THE OLD TESTAMENT HOUSE OF THE LORD: FOURTEEN (EXCERPT OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION)
“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Fourteen” is taken from The Tabernacle of the Congregation, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The Purpose of the Gifts and Ministries
Table of Contents
Current Need for Prayer and Worship
The Oneness of the Body of Christ
Unified by the Ministries of the Entire Church
Unified by Marriage to the Lamb
Unified by the Glory of God in Christ
Don’t Touch the Ark!
The Purpose of the Gifts and Ministries
The purpose of gifts and ministries is set forth in Ephesians 4:11-13:
The purpose of the “gifts to men” is to bring the Body of Christ to the perfect man, to the fullness of Christ. The various kinds of communication of the Holy Spirit through the several members of the Body are the means through which the purpose of Christian ministry will be brought to pass.
The purpose of the gifts and ministries is stated also in the second chapter of Ephesians:
having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:20-22)
The purpose of the Holy Place of the Tabernacle was to provide an entrance into the Most Holy Place where God Himself dwelled. In like manner, the purpose of the gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ is to provide an entrance into the fullness of Christ, Christ being the Most Holy Place where God dwells.
We Christians are being “built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.” One of the chief concerns of God in the earth is that of building for Himself a house in which He can dwell among His creatures, having fellowship with them, blessing them, and providing for all their needs.
“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. (Exodus 25:2)
They came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. (Exodus 35:21).
and they spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do.”
So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” And the people were restrained from bringing,
for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done—indeed too much. (Exodus 36:5-7)
It is time now for God to call His Bezaleels and His Aholiabs, God’s apostles and prophets, so the work of building the Temple of God in the earth may go forward.
When God’s ministers function in the wisdom the Holy Spirit gives, the people will bring more than enough material. The material they will bring is the unique manifestation of the Holy Spirit of God that has been entrusted to them. They will bring their “talents,” their gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit—material found in their own “tents,” their personalities.
And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair, red skins of rams, and badger skins, brought them. (Exodus 35:23)
“And Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the LORD has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the LORD has commanded.”
Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work. (Exodus 36:1,2)
The same willingness to contribute occurred during the preparations for the building of the Temple of Solomon.
Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the LORD; and King David also rejoiced greatly. (I Chronicles 29:9)
Leading the saints in manifestations of the Spirit and in pure and fervent prayer and worship is a ministry in itself. We believe God is now restoring such leadership to the churches. The Holy Spirit is setting in the Body of Christ wisdom for leading the people into the scriptural pattern of the fullness of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray to this end.
The Christian leaders must be taught by the Holy Spirit how to bring forth the ministries that should be in operation in the assemblies of the saints. Not only is there to be active spiritual participation on the part of those attending but there is to be a variety of ministry as well.
The task of Christian leadership is to help each member of the Body of Christ find the particular task the Holy Spirit has equipped him or her to do.
The Christian is to perform his role in the Body faithfully, not in fits of enthusiasm. He serves the Lord in the ministry he has, day after day; year after year; in season and out of season. He does not change until the Holy Spirit directs him into a different type of ministry, which happens occasionally and for which the Christian must keep himself ready.
It is impossible for Christ to be formed in the Church apart from the widespread operation of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit operating through the saints. It is impossible for the churches to please God or to win significant spiritual victories until fervent prayer begins to ascend form pure hearts.
It is necessary to keep in mind that the first rule of the gatherings of the Christians is that Christ must reign through the Holy Spirit in the meeting. We are not looking for the correct things to do in the assemblies as much as we are looking for HIM!
If we have Him, to any appreciable extent, the other things will follow. Without Christ—and it is possible to go through all the correct forms without Him—there always will be depression, heaviness, irritation, unrest, discomfort, a sense of spiritual bondage. This will be true no matter how scriptural the worship pattern may be.
It is possible to offer praise, sing in tongues, preach doctrinally-perfect sermons, prophesy, perform sacred music—all in the name of Christ; and to do all these things with little or no Presence of Christ.
We cannot bring Christ into the church automatically with any kind of formula. Christ through the Holy Spirit must take the lead.
Current Need for Prayer and Worship
The present need for Spirit-filled prayer and adoration in the churches of Christ is so great as to pass beyond our ability to describe it in words. There are many wholesome activities in the churches, but it appears that there still is not nearly enough time and emphasis devoted to the pure worship of God through Christ.
The holy worship of the Father in the name of Christ, as brought forth by the Holy Spirit on the part of the saints, must become a top priority of the churches.
