THE SEVEN FURNISHINGS OF THE TABERNACLE (EXCERPT OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION)
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
From: The Tabernacle of the Congregation
The Tabernacle of the Congregation may be the greatest of the biblical types of God’s plan of redemption in Christ. The last half of the Book of Exodus describes the construction of the Tabernacle, and references to the Tabernacle and its furnishings are found at various places in the Scriptures. 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.
Table of Contents
Description of the Tabernacle of the Congregation
The Seven Holy Furnishings
The Altar of Burnt Offering
The Table of Showbread
The Altar of Incense
The Ark of the Covenant
The Mercy Seat (Lid of Reconciliation)
THE SEVEN FURNISHINGS OF
THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION
The Tabernacle of the Congregation may be the greatest of the biblical types of God’s plan of redemption in Christ. The last half of the Book of Exodus describes the construction of the Tabernacle, and references to the Tabernacle and its furnishings are found throughout the Scriptures.
Our book The Tabernacle of the Congregation, from which this smaller book was taken, includes, first of all, a description of the Tabernacle and its parts. Information from current scholarship is reflected in the text. In addition, ideas are presented that have proceeded from a careful examination of the Hebrew text combined with practical conclusions concerning what the priests and people must have experienced as the multitude of animals was sacrificed day after day under the blazing sun of the Sinai Desert.
The smaller book, The Seven Furnishings of the Tabernacle, has to do only with the seven holy furnishings: 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.
As we understand it, the Tabernacle of the Congregation is a Divine type, or illustration, of the following four eternal realities:
- The Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The growth of the believer from the time he receives the blood atonement by faith until he is in Christ’s image and is in perfect, restful union with God through Christ.
- The growth of the Christian Church from unformed gatherings of believers to the perfected Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem.
- The establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
In The Seven Furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation we shall emphasize the second of the four realities—the growth of the believer from the time he receives the blood atonement by faith until he is in Christ’s image and is in perfect, restful union with God through Christ.
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)
Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them. (Psalms 68:18)
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)
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)
Description of the Tabernacle of the Congregation
Chapters 25 through 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 over 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 that were inserted in silver sockets placed on the ground.
Four layers of material were thrown over these upright boards, forming the roof. The outside layer of material was badgers’ skins (probably dolphins’ or porpoises’ skins), so that 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 Holy of Holies, or Most Holy Place.
The remainder of the building was called the Holy. In English we add the word place, calling it the Holy Place.
The Tabernacle building or Tent of Meeting, stood in an area referred to as the Court, or Courtyard, of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The Court was surrounded by a fence of linen 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 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.
If you stood back at a distance you would gain the impression of a large fenced-off area, the fence being pure 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 ornate and beautiful.
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 into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34,35)
The gate to the Courtyard of the Tabernacle was on the eastern side of the linen fence when the Ark of the Covenant was facing east. It was a curtain that hung from four pillars. The curtain that formed the gate of the Courtyard 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 in 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 Laver, which 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 when the Ark of the Covenant was facing east.
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 (when the Ark was facing east), 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 the priest, 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.
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 in 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.
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 judgments against sin.
We have seen then that the Tabernacle of the Congregation was a rather large structure consisting of a gold-covered wooden building in a fenced-in 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 over. 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 atoning 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 was 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 give you a clearer picture of what we are talking about as we go into the application of this major biblical type to the redemption of the believer.
The Seven Holy Furnishings
Before we present a detailed interpretation of the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering we shall briefly summarize 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 (Exodus 27:1)
- Laver (Exodus 30:18)
- Table of Showbread (Exodus 25:23)
- Lampstand (Exodus 25:31)
- Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1)
- Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10)
- Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:17)
Altar of Burnt Offering—It is referred to in the Scripture as the “brazen,” that is, brass altar. Scholars are of the opinion that copper or bronze was the metal used. All offerings made by fire took place at this altar.
The Altar of Burnt offering portrays 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—Also of bronze. The Laver was a wash basin placed out in the Courtyard of the Tabernacle between the Altar of Burnt Offering and the door of the Tabernacle.
The Laver signifies our 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 atoning blood of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God; the washing away of our sins that comes about by receiving and obeying the Word of God.
Table of Showbread (literally, Bread of Faces, or Bread of the Presence)—The Table of the Presence Bread was made from acacia wood covered with gold.
The Table of Showbread typifies the continual presentation of the living Word of God, Christ, the eating of whom builds up Christ in 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—This furnishing had a central shaft and six side-branches. At the top of the central shaft and of each of the side-branches was a golden lamp that burned olive oil. The Lampstand and its accessories were beaten out of one mass of pure gold.
