(February 7, 1964 A.M.)
may by one or two who have joined us this morning who
have not been with us on these other mornings this week.
For their sake and for the sake of all of us, may I just
repeat what it is that is occupying us at this time. We
are all aware that during the centuries, Christianity has
become a tremendous buildup of things which were not at
the beginning. The Christianity which we know today is a
very complicated thing. The hands of men have come upon
the things of God, and men have tried to build this great
thing according to their own judgment. And so we have all
the confusion, all the divisions, and all the
complications. It is really hard going in Christianity.
Christianity has become its own great hindrance. So what
we are being led to do in these mornings is to get back
behind all this accretion of Christianity, and to
rediscover and redefine the first basic principles. We
are asking the Lord just to bring us into a clear
definition of those things which are true to
Christianity. We have said quite a lot in these mornings
which we cannot repeat. And those who join us for the
first time must understand that.
proceeding this morning from a somewhat advanced point.
May I remind you of the two fragments of Scripture which
are governing our consideration just now. One in the Old
Testament, and the other in the New. In the Old
Testament, the Book of Exodus, chapter twenty-five and
verse eight: "LET THEM MAKE ME A SANCTUARY; THAT I
MAY DWELL AMONG THEM." The other is in the Gospel by
John, chapter one, verse fourteen: "AND THE WORD
BECAME FLESH, AND DWELT AMONG US." We have seen that
word "dwelt" is really in the
original: "Tabernacled." "THE WORD
BECAME FLESH, AND TABERNACLED AMONG US." In these
two passages we have the eternal thought of God, first
set forth in type, and then set forth in reality. That
thought of God was always that He might dwell among men.
We have seen how, when things were according to His mind
in the beginning, the Lord God came into the garden,
found His pleasure in dwelling with man. And then He had
to withdraw. The desire of God for the time being was
suspended. Now in the Book of Exodus, we find God taking
up His thought, and commanding them to build the
tabernacle, that He might dwell among them. That was all
imperfect. We cannot say that God was always happy to be
amongst the people of Israel. There was something that
still needed to be done to make Him perfectly satisfied.
So that it was only in a type and figure that God was
with them. But when it comes to His Son, God is in
Christ, and GOD'S SON BECAME FLESH, AND TABERNACLED AMONG
is at that point that we are going to take things up this
morning. Christ, the Son of God, is the Tabernacle of
God. We need to be very clear about that. The dwelling
place of God now and for eternity is in His Son. The
Person is the residence of God, not in type, but in
reality; not for a time, but for all eternity. Christ is
God's Tabernacle. His name is Emmanuel, "God with
us." His ministry was, and is, the service of the
Tabernacle. His sacrifice, His Cross was the
all-inclusive sacrifice of the Tabernacle. As there was
an outer door to the Tabernacle, He is the door. He,
alone, is the Way unto God. As there was the great altar
just inside the door, His Cross is the altar. As there
was the laver of brass a little further on, so through
His Cross and by His Spirit, the Spirit of life, He
cleanses us to come into the Presence of God. These
things, and everything, had to do with just one thing:
God's Presence with man. Everything is related to this
one issue, the Lord being with us.
just as God was very particular about every detail in the
old tabernacle, so God is very particular that everything
for His Presence expresses Christ. With God there are no
mere things. Things are not sacred to God. It does not
matter what it is; it is not sacred to God apart from one
thing. It is in this matter that we have got to change
our whole mentality.
go about this country, you will go about this city, and
you will see these great religious buildings with a cross
at the top. And when people enter those buildings, they
bow themselves; they look very reverent. And they think
that this is a sacred building. If you interfere with
anything there, it is called sacrilege. To God that is
all nonsense. It does not mean anything at all. The only
thing that matters to God is not the wonderful building
and all the wonderful things inside the building, and not
even the cross on the top. The one thing that matters to
God is whether He is there. Is God Himself present in
this place?! For God, it is no different from any other
place, if it is not the place of His Presence.
course, most of you here this morning agree with that.
But what about ourselves, we hear Christians who come
into a meeting like this speaking about coming into the
house of God. Perhaps they say when they are going to
this meeting place, 'I am going to the house of God.' And
when they pray, they say, 'We are very glad to be in the
house of God this morning; it is a good thing to be in
the Lord's house.' What makes any place the house of God?
