Have we heard God speak on how to read the Bible?
"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:" Isaiah 28:10
One would probably wonder why in spite of the "multitudes that followed" our Lord to listen to His sermons, He did not bother to construct chapels, churches, and cathedrals. One may argue that with His three years ministry, He did not have much time for that activity. But, what about His apostles who had the time? They did not consider constructing physical structures when they also had a large following!
The answer to this question is, our Lord simply followed His word. His word is "spirit" or spiritual. His apostles believed and followed the example.
THE SPIRITUAL TEMPLE AND THE CHURCH
The church or the temple is not a physical structure according to the Bible in the New Testament. It is a human being who is the faithful follower of the teachings of Christ:
1 CORINTHIANS 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God , and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
The 1st Century Christianity emphasized the spiritual over the physical-material -- the things unseen over the things that are seen:
ACTS 7:47 -49 "But Solomon built him an house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet. Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?" (Also Acts 17:24 )
Wherefore, the spiritual temple is the faithful follower that was "built beautifully" by Jesus Christ and continued by His apostles. "Spiritual churches," therefore, were the groups of real believers like the Christians or the church of Rome, the church of Corinth , the church of Galatia , the church of Ephesus, and the Christians or the church of Colosse , etc. A careful thought of this will bring us to the command of God in Genesis 1:22: "Be fruitful and multiply." This was taken spiritually by Jesus Christ and His apostles. Fruitfulness refers to the individual believers’ spiritual fruit(s) coming from the Spirit:
GALATIANS 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
and "increase or multiply" was what Christ and His apostles actually did -- the enlargement of the spiritual church or the different Christian groups that composed the "household of God."
EPHESIANS 2:19-20 "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"
Jesus Christ and Paul could have been guilty of the command of God in Genesis 1:22 "Be fruitful and multiply" if they had not believed and followed that the "word is spirit." Both Jesus and Paul were childless for they did not marry.
TABERNACLE IN THE WILDERNESS - ORIGIN OF THE SPIRITUAL CHURCH
What many people do not realize is that the construction of the physical Tabernacle in the wilderness is actually a demonstration for the building of the spiritual church. Let us be reminded that one of the reasons why "God was manifest in the flesh" was to show the way, by example, to the Chosen . God commanded Moses and the Israelites to build a physical tabernacle to be His dwelling place and be with His people. Here is the instruction for the construction of the Tabernacle:
EXODUS 25:8 "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them."
God definitely stated that He was to dwell in the tabernacle that He could be with His people. God’s residence, therefore, was the physical tabernacle. It was sometimes called the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The spiritual nature of the word of God will be fully appreciated as we relate the tabernacle, the physical residence, to the real believer, later to become the spiritual dwelling place of God. Before the believers became the spiritual abode of God, however, Jesus set the example by showing the way. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. So was the Tabernacle symbolizing Jesus Christ was also made according to the instruction and specification of God:
EXODUS 25:9 "According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it."
Everything in the Tabernacle, therefore, has its spiritual equivalent to the spiritual dwelling place. "According to all that I show thee" points to the fact that God was to demonstrate the actual building of the tabernacle, physically and later spiritually. Spiritually, God showed the model. He was JESUS CHRIST Himself! Later, His brethren are also to be fashioned after Him, for He was the model spiritual tabernacle. Let us be reminded of God’s plan for salvation. It is the restoration of the image of God in His chosen people after its shattering upon the fall.
EPHESIANS 4:13 "Till we all come...unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:"
Looking at the physical tabernacle is actually viewing the spiritual model, Jesus Christ. To show the importance of the subject, twelve of the forty chapters of the Book of Exodus are devoted to the Tabernacle of the Congregation or Tent Meeting. They are chapters 25 to 31 and 36 to 40. Actually, the Tabernacle of Congregation is a portable sanctuary in the form of a tent. It served as a place of worship for the Israelites from the time of the wilderness wanderings until the building of the temple by Solomon. It stood in a court 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, the sides of which were covered with linen curtains, which were fastened to 60 supporting pillars of bronze. It is divided into three parts:
1st The Courtyard - where the great altar of burnt offering, and the bronze laver are located (Exodus 27:1-8; 30:17-21).
