THE TABERNACLE OF GOD
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The greatest treasure on this earth that a person can possess is “The Book” — the Sacred Scriptures. For within It one can find the world's greatest story, the story of the One True God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and His undying love for mankind that He gave His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be a propitiation for sins that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Whosoever understands Him, understands Life.
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has been preached through-out all the nations of the world. Its story is so simple and truthful, yet the majority of mankind choose to reject its offer of salvation and head for a Christless death instead of repenting for their sins.
Of those who have accepted the Gospel, many are contented with the tag “Christian”, and a mere confession “I am saved; I've been born again”, and just experience the move of the Spirit of God in the realm of the First Heaven. They have no desire for a deeper understanding of God and the Saviour's Love. There is a lack of hunger for the spiritual manna of the Heavenly Father. Alas, such attitude shows a mere desire to have salvation without a consecration of love for the Saviour and His Word. However, when one is truly born again he should possess the Holy Spirit Who is given to guide and lead the believer into ALL TRUTH (Jhn.14:26). Hence, the lack of desire by those so-called “Christians” for God's Word raises doubts that they are in possession of the Holy Spirit.
Of the Ephesian Believers, Paul said that he ceased not to pray for them “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:…” (Eph.1:17).
Saints of God, we need the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation more than those faithful who lived in the past, for we are living in the hour which actually calls for a higher level of spirituality. This is reflected in St. John who types the Bride. Though banished on the Isle of Patmos, St. John was constantly in the Spirit of the Lord. Hence, he was granted to receive the Revelation of Jesus Christ. “Come up hither.” Being caught up in the spirit to the Second Heaven, he was able to look into the future and have a glimpse of the Third Heaven, even the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple in Heaven. Likewise, the Bride of Christ is also called to attain that same spiritual height.
QUESTIONING HIS PURPOSE
In my early years as a young student of the Word of God, I had often wondered about the eternal purpose of God in His creation. The familiar question so often uttered by the African Christians, “O Lord, how come me here?” confronted me and prompted my search for the Truth. Though many sincere Christians have attempted to answer this question by applying the Holy Scriptures, their revelations which are usually bound by religious traditional ideas are far from the Truth. In one discourse, it was even taught that the Redeemed of God would rest and be idle forever in Heaven. However, such idea is carnal and very far from the Truth. Consider what Jesus said: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (Jhn.5:17) — so must we work. As long as God is, His Regime will always be there to run.
Now, Truth is given only to those who seek after It with a sincere heart and who have a desire for the revelation of God's Word. Yes, it is true that the knowledge of the Word of God will also increase even as man's knowledge increases in every scientific field. But, without the Holy Spirit of revelation to enlighten one's soul, one will still be as perplexed and confused. Today, there are still many Christians who are plagued by the same perplexing question about the purpose of God. This message may just be what they need to help them find the answer. And there is no better source than the Book of Life, the Sacred Scriptures of God, where the answers to the questions about Life can be found. This is true.
However, to understand the Truth of God, one cannot simply just read a chapter, or even a book, here and there in the Bible and hope to find the answers. Unfortunately, that is exactly what most of us would do. But, the revelation of God is given to a believer at an appointed time and place by a certain means. And unless all the conditions are met, no answer will ever come. Therefore we must have the right attitude and the patience to wait upon God for the revelation of His Word.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
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.” – Rev.21:1,3
This is one of the many interesting and mysterious passages in the Bible. With this text, we will begin to examine our questions in the Light of the Word of God. This text has been most often used by Christians to show that there will come a time when God will shake this atmospheric heaven and set fire to this present earth to create a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness will prevail. It is generally interpreted as God coming down to earth to dwell with His people, and these people are the Christians and the Jews who believed in the Messiah (Jesus Christ) before and after the Cross. It is also taught that, besides these people, there would not be other people living in the New Heaven and New Earth.
Surely this cannot be so. The text clearly tells us that God wants to dwell with mankind and be their God. These “men” and “people” are certainly not the Christians nor the Jews who are converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. True converts to the Gospel of Christ are born again children of God who have the Spirit of God abiding in them. God does not merely dwell with His children, He dwells in them. Read John 14:16-23 and Romans 8:9-11. Therefore, when God comes to dwell with men, He lives in a tabernacle called THE TABERNACLE OF GOD. But, what is this tabernacle that is with the people? Surely, this text alone does not give us the complete picture of what God has in His mind for His saints. We need to look at some other verses, especially those hidden in the types and shadows of the Word, which are the “reflectors of Truth”. And with the guidance of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation we will be able to systematically piece them together to see the Truth in the knowledge of God.
FELLOWSHIP IN CREATION
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Gen.1:1
“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him:
And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.
