The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of Johnby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Chapter 1 of the Gospel of John reveals that Christ came as the tabernacle (v. 14), and that tabernacle was actually the incarnated God into whom the believers may enter. But what is the entrance, the way, into the tabernacle? The entrance is Christ as the offerings. Therefore, after the tabernacle in 1:14, we have the Lamb of God in 1:29. This Lamb signifies Christ as all the offerings. It is by these offerings that we may enter into the tabernacle. Therefore, in chapter 1 we have the tabernacle and the offerings as the way to enter into this tabernacle, the incarnated God.
In John 1 we see that God came in incarnation to be the tabernacle and also came as the offerings for us to enjoy. If we would enjoy Him and partake of Him as the offerings, we may enter into Him as the tabernacle.
In chapters 3 through 11 of John we have a number of cases as illustrations. The first case is that of Nicodemus. According to John 3, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, a ruler, a teacher, an elderly man, a gentleman, and a man seeking God, came to the One who is the tabernacle and the offerings. The One whom Nicodemus contacted that night was the incarnated God to be received by us so that we may enter into Him. Moreover, this One was also all the offerings. How could Nicodemus, a needy one, partake of this incarnated God? How could he enjoy God and enter into God? Who is able to answer this question? Was it answered by the ancient philosophers in Greece, Babylon, and Egypt? Certainly not. Neither was it answered by Confucius. But the Bible reveals the answer to this most difficult question. According to what is portrayed in John 3, Nicodemus needed the incarnated God to be his offerings. In order to understand this, we need the types of the tabernacle and the offerings in the Old Testament, and we also need the cases in the New Testament.
When Nicodemus referred to the Lord Jesus as a teacher sent from God, the Lord told him that he needed to be born again. Then He went on to help Nicodemus to be clear concerning this. Nicodemus asked, “How can these things be?” He seemed to be saying, “Now I understand what it means to be born again. But how can this be?” In answer to Nicodemus’s question, the Lord compared Himself to the bronze serpent lifted up on the pole: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” Here the Lord Jesus seemed to be telling him, “I have come to be a bronze serpent, and one day I will be lifted up on the cross. Nicodemus, this indicates that no matter how good, gentle, and qualified you may be, you must realize that you have a serpentine nature. Do not think that those who commit gross sins are serpentine and that you are not. Nicodemus, you have a serpentine nature. In your forefather and ancestor Adam, you were bitten by the old serpent. When Adam was bitten by the serpent, you also were bitten. Because you were born of Adam, you inherited his serpentine nature. Outwardly, you do not appear to be serpentine. Rather, you are a gentleman. But inwardly, according to your nature, you are serpentine. Therefore, it is necessary that I die for you. Just as the bronze serpent was lifted up by Moses, I need to be lifted up on the cross and judged by God for you. Nicodemus, you have been teaching the children of Israel for years. Have you never taught them the story about the serpents in Numbers 21? You need to realize, Nicodemus, that you are serpentine and that I must die for you as your Substitute. You have the serpentine poison, but I am merely a bronze serpent. I have the form of a serpent but not the poisonous nature of a serpent. Although I am sinless, God has made Me to be sin for you (2 Cor. 5:21). I do not know sin, but God sent Me in the likeness of the flesh of sin (Rom. 8:3), in the form of a bronze serpent.”
Christians today appreciate John 3:16 very much, but not many of them understand 3:14. However, 3:16 is the issue of 3:14; that is, the receiving of eternal life is the issue of the uplifting of the bronze serpent. The Lord was telling Nicodemus that if he realized that he was serpentine and believed in the Lord Jesus as the bronze serpent lifted up as his Substitute, he would have eternal life. This is to be regenerated, to receive another life, the divine life. When the divine life came into us, we received another life. To have this new life is what it means to be born again.
In chapters 1 and 3 of John we see the way to enjoy the incarnated God. Genesis 1 reveals that God is the Creator. But in John 1 and 3 God is not merely the Creator; He has become incarnated to be the tabernacle into which we may enter. Furthermore, this incarnated God is all the offerings. He became flesh in order to be the tabernacle and the offerings. If the Lord had not become flesh, how could He have been the Lamb with blood to shed for our redemption? Apart from His incarnation He would not have had the blood to shed for us. But because He became flesh, on the one hand, He became the tabernacle for us to enter and, on the other hand, He became the offerings that qualify us to enter into Him.
Today Christ still presents Himself to us as the tabernacle and the offerings. But how can we partake of Him? In order to partake of Him, we must realize that we have a serpentine nature. Sin is the poison of the serpent, the devil, Satan. Through Adam this sinful nature was put into us, and now we have the serpentine poison in our nature. In order to enjoy the incarnated God, we must realize that we are such serpentine beings. We must also realize that Christ was made sin for us and died on the cross as a bronze serpent so that the serpentine nature within us might be judged. If we realize that we are sinful people, serpentine beings, and confess this, immediately this dear, incarnated One will become our sin offering and enter into us. Then we will have Him as eternal life. This is the way for us to partake of the incarnated God for our enjoyment. It is when we admit that we are serpentine that we are qualified to experience eternal life and enjoy Him.
This is not a once-for-all matter. On the contrary, it should be a daily experience. John the Baptist preached repentance, and in the seven epistles to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord Jesus again and again tells us to repent. This indicates that throughout our entire Christian life we need to repent. Daily we need to say, “Lord, I am serpentine. But I thank You, Lord, that You became the bronze serpent lifted up to be judged in my place. Lord, I confess that I am sinful. Even though You did not know sin, You were made sin for me, and You died on the cross to condemn sin. Now, Lord, I take You as my sin offering.” Whenever we do this, He once again becomes our enjoyment.
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