. There will not be the renewal of life and strength that proceeds from contact with God.

By worship we do not mean halfhearted, routine singing of hymns, nor the enjoyment afforded by "special music," no matter how pleasing to the senses the solos and choir numbers may be. Music has it place in the assemblies when it is anointed by the Holy Spirit. But worship is the intense, fervent, single-minded offering of praise and adoration to God on the part of the assembled Christians.

There may be singing in the Spirit, shouting, clapping, leaping, weeping, or some other expression. Sometimes there may be a holy hush as the Lord Jesus draws so near that the people remain motionless in awe and reverence. In any case, there must be during the worship services a period of time during which the believers are lifted into active worship and supplication before their Creator.

We cannot reasonably expect God to move in any service in which people are not brought into intense, active worship. The Presence of the Lord is not manifest in some of our assemblies because God’s people are not actively worshiping Him.

Using the figure of the Tabernacle, as God dwells between the cherubim the first object He "sees" is the Altar of Incense. If the Altar of Incense is not present (if there is no fervent, God-centered prayer and worship), then the design of the Holy Place is imperfect.

It may be difficult for us to grasp just how important fervent worship is to God. The worship is His part of the service. If He does not receive what He is looking for in the service, then we are not going to receive what we need. "... Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink" (Luke 17:8).

We see, then, that the three furnishings of the Holy Place are essential to the purposes of the worship services of the Christians, to the bringing of the saints to the maturity of the fullness of Christ.

The Table of Showbread is food for the inner man. The golden Lampstand shines upon and reveals the showbread. As we partake of the showbread, the Lampstand, which is the Body of Christ, is increased. Here is the building of Christ, Head and Body, as the light of the world.

Worship (Altar of Incense) is the directing toward God of our wholehearted supplication and praise. Through worship we give to God our acknowledgment that He is good, holy, merciful, righteous, and supreme in His Glory and power. We are brought before His throne and stand in the company of the elders and the holy angels, all singing, "Holy! Holy! Holy!" This is the most important part of the service.

The natural act of the person filled with Christ is to lift up his being into fervent, single-minded worship of God. Christ Himself worships the Father in the midst of the Church (Hebrews 2:12).

Altar of Incense. We have talked about the importance of the Table of Showbread and of the Lampstand. We have touched on the meaning of the Altar of Incense as we spoke of the necessity for having all three elements in the worship service. Now we will further discuss this altar.

The Altar of Incense stood in direct line with the Ark of the Covenant, but in the Holy Place. As God looked out toward the Holy Place, toward the Courtyard and the animal sacrifices, and toward the land of promise, the first thing He "saw" was the golden Altar of Incense. 

Thou shalt make an altar to burn incense on: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. (Exodus 30:1)

Thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. When Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:6-8).

The golden Altar of Incense symbolizes the holy, fervent intercession and thanksgiving that must ascend continually from the Body of Christ. It portrays also the fragrance of Christ that ascends from the disciple who is offering his life in consecration to God. 

Another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints on the golden altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:3,4).

There is a bit of prayer and worship in just about every Christian assembly. In many cases this amount is so small as to be compared to a person’s taking a breath once every five minutes. It isn’t adequate to support life.

We must have carloads of prayer and praise; summers and winters of prayer and praise. An assembly of Christians is not supposed to be a social affair resting on the spindly legs of a pretty little prayer, daintily uttered. Great roaring volumes of continual worship, thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication are needed to restore the Body of Christ.

Of special importance is the death to self-will. We begin our worship to God when we are still very soulish, very fleshly. As we keep on worshiping the Lord He brings us into situations that crucify our fleshly nature and bring forth the new born-again inner man—Christ in us. It is the new man who is the Kingdom of God, the new creation. He is the heir, the son of God.

The giant is asleep. Perhaps he is beginning to awaken now. As he arises on his feet and begins to inhale the atmosphere of the throne of His Father, commences flexing his mighty muscles—for he is the ruler of the universe, the son of the Lord of Armies, the heavens and the earth will echo and re-echo with trainloads, oceans, universes of the praise, thanksgiving and supplication essential to his normal condition. The giant is the Body of Christ.

First things, first. The assemblies of Christians must have generous amounts of prayer and praise if such gatherings are to be living and healthy. Perhaps some services, at least while we are in the process of restoration, and perhaps until Jesus returns, will consist wholly of Holy Spirit-empowered adoration and travail.

We may be acquainted with the biographies of men and women of God who have been distinguished by an unusually strong prayer life. Perhaps we have read of revivals and of successful ministries that owed their extraordinary power to consistent victorious praise and prayer. The names of Finney, Hyde, Brainerd, Howells come to mind.

Each of us Christians must have some part of each day in which he communes with God. It appears that the amount of time needed varies from person to person according to his particular ministry and circumstances.

It is true also a major portion of our group worship should be given over to praise and prayer. There is nothing wrong with Christians standing and crying out to God for a period of time during the worship service. Perhaps this is the best use of the hours spent in a Christian assembly. It seems likely that prolonged worship would be the most important activity for any church that desires to live in a continuing state of revival life an power.

Many of us may not be aware of the need for intense spiritual worship in the assemblies. Of all the activities of the worship service, perhaps none is as vital as holy worship. The golden Altar of Incense symbolizes worship. We must "enter his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise."

The worship of God is a supremely important undertaking. To be effective it must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. We must worship in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the necessary wisdom and strength behind the prayers of the saints. Also, the Person of Christ must be mixed into our prayers. Christ is God’s incense.

God’s reward. Christian worship should be an active business and may become noisy at times. When a group of saints really open up to God and render to Him the glory due His name, they may come to their feet and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, glorify His majesty. There is no holding back in self-consciousness. The Holy Spirit operates in Divine power and Glory through the Body of Christ. The people become one with their Creator.

From God’s point of view, fervent group worship is the fulfillment of centuries of patient sowing and tending. This is God’s reward: the unreserved adoration of a holy Church. 

Give to the Lord, O ye mighty, give to the Lord glory and strength. Give to the Lord the glory due to his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the Lord is on the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is on many waters. (Psalms 29:1-3).

The expression, "the voice of the Lord is on the waters" may have little to do with the Mediterranean Sea. Rather, it may mean the majesty of God is on His people as they worship Him in the beauty of holiness. Out of their inmost being is flowing rivers of living water.

The twenty-ninth Psalm describes the powerful manner in which God moves in connection with the holy worship of His saints. Truly there are awe-inspiring revelations of God’s Person, holy Presence, and will when God’s people set themselves to worship God, and do so in the spiritual cleanliness and beauty that result from a holy heart and life. 

Make a joyful noise to God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious. Say to God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves to thee. (Psalms 66:1-3)

O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: (Psalms 66:8)

Ascribe ye strength to God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds. O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power to his people. Blessed be God. (Psalms 68:34,35).

We have just quoted a few of the many passages in Psalms that describe the worship of God as being active and loud enough to be heard.

But, someone may object, these are Old Testament passages!

True enough. Yet, it seems unreasonable to us that old covenant worship would be an active enterprise involving the attention and strength of the believer, while worship under the new covenant—without doubt a superior covenant—would be a silent, passive affair that is given minimal attention in our assemblies. We cannot accept congregational hymn singing or chorus singing, no matter how lively, or the often-abominable and time-wasting musical "specials," as fulfilling the requirements of Divine worship.

Today, music has taken the place of the supernatural activities of the Holy Spirit. People can perform Christian music who are not living a righteous, holy, or obedient life. True spiritual worship goes far deeper and is more supernatural and more in the Spirit than is true of many of the musical activities of the Christian churches.

There is much more spiritual life available to us if we will seek Christ with the whole heart and learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the holy and fervent worship of the Father. Also, the entire assembly of the saints should participate, as much as possible, in the worshiping and petitioning that take place during the meeting.

We Christians shall "shout to God with the voice of triumph" when we are in the Spirit. We shall "make a joyful noise to God."

We will say to God, "How terrible you are in your works!" We shall "make the voice of his praise to be heard." We shall "exceedingly rejoice."

We cannot sing out the praises of God while we are oppressed by demons. The quietness of the churches often is not the holy hush of consecrated hearts basking in the light of the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, it appears to be the immobility, helplessness and passivity of bondage and oppression—the self-consciousness, weakness, and stupor that Satan throws over the Christians so they cannot break through victoriously into the peace of God’s Presence. 

The multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. (Matthew 21:9).

 When he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. (Luke 19:37,38).

If you had been there you would have heard the Lord receive "the glory due to his name."

If you had been in the upper room on that day, two thousand years ago, you would have heard the "voice of the Lord" on the "waters." If you had been present in Jerusalem at the birth of the Christian Church you would have heard the Christians "shout unto God with the voice of triumph."

The early Christians had the leadership of the Apostles of the Lamb and that leadership led them into the high praises of God. The Apostles were not "sore displeased" over the commotion. They exclaimed, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16).

The sights and sounds caused by the disciples of Christ worshiping in the Holy Spirit tend to bring people into the churches rather than to drive them away. 

When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31).

God enjoys having people "pull out the stops" and praise Him with their entire personality. He desires to have the hearts of His saints lifted in praise and thanksgiving to Him—loud praise and thanksgiving that the "prisoners" can hear. 

At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them. (Acts 16:25).

When the people of God lift up their hearts in praise to God, the "prisoners" (bound members of the community, to spiritualize a bit) will hear them. Not only will God be blessed by the love of His people but other people will be drawn to the Holy One of Israel. They also will have the opportunity to escape from their prisons.

The assembly of the members of the Body of Christ is a fellowship of consecrated brothers and sisters in Christ. Included in the meeting should be general participation in Spirit-filled worship, exhortations, the exercise of gifts and ministries, and testimonies of God’s faithfulness.

Except for the "holy hush" of Christ’s Presence, which itself is a tangible, unmistakable experience and not the coldness and deadness of self-consciousness and formalism, the normal Christian assembly should be an active business.

These happy, loving people are the friends of God and the brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s reward is the unreserved adoration of such a holy group of people.

Word of caution. It is seldom edifying to force anyone to praise God or to pray. There are people who are quiet; who may be carrying a burden of prayer; who may be in deep grief; who may be self-conscious or embarrassed. They should never be singled out for attention, preached at, exhorted to "be like the rest of us" or otherwise pressured into conformity. Except for such times as the Holy Spirit specifically directs a Christian to say or do something to the quiet one, he or she should be left alone.

Of course, it usually is in order to greet people before and after the service and to inquire after their welfare.

But it is not God’s will that we harass people until they conform to our way of doing. Leave them alone. The accent of the Holy Spirit is on diversity rather than uniformity. God works comfortably with an infinite variety of creatures in circumstances that are changing continually.

Perhaps this is a good point at which to mention a few thoughts pertaining to spiritual leadership and Christian government that are suggested by the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and are in harmony with the writings of the Apostles of the new covenant.

Spiritual Leadership

There is a proper manner in which the assemblies of the Christians are to be conducted. It appears from the Scripture that there is a definite place for spiritual leadership and oversight in the churches of Christ, and that it is impossible for the Body of Christ to become unified or to grow to the full stature of Christ without such leadership (Ephesians 4:4-16).

First of all, Christian leadership is not a solo performance. Secondly, Christian leadership is not the directing of a spiritual orchestra. It is the place of the Christian elders neither to do everything themselves nor to order the saints of God to all prophesy, all pray, all do personal work, all rejoice.

It is proper to invite and encourage the believers to do things together at appropriate times. But the flock of God should not be forced, driven or scorned into spiritual service or worship in concert and on cue. This is regimentation and it has no place in the household of God.

 They came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. (Exodus 35:21).

 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (II Corinthians 9:7).

There are two exceptions to what we have just said about regimentation, or doing things together, in the worship service. The first is this: there are times when the Holy Spirit will move on the leadership to gather the people together and work with them until they break through into victory. This may take some strong forms such as all marching around the building, all lifting hands, all shouting, and so forth. Sometimes an effort is necessary because of heavy spiritual bondage.

The Holy Spirit will direct when a group effort is to be made, and then everyone should cooperate. This is not fleshly regimentation because it is a direct intervention of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. It is Christ-exalting rather than man-exalting. If it really is the Lord’s doing, a peaceful and powerful sense of His Presence will be experienced by the assembled believers.

The second exception is the fact that all things should be done "decently and in order." For the sake of the practical conduct of an assembly there are times when people must stand, sit, sing, and do other things together.

Neither of these two exceptions changes the fact that the worship services of the saints must move ever closer to the place where the Holy Spirit is bringing heavenly harmony into a diverse and yet wonderfully ordered manifestation of Christ among the saints. Such harmony in diversity is not attained easily, and it will take Spirit-filled leadership to bring it to full development.

Christian unity. Christian unity, a most desirable state from God’s point of view, does not mean everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. Christian unity is a unity of the heart, a unity in the Spirit, and often does not work out in an external unity that consists of everyone manifesting the Spirit of God in the same way at the same time.

The unity of the Body of Christ, that is, of all true saints in every part of the world, is like the several pipes of one great perfectly tuned pipe organ. The pipes produce themes and harmonies under the touch of the master performer. When all the pipes are made to sound at once there is dissonance. Where would the music be if all the pipes sounded at the same pitch?

Exercise of gifts. Ministry in the churches of Christ is not a passive bystander’s role—"Let us wait to see if the Spirit will move." This is not the manner in which spiritual gifts and ministries are to operate in the assemblies of the believers.

If God had wanted the churches to have mediumistic-type assemblies He would not have instituted apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers, miracle workers, gifts of healing, and so forth. God requires prayerful spiritual leadership in spiritual manifestations as well as diligent oversight in the business of the church. Decency and order must always be maintained in the household of faith.

Correct exercise of spiritual ministries and gifts occurs when a member of the Body of Christ stirs up his unique manifestations. A Christian stirs up his own gifts, whether they be prophecy, teaching, shepherding, exhorting, or some other revelation of Christ. A person has to just get out there and do it, as the Spirit of God leads him or her and creates the opportunity.

The believer through experience, through being taught and corrected, and as the outgrowth of a stable Christian life of patient, cross-carrying obedience to Christ, must develop a good sense of the timing of the Spirit. A sense of timing is quite different from the mediumistic "waiting for the moving of the Spirit."

We are not to wait for "voices." We are in spiritual combat and we use our gifts as weapons against the enemy. We stir up, stir up, stir up our gifts; in season, out of season, in every season!

We take a step forward in the Lord. We do what is set before us to do. The wisdom that applies to spiritual ministry is neither a fleshly directing nor regimenting of the ministries, nor is it a waiting for voices, signs, urges, omens, or fleeces. There is a third procedure that is the correct one and that will produce spiritual victory.

Experienced Christian warriors know that when they neglect prayer they lose the desire to pray and they lose strength in prayer. A Christian must set himself to pray. He doesn’t wait for God to lift him out of himself in order to pray. He sets himself to pray, and, after struggling for a while perhaps, he finally enters a spirit of prayer.

This is not to say that he forces the prayer; rather, he stirs it up. He "takes up his burden," so to speak. He stirs up the gift of prayer. Increased strength and effectiveness in a ministry or gift come with practice.

The same is true of tongues and prophecy. They can be stirred up by the Christian and are subject to the Christian. The Christian is never subject to his spiritual ministries. The Christian has been created by God to rule with Christ, not to be subject to spirits. The Christian has been given the authority of judgment. This is one of the greatest gifts of all.

Spiritual manifestations are from the Holy Spirit, it is true. The Holy Spirit, being God, is never under the rule of the Christian. The ministries and gifts of the Spirit are given to the Christian and always are under the dominion of the Christian. Any other viewpoint leads to superstition and idolatry. "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (I Corinthians 14:32).

There are Christian assemblies in which it is easy to stir up one’s gifts. In such assemblies there will be much prophecy and revelation. The reason there is little prophecy or revelation in many Christian assemblies is that the proper "atmosphere" is not present. The stage has not been set. The expectation is that the minister will minister and the congregation will congregate.

The Lord does not enjoy having to disturb a social setting in order to speak.

One of the most important aspects of "setting the stage" for spiritual manifestation is the continual offering of worship and prayer by righteous, holy, obedient believers.

It happens on occasion that there is Divine intervention and God comes in extraordinary power on a "dead" service. Such seasons of refreshing are examples of the goodness of God, and everyone is blessed as the Holy Spirit takes over and redirects our activities into fruitful channels.

Sometimes churches endure long seasons of dryness; and then, often in response to the prayers of a group of saints who have given themselves to supplication and spiritual battle, the heavens will open and the Lord will pour out refreshing rains and give renewed impetus to evangelism, teaching, gifts of the Holy Spirit, personal repentance, and good works of all kinds. At such times of revival it may be quite easy to find God’s will and do it.

In the dry seasons it is doubly important that we use the faith and the ministries God has given us, so when Jesus passes by He finds us faithfully and diligently using what He has given to us for the building of His Kingdom (Mark 11:13,14).

The "stage must be set." There must be an attitude of encouragement and expectancy if we hope to see the manifestation of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit of God in an assembly of Christians.

We believe one of the major responsibilities of the leadership of the churches in the present hour is to lead the flock of God into the full and diligent exercise of each talent given to each individual Christian by the Holy Spirit of God. Some of the ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ are for use outside the assembly and some are for use during the meetings.

True spiritual leadership, as we see it, consists of those with the ministry of leadership teaching and opening up spiritual and material opportunities so the Lord’s people can learn how to stir up and diligently apply their ministries and gifts, both within and outside of the assemblies. This is not the entire responsibility of Christian eldership but it certainly is an important part. It is time now for each Christian to grow strong in the Lord and to learn how to work at his or her own ministry. The Holy Spirit has "divided to every man...."

This is not to say that every local assembly has every gift and ministry. The Lord considers all of His assemblies to be one sheepfold. It may be true that some of the assemblies are especially strong in one area and some in another. Some may have a unique ministry to the poor; some to drug addicts; some to the unsaved; and so forth. Often it has been difficult for a local assembly to recognize worth in another assembly that has a different calling. It is a temptation (and of Satan) for the one assembly to criticize another assembly because it is different in its emphasis. As someone said, "We do not have to pull our brother’s stone out of the wall, just put our own stone in place."

By stirring up and working at their own talents the believers will enter the battles of the Lord and will make progress in the unifying and maturing of the entire Body of Christ.

True Christian eldership is neither overly dominant nor overly passive, nor is it a solo performance. However, there may be a need at times for an unusual amount of dominance, or an unusual amount of waiting and going slowly, or for one person to do most or all of the ministering for a season.

Christian Ministries

No doubt there are many Christians in these days who would follow more closely in God’s path if they knew how to do so. One good prayer along this line is that God will build His Church according to His own pattern, and that we all may become better able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and to be sensitive and obedient to His directions.

If we pray this prayer it should not surprise us to find an emphasis being laid on the restoration of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherd-teachers, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the gifts of healing, the working of miracles, helps, governments, and other gifts of the Spirit.

The Church of Christ must be built up into the unity of the faith by the various ministries of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians, Chapters 12 and 14; Romans 12; Ephesians, Chapter Four).

Giving Divine directions. The Lord God has not left it to people to design His Church, just as He did not leave it to people to design the Tabernacle of the Congregation. God knows exactly how He wants each assembly in our day—to the smallest detail. But the manner in which God gives the directions for the building of the assembly is somewhat different from the case of Moses and the Tabernacle.

God’s method of giving directions to the Christian churches is through the ministries and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The program of instruction is under the direct control of the Holy Spirit. The Christians meet. The Holy Spirit flows through the assembled members. There is a guidance here, a word there; and little by little the Body of Christ is built up (edified).

The growth of the Body of Christ is similar to the manner in which the physical body grows from babyhood to adulthood. One doesn’t make a body grow. One feeds the body, provides for it, protects it from abuse. Unless the physical body is sick it will grow of its own inner mechanism.

So it is with the Body of Christ. Its growth mechanism is far too complicated for someone to write out step by step in a book. Even if someone were able to put the plan in book form it still would be impossible for people to bring the plan to successful completion. The work has to be performed by the Lord.

Rather, the Body of Christ is formed in the lives of consecrated believers as their faith and ministries are purified in the fires of experience. It is a matter of the flesh of man becoming the Word of God—a word refined many times in the furnace of affliction and tribulation. The Holy Spirit controls the process. Our part is to obey God and to overcome through faith the obstacles set before us each day.

Here is a description of the manner in which God gives to us His particular directions for building the Body of Christ: 

He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; The perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; Speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, teachers, helps, workers of miracles, governments, speakers in tongues, interpreters of tongues, possessors of faith, helps, and so forth are required for bringing about the maturity and the unity of the Body of Christ.

It is impossible that the Body of Christ can come to maturity apart from widespread participation in ministry on the part of the Christian believers. But it is not enough that all Christians participate. Rather it must be true that each Christian participate according to the specific gifts and plan of the Holy Spirit for his individual life.

Tabernacle boards typify the Body of Christ. The boards of the Tabernacle form a picture of the Body of Christ. The boards stood on end, side by side.

 Thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of Shittim wood standing up. (Exodus 26:15).

The tops of the boards were level. There were no boards that stood up above the others. The construction suggests a brotherhood of believers, equal in the Lord. The following words of Jesus are brought to mind:

 Be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brothers. Call no man your father on the earth: for one is your Father, which is in Heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. (Matthew 23:8-10).

It seems reasonable that the brotherhood of believers—the boards "standing up"—should be emphasized at this time. Many Christians are too prone to want to remain in the background "sitting down" instead of "standing up." The Lord Jesus will not be pleased if we "bury our talents."

The Church of Christ is a brotherhood of believers who are equal in the Lord, each having something to give to the other so there is unity and growth in the entire body of believers.

The fact that we are all equal does not mean there is no oversight in the household of faith.

 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17).

The bars of the Tabernacle. There were five bars going around the three sides of the Tabernacle, held in place by gold rings fastened to the boards. As we understand the symbolism, the long middle bar that ran from end to end is the Lord Jesus Christ. The remaining four bars represent the four ministries of Ephesians, Chapter Four: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherd-teachers.

If we are to have participation in spiritual gifts by all Christians, as we have just suggested, we must have strong spiritual eldership and oversight. The ministries of leadership God has set in the Church must be respected and obeyed in the Lord. The more widespread the various gifts become among the flock of God the greater will be the need for anointed spiritual oversight. God is ever a lover of order and government, and He will not bless any undertaking that does not have diligent leadership.

Spiritual leaders must be crucified in the inner man so the Holy Spirit is free to lead through them. They must be anointed, giving time for prayer and for the ministry of the Word. Then the Holy Spirit can instruct them in the oversight of the members of the Body of Christ. Their oversight must be vigorous and consistent; yet they always must keep in mind that they are not lords over the flock but their role is to feed the Lord’s sheep whom He has purchased with His own blood.

The ministry of the apostle was important in the Church of the first century.

 Fear came on every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. (Acts 2:43).

 By the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. Of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. (Acts 5:12,13).

Paul’s attitude. Paul declares that the gifts of grace are given to Christians in order to equip them for the work of ministering. The Christians, each of whom has a ministry from the Holy Spirit, are to build the Body of Christ by means of the spiritual graces they have been given.

Each believer is to do his part until we all come to maturity in Christ.

Paul does not set aside four special ministries in any letter other than that to the Ephesians. It is not advisable to establish doctrine on one passage of Scripture. Paul’s treatment of the four ministries in other passages leads us to believe we should view the ministries in a more general manner.

For example, consider the way in which the following ministries and gifts are placed in one category:

 God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? (I Corinthians 12:28-30).

It does seem a bit unusual that Paul, a most specific and legally-minded man, would treat the four ministries in such a general manner (not even mentioning evangelists or pastors) if they constituted a special dispensation to the Church of Christ.

If the five bars of the Tabernacle indeed do represent Christ and the four major ministries of Ephesians 4:11, then we would suggest that we think of the ministries as being four important kinds of roles, or services, rather than placing too much importance on an exalted group of men.

From our point of view, a special assignment of priestliness or preeminence to any ministry or set of ministries tends to destroy the concept of the Body of Christ as being an equal fellowship of believers. We feel that Paul would agree with this.

Paul had such an extraordinary dispensation of grace from the Lord Jesus that he must have been tempted to assume priestly authority over his fellow believers. Romans 1:11,12 seems to give us insight into the inner struggle of Paul against assuming spiritual preeminence over the other believers.

The gift of the apostleship asserts itself in verse 11, and then is tempered in verse 12 by the awareness of the equality of the fellowship of Christian believers:

 I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. (Romans 1:11,12).

There is a healthy balance expressed in these words. First of all, Paul had great authority in the Spirit. He did not speak merely as a learned teacher. Paul had the power to impart spiritual grace to the Christians. Yet he would not allow himself to be placed above the Christian brothers and sisters; and so he said, "that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me."

We find the same restraint in II Corinthians 1:24:

 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

If we can maintain this restraint, this rejection of the priestly role, ever before us, then perhaps we can accept safely the concept of the ministries of Ephesians 4:11 as being the fulfillment of the four shorter rods in the sides of the boards of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

In the days in which we are living there are "apostles" and "prophets" who are attempting to bring the churches under their jurisdiction, teaching that if the Christians do not yield to them they are disobeying God.

These men are not of God. They serve only to bring the believers into bondage. The true apostle and prophet sets the believer free by leading him to Jesus.

Any ministry, including that of pastor and elder, that creates dependence on itself, is not serving God or His flock. Each of us who teaches, or leads in some other manner, must bring the people into liberty in the Lord, not into bondage to himself.

There is only one flock and one Shepherd. All divisions in the one flock are little kingdoms created by self-seeking people. It seems there are very few faithful under-shepherds. Many of the religious leaders are seeking their own profit, not the things of Christ.

The faithful apostles and prophets of the Lord are bringing the Bride to the Bridegroom, and they are giving their lives to do so.

Apostles. The apostle carries the responsibility from the Lord Jesus Christ to insure that the Church is established on Christ and on no other foundation. He is a man of signs and wonders and proclaims the Word of Christ with all authority. (II Corinthians 12:12). An apostle is sent forth from the side of Christ with the burden of the Word of the Lord.

The apostle is answerable directly to Christ. That is why we find Paul repeating this concept: "Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)" (Galatians 1:1). The apostle is Christ’s own man, sent forth ("apostled") from the Lord Jesus Christ in order to express the will of Christ concerning the Church.

An apostle is sent from the side of Jesus. Nevertheless the apostle is not a lord over the churches. He primarily is a witness (I John 1:1,2). He bears witness of the things he sees and hears while he walks in and with Christ.

The apostle possesses Divine credentials—the powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit of God. People who follow his teachings do so voluntarily, they are under no human coercion.

Apostles do issue commands to the churches:

 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. (II Thessalonians 3:6).

 Even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should eat. (II Thessalonians 3:10).

The rule of the apostle is a spiritual gift rather than a lordship backed up by a human organization. The leadership of the apostle is the kind that comes from a leader so strong in the Lord that we are compelled by his example to follow him.

Our obedience springs joyfully from the heart. It is the happy response to someone who has what we want. He has gone down the path ahead of us. He has seen the Lord. So we follow joyfully, freely, because he knows the way to the Presence of Christ.

We might think of the service of the apostle as being the voice of Christ to the universal Church. He receives the specifications from Christ firsthand. The apostle announces to the churches the will of God concerning the building of the Church of Christ.

Yet the man himself in no manner is elevated above his brothers in the Lord. It is his ministry, his gift, that services the churches. He himself does not become a priest to the fellow believers except in the sense in which every Christian disciple is at times a priest to his fellow believers.

The task of the apostle is to build the Church of Christ on the true foundation the Holy Spirit has laid. That foundation is Christ Himself. The Church is to be founded on Christ. It is the apostle’s responsibility to make certain there is no person, no doctrine, no thing in the foundation other than Christ. Apostles are needed in every generation to insure that the will of Christ is being performed in the Church.

Prophets. The service of the prophets is similar to that of the apostles in that both speak the Word of Christ to the Church. The Church is built on the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20), and that foundation is Christ. Any other foundation will not hold against the forces of Hell.

However, the nature of the prophet’s burden seems to be somewhat different from that of the apostle. The apostle carries a permanent burden of the will of Christ for the establishing of the Church. The prophet speaks the burden of the Word of the Lord as he perceives it at any given moment.

The apostle has a portion of the plan of God locked in his heart, and he works out that portion throughout his life. The prophet proclaims the immediate burden of the Lord, announcing what God is doing and will do in the Church of Christ.

There seems to be little or no difference between the prophets of the first covenant and the prophets of the Christian Church. The closest ministry to that of a Christian apostle that can be found in the first covenant may be the ministry of Moses. (Nehemiah also had an apostolic-type ministry.).

The contrast between Moses and Isaiah may be typical of the difference between an apostle and a prophet. Moses and Isaiah both spoke the word of the Lord to Israel. However, Moses had a permanent commission to bring Israel into the land of promise while Isaiah declared the mind of the Lord for the present and the future. A commission to bring as distinguished from a declaration of the thought of God..

Our observations of the difference between the apostle and the prophet are not intended to describe an inflexible mold for either ministry.

It is unfortunate that we seem to have so few apostles and prophets ministering today. The Church, the Body of Christ, can neither mature nor be unified apart from these two ministries. The Church is weak because the foundational ministries, that of apostle and prophet, are not abundant.

From our point of view, the lack of true apostles and prophets is one of the top problems facing the Church in this hour. We Christians should be praying to God to restore all the ministries that are essential to the unity and maturity of the Church of Christ.

Let us repeat a previous warning. There are persons going from church to church today who claim to be apostles and prophets, or spiritual lords over geographical areas. However, the kind of power that would accompany a truly God-given authority of this kind is not present with them. They are ambitious people who are seeking their own glory. The churches are not to be afraid of them.

Evangelists. The evangelist is God’s salesman. He goes wherever people are and proclaims the Good News. All men should come and find this wonderful Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins. All are welcome. "Come to the waters that are without money and without price!"

The evangelist is positioned at the door of the Tabernacle, by the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver. He stands there and points toward the Lamb of God who was crucified for our sins.

Billy Graham is one of the outstanding evangelists of modern times, a man beloved by Christians of many denominations. This should be true always of the ministries of Ephesians 4:11—they should tend to bring together the people of God. Billy Graham’s ministry seems to do that.

Shepherds and teachers. We have seen that the apostle lays the foundation of the Church, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he has a commission to do so from the Lord Jesus. The prophet speaks about the current burden of the Lord—current to the people, time, and place where he is ministering. He also helps to establish the Church on the one foundation, Christ.

The evangelist proclaims the good news: "The Redeemer has come to save you from the Day of Judgment. Repent, believe the Gospel, and you will be saved in that day. Whoever will do so may come."

Someone has to stay at home with the new Christians. Someone has to take God’s children by the hand and nourish them in the Word of the Lord, watching out for the wolves who would come to destroy the Lord’s lambs. This is the task of the shepherd and teacher.

The service of the shepherd is that of ministering to the various needs of people as they attempt to make a success of the Christian life. He teaches them how to press forward in the Lord and also to serve God in a practical manner in this world. The shepherd holds the little ones of the Lord in his heart and leads them gently beside the quiet waters.

In a true sense of the word there is only one Shepherd of the flock. The Lord is the Shepherd who leads each of us into green pastures. Only He can guide us into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. The pastor on earth is charged with feeding the Lord’s sheep and lambs. He looks to the Lord Jesus always for directions concerning each person in his care.

The Lord Jesus remains the great Shepherd of the sheep. The rest of us are helpers of people’s joy—nothing more. A firm grasp on this concept enables us to tear down, mentally at least, the walls that separate God’s people.

As Christians grow in the Lord they must pass through the various stages of maturity, just as do boys and girls in the physical world. The pastor’s task is to assist them as they grow to maturity in the Lord. The Holy Spirit is at work in each believer, leading him or her toward the right kind of independence so he or she can become strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might—one of the Lord’s "mighty men."

Spiritual teaching is a vital ministry of the Church. The Lord Jesus was and is the supreme Teacher. No greater teacher has appeared among men. Even the unconverted people of the world refer to the concepts of daily living that Jesus outlined, and to the phrases and illustrations He used.

The Holy Spirit is a teacher—a master teacher. Paul was a teacher and possessed (possesses) a profound and logical mind.

The Lord Jesus employed simple stories to illustrate ways of dealing with the major issues of human experience: hatred, revenge, forgiveness, love, service to God, and singleness of purpose.

The Holy Spirit teaches us by interpreting and guiding our personal experiences throughout our lives. Paul explained the relationship between the Law of Moses and the Gospel of Christ. Paul seemed to have, more than any other person, the understanding of the true nature of God’s grace and of the significance of the Church. For example, Paul is the only New Testament writer who refers to the Church as the "body of Christ."

When we compare the methods of Jesus and Paul, both master teachers, we see that the ministry of teaching can be quite varied in style. Jesus and Paul had this in common: each had wisdom and revelation concerning the things of God. Although he may have a unique style, true teacher of the things of God must be anointed with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the Word of God.

Sunday school provides an opportunity for the instruction of the converts and also for the spiritual training of children. Most experienced Christian people who are sound in doctrine and holy in living should be able to instruct and be an example to new converts and to children (II Timothy 2:2; Hebrews 5:12). However, some Christians seem to have a special gift of teaching the Word of God.

The ministries of Ephesians 4:11 are services to the Church. As such they may be regarded as the fulfillment of the rods that strengthened the sides of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

Christ Himself is the perfect Apostle, the perfect Prophet, the perfect Evangelist, the perfect Shepherd and Teacher. The ministries given to men are expressions of Christ’s own ministry to the Church, which is His Body.

There is much overlap of ministry in the New Testament. Paul was an apostle and teacher. John was an apostle and prophet. All of the apostles and many of the believers served as evangelists (Acts 8:4). The accent is on service to the Church of Christ and not on four exalted stations in the Body of Christ.

The boards of the Tabernacle portray the members of the Body of Christ. The boards stood on end, side by side. We can see in the pattern of this construction the unity and equality of the brotherhood of believers.

O that God will hasten the day when the Christians can meet together as fellow disciples and worshipers of the Lord Jesus Christ! We believe whenever Christians do assemble in an informal, happy, loving manner, the Presence of the Lord Jesus will come in great blessing. This is His Body.

Perhaps we need to return at times to the close-knit group of faithful disciples gathered around the Lord’s table, breaking bread together in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ who is coming again in the clouds of glory to receive us to Himself. Would not this simple unity and fellowship be the fulfillment of the "boards standing up" of the Tabernacle of the Congregation?

The Design of Christian Ministry

There appears to be a need among Christians for a more spiritual type of assembly, more communication of the Life of Christ from the Holy Spirit, more prayer and worship. Because of dissatisfaction with the regular church services there is talk of leaving the institutionalized churches in favor of home churches.

