Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the foregoing message we began to consider the workers of the tabernacle, the furniture, and the priestly garment. We saw that in the book of Exodus the master builder was Bezalel, who was filled with the Spirit of God in wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and all workmanship. We emphasized the fact that the building up of God’s dwelling place, the church, is a noble work to be done by all the saints. Because this work cannot be done in our natural life or natural ability, we all need to be filled with the Spirit of God in knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and workmanship. In this message we shall go on to consider more details related to the workers of the tabernacle, the furniture, and the priestly garment.
Verses 4 and 5 say, “To devise skillful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in bronze, and in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all workmanship.” In doing the work of building, we do not use clay or brick. We use gold, silver, and bronze. We have already seen that gold signifies the nature of God, the divine nature, that silver signifies Christ’s redemption, and that bronze signifies God’s righteous judgment. If we would build up the church, all the saints must know how to use the divine nature as the gold, the redemption of Christ as the silver, and God’s righteous judgment as the bronze. Most Christians today have no way to build up God’s dwelling place, because they do not know the gold, the silver, and the bronze, and they do not know how to use these materials. But by the Lord’s mercy, even the young people in the Lord’s recovery may know how to use the divine gold for the building up of the church in their locality. They may also know how to use silver and bronze in a practical way for the building up of the church. Even the young sisters should use these materials to build God’s dwelling place.
Verse 5 speaks of “cutting of stones for setting.” Here setting equals building. The cutting of the stones, therefore, is for building up. To cut stones for setting is to help the saints to be transformed into stones and to be adjusted to fit into God’s building. We all need to know how to cut stones for setting.
Many Christian workers do not know how to cut stones for God’s building. But I am also concerned that even in the local churches some elders do not know how to cut stones for this purpose. I do not have the confidence that all the elders in the local churches in this country know how to cut stones for setting. If all the elders were able to do this work, I would be very happy in the Lord. However, my heart is heavy, for I am somewhat concerned that some elders do not know how to cut stones for the work of building.
This word about cutting stones for building is quite enlightening and exposing. This is a word of warning for us all. Even the young sisters should know how to cut stones for setting. When the young sisters are fellowshipping with one another, they should know how to help others to be transformed and to fit into God’s building. A certain sister may have experienced an amount of transformation. However, she may not yet fit into the building. Hence, there is the need for cutting. The proper setting of stones into a wall always requires cutting. Without the cutting, the stones would not be able to fit into the building.
We all need to be reminded that we are not cutting adobe or bricks; we are cutting precious stones, transformed materials, for the building of God’s dwelling place. I believe that most of the saints will be able to understand my word.
The “carving of wood” in verse 5 signifies dealing with our humanity. We are not to be either angels or spirits. God designed us to be human beings with a proper humanity, signified by wood. For the building up of the church, the elders, the serving ones, and all the brothers and sisters, including the young ones, should know how to “carve” humanity. This is a figure of speech to express the thought of working on the humanity of the saints for the sake of God’s building. We all need to learn to fellowship, in the meetings, and in spiritual contact with the saints to cut stones for setting and to carve wood. Both the cutting of stones and the carving of wood are for the building up of the church.
The brothers and sisters in the churches should not place the burden of the building up of the church only on the shoulders of the elders. It is altogether not fair to put the whole burden on them. The elders are not magicians. They cannot be expected to accomplish all the building work. Nevertheless, nearly all the saints somehow expect the elders to do this. This is a dream. Some would even propose that the number of elders in their locality be doubled. Whoever makes this proposal is one who puts too much of the burden upon the elders. If you suggest that we increase the number of elders, I would reply that you need to bear your part of the burden as one of the builders. Do not expect the elders to do all the work of building. The reason the church in your locality is not built up is that many of the saints are not doing their share of the building work. Do not blame the elders. Be assured that I stand with the elders absolutely. If you are tempted to say that the elders have not fulfilled their responsibility, you should first blame yourself for not fulfilling your responsibility. I would urge you to forget about what the elders should do and to take care of your part in the building work.
For years it has been my practice to encourage the saints to take responsibility to do what needs to be done in the church life. For example, if a sister would come to me and complain that the ladies’ rest room needs to be cleaned, I would respond by encouraging her to clean it herself. Eventually, the word went out not to come to me with any complaints, because I would tell the complaining one to take care of the matter himself. The point here is that we all have a part in the work of building up the church.
To build up the dwelling place of God, in addition to the work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting the stones, and in carving the wood, there is the need of the work in all workmanship, such as spinning, weaving, embroidery, and work on the animal skins, etc. These are the works to produce finer virtues in human character with the uplifted humanity of Christ, which are needed for the building up of the church as God’s dwelling place.
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