If all the other activities of a church must be stopped for a season in order to bring the people into fervent prayer and praise, then such drastic action should be considered. God can help us get the other things done in a twinkling if we will direct our love toward Him. “One thing is needful”—praise and ministering to the Lord. We must choose the “good part.”
When the praise of a group of believers reaches the appropriate level, the great Head of the Body, the Lord Jesus Christ, stands up in Heaven with His galactic arms upraised and offers thanksgiving and adoration to Him who is God of all.
We must set ourselves to praise. Praise is the adoration of the creature given to the Creator, and as such is different from thanksgiving, intercession, supplication, and spiritual battle. Praise is an exercise in itself, but also should accompany thanksgiving, intercession, supplication, and battle.
Praise is especially important in spiritual warfare. The hosts of darkness cannot prevail in the face of a chorus of praise to the Almighty proceeding from pure hearts, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and mixed together with the Life of Christ in the saints.
There are three ways in which we overcome the accuser: by the blood of the Lamb; by the word of our testimony; and by loving not our life to the death (Revelation 12:11). These three aspects are represented in the three furnishings of the Holy Place, as well as by the three major areas of the Tabernacle.
The Table of Showbread typifies the blood of the Lamb in that the wine was poured out at this location. We overcome the accuser by the constant application of the blood of Jesus to our lives. The further we go in the Lord, the more we learn to rely on the authority and redeeming power of the blood of Christ.
The Lampstand represents the word of our testimony. The testimony is that Christ is risen from the dead; that He is God’s Son, the Redeemer, the Savior of the world; that He is Lord of all; and that whoever puts his trust in Christ will never be put to shame.
When the Church receives the Holy Spirit of God, as symbolized by the Lampstand, the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ proceeds through the Church in powerful signs and wonders. Also, the lives of the believers are transformed from the malice and wickedness that characterize the people of the world into righteousness and holiness of word and deed.
By these two works of the Holy Spirit, the supernatural demonstration of wisdom and power plus the transformed moral behavior of the saints, the people of the earth come to understand that God has sent Christ. The inhabitants of the heavens also watch the Glory of God unfold through Christ through the members of the Body of Christ.
We bear witness of the resurrection of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit working in, through, and with us.
The Altar of Incense, representing our entering Spirit-filled prayer and praise, leads us finally to the Veil. The Veil is associated in symbolism with the River Jordan. Both typify the death to self that occurs in the saint as a result of beholding the Glory of God in the face of Christ.
We enter God’s warfare against evil spirits, as typified by the Ark of the Covenant, by death—death to our own life, hopes, ambitions, and ways of doing. “I am crucified with Christ,” Paul exclaims. “We have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.”
There is no way to overcome the accuser if we are attempting to grasp and hold some relationship, circumstance, or thing in our own life.
We see, then, that all three furnishings must be making their contribution to the saint if he or she is to move ahead to the fullness of authority and power in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be changed into the image of Christ, being filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).
The Oneness of the Body of Christ
The Tabernacle was composed of several elements, but it was one Tabernacle:
“And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains together with the clasps, so that it may be one tabernacle. (Exodus 26:6)
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; (Ephesians 4:4)
It shall be one tabernacle! If we were more aware of the extent of the destruction caused to the testimony of the Christian Church by its division into parties, perhaps we would pray to God to correct this unscriptural condition and make the Church deeply aware of its Divine oneness.
There are some mental attitudes we can change and some actual things we Christians can do in order to help lay the groundwork for the unifying and maturing of the Church.
We can “gird up the loins of our minds” and acknowledge (to ourselves at least) that people either are or are not Christians. There is no middle ground. A person is a Christian or he is not. There is no such thing as a Christian living on the edge of God’s favor because he does not belong to a particular sect.
There is no such thing as a Christian who is held at a distance by the Lord until he is baptized into a certain denomination. A Christian is not a spiritual misfit because he does not belong to a particular church group. A person is a Christian or else he is not. There is no middle ground. The Christian Church is one Body of Christ.
“If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). There are mature Christians and immature Christians. There are very old Christians and very young Christians. There are white Christians and black Christians. There are Christians who attend Episcopal cathedrals, Catholic missions, and holiness storefront meeting places. There are heavily anointed Christians and Christians who are not as rich in the life of the Spirit.