In the future the members of the Body of Christ must come out of the worldly churches. But the changes that are needed run deeper than mere changes in the physical facilities. We need to look carefully to the Holy Spirit that we do not run ahead of His plan.

From our point of view, the design of the Tabernacle of the Congregation suggests some concepts we might wish to keep in mind whenever we Christians assemble or minister to the unconverted. The points we will mention are not intended to be a rigid pattern all Christians must follow. They are only concepts to be used as guides as the Holy Spirit directs.

First of all, it may be helpful to realize there are three platforms, if you will, in the design for the building of the Kingdom of God. The first level is portrayed by the Courtyard of the Tabernacle (Exodus 27:9).

The things of the Courtyard are for people who are not as yet in the Church. In the Courtyard were the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver (Exodus 27:1; 30:18). The bronze altar represents Christ on the cross and the Laver speaks of water baptism. The world meets God through Christ in these two elements.

"Repent, and be baptized!" Such is the wisdom of God. We may make it complicated for the unsaved. God has created a simple plan whereby the lost can be saved.

 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; . . . . (Mark 16:16).

 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38).

 Now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16).

There always must be ministry to the unconverted. Such ministry should be simple, direct, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. The chief purpose of ministry to the unconverted is to present Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. In Him is forgiveness of sins, healing for the body, peace for the mind, counsel for living, and everything else of value.

Each man, woman, boy, and girl in the entire world must have an opportunity to see Christ on the cross as the atonement for his sins, and to accept Christ by faith and be baptized in water. This is the "Courtyard" ministry, in terms of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The second of the three platforms in the design for the building of the Kingdom of God is the Body of Christ, or Church, level. It is illustrated by the Holy Place—the eastern two-thirds of the building that stood in the Courtyard (when the Tabernacle was traveling toward the east). There should be frequent assemblies of Christians set aside for the experiences typified by the three articles of furniture in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle—the Table of Showbread; the seven-branched Lampstand; and the Altar of Incense (Exodus 25:23,31; 30:1).

The Table of Showbread represents the giving and receiving of the Divine Substance, the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only this Substance can feed the new man (Christ) in the believer.

The Lampstand represents the several dimensions of the communication of the Life of Christ by the Holy Spirit, as listed in I Corinthians, Chapter 12. The Altar of Incense reminds us of the spiritual intercession and worship that must take place in the assemblies of the disciples of the Lord Jesus.

The spiritual counterparts of each of the three pieces of furniture mentioned above must be developing and operating in the meetings of the Christian believers or else it will be impossible for the members of Christ’s Body ever to come to unity and maturity. It is through the three elements (the body and blood of Christ—John 6:57, the spiritual gifts and ministries—I Corinthians 14:12, and Holy Spirit-empowered worship and supplication—Acts 4:31; Jude 20) that Christ is formed in us and the overcoming strength, maturity and unity of the Body of Christ are brought into being.

The showbread, Lampstand, and Altar of Incense were not in the Courtyard but inside the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. They could not be seen except by the priests appointed to the service of the Tabernacle. They were revealed at night by the flames of the Lampstand (supernatural light of the Holy Spirit).

Does this mean to us Christians that as the cleavage comes between the world and the Church of Christ we ought to think about the wisdom of inviting the world in to observe the holy elements Christ has given for the building of His Body, the perfecting of His holy Bride? By raising this question we are not seeking to minimize the need for world evangelization.

The Courtyard of the Tabernacle contained the Altar of Burnt Offering (Christ on the cross) and the Laver (water baptism). Inside the Holy Place of the Tabernacle, hidden from the eyes of the idly curious and the unprepared, were the three furnishings portraying the body and blood of Christ, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and the holy worship and adoration of the Father.

The two elements of the Courtyard (bronze Altar and Laver) were placed separately from the three items inside the Tabernacle (showbread, Lampstand and Altar of Incense) in that the latter were hidden from view to all except those persons called to be priests of the Lord.

Perhaps the design of the two items in the Courtyard, and then the three furnishings in the Holy Place, says something to us about the design of the assemblies of Christians.

It is possible that the efforts directed toward presenting Christ crucified to the unconverted should not also attempt to satisfy the spiritual needs of the saints (that which is conducted inside the Holy Place of the Tabernacle, as it were). The unsaved require a clear presentation of Christ crucified and the necessity for repentance and water baptism.

The disciples, on the other hand, if they are to grow properly in Christ and to walk in the Spirit of God, must have supernatural services under the guidance of experienced and godly elders. In these services the living Substance of Christ is presented, the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit are operating, and there is holy worship, thanksgiving, and supplication—all in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian believers need regularly to be reminded of the crucifixion of Christ. The purpose of the Communion service is to bring His sacrifice to our remembrance. We continually require exhortation to righteous living and encouragement toward love and good works. The growing Christians must have the three elements of the Holy Place made available to them on a consistent basis.

However, it does not seem reasonable to us, or scriptural, that the unconverted people of the community should be pressed to attend the assemblies set aside for the saints. Not only are such assemblies and teaching sessions unsuited to meeting the needs of the community at large, but the presence of groups of unconverted people will tend to detract from the unity of the spirit of the meeting of believers and to divert the supernatural and extraordinary Divine illumination and strength away from the deepest spiritual needs of the Lord’s worshipers.

The exception occurs when God is moving in a special way toward the unconverted, such as happens during periods of spiritual awakening. At these times the Spirit of God comes forth in a sovereign manner and the power of the assemblies is heightened rather than diminished by the presence of large numbers of the unconverted.

We believe, however, that during the course of ordinary living the spiritual dynamics are as we have presented them. The presence of groups of unconverted people or worldly Christians will take away from the unity of spirit and worship, and the spiritual needs of the disciples will not be met.

In many instances born-again Christians do not grow into victorious saints walking in the power of the Spirit of God. Sometimes pastors deplore the fact that the people do not lay hold on Christ as they should. Perhaps the reason is that these older spiritual "babies" do not have regular opportunity to participate in assemblies where the living bread, the anointed Word, and Spirit-directed worship are available. Babies will not grow unless they are fed.

Hopefully nothing we are saying here will lead people to believe little "bless-me" clubs are being advocated or that the work of evangelism, needed today as never before, is to be diminished. We are confident that if God’s people are given a more nourishing spiritual diet under the supervision of godly and Spirit-filled, Spirit-directed elders, the work of evangelism will be strengthened and gifted believers will go out to every nation and tribe under heaven preaching the Gospel with signs following.

The "Pentecostal" revival at the turn of this century was characterized by prayer and holy living. The result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the waiting saints was worldwide evangelism that continues to this day. It is a fact of Scripture that people will be saved when the Church is set in order.

 They, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:46,47).

We notice in Nehemiah that the sheep (the saints) gate must be built before the fish (the unsaved) gate.

 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel. And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri. But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof. (Nehemiah 3:1-3).

If we do not have assemblies of saints in which the spiritual counterparts of the three elements of the Holy Place (Table of Showbread, Lampstand, Altar of Incense) are operating, then the Christian Church, according to the fourth chapter of Ephesians, cannot be unified or grow to maturity in Christ.

We said previously that there are three concepts, or platforms, in the design of the Kingdom of God. So far we have described only two—the "Courtyard" (ministry of the cross of Christ) with the two furnishings thereof; and the "Holy Place" (Body of Christ assemblies) with the three furnishings thereof. What is the third platform?

The Tabernacle building was divided into two parts: the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The Holy Place symbolizes, in our scheme, the Body of Christ assembly—the believers’ meeting. The Most Holy Place symbolizes the mature saint, the full overcomer, the victorious Christian. The Most Holy Place contained two furnishings combined into one piece: the Ark of the Covenant and the solid-gold Mercy Seat. This unit was the Throne of God Almighty.

We will not speak much at this point of the third phase of Christian development other than to indicate its existence. At the present time the third level is an individual experience rather than a group activity.

The full import of the Most Holy Place cannot be realized just yet as a collective undertaking nor can its relationship to the local church be established in practical terms. We are speaking now of the Most Holy Place as a type of the personal spiritual maturing of the overcoming Christian, not of the truth that the separating Veil was taken away in Christ and that through His blood every Christian on his conversion immediately has access to the throne of grace.

As the individual Christian is brought by the Holy Spirit to the third level, the Lord will direct such a person into practical relationships to the assemblies and to the Courtyard ministry. No matter how advanced a Christian becomes he has a continuing need for his brothers at all levels, and a continuing need for contemplation of Christ on the cross and His resurrection. Christ’s death and resurrection are the foundation and guiding force and principle of Christianity.

The saint frequently must turn again to the Altar of Burnt Offering in order to appropriate the blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sinful deeds and motives, and to the Laver for washing away the lusts of the flesh. There must be a periodic renewal of his grasp on the fact of the dual position of his natural man on the cross with Christ and his spiritual man in the heavenlies with Christ.

The Christian disciple is on the cross and in Heaven at the same time. Water baptism represents our death with Him and our resurrection with Him. The Christian makes his dual position a reality by persevering in faith in what he declared to be true by his water baptism.

Sharing in the Lord’s Supper presses on us the memory of our Lord’s death on the cross and the need for eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The experienced prayer warrior and the newest spiritual baby come together at the foot of the cross during the partaking of Communion.

The maturing Christian, except under extraordinary circumstances or directions of the Holy Spirit, should be meeting regularly with fellow disciples in the believers’ meetings. Living the overcoming Christian life without the fellowship of the believers is a dangerous situation..

Then too, no matter how far we may get into the rest of God, into our inheritance, we are admonished by the Lord to fight alongside our brothers and sisters in the Lord until they too enter their inheritance (Joshua 1:12-15).

The preceding ideas concerning the purposes for the Christian assemblies and their activities are not intended to be a pattern everyone should follow. All such Christian services and institutions, including day schools for the education of boys and girls (since the public schools increasingly are dedicated to non-Christian values and practices), should be founded and guided under the specific leading of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is ready to provide us with many new ways of meeting the various needs of the present time. Each burden for the work of the Lord should be "prayed through," should be aimed at specific objectives as the Lord gives us wisdom, and should be designed and worked at in a scriptural, businesslike manner by God’s people.

Perhaps the greatest need of all is for us to turn to the Holy Spirit for the guidance and power needed to plan and carry out the institutions and activities Christ has ordained for the Kingdom of God in this hour.

It is our conviction that there will not be adequate progress toward the unifying and maturing of the Body of Christ until we set aside some services for the purpose of edifying the saints, and the saints receive and operate their gifts and ministries.

It may be ignorance of the plans and purposes of Christ that keeps us telling the same thing to the same people. The repeating of the elementary principles of the plan of salvation for many years may prevent the saints from growing in the Lord.

 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1,2).

 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our Glory: (I Corinthians 2:6,7).

We must set aside some services as being for the saints. If an unconverted person such as an unsaved member of a family of the church, an unsaved friend, or an interested person should attend the worship service of the believers, the attention of the Holy Spirit may be directed toward him or her.

 If all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: Thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. (I Corinthians 14:24,25).

The assemblies of believers, according to the Apostle Paul, are to be so full of the communication of the Life of Christ through the Holy Spirit in prophecy that any unconverted person wandering in is made transparent as the searchlight of God is focused on his or her heart.

The reader of the Book of Acts gains the impression that the early Church was not overly concerned with pleasing the local community. The Apostles preached Christ in the power of the Spirit and left the consequences with God. The early Church, although it abounded in the demonstration of the Holy Spirit through the saints, grew rapidly in numbers (Acts 2:46,47).

Here is an important principle to keep in mind: if we please God we will serve mankind well; if we attempt to please people we will serve no one well.

The purpose of the gifts and ministries. The purpose of gifts and ministries is set forth in Ephesians 4:11-13:

The purpose of the "gifts unto men" is to bring the Body of Christ to the perfect man, to the fullness of Christ. The various kinds of communication of the Holy Spirit through the several members of the Body are the means through which the purpose of Christian ministry will be brought to pass.

The purpose of the gifts and ministries is stated also in the second chapter of Ephesians:

 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:20-22).

The purpose of the Holy Place of the Tabernacle was to provide an entrance into the Most Holy Place where God Himself dwelled. In like manner, the purpose of the gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ is to provide an entrance into the fullness of Christ, Christ being the Most Holy Place where God dwells.

We Christians are being "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." One of the chief concerns of God in the earth is that of building for Himself a house in which He can dwell among His creatures, having fellowship with them, blessing them, and providing for all their needs.

Free-will offerings..

 Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take My offering. (Exodus 25:2)

They came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. (Exodus 35:21).

 They spake to Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make. Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. The stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much. (Exodus 36:5-7).

It is time now for God to call His Bezaleels and His Aholiabs, God’s apostles and prophets, so the work of building the Temple of God in the earth may go forward.

When God’s ministers function in the wisdom the Holy Spirit gives, the people will bring more than enough material. The material they will bring is the unique manifestation of the Holy Spirit of God that has been entrusted to them. They will bring their "talents," their gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit—material found in their own "tents," their personalities.

 Every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers’ skins, brought them. (Exodus 35:23).

 Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the Lord put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the Lord had commanded. And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come to the work to do it: (Exodus 36:1,2).

The same willingness to contribute occurred during the preparations for the building of the Temple of Solomon.

 Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. (I Chronicles 29:9).

Leading the saints in manifestations of the Spirit and in pure and fervent prayer and worship is a ministry in itself. We believe God is now restoring such leadership to the churches. The Holy Spirit is setting in the Body of Christ wisdom for leading the people into the scriptural pattern of the fullness of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray to this end.

The Christian leaders must be taught by the Holy Spirit how to bring forth the ministries that should be in operation in the assemblies of the saints. Not only is there to be active spiritual participation on the part of those attending but there is to be a variety of ministry as well.

The task of Christian leadership is to help each member of the Body of Christ find the particular task the Holy Spirit has equipped him or her to do.

The Christian is to perform his role in the Body faithfully, not in fits of enthusiasm. He serves the Lord in the ministry he has, day after day; year after year; in season and out of season. He does not change until the Holy Spirit directs him into a different type of ministry, which happens occasionally and for which the Christian must keep himself ready.

It is impossible for Christ to be formed in the Church apart from the widespread operation of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit operating through the saints. It is impossible for the churches to please God or to win significant spiritual victories until fervent prayer begins to ascend form pure hearts.

It is necessary to keep in mind that the first rule of the gatherings of the Christians is that Christ must reign through the Holy Spirit in the meeting. We are not looking for the correct things to do in the assemblies as much as we are looking for HIM!

If we have Him, to any appreciable extent, the other things will follow. Without Christ—and it is possible to go through all the correct forms without Him—there always will be depression, heaviness, irritation, unrest, discomfort, a sense of spiritual bondage. This will be true no matter how scriptural the worship pattern may be.

It is possible to offer praise, sing in tongues, preach doctrinally-perfect sermons, prophesy, perform sacred music—all in the name of Christ; and to do all these things with little or no Presence of Christ.

We cannot bring Christ into the church automatically with any kind of formula. Christ through the Holy Spirit must take the lead.

Current need for prayer and worship. The present need for Spirit-filled prayer and adoration in the churches of Christ is so great as to pass beyond our ability to describe it in words. There are many wholesome activities in the churches, but it appears that there still is not nearly enough time and emphasis devoted to the pure worship of God through Christ.

The holy worship of the Father in the name of Christ, as brought forth by the Holy Spirit on the part of the saints, must become a top priority of the churches.

If all the other activities of a church must be stopped for a season in order to bring the people into fervent prayer and praise, then such drastic action should be considered. God can help us get the other things done in a twinkling if we will direct our love toward Him. "One thing is needful"—praise and ministering to the Lord. We must choose the "good part."

When the praise of a group of believers reaches the appropriate level, the great Head of the Body, the Lord Jesus Christ, stands up in Heaven with His galactic arms upraised and offers thanksgiving and adoration to Him who is God of all.

We must set ourselves to praise. Praise is the adoration of the creature given to the Creator, and as such is different from thanksgiving, intercession, supplication, and spiritual battle. Praise is an exercise in itself, but also should accompany thanksgiving, intercession, supplication, and battle.

Praise is especially important in spiritual warfare. The hosts of darkness cannot prevail in the face of a chorus of praise to the Almighty proceeding from pure hearts, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and mixed together with the Life of Christ in the saints.

There are three ways in which we overcome the accuser: by the blood of the Lamb; by the word of our testimony; and by loving not our life to the death (Revelation 12:11). These three aspects are represented in the three furnishings of the Holy Place, as well as by the three major areas of the Tabernacle.

The Table of Showbread typifies the blood of the Lamb in that the wine was poured out at this location. We overcome the accuser by the constant application of the blood of Jesus to our lives. The further we go in the Lord, the more we learn to rely on the authority and redeeming power of the blood of Christ.

The Lampstand represents the word of our testimony. The testimony is that Christ is risen from the dead; that He is God’s Son, the Redeemer, the Savior of the world; that He is Lord of all; and that whoever puts his trust in Christ will never be put to shame.

When the Church receives the Holy Spirit of God, as symbolized by the Lampstand, the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ proceeds through the Church in powerful signs and wonders. Also, the lives of the believers are transformed from the malice and wickedness that characterize the people of the world into righteousness and holiness of word and deed.

By these two works of the Holy Spirit, the supernatural demonstration of wisdom and power plus the transformed moral behavior of the saints, the people of the earth come to understand that God has sent Christ. The inhabitants of the heavens also watch the Glory of God unfold through Christ through the members of the Body of Christ.

We bear witness of the resurrection of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit working in, through, and with us.

The Altar of Incense, representing our entering Spirit-filled prayer and praise, leads us finally to the Veil. The Veil is associated in symbolism with the River Jordan. Both typify the death to self that occurs in the saint as a result of beholding the Glory of God in the face of Christ.

We enter God’s warfare against evil spirits, as typified by the Ark of the Covenant, by death—death to our own life, hopes, ambitions, and ways of doing. "I am crucified with Christ," Paul exclaims. "We have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead."

There is no way to overcome the accuser if we are attempting to grasp and hold some relationship, circumstance, or thing in our own life.

We see, then, that all three furnishings must be making their contribution to the saint if he or she is to move ahead to the fullness of authority and power in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be changed into the image of Christ, being filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).

The Oneness of the Body of Christ

The Tabernacle was composed of several elements, but it was one Tabernacle:

 And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle. (Exodus 26:6).

 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (Ephesians 4:4).

It shall be one tabernacle! If we were more aware of the extent of the destruction caused to the testimony of the Christian Church by its division into parties, perhaps we would pray to God to correct this unscriptural condition and make the Church deeply aware of its Divine oneness.

There are some mental attitudes we can change and some actual things we Christians can do in order to help lay the groundwork for the unifying and maturing of the Church.

We can "gird up the loins of our minds" and acknowledge (to ourselves at least) that people either are or are not Christians. There is no middle ground. A person is a Christian or he is not. There is no such thing as a Christian living on the edge of God’s favor because he does not belong to a particular sect.

There is no such thing as a Christian who is held at a distance by the Lord until he is baptized into a certain denomination. A Christian is not a spiritual misfit because he does not belong to a particular church group. A person is a Christian or else he is not. There is no middle ground. The Christian Church is one Body of Christ.

"If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his" (Romans 8:9). There are mature Christians and immature Christians. There are very old Christians and very young Christians. There are white Christians and black Christians. There are Christians who attend Episcopal cathedrals, Catholic missions, and holiness storefront meeting places. There are heavily anointed Christians and Christians who are not as rich in the life of the Spirit.

There are clever Christians, dull Christians, rich Christians, and poor Christians. But a person is a Christian or he is not. He is "under the blood" or he is not. He is a brother in the Lord or he is not. He has the Spirit of Christ or he does not. He is in the family of God or he is not. How could it be otherwise?

 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6).

We believe Paul would agree with our statement that a person is a Christian or he is not and that an individual cannot be held in a middle zone because he has not received the doctrines of a particular Christian organization.

Perhaps all of us Christians should pray that God will give us a spirit of unity. Also we can pray that God will raise up the ministries of Ephesians 4:11. We can guard our attitudes and our tongues so we never are heard to say that one sect of Christians is favored of God.

God cannot recognize organizational divisions of the Christians. There are various kinds of gifts, offices, and ministries, and various stages of spiritual development. But there is only one Body of Christ.

The organizational divisions formed for the purpose of providing administrative effectiveness and defense of doctrine in the Church of Christ may be constructed by well-intentioned men. However, they are brought into operation through the weaknesses of human nature. How can a system that divides Christian people be of God?

The sectarian spirit proceeds from the fleshly nature (I Corinthians 1:12,13).

"And it shall be one tabernacle"!

"There is one body, and one Spirit"!

When the writer maintains that all Christians are one he is speaking of the family of God. We are not suggesting that there are many roads that lead to God or that men will be saved by good works or sincerity.

If a person refuses redemption through the blood of Christ, or resists the lordship of the Son of God, Christ, or rejects the need for being born again, then it is useless to speculate on the possibility of him or her being able to please God. Regardless of what our humane feelings may be, the Scripture is specific concerning the saving grace that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In our emphasis on the need for Christian unity we are referring to the divisions that exist among the blood-washed, among God’s elect. These divisions may be serving some useful purpose in the present hour, but they are not of the true nature of the Body of Christ.

All Christians are redeemed by the blood of Christ. All Christian people have the Spirit of God. Every believer is a member of the Body of Christ—the Church of God. There is only one Church!

All of this is not to suggest that Christians should attempt to come out from the denominations and form a new sect called the Body of Christ. We are speaking of our recognizing the oneness of all Christians.

It is the attitude of the heart that is of concern. It appears that the sin of sectarianism is not so much in the place and manner of the assemblies of believers as it is in the attitude of denominational pride and loyalty that often detracts from the fellowship of Christian people.

The power and testimony of the Body of Christ are harmed by the spirit of division.

"And it shall be one tabernacle"!

"There is one body, and one Spirit"!

The attitude of the heart is all-important. As soon as Christians understand and accept the fact that they all are one large equal brotherhood; that there is no "true church" as such except in the hearts of Christians; that people can be Christians even when believing in different doctrines; that the body and blood of Christ is the mortar running through the entire building; then the organizational divisions will diminish in significance. The Christians in their hearts will realize the unity of the one Body of Christ.

The Body of Christ at the present time is divided in the hearts of the Christians. It is in the heart that the Body must be unified. The required healing is a healing of the heart.

Unified by the ministries of the entire Church. The Body of Christ can be made one only by the various gifts and ministries of the entire Church. There must be Holy Spirit-inspired participation by all the saints in the work of building the Body of Christ.

 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12).

The next passage sets forth one of the keys to the prevailing disunity.

 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Ephesians 4:14).

Some of the divisions of the Body of Christ come from the trickery of unscrupulous men who seek to gain support for themselves. Paul has warned us!

Unified by marriage to the Lamb. The Church will be made one by the marriage of each believer to the Lamb of God, Christ. The "marriage of the Lamb" signifies the perfect reconciliation of the believer to Christ—being made one with Him in spirit, soul, and body.

Perfect reconciliation is made possible by the total destruction of the guilt, tendencies, and effects of sin in the disciple; the formation of Christ in the disciple; and the coming to dwell of the Father and the Son in the disciple.

 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23).

Unified by the Glory of God in Christ. The Church will be made one by the outpouring of the Glory of God:

 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (John 17:22).

John is referring to the end-time outpouring of glory that will separate and distinguish the Christian Church from the remainder of the world.

 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea [multitudes of people—the "world" of John 17:23] shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. (Isaiah 60:1-5).

"Then thou shalt see, and flow together." The above passage from Isaiah describes the answer to the prayer that Jesus prayed, as recorded in John, Chapter 17. Isaiah envisions the day when the true Tabernacle (Body of Christ) is set up on the earth and the world recognizes that the only spiritual and moral light in the world is the Light of Christ in the Christians.

The coming earth-wide testimony will occur at the time when "darkness shall cover the earth." From the appearance of the events around us we might conclude that the time is at hand.

But the Christian Church may not be ready yet for its assembling into the great Tabernacle of God in the earth. The present condition of the Body of Christ seems to be described as follows:

 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. (Ezekiel 37:1,2).

No doubt Ezekiel wondered what the Lord was portraying to him by showing him a pile of very dry bones. The previous chapter (Ezekiel, Chapter 36) describes how God had promised Ezekiel He would bring Israel under a new covenant because they had defiled their land and had profaned God’s name.

 Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: (Ezekiel 36:18).

But God decided to do a work for His name’s sake.

 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. (Ezekiel 36:23).

God has determined to work in a sovereign manner because of His reputation among the nations. He created for Israel the new covenant—the covenant through which we Christians approach God.

 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:25,26).

Here is an Old Testament description of the new covenant. Observe the "I will"; "I will"; "I will." 

And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezekiel 36:27).

Compare:

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inner parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33).

After these promises of a sovereign work of God (which began to come to pass at the birth of Christ), the Lord showed Ezekiel a large pile of white bones on the floor of a valley. The Lord often moves in surprising ways!

So it is today. After the Spirit of the Lord speaks to our hearts concerning the great work of salvation that He will do through a unified Church in the end-time (John 17:23; Romans 8:19-21), the first things He shows us is that the Church is a pile of dead, disjointed parts.

We exclaim, God! Is it possible for the Christian Church ever to recover from this condition?

God’s dealing with Ezekiel concerning the dead parts of Israel followed a pattern. It is our belief that God will deal much the same way in unifying the Christian Church.

 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? and I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:3,4).

God did not command Ezekiel to attempt to stick the bones together. We do not believe the correct response to our concern over the disunity of the Church is to attempt to stick it back together, unless God specifically instructs us to do so.

Rather, God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy the Word of God to the dismembered bones. This is a powerful declaration of the sovereignty of God in the Christian Church age:

 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:5,6).

Why do we state that this is a picture of the Christian Church age? We say so because we believe Ezekiel’s boneyard, Ezekiel’s river, and Ezekiel’s temple are Old Testament symbols that reveal, by using concepts familiar to the Hebrews, the spiritual realities that will come to pass in the Body of Christ.

The writer of Hebrews applies to the Christian salvation a similar passage from Jeremiah:

 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:16,17).

The writers of the New Testament Scriptures believed that the visions of the Hebrew Prophets apply to the Church of Christ.

Isn’t it true that God worked in just such a sovereign manner in the creation of the Christian Church? Did not the Lord God come in a sovereign manner to Mary and Joseph and perform a miracle in Mary, and also in her cousin, Elizabeth?

The pouring of the Holy Spirit on the Jews assembled in the upper room was a sovereign act of God in accordance with the promises of God to the Old Testament Prophets that He would save His people with a powerful hand.

God has saved each of us by a sovereign act of grace.

 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9).

All things of eternal value that have been accomplished in the Body of Christ have been of God, through God, and for God. His hand is not weakened today such that He cannot save by His power.

The unifying and perfecting of the Christian Church in the time of the end will be wrought of God, through God, and for the lifting up of the great name of God in the sight of men, angels, and devils. The unifying of the Church will be accomplished by means of the outpouring of the Glory of God.

Our main task is to be strictly obedient to the Holy Spirit of God.

 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. (Ezekiel 37:7,8)

God will bring the Christians into one accord in the end-time by pouring on them a double portion of His Spirit, a double portion of the Divine Presence, which will be climaxed by the glorious appearing of our Lord, Christ, who will judge the living and the dead when His Kingdom comes.

After there had been a noise and a shaking, and the bones, sinews, flesh, and skin had been assembled:

 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. (Ezekiel 37:9,10)

That Ezekiel, Chapter 37 is referring to the Kingdom of God is obvious from verse 22:

 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. (Ezekiel 37:22)

The end-time outpouring of God’s Spirit, and the end-time army of God, are main themes of the Hebrew Prophets. Another closely related theme is that of the Temple of God—Christ in you, the hope of glory. 

Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. (Ezekiel 37:26-28)

Compare the New Testament:

 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23)

Don’t touch the Ark! We have learned from the vision of the valley of dry bones that God intends to unify His Church by means of an unprecedented outpouring of His Holy Spirit. We have seen also God intends to work in a sovereign manner.

Speaking figuratively, the Ark of the Covenant is being returned to the people of God in our day. By the term Ark of the Covenant we are speaking symbolically of the Presence of God in Christ.

An incident occurred in Old Testament times that contains a lesson for all of us who are looking for the restoration of the power and glory that belongs to the Body of Christ.

 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. (II Samuel 6:7)

"And God smote him there for his error"! What was the error of Uzzah? Was it not the applying of well-intentioned practical human effort to the work of God? Uzzah’s overconfidence and overfamiliarity with the things of God (the Ark had been in his house a long time) deceived Uzzah into attempting to work with God in an unscriptural manner.

Perhaps the error of Uzzah has been found in the churches of Christ from the second century to the present day. Men mean well. They attempt to build the Kingdom of God. They make an effort to employ common sense and to be practical (though not always). Their intentions are good (again, not always). But the Kingdom of Christ must be built according to the specific will and directions of the Father in Heaven. God, by slaying the well-intentioned but presumptuous Uzzah, revealed that the ministry must be practiced according to His will.

If Uzzah had not steadied the Ark it might have fallen to the ground. Imagine! The supremely sacred golden chest, the very throne of the Lord of the universe, lying smashed in the dirt and animal droppings. Why was Uzzah struck down? Why should a man be killed for trying to assist God?

Simply this: obedience is better than sacrifice. God was explicit as to the manner in which the Tabernacle was to be transported. The Tabernacle was to be carried by means of staves on the shoulders of the Kohathite Levites, not by oxen which could become restive.

 And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark. (Exodus 37:5)

But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. (Numbers 1:50,51)

The Ark never should have been removed from the Most Holy Place; nor should the Ark have been put into a position where it could be shaken; nor should Uzzah have taken an attitude of familiarity with the most sacred element of Hebrew worship. The whole situation was contrary to the express directions and commandments of the Lord.

Uzzah was smitten mortally because of his attempt to bring back the Glory of God to Jerusalem by his own wisdom and strength, the Glory of God having been withdrawn from Israel just as the power and life of the ministry of the first-century apostles has been withdrawn from the Christian churches.

No doubt Uzzah forgot, if he ever knew, the directions given by the Lord in connection with the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Have we Christians forgotten the directions given by the Lord concerning the building of the Body of Christ?

Has God been as specific concerning the unifying and maturing of the Body of Christ as He was concerning the construction and transportation of the Tabernacle of the Congregation? We believe He has.

We understand from Romans, Chapter 12, I Corinthians, Chapters 12 and 14, and Ephesians, Chapter Four that God has given a ministry to every member of the Body of Christ. God intends that these ministries be used for the maturing and unifying of the Church.

When thinking of the unifying of the Body of Christ, the "one Tabernacle" of Exodus 26:6, let us remember to "keep our hands off the Ark." The returning of the Ark of the Covenant, as described in II Samuel 6:6,7, symbolizes the returning of the Glory of God to the Church of Christ.

We believe we are in the program of restoration in the present hour. As we see God working to mature and unify the Body of Christ let us remember that it is God’s work and that He has His own ideas about how to accomplish it. Our part is to be sternly obedient in all things that God brings to us from day to day, presenting our body a living sacrifice in the wholesome fear of the Lord.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation was one tabernacle. The Body of Christ is one body. Let us adopt the larger view. Let us look for the Spirit of Christ in every person claiming to be a Christian. Having found the Spirit of Christ in Him, let us embrace him as a brother in the Lord, laying to one side the differences in doctrinal understanding and religious behaviors. Let us pray to receive Paul’s attitude:

 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14)

If we glory in the cross alone, and accept all Christians as equal brothers and sisters in the Lord, perhaps we will have made a good start toward the maturity and unity of the one Body of Christ.

Christ (the Anointed One) Is the Lampstand

The Lampstand portrays Christ. Christ, Head and Body, is the Lampstand. Christ is the Anointed Deliverer, the Servant of the Lord of whom the Old Testament Prophets spoke. The Anointed Deliverer is the revelation of God’s Glory. He is filled with all the fullness of the Godhead. He is anointed with all the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the spiritual counterpart of the oil used in the Lampstand of the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Holy Spirit is the fuel, so to speak, that feeds the Light who lights the world—Christ, the Anointed One. The Holy Spirit of God in Christ communicates the Life of Christ in several facets: wisdom, knowledge, healing, miracles, supernatural utterance, comfort, renewal of strength, and every other virtue and ability. Yet He is the one resurrection Life from the Father.

We Christians, as Paul teaches, are the very Body of Christ, the Body of the Anointed Deliverer. We are the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:23). It is the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the present age to give ministries and gifts to the members of the Body of Christ so the Body can build up itself until the "Lampstand" has been constructed perfectly and fully.

The Lampstand, it may be recalled, was beaten into shape from pure gold (Ephesians 25:31). The work of the Holy Spirit is to call out from the world an elect, a Church, a group of saints, who then will be "hammered into shape" to form the Body of the Lampstand of God (Christ—Head and Body). The Church is the Divine testimony.

The several gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit are to this end: that the Body of Christ may be formed and united with the Head in order to bring the judgment and deliverance of God to the nations of the earth (Isaiah, Chapter 42; John 17:20-24; Ephesians 4:7-16; I Peter 2:9; Revelation 22:5;).

It is not the humanity of the disciples that is beaten into shape, it is the gold of Divinity and the silver of redemption that are beaten into shape in us. The shape is the knowledge of the Holy One, which is the obedience to God and complete trust in God that we learn through suffering.

We Christian disciples are those who are anointed with the Holy Spirit, the Body of Him who is anointed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We are the Lampstand in the local community and the world (Philippians 2:15). We are the "light of the world" (Matthew 5:14).

We can light the world by telling people what we know to be true of God, Christ, and Heaven according to the statements of the Scriptures. Our lives and speech should be holy, and should encourage others toward holiness (Daniel 12:3).

We light the world by becoming a vessel through which the Holy Spirit can communicate the resurrection Life of Christ. One righteous believer is a powerful force for good. When men and women see our good works they will glorify our Father who is in Heaven.

Depending on the gifts and ministries He has given us, the Holy Spirit through us can bring the Gospel to others, can teach, can reveal Divine wisdom, can bring healing and knowledge, can produce signs and wonders, can give wisdom for government, and can provide useful works of various kinds—all with the purpose of building the Body of Christ.

As we work in the world, whether we are a custodian, carpenter, plumber, salesman, teacher, cannery worker, or electrical engineer, we can do a superior job if we are living in Christ and seeking His help while we are working.

Each member of the Body of Christ is being hammered into shape, piece by piece, in preparation for the assembling of the Lampstand with which Almighty God will light the world. The heavenly light is now shining here and there in the spiritual darkness that is covering the world, as groups of Christians of different denominations worship Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to direct their activities.