2nd The Holy Place - contained the Table of Showbread, the Golden Candlestick and the Altar of Incense.
3rd The Most Holy Place or The Holy of Holies - in it was the Ark of the Covenant, a small box-like structure of wood covered with gold in which there were the Tables of Stone containing the Ten Commandments, a pot of Manna, and Aaron’s rod (Exodus 25:16,22; Hebrew 9:4)
The tabernacle, the symbol for the presence of God, was surrounded by the twelve tribes of Israel who represented the chosen people of God:
PSALMS 68;18 "...that the Lord might dwell among them." The tabernacle, which was a tent-like structure, could be moved from place to place as the Israelites roamed in the wilderness.
EXODUS 25:1-9 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children ofIsrael , that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen...and shittim wood, Oil for the light... And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it."
Even the men to work on the tabernacle were selected by God. All were endowed with skill and wisdom, and provided with everything needed to make the tabernacle:
EXODUS 31:1-6 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel...And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab...in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;"
THE TABERNACLE: A PERFECT TYPE FOR JESUS AND THE BELIEVER
The tabernacle was the "dwelling place of God." EXODUS 25:8 "...make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them..." Jesus Christ, likewise, was the spiritual dwelling place of the Father: JOHN 14:10 "Believest thou...that the Father is in me?...the Father dwelleth in me..." And so with the real believer: 1 CORINTHIANS 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God , and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
Just as the tabernacle or Tent Meeting had three parts or partitions, the Courtyard, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place, so with Jesus, as model, has the three "components:"
MATTHEW 12:18 "Behold my servant (Jesus in flesh, BODY)...in whom my soul ...and my spirit upon him..."
The real believer after the restoration of the Tree of Life in him also has three "components:"
1 THESSALONIANS 5:23 "...God of peace sanctify you...and... spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless..."
God is now directing us to the great message of the "house or the dwelling place of God." Just as the tabernacle was a plan of God, so Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. In like manner, the natural man becomes the temple of God with the "scheme" laid out by God. This is his transformation into a spiritual man. This is the restoration of the Tree of Life that was taken from him upon the fall. The natural man’s transformation into a spiritual man comes as Jesus told Nicodemus:
JOHN 3:8 "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
The tabernacle was not only planned by God, but its construction was under His specifications and direction. So with Jesus, as the example for the spiritual tabernacle, He was made perfect under the direction of the Father, and not through His own personal capability as a human being: JOHN 8:38 "I speak that which I have seen with my father..." JOHN 5:19 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do..." JOHN 6:38 "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."
The real believer, following the example set by our Lord for the spiritual temple, also cannot be made a true and a perfect spiritual dwelling place of God on his own personal capability. Nor could he be the spiritual temple under the direction of anybody, whoever he may be, with human precepts, human doctrines, or man’s ways.
Just as "God dwelleth NOT in temples made with hands" (Acts 17:24 ), so does God dwelleth not in people made righteous with human ways under human standards. The tabernacle was a shadow of our Lord, as He was the pattern for the spiritual temple who is actually the real believer. The twelve chapters of the book of Exodus dealing on the Tabernacle are actually the detailed description of our Lord in types and symbols, and the pattern after which real people of God are to be fashioned.
THE COURTYARD AND THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST
The Courtyard was the outermost part of the Tent Meeting. This was accessible to all, as the BODY is visible to all. In it were found the Brazen Altar and the Brazen Laver. The Brazen Altar or the Altar of Burnt Offering contained utensils such as basin for the blood, shovel, and pans for the ashes, for it was there that the animals for offering were slaughtered. The Brazen Laver or basin contained water, and was placed between the altar and the door of the tabernacle. It was there where the hands and feet of the priests were washed before entering the Holy Place .
Here is God’s command for the construction of the Brazen Altar:
EXODUS 27:1-8 "And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long... shalt make his pans to receive his ashes... shovels... basins... fleshhooks... firepans: all the vessels..."