There are clever Christians, dull Christians, rich Christians, and poor Christians. But a person is a Christian or he is not. He is “under the blood” or he is not. He is a brother in the Lord or he is not. He has the Spirit of Christ or he does not. He is in the family of God or he is not. How could it be otherwise?
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
We believe Paul would agree with our statement that a person is a Christian or he is not and that an individual cannot be held in a middle zone because he has not received the doctrines of a particular Christian organization.
Perhaps all of us Christians should pray that God will give us a spirit of unity. Also we can pray that God will raise up the ministries of Ephesians 4:11. We can guard our attitudes and our tongues so we never are heard to say that one sect of Christians is favored of God.
God cannot recognize organizational divisions of the Christians. There are various kinds of gifts, offices, and ministries, and various stages of spiritual development. But there is only one Body of Christ.
The organizational divisions formed for the purpose of providing administrative effectiveness and defense of doctrine in the Church of Christ may be constructed by well-intentioned men. However, they are brought into operation through the weaknesses of human nature. How can a system that divides Christian people be of God?
The sectarian spirit proceeds from the fleshly nature (I Corinthians 1:12,13).
“And it shall be one tabernacle”!
“There is one body, and one Spirit”!
When the writer maintains that all Christians are one he is speaking of the family of God. We are not suggesting that there are many roads that lead to God or that men will be saved by good works or sincerity.
If a person refuses redemption through the blood of Christ, or resists the lordship of the Son of God, Christ, or rejects the need for being born again, then it is useless to speculate on the possibility of him or her being able to please God. Regardless of what our humane feelings may be, the Scripture is specific concerning the saving grace that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ.
In our emphasis on the need for Christian unity we are referring to the divisions that exist among the blood-washed, among God’s elect. These divisions may be serving some useful purpose in the present hour, but they are not of the true nature of the Body of Christ.
All Christians are redeemed by the blood of Christ. All Christian people have the Spirit of God. Every believer is a member of the Body of Christ—the Church of God. There is only one Church!
All of this is not to suggest that Christians should attempt to come out from the denominations and form a new sect called the Body of Christ. We are speaking of our recognizing the oneness of all Christians.
It is the attitude of the heart that is of concern. It appears that the sin of sectarianism is not so much in the place and manner of the assemblies of believers as it is in the attitude of denominational pride and loyalty that often detracts from the fellowship of Christian people.
The power and testimony of the Body of Christ are harmed by the spirit of division.
“And it shall be one tabernacle”!
“There is one body, and one Spirit”!
The attitude of the heart is all-important. As soon as Christians understand and accept the fact that they all are one large equal brotherhood; that there is no “true church” as such except in the hearts of Christians; that people can be Christians even when believing in different doctrines; that the body and blood of Christ is the mortar running through the entire building; then the organizational divisions will diminish in significance. The Christians in their hearts will realize the unity of the one Body of Christ.
The Body of Christ at the present time is divided in the hearts of the Christians. It is in the heart that the Body must be unified. The required healing is a healing of the heart.
Unified by the Ministries of the Entire Church
The Body of Christ can be made one only by the various gifts and ministries of the entire Church. There must be Holy Spirit-inspired participation by all the saints in the work of building the Body of Christ.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11,12)
The next passage sets forth one of the keys to the prevailing disunity.
that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, (Ephesians 4:14)
Some of the divisions of the Body of Christ come from the trickery of unscrupulous men who seek to gain support for themselves. Paul has warned us!
Unified by Marriage to the Lamb
The Church will be made one by the marriage of each believer to the Lamb of God, Christ. The “marriage of the Lamb” signifies the perfect reconciliation of the believer to Christ—being made one with Him in spirit, soul, and body.
Perfect reconciliation is made possible by the total destruction of the guilt, tendencies, and effects of sin in the disciple; the formation of Christ in the disciple; and the coming to dwell of the Father and the Son in the disciple.
I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. (John 17:23).
Unified by the Glory of God in Christ
The Church will be made one by the outpouring of the Glory of God:
“And the glory which you gave Me I have given them [His body], that they may be one just as we are one: (John 17:22)
John is referring to the end-time outpouring of glory that will separate and distinguish the Christian Church from the remainder of the world.
Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles [nations] shall come to your [God’s elect] light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
“Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side.
Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy; because the abundance of the sea [many people] shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles [nations] shall come to you. (Isaiah 60:1-5)
“Then you shall see and become radiant.” The above passage from Isaiah describes the answer to the prayer that Jesus prayed, as recorded in John, Chapter 17. Isaiah envisions the day when the true Tabernacle (Body of Christ) is set up on the earth and the world recognizes that the only spiritual and moral light in the world is the Light of Christ in the Christians.
