© 2010 Jasper Life Publications
1st Edition in English – August 2010 1st Edition in Portuguese – August 1997 Translated from Portuguese with permission of Editora Árvore da Vida All rights reserved by Jasper Life Publications Inc.
Jasper Life Publications 725 Viscount Road London, Ontario, Canada N6J 4G9 Phone: (519) 472-6620 www.jasperlife.com firstname.lastname@example.org ISBN 978-0-9739285-4-9 All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version® is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000.
Preface ................................................................7 1 Keeping the Oneness of the Spirit ......................9 2 The Boards of the Tabernacle (1) .....................19 3 The Ministry of Reconciliation .........................33 4 Within the Veil ..................................................47 5 Ambassadors of Christ ......................................57 6 In the Holy of Holies ........................................67 7 Service to God ..................................................75 8 How to be an Overcomer ..................................83 9 The Incense Altar: The Center of the Tabernacle .....................93 10 From Glory to Glory .......................................105 11 The Revelation of the Tabernacle ...................113 12 The Outer Court of the Tabernacle .................121 13 The Boards of the Tabernacle (2) ...................129 14 Godâ€™s Economy in the Old and New Testaments .........................141 15 The Ministers of the New Covenant................155
16 Knowing God in Christ ..................................167 17 Treasure in Earthen Vessels ............................181 18 Vessels unto Honor .........................................189 19 The Three Steps of Reconciliation .................195
PREFACE During the forty years of their sojourn in the wilderness, the center of the children of Israel was the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, the tent of testimony. The tabernacle was a curious construction. It was a mixture of precious materials such as silver and gold together with ugly skins of marine animals. It was subdivided into parts, and into one of its parts, called the Holy of Holies, very few could enter. Furthermore, over it there was constantly a pillar of cloud or of fire. What was special about this great tent? Why did God give such detailed instructions regarding the measurements, quantities and materials to be used in its construction? Why could only some people enter into it, especially into its most hidden part? But the big question is, what is the relationship between the building of the tabernacle and the Christian faith, the faith of the New Testament? No doubt, the tabernacle is filled with spiritual significance. The author of the letter to the Hebrews as well as the author of Revelation realized this and mentioned it in their writings. But what are the spiritual principles that we see in the tent of meeting and how can we apply and practice them? Dong Yu Lan began to answer these questions and considerations in 1986 when he gave the first messages on The Vision of the Tabernacle. Throughout the year the author spoke about this matter in various cities in Brazil, yet he was not able to exhaust it. Consequently, in this last decade he has returned to the subject again
and again. This book is an attempt to compile all that the author has seen and shared concerning the tent of testimony. Surely there is much more to speak, but we are certain that thirsty Christians will find deep revelations concerning Christ, the church, and their own faith and calling in these pages. Read and put it into practice! Sao Paulo, September 1997 The Editors
Chapter One KEEPING THE ONENESS OF THE SPIRIT God’s Eternal Economy God’s eternal purpose is to have a people that belong exclusively to Him; a people who represent Him on this earth by exercising dominion in His name and executing judgment on His enemy Satan. The creation of man was for this purpose. God created man in His image and likeness and commanded him to multiply, with the goal of increasing the expression of God on the earth. He also commanded him to rule over the earth and the animals; thus man would rule in the name of God (Gen. 1:26-28). How would man be able to carry all of this out for God? He could only do it if he had God’s life. Therefore, the Creator caused the tree of life, representing God as life, to grow in the garden of Eden, and He expected man to eat of its fruit and thus receive the life of God. This would enable man to represent God and rule for Him. However, with the intention of frustrating this divine plan, Satan acted craftily and caused man to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which represents Satan as the source of death. When man ate of its fruit, sin, the sinful nature of Satan, entered into him and with it, death (Rom. 5:12). It appears that God’s plan was ruined, but God did not give up what He had planned in eternity past. After the human race fell again
The Vision of the Tabernacle
and again, lower and lower, culminating in the tower of Babel, God established a new beginning by calling Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans (Gen. 12). Abraham was the father of the called race. God promised him that his descendents would be as numerous as the dust of the earth and as the stars of heaven (13:16: 15:5). The dust of the earth refers to Abraham’s earthly descendents, to the children of Israel, and the stars refer to his heavenly descendents, the Christians, the church (Gal. 3:7).