The altar was made of shittim wood. Shittim wood comes from a tree that grows in the desert, and is noted for its sturdiness. Its roots go very deep into subterranean waters and it does not depend upon external sources of moisture for sustenance. The shittim wood is often referred to as the incorruptible wood. The wood could lay on murky waters for years without a worm hole in it. The wood is fine-grained, yellowish brown in color, and turns nearly black with age.
Notice how the Outer Court , the part accessible to all, contained the ALTAR which was to be made with SHITTIM WOOD. The characteristic of the wood jibes with what Isaiah wrote about Jesus Christ, Who was likened to a plant in the desert:
ISAIAH 53:2 "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground..."
Just as the shittim wood does not depend on surrounding moisture for sustenance, spiritually, our Lord was heard talking about the unknown source of His spiritual food:
JOHN 4:31-34 "...his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?"..."
The shittim wood is a perfect type for our Lord in His humanity. Just as the wood, even if it is lain in murky waters for a long period ;will not have a worm hole in it, so was our Lord as a human being associated with the sinners yet was never "infected" with their sins. The humanity of our Lord is the example for the real believers. He was the epitome of humility. He was truly a man, and was the same in every way as His brethren. Thus, He suffered hunger, thirst, lacked sleep, subjected to temptation, and He had to overcome. It is for this reason that He is called a Son, just as the real believers are also called sons of God. He had to be the firstborn, the Eldest Son, so He could show the way to His brethren - and for this, Jesus was called the "Son of the Living God." That was how Simon Peter recognized Him. This could not have been possible with Peter’s own personal capacity to understand for this was contrary to reason. That is why our Lord told him "flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto you, but my Father which is heaven." As a human being, and an example for His brethren, He had to receive the Holy Spirit and needed to be anointed in order to be endowed with power in performing great miracles. In the "flesh" Jesus had emptied Himself from being God.
The Courtyard, the part accessible to all, is the equivalent of the BODY, the component visible to all. Just as the people could see the suffering and slaughtering of the animals offered, so did the people see the suffering of the BODY, "flesh," of our Lord in calvary and later His crucifixion on the cross. Correspondingly, the body of the believers, the temple of God : 1 CORINTHIANS 6:19 "...know ye not that your BODY is the temple of God ...?" suffers the same pain as he goes into the tests and trials befitting a son of God. HEBREW 12:5-8 "for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth...if ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons..."
The fleshhooks in the Altar of Burnt Offering, which used to hold the animals for offering, were clearly the equivalent of the nails with which the hands and feet of our Lord were fastened to the cross. Similarly, the believers, as stated in Hebrew 12:5-8, also have their spiritual fleshhooks and, therefore, cannot escape this chastening, for that is a part of and a necessity for spiritual growth. As Paul put it in 1 CORINTHIANS 15:31 "I die everyday.." This refers to the death of the old man in the real believer, which is the end result of all the chastening.
The Bronze Laver which contained water for washing, perfectly jibes with the spiritual water for cleansing the believer of his spiritual infirmities. The following verse reveals this:
JOHN 15:3 "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."
The word is symbolized by water:
EPHESIANS 5:26 "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,"
If religious sects that compose Christianity Today are preoccupied with the sturdiness of the posts and walls, and the outside beauty of their churches and cathedrals, 30-96 A.D. Christianity was trying to "preserve the BODY blameless," which is the outside appearance of the spiritual church.
This is only a bird’s eye-view of the spiritual significance of the Outer Court . May this serve as the opening to the gateway leading to the spiritual outpouring of the Living Bread, which is the spiritual word.
THE HOLY PLACE AND THE SOUL
Within the Courtyard located on the western part was the Holy Place . It corresponds to the SOUL in the spiritual image of the invisible God - JESUS CHRIST (Colossians 1:15 , Matthew 12:18 ). If the body has its components, the senses; the SOUL, too, as symbolized by the Holy Place , has the following:
HEBREW 9:2 "A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place ." (NIV)
If the SOUL is an invisible component within the BODY, so is the Holy Place located within the Courtyard. The soul consisting of the mind and the feeling is clearly depicted by the contents of the Holy Place . They are the lampstand and the table and the consecrated bread.