The coming earth-wide testimony will occur at the time when “darkness shall cover the earth.” From the appearance of the events around us we might conclude that the time is at hand.
But the Christian Church may not be ready yet for its assembling into the great Tabernacle of God in the earth. The present condition of the Body of Christ seems to be described as follows:
The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.
Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. (Ezekiel 37:1,2)
No doubt Ezekiel wondered what the Lord was portraying to him by showing him a pile of very dry bones. The previous chapter (Ezekiel, Chapter 36) describes how God had promised Ezekiel He would bring Israel under a new covenant because they had defiled their land and had profaned God’s name.
“Therefore I poured out My fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had defiled it. (Ezekiel 36:18)
But God decided to do a work for His name’s sake.
“And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. (Ezekiel 36:23)
God has determined to work in a sovereign manner because of His reputation among the nations. He created for Israel the new covenant—the covenant through which we Christians approach God.
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:25,26)
Here is an Old Testament description of the new covenant. Observe the “I will”; “I will”; “I will.”
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:27)
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law [Torah] in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:33)
After these promises of a sovereign work of God (which began to come to pass at the birth of Christ), the Lord showed Ezekiel a large pile of white bones on the floor of a valley. The Lord often moves in surprising ways!
So it is today. After the Spirit of the Lord speaks to our hearts concerning the great work of salvation that He will do through a unified Church in the end-time (John 17:23; Romans 8:19-21), the first things He shows us is that the Church is a pile of dead, disjointed parts.
We exclaim, God! Is it possible for the Christian Church ever to recover from this condition?
God’s dealing with Ezekiel concerning the dead parts of Israel followed a pattern. It is our belief that God will deal much the same way in unifying the Christian Church.
And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”
Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! (Ezekiel 37:3,4)
God did not command Ezekiel to attempt to stick the bones together. We do not believe the correct response to our concern over the disunity of the Church is to attempt to stick it back together, unless God specifically instructs us to do so.
Rather, God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy the Word of God to the dismembered bones. This is a powerful declaration of the sovereignty of God in the Christian Church age:
‘Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.
“I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.”’” (Ezekiel 37:5,6)
Why do we state that this is a picture of the Christian Church age? We say so because we believe Ezekiel’s boneyard, Ezekiel’s river, and Ezekiel’s temple are Old Testament symbols that reveal, by using concepts familiar to the Hebrews, the spiritual realities that will come to pass in the Body of Christ.
The writer of Hebrews applies to the Christian salvation a similar passage from Jeremiah:
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”
then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:16,17)
The writers of the New Testament Scriptures believed that the visions of the Hebrew Prophets apply to the Church of Christ.
Isn’t it true that God worked in just such a sovereign manner in the creation of the Christian Church? Did not the Lord God come in a sovereign manner to Mary and Joseph and perform a miracle in Mary, and also in her cousin, Elizabeth?
The pouring of the Holy Spirit on the Jews assembled in the upper room was a sovereign act of God in accordance with the promises of God to the Old Testament Prophets that He would save His people with a powerful hand.
God has saved each of us by a sovereign act of grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9)
All things of eternal value that have been accomplished in the Body of Christ have been of God, through God, and for God. His hand is not weakened today such that He cannot save by His power.
The unifying and perfecting of the Christian Church in the time of the end will be prepared of God, through God, and for the lifting up of the great name of God in the sight of men, angels, and devils. The unifying of the Church will be accomplished by means of the outpouring of the Glory of God.
Our main task is to be strictly obedient to the Holy Spirit of God.
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone.
Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. (Ezekiel 37:7,8)
God will bring the Christians into one accord in the end-time by pouring on them a double portion of His Spirit, a double portion of the Divine Presence, which will be climaxed by the glorious appearing of our Lord, Christ, who will judge the living and the dead when His Kingdom comes.
After there had been a noise and a shaking, and the bones, sinews, flesh, and skin had been assembled:
Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’”
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. (Ezekiel 37:9,10)
That Ezekiel, Chapter 37 is referring to the Kingdom of God is obvious from verse 22:
“and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. (Ezekiel 37:22)
The end-time outpouring of God’s Spirit, and the end-time army of God, are main themes of the Hebrew Prophets. Another closely related theme is that of the Temple of God—Christ in you, the hope of glory.
“Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.
“My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”’” (Ezekiel 37:26-28)
Compare the New Testament:
“I in them, and you in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent Me, and have loved them as you have loved Me. (John 17:23)
Don’t Touch the Ark!
We have learned from the vision of the valley of dry bones that God intends to unify His Church by means of an unprecedented outpouring of His Holy Spirit. We have seen also God intends to work in a sovereign manner.
Speaking figuratively, the Ark of the Covenant is being returned to the people of God in our day. By the term Ark of the Covenant we are speaking symbolically of the Presence of God in Christ.
An incident occurred in Old Testament times that contains a lesson for all of us who are looking for the restoration of the power and glory that belongs to the Body of Christ.
Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. (II Samuel 6:7)
“And God struck him there for his error”! What was the error of Uzzah? Was it not the applying of well-intentioned practical human effort to the work of God? Uzzah’s overconfidence and overfamiliarity with the things of God (the Ark had been in his house a long time) deceived Uzzah into attempting to work with God in an unscriptural manner.
Perhaps the error of Uzzah has been found in the churches of Christ from the second century to the present day. Men mean well. They attempt to build the Kingdom of God. They make an effort to employ common sense and to be practical (though not always). Their intentions are good (again, not always). But the Kingdom of Christ must be built according to the specific will and directions of the Father in Heaven. God, by slaying the well-intentioned but presumptuous Uzzah, revealed that the ministry must be practiced according to His will.
If Uzzah had not steadied the Ark it might have fallen to the ground. Imagine! The supremely sacred golden chest, the very throne of the Lord of the universe, lying smashed in the dirt and animal droppings. Why was Uzzah struck down? Why should a man be killed for trying to assist God?
Simply this: obedience is better than sacrifice. God was explicit as to the manner in which the Tabernacle was to be transported. The Tabernacle was to be carried by means of staves on the shoulders of the Kohathite Levites, not by oxen which could become restive.
And he put the poles into the rings at the sides of the ark, to bear the ark. (Exodus 37:5)
“but you shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony, over all its furnishings, and over all things that belong to it; they shall carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they shall attend to it and camp around the tabernacle.
“And when the tabernacle is to go forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The outsider who comes near shall be put to death. (Numbers 1:50,51)
The Ark never should have been removed from the Most Holy Place; nor should the Ark have been put into a position where it could be shaken; nor should Uzzah have taken an attitude of familiarity with the most sacred element of Hebrew worship. The whole situation was contrary to the express directions and commandments of the Lord.
Uzzah was smitten mortally because of his attempt to bring back the Glory of God to Jerusalem by his own wisdom and strength, the Glory of God having been withdrawn from Israel just as the power and life of the ministry of the first-century apostles have been withdrawn from the Christian churches.
No doubt Uzzah forgot, if he ever knew, the directions given by the Lord in connection with the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Have we Christians forgotten the directions given by the Lord concerning the building of the Body of Christ?
Has God been as specific concerning the unifying and maturing of the Body of Christ as He was concerning the construction and transportation of the Tabernacle of the Congregation? We believe He has.
We understand from Romans, Chapter 12, I Corinthians, Chapters 12 and 14, and Ephesians, Chapter Four that God has given a ministry to every member of the Body of Christ. God intends that these ministries be used for the maturing and unifying of the Church.
When thinking of the unifying of the Body of Christ, the “one Tabernacle” of Exodus 26:6, let us remember to “keep our hands off the Ark.” The returning of the Ark of the Covenant, as described in II Samuel 6:6,7, symbolizes the returning of the Glory of God to the Church of Christ.
We believe we are in the program of restoration in the present hour. As we see God working to mature and unify the Body of Christ let us remember that it is God’s work and that He has His own ideas about how to accomplish it. Our part is to be sternly obedient in all things that God brings to us from day to day, presenting our body a living sacrifice in the wholesome fear of the Lord.
The Tabernacle of the Congregation was one tabernacle. The Body of Christ is one body. Let us adopt the larger view. Let us look for the Spirit of Christ in every person claiming to be a Christian. Having found the Spirit of Christ in Him, let us embrace him as a brother in the Lord, laying to one side the differences in doctrinal understanding and religious behaviors. Let us pray to receive Paul’s attitude:
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)
If we glory in the cross alone, and accept all Christians as equal brothers and sisters in the Lord, perhaps we will have made a good start toward the maturity and unity of the one Body of Christ.
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Fourteen”, 3720-1)