THE TENDER AGONY
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The love of God drew Christ into total union with Himself. As soon as the obedience of Christ had been perfected by suffering, the union was complete. The same compelling love that perfected the union of Christ and God is now in Christ and extended toward those whom God has called to Himself. The love of the Father for His elect is in Christ, and in those who are living in union with Christ, as a tender agony.
THE TENDER AGONY
The Spiritual Meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord. (Leviticus 23:34)
The booth of the Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes the ultimate desire of God for Israel His firstfruits, and then for all mankind.
There are three great symbols of Judaism: the Altar of blood sacrifice, the Lampstand, and the Booth.
The Altar of blood sacrifice is the place where God meets man. God requires a blood sacrifice in order to make an atonement for sin. Christ is the eternal sin-offering. Through His blood we have forgiveness and are reconciled to God.
The Scripture says of Christ:
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:10)
The Lampstand represents the Holy Spirit, and also Christ who is filled with the Spirit of God. Christ is the Light of Israel and of the whole world.
And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)
The Altar of blood sacrifice makes it possible for a holy God to have fellowship with a sinful people. The Lampstand, the Holy Spirit, gives light to Israel while the chosen nation is in the darkness of the world spirit. When Christ comes He will be the Light of the world and Israel will reflect His Glory.
However, it is the Booth that represents the Divine purpose concerning Israel and the other nations of the earth.
The Booth portrays the desire of God to dwell with people. When we enter the booth to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles we are dwelling with God and God with us.
God’s eternal purpose is to have a house, a living temple in which He can dwell with the nations whom He has created.
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)
God is seeking a place of rest. Notice the question:
Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? (Isaiah 66:1)
Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever. (Psalms 68:16)
The mountain of God has only one peak—Christ. He is Mount Zion. All other mountains portray the ambitious striving of religious people. God has chosen Zion, Israel, from all the nations of the earth. Christ is the Head of Israel, the only “peak” God will accept.
The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the royal priesthood. Through Israel, God in Christ will reach out to the nations. In the last days the peoples of the earth must come to Zion, to Israel, to receive the blessing of God. The nation that does not come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Presence of God in Israel, preferring to walk in its own ways, will be cursed of God.
And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:18)
God is Love. In His eternal love, God has poured Himself into Christ. He who would come to God must come to Christ. God and Christ have become One.
The almighty God now is enlarging Himself further. He is extending the Divine embrace to include Israel. The Oneness enjoyed by the Father and the Son is reaching out to encompass the elect.
So intense is the love of God in Christ toward Israel that Christ no longer has peace and joy apart from Israel, His Bride. She must be with Him where He is—always.
My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. (Song of Solomon 2:10)
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 4:9)
Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead. (Song of Solomon 6:5)
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. (Song of Solomon 8:7)
But the Bride of Christ, the Wife of God’s Passover Lamb, is cut off from God because of the sin of Adam. Christ offered to bear her sin in order to bring her to Himself.
Christ chose to be separated from His Father for a brief season so His Wife, Israel, could be restored to God’s favor.
Moses showed that same love toward Israel:
Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. (Exodus 32:32)
The pain suffered by Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross of Calvary, we shall never comprehend. Only God could bear such excruciating agony of spirit and soul.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? (Psalms 22:1)
This same Christ is the Booth of God. But people also are to be the booth of God. Christ says:
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)
The great booth of the Father is to be composed of many rooms. Christ went to the cross so Israel could become part of the dwelling place of God among men.
The Jew, Peter, when he saw Christ in the Glory of His Kingdom, felt a need for a booth. But he did not understand the plan of God.
Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. (Matthew 17:4)
The love of God drew Christ into total union with Himself. As soon as the obedience of Christ had been perfected by suffering, the union was complete. Because Christ is One with God He now possesses all authority in Heaven and on the earth.
The same intense love that perfected the union of Christ and God is now in Christ and extended toward Israel. The love of the Father for His elect is in Christ as a tender agony. Because of the agony of love, Christ has made intercession for Israel before the Father for two thousand years.
Christ is seeking total, perfect union with His booth, His Bride.
As Boaz spread his covering over Ruth, so Christ spreads His covering over those who are willing to receive Him. Because He died to make an atonement for our sins, God is willing to hear our prayers, even though we are filled with lust, disobedience, and pride. We are in the Divine embrace and without condemnation because of the atonement.
Now the Spirit of God, using the blood of Christ and the Word of God, is cleansing the Bride of God’s Lamb. Like Queen Esther, the Bride must experience six months of the bitter and six months of the sweet before she will be ready to be brought before the King.
Christ possesses enough Divine grace to make His Bride perfect in every respect. Our responsibility is to be willing and obedient. Christ’s part is to cleanse us from all that is not of the Father so we may live in perfect union with Him for eternity.
God is the Booth of Christ and Christ is the Booth of God.
Christ is the Booth of Israel; and Israel, the Bride of the Lamb, is being made the booth of Christ.
The Bride is to be made one whole with Christ in God.
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)
“That the world may know.”
When Israel has been made perfect and complete in Christ the world will realize it is God who has sent Christ, and that God loves Israel as He loves Christ.
What will Israel do when the nations come to Jerusalem in the hope of finding God? God will put in Israel’s heart His compelling love for the nations of the saved, just as God has placed in Christ’s heart a compelling love for Israel.
The heart of Israel will be broken and enlarged. The nations will come to Israel, bringing their wealth with them.
Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. (Isaiah 60:4,5)
The members of Israel will experience the tender agony of God’s love as their hearts reach out to the nations that God has chosen. Because of the atoning blood of Christ, God will smile on Israel and the nations as they are taught righteousness. Israel will love the nations as Christ loves Israel. Israel, who is God’s booth through Christ, will bring the Presence and Glory of God to the nations of the saved, just as Christ has brought the Presence and Glory of God to Israel.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)
Christ cries to Israel:
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. (Song of Solomon 8:6)
God’s love in Christ is reaching out to Israel today. If any Jew will open his heart, Christ will enter him and give him to eat of His body and to drink of His blood. Christ is God’s Passover Lamb, and it is only by eating His flesh and drinking His blood that we come into perfect union with Him.
The Altar, the Lampstand, and the Booth.
The Altar of blood sacrifice makes it possible for God to receive us in our sins.
The Lampstand, the light of the Holy Spirit, guides us to the heavenly Bridegroom, just as Eleazer guided Rebecca to Isaac.
But it is the Booth that is the central purpose of God for Israel and then for all mankind.
The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in Israel bringing God’s Glory and righteousness to the nations of the earth. The tender agony of love will continue until God, who is Love, is dwelling in every saved person, and they in Him.
“The winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along.”
(“The Tender Agony”, 3780-1)