God’s plan, which will be carried out in the fullness of His time, is to bring all true Christians into one Body of Christ which, after having been made one with the Head, will shine to the ends of the earth forever.

 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:22,23)

Here is the fulfillment of the Lampstand of the Holy Place.

Differences in the Manifestation of the Holy Spirit

Zechariah 4:1-6 portrays the Lampstand that stands before the Throne of God in Heaven. The Lampstand is one piece (Exodus 25:36), signifying that there is only one Christ, Head and Body. All Christian people who are sharing the Life of Christ are members of the one Body no matter what may be their denominational affiliation or doctrinal belief.

The Lampstand of God has seven branches, speaking of the perfection of the manifestation (illumination) of the Holy Spirit and also of the various ways in which the Spirit reveals the Life of Christ.

The ministry of the members of the Body of Christ is that of bringing to humans the many aspects of the resurrection Life of God, such as wisdom, healing, and faith. There are numerous ministries and gifts included in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit—enough variety to meet every need of people.

There is no way possible that the Body of Christ can build up itself apart from the many different revelations of the Holy Spirit. All that is needed for the full presentation of the Gospel of Christ comes through the communication of the Spirit of God. The unconverted are saved and the saints are edified when the Holy Spirit brings Christ through the members of the Body of Christ.

We cannot live and develop spiritually without the continuous impartation of Christ by the Holy Spirit of God. If we are to put on the spiritual weight necessary for the overcoming strength required in the end-time we must have far more of the Presence of the Spirit than is true in the present hour.

The spiritual personality, the new person in the Christian, can be fed only with Divine Substance. "The flesh profits nothing." If we would have the new Life (Christ) in us, we must cry to God concerning our desperate need for a restoration of the gifts and ministries described in Romans, Chapter 12; I Corinthians, Chapter 12; and Ephesians, Chapter Four.

It is possible that God (perhaps in the near future) will bring so much judgment into the earth that the Christian churches, through fear of what they see happening before their eyes, will begin to give themselves to fervent prayer, intercession, and praise.

It appears that a division is coming between the world and the worldly churches, and the Body of Christ.

We must have a more nourishing spiritual diet than is available now if we are to attain the strength necessary to stand in the evil days that are ahead, and to arrive at the first resurrection from the dead. God never shall clothe a nonovercoming Christian with the glory promised to those who attain the first resurrection (Philippians 3:11; Revelation 20:6)

Spiritual songs, prophecies, miracles, gifts of healing, words of knowledge (supernaturally derived), words of wisdom, should proceed from the members of the Body of Christ. All of this "Lampstand activity" must be supervised by church elders—older Christians who can recognize the inroads of Satan on the younger believers. 

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (I Corinthians 12:7)

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (I Corinthians 12:11,12)

How is it then, brothers? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (I Corinthians 14:26)

This is the fulfillment of the Lampstand—the manifold communication of the Holy Spirit of God supplying all that is needed for building the Body of Christ. When the Body has been brought to maturity, then the needs of mankind will be met through the Body.

The golden Lampstand is symbolic of the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit of God. The communication of life from the Holy Spirit is an important part of individual and collective Christian living. The authority and direction of the Holy Spirit always must be the first consideration of the Church, especially of the elders who are responsible for the conduct of the assembly.

The Interest of Heavenly Creatures in the Church

The angels and other personages of the heavens have a great interest in the development of the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Christian Church.

The angels always are present during the assemblies of Christians. Their presence is portrayed by the curtains of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

 Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them. (Exodus 26:1)

And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. (Exodus 25:20)

The angels have an important place in all of God’s work (Luke 12:8,9; I Timothy 5:21; II Thessalonians 1:7). Angels are present and involved whenever the Christians assemble (Revelation 1:20).

It may be difficult for us to realize the intense interest the creatures of Heaven have in the maturing of the victorious saints (I Timothy 5:21; Hebrews 1:14). God shall overthrow the entire kingdom of Satan and He will do it through the saints. The destruction of the satanic empire will affect all of God’s creatures (Revelation 12:12). It appears that God has never before done anything like this.

All of God’s creatures have their eyes on the earth where the plan for the creation of God’s Tabernacle is unfolding. Some are watching with hostility. The elect angels are praising God for the Divine wisdom that slowly (from our standpoint) is bringing down to total destruction every creature that would resist the lordship of Christ. Jesus, the beloved Son, will receive from the Father the nations for His inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession.

If we recognize that the Church is the focus of attention of the entire creation, and that the saints on earth are part of the "hill" (Psalms 68:16) that God has chosen, we should respond by diligently applying faith and obedience to the Word of Christ through the Holy Spirit. We always must be pressing onward, overcoming the obstacles of the moment, emerging victorious in the name of Jesus. We overcome the accuser by the blood of Jesus, by the word of our testimony, and by loving not our lives to the point of death (Revelation 12:11).

There has not been much interest in angelic behavior and destiny, as far as most Christian churches have been concerned. Perhaps part of the reason is that the Body of Christ has not been mature enough to have a consciousness of conditions and activities in the heavenlies. Heaven has remained a far-off mythological land where people go when they are so unfortunate as to die.

As we think back on the four types of redemption we shall see that the Church will arrive at a consciousness of heavenly beings at the fifth area of the plan of redemption.

The expanse of heaven was created on the second day of creation. The clear blue of the firmament that divides the waters remained empty until the fourth day. On the fourth day, light appeared in the firmament—the sun, moon, and stars were created.

Prior to the fourth day of creation there was nothing in the sky, just as the newly converted person has little consciousness of the bustling activities of the heavens. His Christian experience is still earthbound. After receiving the Holy Spirit he becomes conscious of the Divine Presence in him. However, the heavens to a great extent remain a vast blue expanse—a far-distant place where saved people go when they die.

Now comes the fifth day of creation. Birds appear in the heavens, symbolizing the fact that the Christian becomes conscious of the tremendous amount of intelligent spiritual activity taking place around him. The personages of the heavenlies indeed are interested in what the Lord God is doing in the earth because there never before has occurred anything to be compared with the creating of children of God in His image. Also, angels will be judged by the members of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 6:3).

When a person comes to the gate of the fence of the Courtyard of the Tabernacle he sees the blue, the purple, the scarlet, and the fine twisted linen. Again, when he comes to the door of the Tabernacle building, the entrance to the Holy Place, there appears before him the blue, the purple, and the fine twisted linen.

Upon passing through the Holy Place he is confronted with the Veil that guards the Most Holy Place. The Veil is blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twisted linen. But now in addition there are cherubim wrought in the material. He has come to the fifth item of furniture, the Altar of Incense, corresponding to the fifth day of creation. We see in Revelation, Chapter Eight that an angel ministers before God at the heavenly Altar of Incense.

Perhaps most of us who have studied the Scriptures are well aware of the considerable amount of angelic activity in the Old Testament. Both righteous and unrighteous angels were active throughout the history of the Israelites.

We know also angels announced the births of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus, and ministered to Jesus after His temptation in the wilderness. Have you ever thought about this? Have you ever meditated on how active the angels were in the ministry of Christ, in that Christ is Jacob’s ladder reaching from the earth into Heaven? 

And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. (John 1:51)

The climax came when our Lord was ministered to by an angel in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Angels were active in the history of the early Church, as recorded in the Book of Acts, helping Peter and Paul on occasion.

In addition, the writings of the Apostles teach us that angels are involved in the Gospel of Christ and in the coming to full growth of the Body of Christ. 

Also I say unto you, Whoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8,9)

It appears, from the above verses, that it is important to people that they are known by angels and accepted by angels. The context of Jesus’ statement has to do with the well-being of the believer. The personages of the heavenlies are knowledgeable of what is taking place on earth, and having the good will of the heavenly host is important to us.

We are not to attempt to win the favor of angels. Jesus informed us that the knowledge and acceptance of the angels of God are important and that we obtain this recognition by confessing Christ among men. The angels mentioned here are the holy angels of God.

The fallen angels are the spiritual authorities against whom we wrestle. In the last days the dark lords of the heavenlies will come to earth, seeking to exert their leadership through men. The Lake of Fire has been prepared for them.

The Church will be the judge of angels. 

Know ye not that we will judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (I Corinthians 6:3)

It is through the Church that the angelic authorities and rulers will come to understand the wisdom of God. 

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church [through the church] the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ our Lord: (Ephesians 3:10,11)

Angels of vast authority and power will accompany the Lord Jesus at His coming.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, (II Thessalonians 1:7)

God in Christ was seen by the angels. 

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (I Timothy 3:16)

It appears that Paul was aware of the personages of the heavens, that some angels have been elected of God and have an interest in the righteous conduct of the saints. 

I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. (I Timothy 5:21)

Why should the elect angels care whether Timothy took proper charge of the household of faith or whether he showed partiality?

It is because God will vindicate His righteousness and execute His judgment against the rebels in the heavens. He will accomplish this vindication and execution through the Church. The elect, holy angels, always doing the will of God, fought against the rebellion in the heavenlies. They are looking forward to the day when God restores harmony to the creation. They are directly affected by what takes place in the Christian Church (Revelation 12:12).

The elect angels realize the hoped-for victory can come only as the saints walk in holiness. They know that nothing can be done about the heavenly rebellion through an unholy church. The conduct and teaching of Timothy had a direct effect on the heavens just as your conduct and teaching and my conduct and teaching have a direct effect on what is taking place in the heavens.

Why is it that angels care whether a woman has her head covered in the assembly of saints? What difference does it make to them whether a woman is in submission? Why do the angels desire to "look into" the things of Christ? 

For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. (I Corinthians 11:10)

Since angels are accustomed to authority, inasmuch as God always works in terms of lines of authority—He never leaves His business unsupervised, the angels look about until they understand who is responsible for the conduct of the assembly and on what authority each person acts and speaks.

The practices of the assemblies of Christians have repercussions throughout the world of spirits.

No angel can ever become an heir of salvation. Angels are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation.

 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:13,14)

The angels of God have been convened in order that they may see and understand the wisdom of God as His plan unfolds in the Church, the Body of Christ. 

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just [righteous] men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:22,23)

"To an innumerable company of angels."

The angels desire to examine the Holy Spirit-inspired preaching of the Gospel. 

Unto whom [the Hebrew Prophets] it was revealed, that not unto themselves [the physical Israelites], but unto us [the Christians—Jews and Gentiles] they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. (I Peter 1:12)

"Which thing the angels desire to look into"!

We know that Jesus has all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth, and that all personages are subject to His will. 

Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. (I Peter 3:22)

There are many instances recorded in the Book of Revelation in which angels are active in the workings of God. Revelation, more than any other book of the Scriptures, describes the involvement of angels in the plan of redemption. The Church must come to the Altar of Incense before the angelic aspect of salvation can unfold.

The need for redemption and the plan of redemption began in Heaven. But the solution occurred on earth on the cross of Calvary.

The overthrow of all disobedience will take place in the earth as the saints of God push through to complete victory in Christ.

Finally the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be removed from Heaven and established forever on the earth. Then the present conditions will be reversed. The saints on earth will see the face of Christ and serve Him in the fullness of His Presence. The personages of the heavens will have to come to the earth to present themselves before the Lord.

The importance of angelic ministry throughout the Book of Revelation is indicated by the first verse of the book: 

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (Revelation 1:1)

The term angel means messenger. This important book of the Scripture was carried to John by the messenger of Christ.

The exhortation to each of the seven churches of Asia was written to the angel of the church. Each Christian church has an angel just as each person has an angel. Apparently the angel (governing spiritual personage) of each church on the earth contains in itself the spiritual strengths and weaknesses characteristic of the church. The angel is praised or rebuked depending on the conduct of the Christians who compose the particular assembly.

The Lord Jesus repeats the same promise that He had made previously as He walked on the earth.

 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5)

"I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."

Some idea of the degree of involvement of the angels, and other personages of the heavens, can be gained from the following passages:

 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? (Revelation 5:2)

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; (Revelation 5:11)

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. (Revelation 7:1)

The eighth chapter of Revelation describes the kingdom-wide fulfillment of the Altar of Incense, the fifth furnishing of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Altar of Incense is associated with the Blowing of Trumpets, the fifth of the feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23:24).

 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. (Revelation 8:2,3)

It was an angel that offered the incense with the prayers of the saints. The offering of incense was one of the chief responsibilities of the high priest of Israel, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. The offering of the incense by the angel occurs at the opening of the seventh seal, signifying that we have come to the closing act in the history of mankind under the conditions of the present age.

The seven angels blow their trumpets in the Divine order, bringing woe to the "inhabiters of the earth." When we come to the trumpet of the seventh angel the "mystery of God" will be finished (I Corinthians 15:51).

The saints of the Lord will be given a powerful anointing in the end-time to preach the Gospel with unprecedented authority and power to the whole earth. Their testimony finally will be overcome by the forces of evil. Then the last part of the seventh trumpet will take place. The Lord Jesus will descend from Heaven with mighty power to bring the judgment of God upon those who are in rebellion in the earth. The dead in Christ will rise. The saints will appear in transfiguration glory with Christ.

Angels will be prominent in all of this activity.

Of particular interest to the inhabitants of the heavenlies is the overcoming of the accuser. The accuser will be overcome when the Church brings forth Christ in the Christians, thus making them ready to lay hold on all the available grace of God in order to press through the resistance of the forces of wickedness. As soon as Christ in the saints has prevailed against the accuser, Michael and his angels will be empowered to cast the ancient dragon out of the heavenlies.

 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:7-11)

The casting of the dragon out of the heaven is good news for those who dwell in the heavenlies but bad news for the earth.

 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (Revelation 12:12)

We learn that an angel may have custody of the Gospel of Christ. The angel (messenger) in this instance may be referring to a human being, or former human being.

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, (Revelation 14:6)

The angels are busy throughout the latter chapters of the Book of Revelation.

Perhaps the new heaven, of Revelation 21:1, is referring to a new sky, a new firmament, and not a new spiritual heaven. It is our understanding that the spiritual heaven will remain as the home of the myriads of heavenly creatures.

There will be some angels who are stationed permanently on the earth at specific places in the new Jerusalem, such as the twelve angels at the gates of the city. All the glory we associate with Heaven will then be on the earth. Perhaps if we think of the spirit realm as another dimension rather than a far-distant place, the relation of Heaven to earth will be clearer to us.

The massive wall around the holy city must be of importance to God and to us because most of what John reveals to us about the new Jerusalem concerns the wall. A wall is constructed around a city to protect the city against an enemy, against unwanted intruders, against people who attempt to enter a place where they are not allowed. What need is there for a wall around the holy city? Why is so much attention paid to the wall?

The reason why God and the Lamb will make the earth the place of Their throne, and why They will surround Themselves with such a massive wall, is to provide a defense against future rebellions of angels or people. If a rebellion of angels happened once, what is to prevent it from happening again? Therefore God will change the place of His residence from Heaven to the earth and surround Himself with a protecting wall, a wall designed to prevent wicked spirits from entering His Presence.

No doubt there will be an actual wall. But in addition to its reality, the wall protecting the holy city symbolizes the spiritual defenses of the Christian saint who has learned, while living in the earth and under difficult circumstances, to love righteousness and hate wickedness. These righteous spirits (Hebrews 12:23) are God’s answer to future rebellions. They will stand guard over the creation of God forever, ruling from their holy city which by then will be a mighty fortress. This is why the angels are so interested in the Church.

Apparently some angels are spirit-angels and some are people-angels. Think about the following:

 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brothers the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. (Revelation 22:8,9)

It appears that at least one of the seven angels that had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and who showed John the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife, was a human being—or had been a human being. He was a fellowservant of John, a brother, a prophet.

The angel could have been Isaiah, Samuel, Habakkuk, or someone else. He may have been a Christian who had gone to be with the Lord. In any case, he was an example of the people-angels. How many of the angels mentioned in Revelation were people-angels we cannot tell. But if there was one there may have been many.

In the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, Jesus repeats His statement recorded in the first verse of the first chapter. The Book of Revelation was given to John by the personal angel of the Lord.

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (Revelation 22:16)

The Importance of Holiness

Let us conclude our study of the perfecting of the Church by emphasizing the importance of holiness. We cannot stress holiness too much. The Tabernacle of the Congregation portrays the cry, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts." The Holy Spirit is building the holy city. Without holiness we can neither see the Lord nor be received by Him. He is holy and we must partake of His holiness.

One of the first orders of business in the assembly of the saints must be fervent prayer and worship going up to God from holy believers. The prayer and worship must ascend from pure hearts and clean and dedicated lives.

It has become fashionable in our day to despise efforts toward personal holiness as being pharisaic or legalistic. However, believers who are serious about holiness do not indulge in alcohol, cigarettes, profanity, drugs, or other unclean practices. They dress modestly and avoid gossip, foolish talking, and partying.

Less dedicated believers despise these attempts to draw close to God, to live as a holy priest of God. But God does not despise His little children who love Him and He brings them to Himself. God honors every sincere attempt to cast off the works of the flesh, of Satan, and of the world.

God is holy, and His Israel is commanded to be holy as He is holy.

 Holiness is a quality that is in God and is God. Righteousness is holiness in action.

For example: there is no lie in God. God is Truth. A lying spirit has no part in God. A holy person, a person filled with God and dwelling in God’s Presence, tells the truth. Telling the truth is an act of righteousness.

There is a normal attraction toward members of the opposite sex. Satan, in his efforts to destroy the image of God, and to satiate his desire for the pleasure forever denied to him, has warped the normal sexual attraction in every conceivable manner. Satan’s lusts have generated a horde of hideous spirits that crave human bodies. None of these spirit has any place in God and has no place in God’s elect.

The Ten Commandments are an expression of God’s holiness and a judgment against unholy spirits.

The necessity for having the members of a church in complete consecration to Christ cannot be overemphasized. Perhaps this is why God described the Ark and the Mercy Seat first when He gave the plan for the Tabernacle—that we may understand how important holiness is in the Kingdom of God.

If there is not a group of disciples in the local church who are given over wholly to God and His ways, who are battling through in prayer each day, who have said final "yes" to God and "no" to sin, who are "overcoming" in their personal warfare with their flesh, the spirit of the age, and Satan, then the most important element is lacking in that church.

All of the Christian furnishings and customs may be present in the church services. The doctrine may be scriptural. But the awe that accompanies the Presence of God in Christ will not be experienced by those who attend.

CHAPTER VII THE SETTING UP OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The setting up of the Kingdom of God appears to be typified by the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle in the reverse order of what we have been studying.

Mercy Seat (Atonement Cover).

Ark of the Covenant.

Altar of Incense.

Lampstand.

Table of Showbread.

Laver.

Altar of Burnt Offering.

If we study the seven pieces of furniture in the above order we seem to see the historical plan for setting up the Kingdom of God in the earth. It is the kingdom-wide interpretation of the Tabernacle.

In our book thus far we have discussed the physical description of the Tabernacle, and then the interpretation as the Person and work of Christ; the interpretation as the history of the Christian Church; the interpretation as the redemption of the believer; and the interpretation as the perfecting of the Body of Christ.

Now we have come to the Tabernacle as portraying the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

The Christian Church is the beginning, the firstfruits of the Kingdom of God. Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God. Jesus used the term kingdom over one hundred times in the four Gospel accounts. He only mentioned the word church three times. The writings of the Apostles, on the other hand, have mainly to do with the Church, the Body of Christ; although the Apostles referred frequently to the Kingdom of God.

The Relationship Between the Church and the Kingdom

The relationship between the Church of Christ and the Kingdom of God is this: the Church has the keys of the Kingdom. The Church is the called-out Wife of the Lamb and the nobility of the Kingdom. Through the Church, God will set up the remainder of His Kingdom, His rulership in the earth.

God’s main purpose in the earth at this time is the calling out and building of His Church, the Body of Christ. When Jesus comes, Christ, Head and Body, will go forth in the fullness of the Holy Spirit of God to set up the Kingdom of God throughout the entire earth. Then the Church will reign over the saved peoples of the earth to the ages of ages (Daniel 7:27).

The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth. "Your kingdom come, Your will be done in the earth." "The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."

We are permitted to come to God through the legal device of ascribed righteousness. But the Kingdom of God is actual righteousness and holiness of personality and behavior plus stern obedience to the Father in Heaven.

The laws and ways of the Kingdom of God were announced by Jesus, as recorded in the four Gospels. The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew, Chapters Five through Seven, is a particularly rich source of the laws of the Kingdom of God. Jesus taught us to be forgiving; to do good to all; to seek righteousness; to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.

Jesus taught us to respond in generosity and kindness to demands made on us. He told us to "turn the other cheek" if we were struck.

The condition of the world today is such that people are moving away from keeping the laws of the Kingdom of God rather than toward keeping them. The world may be further from the Kingdom of God today than it was in the days of Christ. Has Jesus been defeated? Has God given the world to the wicked?

Not at all! We see the Church. The Church is the hope of bringing the Kingdom of God to the earth. The Church is the means by which God will install His laws, His Kingdom in the earth. God’s laws will be established here and there is no power that can prevent it.

First, God sent Christ. Jesus kept the laws of the Kingdom of God perfectly in the earth, two thousand years ago. Today the ministries of the Church are in travail to bring forth Christ in the saints of the Lord. Through the grace of God in Christ, especially through the working of the Holy Spirit, the Christians are learning how to keep the laws of the Kingdom of God, and to keep them now—in this present life.

God’s laws are impossible to keep by our own wisdom and strength. Through the good that is in Christ, especially in His body and blood, we are increasingly able to overcome the evil in the world—the evil that is becoming in these days more wicked and vile than ever before. There is goodness in Christ through which the saints are enabled to overcome the evil in the world.

In the meantime, we Christians are having a difficult time keeping God’s righteous and holy laws. While we know of the laws of the Kingdom, the keeping of these laws is so high above us that "turning the other cheek" has become a Christian joke. The laws of the Kingdom are never a joke with true saints, the sincere disciples of the Lord Jesus. In the present hour the Holy Spirit is guiding the Lord’s people into the holy and righteous conduct of the Kingdom of God.

When persecution and tribulation come upon the Church, many Christians who are leading lukewarm spiritual lives are brought closer to the Lord through their suffering. When we are brought closer to Jesus, He begins to teach us and to help us concerning doing the will of the Father.

When Jesus appears in the clouds of the heaven there will be a great company of His saints who will appear with Him, ready to bring judgment and deliverance into the Christian assemblies and then into the earth. "The Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints." The Lord Jesus and His victorious saints, His "mighty men" to use a term from the reign of King David, will rule the peoples of the earth with the iron of God’s strength.

Throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age the Church of Christ will be nourished by the Lord and will grow strong in His righteous ways (Malachi 4:2,3). The people will learn righteousness and peace (Isaiah 2:3). During the Kingdom Age the laws of the Kingdom of God will be learned and observed throughout the earth.

During the new heaven and earth rule of Christ the servants of the Lord, whose home will be the new Jerusalem, will reign as kings and priests. The laws of the Kingdom of God will be kept on earth and in the heavens forever, ages without end.

We can understand from this that the relationship between the Church of Christ and the Kingdom of God is that the Kingdom of God will be set up on the earth by means of the Church. The Church is God’s means for establishing the Kingdom of God and is itself the beginning and governing body of the Kingdom of God.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation reveals the interventions of God in world history from the time Christ hung on the cross, as portrayed by the blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, all the way to the moment when the holy city becomes the Most Holy Place on the earth and the Throne of God and of the Lamb are established on the earth forever.

The bronze Altar of Burnt Offering standing in the Courtyard informs us that one day the entire universe will be reconciled to God through Christ. This is the kingdom-wide interpretation of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Seven Furnishings

Can picture yourself standing at the gate of the Courtyard of the Tabernacle? Can you then imagine the Tabernacle, with its seven furnishings remaining in place, rising up toward you and standing on its feet?

Can you visualize the Tabernacle as a Man covered by the Glory of God; the Ark of the Covenant as His head; the Altar of Incense as His voice; the Lampstand as His right hand; the Table of Showbread as His left hand; the Laver as His loins; and the Altar of Burnt Offering as His feet?

If you can picture such a Man, you have in mind an image of Christ—Head and Body. Christ is the Servant of the Lord, the Anointed Deliverer, who will serve as the King and Priest of God throughout the Kingdom-Age Jubilee. This is Christ who is to come.

Mercy Seat (Lid of Atonement). The Kingdom of God began in eternity with the Glory of God. The plan for setting up the rule of the Almighty was drawn up in detail before the heavens and the earth were created. The Lamb of God was slain from the creation of the world and the saints were called, justified, and glorified in Him.

Christ is the Word of God by whom all things and personages were created. He is the Glory of God, the Word from the beginning. The plan of redemption was perfected before the serpent spoke to Eve.

Ark of the Covenant. Christ came to earth. The Word was made flesh. The Cornerstone of the eternal Temple of God was laid. The point of reference from which all else is measured was established forever by means of Christ’s atoning death and victorious resurrection. The fullness of the Glory of God, and of the Mercy Seat, abides on Him. He is the King, the Beginning and the Ending, the "All Things" of the Kingdom of God.

It is true also Christ is calling to Himself the Christian saints who, we believe, will share with Him as the counterpart of the Ark of the Covenant. There was wood in the Ark, symbolizing humanity. The saints will be revealed with Christ at His appearing (Romans 8:17-19; Colossians 3:4). The revelation of the saints with Christ was foreshadowed in the transfiguration of Christ in the midst of His five servants (Matthew 17:1-3).

The fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant, that is, the first appearing of Christ and the subsequent spiritual birth and development of the victorious saints, is the first stage in setting up the Kingdom of God on the earth. This is the Most Holy Place. The laws of the Kingdom are observed here with the greatest of care, through the wisdom and power of God.

Altar of Incense. The Altar of Incense symbolizes the voice of Christ—Head and Body. As Christ ministers in the earth He continually is stating His deepest feelings and needs to His Father. From the mouth of the Lord’s Servant comes prayer—prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit, with the Person of Christ thoroughly mixed into every part.

There comes forth intercession, praise, thanksgiving, worship, and every other aspect of our communion with God. The voice of Christ is a trumpet that reminds God of the needs at hand and of what God’s Word has said about meeting that need. The Lord’s Servant knows the Scriptures.

As the Spirit of intercession, spiritual battle, worship, and supplication comes upon the Church in great strength and holiness in the last days, the sound will come before the Face of the Father as a pleasing fragrance. The Bride will cry, "Come, Lord Jesus!" So holy and anointed will be the end-time call that it will bring back the Lamb with an irresistible force—the force of His love for His Bride.

Heaven no longer will be able to hold Him. He will be drawn back to the earth. The return of the Lord Jesus with His "mighty men" is the next step in setting up the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Lampstand. After the Lord Jesus returns, the Holy Spirit will come into the earth through the saints in such glory and to such an extent that the spiritual atmosphere of the entire planet will be changed. Many of the writings of the Prophets of Israel speak of the outpouring of God’s Spirit in the days to come. The Kingdom Age will be a Pentecost of Pentecosts. The Holy Spirit will be given without measure. The Glory of the Lord will cover the earth. Healing and salvation will flow as a River of Life that cannot be crossed (Ezekiel 47:5).

One of the most important aspects of the Kingdom Age will be the overwhelming Presence of the Holy Spirit. The Glory will provide impetus for the establishing of the Kingdom of God—the laws of God—in people. Not only will the Church as a whole begin to practice the laws of the Kingdom, but the saved peoples of the earth will learn from the Church how to obey God.

Although the Kingdom Age will not be as perfect an expression of the rule of God in Christ as will be true of the new heaven and earth reign of Christ, yet the laws of the Kingdom of Heaven will be in far greater observance than they are today (Isaiah 2:4).

Table of Showbread. The Table of Showbread represents the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The body and blood of Christ are given to the Church to eat and drink and are the life of the Church. The more we eat and drink of Him the more we live by Him as He lives by the Father.

The Wife of the Lamb is created from the Substance of the Lord Jesus, from His body and blood. The Church eats the Lamb. By so doing the Church becomes the Wife of the Lamb.

The only eternal life in the world is the Life of Christ Himself. There is no other eternal life. As the Church goes out to minister in the earth it brings eternal life to the people who will receive Christ. That life is in the Church from eating His body and drinking His blood.

When the Church brings the Word of God to a person, or prays for his healing and deliverance, or counsels him to receive the atonement and make his peace with God, if the person receives, then he partakes of the Life that is of Christ coming through the Church.

When an individual refuses to obey a member of the true Church the blessing of God will not remain on him.

 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life," the Scripture states. Again, in the first Psalm, "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season."

Also:

 And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine. (Ezekiel 47:12)

It is true today. It will be true during the Kingdom Age. It will be true throughout eternity in the new heaven and earth. The only eternal life in the world is now, and forever will be, in the Person of Christ. People with needs, whether those needs be for their spirit, their soul, or their body, must come to the Lord Jesus for life and healing.

Christ is the Tree of Life, and by partaking of Christ the Church becomes the Tree of Life growing along the banks of the River of Life. Everyone who thirsts can come and drink the waters without payment. In the Church is the Bread from Heaven and the true drink of God. The more we partake of Christ the more Divine nourishment we possess to give to the spiritually thirsty and hungry people of the world.

Laver. When we come to the Laver we pass out into the sunlight of the Courtyard of the Tabernacle. The fenced Courtyard represents the nations of saved peoples of the earth. While the Church is being brought into perfect reconciliation to the heavenly Bridegroom, Christ, the Church also is bringing the Life of Christ to the nations of the earth. The Laver, in the kingdom-wide interpretation, represents the cleansing of the earth. It is the ministry of the Church to rebuke, to exhort, to warn the peoples of the earth that God shall judge and destroy the filthy practices of sin.

The Church is the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Through the Word of God in the Church, and the example of Christian conduct, the nations of the earth learn righteousness. However, in the days in which we are living the testimony of the Church is weak as pertaining to godly living

The churches, in many instances, have a form of godliness but are unable to influence the conduct of people. The message from Heaven that was given to the shepherds at the time of the birth of Jesus is mocked by the lust, violence, and idolatry that are making our earth a cesspool of lawlessness.

At the present time we are moving into the most powerful testimony ever to occur in the history of the Church. The Holy Spirit is beginning to bring to the Church a dispensation of works of wisdom and power without precedent so the members of the Body of Christ may bring to the peoples of the earth the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. At the same time, all kinds of sin continue to mature as a foul vine covering the earth with spiritual darkness. The accompanying filth, violence, and judgment of God will cause people to turn either to God or to Satan.

Living "on the fence," being neither for nor against God, will no longer be possible. Many souls, unfortunately, will make their choice for evil in the days to come, forfeiting their birthright as children of God. Their end will be the Lake of Fire with the devil and his angels.

However, those who choose to come out from the wickedness of the present evil age, despising the cost to themselves, will be saved by the authority and power of Christ.

Because of the revival of which we are speaking, the laws of the Kingdom of God will enter the earth with terrific force. The people who decide to serve God will be taught by the Holy Spirit to love one another and to observe the righteous ways of the Kingdom. They will be filled with Christ, the result being an expression in their life of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control.

At the coming of our Lord, Christ, every bit of power and authority of the wicked one will be destroyed. Then the laws of the Kingdom of God will spread throughout the entire earth. The waters of the Laver, to speak in a figure, will wash every man, woman, boy, and girl whom the Lord is saving.

Through His Church the Lord God will cleanse the inhabitants of the earth from their sins. He will give each person a bath in the water of the Word of God. Then He will anoint each with the oil of the Holy Spirit and put some of the holy perfume of the fragrance of Christ on him. The redeemed nations will dwell with God on the earth and be entirely acceptable to Him as His children (Matthew 25:34; Revelation 21:24).

Altar of Burnt Offering. The bronze Altar of Burnt Offering represents our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross making an atonement for sin through His blood. If He is lifted up on the cross He will draw all men to Himself.

At the four corners of the top of the Altar of Burnt Offering were four horns. The four horns pointed toward the ends of the earth, toward the four points of the compass. The Gospel of the Kingdom is to go out to the north, south, east, and west until every person has had an opportunity to be reconciled to God through the blood of the cross.

God has made provision for the redemption of every man, woman, boy, and girl on earth. But a person must hear the Gospel and see the power of God if he or she is to receive the Kingdom of God.

Now is the time in which to prepare ourselves for the greatest move of God in history, and to listen carefully to the Holy Spirit of God so we may give completely of our personality to Christ each day. The Gospel of power must go forth throughout the earth before Jesus returns.

It is our belief that during the thousand-year Jubilee to come, the saints will go forth in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing judgment, deliverance, and restoration to the nations of the earth. They will rule with Christ over all of the saved kingdoms and nations.

During the Kingdom Age the principalities of darkness will be bound, and people will be able to receive the good news of the Kingdom of God without having to be persecuted or killed for their faith. The earth will be cleansed from sin (the Laver), and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, will be lifted up as the King of kings and Lord of lords (the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering). The kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and His Christ.

The entire Body of Christ at that time will grow up as "calves of the stall," drinking the fullness of the Holy Spirit of God, feasting on the Life of Christ, coming into a state of perfect reconciliation and oneness with God in Christ, being healed of every imperfection of spirit, soul, and body. The Church will be employed throughout the Kingdom Age as the rulers, priests, and teachers of the peoples of the earth.

Down through the centuries since the crucifixion of Christ, millions of people have spiritually beheld the Lamb of God and have received His sacrifice as the atonement for their sins. Now also, in our day, it is time for Divine revival to take place throughout the earth, throughout all nations poor and rich, small and large, and every type of government. There are no exceptions with God. Every person must have a chance to see the power of the resurrected Christ and to hear the Good News of the coming Kingdom of Heaven, from the great cities of the wealthy nations to the caravans of the desert areas.

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)

Then shall the end come! The end of the rule of the kingdom of darkness. The end of the rule of men apart from God. The end of the curse. The end of all sin and lawlessness, sickness, anguish, famine, violence, lust, sorcery, covetousness. We look for a new world wherein dwells righteousness.

First, earth-wide revival. Then, the overcoming of the Christian witness and the maturing of sin. Next, the return of our Lord Jesus Christ bringing the fullness of resurrection power to the saints and the terrible vengeance of the Lord God upon sin and sinners—angelic and human.

After that, the earth-wide reign of Christ and His saints—the Kingdom-Age Jubilee. Then shall the realm of nature break forth into singing and all nations of the saved will have their inheritance as children of God restored to them. Then will be the marriage of the Lamb, the perfect reconciliation of each Christian with God in Christ.

The Tabernacle of David

After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. (Acts 15:16,17)

The holy Ark of the Covenant, as we have studied, was located in the Most Holy Place. It was hidden from the Holy Place by the Veil.