THE LAMPSTAND OR THE CANDLESTICK
Righteousness and evil are represented by light and darkness. Intense light consumes darkness. It is through the mind that spiritual light is channeled:
PSALMS 18:28 "For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness."
It is through he mind that man is delivered from spiritual darkness. It is not by sheer magic, as many think, that man is taken out of spiritual darkness. It is knowledge and understanding of the word of God that light the path to eternal life.
PSALMS 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
Our Lord in His human manifestation, and symbolized by the tabernacle in the wilderness, showed this during His lifetime, with Him as the model. His mind was bright with the word of the Father, and Himself is the spiritual light of the world (John 8:12 ). As He preached the word to His disciples, He likewise called them "the light of the world:"
MATTHEW 5:14-15 "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."
This message has "life" even in the Old Testament time. Prophet Isaiah wrote about the lamp that signifies salvation:
ISAIAH 62:1 "... salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."
Salvation is "hot on the trail" to the chosen people, so to speak, when the mind is burning with the understanding and love of the word of God. No wonder the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-11 were left behind when the light in their lamps went out for lack of oil.
In the Holy Place was a table called the Table of Shewbread. Its construction was directed and specified by God:
EXODUS 25:23-24 "Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length...And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about."
Here again is the shittim wood found in the Holy Place , as we find it in the Courtyard. We have seen the spiritual significance of the wood as referring to humanity. The Holy Place, as earlier stated, corresponds to the soul. Truly, the soul which composes the intellect and feeling can be identified with the natural man. If the table were not overlain with pure gold, then we may see the kind of intellect and emotion as that of the man of the world. However, the wooden table was covered with pure gold. And let us be reminded that the tabernacle is a symbol for the model of the spiritual temple - Jesus Christ. Pure gold symbolizes heavenly purity:
REVELATION 21:10-18 "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God... and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass."
Gold symbolizes heavenly purity as He says in REVELATION 3:18: "I counsel thee to buy me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayedst be rich..." Jesus Christ, symbolized by the tabernacle with the TABLE in the Holy Place, could have His soul likened to the soul of the natural man, if it had not been "overlain with the spiritual gold." The soul of the natural man without the spirit of God is basically covetous, proud, selfish, self-centered, and haughty. But the kind showed by our Lord was meek, selfless, not self-seeking and full of humility. All these represent the heavenly and spiritual soul of our Lord, in contrast to the earthly and intrinsic qualities of the soul of the natural man. This perfectly jibes with LEVITICUS 24:6 "...upon the pure table of the Lord," and EZEKIEL 41:22 "...this is the table that is before the Lord." We will find that all these are made possible with the third part of the tabernacle which is the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies, that symbolizes the Tree of Life or the SPIRIT.
THE CONSECRATED BREAD
The bread was put on the table. While the consecrated bread literally referred to a piece of Manna, the bread from heaven, it, too, has its spiritual significance as our Lord put it in:
MATTHEW 4:4 "...man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
The bread or Manna from heaven refers to the word of God. In the broader sense, the literal word of God has indeed come from heaven. But in a narrower sense, Manna from heaven or the word of God refers to the spiritual word that is made understandable by divine revelation. To think only of the bread or the word in the broader sense, or the literal word, anybody can understand the meaning. But to understand the Word in its narrower sense requires divine widom from above to really comprehend the spiritual message. This is illustrated in this treatise. The reader is the best witness to the distinction between the literal and the spiritual word of God.
Notice the bread is put on the table in the Holy Place . With the pure gold covering of the table, the spiritual bread can now be eaten:
JEREMIAH 15:16 "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts."