And He is the head of the body, the church:…” – Col.1:16-18a
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” – Rev.4:11
These passages of Scriptures clearly show that nothing came into existence by accident. Everything was created by God. When God created the heavens and the earth, and all things therein, He created them for His own good pleasure. Yes, a person may create something for his or her own pleasure. But, to God, the creation was more than just a pleasure, there was a purpose in everything which he created. In the creation of man, a great purpose and a deep mystery exist which mortal man without the Spirit of God can never perceive. But when the purpose is fulfilled it will be without end. The Apostle Paul was given this revelation which he wrote in his epistle to the saints at Ephesus stating:
“How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery…
…that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord…” – Eph.3:3a,8b-11
O what a Yahweh, what a Father! His unsearchable riches, hidden mystery and wisdom which He purposed in Christ Jesus, Whom the chosen children of Israel had rejected, are now made known unto His Gentile Church! Now, even the principalities and powers of the heavens are aware of His manifold wisdom. It has been declared and made known! Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Hallelujah! We shall look at His Precious Word and, by and by, come to the understanding of this marvellous revelation.
GOD IN HIS UNIVERSE
In one of his Psalms, King David the Psalmist sang:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” – Psm.19:1-6
The heavens are the first of creations through which God reveals Himself and manifests His attributes. David, by inspiration, sang of God setting up the heavens as “a tabernacle for the sun” whose heat reaches out to all things. This clearly speaks of something great that God would do when the time comes. Nothing could be clearer than this allegory which shows God as the “sun” dwelling within a tabernacle (tent or dwelling place) to rule and reign over the universe and, in “fellowship”, His life-giving essence touches every living creature of His. That's God in His universe, even as King David has sung of Him as the sun dwelling in the tent of the heavens.
GOD IN HIS SON
And in another place David sang:
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
For in time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” – Psm.27:4-5
Surely the desire of King David reflects that of all the saints of God. The “pavilion” here speaks of His Sheltering Arm, and the “tabernacle” His Presence. And what a Sheltering Arm it is, for the “arm” of the Lord is that which came down to earth nearly 2000 years ago to save and to shelter His chosen ones from His Adversary! Amen. That's God in His Son. Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of power is the Mighty Arm of Elohim. Hallelujah! But what is His Presence? Simply this — the Shekinah Glory of the Personality of God in Christ Jesus! Amen.
Oh, to be able to hide in His Son, and to behold His Face is all a child of God needs! With such a firm foundation as a rock, what more does a child of God want?
GOD IN HIS CHURCH
Well, perhaps a little more, like gathering together in the praise and worship of Yahweh. Sure, it is nice to be alone with God under His Sheltering Arm and in His Presence, but a child of God is a part of the Body of Christ, His Son, Who is the Head. And as God dwells in the Son, He dwells in the Body of Believers. The coming together of the Family of God with the Father in the midst is a tremendous blessing. Just listen to what is sung in the 84th Psalm:
“How amiable is thy tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
Yea, the sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.
Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.
Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.
They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give me ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.
Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.
For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”
“Be still, and know that I am God,” said the Lord (Psm.46:10). Amen. Yes, in stillness, know Him. In reverence, worship Him. For in the joy of these are found our strength in Him. Truly, a day in God's “courts” of assembly is better than a thousand others any where else, and even to be the least (as a doorkeeper) in His House is better than to be found in an assembly of wicked people. Praise God!
“Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together…,” said the Apostle Paul (Heb.10:25a) for God is in the midst of His people. God in His Church, fellowshipping with His Family, just as is reflected by the sun in the universe.
The Prophet Isaiah in his writing said:
“Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eye shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.” – Isa.33:20
Zion, a place, is also a city — Jerusalem. Spiritually, it types the Redeemed who are saved from the worldly wilderness of sinful lifestyles into the Body of Christ for a life of peace. It is the city that Abraham, the Father of our Faith, was looking for, a city “descending out of heaven from God” (Rev.21:10b).
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
This glory of the New Jerusalem, as described in the Book of Revelation, will develop out of what the True Church is today — God's tabernacle of quiet abode. And the saints of God are gathered there to feast upon His Word. (This is the only feast, or festival, that a Bible Believer is called upon to keep. Read 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.) This spiritual tabernacle of God, made up of His chosen ones, will never be broken down or torn apart, for Christ the Word is the Sure Foundation (2 Tim.2:19). God laid It down in Christ Jesus even before the world was (Rev.13:8), and His Twelve Apostles laid on It. And “ye also, as lively stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet.2:5). Hence, it is a City that will stand forever, standing upon twelve foundations of the Apostles (Rev.21:14), and anchored by the “stakes” of God's Divine Truths and the Spirit of His three-fold “cords” — Hope, Faith and Charity.
MAN — THE CREATURE
A beautiful thing about God's creation of man is that God created him in His own image and likeness. Man is not created like a “high-tech” computerized robot of today's modern world. He is not programmed with artificial intelligence to simply carry out the wishes of His Maker as would a robot. YAHWEH desires fellowship with MAN, the masterpiece of His creation. He desires worship and praise. However, He wants the sovereign expression to come forth freely from His creation. Hence, He endowed man with His image to the extent that man may be like Him in all things and whose will is subjected unto Him willingly such that he may be one with God. But the Fall had marred the image, and death reigns supreme over that which is supposed to be life.
