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 come to the second item of the furniture of the tabernacle—the table of the bread of the Presence.
The sequence in which the furniture of the tabernacle is unveiled is very meaningful. The first item to be revealed is not the tabernacle itself, but the ark of the testimony. Without the ark there is no way to have the tabernacle. This indicates that if we do not have Christ as the embodiment of God, we cannot have the enlargement of Christ, which is the church, His Body. Thus, it is significant that in the record in Exodus God speaks about the ark of the testimony before He reveals the details regarding the tabernacle.
In the outer court there were the brass altar and the laver; in the Holy Place, the table of the bread of the Presence, the lampstand, and the incense altar; and in the Holy of Holies, the ark of the testimony. Although God’s revelation begins with the ark, this is not where we begin in our experience. Rather, in experience we start with the altar in the outer court. After experiencing the altar with the laver, we then may enter the tabernacle and come to the table, the lampstand, and the golden altar in the Holy Place. Only then are we able to enter into the Holy of Holies and stand before the ark to meet with God based upon the redeeming blood sprinkled on the propitiatory cover. Then we can talk with God, have fellowship with Him, and receive His instructions. Therefore, the sequence of the furniture in experience—from the brass altar to the ark—is different from the sequence according to revelation.
According to God’s revelation, the first aspect of the tabernacle revealed to Moses was the ark of the testimony, a type of Christ as the embodiment of God. Because Christ is the embodiment of God, He is God’s testimony. Not only does Christ speak for God—He speaks God. He is God Himself expressed. Christ as the embodiment of God is typified by the testimony within the ark, and Christ as the expression of God is typified by the golden rim, or crown, upon the ark. First, God is embodied in Christ, and then He is expressed from within Him. This is not the hidden God, God in a mystery, but the expressed God, God in revelation. Christ Himself is God in revelation; He is the very God revealed.
In Christ God is embodied and expressed. When this Christ is enlarged, we have the church. The church as the Body of Christ to be His enlargement is typified by the tabernacle as the enlargement of the ark.
According to the sequence of God’s revelation, after the ark of the testimony we have the table of the bread of the Presence. This implies that the table is connected to the ark. The ark is for God’s testimony, and the table is for our nourishment. Not only is it necessary for God to have a testimony, but it is also necessary for us to receive nourishment. Without nourishment we would be hungry and eventually die. Praise the Lord that we have the ark for God’s testimony and the table for our nourishment!
We need to consider the relationship between the ark and the table from the standpoint of our experience. We know from experience that when we meet with God upon Christ as the propitiatory cover, enjoying fellowship with God and hearing words from His mouth, the ark becomes a table where we enjoy a nourishing feast. Has there ever been a time when you have met with God in the Holy of Holies on Christ as the propitiatory cover, conversed with Him, and received a word from Him, and yet there was no table set up for your nourishment? Experientially speaking, it is not even necessary to say that a table has been set up, for the ark spontaneously becomes the table. This means that Christ, God’s testimony, becomes our nourishment. As the embodiment of God, Christ becomes a table full of life supply to nourish us. This is not a mere doctrine.
Those who lack experience will have no way to understand what we are talking about. Because they are strangers to the culture related to spiritual things, they cannot understand this language about the ark of testimony becoming in our experience the table of the bread of the Presence. Nevertheless, it is a fact of spiritual experience that when we have the propitiatory cover of the ark, Christ as our place of propitiation, eventually the ark becomes a table. All of this is the experience of the one Christ, the very Christ who is the embodiment and expression of God as His testimony who becomes both the table and also the food upon which we may feast for our nourishment.
In particular, the table of the bread of the Presence signifies Christ as the feast for God’s priests. Exodus 25:23-29 does not say anything about priests. However, the priests were the only ones qualified to be in the Holy Place. Those who were not priests were forbidden to enter the tabernacle. It is significant that this table was not set up in the outer court, but set up in the tabernacle. All those who ate of the bread displayed on this table were priests. For this reason, the table signifies that Christ is a feast for God’s priests.
Every believer in Christ is a priest. This is a spiritual fact. But because of the degraded situation today, many Christians do not live as priests. The reason they are not living as priests is that they are not in the tabernacle. Many are lingering in the outer court, and others are still in the world. What percentage of today’s Christians would you say are living as priests in the Holy Place? We must admit that the percentage is extremely small.
As we consider the picture of the tabernacle and the outer court, we can see the real situation among Christians today. When we speak concerning the table in the Holy Place, we are not speaking of Christians in the outer court or those who have not yet come into the outer court. Rather, we are speaking of those who have entered the tabernacle and who are there serving God as His priests. Christ as the feasting table is for this category of Christians.
The experience of feasting on the bread of the Presence is different from the experience of eating manna. The bread of the Presence was in the Holy Place, whereas the manna was gathered outside the court of the tabernacle. When some Christians hear that the table signifies Christ as the feast for God’s priests, they may argue that they daily enjoy the Lord as their manna. It is true that many believers do enjoy manna. This enjoyment, however, is in the wilderness, not even in the outer court. In this message we are not speaking of manna—we are speaking of the table of the bread of the Presence. It is very important that we see this distinction.
Another difference between the bread of the Presence on the table in the Holy Place and the manna in the wilderness is that manna typifies Christ as the daily life supply, but the table signifies Christ as our weekly supply. According to Leviticus 24:5-9, fresh loaves were placed on the table once a week. Hence, the table signifies a weekly supply. The daily supply of the manna enables us to live; the weekly supply from the table enables us not only to live, but also to serve the Lord. It supplies us that we may have a serving life. With manna we have the life supply for our living; with the table we have the supply of life for our serving. Thus, we have both a daily supply for living and a weekly supply for serving. Those Christians who are feeding only on manna need to realize that this is different from enjoying Christ as the weekly supply to serve God as priests in His tabernacle. Christ is not only the manna for God’s people in a general way; He is also in particular a table for God’s priests.
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