The golden Lampstand represents the baptism with the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ; 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 Altar of Incense stood in 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.
The Altar of Incense speaks to us of the Life and Person of the Lord Jesus worked into the life and person of the believer by the Holy Spirit, so that 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 Ark was made from acacia wood covered with gold. Acacia wood and gold were two of the most important building materials of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
The Ark of the Covenant typifies the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the saint of God in whom Christ is being formed, 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:
- The Ten Commandments—the Law of God wrought in his character.
- 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.
- Aaron’s rod that budded—the power of eternal resurrection life that operates in the priesthood God has chosen.
Mercy Seat—The Mercy Seat (Lid of Reconciliation) was beaten out of pure gold. The Mercy Seat served as a covering lid for the Ark of the Covenant.
The solid-gold Mercy Seat portrays the fullness of the Glory of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit; the image of Christ formed in spirit, soul and body; authority and power through Christ over all things; the abiding of the Persons of the Godhead in the Christian.
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 atoning 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 and from the filthiness and rebellion of our flesh and our spirit are begun in the act of water baptism and carried on each day as we wash our robes and make them white in the blood of Christ. We wash our robes by continual repentance, confession, and resistance to sin.
The Table of Showbread brings to us the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, which constitute the only true, 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 shall live forever. 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 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 Lampstand proper is the tall central shaft. This is Christ. The Body of Christ is represented by the six-side branches.
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 that 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 humble ourselves in the death of perfect obedience can we pass through the Veil into the fullness of the Glory of God.
It is the Holy Spirit who operates in 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.
If we cooperate, the power of the Holy Spirit will increase in our lives until our whole personality, spirit, soul and body, is crying to God night and day. When we give ourselves to God without reservation we will 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 working 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 totally to serving the Lord Jesus. If anyone will do this 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 one of His elect with a very great love.
The seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation reveal that redemption is a progressive work commencing 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
And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits. (Exodus 27:1)
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 (“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; 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.
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 by which people can approach the living 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, all having been corrupted by sin, and by the grace of God in Christ brings us all the way to the 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 through 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 before 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.
Coming to Christ on the cross is the first step in the redemption of the believer. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. People cannot come to God any other way. This is the alpha of salvation.
Since the bronze Altar stood before 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 and the utter righteousness of God are both 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, and for every other need of the believer (Leviticus, Chapters One through Seven).
We are to come to God continually 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 Lamb. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves. If we are walking in the light of God’s 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!
During the worship conducted at the Temple of Solomon thousands of gallons of blood were pouring from the sacrificial animals. But the offering of Christ on the cross is the one blood sacrifice that eternally redeems all of mankind who will believe and receive.
And he is the propitiation [appeasement] 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 that 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 that sins must die, and each one 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 wickedness 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 by the blood of the righteous Jesus. Any person who, knowing of the sacrifice made on Calvary, attempts to come to God in his or her own righteousness is doomed already.
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. (Exodus 30:18)
Less is said, as far as details of construction are concerned, about the bronze Laver than any of the other seven pieces of furniture. The size is not given. The way in which it was to be prepared for carrying is not described. Its base or “foot” was important but not set forth clearly.
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).
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 Laver may have been a small basin of bronze placed on a bronze pedestal—too small to need receptacles and carrying poles, which might have made it look ridiculous if indeed it were of small size. Perhaps it was a low washbasin 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.
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 remission of sin-guiltiness toward God.
The laver was fashioned from the mirrors of the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting (Exodus 38:8). The Word of God is a mirror in which we see our sin and self-will. As we view our sinful thoughts and deeds we are to confess them so that God may wash us in the blood of the cross and help us gain victory over each unclean area of our personality.
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 Him (John 17:15). The Kingdom of God is a holy kingdom. Holiness is one of several principal messages of the Tabernacle.
The heart of the Christian, though he may occupy a place of significance and service in his local community and 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 an overcoming 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.
But when God calls a saint out of the work of the world and into the work of the Kingdom, or whenever the demands of worldly employment require that the believer engage in unholy behavior, then the saint is to waste no time trying to win the favor of the world but is to move quickly and diligently into the path that the Lord is emphasizing to him or her.
There is to be no compromise along this line.
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 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)
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 rebuke and approval 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 that 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.
Now that we have entered Christ’s death and resurrection 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 away adultery, fornication, filthy speech, lying, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, then we must cease doing these things.