But a terrible thing happened during the time of Samuel. The two wicked sons of Eli the priest, Hophni and Phinehas, were in charge of the Ark when the Tabernacle was at Shiloh. At the request of the elders of Israel, Hophni and Phinehas removed the Ark from the Most Holy Place and carried it to a site named Ebenezer where the armies of Israel were engaged in battle against the Philistines. During the conflict the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines.

The extent of the tragedy of the loss of the Ark of the Covenant can hardly be grasped. The Glory of Israel had departed. The Ark never again was restored to the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

We will not at this time describe the route that the Ark followed as it journeyed through the land of the Philistines, bringing destruction on its captors. The chiefs of the Philistines finally admitted defeat and sent the Ark back to Israel. It is an interesting narrative, filled with spiritual significance.

After many years had transpired, David found it in his heart to bring the Ark to Zion, David’s own city. David erected a tent to cover the Ark (I Chronicles 15:1). The Ark was brought in amid tremendous rejoicing in the charge of the priests and Levites. As usual, David’s heart directed him to do what was lawful and pleasing to the Lord. Meanwhile, the Tabernacle of the Congregation, minus the Ark, remained at the high place of Gibeon (I Chronicles 16:39,40).

David placed the Ark in a tent in Zion. Zion was a small city built on a hill within the larger city of Jerusalem. The tent that housed the Ark was termed the Tabernacle of David. The Tabernacle of David is referred to in Amos 9:11 and Acts 15:16. We see from these two passages that God has promised to build again the Tabernacle of David in a context of marvelous restoration and Divine Glory and blessing on His people.

The Ark never was returned to the Tabernacle of the Congregation. But in the reign of Solomon, the Ark, and the Tabernacle of the Congregation with its holy vessels, were placed in Solomon’s Temple (I Kings 8:1-9). The Ark was empty except for the two tables of stone, the Ten Commandments, at the time it was placed inside the Temple (I Kings 8:9). This fact reveals to us that when all things have been concluded, at the time of the new heaven and earth reign of Christ, the implements of redemption will be removed. Only the holy moral law of God will remain throughout eternity.

It appears that the loss of the Ark from the Tabernacle of the Congregation, with the accompanying loss of the Glory of God to Israel, its long journey and return finally to Zion, and the placing of both the Ark and the Tabernacle of the Congregation in the Temple of Solomon, are all a Divine portrayal of the history of the Christian Church, including events yet ahead of us.

The Glory of God manifested in the first Apostles of Christ was lost to the Christian Church through the inability of people to walk in the Spirit of God. The elders of the Church attempted to build the Kingdom of God by means of fleshly wisdom and effort rather than by the Holy Spirit. The Church’s ability to serve as God’s royal priesthood was lost, symbolized by the broken neck of Eli (I Samuel 4:18).

The Christian Church since the first century has been characterized by a lack of power and revelation rather than by the fullness of the Glory of God in Christ. Yet, it is God’s will that all who are in His holy Son, Christ, walk in the fullness of God’s Presence.

We have indicated already how essential it is that the spiritual counterparts of all the elements of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, from the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering to the Altar of Incense be restored. The shed blood of the Altar of Burnt Offering, the washing of the Laver, the Substance of Christ of the Table of Showbread, the Holy Spirit-filled prayer and praise of the Altar of Incense—all are necessary for the development of the Church, and must be fully restored and operating in the fullness of Divine Glory in order for Christ to be formed in the Church.

We do not say that each local assembly will have all the ministries of the Body of Christ. The Spirit gives gifts and ministries to the Body, not to the local churches. We know of no passage that states the Spirit gives gifts to the local assembly. The gifts and ministries are given to the one Body of Christ. The result of placing too much emphasis on the local body of believers is a little kingdom that tends to cut itself off from the remainder of the Church. A local body of believers then becomes like a small denomination.

It is our conviction that in our day the Gospel of Christ is to be proclaimed in tremendous power, with signs following, at home, abroad, and to the ends of the earth, until every person has seen and heard the Lord’s program of redemption and is aware of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God and the judgment of the living and the dead.

But what of the rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David, mentioned by Amos and James? It may be recalled that the Ark was never again joined to the Tabernacle of the Congregation until both the Ark and the Tabernacle were placed in Solomon’s Temple. What does the separation of the Ark from the Tabernacle signify in prophetic symbolism?

God is doing a work in our day that is contemporary with the glorious restoration and evangelism mentioned above, and dependent on it and related to it. The contemporary work of which we are speaking may be considered separately from the restoration and evangelism, just as David’s Tabernacle was separate from the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

This current separate work is the full development of the Presence of Christ in His victorious saints, in a firstfruits of the entire Church. Concurrently with and as part of the worldwide revival of Gospel power God is developing a firstfruits unto Christ (Revelation, Chapter 14), a desire in the hearts of numerous Christians to be totally obedient to God’s purposes in Christ. These are the conquering saints, mentioned several times in the Book of Revelation.

We believe Christian people who, through the virtue of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, overcome the world, the adversary, and their own fleshly nature, are the fulfillment of David’s Tabernacle.

We see the blessing of God coming today on every assembly of Christians that will make an effort to seek the Lord. Yet the blessings that are coming on the churches are not always resulting in the restoration of holy and righteous personality and behavior, which is the fruit of genuine moral re-creation and total consecration to God’s will. The churches, in some instances, may be remaining at the "high place at Gibeon," speaking symbolically of the current mixture of Divine restoration and fleshly church activities (I Chronicles 16:39).

When we are speaking of victorious saints, overcomers, Christian people who will take up their cross and follow Christ to the extent that the Scripture commands, we are not suggesting an elitist group. Being a victorious saint, an overcomer, an inheritor of all the promises of God in Christ, is readily available to each Christian, as shown by Jesus’ words in the second and third chapters of Revelation.

You, dear reader, are welcome and invited to set the knowing of Jesus as the supreme goal of your life. His power is sufficient to bring you up from the lowest pit to the throne of Glory. Your part is to choose to accept the fullness of Christ. His part is to accomplish His fullness in you. The only obstacle that can keep you from being a full overcomer is the wall of your own unbelief and disobedience (Hebrews 3:19).

As we look about us we can see the calling and choosing of God in Christ. Some Christians have a nature that is aflame with the desire to seek Christ with a whole heart. Such will receive the fullness of His Presence (the Tabernacle of David) at His glorious appearing. They are the firstfruits of the earth, and will be unveiled in the sight of the creation at the return of Christ (Romans, Chapter Eight).

When Jesus returns He will rule all nations with a rod of iron, and the victorious saints will share His throne of authority and power with Him. Through the saints will be accomplished the restoration of God’s Glory described in Isaiah, Chapters 60 and 61; Daniel, Chapter Seven; and John, Chapter 17. The fullness of the Glory of God will come to whoever will take up his cross each day and follow Christ.

The Tabernacle of David contained the Ark of the Covenant, in which were the two tables of stone, the Ten Commandments. Each Christian who will give his personality to the Holy Spirit in the day in which we are living will be fashioned into the "Ark of the Covenant," so to speak. His entire personality will be converted into the express moral image of Christ.

It is the Lord’s will that the moral law be inscribed on the tables of our heart. We must say the eternal "yes" to God. If we do, from then on every moment of our time will be used by the Lord to teach, to refine, to perfect, to transform us according to His design. His specifications for His temple are exceedingly exact (notice the amount of measuring of Ezekiel’s temple—Ezekiel, Chapter 40; also, Revelation 11:1; 21:17).

You too can enter total discipleship. Now, as you read these words, say, "Lord Jesus, this is what I desire—to enter completely into Your purposes with no part of my personality held back from You."

Say it, and mean it with all your heart. Then watch and pray as our Lord, to your never-ending delight, re-creates your entire personality. There will be some trouble and suffering along the way, but that is part of the process of redemption. The results are worth your trouble and suffering (Romans 8:18; II Corinthians 4:17).

Keep one fact firmly in your mind. Your transformation into the image of Christ, and all the resulting glory and blessing, are not dependent on anything in you—your wisdom, strength, education, popularity, history of successes or failures. Your total victory is not dependent on any thing, any circumstance, any person other than Christ.

Your part is to rest in Christ. It is the power and glory of Christ—nothing else—that takes you from a frail creature of the dust and exalts you to the throne of Glory. Rest in Him. The victory is His. "All things are possible to him (or her) who believes."

The process of redemption will have been completed in you when you are in Christ’s image in spirit, soul, and body; when you are completely indwelt by the fullness of the Godhead; and when you are fully anointed with the Holy Spirit for total dedication to Him in the building of His Kingdom on the earth.

Is such glory and blessing for you? Step forward in faith, hope, and trust. You have nothing to lose but your sin and disobedience. You have Christ to gain.

The Christians who are victorious in Christ are the fulfillment of David’s Tabernacle. They are dwelling places for the Ark of the Covenant. In fact, they are the Ark of the Covenant, the dwelling place of the Glory of God. Each strong Christian must assist weaker believers until the entire Kingdom of God has been perfected and established eternally on the earth. This will occur when the new Jerusalem comes down from God out of the new sky and is founded on a high mountain of the new earth.

The victorious saints will rule in Christ during the Kingdom Age. The Book of Revelation emphasizes this point. It appears from Isaiah, Malachi, and the other Prophets, that the Church of Christ will be perfected during the Kingdom Age. To our knowledge, the Scriptures do not state that Christ is coming for a perfect church. However, it is certain that eventually the Church will be made perfect by the Lord (Ephesians 5:27). A remnant of the Church will be approaching perfection by the time of the coming of the Lord.

The "male son" of the twelfth chapter of Revelation represents the development of Christ in the members of the Body of Christ. The "woman" of Revelation, Chapter 12 is the Church. The Church is the fulfillment of the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The travail of the heavenly woman is the travail of the Church to form Christ in each member of the Body of Christ.

Those who choose to do so may press forward to the full image and total indwelling and anointing. The believers will perform the same, and greater works, as Jesus prophesied in John 14:12. They finally will overcome "the accuser of our brothers" by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their life to the death.

According to the Book of Revelation the victorious saints will inherit all things, including the Throne of God. Every member of the Christian churches is invited to inherit all things in Christ. When Christ is formed in us He always is caught up immediately to the Throne of God. He always inherits every promise of the Scripture for they are addressed primarily to Him. He—Jesus Christ—is the only true Israel, the Servant of the Lord. We are nothing apart from Him, but through Him we are the Seed of Abraham and heirs of God.

The creating of a victorious saint is a unique operation involving the Lord and one believer. Never has the Holy Spirit written "to them who overcome." Overcoming is always singular, personal. It is always "to him who overcomes."

Each overcomer receives a white stone of acceptance in the ranks of the chosen, and no one knows the name on the stone except the Christian receiving it. The new name is given to the new creation. The stone and the name are unique to him receiving it and compose a further bond between the Lord and His servant. There are some matters that are to be kept in confidence between Christ and His saints.

Special revelations from the Lord must be worked out in our own heart with Christ. We should always maintain a teachable spirit toward the Lord and toward people. We are not to make room in our heart for a spirit of pride or for an independence that alienates us from our fellow Christians.

We shall make many mistakes so there is no basis for our becoming spiritually proud. We can be assisted by all the folk in the churches, and by unsaved people as well. We are to keep firmly in mind that we are self-centered creatures—worms in the sight of God. We are full of problems and shortcomings of every description.

We must be careful about describing our personal "revelations." Remember what happened to Joseph! Remember also God loves each of us with an exceedingly great love and will make our discipleship a success if we will allow Him to do so.

We understand that two dimension of spiritual life are working at the same time in God’s people. One dimension is the coming of the double portion of the anointing of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of bringing the witness of the resurrection of Christ to every person on earth. The end-time double anointing for witnessing is portrayed by the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 12. The double anointing can be seen also in the two wave loaves of the feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:17). The two olive trees shown to Zechariah speak of the fullness of the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:3). They reveal to us that the Temple of Lord will be built "not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). We understand, then, that a fullness of anointing for Christian witnessing is even now coming on the disciples of the Lord Jesus in these last days of time.

The second dimension of spiritual life is the development of the fullness of Christ in the Christians, a preparation for their reigning eternally with Christ throughout the ages to come. Both of these dimensions, the Gospel witness and the transformation into the image of Christ in spirit, soul, and body, can work in your life if you will seek the Lord Jesus with all your heart.

Perhaps the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11 portray the power and revelation of the end-time Gospel ministry, while the "male son" of Revelation, Chapter 12 signifies the development of the fullness of Christ in the Christians.

It appears also the Body of Christ will be brought to maturity during the Kingdom Age. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He said, "Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected" (Luke 13:32; see also Hosea 6:1-3).

It may be that Jesus was looking forward prophetically to two thousand years of Gospel ministry and power, and then to a thousand-year Kingdom Age during which His Bride would be brought to perfection in preparation for her glorious descent from the sky as the holy Jerusalem, the fullness of God’s Glory to the ages of ages (Revelation 21:9,10).

The above is our understanding of the fulfillment of the Tabernacle of the Congregation and of the Tabernacle of David. The Tabernacle of David speaks of a remnant of the entire Bride, a company of victorious saints who will appear with the Lord at His coming.

The remainder of the Church (as symbolized by the Tabernacle of the Congregation minus the Ark) on the high place of Gibeon will not be perfect in Christ until the end of the Kingdom Age. Then the two groups, the remnant and the remainder of the Church, will be joined together as one holy city, the new Jerusalem, and will come down to the earth from God out of Heaven.

Let the prophets judge whether or not what we are teaching is correct. To Christ be all glory forever.

Set Up On the Earth

The pattern of the Tabernacle, which also was the pattern for Solomon’s Temple that followed, is an indication of the nature and structure of the Kingdom of God that now is being created and that will be established on the earth when Jesus returns. It may be remembered that the Tabernacle was walled in by a rectangular fence of fine twisted linen.

 And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side: And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. (Exodus 27:9,10)

The pattern, which includes the Most Holy Place, then the Holy Place, then the Courtyard, points toward degrees of holiness and nearness to the Presence of Christ There are those who choose to live in the fullness of His Presence and who will "see his face." They shall reign forever.

As one moves toward the "Courtyard," so to speak, there are nations of saved people ruled by kings (Revelation 21:24-26).

The description of the Kingdom of God set forth in the Book of Revelation reveals that the victorious saints will dwell forever in the fullness of God’s Glory, are coheirs with Christ, and will sit with Him on His throne. The Book of Revelation states also there are untold numbers of people who will be living on the new earth and who will recognize the supreme rulership of the new Jerusalem, which is the Wife of the Lamb ("the nations of them which are saved"—Revelation 21:24,26).

When God has finished perfecting and arranging the members of His Church, the Body of Christ, the fullness of Him who fills all in all, then the Church will be set up as the Tabernacle of God on the new earth (Revelation 21:3).

When we Christians make the spirit Paradise (Heaven) the focus of our attention we miss the Divine purpose. God’s attention is centered on the earth. God is establishing His Kingdom on the earth.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:35)

"Filled the whole earth."

The "stone" is Christ, and the "great mountain" is the Kingdom of God that shall prevail over all other political institutions on the earth.

 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7:27)

The preceding passage describes the time to come when Jesus and the saints rule on the earth. Their rulership on the earth is the rule of the Kingdom of God.

The latter chapters of Revelation speak of the reign of Christ and His saints on the present earth and also on the new earth.

 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:15,16)

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:2,3)

Christ will rule on the earth. The mistake in concept we make concerning the coming of Christ and the Kingdom of God appears to be the reverse of the mistake in concept made by the Jews. The Jews were picturing the coming of Christ to be the advent of a powerful military-political ruler who would restore the authority and power of the kingdoms of David and Solomon.

But Christ came as a spiritual ruler over the hearts of men. The Kingdom of God has come as a Seed that is planted in the heart. At first the Seed is small. But if it is tended carefully by the diligent convert, the Seed will grow and branch out until it extends into every part of the overcoming Christian—spirit, soul, and body.

The Jews were looking for another Joshua or David or Solomon. But Christ came as Lord of the inner man of the heart.

Now we Christians, in so many instances, are looking for the return of a spiritual Christ who will carry our spirits to a spiritual existence in Heaven where departed souls float about carrying harps and doing we know not what.

In fact, Christ’s inheritance is the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. He is Lord also of the heavens and all the personages therein.

Christ is coming as a conquering warrior—God’s Commander in Chief. He is far more powerful than any Caesar! He shall assume the rulership of the present earth.

Satan held out the prize of dominion over the earth to Christ during Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. Satan knew the rulership of the earth is a permanent, strong desire of Christ, that desire having been put in His heart by the Lord God. The law of obedience in Christ prevented Him from accepting at that time.

However, God has decreed that Christ indeed shall govern this earth and all the glory of it. Christ now is waiting patiently until all who would contest His rulership are put under His feet.

Christ is coming again, and this time to exercise His lordship over the earth. As soon as the Church has been prepared to govern with Him the reign of God will extend into the politics and business of the earth.

When we Christians think of Heaven as being the focus of our efforts concerning the building of the Kingdom of God it becomes quite difficult for us to grasp much of the Scriptures. The writings of the Hebrew Prophets, as well as the text of the Book of Revelation, then will not admit to a direct, unforced interpretation.

 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)

The authority to govern the nations of the earth has been promised to Christ and the saints—to those who keep the works of God to the end. We must overcome through Christ every obstacle to God’s will placed in our path. If we hold back we never will overcome the world, Satan, or our own fleshly nature and self-will. The reward of rulership in the earth is for the victorious saints. Satan will do all he can to prevent our wresting dominion over the earth from him.

 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (Hebrews 10:38)

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

In the second chapter of Isaiah we find in the last days the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, is to be "exalted above the hills." This expression means the Church will be the strongest political power on earth. It indicates also the state of Israel is to become the greatest Christian nation on earth.

The dominion will be given to Christ and the saints at the sounding of the last trumpet, which is to say at the hour of the first resurrection—the time of the redemption of the bodies of the saints.

 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

We have emphasized for so long that Christians go to Heaven—and they surely do, temporarily—we may have forgotten that the plan of God is to set His Son as Ruler over the earth. The kingdoms of this world are to become the Kingdom of God and Christ. God shall rule over the earth through His beloved Son, Christ; and through the Christian Church, which is the Body of Christ.

The Kingdom of God is portrayed in Isaiah:

 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain [center of government—capital city] of the Lord, to the house [dwelling place—capitol building] of the God of Jacob;

The dwelling place of the God of Jacob is Christ—Head and Body.

 And he will teach us of his ways,

God will teach the peoples of the earth by ministering to them through the members of the Church, just as He does today only under surpassingly glorious conditions.

 And we will

Consider the converted will of earth’s peoples—a conversion brought about by the total destruction of Satan’s presence and power, the destruction that will take place at the revealing of the sons of God.

 Walk in his paths: for out of Zion [the Body of Christ] shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)

The preceding passage from the second chapter of Isaiah describes the rule of God in Christ, through the Church, over the saved peoples of the earth. It is the Kingdom of God.

Both the Old and New Testaments have much to say about the Kingdom of God that is to be set up on the earth. 

And they [the mourners in Zion, the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord] shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:4)

Notice in the next verse the reverential awe in which the Church will be held by the peoples of the earth, after Christ returns: 

And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. (Isaiah 61:9)

Here is the concept of the peoples of the earth being able to witness the Glory of Christ on His Body, as described in John 17:21-23. And then the response of the Christian saint upon his being glorified at the coming of the Lord Jesus:

 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

Followed by the promise of God concerning the Body of Christ:

 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)

Let us point out a few more of the many passages that refer to the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth: 

That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; (Genesis 22:17)

It is wonderful to think of Christ in His Body being as the stars of the heaven (countless) and as the sand on the seashore.

 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. (Genesis 49:10)

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations. (Psalms 22:27,28)

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalms 46:10)

For the Lord most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. (Psalms 47:2,3)

All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah. (Psalms 66:4)

Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah: (Psalms 68:32)

All the earth would have worshiped and have sung to the Lord Jesus at His first appearance had not wicked men put Him to death. At His next appearance they will not find it as easy to shut His mouth and stop His hands.

The governments of the earth may not realize it as yet, but the day is coming when they will praise the Lord and meekly submit to His authority. Woe to them if they do not!

 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. (Psalms 72:6-11)

The promise of the coming Day, when the Glory of God will fill the earth, appears several times in the Scripture.

 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations. (Psalms 82:8)

The nations of the earth are God’s gift to Christ.

 O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. (Psalms 96:9,10)

One of the problems with human governments and rulers is that they do not judge the people "righteously." Because of the sin and other limitations of human rulers, personal and social injustices abound. Sometimes injustices are corrected. Sometimes they are ignored or even made worse. It always shall be so with human government.

There will be little personal or social justice and righteousness until Christ becomes the ruler of the world. The Kingdom of God contains the only solutions to the bewildering problems with which the peoples of the earth are faced in the present hour.

 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice Before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth. (Psalms 96:11-13)

"He cometh to judge the earth."

The preceding passage describes the beneficial impact on the natural environment when the Lord returns with His saints. When Jesus was on the earth the first time, the trees, waves, storms, and fish obeyed Him. The presence of sin in the earth has had a corrupting effect on the world of nature. When sin has been removed from the earth, the creation itself will be "delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21).

In Psalms 96 the Spirit of Christ in David is exhorting all nature, and perhaps in symbolic form the peoples of the earth, to respond joyfully to the coming of Christ.

A hostile response can lead only to the destruction of the individual and the nation. Christ shall reign over the earth with a rod of iron, and it will be a period of never-ending happiness and joy for all who receive Him gladly.

 In that day [the Day of the Lord—the coming of Christ] shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: (Isaiah 4:2,3)

The Lord Jesus will have "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." It will be "holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27). It will be the "beautiful and glorious" branch, of Isaiah, Chapter Four.

 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:4)

Observe the terms, "spirit of judgment," and "spirit of burning." These refer to the baptism with fire that purges the saint. Compare Matthew 3:11,12. Anyone who has set his mind on reigning with Christ must prepare himself for the fiery trial of his motives and deeds. Are we willing to be baptized with the baptism of fire? We cannot reign with Christ apart from suffering with Christ.

 And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion [the Body of Christ], and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence [the "camp of the saints" of Revelation 20:9]. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. (Isaiah 4:5,6)

The above passage is interesting because it points toward the day when the Church will be established as God’s Glory in the earth but when there yet will be trouble in the earth. Note the expressions: "for upon all the glory shall be a defence"; and "a place of refuge"; and "covert from storm and from rain."

It is our understanding that this period of simultaneous glory and trouble may be the tribulation period just preceding the return of the Lord, or possibly the Kingdom Age, the age when the Kingdom of God is further refined and perfected.

God available through the Church. The rulership of God through the Christian Church is the fulfillment of the words of Jesus, "Ye are the light of the world." The Christian Church will be set up in the earth as the center of government and teaching for the redeemed nations. God will be available through the Church to the nations of saved peoples of the earth.

 Ye also, as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)

Compare: Ye are the light of the world.

 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; (I Peter 2:9)

Ye are the light of the world.

 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

Ye are the light of the world.

 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22)

Ye are the light of the world.

 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

Ye are the light of the world.

 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:24)

Ye are the light of the world.

 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

Ye are the light of the world.

 The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. (Isaiah 60:19)

Ye are the light of the world.

 For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. (Isaiah 62:1,2)

Ye are the light of the world.

 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; (Philippians 2:15)

Ye are the light of the world.

It is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis that God gave light on the earth. The light mentioned in verses 3 and 4 was not the light of the sun, moon, or stars, for they had not been created as yet.

Perhaps the light of Genesis 1:3-5 was the same light that will proceed from the Body of Christ and provide illumination for the nations of the earth. It is noteworthy that both at the beginning of the old creation and the beginning of the new creation the light proceeds from a source other than the sun, moon, and stars. The Lord prefers men walk by His Spirit rather than by human reasoning.

The Goal of the Christian Life

The goal of the Christian life is not residence in Heaven. Heaven is a definite place and all Christians hope to be gathered to their loved ones in Heaven. However, the spiritual Heaven is but a station along the way.

The true goal of the Christian pilgrimage is the victorious resurrection from the dead: the receiving of eternal life in the inner man, and finally the redemption of the mortal body. The redemption of the mortal body includes the clothing of the body with its heavenly counterpart (II Corinthians 5:12).

The raising of the mortal body from the dead is the resurrection. The clothing of our resurrected flesh and bones with the "house from heaven" is the glorification—the reward of the overcomer. We may think of the glorification (in terms of the Tabernacle of the Congregation) as being the gold (heavenly body) upon the wood (earthly body).

The victorious resurrection of the body into glory, according to what we have been stating, is a condition that the believer must attain. It is not a state into which all church members will arrive because of their profession of faith in Christ and therefore is to be taken for granted.

 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17)

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)

All persons shall be raised from the dead in the last day, but not all will be raised to eternal life in the Presence of the Lord.

The promised land is the earth. It is important for us to realize the land of promise of the Christian Church is the earth—especially the inhabitants thereof. Part of this inheritance is our own body (Romans 8:11).

Until we grasp the concept that the purposes of God are directed toward the earth rather than toward the spirit Paradise it is difficult to understand the nature of the redemption that is in Christ or the purpose of the Temple of God. The idea of the Christians becoming a royal priesthood remains a figure of speech.

When we understand that this earth and the peoples of it are our inheritance, our land of promise, then the thought of being a royal priest becomes meaningful. Is it true indeed that this earth and the people in it are our land of promise, as symbolized in the Old Testament by the land of Canaan?

 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)

The nations of the earth are Christ’s inheritance: "even as I received of my Father."

 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)

"We shall reign on the earth"! "On the earth "!

 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

The first resurrection, you may recall, is the goal of Paul’s attaining, mentioned in Philippians 3:11. It can be seen that the concepts of resurrection and governing are tied together. The rulership is over the nations of the earth (see context of Revelation 20:6). Paul was aware of the rulership of the saints over the nations of the earth and he was setting himself toward this rulership.

 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (II Timothy 2:12)

Christ’s princes will rule with Him.

 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

Revolutionary force.

 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. (Micah 5:8)

And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:3)

The emphasis in Micah 5:8 and Malachi 4:3 is on the fierceness of the manner in which the saints will confront the people and spirits of the earth. A student of history will recognize the pattern. Ordinarily when there is a change of government in the earth there is accompanying violence and revolution. The nature of people is such that government must be installed and maintained by force.

In every nation the government is maintained by the armed forces. We may not think about this until there is a serious attempt to interfere with the decisions of the government. Then there is reliance on various agencies that enforce the decisions with weapons.

When we are referring to the rule of Christ over the nations of the earth, and when we are speaking of the kingship, the political rule of the saints, we are indicating changes in the government of the earth.

This is why the contexts of the passages referring to the Day of the Lord refer to lions, tearing in pieces, the execution of judgment, armies from heaven, threshing the nations in anger, and so forth.

It is incorrect to picture the second coming of Christ as the appearing of a dove who will gently flit about while the heads of state graciously turn over to Him their authority.

Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords—the avenging Lamb of God. He will return in thunderous power and royal majesty to rule with a rod of iron. Woe to anyone who attempts to resist Him!

 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen [nations] for thine inheritance, and the farthest reaches of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalms 2:8-12)

Anyone who believes that the nations of the earth will not wage war against God and His Christ does not understand mankind and does not know the Scriptures.

One of God’s names is the Lord of Hosts. God is a warrior, a Man of battle. Mankind is determined to rule without God and will fight against God. Witness the treatment accorded the Son of God when He came to the earth. When He returns, ambitious men will attempt to murder Him once more. There is no end to the wickedness of Satan-inspired men.

So incensed will be the heads of state at the new Ruler that they will attempt to resist Him.

 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (Revelation 19:19)

When Israel invaded Canaan, the land of promise, the Jews had to drive out the inhabitants. There was fierce resistance and much blood was shed. Israel fell back many times before the desperate counterattacks of the Canaanites.

The nation of Israel never did occupy fully the land of promise. To this day their right to even a small part of the area is being contested bitterly. It is no light thing to invade another nation’s homeland and wrest it from them, destroying the natives in the process. Men will fight desperately when defending their families and homes.

So it is today. The whole world, including our physical body, is influenced by the kingdom of darkness. The evil powers consider the world and its inhabitants their possession. They will not give up their claim without a terrific struggle.

As to Satan’s influence on the world:

 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. (I John 5:19)

Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. (John 16:11)

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

As to Satan’s influence on our physical body:

 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 7:17).

Sin dwells in every person. No one understands this more clearly than the Christian who is attempting to live victoriously in Jesus.

 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 7:18-20)

Sin dwells in our flesh. The flesh itself is neutral, being composed of chemicals. It is the spiritual power of sin, of Satan, that exerts influence on the flesh of man, including the flesh of Christians.

 I find then a law [a law of sin, of Satan], that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God [the Ten Commandments] after the inner man [the conscience, and the inborn Nature of Christ in the case of the Christian, that love God and His ways]: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind [the desire of the righteous man to please God], and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)

The seventh chapter of Romans stresses that many people, including Christians, are determined to do God’s will and the desires of their flesh and fleshly mind make it difficult for them to do so. The true Christian life is a struggle to overcome the world, Satan, and our own lusts and self-will. It is a continual battle, one in which we must be unceasingly diligent, maintaining a solid front of faith and looking to God in prayer every moment.

Our Lord, Christ, gives us total victory over sin each day if we seek Him with our whole heart. We must learn to come under the discipline of the Holy Spirit, for when we walk in the Spirit we do not fulfill the lusts of our flesh (Galatians 5:16).

The battle and the overcoming must be accomplished in the guidance and strength of God. It is not in the power of man to please God because of the weakness of man’s flesh and because of the cunning opposition of the adversary.

We desire not to be bitter, not to backbite, not to speak or act spitefully, not to lust, not to become impatient. It requires a constant seeking of God to be able to resist. We seem to be pushed constantly toward thoughts, words, and action that our mind rejects as sinful.

Such continual temptation is true of all Christians from the least spiritual to the most spiritual. There is no letup from the forces of evil. The murderous, lying, lustful pressure is on day and night. Whatever else may be true of the Christian pilgrimage, it is a battle. The spoils of war go to the conqueror.

There is, as Paul instructs us, a law of sin. The law of sin is the will of Satan and it dominates the age in which we are living. The evidence of this is before our eyes throughout the world. Yet the earth, by Divine edict, belongs to Christ and is the land of promise. Someday we will have the opportunity to wrest it completely from the hands of the adversary.

 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:11,12)

Our land of promise, the earth, is governed at the present time—but not by us! The whole world is under the influence of Satan and his horde of rebels. The condition of Christians in the present hour may be compared to that of the Hebrews when they were in the wilderness. We are learning lessons that God deems necessary for our continuing association with Him in His purposes. It is the Divine curriculum and the Holy Spirit is our Teacher.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation was in the possession of the Hebrews while they yet were in the wilderness. The Tabernacle was being carried by the Hebrews toward the land of promise. The Israelites were bringing God Himself into Canaan.

So it is with us Christians. We have the Lord Jesus in our heart while we are making our way through this world. We still are in the wilderness. We are in the process of bringing the Presence of God in Christ into the land of promise, which is the earth. It is a slow journey, not only because of the resistance presented by the devil and his forces in the world but also because of the unbelief and hardness of our own heart.

But the day certainly shall come, as foretold by the Prophets, when the Christians (anointed people of God; anointed by the Holy Spirit; anointed to be a royal priesthood) possess the earth. We will bring the Tabernacle of God, the re-created Christian heart, into the earth. Thus God and we will come into our inheritance at the same time; we being dependent on Him, and He on us. This extraordinary plan was created by our wise and loving Father in Heaven.

Jesus must be patient until God works out His entire plan. The Kingdom of God is associated with patience, hope, and expectation.

 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. (Hebrews 10:12,13)

I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:9)

We also must learn to rest in God until He brings the earth into subjection to the Spirit of Christ. It is a slow process, from the human point of view, but the end already has been announced. We will possess the earth if we continue in Christ and are not moved away from steadfast faith and hope in Him.

 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13,14)

The above is a description of Jesus and His saints receiving the nations of the earth for Their inheritance. We are coheirs with Him.

Satan attempted to persuade Jesus to turn aside from God (just as he does us) by saying, "All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:9). Satan was referring to "the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them." The desire for rulership already had been put in the heart of Christ by the Father.

It is true also of us that the desire for the possession of one thing or another may be present to a degree. Satan will play craftily on this God-given desire. If the adversary can, he will persuade us to turn aside from God in order to fulfill our desire. We need to be careful because Satan does not always attack us frontally or in an obvious manner.

Sometimes the suggestions of Satan are concealed in a religious setting and we make the horrible error of the Pharisees: we oppose Christ as we try misguidedly to rule in God.

If we stay with God and are willing to be made of no reputation we will be exalted in God’s time. We need much patience so after (sometimes a long time after) we do the will of God we may receive the promise of fruitfulness, or rulership, or whatever God has laid on our heart.

 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole Heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7:26,27)

The vision described in the seventh chapter of Daniel must, we believe, be carved into the consciousness of the Church of Christ. It portrays the destiny of the Body of Christ.

Perhaps our concept of the fruition of the Christian life has been limited to our heavenly citizenship. It may be true that our problems, worries, sickness, bills, and so forth vanish when we die and go to Heaven. We look forward with joy to entering Paradise at our decease and to being reunited with our loved ones there. This glorious hope keeps us moving forward in Christ.

The Lord Jesus is anticipating our being made one with Him. We anticipate being forever with our Lord. Together we (Jesus and we) wait on the will of the heavenly Father as He brings all peoples and circumstances toward the Day of days when the anointed Servant of the Lord, Christ—Head and Body—is commissioned to go through the earth, destroying sin and bringing eternal righteousness, peace, and joy to every person who will receive with a glad heart the lordship of Christ.

Practical impact of the Kingdom concept. Let us pause for a moment to consider the immediate, practical aspect of the teaching concerning the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. Any teaching that proceeds from God must move us in a practical manner toward worship, holiness, and obedience to God.

The concept of reigning in the earth, under the jurisdiction of and in cooperation with God in Christ, holds true now, not only in the distant future. If we will serve Christ today we become a royal priest. The scope is not nearly as great as what is coming, but the essence is the same. We can be the house of Christ and God now.

We can learn to rule in God over the small part of the earth that has been assigned to us, even if it is a prison cell. We can serve God as a ruling priest by performing in absolute faithfulness and diligence the duties that have been given us by the Lord.

If we are faithful in the little domain that presently is assigned to us we will be faithful in the larger area. If we are not faithful and diligent with the talents and opportunities now at hand we will be not faithful over a larger area, and we have no hope of being assigned a large scope of responsibilities by the Lord.

