Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
According to the sequence of the divine revelation, the covering of the tabernacle is mentioned before the boards. This is opposite to the human way of speaking about a building, which is to begin with the bottom and proceed upwards toward the roof. The divine way of revealing the tabernacle is to begin with the top, with the four layers of covering. Furthermore, according to Exodus 36, the roof of the tabernacle was also made before the boards. As we apply this to Christian experience, we should consider whether in our Christian life we begin from the bottom of the tabernacle or from the top.
The roof, or covering, of God’s habitation in the wilderness was of four layers. The first layer was fine linen, the second of goats’ hair, the third of rams’ skins dyed red, and the fourth of porpoise skins. In typology these layers do not refer to the believers, but only to Christ. The first layer typifies Christ as a perfect and complete human being; the second layer typifies Him as the One who was made sin for us and who died on the cross for our sins; the third layer typifies Him as the One who accomplished redemption to meet both God’s need and ours; and the fourth layer typifies Him as the One who is strong toward the enemy and who is able to resist all his attacks. No aspect of these four layers signifies the believers in any way. Therefore, the believers do not have any part in the layers of the covering. This covering is absolutely and thoroughly Christ Himself.
Under the covering of the tabernacle there were the walls composed of standing boards of acacia wood overlaid with gold. These boards typify the believers built together to be the dwelling place of God (Eph. 2:22). Therefore, we have the assurance to say that the tabernacle typifies not only the individual Christ, but also the corporate Christ. The believers, typified by the boards overlaid with gold, are covered with Christ Himself. Although the believers are not included in the four layers of the covering, Christ is involved with the boards which form the walls of the tabernacle. We know this by the fact that the boards were made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, the same materials used to make the ark, which is a type of Christ.
Before we were saved, we were not the boards in God’s tabernacle. We did not have acacia wood, and we were not overlaid with gold. According to the natural life, we are not boards. But according to the divine life in resurrection, we are the standing boards of the tabernacle. Now we have become acacia wood overlaid with gold.
Just as the ark was made of two elements, acacia wood and gold, so are the boards constructed of the same two elements. This indicates that the boards are the enlargement and extension of the ark. They are the same as the ark in substance, with the two natures of wood and gold. This portrays the fact that we the believers, who are the components of the wall of the tabernacle, are the enlargement of Christ, His extension. Do you realize that you are part of the extension of Christ? As members of the Body, we are His reproduction, continuation, increase, duplication, and spread. We are also His enlargement and extension. Just as a person’s body is the extension and enlargement of his head, so we, the Body of Christ, are the enlargement, continuation, extension, and spread of Christ the Head. Therefore, all the boards in the tabernacle are the extension and enlargement of the ark.
The dimensions of the ark were two and a half cubits in length and one and a half cubits in width and height. The dimensions of the tabernacle were thirty cubits in length and ten cubits in both width and height. As we compare the tabernacle and the ark, we see that the tabernacle is truly the enlargement and extension of the ark. In the same principle, we, the believers, are the enlargement and extension of Christ. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He lived and traveled in a very restricted area. But today the corporate Christ covers the entire earth.
The tabernacle includes not only the individual Christ, but also Christ and the believers in a corporate way. On the one hand, the boards typify the believers; on the other hand, the boards are also related to Christ. The reason for this is that Christ has made us part of Himself. We are no longer in Adam; we are in Christ and have even become part of Christ. The corporate Christ is under the covering of the individual Christ. We do not have any part in the ark or in the four layers of the covering. However, although we are not the enlargement of the covering, we are the enlargement of the ark. The covering is mainly for redemption, but the ark is mainly for testimony. We do not have any part in Christ’s redemptive work. It would be blasphemy to say that we share in Christ’s work of redemption. But we can say that we have a part, a share, in Christ’s testimony, for we are joined to the witnessing Christ and have become His enlargement.
At this point let us return to the question we raised at the beginning of the message: In our Christian experience do we begin with the top of the tabernacle or with the bottom? The tabernacle typifies the church. Does the church come into existence from the top down, or from the bottom up? The Bible does not reveal a church that comes into being from the bottom up. On the contrary, according to the Bible, the church comes into existence from the top downward. This is indicated by the fact that the record in Exodus begins with the roof of the tabernacle, not with the boards. Therefore, the fact that the covering comes before the boards indicates that the redemption of Christ must come first. This reveals that our Christian experience begins with the top, with the roof, not with the bottom. If Christ had not become a man to die on the cross for our sins in order to accomplish redemption, fulfill God’s requirements, and withstand the attacks of the enemy, there would be no way for us to be God’s people. The gospel is actually Christ typified by the four-layered covering of the tabernacle. When we preach the gospel, we preach this four-layered Christ. When we heard the gospel and believed into Christ, our Christian life began from above, with the roof. Our natural life, on the contrary, began from the bottom, in fact, from the very lowest level. This is the reason the layers of the roof are revealed first. Before we were regenerated, the roof, the four-layered Christ, was already in existence. Therefore, our Christian experience begins not from the bottom, but with the roof. When we believed in the Lord and received Him, we immediately found ourselves under the roof, under the covering.
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