Christ as the Content of the Church and the Church as the Expression of Christby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this chapter we want to see more concerning Christ as the content of the church and the church as the expression of Christ as typified by the tabernacle. We do not want to have the mere doctrine of typology. We want the real, practical application of the types confirmed by our experiences.
The bars that united the boards of the tabernacle (Exo. 26:26-28, 29b) signify the uniting Spirit (Eph. 4:3). In the uniting Spirit, there are both the human nature and the divine nature. Andrew Murray points this out in chapter 5 of his book The Spirit of Christ. This chapter is titled “The Spirit of the Glorified Jesus.” The Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9), the Spirit of the glorified Jesus, is different from the Spirit of Jehovah who fell upon people in the Old Testament (Judg. 3:10; 6:34; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14). In the Old Testament the Spirit possessed merely the divine nature. But since the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus, the Spirit possesses both the divine nature and the human nature. The uniting bars of the tabernacle were made of wood, signifying humanity, overlaid with gold, signifying divinity.
Also, there were three rows of bars uniting the boards. The number three signifies the Triune God. These three rows of bars were in five pieces. The middle bar was of one piece, and the top and bottom bars were each of two pieces. Thus, on the north, south, and west sides of the tabernacle there were five pieces. These three groups of five again point to the Triune God.
Now we need to consider what the number five signifies. Our hand has five fingers, that is, four fingers plus one thumb. The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups of five. The ten virgins in Matthew 25 are also divided into two groups of five. With the tabernacle, the number five occurs frequently. The tabernacle was made with ten curtains of fine linen. According to Exodus 26:3, five curtains were joined to one another, and the other five curtains were also joined to one another. Furthermore, the curtains in the outer court were squares, each measuring five cubits by five cubits (27:9-12, 18). Also, the altar of burnt offering was five cubits in length and width, and three cubits in height (27:1). The number five is composed of four plus one. The number four signifies the creature, and the number one signifies the Creator. This means that five is the number for responsibility formed by the Creator added to the creature.
Thus, we can see that the uniting Spirit is of the Triune God with the human nature overlaid with the divine nature. This means that the Creator is added to man, the creature, enabling man to take the responsibility to fulfill all the requirements of God.
Among all the utensils and furniture of the tabernacle, there are only two pieces without wooden material. The laver was made solely of bronze (30:18), and the lampstand was made purely of gold (25:31-40). This is because the laver signifies the working of the Holy Spirit, and the lampstand signifies the working of Christ as light. This shows us that Christ as the Spirit is working within us.
The lampstand was all of gold, signifying the divine nature, but it still had something in it related to human beings. The lampstand consisted of a base, a stalk, and three pairs of branches. On each branch there were three cups shaped like almond blossoms, with calyxes and blossom buds. The number three also signifies resurrection since Christ was resurrected on the third day. The central stalk of the lampstand had four blossoms, whereas each branch had three blossoms. The number four signifies the creatures. The Bible speaks of the four living creatures (Rev. 4:6; Ezek. 1:5). Thus, even with the lampstand, which was entirely of gold, signifying that Christ as the light of life to us is absolutely divine, there was something showing that Christ as light is related to human beings, the creatures.
No one can exhaust the typological significances of the tabernacle. When we speak concerning the tabernacle, we have to stress that Christ is the content of the church, and the church is the expression of Christ.
The tabernacle consisted of three parts: the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. In the outer court Christ is seen as righteousness for us to enjoy. We have to put on Christ as our righteousness. In the Holy Place Christ is seen as holiness, and in the Holy of Holies there is Christ as the glory. The content of the Holy Place is holiness, and the content of the Holy of Holies is glory. Righteousness, holiness, and glory are Christ in different aspects. This shows us that Christ is the content of the church life in three aspects to be manifested in the church life. Ultimately, He is the effulgence of God’s glory (Heb. 1:3) to be expressed in and through the church. The church as the reality of the tabernacle is built to show forth, manifest, and express Christ as righteousness, holiness, and glory. If we have a vision of this, our church life will be revolutionized.
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