It is not true that we will be plucked suddenly from a careless, halfhearted Christian life into a grand rulership with Christ. It shall never happen. The Scripture teaches against it by revealing that the promises of such glory are reserved for conquerors. It is a false hope, and the believer holding this hope is in deception. If we cannot rule in Christ today, in our present circumstances, we will not be able to rule in the Day of the Lord. We are on our proving ground now.

 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. (Matthew 25:14,15)

Many of us may be familiar with this parable but never have thought about its meaning.

 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matthew 25:20,21)

The joy of the Lord, in this instance, is rulership over the earth. The nations are the inheritance of Christ. We are destined to enter the joy of rulership with our Lord Jesus provided we are faithful in the diligent use of our gifts and ministries, as the Holy Spirit leads and enables; and in bearing our cross as Christ directs us.

 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17)

If Christ’s inheritance is the nations, and we are coheirs with Christ, then our inheritance is the nations.

The Seed of Abraham

There are two misunderstandings of doctrine that confuse the concept of Christians being a royal priesthood in Christ. We already have mentioned the first misunderstanding. It is the commonly held belief that the goal of the Christian salvation is attaining residence in Heaven. It is a fact that Heaven is a definite place. Heaven is more substantial than any geographical area on earth because the inhabitants, places, and things of Heaven are not perishable.

The spirits of Christians who have gone on before are there. People are recognizable, as are the angels, and live in a glorious paradise of joy and happiness. When a Christian dies he is "gathered to his people." The Christian dead (who are not dead at all, for no believer in Christ can die—we have eternal life) are living active, intelligent lives in Heaven, according to our understanding.

Every genuine Christian goes to Heaven to be with Jesus. Heaven is our birthright, our homeland, the place of our citizenship. There is no need to attain Heaven. Also, if a person receives Christ as Lord and Savior he will be saved in the Day of Judgment. He will be brought forward to live in the new world of righteousness.

However, the goal of the program of redemption is not eternal residence in Heaven, although every true Christian looks forward with gladness of heart to going to Heaven. Rather, the goal of the Christian discipleship is the "prize of the high (upward) calling of God in Christ," which is knowing Christ, knowing the power of His resurrection, experiencing the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death. Such is the first resurrection and it indeed is an attainment toward which we are to press.

The first resurrection is associated with rulership with Christ as a governing priest.

The second misunderstanding is that there are two separate sets of people with whom God is dealing: a Jewish church and a Gentile church. As long as the believer holds such a viewpoint he cannot understand the writings of the Prophets. He will think the Prophet is referring to a Jewish church, and the destiny of the Christian Church will remain unclear.

The truth is, there is only one Church, one people of God. There never has been and never will be two separate groups of called-out people, Jewish and Christian. The Christian salvation is to the Jew first. The Israelites were God’s anointed people under the old covenant and the Christians are God’s anointed people under the new covenant. The term Christian has nothing to do with being a Jew or Gentile.

The oneness of the anointed family of God is a fundamental fact of the Kingdom of God. When this fact is changed the entire plan and program of redemption is thrown into disarray.

Observe the impact of the birth of Christ on the Hebrew people:

 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: (Luke 1:68-70)

If there were two separate churches, a Jewish and a Christian, to which of the two would the above passage apply?

The Christian Gospel began with Abraham. Abraham is the father of all believers in Christ. There is one Seed of Abraham. All of the promises of God are to the one Seed.

The same Holy Spirit who spoke to Abraham spoke also to Moses, Gideon, Joel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Malachi, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, and to you if you are a Christian and of the Seed of Abraham.

There never has been any called-out people (church) of God other than the one Seed of Abraham. Until this fact is grasped the prophecies of the first covenant remain unintelligible. Israel is the Church of God. It always has been and always shall be.

What does Galatians proclaim?

 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. (Galatians 3:6-9)

Again:

 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:14)

How, then, could we Christians believe there are two separate churches, one Jewish and one Gentile?

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)

The promise of fruitfulness, of dominion, and of blessing to the nations of the earth, can be applied only to "Abraham and his seed." The Seed of Abraham is Christ. In fact, a Jew who has not been born again in Christ cannot receive the promises directed toward the Seed of Abraham. If a person has not been born again, whether he is a Jew or Gentile, he can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God.

Many promises of the Old Testament spoke to the physical nation of Israel. But the Messianic promises of the Old Testament, those pertaining to the eternal Kingdom of God, always are directed toward Christ and those who are part of Him.

Why, then, the fifteen hundred years of Israel under the Law?

 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19)

The Messianic promises of God leaped over Israel and came to rest on the Babe of Bethlehem. The promise of the restoration of the Presence of God to the earth, that which was lost in Eden, applies neither to Jew nor Gentile. The promise applies only to Christ. When we are born again, Christ is in us. The promise of God abides on Him who is in us. This is true whether we are a Jew or a Gentile; but the blessing is directed to the Jew first, then to the Gentile.

Christ is God’s Olive Tree (Romans 11:17).

 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:27-29)

The Christian Church is "Zion" of the Old Testament. As soon as we understand that there is but one group of called-out people, only one Church, the prophecies of the Old Testament take on direct meaning for us. We Christians are the holy city, the new Jerusalem, Mount Zion, the Israel of God.

 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (Hebrews 12:22)

Some of the Divine promises given through the Hebrew Prophets apply directly to the physical land and people of Israel. There are promises that were fulfilled in the past, others are being fulfilled in the present, and there are those that will be brought to pass in the future. Every such promise shall come to pass. The Church of Christ will never supplant those promises.

Beginning with Abraham, the Spirit of God spoke of the Messianic Kingdom. Every member of the Messianic Kingdom, beginning with Abraham, is a member by promise, by election. In a sense, the Church, the Messianic Kingdom, always has been separate from the physical land and people of Israel.

At one time the members of the Messianic Kingdom were found exclusively among the physical Jews. After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the Messianic Kingdom (the Olive Tree) was extended to include elect Gentiles. As soon as the full number of elect Gentiles have been brought into the family of God, the Messianic Kingdom will turn once again to the physical land and people of Israel and all Israel, meaning all the members of the Olive Tree, of Christ, will be saved.

Let us read Isaiah, for example, with the oneness of the people of God in mind.

 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)

This is referring to the events surrounding the second coming of our Lord, Christ. The power and Glory of God will be given to the Church, the Body of Christ, at that time (Romans 8:18; Colossians 3:4).

 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:2; John 17:21-23))

Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. When He comes to gather together His elect, the world will be forced to acknowledge that the favor of Almighty God has come upon the Church. This is the point at which Zion, the city of God, will be established as the supreme government of the world.

All nations will bow the knee and confess that Christ is Lord. The Glory of Christ resting on the Church will be visible to all men just as the Glory of God resting on the Tabernacle of the Congregation was visible to all men.

 Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. (Isaiah 60:4)

The promise of the Father (Psalms Two) to Jesus is that if Jesus will ask Him the Father will give to Jesus the nations for His inheritance. Apparently Jesus indeed has asked the Father for the nations because here in Isaiah, Chapter 60 we find the nations coming to the Christian Church that they may be blessed with the Presence of God in Christ.

The overcoming Christians will share in the inheritance with Christ ("heirs of God and coheirs with Christ"—Romans 8:17) who is our older Brother. We shall possess the farthest reaches of the earth and the inhabitants thereof. Those who overcome shall inherit all things (Revelation 21:7) and sit with Christ in His throne (Revelation 3;21; Isaiah 60:12).

God’s inheritance is Christ—Head and Body (Isaiah 62:3). The inheritance of Christ, Head and Body, is, first of all, the Lord God Himself (Joshua 13:33); and second, the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for a possession (Psalms 2:8).

God has chosen Zion (Christ—the Temple of God) as His eternal dwelling place. God has given all things to Christ—all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth. All belongs to Christ to rule over and to enjoy forever. Christ’s joy, because of the unfathomable love He has for her, is to share His dominion with His Bride.

Christ’s unlimited authority and power over all personages and kingdoms has been given to Him lawfully by the Father. Christ has fulfilled all righteousness. No one else can claim the throne of the universe, can dispute the right of Christ to His inheritance. It is His by Divine decree and without reservation.

Christ can share His inheritance with whomever He chooses. According to Scripture, Christ has chosen to share His inheritance with His Bride. The effect of His sharing His eternal Glory, authority, and power with His Church is described in Isaiah, Chapters 60-62, and in numerous other passages of the Scriptures.

Nations bow before the Church.

 Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. (Isaiah 60:5)

When Christ appears, and the Church is glorified with His Person, the Church will "flow together." At that time we Christians will experience exceedingly great joy because of the effect on the peoples of the earth when the stupendous Glory of God, the Creator of the galaxies, comes to rest on the Church (John 17:20-26).

Verses 6-10 of Isaiah, Chapter 60 refer to the physical wealth of the nations of the earth that will be brought to the Church by the rulers of the world in acknowledgment of the supremacy of the government of Christ.

 Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. (Isaiah 60:11)

This concept is repeated in the New Testament:

 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. (Revelation 21:24,25)

Continuing in Isaiah: 

For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)

Christ is King over the heads of state. Woe to the rulers who resist the Ruler whom God has chosen!

 The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee; The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 60:14)

The people of God, from the time of Abraham until now, have endured seasons of persecution at the hands of the rulers of the earth. All this will be changed at the appearing of Christ in the clouds of glory. The nations of the earth will be forced to acknowledge the supreme power of Christ who, at that time, will be coming with His saints to execute "the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Revelation 19:15).

 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (II Thessalonians 1:8)

Christ and His brothers will rule over, bless, and teach the nations who submit to Him. They will judge and destroy out of the earth all who resist Christ. Christ, Head and Body, will rule with a rod of iron. There will be no area of compromise, no halfway measures. All sin and rebellion against Christ will be rooted out and destroyed.

 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (Malachi 4:1)

God has given to Christ the authority and power to rule the peoples of the earth. Actually it is God in Christ, and Christ in His Body, who will be governing God’s creation in mighty, irresistible power, wisdom, and compassion. Here is one of the reasons for the total Divine transformation of the saints (I John 3:3). The rule of men, even religious men, always is imperfect. The rule of God in Christ always is perfect.

God’s Vine.

 Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. (Isaiah 60:21)

Compare the above passage with the following:

 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The concept expressed in both Isaiah and John concerns the Vine that God has planted in the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Vine and we Christians are the branches—the extension of Christ. We are "the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:23).

Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch. (Zechariah 3:8)

And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: (Zechariah 6:12)

In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. (Isaiah 4:2)

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry. (Isaiah 5:7)

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)

And the continuation:

 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:1,2)

The vine is one of the many types used by the Holy Spirit to describe the Presence of the Godhead that will be placed permanently among the nations of the earth. Other expressions referring to the same Presence are the Body of Christ, the Bride, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, the sons of God, the new Jerusalem, Mount Zion, the Temple of God, the army of the Lord.

We must be careful not to overemphasize any of these symbolic expressions. For example, emphasizing the femininity of the Bride leads away from the truth. The symbol of the Bride emphasizes the spiritual union of the Godhead and the Christian, not the femininity of the believer.

Another error is to assume the various symbols represent divisions in the Church. Some suppose since the Bride is a feminine term and the sons of God is a masculine term they must be two separate groups of people. Such conclusions are not wholesome. They do not lead toward righteousness, holiness, obedience, or the adoration of God—the outcomes of all teaching that proceeds from the Holy Spirit.

There is only one Vine of God, one Israel, there never have been two. There is only one Seed of Abraham, there never have been two. There is only one called-out people of God, there never have been two. There is only one Church, there never have been and never shall be two.

The Holy Spirit came upon the prophets of old. The same Holy Spirit comes upon the ministry of the Christian Church.

The is but one Seed of Abraham, and that Seed is Christ and all who are in Christ. There cannot be two separate chosen nations, one after the flesh and another after the Spirit. There cannot be two brides of Christ.

The calling of God is by election and faith and has nothing to do with religious works of the flesh. This is the basis for much of Paul’s teaching in Romans.

There is but one Holy Spirit of God. The prophets of the new covenant are a continuation of the prophets of the Hebrews. They all speak by the same Spirit, the difference being that new-covenant people have been born again. No person ever was born again before Jesus rose from the dead because the Lord Jesus is the Firstborn from the dead.

The teaching that there are two churches, one Jewish and one Christian, is incorrect. Such teaching destroys the continuity of Scripture and of the plan of salvation. The fact is, we Christians have been grafted on the true vine—Israel. 

And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. (Romans 11:17,18)

God has been dealing with the Gentiles for such a long period of time that we believe we are supporting the root.

The Gospel of Christ is always to the Jew first, for they were, are, and will continue to be God’s chosen people as far as race is concerned. They are beloved for the sake of the patriarchs of Old Testament times. God has never forgotten Moses, Daniel, Elijah, David, or any other of His friends and servants.

The new covenant began among the Jews. The Old and New Testaments were written by Jews. It would be well for us Gentiles, many of whom are descended from European tribes who still were savages in the second and third centuries A.D., to meditate on the degree of refinement possessed by the Jews during the reign of Solomon.

Salvation was of the Jews when we Gentiles were still "wild dogs." Yet, the dogs can eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table. Our pride may find these facts difficult to accept, but they are facts nonetheless.

The Church and the Kingdom of God originated among the Jews, were developed among the Jews, and will attain maturity among the Jews.

The Apostle Paul employs the term, "the fulness of the Gentiles" (Romans 11:15), stating that a hardening has occurred among some of the Jews until the full number of the elect Gentiles have been gathered by the Lord.

God has called a specific number of Gentiles to be part of His Church, His Bride, His eternal Israel. As soon as the elect Gentiles have "come in," the blindness will be lifted from the Jews and the whole nation will be saved.

Joseph and his Egyptian wife (Asenath—Genesis 41:50) are a type of Christ and the part of His Body that has come from Gentile stock (once in Christ, however, there is no more Jew or Gentile).

It is remarkable that the mother of Manasseh and Ephraim was the daughter of a heathen priest. The grandfather of Manasseh and Ephraim was Potiphera, an Egyptian priest.

The story of Joseph and his family is one of the major Bible types. The portrayal reveals that just before the tribulation period (Manasseh and Ephraim were born before the famine) there will be born of Christ and the Gentile portion of His Body, forgetting (Manasseh) and fruitfulness (Ephraim).

The number two in Scripture is symbolic of the power of God Almighty. There will be two witnesses who prepare the way of the Lord (Revelation, Chapter 11). The glory of the Kingdom of Christ will be poured on the Church before the Lord’s return. This glory will enable the saints to forget the afflictions they have endured throughout their period of preparation. The faithful in Christ will enjoy at that time an unbounded fruitfulness in God in the place where they have known affliction.

In His time, God will remove the blindness from His chosen people, physical Israel. Israel will be protected and nourished by Christ and His Body during the tribulation, as we understand the Word at this time. Antichrist will be given authority for a brief season so the saints of God can be purified and made ready for Christ’s glorious appearing. We Christians are not concerned about Antichrist nor are we afraid of him. We care only for the power and Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The testimony of the saints will be overcome for a short time. Then, with a shout and the voice of the Archangel, the Beloved of Israel will appear in the clouds of the heaven. The Jews will see Him whom they pierced. They will receive their Savior, the beloved Son of David. Christ will take away their sin and sorrow and set up His Kingdom on the earth. His body of saints will be with Him at His appearing and the setting up of His Kingdom.

There will be added to the Body of Christ multitudes of Jewish believers, just as there were numerous Jewish believers in the first century. The Church began as Israel and will come to maturity as Israel. It always has been Zion and it always will be Zion—the city of God.

We Gentiles have been accepted of the Father, being called His people when we were not a people. We were nothing until God called us by His grace in Christ. Now we have been grafted on the true Vine, Israel. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free citizen. We are all one in Christ. We are His Body, the new Jerusalem, the holy city that shall govern the creation to the ages of unnumbered ages.

In the fullness of God’s time the elect Jews will be brought into the Christian Church and built on the same foundation as we. Christ cannot be divided. No person, Jew or Gentile, can enter the Kingdom of God other than by being born again of the one Divine Seed.

This does not mean the Jew is required to leave the traditions of his fathers, as some churches have taught in time past.

There is only one Christ, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one Holy Spirit, one Body of Christ, one Servant of the Lord.

The role that the city of Jerusalem will play in God’s plan for the near future, and the circumstances surrounding any rebuilding of Herod’s Temple, are not known to us. The spiritual basis for such material circumstances is as we have stated: the salvation of the full number of elect Gentiles; the revival of Kingdom power; the awakening and preserving of the Jews during the days of trouble that are ahead; and the coming to maturity of Christ in a firstfruits of His Bride.

It is these spiritual facts that are important. The outward activities, such as the events in the land of Israel and the rebuilding of the Temple, will occur as God has planned. Our part is to attend with utmost diligence to our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus so we can fulfill our individual service to the Lord in the present hour.

There is a temple of supreme spiritual significance and it is in the process of construction now. We are referring to the Body of Christ, the Christian Church. It is concerning the one Church that Isaiah was prophesying:

 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)

A portion of the Book of Isaiah is devoted to the revelation of the grandeur and service of the Christian Church during the Kingdom Age and during the new heaven and earth reign of Christ (Chapters 60-63, for example).

God will establish His Kingdom on the earth. The nations of the saved will live on the redeemed earth. The Tabernacle of the Congregation, containing the Holy and Most Holy Places, portrays the Body of Christ that will be located on the new earth. God and Jesus will dwell forever in the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, and from this city will rule throughout eternity over the inhabitants of the earth.

 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the Glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:23,24)

The above passage describes the fulfillment of the pattern shown to mankind in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Jesus referred to the time when the Christian Church will govern the world:

 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14)

The light of the world! With this in mind we can understand Isaiah:

 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. (Isaiah 2:2)

The Manifestation of the Sons of God

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6,7)

No matter how desirous we may become that God’s Kingdom be set up in the earth, we must remember that it is God’s work and He continues to be more zealous than we that His will be fulfilled.

Sometimes the wisest action we can take is to wait on God for His wisdom and strength. Although He works slowly at times (or so it seems to us) He has not forgotten His work in the earth. We can rest in Him and be assured that His zeal will bring about the reign of Christ.

This does not mean we are to fall into the trap of passivity and fatalism. It does signify, however, that we must pay more attention to learning the lessons of holiness and obedience that the Holy Spirit is teaching us, and then trust that God is keeping His part of the covenant. There is a part for God and then there is a part for us. The error of disinterest in spiritual matters is as harmful as the error of fleshly enterprise. The one is neglect and the other is presumption.

 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [the "holy mountain" of the Lord is Zion, the Body of Christ]: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

The preceding verse is referring to the Glory of God that will be revealed at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Everything that destroys will be judged and driven out of the earth. This is the sentence of God and it certainly shall come to pass.

The result will be the flooding of the earth with the Presence of Christ. This will be the answer to the prayer, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

 I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness. The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle. They come from a far country, from the end of Heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. (Isaiah 13:3-5)

Compare:

 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (Revelation 19:19)

Isaiah 13:3-5 (above) is referring to the revealing of the sons of God, which will occur at the return of Christ from Heaven.

 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)

The sons of God (Body of Christ) will judge Satan and his army of helpers and cast them out of the earth. In the process, the political governments on the earth will be brought down and the Kingdom of God will take their place. The land will be made desolate and the sinners will be destroyed out of it, at the appearing of the sons of God.

 Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. (Isaiah 13:9)

From the standpoint of the members of the Body of Christ, the saints of the Lord, the Kingdom Age will not come solely as an external event in time and space—an event unrelated to the spiritual development of the Church. Rather, the Kingdom Age will be brought forth in conjunction with, and will be made possible by, the development of overcoming strength in the personalities of the saints.

God is bringing His people to the point where death itself can be cast from the physical body. When the critical point in the development of the saints has been attained, and not before, the Lord Jesus will return. This is the first resurrection from the dead (Psalms 102:16).

At that time the world of nature, the material creation, will be cleansed by the fire of the judgment that will be administered through the sons of God. This judgment marks the beginning of the fulfillment of the promises of the Prophets concerning the preeminence of Israel (Christ and those who are of Him) over the other nations of the earth.

The actual beginning of the fulfillment of the Hebrew Prophets was the manifestation of the Son of God, Christ. The first appearance of Christ was a foreshadowing of what is to come when He reappears at the head of His army.

The seventh, or last trumpet will sound at this time. The blast of the seventh trumpet is the historical, kingdom-wide fulfillment of the Trumpet of Jubilee. The seven trumpets of Revelation are the kingdom-wide fulfillment of the Levitical feast of the blowing of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24).

The Trumpet of Jubilee

Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month [Day of Atonement], in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. (Leviticus 25:9)

Those who have thought about the meaning of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur ) will realize the significance of the fact that the Trumpet of Jubilee was blown on that very day. The confession of sin and the cleansing of sin from us, which are part of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, brings release.

 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. (Leviticus 25:10)

The number fifty symbolizes Pentecost—the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Observe that while the Day of the Lord is a time of fierce judgment and of destruction of the power of Satan, it also is a time of returning and release for Israel. The seventh trumpet heralds the New Year celebration—a new year in which God comes to dwell in the earth in and with His saints.

The saints are God’s Kingdom and through them God will reign forever over the nations of the earth. The concept of the manifestation of the sons of God is found in many passages of the Scriptures and is related to the Day of the Lord—the second coming of Christ to the earth.

 And in this mountain [Zion, the Body of Christ, the Christian Church] shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. (Isaiah 25:6)

Is it any wonder that the creation is waiting expectantly for the manifestation of the sons of God? Their revelation indeed will be the "Jubilee" for all who love God and His ways.

Compare:

 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. (Matthew 26:29)

Continuing in Isaiah: 

And he will destroy in this mountain [the Body of Christ] the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations [the veil that hides God from men, the veil that was hung because of sin—see Genesis 4:14].

He will swallow up death in victory [the spiritual victory wrought in the development of the ever-increasing faith of the victorious Christians—faith in Christ and in the blood atonement made by Christ];

And the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 25:7,8)

Isaiah was not the only prophet who announced the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and the revealing of the sons of God.

 At that time [the coming of Christ] they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. (Jeremiah 3:17)

Ezekiel tells of the Jubilee:

 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. (Ezekiel 37:10)

This is Israel restored and triumphant, the Body of Christ, the unveiled sons of God. The Church is shown here as an army because of the work of judgment that must be performed on evil spirits if the people of God are to enter their inheritance.

 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:11-14)

Consider the sovereign working of God in salvation! The army of the Lord, the restoration of Israel, and the resurrection from the dead go together in context when the prophet speaks. They are related events.

The Concept of Resurrection

The preceding passage from Ezekiel aids our understanding of the scriptural concept of the resurrection from the dead. It is difficult for Christians to understand the resurrection because our tradition is often inaccurate. Our traditional view of the resurrection is confused with the ascension and has us flying off to Heaven into a future existence not described in the Scriptures.

The resurrection from the dead, at least in the case of the righteous dead, seems to have more to do with the earth than it does with Heaven. People are raised from the dead, brought up out of their graves, so their personalities may be reunited with their bodies.

One aspect of the return to life on the earth is that of providing the Jews with their own nation. God will be the God of all of His elect, Jewish and Gentile, and be with us and in us, and we shall see His Face and enjoy His Presence and the fullness of blessing forever. The Lord Jesus, the greater Son of David, will be King over all Israel. Upon being resurrected we all shall return to the land of Israel.

The earthly purpose of the resurrection is set forth as follows: 

Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12)

"And bring you into the land of Israel."

The work and the program are the Lord’s. Our part is to pray and be strictly obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ in all matters, great and small.

The bringing together of the "dry bones" of Ezekiel, Chapter 37 is a prophetic vision portraying the maturing and unifying of the Body of Christ that will take place in connection with the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth. The reconstituted dry bones are identical with Joel’s "army," Habakkuk’s "troops," and the "army" of Revelation, Chapter 19.

They are the "sons of God," of Romans 8:14. The Scriptures are one. The end-time army is one. Israel is one. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Lord Jesus Christ, one King of kings and Lord of lords, one Lamb of God, one Holy Spirit, one God and Father who is above all and through all and in us all.

There is but one holy city, one Bride of the Lamb, one atoning blood. "It shall be one tabernacle" (Exodus 26:6).

Whether we read about them in the old covenant or the new covenant, the Seed of Abraham and the accompanying blessings from God are ONE!

Ezekiel 37:15-24 emphasizes the oneness of the people of God; and then we find:

 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. (Ezekiel 37:27,28) (Compare John 17:23; Revelation 21,22)

Multiple Application

Ezekiel, Chapters 40-48 is a description of the Temple of God, the Body of Christ, in particular the elements of redemption that are woven into the personality of the believer. As is true of other allegorical prophecies, the futuristic fulfillment is woven into a natural setting that was understandable to the people who were alive at the giving of the prophecy. The futuristic fulfillment becomes discernible after a period of time. It rises to the surface after the immediate interpretation has been worked out during the course of history.

There are many examples in the writings of the Prophets of this kind of double, or multiple interpretation. One example may be found in Ezekiel, Chapter 28. Here we find a judgment pronounced against the commercial center of Tyre. Tyre did suffer! First at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar; then from the might of Alexander the Great; and finally under the Crusaders.

Yet, we may notice that the Holy Spirit in Ezekiel has gone far beyond the king of the earthly city of Tyre and is addressing Satan himself.

Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the Beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:13,14)

Again, we find a double reference:

 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. (II Samuel 7:12,13)

The immediate application of this promise was to King Solomon. Yet, the most important interpretation concerns the Lord Jesus Christ. Solomon and Jesus were alike in some respects and totally different in others. The Hebrews at the time of David would have applied the prophecy to Solomon, although the burden was directed toward the Lord Jesus.

Ezekiel’s Temple

Ezekiel, Chapters 40-48 describes the Temple of God. No doubt the Jews understood Ezekiel to mean Solomon’s Temple would be restored. But the setting and content of these chapters lead us to believe the primary significance of Ezekiel’s Temple may be its application to the Body of Christ, the Christian Church.

The setting is this: Chapter 40 comes after the "dry bones" of Chapter 37. Here is the sequence leading up to the temple:

The maturing and unifying of the Church—Ezekiel 37:1-28 War against the saints—38:1-9 through 39:20. Notice, for example:

And thou shalt come up against My people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes. (Ezekiel 38:16)

The establishing of the Kingdom of God in the earth—39:21-19.

 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; (Ezekiel 39:27) (Compare John 17:23)

The Temple of God—40:1-48 through 48:35. Let us examine a few of the concepts outlined by the words that describe the vision of the temple.

 And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed. Then came he unto the gate which looketh toward the east, and went up the stairs thereof, and measured the threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad; and the other threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad. And every little [guard] chamber was one reed long, and one reed broad; and between the little chambers were five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate within was one reed. (Ezekiel 40:5-7)

The many detailed measurements emphasize the painstaking work that God performs on His saints. Their every motive, word, thought, deed is examined all day long. God’s dimensions are expressed in a sovereign, precise manner.

Do not become impatient with God. If His hand is on you, and you are being reproved continually by Him, be thankful and realize He has called you to a position of responsibility in His Kingdom. He is careful about shaping you, working with you, and fitting you into the Body of Christ. Take comfort in Psalms 73. Every Christian has a specific task in the Body of Christ. It is not enough that every Christian contribute or participate. The contribution and participation of each member of the Body must be in accordance with the express will and design of the Holy Spirit of God. It is God’s Temple.

Many of us do not understand what our specific contribution or participation should be. We do understand, from Ezekiel’s Temple, that God has a design in mind. But we must wait on the Holy Spirit in order to be brought more fully into God’s plan for our life.

 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (I Timothy 4:14)

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (I Corinthians 12:7)

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (I Corinthians 12:11)

But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. (I Corinthians 12:18)

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (I Corinthians 12:28)

Every Christian is assigned by the Holy Spirit a set of gifts. The gifts of the believer, when blended with his unique personality and empowered and administered by Christ’s working with and in him, constitutes the Christian’s place and ministry in the Body of Christ.

We believe Ezekiel’s Temple is the Body of Christ. The language may be too strong to be referring to a manmade structure.

 And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. (Ezekiel 43:7)

We have an advantage over the Hebrews of Ezekiel’s day when interpreting the spiritual utterances of the prophets. Our advantage proceeds from our knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Whenever we come to passages referring to the "throne" of God, the "temple" of God, the "habitation" of God, we are able to see how these expressions are fulfilled in Christ and in the Body of Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Throne of God, the habitation of God. God dwells in His fullness in Christ. There is no temple of God other than Christ.

Heaven is God’s throne and the earth is God’s footstool. Christ brings together Heaven and earth in Himself. Christ is Jacob’s ladder. Christ is the Presence of God in Heaven and on earth at the same time.

All of the fullness of God the Father dwells in His holy habitation—the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not to say that Christ is the Father or is another name for the Father. It that were true, much of what Jesus said on earth would not admit to an unforced interpretation

The writer’s understanding of the Scriptures’ declarations concerning the spiritual Temple of God is that the Father dwells in Christ and Christ dwells in us; that we are the Body of Christ, the fullness of Him (Christ) who fills all in all; that God in Christ is in us, and we are in God through Christ.

Another concept suggested by the verses that describe Ezekiel’s Temple is that of holiness.

 This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house. (Ezekiel 43:12)

One may find the same emphasis on holiness in Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22. We believe the holy Jerusalem is the highest fulfillment of the Temple of Ezekiel.

Holiness is emphasized in the following passages: 

And there shall in no wise enter it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s Book of <Life. (Revelation 21:27)

For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:15)

Compare the following two verses:

And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, (Revelation 21:10)

In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south. (Ezekiel 40:2)

Revelation 21:22 states that there is no temple in the new Jerusalem. The entire city is the Tabernacle of God, the Lamb’s Wife. God has rejected the elaborate Temple of Solomon in favor of His original Tabernacle of the Congregation. Perhaps it is closer to His heart! 

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

The "tabernacle" is the holy city, the Bride of the Lamb.

Water of Life

Ezekiel, Chapter 47 is an example of prophetic allegory. The passage may refer to the restoration of Solomon’s Temple. But mixed with the immediate Jewish application is the futuristic application to the Christian Church. The first verse speaks of the Holy Spirit who flows from the Christian heart: 

Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house [Jesus is the Door of the House of God—John 10:9]; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. (Ezekiel 47:1)

This is the water of Life that comes from Jesus (John 4:14), who is seated at God’s right hand.

It also flows from the Christian. 

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)

Compare: 

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Revelation 22:1)

There is but one source of the water of Life, and that is the Throne of God.

The first few verses of Ezekiel, Chapter 47 describe the progressive capturing of the Christian by the Holy Spirit. When we first are saved we have a little amount of the Spirit (waters to the ankles). As we yield to the Lord this first portion of the Spirit increases until it becomes "waters to swim in." Waters to swim in is a vivid picture of the attainment of the fullness of resurrection Life.

And then the fruit of the Spirit-filled personality: 

And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. (Ezekiel 47:9)

The futuristic interpretation of the preceding verse is the outpouring of Glory that will proceed from the Church in association with the second coming of Christ. The "multitude of fish" portrays the great number of people who will be brought to Christ when the Glory comes upon the Church (Isaiah 60:5—"the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee"). 

And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine. (Ezekiel 47:12)

Compare:

 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)

Perhaps the most important concept of Ezekiel’s Temple is the idea suggested by the following words: 

. . . and the name of the city from that day shall be, the Lord is there. (Ezekiel 48:35)

The purpose of building the Body of Christ is that the Lord God may have a permanent dwelling place in the earth. As soon as the Temple of God, the Christian Church, has been set up on the earth, it never shall be taken down. God shall reign through the Church throughout the ages of ages. 

". . . and the name of the city from that day shall be, THE LORD IS THERE"!

Where else will God dwell forever than in the Body of Christ? In an earthly building (Acts 7:48,49)? The Christian Church is the eternal dwelling place of God in Christ (Ephesians 2:21,22). The Church will take on the attributes of God because of continued close contact with Him. One of these attributes is the incorruptible, uninterrupted eternal state of Divine rest and joy. This is the meaning of the New Testament expression "eternal life."

The triumphant reign of God is depicted as follows: 

Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously. (Isaiah 24:23)

The following are additional Old Testament passages describing the setting up of Christ’s Kingdom on the earth: 

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Daniel 2:44)

But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. (Daniel 7:18)

And saviours [deliverers] shall come up on mount Zion [the Church of Christ] to judge the mount of Esau [the world, Satan, and the works of the flesh]; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s. (Obadiah 1:21)

Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. (Micah 4:13)

The preceding passage from the Prophet Micah is interesting. Think about the brass (bronze) hoofs. Bronze typifies judgment, in the symbolism of the Tabernacle. The bronze hoofs mentioned by Micah are the "feet" of the Christian saints who will bring the judgment of God through Christ against all sin and sinners. 

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy:... (Luke 10:19)

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.... (Romans 16:20)

And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace;... (Revelation 1:15)

Watch for the "feet" ministry as you study the Scriptures.

The Burden of Prophecy

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)

God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. (Habakkuk 3:3)

The third chapter of Habakkuk describes the unveiling of the sons of God, which is mentioned also in Romans 8:19. The reason the Old Testament Prophets kept moving from local problems to the end-time events of the Day of the Lord is this: when God sent forth from His Mouth the Divine promise concerning Abraham’s Seed (Genesis 22:11-18) a burden was established in the spirit realm. Whenever a prophet took up his oracle, the burden concerning the creation of the Seed of Abraham, and the resulting renewal of earth’s governments in Christ, was included in the set of burdens that gave substance and direction to the prophet’s utterances.

Because the Seed of Abraham (Christ) has not as yet come into His inheritance, a prophet of the Christian Church of today, when he is stirring up his gift, will speak, among other things, of the setting up of Christ’s Kingdom. This is the burden concerning the Seed of Abraham, and it will continue thus to move the prophets until the promise made to Abraham and to his Seed has been fulfilled in detail. Every aspect of God’s promises always is fulfilled completely. 

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

Balaam, a true seer, had a problem when he attempted to stir up his gift against Israel. Balaam summed up his problem in these words: "How shall I curse, whom God has not cursed? or how shall I defy whom the Lord has not defied?"

After Balaam had done all in his power to curse Israel in order to earn his money, here is what the distinguished seer had to say: 

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city. (Numbers 24:17-19)

How marvelous are the workings of God that a mystic of ancient times could describe so accurately the establishing of the Kingdom of Christ in the earth. The greatest part of the establishing of the Kingdom of God is still in the future; yet, the prophetic statement of Balaam came forth more than three thousand years ago. God is God!