Take note of the intellect "eating" the word of God. This must be the spiritualword. Notice also the joy of the heart. Could we appreciate the use of the mind (intellect) and the heart (feeling) as, indeed, are the attributes of the soul which is symbolized by the Holy Place ? With this as background, verses are now "spiritually open" and become more meaningful. Example:
PROVERBS 3:1-3 "My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments...write them upon the table of thine heart:"
The consecrated bread is on the table of the HOLY PLACE ! How beautiful is the spiritual word of God, as distinguished from the literal message!
The word of God is indeed the spiritual Manna from heaven, and this is the spiritual food of the spiritual Israelites who have been delivered from spiritual slavery by the truth:
JOHN 8:32 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
We have just removed the "cover" for the Holy Place , and have peeped into its spiritual "contents." We have had a glimpse of the inside of the spiritual temple, who is actually the real believer. No wonder our Lord during His time, and later, the apostles, spiritually beautified the soul or the inside of the spiritual temple. Paul saw what we are seeing now when he wrote the Christians of Corinth:
2 CORINTHIANS 4:18 "While we look not at the things which are seen (literal/physical), but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Can we relate this to what our Lord said? JOHN 6:63 "...the flesh profiteth nothing, the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
In contrast, Christianity Today, through the many religious sects that compose it, try to outdo each other in beautifying the inside of their respective churches and cathedrals with all sorts of things: priceless paintings, intricate carvings, expensive decor, and fine workmanship.
THE HOLY OF HOLIES OR THE MOST HOLY PLACE
The Most Holy Place is separated from the Holy Place by a heavy veil. On the inside, it was covered with embroidered linen tapestry, and on the outside, with double blankets of skin. The MOST Holy place had in it only the ARK OF THE COVENANT, a small box-like structure of wood covered with gold and containing the tables of the law, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod:
HEBREW 9:3-5 "And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat..."
THE ARK SYMBOLIZES THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The Ark of the Covenant, which contained the two tables of stone where the Ten Commandments were written, symbolizes the presence of God, the SPIRIT. The commandments are sometimes referred to as the laws of God, or His word. The commandments were written with the finger of God. The Ten Commandments are the word of God. JOHN 1:1 states "The Word was God." The two tables of stone where the commandments were written represent the presence of God. As the tabernacle was not complete without the ark containing the two tables of stone, so is the spiritual tabernacle. The real Christian remains "incomplete" without the SPIRIT, ore the presence of God.
In the ark was a pot of manna. Manna was the physical bread that came down from heaven to feed the Israelites on their way to Canaan . The spiritual man, the living tabernacle modeled by Jesus Christ, also has the spiritual pot of manna enshrined in the Spirit. It is a pot, a reservoir of spiritual food. As the manna was brought down from heaven, so is the spiritual manna. The spiritual message of the word of God also comes to man by divine revelation. Just as the manna did not come from the ground, so is the spiritual bread cannot come from man. Ground symbolizes man.
Also in the ark was the rod of Aaron that budded. Let us remember that the first miracle evidencing God’s commission for Moses and Aaron was the turning of the rod into a serpent before Pharaoh. The superiority of God’s miracle over that of the devil was exposed through the rod. Pharaoh’s diviners were also successful in turning their rods into serpents, but these were swallowed up by the rod of Aaron. Physically, God’s power was witnessed by His people when they won many battles over their enemies. This was when the Ark was with them. Spiritually, God’s people, the living tabernacles, also show superior power over their spiritual enemy:
EPHESIANS 6:17 "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"
ROMANS 16:20 "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen."
Like the rod of Aaron, the word of God which is the sword of the Spirit, can demolish any teachings and doctrines that run counter to the truth.
The rod of Aaron budded in order to show that it was not a dead wood, but a very much alive tree. Budding precedes fruiting. And the presence of this rod in the Holy of Holies shows the spiritual capability of the living tabernacles, the real Christians, of also bearing the most desirable of all fruits, the fruit(s) of the Spirit. The are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control’" (Galatians 5:22 -23). They were shown before by the living model of the tabernacle - Jesus Christ.
The following are recorded proofs that God was with His people, as symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant. Every physical event has a spiritual equivalent or message:
1. The Ark of the Covenant with the Israelites in their wilderness journeys was "to search out a resting place for them."