Time must be set aside for 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 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. It does not matter whether his or her gift and ministry is 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 that our service to God will be acceptable.
God requires of His priests that they be holy in deed, word, and thought, and that their hearts and minds be stayed on Him at all times, day and night. The success of our ministry will depend on our willingness to keep ourselves set apart (sanctified) to the Lord so that our priestly intercession and ministry is always acceptable to Him.
The 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. (Exodus 25:23)
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.
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. (Leviticus 24:5,6)
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 atoning blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The showbread, or Presence Bread, portrays 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.
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 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 that 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 different from the mental process of gaining knowledge from the reading of the words of a book.
Christ, the incorruptible Seed in 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 atoning blood.
Christ takes of Himself and feeds His own Life 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 ensure 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 unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto 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 hearts 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 fishes.
Every man, woman, boy, and girl who walks on this planet will eat the body and drink the blood of Christ or he 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.
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 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 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).
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 is especially pleased when people dwell together in harmony and love. 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.
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 that 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 unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever 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. Therefore 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 sharing the common body and blood the believers are made one by Him and in Him.
Christ is the High Priest over the household of God, and 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 and bear witness to 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 unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) (I John 1:1,2)
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 depends on constant, immediate 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 in the area 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.
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)
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.
When the priest entered the door of the Tabernacle, the Table of Showbread was on his right. On his left was the golden 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.
On top of the central shaft and each of the side-branches was a lamp holding pure beaten olive oil and a wick. There were seven lights coming from the entire lampstand.
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)
Thus 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.
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. 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.
The fact that sunlight illuminated the Courtyard, while the Holy Place was lighted by the Lampstand, means that the understanding, knowledge, and wisdom of the Church are not to come from the natural “light” of the world but from the revelation and manifestation of the Holy Spirit of God.
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, to that which is perfect. That which is perfect is the Fullness of the Father and the Fullness of the Son through the Fullness of the Spirit dwelling in the members of the Body of Christ.
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 that which is perfect—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 will 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 dawning on us now) 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 this 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 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 to earth from Heaven, bringing with Him our eternal house.
We accept Christ and are baptized while we still are in the world. Receiving the blood atonement brings us into the area of redemption, into the Kingdom of God. Being born again of the Spirit of God brings us into the Holy Place of the Tabernacle.
The Courtyard was dominated by the Altar of Burnt Offering, signifying that the death and resurrection of Christ must always be the first consideration when a person approaches the Kingdom of God.
The Holy Place was dominated by the golden Lampstand, indicating 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 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 Lord Jesus Christ as His Bride. The Holy Spirit is “another 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 Christ 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 one of us to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The first work consists of the operation of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit. The second work results in bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit.
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,” the One who provides the wisdom and power so we are enabled 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 possesses the Spirit of God without measure. The same anointing will one day rest on the Body of Christ (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. 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 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. Holiness is of utmost importance 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. Our city is the holy city.
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 in us who bears 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 unto 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. Each is item number four in a series of seven elements. The seven elements represent, 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 by faith, 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 of the Levitical feasts) and their counterparts 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 mark, 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 consists of joyful 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 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 for the individual.
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 go “all the way” with God, as did Abraham, must be prepared to be fully obedient, as was Abraham. He must be faithful in the things of God (Hebrews 3:2).
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 “earth” 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 greater 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 the familiar, toward Egypt, 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 here 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, not to any great extent by the daylight that illuminated the Courtyard. 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 is that in his seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. The promise was given after a terrible act of consecration. 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 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 much 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 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 into and become part of the shining of the Lampstand of God.
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, which 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.
There must be death before there can be fruit.
Verily, verily, I say unto 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 righteous and holy freedom in the Spirit of Christ is poured back into his cup.
In the third death the rule of self is poured out of the cup of the Christian and the throne of Christ is poured back into his cup.
It is impossible for Christ to be formed in the personality of the believer apart from the three deaths.
The end result of the three deaths is that the Christian comes into the image of Christ; 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 liberty of the glory of the children of God to all who will believe.
We receive forgiveness of sins by the first death. We receive freedom from sinful practices by the second death. We receive the fullness of fruitfulness and dominion by 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. 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 the second death. The second death is described in Romans 8:13:
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.
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 out our envying of others. We confess the envying and then, by 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 atoning 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. As much as possible we are to maintain our joy, peace and poise while the Spirit is dealing with the sins of our flesh; but 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 places 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 does not 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. When God deals with the “I” He is not emphasizing sin; the issue is that of 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 of us that we be poured out to death. He calls for the “alabaster box” of the perfume of our soul that it may be poured 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 before he becomes our inheritance. Only by such a pouring out of what God has wrought can there be the fullness of the multiplication of Christ, 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 may 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 life to the death.