The Children of Israel When God delivered the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity, He said to them, “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exo. 19:6). This shows that God had not changed His purpose of having a people on the earth who would reign in His name. However, the children of Israel also failed because they departed from God and no longer trusted in Him. They mingled with the Gentile peoples and worshipped idols. Moreover, in their history the nation of Israel committed the extremely grave sin of dividing into two kingdoms. God chose Jerusalem as the unique place of worship, the place where He would cause His name to dwell and where all the Israelites were to bring the best of their offerings. At the time of King Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, the nation was divided into two kingdoms: the kingdom of Judah, or the southern kingdom, under the leadership of Rehoboam, and the kingdom of Israel, or the northern kingdom, which was governed by Jeroboam. This was the result of God’s judgment on Solomon’s idol worship in order to keep it from spreading to the entire nation. However, Jeroboam, fearing that the tribes that had followed him would return to Rehoboam when they went up to Jerusalem, established two centers of worship, one in Dan and the other in Bethel, hindering the people from worshipping God in oneness (1 Kings 12). This extremely
Keeping the Oneness of the Spirit
serious sin was the beginning of the degradation of the kingdom of Israel, which from then on remained in division. In spite of the fact that Jerusalem was in Judah as the center of the oneness of God’s people, this kingdom also deviated from His law, even on several occasions seeking help from the Gentile peoples and persecuting the prophets of God. In order to discipline them, God allowed them to be carried away as captives to Babylon where they remained for seventy years. Even though they were delivered from Babylon and returned to Jerusalem, the Jews did not faithfully keep God’s law; rather they followed the traditions of men. It is in this context that the New Testament begins. In the New Testament we see that the Jews were under Roman rule, and the teachings of God’s law were fully mixed with human teachings and politics. Surely these people did not express God or represent Him among men. Then God, who did not give up on His plan, became a man—Jesus. Jesus came to His people, the Jews, but they did not receive Him (John 1:11). They did not recognize Him as the Messiah promised by God. Therefore, God was forced once again to have a new beginning and thus the church came forth.
The Church As the heavenly descendants of Abraham, the church is formed of all those who have received the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Savior and life. The church is also the expression of the kingdom of God on earth; the realm or environment where God can reign and exercise His dominion. After Adam’s fall, man was denied access to the tree of life (Gen. 3:24). However, when we are regenerated, born of the Spirit, we have the life of God that is in His Son (1 John 5:12) and are also part of Him. He is the vine and we, the Christians, are His branches (15:5). We can eat of Him as our spiritual food (6:50-51).
The Vision of the Tabernacle
The way we fulfill God’s eternal plan is by partaking of the life of God, which is in Jesus Christ. Paul calls this living way an economy. The Greek word oikonomia is translated in English as economy. It is formed of two words: oikos, which means house, and nomos, which means law or administration. Therefore, economy literally means house law or household administration. The root of the word nomos is from another word that implies the dispensation or distribution of food. This is a perfect explanation of God’s economy. In order to accomplish His goal of having a corporate expression on earth, God dispenses Himself into man; firstly when he is regenerated and then throughout his entire Christian life. God wants to continually dispense Himself into His people that they might have more of His divine life and nature (2 Pet. 1:4) and be conformed to the image of His Son, by His life growing in them (Rom. 8:29).
The Church: Shadows and Reality The Bible is divided into the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament we find shadows and figures of spiritual realities that are presented in the New Testament. It is difficult to make someone fully understand something we are describing; thus it is necessary and very helpful to show him a picture of what we are talking about. For example, if a person is describing the house where he lives, he will talk about the number of rooms, the measurements, the colors, etc. Even so, we will not know exactly what the house is like. However, if he shows us the plans and a photo of the house, we will know the house as if we had seen it ourselves. In the same way, the Old Testament presents clear figures of the New Testament realities, including God’s New Testament economy. Sometimes the truths in the New Testament are very deep and difficult to understand, but they become much easier to understand if we are able to describe a corresponding figure in the Old Testament.
