Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have seen that the breastplate was of the same workmanship and material as the ephod and that it was squared and doubled. The breastplate signifies that the church is of the same formation and constituent as Christ and that it is a perfect testimony held in Christ’s hand. Now we shall go on to consider the twelve stones on the breastplate.
Verse 21 says, “And the stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel, twelve, according to their names; like the engravings of a signet, each according to his name they shall be, for the twelve tribes.” The names of the twelve tribes of Israel engraved on the twelve stones signify all the redeemed people of God. These twelve stones do not signify God’s redeemed people in a separate or individualistic way, but in a corporate way. The stones are separate pieces, but they are not divided. On the contrary, they are incorporated, put together. Using a New Testament term, the stones have been built together. The twelve stones have been built together to become one entity, and the name of that entity is the breastplate.
The Lord bears us in a corporate way, even in an incorporated way. The Lord Jesus has built us together; He has incorporated us into one entity. The breastplate was one entity composed of twelve separate, individual stones. This indicates that the believers are distinct individuals, but they are not divided. We are separate pieces, but we are not separated, individualistic pieces. However, today’s Christians have been separated and divided. According to their understanding, the Lord bears each one individualistically. If this is the situation, then the Lord’s bearing of one believer does not have anything to do with His bearing of another believer. But the Lord does not bear us individualistically. On the contrary, He bears one entity, the church, which is His Body.
If we have received light from the Lord, we shall mourn over the situation among Christians today. We shall grieve over the divisions among God’s people.
To be sure, there were twelve tribes of the children of Israel. Each tribe was represented by a stone on the breastplate. But all these stones were built together into one entity. Therefore, the breastplate was actually a building of precious stones set in gold. The gold was the element which enabled the twelve stones to become one building.
The twelve stones on the breastplate were precious stones. These precious stones signify transformation of the human nature by and with the divine nature. How do we know that they signify transformation? We know it by the fact that they were precious stones. Precious stones are not something originally created by God. On the contrary, they are formed into precious stones by a process of transformation. Through this process clay or some other material is transformed into precious stones.
An illustration of the process of transformation can be found in the way wood is changed into petrified wood. Over a period of time, water saturates the wood, carrying away its natural element and replacing it with another kind of element. Eventually, the wood is transformed into stone.
Christian living involves a daily process of transformation. The Bible says that man was created from the dust of the ground: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). One day the heavenly flow with the divine mineral entered into our being. This divine mineral is the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), and the water is the divine life, the divine Spirit. Once this living water came into us, it began to wash away our natural life and to add more of the divine element into our being. This is transformation. Day by day we are living a life of transformation. We are all undergoing God’s transforming work.
In the Lord’s recovery we have paid a great deal of attention to the matter of transformation. However, not much has been written by others on the importance of transformation. Nevertheless, it is a fact that all believers eventually will be transformed. If the process of transformation cannot be completed in this age, God will have a way to complete it in the next age. In the New Jerusalem all the believers will be transformed precious stones. Babel was built with bricks, but there will be no bricks in the New Jerusalem. This city will be built with transformed material; that is, it will be constituted of God’s redeemed, transformed people. What Christians, then, will share in the millennium? It will be those who have been transformed during their lifetime. But in eternity in the New Jerusalem all the people of God will be there as transformed ones. The Christian life is a life of transformation. Daily God is seeking to transform us.
This transformation is a transformation of the human nature by and with the divine nature. This means that a better material is being wrought into us. As a result, although we were made of dust, we are being transformed into something precious and transparent. This comes from being saturated with better materials, with heavenly materials.
I can testify that I still need more transformation. I know that I am certainly not perfect and that the process of transformation has not yet been completed. However, I can testify that I am very different from what I was many years ago. When I was a young Christian, I was a man of clay. But over the years I have experienced much of the Spirit’s transformation. Therefore, I can testify truly that I am more transformed today than I was years ago. Many believers can give such a testimony, for we all are living a life of transformation.
The twelve stones were set in golden mountings (vv. 17, 20). This signifies that the believers are kept in Christ’s divine nature.
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