GOD'S HOLY DWELLING PLACE "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." (Exodus 25. 8, 9).
GOD having redeemed the people of Israel out of Egypt, desired to have a dwelling-place among them in the wilderness. So God now desires that sinners redeemed by the blood of the Lamb should be builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2. 22), and be built up a spiritual house composed of living stones (1 Peter 2. 5).
When Jesus was here upon the earth, He Himself was the sanctuary and dwelling-place of God. In Him the glory of the Godhead dwelt. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory" (John 1. 14). Before His death, in this respect, He abode alone (John 12. 24). But having finished His work, and ascended up on high, He built the church of the living God, as a habitation for God (Matt. 16. 15-18). Upon this foundation, upon Himself, and on the confession of His name as the Christ, the Son of the living God, made known to the soul by the revelation of the Father, He built His Church, as the house of God, to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3. 15).
How perfect, how suggestive are the words of God! $e does not say, "Let them make themselves a tabernacle, or meeting-place, that I may come and visit them." It is natural to man to think of himself first, and to begin from himself. But God's thoughts and ways are the opposite of man's. God begins from Himself -"Let them make ME a sanctuary! that I may dwell among them."
0 for grace to learn this lesson perfectly! so that in meeting together in church fellowship our first thought may be, not of our own comfort and convenience, nor even our edification - God will take care of that - but that God may have a dwelling place among us, and that God, through Christ, may be glorified. "That I may dwell among them," not as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night, but to be at home there. And Jesus has told us the secret of this (John 14. 23). And the secret is love and obedience - love to Christ and obedience to Him, "If a man love Me, he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him." The VISIT of Divine grace, in a Father's love and a Saviour's pity, to the abodes of the saints in the midst of their unworthiness and self-will, is one thing; the HOME-DWELLING of Divine love, where holiness is cultivated, truth maintained, and obedience sought, is another, and far more blessed. Again the Lord adds, "He that loveth Me not, keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but My Father's which sent Me." One proof of love to the Lord Jesus, and of regard to the authority of God, is keeping, retaining, and guarding the words of the Lord Jesus which He spake on earth, even those words which were given Him by His Father to make known to us. Surely it becomes us to be careful, lest on the authority of some two or three Arian manuscripts of the fourth and fifth centuries, we blot out large numbers of these inspired utterances from the sacred page. The Lord's message of commendation to the messenger to the church in Philadelphia was, "Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name" (Rev. 3. 8).
God does not say, "Let them make Me a tabernacle, or a tent," as though anything would do for God; but "Let them make Me a SANCTUARY," a holy habitation, "that I may dwell." Yes, "holiness becomes God's house for ever." In the Gospel, God comes down to sinners; it is grace abounding amidst the aboundings of sin. But the truth for the saint is the doctrine which is according to godliness. To the sinner, by the gospel, God says: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." But to the believer He says, "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? And what part hath he that believeth with an unbeliever? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? Wherefore come out from among and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you: I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (2 Cor. 6. 14-18).
"Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7. 1).
In the things of God no place is left for human reason, and no margin for self-will. God has arranged everything according to infinite wisdom, and the word of God contains full instructions.
These earthly types were 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 plan showed to thee in the mount" (Heb. 8. 5). Weighty and important words? May they be brought to bear upon our consciences, and tell upon our hearts!
Thee assembly of believers on earth should be the reflection down here, of what the Church of the first-born is in Christ above. Is the Church above redeemed to God from an evil world? Church on earth is to be separate to God, as not of the world, even as Christ is not of it. Is the Church above one in Christ its glorious Head? Church on earth should exhibit this oneness. Is the Church above a holy and true church? The Church on earth should be conspicuous for holiness and truth, "the epistle of Christ known and read of all men," the pillar and ground of the truth." And just as Christ on earth was "God manifest in flesh ;" so the Church should exhibit Christ manifest in His people.
In that marvellous prayer of the Lord Jesus recorded in John 17., this separateness, holiness, and oneness of the Church are the main subjects of His petitions. The Lord distinctly said, "I pray not for the world," neither is Israel mentioned, but His prayer is for those whom the Father had given Him out of the world. Of these He said, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth."
Three times He prays for their oneness. First, that they may be one after a Divine model (v11), "That they may be one as We are." Second, that they may be all one in the Spirit from Pentecost till His return, "That they all may be one; as Thou Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us" (v21). And this oneness in the Spirit, notwithstanding their outward divisions, might be a proof to the world that He was the sent One of God, "That the world might believe that thou didst send Me." Third, that they might be one in the glory, "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given them: that they may be one, even as We are one" (v22). That when thus manifested with Him in glory, it may be a proof to the World that He was not only the sent One, but that they also were loved with the same love. The answer to this prayer commenced at Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost came to sanctify them, and to baptise them into body, and He has continued in the world ever since to carry on the work, and will not cease until whole body is complete, and until He has established them, "unblamable in holiness before God, even Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ all His saints" (1 Thess. 3. 13).