The beginning of creation was the beginning of the manifestation of the attributes of God. Before He began His creation, God was the Only Living Being. He always was, always is, and always will be. He is Spirit and is Eternal. He is Pure Light and dwells in Light. He is Infinite, Invisible and Self-sufficient. Because He is Omnipotent and Omniscient, therefore, He is Omnipresent. He is the origin of all things which exist.
When the Eternal Holy Spirit stepped forth to create, He came out of His infinite “Spirit-fulness” into a theophany, which is a spiritual body. Now, the Apostle John called this self-revelation of the Almighty to manifest His attributes in creation the LOGOS. Hence, the LOGOS was the BEGINNING of the Creation of God. “In the beginning was the Word (Grk: Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jhn.1:1). The Logos was not another Spirit being or another God. The Scriptures do not teach that. There are not two or three Who agree as One, but One Who is. And though an Eternal Invisible Spirit and Father of creation, God manifested Himself in flesh as “Son”. The so-called revelations of an “Eternal Son” and a “Trinity” taught among denominations came from the religion of Nimrod founded at the chaos of Babel. It is the spirit of antichrist. O blind Trinitarians!
The Logos came forth as a created being, the theophany of Yahweh Himself. He was, therefore, the Firstborn of God (Col.1:15; Heb.12:23). When the Logos was made manifest in the flesh of Yahshua, Jesus Christ, the theophany ceased. Yahshua was then Yahweh's Logos manifested in flesh by a birth through the Virgin Mary. Therefore, whosoever teaches that the Holy God is more than One is denying the Truth, or whosoever denies that He revealed Himself as Father (Creator) and Son (Saviour) is deceived by the lying spirit from hell. The simple revealed Truth of the Godhead has been changed from the Scriptural Monotheism into a Pagan Polytheism of two or three different persons who co-exist with one another in eternity. May God have mercy on those who believe in such traditional nonsense, especially those who propagate it. The simple Truth which Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well is still applicable to the majority of Christians today — “Ye worship ye know not what:...”
When man was created, he was created in the image of God to be a son of God. In the likeness of the Logos body, the first man (Adam) was made a living soul that he might express the image of God, and have dominion over all creatures that God had created under the firmament and upon the earth. All things were created good as far as the physical and natural states were concerned. It was a paradise.
THE FALL — DEATH
Adam and his wife, Eve, were then living under the Presence of the Shekinah Glory of God. The Shekinah Glory of God was in the Logos, the Tree of Life, It was not in Adam. As long as Adam ate of that Tree of Life, he would live. The Logos of God would come down in the cool hour of the day to fellowship with them, and they would be spiritually fed. But when Adam and Eve partook of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil fed by the Perverted Adversary of God, the Shekinah Glory left them. Then they became aware of their nakedness, something which they were not ashamed of before the act.
The covering of fig leaves was not sufficient. Vegetation had nothing to do with the Fall. It only provided food for both the man and the woman. The cause of the Fall was spiritual fornication with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was a sin because the seed of perversion was planted where it should not be. Satan's instrument was a beast, the Serpent. And the act of spiritual fornication led both the man and the woman to misuse their bodies. Sin separated them from the Glory of God, and it produced death (Rom.3:23). Hence, they became aware of their body and their nakedness.
Because Adam was an original creation of God, he could not be deceived into transgressing the laws of God by perversion. His body was of the dust of the earth, which is a reflector of life, and could not sin. It speaks of a creature, who groans and waits for its redemption, being a purchased possession in the Mind of God even before the foundation of the world was laid. So, in order to get to Adam, the Adversary had to use the woman, a by-product, who was made from the flesh and bone taken from the side of the body of Adam. Eve was born of the flesh, so to speak. Hence, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh” (Jhn.3:6a). Being deceived, she was in transgression (1 Tim.2:13-14). And since that time, mankind have all been born of woman — “born of the flesh”. There is nothing good in the carnal flesh. It is deceptive, and it speaks only of death. “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not” (Job 14:1-2 cf. 15:14; 25:4). So, unless one is born of the Spirit, one has no life. For what is instilled in mankind is the mind of Satan and the enraged passion of the Serpent. This is why the intellectual giants of the world have traced (and are still tracing) their ancestry or lineage to a beast, while the sons and daughters of God trace theirs to God — for they are born of God.
Adam, not willing to lose his wife who was a part of him, turned away from the Word of the Lord God and harkened unto the words of his wife, and partook of the same intellectual and carnal knowledge (Gen.3:17). He identified with her fallen state. This act brought death to the human race.
So, what did El Shaddai do? He set forth to redeem that which was lost. He could not destroy Adam, for Adam was His son, a part of Him. Adam had that divine knowledge. Hence, he did what he had to do to stay the wrath of God upon his “other half”. By the Grace of God, God used innocent beasts as a sacrifice. He killed them in order to take their skins to cover the nakedness of His two children.