What makes this place sacred? If it is sacred at all,
what makes it sacred? It is not the building, this is not
a sacred building. It is not a congregation gathered
here. The only thing that makes it sacred is that the
Lord is Present. The Lord is not interested in our places
or in our congregations; He is only concerned that He may
find a place for Himself where He may be present in
pleasure. I wonder where the tabernacle in the wilderness
is now?! I expect it is buried somewhere deep under the
earth. I wonder where the great temple of Solomon is
now?! I think you would be wasting your time to try and
find it. You see, God had buried those things. Well, they
were so sacred that God ought to preserve them. But He
has not done it. When the tabernacle ceased to fulfill
its real meaning, it was no longer sacred to God.
temple ceased to fulfill its real purpose, God just left
it. And again and again, He allowed the heathen to come
and destroy it. THE PURPOSE IS THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD.
this sounds very elementary and simple, but we are right
back at the first thing. John begins by saying, "In
the beginning, God," and it is not only God in the
beginning, it is God right through to the end. God
is only where His Son is. But, wherever His Son is, God
is there. We have got to be very careful indeed that we
do not set up false ground for the presence of God. It is
not here or there, in this mountain or in Jerusalem, it
is where His Son is. And we will have to put aside all
other matters and say, if the Lord is with you, I am with
you. But in order for that to be true, there are two
things that are most important.
keeping very close to the beginning. We got right back
behind Christianity as we know it. You see, the
Christianity that we know is not like that. Indeed it is
very largely very different from that. Of course, we
could spend a lot of time showing how different
Christianity is from that. And that is all negative. We
want to keep to the positive.
then, the first thing that relates to the Presence of God
is this: God always begins with a presentation of His
Son. In some way, a revelation of the Son of God is the
basis upon which God always begins. If it is in
the Old Testament, it is in a type or a figure, but
whether men saw and understood it or not, there it was.
Of course, that is a very big Bible study. If you
understood the works of God in creation, as in the Book
of Genesis, you would see Jesus Christ. You would see in
every detail some expression of God in Christ. That is a
very wonderful thing for those who have had their
spiritual eyes opened. It says about God's Son, 'that all
things were created by Him, and through Him, and unto
you create something, you may be an artist and you may be
painting a picture, you may be a sculptor, you may be
making a statue, or it may be something else. If you are
really a craftsman, if you are not just doing things for
the sake of doing them, you put yourself into your work.
When people see your work afterwards, they say, 'What a
wonderful man or woman they are.' They can see your mind
in this. They can see your heart in this. The whole thing
speaks of the creator. You pass from the thing that was
made to the one who made it. If the Son of God really did
make all things, He did not do it just in an objective
way, He put Himself into it. And if you have spiritual
understanding, you will see more than the creations. You
will see in everything the One Who created it. There it
is, God has presented His Son. It is a revelation of the
Son of God. That is where God began. That is the
come to this matter of the tabernacle, do remember that
man never thought of this. This never came out of the
mind of man. This came out of the mind of God. God said
to Moses, "See," saith He, "that thou make
all things according to the pattern shown to thee in the
mount" (Heb. 8:5). God has only one object in His
mind, and He works everything in relation to that one
object. The one object which God has in His mind is His
Son. So that this TABERNACLE was a typical
representation of the Son of God in every detail. This
was another beginning of God. The beginning was the
constitution of the nation Israel, a definite people on
just re-emphasize this: with God everything begins with a
revelation of His Son. If we go beyond that, God will
bring us back to it. That is true in the matter of
Salvation. There is no true beginning of the Christian
life without a seeing of Jesus Christ as God's Son. And
that is true of all the progress of the Christian life.
God keeps all our spiritual progress true to the
revelation of Jesus Christ. And that is true of all the
work of God. All the true work of God has got to be done
by our seeing the Lord Jesus. Jesus Himself lived on that
principle. He said: 'The works that I do, I do not out
from Myself, but whatsoever the Son seeth the Father
doing, that doeth He.' 'The words that I speak, I speak
not out from Myself. The Father doeth the works and the
Father gives the words' (John 5:10; 14:10). Jesus lived
His life in full view of the Father. And He would not
speak, or do one work, unless the Father told Him to.
What is true of the Lord Jesus has got to be true of us
all. We can only live this life of the Christian as we
see the Lord Jesus.
return to the tabernacle, we will use it as an
illustration for a little while. The inclusive fact about
the tabernacle is that it was not a thing. It was not a
thing at all. It was a Divine meaning. That meaning was
covered. If other people, which were not of Israel, came
and looked at that tabernacle, they would have said,
'Well, that is a funny thing, what sort of a thing is
that?' But the truth was inside. The truth was a mystery,
and it required the opened eye of the heart to see the
truth in that.
many years after the life of the Lord Jesus, said: "He
became flesh, and Tabernacled among us, (and we beheld
His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the
Father,) full of grace and truth." He was only
saying, in other words, 'We saw inside of Him. We saw the
Divine meaning in Him.'