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT (Exodus 25. 10-22).
Verse 10. "And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof."
NOAH was commanded to make "an ark" for the saving of his house; the Hebrew word there used is "tebah," as also in the "ark" of bulrushes in which Moses was laid. But the Hebrew word here employed is "ahrohn," which signifies a chest. This ark of the covenant is one of the most complete and comprehensive types of the Lord Jesus, a full length portrait. In the instructions given for the vessels of the tabernacle, the first mentioned is the ARK. As to worship, service, and testimony, God's centre is Christ. The SHITTIM WOOD IS a type of the sinless humanity of the Lord Jesus. And its dimensions being fixed by God, reminds us of the words of the Lord Jesus, "A body hast Thou prepared Me" (Hebrews x. 5).
Verse 11. "And thou shalt overlay IT with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it."
Pure gold is the emblem of that which is divine, divinely excellent and holy. It typifies the Word which was in the beginning with God, and was God, made and tabernacling among us, the great mystery of God manifest in flesh. To the carnal mind human was conspicuous, He was Jesus the Nazarene. The badger's skin hid the glory of the tabernacle, but to the spiritually minded the gold hid the shittim wood, such could say, "And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." And "The God shone glorious through the man." At foot of the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus was seen in contact with sinners, and in conflict with Satan; but to the disciples on the mount He appeared in glory, and the Father Himself bare witness to Him.
The ark was. to be overlaid within as well as without old. Every internal thought, feeling, and affection of the Lord Jesus was not only perfect as human, but spiritually and divinely excellent; like the fat of inwards burnt upon the altar which was for God alone. In Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him the Church of God is blessed with every Spiritual blessing. This ark of the covenant is the treasure chest of the family of God, in which all the title deeds and promises of God in Him, Yea and Amen, are contained.
"And thou shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about."
This crown of gold surrounding the ark and surmounting it, kept the propitiatory or mercy-seat in its place; even so was it with Jesus, He for the joy that set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame; and, though for a season, made a little lower than the angels, He is now crowned with glory and honour. The obedient and humbled Son of man is now seated on the right hand of majesty and power, and glorified with the glory He had with the Father before the world was.
Verses 12-15. "And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it." "And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay THEM with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it."
These rings and staves adapted the ark to the wilderness condition of God's people, ready at all times, not only to accompany them in their journeyings, but also in their wanderings. The rings were to be of gold, but the staves of shittim wood, overlaid with gold. The divine grace and human sympathy of the Lord Jesus renders Him sufficient to meet our every need. The staves were never to be taken from the rings; even so Jesus assures us, "Lo, I am with you alway"; "I will never leave you nor forsake you." The three families of Levites, Gershonites, Merarites, and Kohathites, may represent the evangelists, pastors and teachers of the Christian ministry. The Gershonites and Merarites, when the camp set forward, went before and set up the tabernacle, for these six wagons and twelve oxen were provided; but none were given he sons of Kohath, because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear it on their shoulders (Numbers 7. 9).
To the charge of the Kohathites was committed the and other sacred vessels of the sanctuary. The teacher is specially thrown upon his individual responsibility before God in treating on those subjects which pertain to the person, offices, and perfections of the Son of God; he needs, in an especial manner, the unction from the Holy One. God is especially jealous of human interference in regard to the glory of His Son. When David put the ark upon a new cart, and Uzzah put forth his hand to steady it, God made a breach upon Uzzah. What is needed is not human intellect, invention, nor imagination, but the teaching and revealing of the Holy Ghost.
Verse 16. "And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee." Whilst Moses was on the Mount, receiving these instructions from God, respecting the tabernacle and its vessels, the children of Israel were impatient at his delay, had made the golden calf, and worshipped it. The law which they had undertaken to keep they had broken in its most essential parts. Thereupon Moses, on his coming down from the Mount, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand, which he had received from God, written with the finger of God, moved with holy indignation, brake the tables at the foot of the Mount.
And Jehovah said unto Moses, "Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest." These two tables of the testimony Moses was commanded to put into the ark. This type was fulfilled in Christ, who is the Mediator of the New Covenant, whose language was, according to Psalms 40. 8, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart." Made of a woman, born under the law, He magnified that law, and made it honourable. And it is by abiding in Him that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.