The End-time Army

The second chapter of Joel, verses 1-11, describes an invading army. We believe this passage is another example of multiple application of prophetic symbolism. The most direct application may be to the crop-consuming pests of Joel 1:4. Also, the locusts may be a figure of speech referring to the Assyrian invaders led by Sennacherib.

However it is our opinion that the primary application is to the army of saints who will appear with Christ and who together with Christ will judge and rule the world. The words of the second chapter appear at times to go beyond a description of locusts. 

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: (Joel 2:10)

One could think of these words as being a romanticized description of the destructive onslaught of a supremely powerful human army, such as the Assyrians. But we have not found that the Holy Spirit uses words in such a careless fashion. When God says "the stars shall withdraw their shining" He means just that! Although sometimes in a statement such as this there is a deeper spiritual meaning as well, often referring to conditions in the spiritual heavens.

Compare Joel 2:10 (above) with the following: 

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (Matthew 24:29)

God’s Word carries a wealth of meaning. Although the Word of God often is symbolic, it does not consist of flowery words and phrases of the type used by human orators—poetic words that are intended to convey the emotion the orator is experiencing as he is delivering some stirring concept but that cannot be applied literally.

The orator may say, "Democracy is the very air we breathe." This is not true literally. We do not breathe democracy, it is a philosophy and a form of government. There is a very great difference between the symbolism of Scripture and the romantic, metaphoric expressions of human poetry. 

And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)

The above words stress that the army belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. The expression "his army" does not in itself signify that the army is composed of saints belonging to Christ, for in verse 25 of the same chapter, the cankerworm, caterpillar, and the palmerworm are termed "my great army."

But when the passage is considered as a whole it is similar to other passages that refer to the manifestation of the sons of God. The purpose of the unveiling of the sons of God is the judgment of sin and the establishing of the government of Christ on the earth.

There are many passages that portray the manifestation of the sons of God, the coming of God’s army to establish the reign of Christ on the earth: 

They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. (Isaiah 13:5)

When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. (Habakkuk 3:16)

And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:3)

For the earnest expectation of the creature [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (I Corinthians 6:2)

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 1:14,15)

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in Heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (Revelation 19:11-15)

The Day of the Lord

Joel 2:11 refers to the coming of the army as "the day of the Lord," an expression reserved for the coming of Christ. The Day of the Lord is the period of time when God cuts off the reign of man and the reign of Satan, and God Himself takes over the direct supervision of the earth.

God never has surrendered the earth or its inhabitants to anyone other than the beloved Son. Satan and the flesh have had their day in the earth. In the Day of the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ shall overthrow all earthly governments and shall rule for eternity.

 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (II Thessalonians 1:7,8)

So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain [the Body of Christ]: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. And it shall come to pass in that day [the Day of Christ], that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk [the Word of God for growth and for understanding of the ways of God], and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters [this symbolism refers to the Holy Spirit coming from the personalities of the saints] and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord [the Christian Church], and shall water the valley of Shittim. (Joel 3:17,18)

Compare: 

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (John 17:22)

The above passage from John has not as yet been fulfilled in the Christian Church. Perhaps there were inklings of such unity and glory for a brief period during the first century A.D. The Body of Christ currently is a long way from the fulfillment of Jesus’s prayer recorded in John, Chapter 17. But we know that the day shall come, in answer to the prayer of the Lord Jesus, when the Church is one and is filled manifestly with the Presence of God Almighty in Christ. The era is coming and it is known as the Day of the Lord. 

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:17,18)

The return of Christ. When Christ returns, the Church, which is the Kingdom of God, will be established as the ruling power in the Earth. The Presence of God and Christ will glorify and exalt the Church in the eyes of the nations of the world. The glorification of the Church is one of the main themes of the Old Testament Prophets.

The return of Christ is the Day of the Lord. This is the fulfillment of the pattern of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. This is the purpose of God, as set forth in the New Testament Epistles. 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestine to be changed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Moreover whom he did predestine, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Romans 16:20)

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:17)

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brothers, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. (I Thessalonians 5:2-4)

When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (II Thessalonians 1:10)

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; (I Peter 2:9)

Applies to all Israel. Amos also has something to say concerning the Kingdom of God and Christ: 

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: (Amos 9:11)

James applied the preceding verse to the Gospel of Christ, as described in Acts 15:13-18. The first apostles were Jewish and were well versed in the writings of the Prophets. They applied the Prophets to the experiences they were having in Christ. Peter’s response to the outpouring of the Spirit was: "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16). Of course, it was the Holy Spirit who gave Peter the understanding.

The early apostles were correct, we believe, in applying the Hebrew Prophets to the Church of Christ. It is we who are incorrect when we assume the Prophets were speaking only to those of Jewish birth and that the Christian Church is a special set of people who are separate from the Israel of God.

The burden of prophecy always has been directed toward the people of the promise made to Abraham—toward those who belong to Christ. Any people of Jewish blood who would be in the Israel of God must be born into the Kingdom of Christ and God the same as we, and be built on the foundation laid by the Apostles and Prophets. This does not mean Jews are to leave their unequaled heritage as a race, for Christ is the fulfillment of the Hebrew Law and the Prophets, not the head of a new Gentile religion.

Obadiah saw the vision of the Kingdom of God, and the revealing of the sons of God:

 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it. (Obadiah 1:17,18)

Micah portrayed the revealing of the sons of God:

 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. (Micah 4:13)

We have mentioned previously that Habakkuk, Chapter Three is a description of the sons of God and the fiery judgment that will accompany the establishing of the Kingdom of Christ on the earth.

 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. (Habakkuk 3:16)

Consider the expression (above) "that I might rest in the day of trouble."

Compare:

 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, (II Thessalonians 1:7)

Rest in the day of trouble. We will find rest in the day of trouble (the next coming of the Lord Jesus) provided we have been faithful in overcoming the world during our Christian experience. If we have been diligent in serving Christ, have done the things that Christ has required of us, have sought the will of God each day, have presented our body a living sacrifice, have held fast the confidence and rejoicing of our hope firmly to the end, we will find rest in the Day of the Lord. But that Day shall dawn in fire!

The Day of the Lord is not, as some have supposed, a gala time, a joyous holiday. The Day of the Lord is the worst time of judgment and trouble ever to come on our sin-cursed earth. It will be "the day of trouble"! 

Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18-20)

We Christians must be careful that the coming of Christ, as far as we personally are concerned, is not "out of the frying pan into the fire." When we run from the lion (the world) we are confronted with a bear (Christ). When we flee for safety to the coming of Christ, as though entering a house for protection, we are bitten by a serpent in the house (the fiery judgment of God in Christ).

It appears that our traditional doctrines concerning the end-time may have confused our thinking regarding the actual, scriptural nature of the second coming of Christ.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is good news for the oppressed of the earth, but it is not good news for the adamic nature of the royal priesthood; neither is it good news for those who wish to continue in sin.

We may have imagined, for example, that after a period of frightful punishment on the wicked, during which all Christians are hidden away in Heaven where trouble cannot touch them, the Lord Jesus will appear in a mood of high revelry. Have we forgotten, perhaps, that the fifth chapter of Amos is directed toward the "house of Israel"?

It is true that spiritual children are given the opportunity to rejoice and play in the Presence of our wonderful Lord Jesus; and for those who love the Lord in sincerity there will be joy at His appearing in His Kingdom.

Let us remember also the Prophet Habakkuk "trembled" in himself that he might "rest in the day of trouble."

Think carefully about the following: 

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

Sometimes Christians become overconfident, too familiar with God. We are commanded to fear and tremble. When we catch a glimpse of the Day of the Lord we shall understand the "terror" of the Lord as well as the graciousness of His saving love. In fact, His grace and redeeming love are brought into clearer view when we understand how terrible is His wrath against the sin in the world.

The Day of the Lord will be a period of frightful judgment, trouble, fiery burning, war, agony of spirit. Satan will drop all pretenses and emerge from every point at which he is entrenched. Death will be sought after but will flee away.

The burning eyes of Christ will search out every hidden corner of the hearts of men. All motives will be brought into the open for everyone to see. Every spirit—Christian and non-Christian—will stand naked before the piercing gaze of God Almighty. The righteous will "scarcely be saved [saved with difficulty]" (I Peter 4:18)!

Christians will be bathed in fire the same as everyone else. If we have put our faith in the Lord Jesus and have been baptized in water, we will be saved in the Day of Wrath. But all our works will be tested by fire. No true Christian will be destroyed by God’s wrath. We shall be preserved in that Day. Nevertheless, the part of our personality that has not been re-created in Christ will be burned away. Only that which has been born of Christ is of the Kingdom of God. 

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. (I Corinthians 3:13)

Each saint should be anticipating with joy the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We should be hastening His glorious appearing by our godly behavior. But let us remember that His coming means every word, every deed, every motive, will be brought into His heavenly Light.

God is more interested in the motives behind "Christian" work than He is in the "success" of the work itself. All motives will be revealed in the Day of the Lord.

"Fireproofing." The Lord Jesus is bringing Christians into judgment now. If we follow Him faithfully He will baptize us with fire in this life in order to make us "fireproof."

When the Day of the Lord arises in fire, Christians will be in the midst of it the same as every other person. If we have followed the Lord we will be "fireproof." We will be able to "dwell with the devouring fire" (Isaiah 33:14). True Christians will suffer all kinds of tribulation and persecution but they never shall be destroyed by the wrath of God.

 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God. (Hebrews 10:30,31)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (II Corinthians 5:10,11)

For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)

The Lord will fireproof us now if we will allow Him to baptize us with the fire of judgment in the present world.

We are not saying believers in the Lord Jesus will be destroyed by the wrath of God. We are stating, rather, that believers will be "tested and tried" the same as everyone else. There is a difference between a courtroom trial and the carrying out of the sentence imposed by the judge.

All persons, Christian and non-Christian, will be tried equally. For those who refuse the love of God coming to them through Christ, the sentence is eternal death. For those who rest their faith on Christ but who erect a building of wood, hay, and stubble, the outcome will be destruction of their works by fire—fire for their salvation (I Corinthians 3:15).

The victorious saints, those who are willing to be brought under the discipline of the Spirit in this present life, receive a "fireproofing" that will enable them to rule and work with Christ during the period that He judges and cleanses the earth—at the onset of the Kingdom Age. The victorious saints will attain the first resurrection and will rule with Christ over the nations of the earth.

The Christian and judgment. 

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved [is saved with difficulty], where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (I Peter 4:12-19)

We Christians must lay hold on the concept that our words, deeds, and imaginations are exposed to the fire of God’s judgment just as is true of the unsaved. Accepting Christ does not cause God to overlook our sins. God never overlooks sin.

The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ covers our sins while we are walking in the will of God. When the Spirit of God reveals our sins to us, then, if we confess and repent of our sins, the blood and the Spirit purge them from us. But sin is sin, and God’s judgment always is on sin whether practiced by Christian or non-Christian.

Christians will be exposed to judgment as is true of all people born on the earth. But if we are living in the secret place of the Most High (in Christ, who is in the Bosom of the Father) we will walk in the midst of judgment without harm to us (Daniel 3:19-27). Psalms 91 expresses the correct relationship of the Christian to judgment—not kept far from it but saved in the midst of it. Daniel was not kept from the lions’ den but in the lions’ den.

The history of Noah’s Ark teaches us that the waters of judgment become the force that lifts the saved to safety. The saved can ride on the destructive power that destroys the ungodly provided their "boat is watertight," this is to say, provided they are in the will of God and protected by the blood of Christ. But the saved are exposed to the destroying flood the same as everyone else.

The same pillar of the cloud that was a darkness to the Egyptians was a light in the night to Israel (Exodus 14:19,20).

The following passage from the Old Testament gives us insight concerning the relationship of the saint to judgment, and the condition of the disciple during the Day of the Lord:

 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. (Psalms 91:5-8)

The promises of Psalms 91 hold true for us now as well as during the Day of the Lord. If we make the Most High our habitation (if we abide in Christ) we can claim perfect safety during God’s judgments no matter how they fall on the earth. God’s policy is to protect His people during the time of judgment. In order to protect them He does not always remove them. God can remove us, or He can protect us in the midst of disaster. No matter what comes to pass on this earth, God shall protect us and feed us provided we maintain steadfast trust in Him (Psalms 37).

There is a teaching among Christians that God, in the near future, will take the saints to Heaven so they will not be exposed to the time of trouble that is ahead.

The Scriptures state that "God has not appointed us to wrath" (I Thessalonians 5:9). It is the belief of the author that the true saints will suffer no harm from the pouring out of the bowls of Divine wrath. God is able to protect us on the earth, in Heaven, or anywhere else under any circumstances.

God will never pour out His wrath on His Church. In fact it is the saints who will execute the wrath of God (Psalms 149:9). But tribulation is another matter. "We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God." "In the world ye shall have tribulation." "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, . . . ." (Revelation 1:9).

We Christians must always be prepared to serve our Lord Jesus in times of tribulation. If we are not armed mentally to suffer in Christ we will not be able to stand victoriously in the hour of trial.

There have been numerous periods of tribulation during earth’s history since the time of Christ. Many Christians know of the way the Roman Empire treated the disciples of Jesus. Yet the Church was not removed from the earth. Rather, God gave the Christian families faith and strength to go through the trouble.

During the centuries following the fall of Rome the believers in Christ have been denied civil rights, they have been imprisoned, tortured, burned at the stake, buried alive, shot to death. But the promises of Psalms 91 hold true "yesterday, today, and for ever."

If we have made the Most High our habitation we can abide safely in Christ while the judgments of God fall on the earth in the closing days of the Church Age. God’s way is to save us in the midst of trouble. He can do that easily.

We can walk securely in God now and at any time in the future, just as Psalms 91 instructs us. This holds true for the earth, Heaven, or wherever else we may be. But if we cannot overcome through Christ now we will not be able to overcome through Christ during the Day of the Lord that is just ahead. 

If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5)

Each Christian must be considering his own spiritual state in these days, as well as helping spiritually those whom he can. The Day of the Lord is coming and it will be a period of fiery judgment. The saints not only will be in the middle of judgment but also involved in the administration of it (I Corinthians 6:2,3; Jude 14,15).

Everything that cannot stand the fire of God’s holy Presence will be burned—Christian and non-Christian alike. God is equitable. There are no pets, no favorites.

Sin is sin and it is judged impartially. If we can maintain our trust in Christ until the Day of the Lord we will be saved. If we can allow Christ to work in us now, in the present moment, our works will stand in that hour for they will have been wrought in God and therefore cannot be consumed by the fire of God.

It is not true that God judges the words, motives, and deeds of the Christian by a lesser standard than that which He applies to the words, motives, and deeds of the non-Christian. In fact, the Christian is judged more strictly. Judgment begins with the household of God (I Peter 4:17).

We have said God will never pour out His wrath on His beloved saints. Nevertheless, the sins of all people, Christians and non-Christians alike, are brought to judgment by the Lord. All persons suffer tribulation—especially Christ’s disciples. God has promised preservation and blessing, no matter what happens around us, to those who abide in Him (Psalms 23). Christ does not have to remove us from a dangerous area in order to protect us.

Remember Israel in Goshen during the plagues that fell on the Egyptians!

CHAPTER VIII HOLINESS

The Necessity for Holy Living

The concept of spiritual progression from least holy to most holy is illustrated by the design of the Tabernacle. The Most Holy Place was the location of God’s Presence. We learn from this pattern that the Christian life progresses toward complete sanctification (I Thessalonians 5:23) and that the culmination of Christian experience concerns the place of residence of God Himself. The completely sanctified Christian heart is God’s Holy of Holies.

When the Lord gave to Moses the plans for the Tabernacle He began with the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:10,17). These are the holiest of the furnishings of the Tabernacle as shown by the fact that they were located in the Most Holy Place.

So it is that God, during the process of setting up His Kingdom on earth, has started with the Most Holy Place. First came Christ, the Holiest of all. Next, the Body of Christ is being prepared.

When the Body has been completed, or perhaps we should say as the Body is being completed, the work will extend outward toward the perimeter of the Kingdom until the entire earth is filled with the Glory of the Lord (Isaiah 11:9; Daniel 2:44; Matthew 6:10; Romans 8:19-21; Revelation 2:26,27).

The nature of holiness. It appears that one of the most important messages that the Tabernacle has for us today is that of the need for holiness. A holy human heart follow the Lamb wherever He goes. A holy human heart is reserved for God’s use. A holy human heart refuses the influences of unclean spirits.

Holiness is the Presence of God.

Since holiness is one of the major messages of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, we are setting aside a section devoted to this subject. It is interesting to note that the Spirit of God is termed the Holy Spirit, and that the new Jerusalem is referred to as the holy city.

The holiness of the Tabernacle is emphasized in such verses as the following: Exodus 28:36; 29:33; 30:21; 40:32; Leviticus 10:10; 11:1-15:33; Numbers 6:1-6; Deuteronomy 23:14. It may be accurate to state that Exodus through Deuteronomy, to a great extent, is one long exhortation to holiness. One of the principal themes of the entire Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, is holiness.

Holiness is a personal condition of purity of motives and deeds, a right attitude of the heart toward God. In one way of considering it, holiness means freedom from the influence of evil spirits.

To be holy is to be set apart to God for His exclusive enjoyment and use.

The Old Testament doctrine of unclean food emphasizes the concept of the difference between the clean and the unclean (Leviticus, Chapter 11).

Some spirits are holy and some are not. The only way we can distinguish between the clean and unclean is by the Scriptures combined with everlasting prayer and watchfulness as the Holy Spirit guides us moment by moment.

We must learn to distinguish between good and evil and then to embrace the good and repulse the evil.

The Holy Spirit of God is interested in every motive, imagination, word, and deed of every Christian. We may be in a hurry to do things. The Holy Spirit, who has the power to create galaxies of stars, is more concerned with spiritual cleanliness than He is with our accomplishments. He is the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit will gladly take the time to "sit down" with the Christian and rehearse fine points of behavior moment by moment throughout the day. There is no need for haste. It is easy for God to create a star. But holiness of motive and deed in a human—that is a problem!

By teaching the need for holiness we do not mean to create self-tortured, introspective Christians. The constant searching out of motives and deeds can be maintained by the Spirit of God while the Christian is conducting a poised, joyful, fruitful life. Spiritual experience and maturity are required if we are to remain victorious as the Holy Spirit brings sin to our consciousness. 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

"Blessed and holy"! 

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14)

An unholy Christian can have little fellowship with a holy God.

We are saved by calling on the name of the Lord, apart from righteous conduct on our part. We are justified by our faith in the redeeming blood of Christ. But we enter the Kingdom of God as the Holy Spirit enables us to live in a righteous and holy manner. 

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

Holy behavior. One of the most important ideas revealed in the Tabernacle of the Congregation is that of holiness to the Lord. The parts of the Tabernacle, and the priestly ministry associated with the Tabernacle, portray the utter holiness of the Lord God Almighty.

Holy! Holy! Holy is the Lord! This is what the Tabernacle proclaims in its every dimension. Everyone and everything associated with the Tabernacle had to be holy. So it is today. No liar, no lustful person, no fearful, no murderer, no idolater, has any part in the inheritance of the Bride of the Lamb (Revelation 21:8; 22:15). 

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)

The above two verses are addressed to believers, not to the unsaved.

Did not Christ come so the liars and the fearful might enter the Kingdom of God? Emphatically yes! He surely did! Christ came to deliver us from the ungodliness of the world. The only acceptable response to the love of Christ is to cooperate with Him in the re-creating of our personalities so we no longer live according to the lusts of the world.

We are to be made new creations by the power of Christ working in our lives. If a transformation into holiness of conduct does not occur after a period of time, if our character remains as it was before we were converted to Christ, then the Divine redemption is not taking place in our personality. If we are not experiencing continuously the renewing power of Christ and are not moving forward in the knowledge of Him, then we may need to seek the Lord with increased fervor.

Sometimes it is not evident that Christ is moving in our life and we are required to endure seasons of dryness and heaviness. Such dryness is part of the normal Christian experience. Plants profit as much from the dry energy radiating from the sun as they do from the moist refreshing of the rain.

But there is a difference between the dry seasons through which the saints must walk at times, and the dryness and deadness of seeking to fulfill the desires of our fleshly nature. The dryness of the victorious spiritual experience leads after a season to increased power and revelation of God. The dryness of walking in the flesh leads to spiritual death. It is wise to ask God for a progress report so we can learn how well we are doing. 

Brothers, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Philippians 3:17-19)

Paul is referring (above) to believers who have chosen to walk in the appetites of the adamic nature. 

Mortify [put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [lust], and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: (Colossians 3:5,6)

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: (I Thessalonians 4:3-5)

We are obeying Christ when we pray, "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." God sends strong delusion on people who take pleasure in unrighteousness and who imagine that God takes pleasure in their unrighteousness. 

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (II Thessalonians 2:10-13)

Salvation results from our being set apart by the Spirit of God to holy behavior, as we obey the truth set forth by the Apostles of the Lamb. Salvation is not restricted to a momentary experience in which we acknowledge the truth of Christ’s atoning death, triumphant resurrection, and Divine Lordship. The Lord Jesus is not a ticket to Heaven. He is the Way of holiness and of eternal life.

A balanced concept of grace. It is very misleading to define grace as meaning only a forgiveness of sins apart from the converted moral behavior of the Christian disciple.

Paul argued that man is saved apart from adherence to the laws and statutes of Moses. A careful study of Paul’s writings will show that man cannot achieve righteousness in himself apart from Christ and thus earn the favor of God. This concept is altogether different from the idea that the Christian salvation has little to do with righteous and holy behavior—which is the conclusion of the argument that grace means only forgiveness of sins apart from holiness of deed, word, motive, and imagination.

Paul never intended his letters be used to teach that Divine grace releases the believer from having to account for his sins of word and deed while the unbelievers are to be brought into judgment for every sin. Paul understood from the Scripture that Jerusalem always receives "double for all her sins" (Isaiah 40:2).

The next passage gives a more balanced concept of grace than that which often is presented. Paul helps us understand that grace is much more than a blanket forgiveness of the sins that we commit, although such forgiveness is included as part of the atonement when we first receive Christ and holds true as we learn to walk in the Spirit of God. 

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

"Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts."

"We should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."

"Purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

We observe from the above that in Paul’s mind, the next coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is associated with our living a godly life in the present hour.

The reason for this is as follows: the purpose of the grace of God, of salvation, is to preserve us when the wrath of God is poured out at the coming of the Lord. Preservation during the Day of Wrath is the scriptural meaning of the term salvation. God is saving us with the understanding that we will be a people belonging especially to Him, eager to do good works.

We are to "flee from the wrath to come" (Matthew 3:7). The scornful of the world have mocked this part of the message of salvation (fleeing from the wrath to come) until the churches have become timid in speaking along this line.

We are wise when we flee from the wrath to come. The grace of God saves us from the wrath to come, not only by providing the means for the forgiveness of our sins but also by teaching and empowering us until we are able to live in the world without the lust, murder, idolatry, drunkenness, and sorcery that are part of the peoples of the earth.

If we are not growing stronger each day in a truly holy pattern of behavior, then it is unlikely we are sharing in the grace of God. By holiness we mean putting off the works of the flesh of Galatians 5:19-21 and putting on the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5:22,23. One important aspect of grace is the forgiveness of sins, after the fashion of the thief on the cross (Luke 23:40-43). Another important aspect of the grace of God is the empowering of the Christian to lead a godly life.

To emphasize one of these aspects at the expense of the other is to create moral confusion, to destroy the testimony and power of the Church, to render the work of God ineffectual in one’s life, and to invite delusion concerning our relationship with God. 

For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. (Hebrews 6:7-9)

The "things that accompany salvation" are the actions of a godly life in Christ. The Book of Hebrews is addressed to backsliding Christians. One of the emphases of the Book of Hebrews is the dedicated Christian life that always is pressing forward in Christ. Read through Hebrews with this in mind.

Meditate on the following passage, remembering that these words are addressed to Christians: 

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God. (Hebrews 10:25-31)

Grace and works. The exhortations and warnings of the Lord Jesus to the seven churches of Asia have to do with works of righteousness.

To Ephesus: 

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not [here is a warning concerning "Christian" teachers who claim to be apostles sent from the Lord Jesus], and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love [not as fervently in love with Jesus as at first]. (Revelation 2:2-4)

The admonition in the above passage does not conform to the interpretation of God’s grace that is often preached.

To Thyatira: 

Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:22,23)

The exhortation to the Christian people in Thyatira includes ideas that are not part of the current teaching of grace. In fact, the admonition to the believers in Thyatira reminds us of Paul’s reasoning with Felix concerning righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.

To Sardis: 

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:2-4)

The current doctrine of grace maintains that the only worthiness there is comes from our identification with Christ—a doctrinal position that does not conform to the warning to the believers in Sardis.

Some of the Christians in Sardis were walking in the flesh and others were following Christ in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Are the Christian people of today attempting to use the grace of God to cover impure conduct.?

To Laodicea: 

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked [the Christian Church in Laodicea]: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire [Christian character refined by suffering], that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment [a righteous, holy life], that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve [the Spirit of truth], that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:15-19)

The admonition to the Christians in Laodicea is not at all in harmony with the concept of grace as being only the forgiveness of sins by belief in the name of Jesus.

Paul stressed grace as opposed to works because he was teaching the transition from the Law of Moses to the law of the Spirit of life. Paul was reacting to Jewish teachers who were attempting to mix the Christian redemption and the Law of Moses.

Paul was emphasizing the fact that salvation does not come by keeping the Ten Commandments and observing all the points of the Levitical ordinances. Salvation comes only through Christ.

In some instances we Christians have interpreted Paul to mean there is little need for personal holiness on the part of church people, since we are "saved by grace and not by works." A little reflection will enable us to understand that Paul never would contrast grace and holiness of behavior. Paul was contrasting salvation by faith in Christ, and attempts to earn eternal life by keeping the Law of Moses.

We are not saved by observing the Levitical statutes. But Paul indeed would be amazed if he were to appear today and hear his teaching concerning the distinction between works and grace being understood to mean people are saved by professing belief in Christ while they continue in unholy, unrighteous conduct.

One of the principal effects of receiving Christ is the creation of holiness in the heart. There is no salvation apart from the creation of holiness in the heart and life because that is what salvation is. Salvation is deliverance from the power of Satan and the development of union with God through Jesus. If we are not being transformed morally we are not being saved. If we are not becoming healthier we are not being healed. It is as straightforward as that!

Salvation is not a ticket to Heaven, it is a change of personality.

"Not everyone who says to me, Lord! Lord!..."

There is no such thing as an abstract saving faith, a possession of Christ apart from the development of godliness in the personality of the Christian. The only valid test of genuine Christianity is the growth of godly character in the believer (I John 3:6).

Grace is the authority and power of God working in the life of an individual to re-create his nature, delivering him from all satanic influences. This is a different concept from that of grace being a legal maneuver that qualifies an individual for escape from the Day of Wrath and eternal residence in the spirit paradise.

There are situations in which the legal waiving of guilt is, for a season, the only functioning aspect of redemption. However, for most believers most of the time, true grace produces holiness, in keeping with the symbolism of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The major portion of the writings of the Apostles of the new covenant is devoted to the necessity for holy behavior.

Anyone who teaches that a religious belief is of relative importance in the eyes of God when weighed against the development of a pure and holy character is inviting delusion on himself and his hearers. There is no substitute for a Spirit-filled life of holiness to the Lord. There is no other kind of Christian experience that is acceptable to the God of Heaven.

Sectarian practices come and go and vary from church to church. Some are more edifying than others. But the Word of God is eternal and unchanging, and it is one from Genesis to Revelation: Israel must be HOLINESS TO THE LORD! 

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings [insults], evil surmisings [wicked suspicions], Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (I Timothy 6:3-5)

Christians are held accountable for their actions. When we first are saved we bring an entire life of sin to Christ, asking for forgiveness through the blood of Christ. No one is turned away. We receive complete forgiveness.

But what about the sins we continue to commit while we are Christians? Does God bring them into judgment? Indeed He does! The contemporary Christian belief appears to be that a Christian can lie and it is excused while a non-Christian is judged for his lie. This is a misunderstanding of the manner in which the atonement of Christ operates.

The fact is, the lie the Christian tells is of far more serious consequence that the lie of the non-Christian. The Christian is a member of the Body of Christ. Christ is the Judge of the heavens and the earth. God will examine the Christian lie with unusual interest because the Body of Christ, the eternal habitation of God, the fulfillment of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, must be utterly holy.

The Body of Christ is to be righteous and holy in all of it imaginations, motives, words, and deeds. God judges very carefully the motives, words, and deeds that proceed from each Christian.

A glance at the writings of the Christian Apostles reveals that God judges sin whether committed by a Christian or a non-Christian. 

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

The above passage is referring to Christians.

The context of Romans 8:1. 

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

The above verse, interpreted in isolation, seems to imply that God treats sin in the life of the Christian in terms of a lesser standard than is true of the unbeliever. But Paul’s logic, commencing with Romans 1:16 and proceeding through 11:36, leads to the true meaning of Romans 8:1. Paul is teaching in Romans 8:1 that the believer who is living in obedience to the Holy Spirit, the overcomer, is free from guilt. He is free from the guilt of the sins committed by the law of sin that dwells in his flesh. If the Christian did not have access to the blood-covering that keeps him guiltless while he is moving forward in the process of salvation he could not have fellowship with God.

The blood-shield over the fleshly tendencies of the overcomer as he or she is learning to follow the Spirit, the shield that covers the lying, foolishness, gossiping, hatred, jealousy, lust, sectarian pride, idolatry, hypocrisy that remain in the saint, is not to be confused with an indulgent attitude on God’s part toward Christians and their misbehavior.

The belief that God continually overlooks, covers, or is indulgent toward the multitude of sins in the churches, on the basis of a profession of belief in the doctrines taught by the churches, has destroyed the testimony of the churches.

During the time that the victorious saint is free from all condemnation through the legal remission (forgiveness) of guilt by means of the blood atonement, the Holy Spirit continues to point out the sins that are proceeding from the law of sin that resides in his body.

The Holy Spirit illumines the sins one by one and helps the saint put them to death. Putting sins to death is a continuing process and is one of the main aspects of the victorious Christian life. The continual destruction of sin under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is commanded as follows: 

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

There is a great gulf between the concept that God overlooks or is indulgent toward sins committed by Christians, and the concept that God shields the saint from the guilt of the sinful acts of his fleshly body during the time the Holy Spirit is guiding him in the spiritual warfare against the "deeds of the body."

We must call to mind that the purpose of the Christian redemption is to do what the Law of Moses could not do—enable the believer to keep the eternal moral Law of God. The current doctrinal confusion has arisen because grace is being defined as the forgiveness of our sins so we can go to Heaven when we die. This tradition is widespread but it is not at all scriptural.

God gave the new covenant to the Jews because they were not able, with human ability, to keep God’s commandments. There is power and authority in the new covenant to enable each of God’s elect to keep God’s commandments. The Law, the Torah, is written in the heart of the true Christian, enabling him to walk in righteousness and holiness. To view the new covenant as a legal maneuver by which the believer goes to Heaven apart from keeping God’s laws is to miss completely the Divine goal and program of redemption.

If the goal of redemption were to bring us to Heaven to live forever in the spirit realm, it is conceivable that forgiveness through the blood of Jesus would be the only grace included in the Divine atonement; although such a limited definition still would not be scriptural.

But because the goal of redemption is to create us in the image of God and bring us into total union with God so we may be able to serve Him throughout His creation, forgiveness alone cannot serve the purpose of God. Divine grace must include all the components necessary for accomplishing the needed transformation.

It is a knowledge of the goal of redemption that will open the meaning of the Scriptures to us. As long as we hold the unscriptural view that the goal of redemption is to bring us to eternal residence in Heaven we cannot understand the Kingdom of God or the redemption that is in Christ.

What do the Apostles of the early Church have to say about sin in the life of the Christian? Do they advise us to forget about righteous, holy living as soon as we accept the Christian faith? 

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:13,14)

These words are addressed to Christians. 

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12)

These words are addressed to believers. 

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. ( I Corinthians 3:16,17)

This warning is directed toward the followers of Christ. 

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. (I Corinthians 5:1)

This tragic affair was found among the tongues-speaking Corinthians. Notice that Paul did not say there was no real problem here because of God’s grace that covers the sins of the believers.

The teachers of today, in order to prove that God does not see the sins Christians commit, will claim the man never was a Christian or he would not have done such a thing. Incorrect on two counts. First, the context of First and Second Corinthians establishes the fact that the man was a member of the assembly, considered to be a brother in the Lord. Second, numerous Christians commit moral sins. This does not signify they never have accepted the Lord, only that they are bound in sin. 

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (I Corinthians 5:11)

These words are addressed to Christians. 

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. (I Corinthians 6:15)

These words are addressed to Christian people. 

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (I Corinthians 10:12)

These words are addressed to Christians.

We could go on and on, keeping well within the unforced interpretation of the exhortations of the Apostles of the early Church.

The following is the manner in which God responds to sin in the Christian: 

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (I Corinthians 11:32)

God indeed does bring the Christian to strict account for all of his motives, thoughts, words, and deeds. If the Christian is living in the Spirit he will judge himself (I Corinthians 11:13).

The Holy Spirit will lead the Christian in a successful program of putting to death the deeds of his body (Romans 8:13,14). The Christian will be baptized with fire from time to time in order to make him "fireproof" in preparation for the coming of the Lord Jesus in the blazing fire of Divine wrath.

The Christian is made "fireproof" by having all the sin of his personality burned out of him in advance. When the fireproofing has been completed the Christian will be ready to stand and minister before God in that Day (Isaiah 33:14). This is one way in which we are "delivered from the wrath to come." 

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (I Thessalonians 1:10)

Admonitions of the Scripture apply primarily to the Church. It is difficult for us to understand the New Testament passages concerning sin because we have for so long a time applied such rebukes to the unsaved. Yet the setting and text of the New Testament writings show that the exhortations to godly behavior are addressed to the Church.

Current Christian teaching implies that God overlooks the sins of the believers and then pours out frightful afflictions on other people who are doing no worse than we. What kind of righteousness would that be? Would God look at two people performing some lustful deed, visit one with wrath, and let the other go free because he names the name of Christ or attends a Christian church? Would not God rather chasten His own son and be more indulgent toward the unsaved person because of his ignorance?

Would God destroy one individual because he is full of hate, and pass by another person who also is full of hate but who names the name of Christ? Would this be true of Him of whom it is said: "True and righteous are your judgments" (Revelation 16:7)? Instead, would not God rebuke His own child in advance so he would be prepared for the judgment to come? 

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (I Corinthians 11:32)

Let us review a few more of the admonitions from the Apostles that we may understand God’s judgment on sin in the Christian life, and that we may not be confused concerning the manner in which grace operates under the new covenant. 