God is not impressed with our twentieth-century ideas of whether or not He is treating us fairly.
We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ wherever and whenever He may lead. We sometimes must 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, just as the holy incense of the Tabernacle was compounded from 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) hammered into shape in the Lampstand and 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. Also, 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, thus 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. Redemption goes far deeper than producing righteous behavior in Adam. 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 the heavens 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 that Christ shall be multiplied in and through the members of the Body of Christ.
The good works of people 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 forthcoming. This is because God has in mind to bring forth in them fruit of special quality and quantity. The Scriptures have 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 produce a “wild man” when we attempt to bear fruit 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 all who are of the promised Seed.
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 that 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)
The new Jerusalem is associated with barrenness because God’s most glorious and eternal works are brought forth when every ability and opportunity has been reduced to ashes.
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 sons will be taught by the Lord and they will have great peace (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. 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 represents 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.
It is important that the Bride be willing to work, and that she be able to bear children. Also, Christ is greatly 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)
The Lord Jesus was a “root out of a dry ground” when He hung on the cross. But 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.
In the Bride is being created the image of Christ Himself—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, living in union with Him, 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 formed 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 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 fire of the Altar of Incense.
The Altar of Incense
And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense on: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. (Exodus 30:1)
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. The Veil separated the Altar of Incense from the 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 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.
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 Altar of Burnt Offering, showing that the power of the prayer and praise offered by those who have bowed in death before the Lord shall overcome the enemy throughout the whole earth. 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.
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 practical problems. Also, the incense was only for the Lord to smell.
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 appears to symbolize entrance into the things 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 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 Paradise, 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, against the rebellious lords of the heavenlies who have set their will against the will of the Father.
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 those purposes.
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11)
During the beginning stages of our redemption we are quite self-centered. As we move past the golden Lampstand we pass from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. What becomes important to us 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 precious 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 an obedient 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 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 earthwide 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.
The next move of God, in conjunction with the earthwide 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, 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 with the children (family relationships established in the Lord).
The above acts of preparation are the kinds of reconciliation to God that must be made before Christ can dwell in the Church. Today Zion, the Body of Christ, is characterized by 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 the typology of Scripture, indicate the power to overcome resistance.
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 life grows 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 Altar of Incense).
The incense that pleases the Father is the pouring out of our life in total consecration to His will.
When we move past the Altar of Incense we come to the Veil, representing the point at which we pass from adamic life to eternal life in the Presence of God.
The Veil hanging between the Altar of Incense and the Ark of the Covenant portrays the third death—death to self. As our lives are poured out in consecration to the will of the Father we pass through the Veil that separates us from the fullness of the abiding in Christ—from the rest of God.
And 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 unto you between the holy place and the most holy. (Exodus 26:33)
It is written that the Veil symbolizes the flesh of Christ.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into 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, signifying 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 successfully into the battles of the Lord when one is still being led about by self.
The demolishing of our self life is a lifelong program, and God knows exactly how to lay His finger on the sources of our problem with self. Our task is to be patient with God until we find rest in Him. Later on we will receive more understanding concerning the various tunnels and prisons we are called on to endure.
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. We as humans are not able to cope with such 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 active in each of our lives if we are pressing into Christ. 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 problem 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 assumes control and 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 shall serve God throughout His creation forever. Because of the directive of the Father, Christ will receive the nations for His inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession. We Christians are coheirs with Him.
The 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. (Exodus 25:10)
The Ark of the Covenant was located in the Holy of Holies of 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.
Inside the Ark of the Covenant were placed the “testimony,” the two tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments. The Ark contained also a memorial jar of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded. By the side of the Ark there was a copy of the writings of Moses (Deuteronomy 31:26).
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 that 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 made.
Then, as the anointed priest went into the Holy of Holies 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 saint is always to be pressing on toward the fullness of God’s Glory in Christ.
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 scholars believe that wood, as used in the Old Testament typology, symbolizes humanity. We find that 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 on the outside and inside with gold (Divinity), indicating that people (wood) will endure a process that will make them partakers of the Divine Nature.
And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, in 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 people 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, overlays 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 on the outside and the inside with refined gold, portraying 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 covered with Divinity. Mortality swallowed up by immortality.
