Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall begin to consider a section containing five chapters, chapters thirty-five through thirty-nine. In these chapters we have a record of the making of the tabernacle with its furniture and the holy garments for the priests. Since we have covered most of the details related to these matters in previous messages, we do not need to consider all these details again. Rather, in this message and in the message following we shall consider certain basic matters found in these chapters.
Exodus 35: 1-3 says, “And Moses gathered all the congregation of the sons of Israel together and said to them, These are the words which Jehovah has commanded to do. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy sabbath of rest to Jehovah; whoever does work on it shall be put to death. You shall not kindle a fire in all your dwellings on the sabbath day.” At the beginning of this section we have a word concerning the Sabbath. It seems that this has nothing to do with the making of the tabernacle with its furniture and the garments for the priests. Why does this section begin with a serious word about the Sabbath? According to 35:2, working on the Sabbath was a crime punishable by death. The failure to rest with the Lord on the Sabbath was a capital offense. According to verse 3, not even cooking was allowed on the Sabbath.
Apparently these three verses, 35:1-3, have nothing to do with the making of the tabernacle with its furniture and the priestly garments. Actually there is an important connection here, but we need adequate spiritual experience in order to understand this point in the Word.
As a help to understanding why a command about keeping the Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of chapter thirty-five, let us review some points from the messages on chapter thirty-four. There we covered three main matters: the feasting and resting with the Lord, the five conditions for enjoying the Lord, and God’s infusion of Himself into Moses.
We have seen that the first of the five conditions was the redeeming of a donkey with a lamb and that the last was the requirement not to boil a kid in its mother’s milk. When I read this portion as a young Christian, I was not able to understand why such matters were included in the Bible. God had called Moses to the mountain for the purpose of recovering the broken covenant. If God wanted to review with Moses the details of the law, why did He not speak about honoring parents or the commandment related to murder? Why did He instead speak about redeeming a donkey and about not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk? It seemed to me that such matters were not important.
By means of human reasoning we cannot understand why these five conditions were given or what they mean. But these conditions were very important requirements related to the enjoyment of the feasts by God’s people. If the children of Israel did not fulfill these conditions, they would lose the enjoyment of the feasts. These conditions are also meaningful for us today in their spiritual interpretation according to our experience.
To redeem a donkey with a lamb indicates that we as fallen ones who are unclean, are redeemed by Christ. Do you intend to enjoy feasting and resting with the Lord? If you do, you need to remember that according to your old man, your natural man, your flesh, and according to the fact that you are a descendant of Adam, you are a “donkey.” No matter who you may be, in the sight of God your natural man is a donkey. If you intend to enjoy Christ as your feast and your rest, you need to realize this. We have seen that in John 3:14 the Lord Jesus indicated to Nicodemus that he was a serpent. In Exodus 34 we see that, according to the natural life, all those who would enjoy Christ are donkeys needing to be redeemed. Leviticus 11 says that a donkey is an unclean animal. Furthermore, a donkey is a beast of burden. In our natural man and according to our natural life, we can be compared to beasts under a heavy burden. We are unclean, and we are heavily burdened. The best way for a donkey to be free from its burden is to die. In a similar manner the way for us, unclean beasts of burden, to enjoy Christ and rest with Him is for us to be replaced by Christ.
The second condition mentioned in Exodus 34 is not to mix leaven with the redeeming blood. Verse 25 says, “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread.” Immediately after having our natural person replaced with Christ, we must clear away all leaven. Do you want to enjoy the blood of Christ? If this is your desire, do not mix the redeeming blood with the leaven of your sinful life.
First our natural man needs to be replaced by Christ. In Paul’s words, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”(Gal 2:20). This means that the “donkey” has been crucified and the Christ who replaces us now lives in us. Now we must go on to clear away all the leaven. We need the redeeming blood, but we cannot offer this blood along with our sinful life. Such a thing is strictly prohibited.
Exodus 34:25b says, “Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover remain until the morning.” Here we have the third condition for enjoying Christ. After we have been replaced by Christ and have cleared away all leaven, we need to exhaust today’s portion of Christ. This means that we must enjoy Christ to the uttermost today, not leaving anything of today’s portion for the future. However, many Christians do not have an appetite to enjoy Christ fully today. They can be compared to naughty children who do not eat all their food at dinnertime. These believers have a portion of Christ, but they do not enjoy it. The requirement that the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover not remain until the morning means that we need to exhaust the portion of Christ we have for our enjoyment today. We should not postpone the enjoyment of Christ until tomorrow or until the next age. Instead, we must fully enjoy the portion of Christ that has been given to us today.
The fourth requirement for feasting with Christ and enjoying Him is found in 34:26a: “You shall bring the first of the firstfruits of your ground to the house of Jehovah your God.” As we are enjoying today’s portion of Christ, we need to bring the firstfruit, the top portion, to the meeting to offer to God for His satisfaction. We need to bring the topmost experience of Christ to the house of God, to the church meetings, and there offer this portion to God.
Exodus 34:26b gives us the fifth condition: “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” A mother is for producing life, and milk is for the nourishment of life. We should not produce young ones and then turn around and kill them. After producing them, we need to nourish them. This means that when we are enjoying Christ, we should not cause anything of death to enter into the realm, the sphere, of the nourishing life.
Recently in a meeting some of the saints were declaring, “Eating Jesus is the way!” While they were declaring this, I was saying to myself, “You say that eating Jesus is the way. But have you eaten Him?” Yes, eating Jesus is the way. But we need to consider how much of the Lord we ourselves have eaten. For some of us, the proclamation that eating Jesus is the way may simply be a slogan. If we would enjoy Christ, we need to fulfill the five conditions. We need to be replaced by Christ, we need to clear away all leaven, we need to exhaust our present portion of Christ, we need to bring the topmost experience of Christ to the church meeting and offer it to God, and we need to keep death away from the sphere of nourishing life.
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