The Sanctuary of God
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - The Nature of God's House

Exodus 32.

It is supremely important for us to be thoroughly convinced of the fact that God is moving in this dispensation particularly in relation to a perfectly prepared plan. The works were prepared, the plan was completed, the purpose was settled and fully defined before this world was, and our calling, and all that is connected with that calling, is according to His eternal purpose. No one, therefore, is free to follow his own judgments, ideas, thoughts, conceptions, mind. All must come in the first place from the Lord and must be born in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. God works all things after the counsel of His own will, and that has to have an expression in the members of Christ.

God is now, according to His eternal purpose, working in relation to a habitation which is central to the universe, and embodies universal features. Then out from the eternal unto the ultimate, God will have a testimony in time. He is working in a concrete way within the compass of this world, and it is in this connection that, under the initiative and direction and mighty energy of the Holy Ghost, the assemblies of which the New Testament speaks came into being. Paul said that at Ephesus he fought with wild beasts. Truly he knew what the principalities and powers and world rulers of this darkness are in relation to the Church of God. Then at Philippi there was the working of these forces of evil in a tremendous way to frustrate God's purpose, but the Holy Ghost was there in such energy that the assembly came into being in spite of everything. These assemblies are intended to be local expressions of the eternal purpose and of the ultimate realisation of it. They are expressions of the dwelling place of God constituted by the Holy Ghost.

The Nature of God's House

The passages in Exodus 32, 33, and 40 help to an understanding of this.

In chapter 25 there have been given all the directions concerning this dwelling place.

Then everything is suspended and all in chapters 32 and 33 comes between the revelation and the execution.

Moses was in the mount for a probationary period (forty days and forty nights), and it was a probation characterised by a real test of one principle, faith. Israel failed in that test, because they wanted to see and have and possess and do. Faith rules all that out. When Israel turned to the tangible, governed by faithless flesh, they opened the door for idolatry. Idolatry is, in essence, the producing of something by the energies of the human soul. It was the movement of their own ambitious souls on the line of nature.

When that came in all that had been given by revelation was suspended until that whole realm of things was dealt with. So Moses took the tent and pitched it without the camp afar off, and called it, "The Tent of Meeting". It speaks of the essentially spiritual nature of the House of God as separated from all the works and emotions of the carnal soul. That is what is meant by holiness.

We have no record of Moses having been instructed concerning this tent. Chapter 33:7 seems to indicate that Moses had done something like this before he had instructions about the tabernacle. He had evidently acted from some spiritual discernment and intelligence as to what was suited to God's dwelling place.

Moses stood in the door of the tent and cried, "Who is on the Lord's side, let him come to me". All the sons of Levi went to him. Then there comes in the essential factor that evil has to be judged before you can have any real expression of the House of God. Moses commanded the sons of Levi to use the sword against their own family in so far as merely natural elements were dictating the course of things. So far as they are operating, to order, to govern, to dictate, those who stand for God's full thought have to bring them under the sword. Hebrews 4:12 will show that this principle is a truly Scriptural one. We have to see that the House of God stands upon the basis of what is purely of God and not of nature.

By this, God is securing the basis of complete victory. Presently these people are coming up against the whole realm of opposing forces, and God is putting things into the realm where those powers have no footing. The defeat of the Church has always been because the enemy has been given an opportunity by reason of some elements that have been allowed which are foreign to God.

Ephesians gives us an understanding of this. There is the eternal purpose, the House (a habitation of God through the Spirit). That purpose is the one object of the fierce antagonism of the whole hostile realm. The Church has hope of victory only as it is fortified by that which is shown in chapter 6: the helmet of salvation - that which girdles the mind; the breastplate of righteousness - our standing before God in the righteousness of Christ; the shield of faith - that state of faith which comes between us and all the fiery darts of evil suggestion and insinuation. All these things represent a spiritual state.

Moses did not lack the faithfulness that is so essential in order to have the House of God. (Heb. 3:2). He loved these people, but his love did not weaken his faithfulness in dealing with the things that were in the way of the full purpose unto which they were called.

Then we see the positive side. When Moses had pitched the tent afar off, and had faithfully faced the issue without compromise, the Lord talked with him face to face. Here is fellowship, communion, and growing revelation through faithfulness.

Pentecost very largely expresses these types in reality. Under the sword of the Levites three thousand died. Under the sword of the Spirit at Pentecost three thousand were slain in relation to that which was not God's true thought.

In the Old Testament it was judgment unto death.

In the New Testament it was judgment unto life.

At Pentecost they were together in one place, and outside the camp. Firstly, the Lord identified Himself with them there. Secondly, He constituted them the nucleus of His House.

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