Don’t give up, Christian. We shall reap one day if we do not faint along the way. The goal of our life is to be re-created in the 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 the almighty 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 image of His Son in spirit, in soul, and in body.
The Ark of the Covenant was constructed from acacia wood, signifying that human beings are to be made the resting place of the Lord. 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).
The Ark portrays the completion of the process of redemption. The Ark of the Covenant reveals 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.
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 the 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 a picture of resurrection life. In the first chapter of Romans, Christ is declared to be the Son of God by the 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, whose bones being the only reminder that they once taught on the earth, Jesus alone returned from the land of the dead in stupendous triumph, laughing at His enemies, with the keys of Hell and death in His almighty 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. The mountains of Bashan look with envy at Zion, at the place of God’s dwelling. But all other leaders and teachers are dead while they yet live, unless they are found in Him.
Each one of God’s saints must come to know the power of Christ’s resurrection. Also, each one must come to experience the fellowship of His sufferings. The resurrection Life of Christ flows from our crucifixion with Him.
It is the resurrection life that proves Jesus to be the Son of God. It is the power of an indestructible life that makes both Melchizedek and Jesus the priests of God. It is the power of eternal life that proves the saints are 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. (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 that 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 until the crucifixion with Christ and the resulting resurrection with Christ are of substance in us. Death with Christ and resurrection with Christ are fashioned 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. For 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 that 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 even though we are believers. 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 personality 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 we cease 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 passive 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.
Waiting on God is the first business of 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 that 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 be required 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 Heaven or on the earth, angelic or human, 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.
And 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)
Aaron’s rod, the symbol of incorruptible resurrection life, was in the Ark of the Covenant, in the character of God’s eternal man. Also in the Ark were the memorial jar of manna and the stone slabs on which were written the Ten Commandments. The jar of manna (Exodus 16:33) was an imperishable 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.
The Israelites 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 prolonged 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.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (I Corinthians 13:10)
The day will come when we shall see Him face to face, 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 will 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 comes down from heaven, and gives life to 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 that we are becoming one with Him in every aspect of our personality and behavior.
We must learn to live by Him as He lives by the Father. We come 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.
Inside the Ark of the Covenant, along with Aaron’s rod and the memorial jar of manna, were placed the two stone slabs inscribed with the Ten Commandments. 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 refer often 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 essential), but what we have been made by God’s working and what we do and speak through the Spirit, that are 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. When people see the good works of the saints they will glorify the Father in Heaven.
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 must 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 re-making 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).
The Mercy Seat (Lid of Reconciliation)
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 that 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. (Exodus 25:17)
The golden Cherubim of Glory made a shelter with their wings over the Mercy Seat (the Propitiatory; Hebrew, kap-PO-reth—lid of appeasement, atonement).
The Mercy Seat was the place of appeasement and reconciliation, 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 refined gold of the Tabernacle represents Divinity. The Divine Substance in 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.
There is a part of each saint, in the holy of holies of his being, the deepest part of his 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.
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 Heaven and on the earth. He who does not possess the Lord Jesus is bankrupt—deprived of everything of worth.
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.
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. (Exodus 25:17,18)
And thou shalt put the mercy seat above on 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 on the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto 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 formed in the life of an individual.
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 to him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
We are ready for the fulfillment of the Mercy Seat, God Himself, to crown our being, when we become the fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant by:
- Sharing consistently in Christ’s death and the power of His resurrection life.
- Receiving the continual impartation of the body and blood of the living Lord Jesus Christ.
- Being transformed in character into the moral image of Christ.
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 meaning of several passages of the new-covenant writings, both in the Gospels and 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. It is the Day when the Lord alone is exalted.
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 takes place after Pentecost, after we receive the Holy Spirit. It is the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in the saint.
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 that 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.
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 processes 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 the redemptive 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)
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 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 3:20,21)
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; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 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)
Seeing the Face of God, being filled with God, is “that which is perfect” of I Corinthians, Chapter 15. “His name shall be in their foreheads” signifies they always do the will of God rather than their own will.
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 will neither permit His own perfect holiness and righteousness to be violated nor will terrify or destroy His subjects and neighbors.
This is God’s throne forever.
What is man that God is mindful of him? Man is destined to be the eternal throne of God Almighty.
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.
Let us offer a final review of the seven holy furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
- 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.
- 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 baptism in water represents this aspect of the plan of redemption.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Altar of Incense is the next step after the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This 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.
- 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 (memorial 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.
- 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 to the Lord God of Heaven.
(“The Seven Furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation”, 3314-1)