Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
As we pointed out in the last message, few Christians have paid attention to the budding rod in Hebrews 9:4. The reason for this is that the budding rod is a matter of experience. Although we may understand the types of the tabernacle, we cannot know the true significance of the tabernacle until we have had the necessary experiences. As far as the experience of the tabernacle is concerned, the writings and messages of the various Christian teachers mainly speak of the altar. But once we go on from the altar to the Holy Place, we find that not many have touched the real experiences there. Thus, throughout the years, the three items in the ark in the Holy of Holies have remained a mystery. Few have even talked about them. Have you ever heard a message on the hidden manna, the budding rod, and the two tables of the law contained in the ark? This shortage is altogether due to the lack of experience.
The budding rod is related to the building up of God’s people. If we only had Hebrews 9:4, we could not see this. But if we consider the first mention of the budding rod in the Old Testament, we shall see that it is fully related to the building up of God’s people. In the previous message we pointed out that for the fulfillment of His purpose God had to have a people as a corporate unit. In the Old Testament, this people was the children of Israel. They were at least a few million in number and had to be built up as one. According to the record of the history of Israel, they were treated as one unit. The Bible does not say that they were saved individually. No, they were all saved corporately. They held the Passover all together as a corporate people and they all crossed the Red Sea as one unit. Moses did not cross the Red Sea alone, with Aaron following him a few days later. Even as they were wandering in the wilderness, they were a corporate people, not a group of individuals with everyone taking his own way. Moreover, among them was the tabernacle, God’s unique dwelling place. There was not one tabernacle of God in Moses’ backyard and another one in Aaron’s yard. There was just one tabernacle which, as God’s unique dwelling place, was the center for the building up of God’s people. As we have seen, in order for so many to be built up together, there was the need of the leadership. The budding rod is related to this leadership and is for the building up of God’s people.
Korah, who belonged to the tribe of Levi, the same tribe to which Moses and Aaron belonged, considered himself to be equal to Moses and Aaron. Korah might have said, “Moses and Aaron, you are children of Levi. I am, too. I am the same as you are.” Along with Korah, there were Dathan and Abiram, descendants of Reuben, the first son of Jacob. Dathan and Abiram probably thought that because their tribe was the first, they also should be among the leaders. These three men stirred up a great rebellion. According to Numbers 16:2, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram “rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown.” As Numbers 16 indicates, nearly the whole congregation of Israel rebelled against Moses and Aaron. Undoubtedly, that rebellion was the work of the enemy to destroy the building among God’s people. It surely hindered the children of Israel from going on to reach God’s goal. I mention this to show that the budding rod is related to the building up of God’s people.
When many Christians read Hebrews 9, they pay no attention to the budding rod because among them there is not the building up of God’s people. I would like to address a question to those who have been Christians for many years: have you ever heard a message telling you that what God needs today is the building up of His people? There is no such thing in today’s Christianity. Because most Christians do not pay attention to this matter of the building, they are not interested in the budding rod. Many today talk about spirituality, gifts, behavior, and speaking in tongues, but who is concerned about the building up of God’s people? Without the building up of His people, there is no way for God to fulfill His purpose. God wants a people that is built up as a unique unit. As the Head, Christ needs the Body, not many separate members. And God needs a house, not a pile of stones. This is what God is after today. If we are not for this, we have neither the standing nor the qualifications to understand the significance of the budding rod. If you have no interest in God’s eternal purpose but are still for the world, everything in this message will merely be vain talk as far as you are concerned.
May the Lord be merciful to us that we may see that what He is seeking today is the building. It is not a question of how spiritual we are, nor how good we are, nor how gifted we are; it is a question of whether or not we have been truly built up with God’s people. Today there is too much religion, too much of the human concept, and too little divine revelation. If we would understand the significance of the budding rod, we must have a heavenly, divine vision that God’s need today is for the building up of His people. What matters to God is not how many people He has, but whether or not they have been built up. If we are here for God’s eternal purpose, then we must see that God’s need is for the building.
Consider the tabernacle. There is no building at the altar. What we see at the altar is the sacrifice for redemption. Although this is wonderful, it is not God’s goal. It is the beginning, not the end. As we have seen already, the experience of the tabernacle starts with the altar and consummates with the ark. Within the ark there are three items—the hidden manna, the budding rod, and the tables of the law. At the altar we see nothing regarding the building. Neither do we have the building at the laver. The washing of the life-giving Spirit at the laver is for the building, but it is not the building itself.
From the laver we proceed to the showbread table, where there is much food for us to eat. But eating should not simply be for eating; it also must be for the building. The term hidden manna is used only once in the New Testament. It is found in Revelation 2:17 which says, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone.” This verse indicates that eating the hidden manna transforms us into a white stone. Eating the hidden manna transforms us into an acceptable stone, and this transformation is for God’s building. Eventually, as Revelation 3:12 indicates, the eating ones are built into God’s temple. By this we see that eating is for the building. At the showbread table, however, we still do not see the building. Hence, we must not stop here but continue on to our destination.
From the showbread table we go to the lampstand and from there to the incense altar. At neither of these two stations do we see the building. Then we enter into the Holy of Holies, touch the ark, and find within it the budding rod. Why was the budding rod not found at the altar? If it were at the altar, you could never have any experience of the ark. If you enter into the Holy of Holies and experience the ark, you will discover that in the ark is a basic item—the budding rod. Following this, we must learn the significance of the budding rod—that it is related to God’s building. If you are seeking the Lord, you must realize that God’s goal is to bring you to the budding rod within the ark in the Holy of Holies.
As we have seen, the budding rod signifies that Christ, the resurrected One, should be our life, our living, and the resurrection life within us, and that this life should bud, blossom, and bear almonds. Is the Christ within you budding? Do not say yes doctrinally, but answer according to your experience. Is your Christ budding, blossoming, and bearing almonds, the fruit of resurrection?
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