Keeping the Oneness of the Spirit
In this book we will study the tabernacle. The tabernacle was the center of worship to God during the time of the sojourning of the children of Israel in wilderness and in the good land of Canaan until the temple was built. In the tabernacle we find several signs and figures of God’s economy that clearly indicate God’s desire to dispense Himself into His people. In addition to this, throughout this book we will see, in a detailed way, that the tabernacle typifies the church, the house, the dwelling place of God. The church is the issue of the Triune God dispensing Himself into man and is the realm where God’s economy can be realized. In reality, the church is God’s eternal goal. God’s eternal desire is to have a people to express Him by means of His life and who rule for Him to carry out His judgment on Satan. God will attain what He desires through the church. Hallelujah! God is worthy of all of our praise because He has regenerated us and brought us to His church. However, this is not enough. In the first place, the church must be in oneness.
The Oneness of the Spirit Before we study the tabernacle, it is crucial that we stress the importance of the oneness of the church. Oneness is the basic requirement for the building of the church. The Lord Jesus brought forth His church, His Body, that she might live in oneness. The Lord’s prayer in John 17 clearly shows that without oneness among God’s people, there is no testimony of God on the earth. Christians need to be in oneness in order for the preaching of the gospel to be prevailing. Then the people who receive the gospel will be one (vv. 20-23). Nevertheless, what do we see among Christians today? Every day we see more and more divisions. The Bible establishes a clear pattern for the practice of the oneness of God’s people, which is to have one church in one city. If we read the book of Acts, the Epistles
The Vision of the Tabernacle
of Paul and Revelation carefully, we will see that the first Christians met simply as the church in their city, such as the church in Jerusalem, the church in Ephesus, the church in Smyrna, the church in Philippi, etc. The church in Jerusalem was composed of thousands of Christians, yet there was only one church in Jerusalem. There was no church larger or smaller than a city. Rather, in every city there was only one church. This is God’s pattern in the Bible. It is important to remember that in the Bible, the name church is not given to the place where the Christians meet but is always the expression of the Body of Christ in a city. Today, thanks to God’s mercy, there are Christians who take this ground of oneness and testify concerning it in many cities all over the world. In view of the fact that we human beings are so different from each other and so filled with peculiarities, how is it possible to keep the oneness? Clearly, it is not possible to have oneness by man’s natural life because his very nature is “divisive.” Oneness is only possible by the Spirit. Ephesians 4:3 says, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We must do all we can to keep the oneness the Spirit has established; then our Christian testimony will have impact, and God will be able to have a proper expression among men. Satan, on the other hand, hates the oneness of God’s people because it is the most effective instrument God has to destroy him. Whenever Christians decide to stand on the ground of the oneness established by God, Satan attacks them, either through people or objections to this truth in the Bible. Satan’s goal is always to damage the building of God’s house. However, no one can destroy the church, the Body of Christ. God is committed to the building of His house; hence, He warns us through Paul, “If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him.” It is impossible to destroy the church in its universal aspect, which consists of all genuine Christians from all times and all places. Nevertheless, if someone
Keeping the Oneness of the Spirit
damages the expression of the church in a city, he will surely bring severe discipline on himself from God. We cannot accept any preaching or teaching that places doubt on the possibility of having the oneness of the church today, for such words originate from Satan. Many Christians say that the Christians will only be one in eternity, in the New Jerusalem. This is not true! If this were true, why did the Lord Jesus pray that we would be one? Why was He concerned for this before He died if this could only be realized in the New Jerusalem? Why was Paul so concerned about the oneness of the church if it were not important and if only eternity would resolve the matter? This shows how Christians have been deceived, not giving the oneness the importance that God gives it. If we love the Lord, we must give our life for the building of the church and for the oneness of His people.
In One Accord and Humble Watchman Nee1 once said that the way for the church to be blessed is the oneness and the way for the individual to receive blessing is humility. The Lord Jesus is the best example of humility. In Philippians 2:7-8 we read that He did not consider being equal with God a treasure to be grasped, but emptied Himself and became a man. For the sake of accomplishing redemption, He came to the earth, took the form of a slave and was humble in all of His living. Because of this, God blessed Him. As a negative example on the other hand, Satan became proud and wanted to be equal with God (Isa. 14:14). Before his rebellion, Satan had a high position in the universe. He was a covering, anointed cherub, and God had given him dominion over all the old creation (Ezek. 28:14). However, he became proud because of this position and was cast down to the ground (Ezek. 28:17). A very important lesson we need to learn is 1 A Chinese Christian, the author of several books, who dedicated his life to labor for the oneness of the church. He was imprisoned by the Chinese government because of his spiritual leadership and died after being in prison for twenty years.
