Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
As we have pointed out, in the ark in the Holy of Holies there were three crucial items: the hidden manna, the budding rod, and the tables of the law (9:4). In the past five messages we have somewhat covered the hidden manna and the budding rod. In this message we come to the tables of the law.
In the Bible it is difficult to find the term the tables of the law. The Old Testament frequently speaks of the tables of the testimony (Exo. 31:18), and the New Testament mentions the tables of the covenant (Heb. 9:4). Why was the law called the tables of the testimony and the tables of the covenant? It is quite easy to understand why the law was called the tables of the covenant because in the Old Testament the law was the old covenant. It is difficult, however, to understand why the law was called the tables of the testimony. When God commanded Moses to build the ark (Exo. 25:10), He said, “Thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee” (Exo. 25:16). The testimony in this verse undoubtedly denotes the law. God did not say to put the law in the ark; He said to put the testimony into it. Because the testimony was placed in the ark, the ark was called the ark of the testimony (Exo. 25:22). Furthermore, the tabernacle was called the tabernacle of the testimony (Num. 17:8, Heb.). Hence, we have the testimony, the ark of the testimony, and the tabernacle of the testimony. When the manna and the budding rod were placed before the law, they were put in front of the testimony (Exo. 16:34; Num. 17:10). Whatever was placed in front of the testimony was before God (Exo. 16:33-34), for the testimony could not be separated from Him. When something was before the testimony, it was before God, and when it was before God, it was before the testimony. What is this testimony? We have seen that the ark is called the ark of the testimony and that the tabernacle is called the tabernacle of the testimony. The law was called the testimony because it testified of God. For this reason, it was God’s testimony.
In Genesis 1:26 we are told that God created man in His own image. God’s intention is to have an expression through man. This expression is His testimony. Therefore, the testimony of God is the expression of God. It is God expressed. God’s intention has been, still is, and for eternity will be the same—to work Himself into man that He may be expressed and have a testimony. But before God accomplished this, man fell. In his fallen nature, man tried to do good in order to please God. Because of this, God gave man the law. God gave man the law because man did not know that, as a fallen being, he could neither satisfy God nor express Him. After the law was given, however, God immediately changed the term, calling it the testimony. What God gave man was the law, but it was not mainly called the law but the testimony. In Psalm 119 the word testimony is used many times to denote the law (vv. 2, 88, 168). Every time this word is used in Psalm 119 it refers to the law.
According to man’s concept, the law means the ten commandments. But God’s intention was not that the law should be some commandments, but that it should be His testimony. When I was in Christianity, I never heard the term testimony used with respect to the law. I only heard about the ten commandments. In Christianity, when many young people are examined for membership in the so-called churches, they must recite the ten commandments. Although you may be able to recite the commandments, perhaps you have never heard that the testimony in Psalm 119 is the law. In fact, in the book of the Psalms the word testimony refers to the law. I say once again that in God’s intention and according to His concept, the law is His testimony. But in the human concept, the law is the ten commandments. If you are trying to keep God’s law, it will certainly be the ten commandments to you. But if you know what life is, and if, instead of trying to keep the law, you walk with God, you will realize that the law is God’s testimony, God’s expression.
Every law has two aspects, the aspect of the law-keeper and the aspect of the law-maker. Laws are for people to keep. As we have mentioned several times in the past, the kind of law you make reveals the kind of person you are. If bank robbers could make laws, they would legalize bank robbing. Some legislators want to legalize such an evil thing as prostitution. This reveals that they themselves are evil. Evil lawmakers will enact evil laws. That the laws we make express the kind of people we are is true not only in a nation but also in a family. If the parents in a family get up very late every day and do not clean the house, they will make family laws which allow their children to get up late and to be messy. But if the parents are strict, clean, neat, and diligent, they will have a different family law. They will require their children to arise early in the morning, to wash themselves, and then to clean their rooms. If I visit this kind of home and see this type of regulation, I shall immediately know that the parents there must be diligent and clean. But if I go into a home where everything is a mess and where the children are allowed to sleep until late in the morning, I shall also realize what kind of people the parents in that home are. Since the laws we make testify to what we are, our law becomes our testimony. On the side of the law-maker, the law is a testimony; on the side of the law-keeper, the law is a commandment or regulation. God’s law also has these two aspects. To us who attempt to keep the law, it is the ten commandments, but to God, it is His testimony.
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