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (II Corinthians 6:17)

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1)

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness [immorality], idolatry, sorcery, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

How can we, in the light of such words, continue in the concept that God overlooks sin in the Christian because of his profession of belief in Christ?

Concerning Galatians 5:19-21, we of today might exclaim: "Isn’t it wonderful that God doesn’t hold us accountable for such things now that we have found Christ!"

To think or say such things is to be deceived. In contrast, Paul, speaking to the Church, proclaims: Those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Perhaps it is time for us to examine once again the manner in which God deals with sins of motive, thought, word, and deed in the Christian life. 

That ye put off concerning the former conversation [former way of life] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

The next passage sums up the apostolic attitude toward the sins of the Christian: 

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. (Ephesians 5:3-7)

Consider the following: 

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. (Ephesians 5:14)

Christ gives the Christian man and woman the authority and power to overcome sin and lead a holy life. This a different concept from that of attaching the label of Christ to a human life that continues in unholy behavior, stating that Christ is saving that one by "grace."

It is the writer’s understanding that God will save multitudes of people from destruction in the Day of Wrath on the basis of their accepting the Gospel of Christ. Many of these may not have lived a victorious life for one reason or another. Only Jesus will decide the fate of each person.

However, it is an extremely dangerous position to trust in God’s mercy to save us if we know the Gospel and are careless in our response to it. There are stern warnings in the Scripture concerning the lazy servant!

And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30)

In addition to basic salvation from wrath, it is God’s will that the Church grow in holiness and power until it is a militant, overcoming force in the earth. We must expand our understanding of grace to include the power to move from victory to victory over the impulses of the flesh and fleshly mind. 

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27)

Three Traps

In the last few pages an emphasis has been placed on personal holiness. There are at least three "traps" in which the Christian can be caught, in the area of the doctrine of holiness.

Righteousness by faith means God overlooks sin. The first trap is the concept that righteousness by faith means the sins of the Christian are overlooked because of his profession of faith in Christ. When the overlooked concept is emphasized, the creation of righteousness in the believer, which is the essential act and meaning of salvation, is left to chance.

Grace then becomes an empty form. The main doctrine of several of the books of the New Testament is destroyed. A verse such as the following loses its importance: 

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)

Holiness consists of do this and don’t do that. The second trap is defining holiness as external observances of some kind or another. These may include such items as the wearing of old-fashioned clothes; special dietary regulations such as abstinence from pork, tea, coffee; the keeping of special days. All such religious observances are significant to those who practice them and are entwined in their faith toward God.

If we ourselves believe we are not obligated to observe such regulations we ought to refrain from criticizing Christians who do keep them, and when we are with them to follow their customs insofar as it is necessary to help them maintain their faith toward God. Many Christians are too loose rather than too strict in their religious observances.

True new covenant holiness is concerned with spiritual cleanliness—cleanliness from the influences of evil spirits. The motives, thoughts, imaginations, acts, and words that God views as unclean (unholy) are those of lust, perversion, murder, hatred, lying, stealing, spiritism, jealousy, gossiping, backbiting, spite, envy, denominational pride, revenge, boasting, coveting, idolatry, excesses of eating and drinking, fearfulness, timidity, greed, reveling, haughtiness, immoderate ambition, slothfulness, rebellion against God, unbelief, reliance on education and intellectual ability instead of the Spirit of God, to name a few uncleannesses prevalent in the Body of Christ.

These are the things that defile a man. These are the spiritual uncleannesses and bondages that Christ came to destroy so people may find rest in the Presence of God.

Lust, murder, covetousness, and lying are the nature of Satan and his followers.

Attending a performance of some kind, vacationing at the beach or at a national park, drinking coffee or tea, are holy or unholy in God’s sight depending on the particular situation. But lewdness, perversion, hatred, spite, gossiping, criticism, covetousness, always are an abomination to God. They abound in the churches. God sends judgment on the doers of them whether or not they are Christians.

We church members, with regard to holiness, need to be careful that we do not swallow camels while we are straining out gnats. There are some of us who would die before we would be seen at the beach or inside a moving picture theater. Yet, we harbor an unforgiving spirit in our heart. We are stubborn and unyielding over injustices that we have suffered or fancy we have suffered. We respond with malice when we cannot have our own way.

The truth in this case is upside down. The theater and beach are of little consequence from the Divine viewpoint. They may be good or evil depending on the circumstances.

But unforgiveness! stubbornness! malice!—these are wicked spirits, the brood of Satan. So are all forms of lust and perversion, hatred, sorcery, idolatry, and pride. Personal ambition, envy, strife, and the willingness to follow personal loyalties (I am of Paul; I am of Peter) have destroyed thousands of Christian fellowships.

Creating holiness by human will power. The third trap in which Christians get caught is the attempt to create heart holiness by using human energy. A believer can destroy his spiritual rest and poise by attempting to manufacture love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control.

The above virtues are the "fruit of the Holy Spirit," not the fruit of the Christian. They grow out from and characterize the Spirit of God, not the human spirit. They will grow out from and characterize the Christian provided the Spirit of Christ is prevailing in the Christian’s life. They are the natural, expected outcomes of abiding in Christ.

Such virtues cannot be developed or copied by human effort. The more one tries the more fretful and despairing one becomes. Our part is to accept the forgiveness of Christ, to rest in Him, and to be obedient to the Holy Spirit during each moment of our life.

God’s part is to create righteousness in our heart. This is the true grace of God. It cannot be developed or imitated by human nature. Although we must live as righteously as we can in each of these areas, human nature is basically corrupt, whereas the Spirit of God is pure, all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving, all-peaceful, all-joyous.

We must use the self-control we do possess in our own personality. We must say no when we are enticed to do something we know to be wrong. If we are too weak to say no, we should pray for the strength to say no, and then look to God for total victory.

We must resist the devil as well as we are able. We also must recognize that our will power, while it is a vital part of man and related to his will and power of judgment, can never create in us the lasting fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit and is the end result of the abiding of the Spirit of God in the human heart.

Although it is true that holiness does not consist of do this and don’t do that, and that we cannot create holiness by human will power, it still is important that we do what we can to keep our personality pure.

Social activities, such as going to the beach or to theater, which in time past were wholesome, are now accompanied by so much corruption that in many instances they are not at all suitable for the Christian family. The television, the most prominent source of entertainment and information of our day, projects so much that is satanic that many Christians wisely refuse to have a television receiver in their home.

The Lord will guide us in all such decisions.

Let us emphasize once again that we must obey the commandments of the Apostles to the best of our ability. Since the growth of Christ in us is a slow process, the greater part of our discipleship is conducted as our adamic nature calls on the Spirit of God for assistance. If our natural man does not have integrity, is not willing to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow the Lord, then it is impossible to walk in the path that leads to eternal life.

The Spirit of God always stands ready and willing to assist us as we go to the Throne of God for help in our time of need. But we ourselves must make the decision to serve God at every moment. If we do not, the Life of Christ in us will be aborted. As in the parable of the sower, the Divine Seed will bear no lasting fruit.

Adam permitted Satan to enter the Paradise of God. It is Adam, with the assistance (grace) of Christ, who must be the one to drive Satan from the garden.

Holiness and the Day of the Lord

Apostolic warnings. 

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:21-25)

James has given us a word that should help offset the pleasure-loving attitude that currently attends the ancient Gospel of Christ: 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

And the next, also to church members: 

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:8-10)

Peter is of one mind with Paul and James. These words are addressed to Christian people: 

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [in all your behavior]; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: (I Peter 1:13-17)

The above passages are addressed to Christian people.

Chapters One through Three of I Peter are exhortations to holy Christian living. Chapter Four reveals that God sends suffering (fiery judgment) on Christians to prepare them for the Day of the Lord. 

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)

When we Christians come into difficult situations we may find them "strange." We need to consider the following: 

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (I Peter 4:12)

Compare this thought with the proclamation of John the Baptist: 

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is more powerful than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:11,12)

Then back to Peter: 

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (I Peter 4:13)

Here is the correct attitude for the Christian to take toward suffering, and the Day of the Lord. We are being prepared now so we can stand in that Day (Ephesians 6:13). We are being "fireproofed."

The suffering that comes on the Christian is part of God’s judgment on the earth. 

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved [is saved with difficulty], where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:17,18)

"And if the righteous is saved with difficulty"!

So much, then, for the pleasure-loving, overconfident attitude in our churches that portrays the grace of God as a screen that conceals from Divine sight the sins of the Christians while permitting the sins of the non-Christians to pass through to judgment and execution of sentence. One sentence that already has been passed on the churches of today is the tragic lack of Divine Presence and revival power.

The churches do not seem to care! Few cry to God day and night for the restoration of His Presence and power among us. We have been "burned" doubly by judgment: first, we have been deprived of the abundance of resurrection life; second, we do not recognize and are not concerned that we have been deprived of Divine Life. We are paying dearly for our sin and coldness toward God.

It may be observed that the Book of First Peter is an exhortation and warning concerning godly Christian behavior. Such an exhortation and warning would be unnecessary if the only benefit of Divine grace were the covering of the sins of the Christians.

The Book of Second Peter also is an exhortation and warning concerning godly Christian living. 

Wherefore the rather, brothers, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things [develop godly characteristics], ye shall never fall: (II Peter 1:10)

The same "Flee from the wrath to come!," "Prepare for the Day of Wrath!" exhortation found in I Peter 4 is seen also in II Peter. 

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation [conduct] and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto [hastening] the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (II Peter 3:10-12)

Chapter Three of Second Peter does not appear to assume the Christian will escape judgment. If Peter were making such an assumption, some evidence of it should be manifest in the third chapter. Here is the type of statement we should be finding:

"The elements shall melt with fervent heat. But the judgment of God shall never touch you, beloved. Now that you have accepted Christ as your personal Savior there in no way in which the Lord’s judgment on sin can possibly affect you."

Or:

"You, beloved of our Lord, shall take your ease with Jesus in the mansions of glory. Therefore, put your minds at rest concerning the Day of God. The grace of God has forgiven all the sins you are practicing and will yet practice. On your profession of faith in Christ you are totally free from sin and the judgment thereof. Though the Day of the Lord will be a time of terror to the unbelievers, you as a Christian can never be brought into judgment concerning your sins."

Or:

"Rejoice in Christ, my brothers, for He will never allow His own to come under the judgment of God."

The preceding three "passages," which we have composed from our knowledge of Christian sermons, are in keeping with the doctrine of grace on which millions of Christians are resting their hope. However, the three statements are alien to the teaching of the first-century Apostles.

The Christian churches must prepare for the Day of God!

Godly living and the Day of the Lord. There is a relationship between godly living and the Day of the Lord. 

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. (II Peter 3:14)

We are to live a holy life because we are looking forward to the destruction of the world and the spirit of the world, and to the creation of "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness."

The Apostle John has written a letter to us. The main burden of the letter is the

of sin in the life of the disciple. John warns us concerning sin: 

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (I John 1:8)

John states the purpose for his writing: 

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (I John 2:1)

The theme of the epistle is emphasized: 

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (I John 2:6)

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (I John 2:15)

Again, the expression of the relationship between Christian living and the Day of the Lord: 

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure [this thought parallels that expressed in 2:6]. (I John 3:3)

And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whoever abideth in him sinneth not: whoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (I John 3:6)

Godly living is the true test of faith. It is impossible to have a living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ without an accompanying revolution in character—a revolution toward a holy and blameless life. 

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. (I John 3:7)

Paul mentions men who "lie in wait to deceive." Who are the men who deceive? They are Christian teachers who say that a person can serve God acceptably apart from a life of holy consecration. Why do men "lie in wait to deceive"? Because they are seeking personal advantage. They worship their own appetites. "For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s."

Not all that takes place in Christian churches comes from the Lord Jesus. Satan and his angels and demons are religious creatures. They desire the inheritance designated for the sons of God. They are active in all Christian churches. They thoroughly enjoy church activities and attempt to experience the glory and joy they once knew in the heavens. Their joy and their motivation are unclean, perverse, and destructive. They will seek to use believers who are worldly, lustful, or personally ambitious.

When Christ begins to work, the unclean spirits and people influenced by them will rise up and seek to kill Him and those He is using to further his purposes.

The true prophets of the Lord are always denouncing the works of Satan in God’s Church and God’s Church often hates and murders the prophets of God.

When a group of people have begun to expose the false concept of grace, the concept that leaves people with the impression they will experience Paradise after they die even though they have not served Christ with all diligence—when this concept is threatened, as it will be by God’s prophets in our day, we shall see the face of an enraged Satan. This is because Satan is counting on a pardon from God. He is hoping for escape from the Lake of Fire for himself, and so he puts in the hearts of lukewarm believers a false understanding of mercy and grace, hoping that God will save both them and himself as well. Satan fears the vengeance of God!

The true saints of the Lord, the holy remnant, will be persecuted without mercy in the near future. Some of their fellow Christians may heap scorn on them and seek to silence those who are announcing the true message of the Kingdom of God, the message of righteous and holy behavior and the doing of God’s will in the earth. 

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8)

The purpose of the manifestation of the sons of God is to destroy the works of the devil. It is the manifestation of the sons of God, Christ and His army, that will bring in the Kingdom Age. The Kingdom Age is the period of time when the influence of Satan is removed from our earth for a season. 

Whoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his [God’s] seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (I John 3:9)

We have been so conditioned by the teaching that it is inevitable that Christians sin while they are in the world, and that grace is little more than an excuse for the sins of believers, that I John 3:9 (above) may be incomprehensible to us.

But notice: 

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (I John 3:10)

The passage just quoted (above) is important because it provides a method of testing the genuineness of Christian experience. It is neither a profession of belief nor some kind of religious behavior that enables us to discriminate between Christians and non-Christians. The test of Christian experience is whether the Holy Spirit is bearing the fruit of godliness in the individual.

When Paul was testifying to Felix, the governor of Caesarea, Paul did not advise Felix to make a profession of "faith," after which he could continue his life as before. Rather, we find Paul warned Felix concerning the wrath to come: 

And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. (Acts 24:24,25)

How many evangelists of "grace," after the modern definition of the term, have preached that Felix would not make a simple profession of belief, preferring a "convenient season"?

But the Scripture states that the Apostle reasoned of "righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." If we of today who claim the name of Christ are to draw back from our adulterous union with the world and to seek Him whose Gospel we claim to teach, then we must proclaim righteous, temperate behavior with a view toward the judgment to come. Righteousness and self-control are essential parts of the Christian Gospel.

We are re-created in righteousness by means of the work of Christ in us. It is through the Gospel that we learn self-control in the use of the world and so escape the riotous living that destroys the bodies and souls of our neighbors.

It is through the Gospel of the Kingdom of God that we learn to fear the Day of Wrath that will dawn in fire, and through that fear turn from the lusts of the world and present our bodies a living sacrifice before God in Christ. It is not surprising that the worldly Felix trembled.

Godly Christian living is related to the great and terrible Day of the Lord. 

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (I John 4:17)

Because the grace of God is enabling us to live a godly life now, in this present world, we have no fear of the wrath that will be poured out on mankind at the coming of Christ. We have been "fireproofed" by having been through the fires of judgment with Christ during our Christian experience. We have been chastened and made righteous by the Lord so we will not be condemned with the world.

This is more than a carrying into Heaven while the world is being judged. Rather, it is a "boldness in the day of judgment." It is a boldness based on an acceptance of the atonement and lordship of Christ and on the possession of a life that has been re-created into the image of God by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit until "as he is, so are we in this world."

Overcoming sin. 

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (I John 5:4,5)

Sometimes the above verse is used to prove that if we merely make a mental assent to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God we have overcome the world and there is little more we need to do.

If this were true, then the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, the part of the Scriptures that addresses the overcomers, would stress our belief. Actually these two chapters emphasize our works.

Also, if a simple assent to the Divinity of the Lord Jesus were all we needed to do to satisfy God’s requirement concerning victorious Christian living, the main thesis of First John, which is that we faithfully keep God’s commandments, Meanwhile purifying ourselves, would be found to be an unnecessary exhortation.

"Faith" must be defined as obedience to God rather than mental assent to the Divinity of Jesus. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the "faith" chapter of the Scriptures, does not so much as mention belief in doctrine of any kind. Rather the faith of the saints of old was a faith that resulted in obedience to the will of God.

The meaning of I John 5:4,5 is that true faith, true belief that Jesus is the Son of God, results in our overcoming the world. The individual who overcomes the world is the one who has faith in the Lord Jesus—that Christ has come in the flesh and that Christ is the Lord Jesus. This person, because of his sincere adherence to the truth, will be able to overcome the lust that is in the world.

It is not the belief that is of itself the victory. Rather it is that a true belief will always result in victorious living. This concept follows the exhortation to holy living that is found throughout the Book of First John.

It is our task as Christians to overcome the world through the grace that Christ gives so the wicked one (Satan) does not touch us. By referring to the writings of the Apostles we understand we cannot overcome the world by our own strength.

We overcome the world by means of prayer, submitting to God, resisting the devil, reading the Word, being exposed to the manifestation of the Spirit, walking in strict obedience to the prompting of the Spirit of God, enjoying Christian fellowship, avoiding temptation, confessing our sins, praying for one another, obeying the elders, exercising faith, presenting our body a living sacrifice, putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, and doing whatever else is necessary to prevent Satan from touching us or having any part in us whatever.

Overcoming is overcoming! It is the conquering of a cunning adversary. Christ overcame Satan by perfect obedience to the Father during His life, and during His death on the cross.

Christ destroyed completely the legal claims of Satan on those who receive Christ by faith. But the Christian also must overcome. The believer must overcome the resistance of the world, the flesh, and the devil each day of his sojourn on earth. The believer does this by availing himself by faith of the grace and equipment offered to him by the Spirit of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Revelation, Chapters Two and Three teach us the meaning of the term overcome. These chapters are addressed to believers. It is the Christians who must overcome, not the unsaved.

The test of Christian experience is as follows: 

Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. (III John 1:11)

The Book of Jude is an exhortation and warning to Christians concerning godly living and judgment to come. The Christian life is portrayed as one of resisting sin through prayer, and of daily growth in actual holiness and practical godliness. 

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, (Jude 1:20)

We are not to be just saying prayers but wrestling in the Spirit against the world, the flesh, and Satan—wrestling in the strength and wisdom of the Spirit as the Spirit leads. Otherwise we wear ourselves out battling in our own wisdom and strength. 

Keep yourselves in the love of God [this is an active spiritual battle rather than a mental assent to a doctrinal position], looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 1:21)

It is true that we have eternal life upon the acceptance of Christ. But it is true also eternal life is the reward of holding fast to Christ throughout one’s life on earth (Hebrews 3:6,14; I Peter 1:5).

The Book of Revelation has much to say about the victorious Christian life and the Day of the Lord. The stage is set for the concept of godly behavior, and judgment to come, by the appearance of Christ. 

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; (Revelation 1:14)

When Jesus returns to earth He will examine every creature, searching out and destroying sin and the works of the devil. All ungodliness will be exposed to the white heat of the purity of the Godhead.

All fleshly motives, words, thoughts, deeds, will be consumed by Divine fire. This is the day of fire. This is the great Day, the Day of Christ, the Day of the Lord, the Day of God, the Day of Judgment, held in terrifying remembrance by every demon. The attention of God’s creatures is directed continually by the Spirit, by the Scriptures, and by conscience toward That Day!

The overcoming requirement. Of particular importance to our doctrine concerning the relationship of godly Christian living to the Day of the Lord are the expressions concerning overcoming found in Revelation, Chapters Two and Three. From our point of view, the concept of the victorious Christian has not received nearly enough emphasis by Christian teachers.

The New Testament writings teach consistently that the promises of God concerning rulership and priesthood in the age to come are for him who overcomes. It appears that this concept has been ignored. We have gotten around the overcoming requirement by defining "he who overcomes" as he who makes a profession of the Christian faith.

Overcoming, in the New Testament sense, is victorious living in Christ. The overcomer is the Christian who, at each point in time, prays and obeys through every temptation and trial set before him or her.

This is not to say that an overcoming Christian cannot stumble or be deceived. He can, assuredly. But stumbling and deception are exceptional periods in his life.

When the overcomer makes mistakes he corrects them, under the supervision of the Holy Spirit of God, and fights on. He is a Caleb, a Joshua. By faith he lays hold on the promises of God and is not discouraged easily.

He recovers from setbacks and proceeds with his life of dedication to and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He withholds nothing—absolutely nothing—from God. (It is impossible to overcome when there is an idol in the heart.) His life actually is a living sacrifice.

Through the blood of Christ and the word of his testimony, continually stating his trust in the faithfulness of God, the victorious Christian emerges as a conqueror in the wrestling match against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Each day he says a final no! to the world, the flesh, and Satan.

The victorious Christian life is not referring to a bearded prophet working out an extraordinary consecration while hidden away in a cave in the wilderness. Perfect, complete obedience to God is our "reasonable service." No believer should be entertaining ideas about ruling with Christ or receiving the rewards of the overcomer unless he is consecrated absolutely to Christ. There is no middle ground, no place of compromise.

Either our heart is married to Christ or it is not. Either we are lusting after the things of the world or we are not. This does not mean we are to flee from earthly responsibility or perform our tasks in the world halfheartedly. We are to work in the world as to the Lord. It is our heart that is the problem. Our heart must be so devoted to Christ that there is no question as to where our treasures are.

If this is not the case with you, if you cannot find the spiritual strength to say an eternal yes to Jesus, do not despair. Do not faint. Tell Jesus about it. Tell Him out loud with your mouth that you need more strength for consecration. Or just cry, Help! If you really want to be an overcomer, God is willing to give you the necessary strength. God Himself will strengthen your asking and your receiving until you can say, "I love Jesus above all."

What, then, of the nonovercoming Christian, the defeated believer? We cannot say. There is a basis in the Scripture, such as the story of Lot, for the belief that some people will be saved by fire apart from any inheritance in the Lord. On the other hand, there are warnings in the New Testament that the lazy, the careless, the lukewarm, will be dealt with very harshly by the Lord. Do not let the spiritually lazy, the careless, the lukewarm imagine that their experience after death will be pleasant because of God’s love, mercy, or grace. It will not be pleasant!

The Scripture is emphatic on one point: the promises of God concerning priesthood and rulership in the age to come, the Day of the Lord, are reserved for the victorious saints. Christians who do not press through to victory in the Lord Jesus have no scriptural hope of ruling with Christ or of being in the first resurrection (Philippians 3:10-14; Revelation 20:6).

Let us glance at some of the verses of Revelation that pertain to the promises to the overcomer. Remember, the term overcome must be defined as "maintaining continually through Christ victory over the world, the lust of the flesh, Satan, and our self-will." 

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Revelation 2:11)

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:26-28)

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21) (Compare Revelation 20:4; Daniel 7:22)

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11)

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Revelation 21:7)

To understand the meaning of the word overcome one must consider carefully the second and third chapters of Revelation and also take into account all that the Apostles of the new covenant have written about the victorious Christian life. Any concept that is addressed so pointedly and repeatedly is worthy of the disciple’s strict attention.

To overcome is to emerge victorious in a struggle. The world, the fleshly nature, and Satan are set against the Christian, attempting to prevent him from obtaining his inheritance in Christ; attempting to prevent him from entering the rest of God; attempting to deceive him into disobeying God; attempting to seduce him into spending his days in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

He who overcomes shall inherit all the promises of God, particularly the promises concerning fruitfulness and rulership. Overcoming is an intensely personal condition of the heart and has to do with the life of prayer and dedication on the part of the disciple of Jesus of Nazareth.

Divine grace is not restricted to the forgiveness of sins, although forgiveness is a vital part of God’s grace in Christ. Divine grace includes also a change in our character that causes us to be continually obedient to the Spirit of Christ, to be a holy servant of the Lord God of Heaven, just as was true of the priests of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

Grace means not only the hiding of the sins of Christians from God’s eyes but also the Divine working in the believer that re-creates his moral nature until he is able to serve God with increasing success. Grace works legally (de jure )in providing remission (forgiveness) of guilt, and then actually (de facto ) in purging sinful deeds from the Christian. There is power in Christ to save people from sin, that is, to deliver them from the power of the devil.

The victorious saints. We can observe the victorious saints now—here in the earth. They are given over wholly to Christ. The strings of their heart are tied hard to Christ. Christ is All in all to them. They have left the "weak and beggarly" elements of the world so they may know Christ. They are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

God is their life and their life is God. They are the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth and they have given all to Him. They follow Him wherever He goes. They love Jesus with their whole mind, soul, and strength. They look to the Lord twenty-four hours of every day—at home, on the job, at school, and assembled with fellow Christians. They cannot get enough of Christ. It is Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

Does this kind of attitude sound like something you desire? If so, tell the Lord about it right now. Do not let another hour go by. At first it is difficult to make such a total consecration. In fact, it is impossible in our natural strength.

But every person can desire to be consecrated totally. God can use our desire to accomplish His will in us. If you are weak, say, "Lord, help me. Help me give my life to you without reservation. Strengthen my desire to love Jesus. Blow my flickering flame into a roaring bonfire of love—a single-minded pursuit of Christ."

Then praise God for the answer. Use the amount of will power that you have and believe God will increase your zeal each day. You must use what you have no matter how small an amount it is. Bring your feeble discipleship to Christ and ask Him to bless and multiply it as He did the loaves and fish.

Ask in faith and do not waver. God will turn your desires toward Himself until He and you are satisfied. Then determine to keep your will as strong as steel in Christ toward God every moment of every day of your life. There is no other way to obtain the fullness of the inheritance God has for us. We must forsake the world and its lusts, our fleshly desires, the devil and his enticements, and our self-love and self-seeking.

Cleave to Christ with every ounce of your personality. Do it now—right now! This is the best and only time you ever will have. Today is the day of salvation. Today is your day to be married to Christ. Tomorrow very well may be too late.

The victorious saints are diligent in earthly responsibilities but there is no mistaking the completeness of their consecration to Christ. When there is doubt at any point, God puts the doubtful area to the test of fire. They are the victorious saints—the archenemies of the spirit of the world.

The heroes of Scripture were cut from this cloth. We can see the nature of the overcomer in Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, John. They could not rest until the will of God was wrought fully in their life. It is equally true today. Nothing is different. Faith is not belief in doctrine. Faith is the response of the individual to the calling of God on his life. Faith is the same in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

There is no hiding our head in the sand, hoping that some miracle will occur at the coming of the Lord in which a worldly, indifferent church member is transformed into God’s holy dwelling place. The Gospel of Christ is ancient—unchanged from the day Abraham led Isaac to the altar; Shadrach was thrown into the oven; Elijah prayed on Mount Carmel; Stephen was stoned.

The holiness of the holy city. The new Jerusalem will be holy because the people who serve as a wall around the new Jerusalem will be God’s victorious saints of every age. Christ has driven the rebellion and idolatry from their heart. 

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and sulfur: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:7,8)

The emphasis in the preceding passage is on the necessity for conquering sin and self-will, on holiness of heart and actions, not just a profession of faith in Christ.

Paul says, "They who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:21). But today’s gospel is, "They who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God unless they believe in Christ." We have made the Word of God of none effect by our traditions. What good is the grace of God in Christ unless it converts us until we no longer do these things?

Imperfection of doctrine will not put a person in the lake of burning sulfur. But fear will! Unbelief will! Depravity will! Murder will! Adultery will! Spiritism will! Idolatry will! Lying will!

Let us place emphasis where God places emphasis. Satan will divert us, if he can, from the necessity for righteous conduct. 

And there shall in no wise enter it [the holy city, the Church, the Body of Christ] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Revelation 21:27)

We understand that a person is written in the Book of Life on the basis of his confession of faith in Christ. However, the individual must live a victorious Christian life if he is to maintain his place in the Book of Life. 

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5)

"I will not blot out his name out of the book of life." It is possible to have one’s name blotted from the Book of Life.

Salvation is the reconstruction of the human being according to the pattern of God’s image. Without such transformation grace can become an empty form, an excuse for sinful behavior, a license to practice immorality. If the life is not noticeably being reconstructed, how do we know that the person actually has come to Christ? By his words? The Christian testimony consists of more than words.

It is necessary that a person confess with his mouth that Christ is his Lord because by the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

But a life that is undergoing a transformation from the works of the flesh to the fruit of the Holy Spirit—that is more than mere words. That is visible proof that the Son of God is dwelling in the heart. Let us not be deceived. Christians can be identified by the moral fruit they bear. 

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11)

Consider, in the preceding verse, how a person’s moral nature is brought forward unchanged to the Day of the Lord. It is vain to hope for miracles of character transformation at the appearing of Christ. What there shall be is weeping and gnashing of teeth as people realize they have been deceived by Satan and false teachers in the churches. 

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)

No one who is not holy in heart and actions can pass through the gates of the new Jerusalem. The emphasis is on doing His commandments. 

For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:15)

The last verse quoted is an accurate description of the world in which we live. The only escape from this polluted atmosphere is by means of the transforming power of Christ in the human heart.

We have been discussing, in the last few pages, the attitude of God toward the moral character of Christians, toward the sins we commit after we have accepted Christ. The definition of grace, and the relationship of grace to holy, righteous conduct, have been examined. We have attempted to show that God judges sin as sin whether committed by Christians or by non-Christians and that the Christians who are not victorious saints cannot expect to receive the rewards promised to the victorious saints.

We have "blown the trumpet." The alarm has been sounded in the Christian camp. Let the reader examine his own spirit. 

Then whoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. (Ezekiel 33:4,5)

The new Jerusalem is the fulfillment of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. We find under no circumstances will uncleanness of motive, imagination, word, or deed be allowed to enter the new Jerusalem.

Sin originated in Heaven with the rebellion of the creatures there. But sin shall never enter the new Jerusalem.

Sin cannot enter or exist in the new Jerusalem because the holy city is the Church, the Body of Christ, and is filled with the spirit of the victorious saints. Sin shall be driven from the Church and finally from the remainder of the creation by means of God through Christ through the Holy Spirit working in and through the saints of the Lord.

Christian people are to overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by the fact that they are willing to love not their lives to the death.

The "blood of the Lamb" refers to the legal work of atonement and remission (forgiveness) of sins accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Whenever Satan attempts to accuse a victorious saint of some past sin, the saint is to place his trust in the blood of the Lamb and believe the sin has been forgiven by the Lord.

The "word of their testimony" refers to the steadfast confession of the believer that God is true and faithful and His Word is true and faithful. No matter what into dungeon of oppression he is cast the saint keeps on expressing his hope and trust that God finally will bring him into perfect love, joy, and peace.

We are to love not our lives to the death, meaning we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the death of our first personality until it is "crucified with Christ." We cannot hold back from the Lord one piece of our self life. All must go, as the Lord leads. We must be perfectly obedient to the Father. Also, we are to accept physical martyrdom if it becomes necessary.

The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the Body of Christ. It is the will of Christ that all sin in the members of His Body be put to death by the Holy Spirit.

The Church will demonstrate the grace of God here on earth while it yet is in a mortal body (Ephesians 5:27). If it were not possible for God to create righteousness in the earth, how could the Kingdom of God be established? God indeed can create righteousness and praise in His people while they yet are in the earth, and He is in the process of doing so.

 . . . so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11)

The Christian Church is the new Jerusalem. In the Day of the Lord, the Church will be set up on the earth as the holy Tabernacle of God.

God will create holiness in the firstfruits of the Church while the members are on the earth in mortal bodies. God will bring in the worldwide Kingdom Age by first creating an individual "kingdom age" (destruction of Satan’s power) in the members of the Church. The victorious Christian has the essential environment of the Kingdom Age in him. The actual, historical thousand-year Kingdom Age will commence at the coming of our Lord and Savior, Christ.

The Church is being refined by the working of the several parts of salvation, of which Calvary is central in importance. When the Christian people are ready, having been made so by the careful workmanship of the Holy Spirit of God, then the Glory of God will come upon the Church, "splitting the earthen vessels" of the members just as the pitchers of Gideon’s men were broken open.

The saints administer the judgment. 

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? . . . (I Corinthians 6:2)

Know ye not that we will judge angels? . . . (I Corinthians 6:3)

The coming of our Lord Jesus to the earth is described in the Book of Revelation. The saints will be with him during the judgment on the earth. The saints will be involved in the administration of the judgment of God (Psalms 149). This is the manifestation of the sons of God; Joel’s "army"; Habakkuk’s "troops"; Jude’s "ten thousands of his saints"; Daniel’s "time that the saints possessed the kingdom"; Paul’s "resurrection of the dead" (Philippians 3:11). 

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:7,8)

Compare: 

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (I John 3:3)

The above (Revelation 19:7,8) describes the point at which the physical body is clothed with the body from Heaven. A covering of righteousness will be granted to the saints at this time. 

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)

In one sense we are saved now. In another true, scriptural sense a major part of our salvation is ahead of us.

Paul is referring to the future salvation when he teaches: 

And not only they [the material creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)

The redeeming (buying back; ransoming) of the physical body is an important part of the Christian salvation. Christian grace includes the redemption of the physical body from the power and penalty of sin.

Keeping the redemption of the physical body in mind we suspect that Revelation 19:8 refers to the putting on of increased eternal life by the saints, and that the putting on of righteousness is Peter’s "salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" and Paul’s "prize of the high calling of God in Christ." 

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:8)

In fact, the saints will be clothed with their own godly response to their afflictions (II Corinthians 4:17;5:4) If they have sown to eternal life they will put on increased incorruptible life at that time. This is the "crown of life."

 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (Revelation 19:11)

"Judge and make war"! This is the true nature of God’s actions through the warrior Son. How could it be otherwise when the presence and work of unclean spirits abound in the earth?

Here is the return of God’s King, Christ, and the time when Jesus takes to Himself the rulership of the earth. Here is the Lord Jesus receiving the reward of His tremendous patience—the nations for His inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession.

But He must establish His ownership by judgment and war against evil spirits, just as we must establish our inheritance by judgment and war against evil spirits. 

And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)

We believe these armies are the believers who attain the first resurrection. They are "caught up" to be ever "with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:14-17) so they may fight by His side as He drives all wickedness from the earth.

There is an emphasis on the fine linen (righteous behavior). There will be no liars in that army, no lustful, no boasters, no ambitious, no haters, no gossipers, no fearful, no murderers. The word righteousness in Revelation 19:8 is more accurately translated "righteousnesses" or "righteous deeds."

The saints will have been made holy by the by the power of the grace of God—holy in thought, word, deed, and motivation. They are holy warriors. Because they themselves have been judged and made righteous by repeated fiery trials, testings, temptations, and have overcome them all through Christ, they now are able to work with the Lord in judging and making war on the unholy spirits in the earth.

Judging, warring against, and destroying evil in the earth will bring about the righteous period we refer to as the Kingdom Age (Millennium). 