Now, this act of God speaks prophetically of many things. Firstly, the slaying of the beasts, of course, speaks of death — for blood was shed. But the life (spirit) is in the blood — hence, it speaks of life. The slaying also points prophetically to the day when God would let His Lamb, Christ Jesus, be killed, even as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev.13:8). Again, the clothing of the man and his wife with the skin of the beasts shows that animal nature had intruded upon the life of man. Hence, the struggle of the two natures which Paul talked about in Romans 7:13-25. Is it not true that fallen man is carnal in his appearance? The skin of carnality binds man in sin and death. In order for the Spirit of Life to get into the spirit of a man to quicken him to life, there will have to be, first, a slaying of the carnal self, and then, an application of the Blood of Christ Jesus in faith. Even Paul, a True Worshipper of God, had said, “I die daily” (1 Cor.15:31). There has to be a continual dying of the carnal self and a continual living of the spiritual self in the Spirit of God.
Christ, the second Adam, is the antitype of the first Adam who brought death into the world. The second Adam is the reflector of True Life. In the likeness of sinful flesh, Christ came to identify Himself with His Bride, the Church, who was also born from the side of His body, when He sacrificed His life at Calvary (Jhn.19:34). The physical body of Christ, which veiled the Life of the Spirit of God must be rent so that blood and water would be spilt, and that the Spirit of Life would be released upon the Believers to quicken them to life. Hence, the birth of the Church is spiritual — “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jhn.3:6b).
The physical body of Christ, being rent, has provided His Bride with manna (Living Bread) from Heaven in His Flesh, and the Cleansing Fountain of Life in His Blood. Jesus said, “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. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me” (Jhn.6:53-57). He sacrificed Himself to redeem His Bride. He is the Good Shepherd (the Head) Who gave His life for His sheep (the body).
Friends, the events which led to the Fall of man were not some haphazard happenings with which the Creator was grieved or disillusioned. No, God was not defeated by His Adversary, the Devil. Everything that God had done since the beginning was done with a definite purpose in mind. The Fall did not take Him by surprise. Denominational traditions seem to lead many to believe that it was so, as if God's plan was “poofed” by Satan and that He had to quickly think up a plan to rectify what the Devil had done. On the contrary, the Truth is that the Fall was a part of God's great divine plan and purpose which He would finally gather a people whom He will dwell in as a tabernacle. Yes, because He had the foreknowledge, God took advantage of that which He knew would result in the testing of Adam and Eve. And out of that He is building a building — yes, more than a building, He is building a city!
Listen to what Paul says:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” – Rom.8:18-23
Therefore, as True Worshippers of God, who are we? If we do have the revelation regarding the predestinated plan of God according to His foreknowledge, we would have realized that “we are his work- manship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph.2:10). Yes, we are to walk in the Light of His Divine Love and Truth just as is reflected in the heavens according to Psalm 19:1-6. For as Christ travailed to bring forth His Bride by allowing His Body to be put to death, even so shall the Bride also travail to bring forth the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God (“the redemption of our body”) — in the adoption (Grk: huiothesia) — by putting the old man to death.
So, we see the revelation of the purpose of God even in the mystery of life and death as He began the structuring of His Tabernacle. Yes, God in His good pleasure declared Himself and revealed His attributes, such as Creator, Redeemer, Builder, and et cetera, as He had foreordained. And, we see God manifesting Himself in His Universe, in His Son, and in His Church — God's Complete Dwelling Place. Amen.
THE TABERNACLE OF MOSES
“And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” – Ex.25:8-9
This was the commandment which God gave unto His prophet Moses on Mount Sinai. While “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” — God in His Universe; the Tabernacle of Moses shows the beginning of His Coming to dwell in something tangible. That is the evidence of God's plan of coming to dwell with His people. Although this tabernacle was made with hands, God Himself had designed it to show forth His Divine Plan of dwelling in a tabernacle in the midst of a people. As the heaven above was a tabernacle for the glory of the sun, so was the Tabernacle of Moses a tabernacle for the Shekinah Glory of God. As the sun radiated forth its heat to everything around it, so was the warmth of His Presence to all who camped near It.
The whole layout of the Tabernacle of Moses had two areas: the Court, and the structure proper — the Sanctuary. The entrances to the Court and to the structure were from the East. First was the Altar of Burnt Offering in the court, then the Laver. On entering the Sanctuary was the Holy Place which contained the Table of Shewbread on the right, the Golden Lampstand (or Candlestick) on the left, and the Altar of Incense before a Veil (or Curtain) on the far end. Hidden behind this veil was the Holy of Holies (or the Most Holy Place), which housed the Ark of The Covenant. Each furniture speaks of Christ: the Brazen Altar, His sacrificial death for us (Rom.3:25; 1 Jhn.2:2); the Laver, His cleansing us (Jhn.13:2-10; Eph.5:25-27); the Golden Candlestick, His enlightening us (Rev.1:13); the Table of Shewbread, His sustaining us (Jhn.6:27-59); the Altar of Incense, His interceding for us (Jhn.17:1-26; Heb.7:25); the Veil, His body which was broken for us (Heb.10:20); and the Ark of the Covenant, His humanity and deity in the midst of us.
