Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The book of Exodus may be divided into two sections: chapters one through twenty-four as the first section and chapters twenty-five through forty as the second. The second section, composed of sixteen chapters, is primarily a record of visions concerning the tabernacle. These chapters contain very little history. Here we see the details concerning the design, materials, and construction of the tabernacle as God’s dwelling place on earth.
Many Christians have read through the book of Exodus without being deeply impressed with the fact that the goal of God’s salvation is to bring His redeemed people into His dwelling place on earth. God’s aim in His salvation is to make us His dwelling place. This crucial matter must be emphasized repeatedly until it makes a deep impression on us. Therefore, we need many messages covering the details of the wonderful, heavenly visions described in chapters twenty-five through forty of Exodus.
During the last century and a half, Bible teachers among the Brethren have written a number of books about the tabernacle and its furniture, including the ark, the incense altar, the showbread table, the lampstand, the laver, and the brass altar. However, when I was with the Brethren I was never told that today’s church is God’s tabernacle.
In the Bible the word tabernacle is used in three ways. First, it refers to the tabernacle built at the foot of Mount Sinai. Second, it denotes the Lord Jesus as God’s tabernacle with man. John 1:14 says that the Word, which is God, “became flesh and tabernacled among us.” Through incarnation, Christ became God’s tabernacle on earth. Hence, the tabernacle in Exodus is a type of Christ as the tabernacle of God. Third, the tabernacle refers to the New Jerusalem, the ultimate, consummate, enlarged tabernacle of God which includes God’s redeemed people from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The goal of God’s salvation revealed in the book of Exodus is to bring His people into the tabernacle as His dwelling place.
In this message we shall consider 24:1-2, 9-18. When we come to this portion of Exodus, we are at the threshold of the heavenly visions contained in the following chapters. Unless we come to this threshold we shall not be able to see the heavenly visions.
In order to arrive at the threshold in Exodus 24, it was necessary for God’s people to experience all the events recorded in the previous chapters. The people were slaves in Egypt under Pharaoh’s tyranny, but God prepared Moses and then sent him as an apostle to rescue the people. In chapter twelve we have the Passover; in chapter fourteen, the crossing of the Red Sea; in chapter fifteen, the waters at Marah and the twelve springs and seventy palm trees at Elim; in chapter sixteen, the heavenly manna; in chapter seventeen, the living water from the cleft rock and the warfare with Amalek; and in chapters nineteen through twenty-three, the decree of the law and of the ordinances at Mount Sinai. God’s people had to pass through all these experiences before they could stand at the threshold in chapter twenty-four.
In chapter nineteen the people were brought into fellowship with God at Mount Sinai. However, at first this fellowship was rather obscure, for it took place in the darkness of a thick cloud. Exodus 19:9 says, “Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud,” and 20:21 says, “Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.”
Although the people were brought into fellowship with God at Mount Sinai, they did not know what kind of God He was, and they did not realize that they were a fallen, sinful, and corrupted people. They did not have the revelation either of God or of themselves. Instead, they had a natural concept of God and also of themselves. But as a result of their stay at Mount Sinai, eventually through their fellowship with God they were enlightened.
We have pointed out that when the law of God was enacted, Moses built an altar, and sacrifices were offered with the shedding of blood. This blood, the blood of the covenant, was then used to sprinkle the people. The altar, the sacrifices, and the blood indicate that God regarded His chosen people as having been redeemed, terminated, and replaced. Then, as indicated by the twelve pillars set up by Moses, they could become pillars standing before God to reflect Him as His living testimony.
I do not believe that God’s people had this realization concerning themselves. They did not know the significance of the altar, the sacrifices, the pillars, and the blood. Today when either Jews or Christians read Exodus 24, they are veiled and do not understand the significance of these things. But God had a full understanding of what was taking place. He knew what He had planned and what He was doing through the enactment of the covenant. He realized that He had gained a people who were redeemed, terminated, and replaced to become His living testimony.
In 1 Corinthians 10:5 Paul indicates that the condition of God’s people in the wilderness was actually very poor: “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for they were strewn along in the wilderness.” Nevertheless, when Balak hired the Gentile prophet Balaam to curse the children of Israel, Balaam declared, “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel” (Num. 23:21). Balaam also said, “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!” (Num. 24:5). Balaam had been hired to curse God’s people, but he blessed them instead. By this we can see that, in the sight of God, His redeemed people were without fault. This should teach us to not speak negatively of the saints. Such negative speaking may be offensive to the Lord. It may seem to us that the condition of the believers in a certain locality is not good, but God regards them as those who have been redeemed, terminated, and replaced. In the eyes of God, all His redeemed people have been terminated by the cross and replaced by Christ and with Christ. In Exodus 24 we have such a redeemed, terminated, and replaced people.
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