And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (Revelation 19:15)

Christ is the Word of God made flesh. We are the flesh being made the Word. We are being made the Word of God by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in us. Day by day the Word of God tests us, purging away little by little the fleshly nature and replacing it with the Divine Nature. The sharp sword proceeding from the mouth of Jesus is the Word of God in judgment.

In that day no one will stand who cannot bear up under the judging force of the Word of God. It is Christ and His army who execute the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. We see, then, that grace must result in a transformed moral nature.

A legal state of forgiveness, while it is the all-important first step in the program of redemption in Christ, is not sufficient to enable the Christian to live, fight, and work with boldness alongside of Christ during the Day of the Lord. 

And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (Revelation 19:19)

The earth belongs to Christ—Head and Body. But the earth cannot be taken without a fight. The battle is kingdom against kingdom—the Kingdom of God against the nations of the earth.

When the Lord Jesus appears with His army, the nations of the earth—unbelievable as it may appear to us now—actually will attempt to resist with force His coming (see Revelation 19:19 above). The heads of state will unite in the struggle to prevent the Lord Jesus from ruling over His earth. They shall be totally destroyed. The outcome of the war is described in the last verses of the Revelation, Chapter 19.

The first resurrection. 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

It appears that the above is the resurrection about which Paul was so concerned (Philippians 3:8-14), a resurrection that is not to be taken for granted on the basis of assent to Christian doctrine.

The first resurrection is for the blessed and holy priesthood. It is the resurrection to the fullness of eternal life, to ruling with the Lord over the saved nations during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The second resurrection, that which will take place at the end of the thousand years, will include all persons born on the earth, with the exception of the blessed and holy priesthood.

It is generally understood that only the wicked will be raised at the second resurrection. This is not true. The wording of the Scripture indicates that the majority of those raised in the second resurrection will be brought into eternal life in the new world of righteousness (Revelation 20:12-15).

The first resurrection is for the Lord’s victorious saints. The second resurrection is for everyone else.

Forgiveness of sins comes only by faith in the blood atonement made by Christ. Holiness is a pattern of attitude and behavior in the individual Christian. Holiness is perfected in the follower of Jesus as he goes through the school of the Holy Spirit.

Those who would arrive at the first resurrection and rule with Christ must be purified in imagination, motive, word, and deed.

The relationship of the present to the future. The relationship of our Christian experience of the present to the experiences we shall have in the future can be expressed simply. If we do not practice holiness now we will not have a desire for holiness at the appearing of the Lord. At what point would our transformation into holiness take place?

When we die and go to Heaven? Why? Sin originated in Heaven with the rebellion of the angels against God Almighty. Why should our dying and going to Heaven change us from indifferent "believers" into lovers of the Lord Jesus and His ways? If we follow Jesus from far off here we will follow Him from far off there.

When, where, and how would the moral transformation of the Christians take place? In Heaven? At the coming of Christ?

Our places will have been assigned already when we finish our life here on earth. The earth is God’s proving ground, His school for victorious saints. Christ Himself learned obedience on the earth and we learn obedience on the earth. Christ Himself had to overcome while on the earth and we have to overcome while we are yet on the earth. It is on earth that the Christian is shaped and tempered for his role and place of responsibility in God’s Kingdom.

If we desire to know the place of a person in God’s Kingdom to come, all we need to do is to observe him on the earth. If he is responding to the molding and tempering work of the Holy Spirit it is apparent here on earth.

You can see the transformation with your eyes and weigh it objectively. There will be no sudden transformations of character at the coming of the Lord. The change at the coming of the Lord will be primarily in the body. The saints are the saints whether they are here on the earth or at home with the Lord in Heaven.

If we desire to leave all and follow Jesus now we will have a desire to leave all and follow Jesus in Heaven and in the ages to come. If we can be easily led astray here it is possible that we could be easily led astray in the spirit realm and in the ages to come. However, sin shall not be permitted in the Kingdom of God. God in the present hour is perfecting in the hearts of the saints an eternal defense against future sin and rebellion.

Our character as a person will not be changed by our death or by the Lord’s appearing. It is true, however, that it will be much easier to live righteously and obediently when the Lord returns to set up His Kingdom. His Spirit will be poured out on the earth, and the sons of God will be administering justice to the nations.

If we reign diligently, faithfully, and prayerfully over the small "kingdom" that God has given us in this world we will reign diligently, faithfully, and prayerfully over the great kingdom available to us during the Kingdom Age. Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation. Now is the hour to demonstrate how faithful we shall be to Jesus.

Now is the time to learn the lessons of the Holy Spirit. Now is the time to enter rulership with Christ. The emphasis of today is on His will working in us and revealed to us and through us by the Holy Spirit as we present our body a living sacrifice. We do our part and He does His part. He who overcomes in this struggle will inherit the Kingdom of God.

The royal priesthood. Let us who are of the Church, the Body of Christ, the fulfillment of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, now put away all filthiness of the flesh and spirit that we may be a holy temple of the Lord. Let us show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

We must keep in mind always that we have been called to be a kingdom of priests, a people belonging especially to God and set aside to represent Him and to fulfill all His will. We are a called-out group, separate from the nations of the earth. Called-out group is the meaning of the term "church."

We must make certain that we do not lose our crown but rather that we join the company of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises of God—the promises applied to us because we are part of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of one fact we can be certain: the Christian Church, the spiritual fulfillment of the Tabernacle of the Congregation is always "holiness unto the Lord." Every person and thing associated with the Tabernacle or with its spiritual fulfillment in Christ must be holy in every aspect.

The holiness that is required consists not only of a righteousness that is imputed (ascribed) by means of the blood of atonement of the Lord Jesus but also of a purity of personality and behavior that is demonstrated in the spiritual and physical realms. There can be no uncleanness in the Body of Christ, for it is the eternal Tabernacle of the Lord God of Heaven. 

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we will be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we will be like him; for we will see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whoever abideth in him sinneth not: whoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. (I John 3:2-7)

CHAPTER IX ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS 

Exactness of Directions

One of the noteworthy facts related to the Tabernacle is the emphasis placed by the Lord on the directions and measurements. The exactness with which God gave the directions is astonishing. It is difficult for us sometimes to get even a hint of God’s will for our personal life. Directions as detailed as, "And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second" (Exodus 26:10) almost are beyond belief.

We scarcely can imagine God describing loops of material and feet and inches of boards. Yet, many such detailed directions were given in the plan of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The religionists of our day who talk about God as some kind of vague moral force in the universe do not understand the clear-cut personality of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God gave Israel no room for creative self-expression when building His Tabernacle—the three-dimensional portrayal of His Kingdom. In addition to giving specific directions, the following fiat was announced repeatedly: 

According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. (Exodus 25:9)

And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount. (Exodus 25:40)

And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was shewed thee in the mount. (Exodus 26:30)

Again, we find the directions for Solomon’s Temple, the sequel to the Tabernacle, were given to David by the Spirit of God: 

And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things: (I Chronicles 28:12)

All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern. (I Chronicles 28:19)

The many direct commands to follow God’s pattern, plus the issuing of numerous detailed instructions, proclaim one fact: God does not want humans to change the design of His dwelling place in the earth. Yet, it appears from church history and from our own attitude today that we do not pay close enough attention to the directions of God concerning the Body of Christ.

Perhaps in our minds we make excuses for not having the manifestation of the Spirit according to I Corinthians, Chapter 12 or for not pressing forward to the fullness of Christ. Sometimes we feel that such things are not "practical." But this is the same as saying God is not practical. One fact is absolutely certain: there is no one more practical than God!

God never has and never will give impractical directions to any person. God cannot be impractical because He has the power to do anything He desires. We confuse compromise, fear, and unbelief with wisdom and practicality. Thus we become impractical and the churches become powerless and void of the awe of God.

Incompleteness Requires the Spirit of Revelation

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (Ephesians 1:17)

God’s directions for both the Tabernacle of the Congregation and the Christian churches were and are specific and leave no room for a fleshly approach. However, key parts of the directions have been omitted from the written plans. It is impossible to take what is written and without any current revelation proceed to build the Tabernacle or the Body of Christ.

In the case of the Tabernacle of the Congregation there are unclear areas of the design, such as the description of the western side of the building, and also the placement of the five bars that run along the sides of the Tabernacle. The position of the grate on the Altar of Burnt Offering and the appearance of the Laver are uncertain, as well as how the Laver was carried on the march. As a result of the incompleteness of specifications, devout Bible scholars have come to different conclusions concerning the building and the furnishings.

The Israelites did not have design problems because Moses had seen the Tabernacle, or a model of the Tabernacle, during a season of direct revelation. Moses could fill in the incomplete areas of the design.

The same incompleteness is true of the Lord’s work today. Many devout and competent men have determined to go forth and "build for God." They set out with good will and the best of intentions to create the Kingdom of God, to solve the problem of the practice of abortion, or to join together all of the Lord’s people. But the result is sectarian construction and activity.

It is impossible to use the New Testament writings alone and from these do the work of the Lord. They are incomplete in terms of what we are to do day by day. If a man takes the attitude that he can construct from the Scriptures alone he may assume a rigid attitude. The result will be another split in the Body of Christ. "No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation" (II Peter 1:20).

Sometimes Bible scholars deal with the Scriptures as medical students might examine a corpse. They seek to understand every bone, every organ, every nerve pattern. But the corpse does not come to life!

It is impossible to perfect or unify the Body of Christ apart from revelatory ministry such as that of the apostle and prophet. The Holy Spirit of God through the revelatory ministries correctly applies what is written in the Epistles, for what is written came by revelation. The result is harmony, maturity, and unity. The revelatory ministries must "see" the Church just as Moses saw the representation of the Tabernacle.

Some of the Christian churches are becoming aware of the need for the revelatory ministries and for the remainder of the ministries and gifts of the Spirit. As a result, teams of apostles and prophets are going out to "set the churches in order." We think extreme caution needs to be exercised in this endeavor. The probability is that the outcome merely will be another denomination—a governmental structure in which men look to other men for guidance instead of to the Lord.

The teams of apostles and prophets seek to organize the ministries and gifts in the local assembly. The Scriptures do not teach, as far as we know, that the Holy Spirit gives ministries and gifts to the local assembly. The ministries and gifts are given to the Body of Christ. Too much emphasis on the local assembly creates a little kingdom separate from the Body.

It has pleased God that the Church should be perfected and unified by the many varying manifestations of the Holy Spirit through the total company of Christian believers. Only in this manner can the Kingdom of God be fashioned correctly. We must build according to what we "see in the mountain of God."

We are not implying that we should seek revelation outside of the Scriptures. Rather we are stating that the Scriptures must be applied by the Spirit of God instead of by fleshly reasoning. The sons of God are led by the Spirit, not by the Scriptures.

God-centeredness of the Tabernacle

Perhaps the most obvious characteristic of the Tabernacle was its God-centeredness. When God gave the pattern He began with the Ark of the Covenant, not with the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering (Exodus 25:10). God looked on the Tabernacle as something He wanted rather than as something to benefit man.

"And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them."

We are so man-centered that it may be impossible for us to grasp the God-centeredness of the plan of salvation. We turn the Gospel around so the emphasis is on what man is going to do, how man will benefit.

Some have said the Protestant Reformation was, at least in part, a product of the humanistic thinking of that period of history. It appears that this may have been the case, for the emphasis today is not on how God is to be pleased but how man is to be profited.

Paul stated that in the last days men would be lovers of their own selves. The emphasis of the Scriptures is on God—what God is going to do; what God has done; how God will benefit.

Unless a person maintains this emphasis it is difficult for him to grasp the meaning of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The Tabernacle exists for God’s use. The Christian Church exists for God’s use. We may or may not receive or enjoy the program. The principal concern is the pleasing of the Lord God. He is the Landlord and the Tenant.

God Faced the Land of Promise

A point of interest is the fact that God, in the Tabernacle, was facing the promised land. The Ark of the Covenant, which together with the Mercy Seat formed the Throne of God, was in the western end of the Tabernacle building. The Hebrews were traveling east, toward the land of promise. God’s throne was facing the direction of march. God was moving toward His enemies. 

And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. (Numbers 10:35)

It may be difficult for us to realize the God of the universe actually lived in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The almighty God Himself dwelled between the cherubim, just as a little over a thousand years later He sat on the throne of Jesus’ heart. The Hebrews standing in the door of their tents could see the Presence of God settling on the Tabernacle. 

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:34-38)

CHAPTER X REVIEW AND CONCLUSION

In our book we have mentioned many aspects of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. It is hoped there has been something of value for the readers who already were well acquainted with the Tabernacle.

Perhaps those to whom the subject has been new may wish to reread the book at an early opportunity, meditating on the Scripture references and asking the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the ideas of immediate importance.

The directions for the Tabernacle are not complete in the Scriptures. So it is today. We must have current communication with the Holy Spirit of God. There is a need for apostles and prophets, as well as for other revelatory ministries, in order to bring the Christian Church to maturity and unity.

The following text is a brief review of the main concepts that have been discussed. Perhaps the review will help the reader remember the several areas of study associated with the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

Two Guidelines for Interpreting the Symbols of the Scriptures

Do not attempt to force an interpretation from each detail of the type. Allow the Holy Spirit to point out the main truth.

Be sure you have New Testament support for any interpretation you hold.

Seven Forms of the House of God

Moses’ Tent.

Tabernacle of the Congregation.

David’s Tabernacle.

Solomon’s Temple.

Ezekiel’s Temple.

The Lord Jesus Christ.

The new Jerusalem.

Six Areas of Study of the Tabernacle

Physical description.

The Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The history of the Christian Church.

The redemption of the believer.

The perfecting of the Body of Christ.

The setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Physical Description

This was presented in some detail and may be worth reviewing. There are many excellent books on the Tabernacle and all have something to add concerning the details of the Tabernacle, its priesthood, service, and geographical and historical settings.

Four Major Types of Redemption

The seven days of creation.

The journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Levitical convocations (feasts of the Lord).

The Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ

The Tabernacle of the Congregation well may be the most significant Old Testament type of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every part and detail of the Tabernacle, and of the priesthood and sacrifices, is symbolic of the Person of Christ and of the many aspects of the redemption made by His blood.

The History of the Christian Church

The order in which the Lord gave Moses the directions for the Tabernacle and the priesthood, in Exodus, Chapter 25-40, appears to be symbolic of the order of events in the history of the Christian Church. The picture is seen of God giving Christ to the world, and then the presentation of the long list of materials and requirements for the construction of the true Tabernacle of God, which is Christ—Head and Body.

The point at which Bezaleel and Aholiab are introduced speaks of the time when we stop talking and begin working. With this concept in mind we seem to see the day in which we are living as being the beginning stage of building the Body of Christ and the entire Kingdom of God.

There will be a tremendous revival of the preaching of the Kingdom of God just before the return of Christ. The Word of power shall go to the ends of the earth. At the coming of the Lord, the constructing of the dwelling place of God in the earth will be given great impetus. All the words of Christ, as recorded in the four Gospel accounts, will be brought into flesh and blood reality in the earth.

One thing is certain. Before the Lord God is finished, His Glory shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. "By Myself have I sworn!" proclaims the Lord.

The Redemption of the Believer

The seven furnishings of the Tabernacle, taken in order from the Altar of Burnt Offering and proceeding through to the Mercy Seat, portray the manner in which we move through the program of redemption. We commence in total chaos of sin and finish on the Throne of Glory—so great is the atonement (reconciliation) made by Christ.

1. The Altar of Burnt Offering represents the blood of the cross of Christ, called to remembrance in the sacrament of Communion. It speaks to us also of our own consecration to the Lord Jesus.

2. The Laver points out the need for separation from the filth of the world on the part of those who would be priests of God. Our water baptism represents this aspect of the plan of redemption.

3. The Table of Showbread is the continual presentation of the living Word of God, the body and blood of Christ, the eating of which builds Christ in the believer.

4. The Lampstand is the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit who creates the testimony of Christ given through the Church. The Spirit assigns and empowers the gifts of I Corinthians, Chapter 12 and brings forth the moral fruit described in Galatians, Chapter Five. The Spirit enables the Christian to overcome the lusts of the fleshly nature.

5. The Altar of Incense is the next step after the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This furnishing represents the prayers and worship of the saints—in particular their bowing down in death to self-will and self-seeking. It is the beginning of the assault by the Church on the kingdom of darkness.

6. The Ark of the Covenant is the coming of the Lord Jesus with thousands of His saints. It speaks to us of the time when we are in the image of Christ, possessing in ourselves the discipline of the Spirit (Aaron’s rod); The body and blood of Christ (jar of manna); and a pure moral character (the Ten Commandments). The Ark of the Covenant is David’s Tabernacle—Zion, of the Book of Psalms.

7. The Mercy Seat and He who dwells between the Cherubim of Glory represents the rest of God. Our experience of redemption is climaxed by the coming of the Persons of the Godhead to abide in us forever. We are being brought toward perfect oneness, perfect reconciliation, with the Lord God.

Three Areas

The gate of the linen fence led into the Courtyard. The door of the Tabernacle building led into the Holy Place. The Veil opened into the Most Holy Place.

The light of the Courtyard was the sun, signifying that the accepting of the slain Lamb of God and participation in water baptism are available to the world.

The light of the Holy Place was the Lampstand, indicating that the partaking of the body and blood of Christ, the holy ministries, gifts, and fruit of the Spirit, and Spirit-empowered prayer and worship, are for the Body of Christ. The world cannot participate in these.

The light of the Most Holy Place was the Glory of God, showing us that when we arrive at maturity we shall know God and no longer shall have to depend on ministries and gifts. We shall not see through a glass darkly but shall behold the Face of the Almighty God.

When will that which is perfect come to us? That which is perfect is the fullness of the Father and the fullness of the Son through the fullness of the Spirit settling down to rest in the heart of the believer who keeps the Word of Christ. Such will serve God in the holy city, the new Jerusalem. They will see God as no one else ever has, with the exception of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. They are God’s sons!

The believer dwelling in the Courtyard will be preserved in the Day of Wrath.

The believer in the Holy Place is a member of the Body of Christ. He is being built up in Christ and Christ in him. He is ministering his gifts to others and they to him. He is giving holy supplication and adoration to the God of Heaven. He is a priest of the Lord. He is gaining victory over Satan, the world, and his own lusts and self-will.

The believer in the Most Holy Place is a conqueror. He is the recipient of all the fullness of God and is a pillar in the Temple of God. He has the name of God forever engraved on his person. He is sharing with Christ dominion over the creation of God.

Looking at the three areas of the Tabernacle in reverse order we can notice the following three events in setting up the Kingdom of God on the earth:

The coming of the King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The perfecting of the Body of Christ, of the Servant of the Lord, of the One who will bring justice and truth to the nations of the earth.

The bringing of every person on the earth under obedience to God in Christ. Those who resist Christ will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

Our purpose in stressing in our book the role of the victorious saints, the Lord’s conquerors, is to encourage every Christian person to press forward to the fullness of God. Being a servant of the Lord is available to every man, woman, boy, and girl on the earth. It is not God who prevents us from attaining the throne of Glory. It is we ourselves who limit God through our unbelief and disobedience, and who resist when the Holy Spirit leads us into circumstances that are painful to our self-life.

It is our sincere hope that every reader of these words will be seized with the desire to seek Christ—a desire so strong, so fervent, that the remainder of the reader’s life will be given to the Lord Jesus to do with as He will.

None of us has the wisdom or power to accomplish anything at all in the Kingdom of God. It is only as we give ourselves to the Holy Spirit that we make progress in the life of victory.

The Perfecting of the Church

The seven furnishings of the Tabernacle indicate the growth of the Church to maturity in Christ. The Church begins as scattered groups of believers. The Church finishes as the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the perfected Wife of the Lamb.

1. The Altar of Burnt Offering shows us that every person who would be saved must meet the Lord God at the cross. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness) of sin. Christ on the cross is the only way into the ranks of the redeemed.

2. The bronze Laver reminds us that the members of the Church are priests of the Lord. It is required of a priest that he be righteous and holy in person and behavior. The Church of Christ has escaped from the authority of the unclean "pharaoh" of the present age by means of the waters of baptism. The members of the Church have been washed clean by the blood and by the teachings of the Word of God.

3. The Table of Showbread portrays the Communion table where the saints show the Lord’s death until He comes. His broken body and shed blood are given to each member of the Body of Christ, revealing that Christ can be made whole again only when His Body, the Church, becomes one in Him. The Church becomes the "Wife of the Lamb" by eating the flesh of the Lamb and drinking His blood.

4. The Lampstand is Christ—Head and Body. The task of Christ is to go to the ends of the earth, judging sin and bringing liberation to every person. The Church is the "light of the world."

5. The Altar of Incense is the voice of Christ crying night and day to the Father. Out from the heart of Christ comes prayer, intercession, thanksgiving, worship, travail, adoration. The prayers and worship of the Church of Christ are the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. They are the authority and power to bind or loose; to retain or remit; to hold or release into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

It is at the Altar of Incense that the disciple bows in death to self-will and self-seeking. It is here that we say (sometimes in great anguish), "Not my will but thine be done."

6. The Ark of the Covenant speaks to us of the coming of Christ with thousands of His saints to judge and make war. The Ark goes before the army of the Lord. The Ark was the glory of David’s Tabernacle and will be revealed when our heavenly King David ascends to His rightful throne (Revelation 11:19).

7. The Mercy Seat portrays the Glory of God in the Church, the Wife of the Lamb. She will be filled with the fullness of the Godhead. She will be perfect in every part. She will be the Throne of God and of the Lamb to the ages of ages.

The Christian Church is not perfect as yet. We find the Lord Jesus instructed the Apostle John to write to the angels of the seven churches of Asia. It may be true that the seven messages apply to all of the churches of Christ through the centuries. The Christian churches are not perfect!

What does the Lord Jesus advise? He suggests that individuals in the churches seek to live in victory. The admonition to overcome is always addressed to the individual, never to the church as a whole.

The reason the invitation is addressed to one person at a time is that the Lord Jesus will give authority and power to each believer in the churches who hears His voices and who will do His will with a perfect heart. Each disciple must decide for himself the extent to which he wishes to lay hold on the glory to which Christ has called him.

Why be so concerned with the perfecting of each member of the Church? Why is so much attention given to minute details of holiness when multitudes of people are involved?

The answer is this: though the new Jerusalem were a million miles on a side (and it may be much larger than this); and though the city were made of perfect gems whose combined worth exceeded that of the minerals in the remainder of the universe; and though the beauty and color that radiate from the city filled the heavens and the earth with a rainbow of glory; though all of this were true, yet, if there were one backbiter, one gossiper, one hater, one thief, one liar, one adulterer in the entire city, the whole would be unacceptable to God and in no manner worthy of being the Wife of the Lamb.

The Body of Christ is only as holy as the least holy member. Remember the story of Achan!

The Setting Up of the Kingdom of God

The seven furnishings of the Tabernacle, taken in order from the Mercy Seat and proceeding through to the Altar of Burnt Offering, form a picture of the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

1. The Kingdom of God, of Heaven, began with Christ. The Kingdom will be finished when God’s kings and priests have been perfected and put into their positions of authority and service, and the last person on earth has come under the rule of the Lord Jesus. There is much work left to be done.

The Mercy Seat suggests to us the plan of God from the beginning. When trouble first started in Heaven there came into the mind of God a great plan. He perfected the plan in His own counsels, wrote down the name of the participants in His book, and worked out in detail the events of redemption, including the offering of Christ on the cross, and His resurrection.

After all of this had been completed in God’s timeless vision, including every person, incident and thing described from Genesis, Chapter One to Revelation, Chapter 22, God brought into being the earth and its inhabitants.

2. The Ark of the Covenant typifies the King of the Kingdom coming to the earth. First, He had to come as the Lamb of God, the Redeemer. Next, He is coming at the head of His army. It was not possible that Christ could remain at His first coming because the Body of Christ had not been brought formed as yet. As soon as His army, His "mighty men," has been formed and made ready, the Lord Jesus Christ will come again—this time to remain and enforce His will on the earth.

The Scripture indicates that one of the major purposes of the age in which we are living is the building of David’s Tabernacle. At the convention of the early apostles, James declared (no doubt by the Holy Spirit) that the Christian Church is the rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David.

 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: (Acts 15:16)

David’s Tabernacle consisted of a tent containing the Ark of the Covenant, a place of sacrifice, and Levites to "thank and praise the Lord God of Israel" (I Chronicles, Chapter 16). The remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was left on the high place of Gibeon.

If, as James states, we are in the time of the rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David, then we understand that the Lord God will establish His Glory—as represented by the Ark of the Covenant—in the Body of Christ. We interpret all of this to mean Christ is creating a firstfruits to Himself who will praise Him. When His firstfruits has been perfected He will return as the Ark of the Covenant with the firstfruits of the Church to govern the nations of the earth

As we look about us, one fact seems to be apparent: the Church as a whole is not ready for Christ to return. There is sin and disobedience, sectarian loyalties and interests. Perhaps David’s Tabernacle portrays the victorious saints in all churches who will serve Christ with a pure heart, being a firstfruits to God and the Lamb. The purified firstfruits, the warrior remnant, will pave the way for His return.

3. The Altar of Incense is the trumpet of the Lord, announcing that the kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. In the days to come, the Christian Church will be built to great strength in prayer and worship. Then the burning coals from the Altar of Incense in Heaven will be cast into the earth (Revelation 8:3-5). The work of judgment will be brought to the fullness of maturity in the earth and God will prepare the earth to be a fit place for His Spirit, His beloved Son, and His servants to live and work.

Going back for a moment to the sequence of events in the perfecting of the Church, the Church in its progress toward maturity has been at the Lampstand, at Pentecost, since the end of the last century. We are speaking of the sequence of events of the restoration that began with the Protestant Reformers.

The next position of the Church, in the program of restoration, will be at the Altar of Incense—the place of Holy Spirit-empowered prayer and worship. Here the disciples will bow in death to self-will and will turn to God in prayer and supplication.

As soon as the Altar of Incense has been attained in strength by a body of believers we can be sure that the return of Christ is close at hand. The coming Kingdom, as it proceeds from the Mercy Seat, meets the maturing Church at the Altar of Incense—at the place of prayer, worship, and death to self-will.

Can you see in this pattern the fulfillment of the Old Testament events associated with the bringing of the Ark to Zion and the setting up of the Tabernacle of David?

4. The Lampstand symbolizes the next move in the order of events of setting up the Kingdom of God in the earth. The Lampstand typifies the going forth of the Servant of the Lord to the ends of the earth, during the Day of the Lord, bringing through the Holy Spirit the Presence, will, ways, and purposes of the Lord God to all the people of the nations of the saved.

Here is the promise made to Abraham—the restoring of God’s Spirit to mankind. At the coming of the Spirit of God every particle of wickedness must flee away, finding no longer a place of repose in the earth. In that day, righteousness, health, peace, joy, enlightenment, and every other good and perfect gift and blessing will be the portion of earth’s peoples.

5. The Table of Showbread is the tree of life of which the nations of the earth must eat if they are to live. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of people. The showbread is the Virtue of Christ that is in the Church and that will be ministered to people, as is true today.

The nations are dead spiritually because mankind cannot live by natural food alone. The body and blood of Christ must be given to people or else they return as grass to the dust of the ground. The Substance of Christ is the only eternal life, and this life is in the Church when Christ is in the Church.

6. The Laver signifies the deliverance from sin of earth’s peoples by the power of Christ, beginning with the nation of Israel. Christ possesses the authority to forgive whomever He chooses. He will use His authority throughout the earth according to His own will and purposes, as soon as He prepares His Church for the work of the Kingdom.

The teachings of the Kingdom of God, the same injunctions that come to us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, Chapters Five through Seven), are the laws of the Kingdom of God. In taking heed to these laws we cleanse our way before God.

The saints of the Lord will bring the teachings of the Lord to the ends of the earth so the inhabitants may learn righteousness. The anointing of the Holy Spirit will be present to guide and empower people to keep these holy laws. The Glory of God will increase among the nations as righteousness fills the earth.

It will become easy to walk in God’s ways on the earth just as it is easy to do God’s will in Heaven. Finally the whole earth will be so full of the Glory of God that righteousness will prevail in every place. In that day, God’s will shall be done in the earth as it in Heaven.

7. The Altar of Burnt Offering, the largest of the furnishings of the Tabernacle, teaches us that the Kingdom of God is established through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only by accepting the redemption that is through Him can people be received of God.

The four horns of the great Altar of sacrifice look toward the four points of the compass. The power of the shed blood and broken Body of Christ must reach every person so he or she can be among those who are saved. The Kingdom of God is founded on the crucifixion, resurrection, and living Person of the Lord Jesus as on a mighty Rock.

So solid, so secure, so everlasting is the Rock that it can and does bear on itself the entire universe. The Lord God Almighty is in that Rock, establishing its immovability forever. If you have anchored your life in the Rock, Christ, you can never be moved.

Holiness

The Tabernacle of the Congregation reveals the Person and work of Christ. Next in importance, the Tabernacle portrays the fact that God is holy and that whoever will have dealings with God must be holy. God has given to us the means to partake of His holiness.

It is not enough that we cry Lord, Lord, and then not do what He commands.

Christ is our covering and we were accepted in Christ when we had no righteousness of our own. What, then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

If we claim we are in Him, then we are to walk as He walked. If we are walking in sin we have neither seen nor known Him.

Jesus came to save us from our sins, not in our sins. We are to confess our sins. By His atoning blood we gain complete forgiveness. Then we are to forsake our sins by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. This refers not only to an imputed (ascribed) holiness given to us through the holy Life of Christ but also to an inwrought holiness that brings forth in us the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord knows those who are His. Let every person who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

We take pleasure in sharing with you the ideas concerning the Tabernacle that we believe the Holy Spirit has taught us. Every scribe who has been instructed in the things of the Kingdom of Heaven brings forth from his treasures things new and old.

Perhaps some of the material in this book was familiar to you. Some concepts may have been new. We Christians have been founded solidly on the old, the Rock, the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus. But we also must have the new to keep us seeking Christ with a perfect heart. The Ark of His Glory must remain portable. We must keep forging ahead in Christ.

Are you portable? Are you ready to press on, and on, and on to the fullness of Christ?

A final thought: As we have taught, there were seven major furnishings of the Tabernacle. Of these seven, the Lampstand was number four and the Altar of Incense was number five.

Speaking in terms of the warlike remnant, the firstfruits of the Church that are being called out by the Spirit, we are wrestling in the Lord that we might move past Pentecost, the Lampstand, and press forward until we apprehend all that the Altar of Incense represents.

The future of the Kingdom depends upon the success of the godly remnant of today pressing their way to the Altar of Incense.

The first four furnishings profit man. Man is forgiven his sins. Man is cleansed in water baptism. Man is born again at the Table of Showbread. Man is filled with God’s Spirit at Pentecost, the Lampstand.

The next step is God’s Kingdom—that which profits God.

There was at one time a colossal rebellion on the part of the angels of God. Since that time God has been desirous of bringing the heavens into His holy Presence, forming an eternal bride for His Son, and revealing Himself in a company of sons formed in His image. These are God’s needs and desires.

God wants everlasting righteousness on the part of all of His creatures, new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. 

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24)

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (II Peter 3:13)

Satan understands that the material creation is superior to the spirit Paradise and it is here that he intends to rule. Satan’s rule is not brought to an end in us or in the earth when we are forgiven, baptized in water, born again, and filled with God’s Spirit. Satan’s rule is not threatened until we come to the Altar of Incense, bow before God in stern holiness and obedience, and plead, "Not my will but Yours be done."

When we bow in stern obedience we make it possible for the Father and the Son to enter us and begin to work through us. The work of the Father and the Son is to put down all disobedience and to bring everlasting righteousness into our personality and actions and then into our surroundings. This is the Kingdom of God.

We understand, therefore, that nothing is actually happening, as far as installing the Kingdom of God in the earth, until God finds people who will love not their own lives unto the death, who will present themselves as the servant of the Lord, taking their place in the great Servant of the Lord, the Body of Christ.

When the Lord Jesus Christ shed His blood on the cross an atonement was made for all time. As long as eternity lasts there never again will be made an atonement for sin.

The same is true of the giving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been given to mankind once and for all time.

Each person who would please God must avail himself or herself of the Divine forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. Through the authority of the atoning blood and the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God each person can start on the path that leads to eternal life, that is, to reconciliation to God.

The gate to life is small and the way is filled with obstacles—at least in the present hour. But a hardy remnant of saints will build the highway of holiness so in the future all who have a willing heart may walk thereon.

The atonement has been made. The Spirit has been given. Now it is our responsibility to enter the program of reconciliation to God. The program of reconciliation is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement. The completed reconciliation is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles.

The "woman," the Church, is in travail today. The purpose of the travail is to bring forth Christ in the saints. Until Christ comes forth in us, and God in Him, the accuser of the brothers cannot be torn from his place in the heavens and the Kingdom of God cannot enter the earth.

God’s will cannot be done in the earth until it first is performed in the holy remnant whom the Lord is calling out from the churches of our day.

A nation shall be born at once. The nation is the Body of Christ, the Servant of the Lord. The travail has begun. The Lord is at the right hand of His Father, waiting until all of His enemies have been crushed under the feet of His Body.

Are you prepared to give your life so Christ might live in you and bring the Father’s will to pass in the earth? You show your love to your Lord by making it possible for Him to live in you in place of your self-will, self-seeking, and self-love.

Are you ready to be "holiness unto the Lord"? 

In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness Unto The Lord; and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 14:20,21)

We have seen the cloud lift from the Tabernacle of the Congregation. We have heard the silver trumpets of the priests sounding the signal for Israel to march. We have observed the priests hurrying to wrap the sacred furnishings so the Levites can take hold of the staves and move into place in the midst of the host of Israel.

Let us all march on toward the land of promise. Let us press forward toward the milk and honey; toward mountains where we can dig out the gold, silver, and iron of God; where we can eat the old corn of the land, and then grow new corn; where we can drink without ceasing from the River of God’s Holy Spirit.

Let us forget our accomplishments to this point and follow on to know the Lord. If we do, He will come to us as the rain, as the seed and harvest rain falling on the plowed earth.

The end of our journey is the fullness of Christ. With God’s help we will never cease pressing forward until our goal has been reached.

Books Consulted During the Writing of The Tabernacle of the Congregation

The Amplified Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1965.

Berry, George Ricker: The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1971. Halley, Henry H.: Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1965.

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown: A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1945. 

New American Standard Bible, Foundation Press Publications, La Habra, California, 1973. 

New International Version of the Holy Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988. 

The New Testament From 26 Translations, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1967.

Rotherham, Joseph Bryant: The Emphasized Bible, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1971.