As the years passed, the Tabernacle of Moses gave way to the Temple of Solomon, a more permanent and more beautiful building. The positions of the furniture were much the same. However, the Temple was burned to the ground by the Chaldean troops of Nebuchadnezzar in the later half of the 6th Century B.C. when the children of Israel were made captives. (The Ark was probably lost during this siege.) In the time of Jesus, the temple was often referred to as Herod's Temple. It was originally called Zerubabbel's Temple, built in the era of Haggai and Zechariah. In his reign, King Herod ordered the Temple rebuilt to its former glory because he wanted his name to go down in history.
The Tabernacle of Moses speaks of a true tabernacle that is to come (Heb.8:2,5; 9:11,24; Rev.21:3). It speaks of Christ Jesus (Jhn.1:14) and His Body of Believers (Eph.2:19; 1 Cor.6:19. Every piece of furniture and material of the Tabernacle reflects the Life and Ministry of our Saviour. They reflect His Works of Atonement and Redemption. At the moment of the death of Christ Jesus at Calvary, which was the time of the evening sacrifice, the Veil of the Temple was rent in two, from top to bottom, thus exposing the Holy of Holies to show that Jesus, as the High Priest of God Who could enter the Most Holy Place, had opened the way for all believers to enter into the Presence of God through His flesh, symbolized by the Veil (Matt.27:51; Mk.15:38; Heb.6:19-20; 9:11-12; 10:19-20).
Various words and phrases are used in the writings of the prophets in connection with the Tabernacle of Moses. It is called “the tent”, “tent of the Lord”, “the house of the Lord”, “the house of the tent”, “the tabernacle of the house of God”, “the tent of testimony”, “the tabernacle of the covenant”, “the tabernacle of the congregation”, “dwelling place” or “dwelling”, “holy place”, and “sanctuary”.
However, the use of the term “the tabernacle of the congregation” (e.g. Ex.29:42; Num.7:89) is not at all correct. Except for the Levitical priests, the people of Israel could never enter the tabernacle. It would be more appropriate to render it as “tent of meeting”, or “tent of assembly”. Or it might be better to call it “tent of revelation”, for it was here that God met His people and declared His will for them through Moses. (Read Numbers chapter 17.) Hence, the Tabernacle was a place of revelation.
“THE TABERNACLE OF THE HOUSE OF GOD”
Notice these two phrases used for the Tabernacle of Moses: “the house (Heb: beth) of the Lord” (Ex.23:19) and “the tabernacle (Heb: mishkan) of the house of God” (1 Chr.6:48). It is interesting to see how the Spirit of revelation in His wisdom had inspired it to be written the way it was. It behoves us to see that there was actually a tabernacle which God lived in and which tabernacle was in a house, that is to say, a palace within a castle.
The word “mishkan” in Hebrew speaks of the dwelling place or habitation, which contains the Presence of Yahweh in the Light, called Shekinah. In the New Testament, we see the term “the temple (Grk: naos) of the tabernacle (Grk: skene) of the testimony” (Rev.15:5), where “naos” is the sanctuary proper and “skene” is the whole layout of the building including the outer court.
Exodus 25:10-22 records the exact place where the Shekinah Glory was present:
“And they shall make me an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
And thou shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.
And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and the two rings in the other side of it.
And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
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 cherubim of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubim on the two ends thereof.
And the cherubim shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.
And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”
THE SHEKINAH GLORY
It was above the mercy seat (more rightly called the mercy lid), and “between the two cherubim that are upon the ark” of the covenant that the Shekinah Glory of God tabernacled. And it was here that God revealed His Word unto His servant Moses. He spoke from within this Shekinah Glory. So from this, we should understand that the Ark of the Covenant prophetically speaks of the LOGOS of God coming to dwell in a tabernacle of flesh.
“Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
Hath not my hand made all these things?” – Acts 7:48-50
Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus was conceived of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary. It was the conception of God to build Himself a house not made with hands. Jesus was the Tabernacle which God pitched for the Shekinah Glory of God to dwell in at the appointed time (Heb.9:11; 8:1,2). After His birth, He grew in stature and wisdom (Lk.2:40,52). As with the Tabernacle of Moses, where the Presence of God, in the form of cloud, came and filled the building only on the appointed day after it was completed and the furniture installed in place (Ex.39:32-43; 40:1-38), so was it with the true Tabernacle of God, Jesus Christ, when the Spirit of God, without measure, came at the appointed time to dwell in Him after His water baptism. “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (Jhn.1:32-34). Thenceforth the Shekinah Glory of God came to manifest in the flesh and dwelt among the people (Jhn.1:14). God dwelt among the people in the tabernacle of the flesh of Jesus. The flesh of Jesus was the Veil. Jesus, as the Ark of the Testament, housed the Shekinah Glory of God.
“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man...
Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” – Heb.8:1-2,5-6
Out of the Shekinah Glory of God in the heart of Jesus Christ came the Voice of God unto His people, Israel. He spoke through the Veil of the flesh. There was no need for a prophet to mediate between Him and His people. Jesus was the Mediator (1 Tim.2:5). He was the Mediator of a better covenant (Heb.12:24). Yet, “a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one” (Gal.3:20).
Now, in speaking, Yahweh revealed Himself, yet hiding Himself from the wise and prudent. The flesh of Jesus veiled Him. It kept carnality from ever recognizing the Divinity within. Carnal men could only see a “good” man, because like the Altar of Incense which stood before the Veil in the Holy Place, the Life of Christ was a sweet smelling savour, not only to God but also to the people who came in contact with Him. And like the Golden Candlestick casting its light across the Table of Shewbread in the Holy Place, Christ was the Light of Life as He went about giving out the Bread of Life. The religious people could only see the outer appearance of the man Jesus and they wondered as to “What manner of man is this?” who could turn water to wine, calm a storm, cause the lame to walk, dumb to speak, and many other miracles. And they would continue on in their age-old religious and traditional ways. But to His Elect, God would reveal Himself by the Spirit of revelation such that they could exclaim as Peter did: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” (Matt.16:13-16).
Under the mercy seat, in the Ark of the Covenant, was the tablets of the covenant or testimony which contained the law (Ex.25:16). Later on, the golden pot of manna and Aaron's rod, which budded, were added (Heb.9:4 cf. Ex.16:33-34; Num.17:10-11). All these symbolized Christ as the Ark of Safety in the Covenant of Grace. Whoever gets into it would be sheltered from the wrath of God which is being poured out upon sin. In Christ was the law made perfect, for He was the Logos Who provided the law, and fulfilled it. He was the Manna which came down from Heaven and like the rod which died and blossomed into life, He was the Resurrection and the Sceptre of Life. He was the Life, and sin and death could not corrupt Him.
In the Book of Hebrews chapters 9 and 10, Paul made a contrast between the Old and the New Covenants. The Old Testament itself was put into force with the shedding of blood whereupon the Book of Law, the people, and both the tabernacle and its furniture were sprinkled with the blood of the sacrificial beasts. The Law is our schoolmaster. It condemns sin. And sin leads to death. The blood points to death and life — death of a sacrifice but life to whom it touches — “without the shedding of blood is no remission”. Hence, the blood of sacrifice literally kept alive the children of Israel, God's chosen people. As the Tabernacle of Moses reflects the Assembly of True Worshippers in the Body of Christ, which is Spiritual Israel, the blood of the Lamb of God purges and redeems all the Elect of God as one people. All these are patterns of heavenly things in that Christ, as a High Priest, entered into the holy places of heaven once and for all, and offered His blood to perfect forever those who are consecrated and made holy. Amen.
But notice, while the carcasses of the sacrificial beasts slain on the Day of the Atonement were taken outside the tabernacle to be burned (Lev.16:27), their blood was carried into the temple (or sanctuary). Likewise, Jesus, the Lamb of God was taken and crucified and buried outside the camp of Jerusalem City (Heb.13:11-12), but He, as High Priest, took His own Blood into the Holy Places of Heaven to present it before Yahweh, His Heavenly Father (Jhn.20:17). Christ Jesus, having entered the true temple in Heaven, now sits on the right hand of power (Col.3:1). “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col.2:9).
In order that the Shekinah Glory of God, the Fountain of Life, that was tabernacled in Christ Jesus (the Logos — Tree of Life — made flesh), could be poured out upon a predestinated people, the Body of Jesus (the Veil) must therefore be rent and opened up to release It. Jesus, in speaking of His Body, said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jhn.2:19,21). Again, he said, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (Jhn.10:17-18). Hence, by this “new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh”, we can now enter boldly into the holiest by the Blood of Jesus (Heb.10:19-20). Hallelujah! Because of the Blood of Jesus, which took away our sin, we are now able to enter into the holiest and partake of the Life of the Shekinah Glory of God. Praise the Lord! It was fulfilled just as Jesus said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jhn.14:6b). By the Spirit of revelation, the Apostle Paul wrote of it, and by the same Spirit of revelation, the Apostle John, who was caught up into the Second Heaven, saw it. John said:
“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of the testament:…” – Rev.11:19a
“And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:” – Rev.15:5
“And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power;…”
Beloved, have you seen that which John saw and that which Paul wrote about? Have you seen the Light? Have you received the Spirit of revelation and entered into the realm of the Second Heaven? Have you tasted of the Sap of His Glorious Life? The sons of Aaron (the High Priest), who ministered in the Second Realm of the Tabernacle of Moses, could not see what lies beyond the Veil. But we, who are the sons of God are now given the privilege to see what lies beyond the Veil, for our High Priest, Christ Jesus, had rent the Veil of His Body and revealed to us the Shekinah Glory.