Jesus was here on this earth, He was the very Tabernacle
of God. He was the very Dwelling Place of God in this
world. But what did men see? Well, Isaiah said, "And
when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should
desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men"
(Isa. 53:2,3). Just as the stranger would have said about
the tabernacle, 'There is no beauty in that. It is all
covered over with these skins. We see no beauty in that.'
They would have despised and rejected it. But John said,
"We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father" (John 1:14). John had the
inward revelation of Jesus Christ.
course, John was not the only one. The Apostle Paul
placed everything upon this truth. All his life and all
his ministry was the result of what he said, "It
pleased God to reveal His Son in me" (Gal. 1:15,16).
It is a revelation of Jesus Christ in the heart, which is
always God's beginning, both for life and for service and
for the Church. We ought never to do anything in the work
of God, unless we get it from the Lord.
why committees are often very dangerous things. We gather
together a number of men. Why do we gather them together?
Well, we think that they are intelligent people. Perhaps
they have been successful in business. And perhaps they
have influence in this world. And we get them together to
consider the work of the Lord. Well, do not be surprised
if the work of the Lord goes slow. In the New Testament,
THE PRAYER GATHERING WAS THE TIME WHERE ALL THE WORK WAS
ORIGINATED. Now I have got a lot to say about this later
us come right back to the beginning. Nothing whatever in
that which is of God begins with man. When this
tabernacle was to be made, first of all, the pattern came
from Heaven. That was a revelation of Jesus Christ. But,
even then, the Lord did not say, 'Now put this pattern
into the hands of the people and let them get on with the
work.' It says that the Spirit of God filled two men, and
it was by the Spirit of God filling these two men that
all the work was produced. They were anointed by the
Spirit of God, it says, "unto all the manner of
work." Whether it was this kind of work, or that
kind of work, or another kind of work in relation to the
tabernacle, it all came through the Spirit of God. Jesus
Himself did not begin His great work until He was
anointed by the Holy Spirit. It says, "God anointed
Him with the Holy Spirit." And if Jesus Who was born
of the Spirit, and lived a good, a perfect life up to
thirty years of age, if He needed the anointing for the
work of God, surely we do.
a difference between being born of the Spirit, and being
anointed by the Spirit. To be born of the Spirit is to be
brought into the new life, to be made a child of God, to
enter into the Kingdom. But the anointing has to do with
the work of God. We need anointing for the work of God.
These two men, Bezaleel and Aholiab, were anointed. It
says, "filled with the Spirit unto all manner of
workmanship" (Exodus 31:1-6).
tabernacle in the wilderness, when it was finished was
the work of the Holy Spirit, passed from the type to the
anti-type, passed from the tabernacle in the wilderness
to the Lord Jesus, THE TRUE TABERNACLE, and every detail
about Him is the work of the Holy Spirit. And if the Lord
said to Moses, "See that thou make all things
according to the pattern showed to thee in the
mount." Now He says, just as particularly about the
work of God, "See, that thou make all things
according to My Son." Every detail has got to be
according to Christ.
notice that God never left anything to the mind of man.
It was made known that many kinds of things would be
required. Gold for the things of gold, silver for the
things of silver, the different colors and the different
kinds of fabric. No one ever said, 'Now if you [have] got
any kind of material, just bring it along and we will fit
it in.' No woman came along and said, 'Now I have got
some good material, just use this for the curtain.'
Bezaleel and Aholiab would have said, 'But that is not
the right color, that is silver, and for this purpose I
need gold.' Nobody was allowed to come along and say,
'Now I have got something for this job, and I am prepared
to give it. You just take it and use it.'
Spirit of God was saying, is this thing of Christ? Is it
an expression of Christ? It is not what you think about
this work of God. Not your ideas and your judgments, not
how you do things in the world. It is, Has it come from
Heaven by the Spirit of God? Have you waited on God to
get it from Him? That is how it has always been in the
beginning. That is how it was in the beginning of THE
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
dealt with a lot of beginnings this morning. I have not
got as far as I thought I would get, but I do hope that
you are seeing more than I am saying. Everything that is
not of Christ is going to be dissolved. Make no mistake.
This whole structure of Christianity is going to be
tested according to Christ. Christianity is just going to
be tested as to how far it was the work of the Holy
Spirit of God according to Christ. Yet once again, says
the Lord, "I will shake not only the earth, but also
the heaven." The things which can be shaken shall be
removed. The things which cannot be shaken shall abide.
And what is it that abides forever? Not the tabernacle in
the wilderness, but Jesus Christ. ALL and only ALL that
is Christ will remain.