The Vision of the Tabernacle
that pride is an extremely serious sin and unless we repent, it may cause us to become useless to God. When we become proud of our spiritual maturity or of the works we have done for God, we hinder Him from continuing to grow in us. For this reason we need to be humble. Truthfully, we need to allow Jesus, the only Man in the universe who was genuinely humble, to live out His humility in us. Humility brings in the Lord’s blessing, but pride always hinders us from receiving it.
Serving Together – Under the Same Yoke Our life with God is a life of serving Him. Preaching the gospel, speaking for God in the meetings, visiting new Christians and caring for the children should all be our service to God that comes from our inner life and not merely an outward activity. It is fundamental that we be in oneness in order to serve God properly. This is especially true in relation to Christian marriage. God has not given us a spouse merely for our pleasure or so that we can have a family, but, much more than this, to be our fellow-worker in God’s work. When many Christians read Ephesians 5, they realize that a wife should be submissive to her own husband and that the husband should love his wife. The purpose of Paul’s instruction is to keep married couples in oneness. The Bible says that when a man and a woman leave their parents and are joined together, they become one flesh. This implies not only the marriage union, but also the need for them to have the same life and the same goals. For this reason a Christian should not marry an unbeliever. If a believer does marry an unbeliever, as a couple they will not be bearing the same yoke, but an unequal yoke. Young Christians who want to marry should marry a wife or husband who also believes in the Lord and desires to live for Him. There are many problems when a couple does not have the
Keeping the Oneness of the Spirit
same goal. For example, the wife may love the Lord and serve in the church, but the unbelieving husband spends his weekends drinking and playing soccer with his friends; or the husband wants to meet with the saints, while the wife wants to go to the movies or to parties. How can they live together? How can the Christian spouse serve the Lord properly? The Bible says that the believer and the unbeliever should not be dissimilarly yoked (2 Cor. 6:14). What is a yoke? A yoke is a piece of wood placed over the necks of oxen or horses so that they may pull a plow together. When one of the oxen wants to go in one direction, the other has to go with it because they are yoked together. If they did not have a yoke, they would not go in the same direction. This shows us a spiritual principle for the married couples. When a married couple has the same life, the divine life they received at their regeneration, and the same living, there is mutual cooperation. If the husband likes to read the word, the wife reads it with him; if the wife wants to read, the husband accompanies her. These are simple, but very practical, examples of living under the same yoke with our spouse. Although this is good, it is still not enough. In addition to the married couples having the same yoke, they should also be fellowworkers. In spite of having the same interests, sometimes there is not always cooperation between them. For example, when the husband wants to travel to another city to take care of the Lord’s need, the wife may say, “Travel? Just when I need you to help me with so many things around the house? Please, don’t go!” If this is the case, the husband cannot serve the Lord properly. However, if there is spiritual cooperation between them, the wife will accompany her husband on the trip to serve the Lord with him. If she doesn’t go, she won’t stop her husband from going, but will rather encourage him, “I am your helper and I have the same burden as you do. Don’t worry about me; I will be all right with the children. We will be
The Vision of the Tabernacle
praying for you.” This is the normal life of a married couple. The Lord’s blessing comes when there is oneness in the church. If there is no oneness or harmony among the saints serving the Lord in a church in a city, there will be no proper vessel to receive the Lord’s blessing. Actually, we will have the feeling that we are losing the Lord’s blessing; that it is leaking out. We may endeavor to lead people to love the Lord and share in the meetings, but we will not have any blessing. However, when we are in one accord, the blessing of the Lord will be abundant, the number of saints will increase and the saints will also grow spiritually, even if we do not do anything special. Both the married couples and the saints who serve in the church need to be in oneness and cooperate together harmoniously. In this way God will have a way in us and we will be His fellow-workers to fulfill His eternal economy.