HABITATION — CHUPPAH
God, Who is now tabernacled in Christ, is Head over Christ (1 Cor.11:3). As the True Worshippers of God stream through the rent Veil of the Body of Christ into the Life found in the Head, the Almighty Spirit is building for Himself a tabernacle out of these “lively stones” which “are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph.2:20-22). Hence, Christ has become the Head of the Church, the Redeemed of God (Eph.1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col.1:18). He is the Headstone of God's spiritual house (1 Pet.2:6-8; 1 Cor.3:16-17). The whole Church is the Temple and Tabernacle of God.
As the prototype – the Tabernacle of Moses – was made to reflect “the tabernacle of the house of God”, so it is — God (the Shekinah Glory) tabernacled in Christ Jesus (the Ark of the Covenant) Who tabernacled in the Church, the House of God. In other words, God in Christ and God in the Church; God in Christ, the Head of the Church, and the Head upon the Body of Believers. Praise God! The mind of the members of the Body will soon be one with the Head as the Head is one with the Father. Amen! Read John 14:11,20; 17:21-26.
The prophet Isaiah said:
“And Yahweh will create over the whole habitation of mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory shall be spread a covering [Heb: chuppah].” – Isa.4:5 (Bethel Edition)
This verse speaks spiritually of the New Jerusalem, which the True Church is now a type. Mount Zion speaks of the supreme place of authority that the Church will possess. As a City, New Jerusalem has many assemblies and dwelling places. Jesus said, “In My Father's house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you, for I am going away to prepare a place for you” (Jhn.14:2, Amp.). Truly, God is not only in the Church, He is also the covering of the Church. His Glory is within and without the “tent of meeting”, the Body of True Worshippers. As the Father of Life, the Spirit dwells in us. But as a chuppah, He is the “tent of revelation” within which the saints of God are gathered to be instructed, built up and mellowed in the “Sonlight” of the Logos. Hence, His Glory is our protection, defence, and covering, by day and by night. What Jesus had said (in John 14:11,20 and 17:21-26), is now being fulfilled as God builds His City.
NEW HEAVEN, NEW EARTH, NEW JERUSALEM
Now, as we read Revelation chapter 21, we shall surely have a clearer understanding of the divine purpose of God concerning the creation of mankind.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” – Rev.21:1
Yes, the Present Earth and the Present Heaven will be recreated. However, before that happens, this world will have to go through a time of Great Tribulation such as the world has never seen before (Matt.24). But the Bride-Wife of Christ, who will have made herself ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, will be caught up into the Heaven (1 Thess.4:13-17; 1 Cor.15:51-54; Rev.19:6-9). She will return to earth with her Lord at the close of the Great Tribulation in the Day of the Lord to judge the world before the Age of Regeneration begins (Isa.13:9-13; Joel 2:1; Zeph.1:14-18; Matt.19:28). Christ and His Redeemed will be the only people to possess glorified spiritual bodies. The rest of the people of the world who would be given life in the Judgement of the Nations (Matt.25:31-46), will enter as they are into the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and His Saints. Christ will rule His Kingdom with a rod of iron from His throne in the Temple in the city of Jerusalem (Jer.3:17; Ezek.43; Matt.19:28; Lk.1:32; Rev.3:21; 20:4). During this period, Satan will be chained (Rev.20:1-3). There will be peace and prosperity upon the earth as described in Isaiah 65:20-25, and Micah 4:1-7. When the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released for a season to try all those who lived through the period. This will be the final testing of mankind. And all those who shall take side with Satan will meet death with him as they lay siege against the Holy City and the saints of God. Read Revelation 20:7-10.
The Millennial Reign of Christ, or the Age of Regeneration (Matt. 19:28), will bring us closer to where we will see God dwelling with a people forever. Notice. As declared in the universe, the glory of the sun, casting its warmth around, dwells in the canopy of the heavens. Under the First Testament, we see that reflection in the Tabernacle of Moses which was built according to the Heavenly Pattern as shown to the prophet on the Mount of Sinai. There in the Sanctuary, made with hands, dwelt the Glory of God among His chosen people, Israel. Natural Israel points to Spiritual Israel, the Church. And under the Present Testament, the Glory of God, which tabernacled in Jesus Christ when He was here on earth, now dwells in every born again child of God. As the Almighty Spirit dwells in the Church, the Head of that Body is Christ. And the Head of Christ is God Himself. Hence, we see God in Christ in the Church.
Now, we all know that the former heaven and earth, namely the Prehistorical World, were destroyed by water after Lucifer fell from his estate and wrecked havoc and chaos in it. But this present heaven and earth, which are as chaotic as the first, are destined for the judgement of fire. Read 2 Peter 3:5-7. Thereafter and following the Millennial Reign of Christ and His Church, a New Heaven and a New Earth will appear. This will be the third, and the final, heaven and earth. There will be no more chaos as Satan and his horde of fallen angelic spirits will be taken and cast into the Lake of Fire to be burnt.
HOLY CITY, NEW JERUSALEM
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” – Rev.21:2-5
With the New Heaven and New Earth, God will make “all things new”. On the New Earth, the most distinct and prominent new thing that we will see will be the New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God. As we have realized, the Holy City, New Jerusalem is not the same physical city of Jerusalem, which is in the Holy Land, made new. It is not a material city but a spiritual city that descends from Heaven. In his vision, the Apostle John saw it as the Temple and Tabernacle of God in Heaven (Rev.11:19a; 15:5,8a) before it descended to earth as a City. It is the very “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” that Abraham, the Father of our Faith had looked for. “The Holy City, New Jerusalem” is the Holy Redeemed People of God of all ages. Just as a bride is prepared for her husband, so are they also beautifully prepared (beginning from Adam) to be the Spiritual Tabernacle of God.
“The Holy City, New Jerusalem” is the (Bride-)Wife of the Lamb of God (Rev.21:2,9) just as “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth”, a city, is the wife of Satan (Rev.17 & 18). Revelation 21:9-21 portray the distinct features and beauty of this New Jerusalem, the Holy City wherein God dwells. It has twelve principalities (gates) of the Twelve Patriarchs of Israel (vv.12,13) and twelve founding bases of the Twelve Apostles (v.14). Through the “gates” came the Oracles of God and upon the “founding bases” were their revelations unfolded. These are structured on One Sure Foundation, the Christ of God. As the Lamb of God, Christ was slain before the foundation of the world and laid down as the Foundation Stone of “the Holy City, New Jerusalem” (cf. Rev.13:8; 1 Cor.3:11). It is built of pure gold and garnished with different precious stones and pearls. Yes, every member of that Holy City is put through fire and polished (cf. 1 Cor.3:11-17; 1 Pet.1:7; 2:5). The Holy City is perfectly built according to the Heavenly Pattern in the Mind of God, and there is no flaw in the Wife of the Lamb (Rev.21: 9-27, cf. Deut.32:4; 2 Chr.8:16; Heb.13:21) for she is foreknown of God, and thus, predestinated as such (cf. Eph.1; Heb.4:3).
The ultimate intention of God in the Creation (which holds the Mystery of Life and Death) therefore, is this “Holy City, New Jerusalem” — a Tabernacle for God to dwell in and be with men. Notice what John wrote in Revelation 21:22-23:
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”
Yes, finally the Shekinah Glory of the Eternal One not only dwells in His First Begotten Who dwells in His Redeemed, but will also bring down the whole of His “Palace” and “Castle” upon the New Earth that He may dwell with a people. This people comprises those who have not succumbed to the deception of Satan who is released after the Millennial Reign and Rule of God's Only Begotten Son and His Wife. Because they have remained faithful and obedient to the Law of the Righteous One, they are saved from the fire of the wrath of God which is poured upon those who are deceived by Satan and who join forces with him to rebel and lay siege against the saints of God and His beloved city. As nations of faithful and obedient people, they are granted to live eternally in the New Heaven and New Earth. Read Revelation 20:7-10; 21:24,26; 22:2.
Finally, the mystery of the Heavenly Pattern that was shown to the Prophet Moses on Mount Sinai, when he was given the architectural plan of the Tabernacle, is revealed in this Heavenly setting.
THE PURE RIVER OF WATER OF LIFE
AND THE TREE OF LIFE
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” – Rev.22:1-2
Out of the Throne of the Eternal Presence of the Lord will flow “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal” — the holy and perfect soul-quenching Spirit of life. It will flow through one channel — “the street” (the One and Only Way) and by means of the Tree of Life (the Divine Truth of God) which is full of sap, provides Life. It will yield Its fruits (effects and results) faithfully, and even Its leaves are for the healing (blessings and graces) of the nations. Just as the sun radiates forth its rays of warmth to all things in the universe, and the Shekinah Glory of God revealed His Presence to all who camped around the Tabernacle of Moses, the Eternal Presence, Who dwells in “the Holy City, New Jerusalem”, also releases His Fountain of soul-quenching Spirit of Life to all nations in the New Heaven and New Earth.
Saints of God, as long as this Pure River of Water of Life continues to flow from the Throne of God and of the Lamb that is in “the Holy City, New Jerusalem”, the nations of people, which are saved, shall benefit and shall continue to walk in the light of the Life that they have received, and shall pay homage of glory and honor to the Lord. And as foreshadowed by the sons of Aaron (Ex.28:1) who ministered to God in the Sanctuary, and to His chosen people outside the Sanctuary, so shall we, the saints of God, minister and serve the Lord in “the Holy City, New Jerusalem”, and reign over the nations of the people in the New Heaven and New Earth.
“And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and servants shall serve him:
And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” – Rev.22:3-5
Therefore, seeing the beauty of this glorious Holy City, let us press toward it, walking faithfully in the Light of the Holy Baptism that we have received. For truly the Holy Spirit has purified us by faith, and has translated us into the Church of the Firstborn, and even now, has endowed us with the power for that celestial regime as reflected in the stars above. We may be called “dreamers” by the ignorant followers of Satan, but as True Worshippers of the Lord God of Abraham, the Father of our Faith, we know for a certainty that it is a celestial reality — that we will enter into the realm of the real Third Heaven. Blessed be the Name of the Lord Jesus! Amen.
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