NUMBERS 10:33 "And they departed from the mount of the LORD... and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them."
Do we not see the spiritual equivalent of this? Is not God the only one Who can give real spiritual peace, "the spiritual resting place?"
2. The Ark of the Covenant was instrumental in drying up the Jordan river for their crossing:
JOSHUA 3:1-17 "...When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God...you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before...the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground." (NIV)
Of course crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan River have a very deep spiritual message. Limited space does not permit expounding on it.
3. The Ark of the Covenant was vital in the capture of Jericho :
JOSHUA 6:6-20 "So Joshua...called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord...and march...and when the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed... and they took the city."
Again, the spiritual message is reserved in another subject-matter.
4. The Ark of the Covenant was used by the Israelites in inquiring from the Lord:
JUDGES 20:27 "And the children of Israel inquired of the LORD, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,"
Is it not God Who supplies all spiritual knowledge and wisdom (James 1:5-8)?
5. The Ark of the Covenant won battles for the Israelites while their hearts were close to God:
1 SAMUEL 4:3-8 "... the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day... Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD...And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout...And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp. And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness."
With the Ark, the Israelites won many battles. But in this instance, because they had distanced themselves from the God of their father, God allowed the Ark to be captured by the Philistines, if only to show that what He wanted was their real spiritual closeness, and not just the physical presence of the Ark. Spiritual battles against the devil are also won if God, symbolized by the Ark, is with us. But once our relationship is strained, we become easy prey to the wiles of the spiritual enemy.
6. The pagan god Dagon bowed and fell in complete ruin before the Ark of the Covenant:
1 SAMUEL 5:1-4 "And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it... unto Ashdod...they brought it into the house of Dagon... and when they arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again....when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him."
Do we not feel spiritually superior to anybody who is not of the truth?
1 CORINTHIANS 15:25-27 "For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet..."
By this time, the reader must be getting conversant with the spiritual message of the word of God.
7. The Ark of the Covenant could not be mixed with other gods:
1 SAMUEL 7:1-3 "And the men...and fetched up the ark of the LORD...And it came to pass, while the ark abode in... for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israellamented after the LORD. And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only..."
Goodness cannot mix with evil, nor light have communion with darkness, nor truth with falsehood and deceptions:
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-16 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness. And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them;..."
The real believer is the spiritual temple of God . Do falsehood and deceptions, the fruits of human doctrines, precepts of men, and religious traditions, have any place in the spiritual temple?
2 CORINTHIANS 6:17-18 "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
8. The Ark of the Covenant was never intended for non-Israelites who did not value it. The Philistines captured it, with God’s permission and for a divine purpose. Instead of a blessing, the Ark became a jinx to the Philistines. It was, therefore, with dispatch that they wanted to return the Ark to the Hebrews:
1 SAMUEL 6:1-3 "And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place. And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you."
Is not the word of God, representing God, also a torment to a man of the world, and truth a great affliction to a man who espouses wrong beliefs? Can the word of God find a place in their hearts?
THE PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL TABERNACLE
HEBREW 9:11 "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands..."
The tabernacle typifies Jesus Christ, the living temple. The three parts of the tabernacle correspond to the three components of our Lord as prophesied by Isaiah in ISAIAH 42:1, and later confirmed by our Lord in MATTHEW 12:17-18. The Outercourt is equivalent to the BODY, the Holy Place to the SOUL, and the Most Holy Place to the Spirit. As the tabernacle was designed and its construction supervised by God, so was our Lord in His human manifestation. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and everything about Him was under the direction of the Father:
JOHN 5:19 "...Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do..."
JOHN 8:38 "I speak that which I have seen with my Father..."
JOHN 5:30 "I can of mine own self do nothing... I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
Jesus Christ, the Way (John 14:6) and example (1 Peter 2:21 ), as model (Romans 8:29 ) for the real believers, is the pattern after Whom they must be fashioned. Like Jesus Christ and the tabernacle, the real Christians have also the three components of BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT (1 Thessalonians 5:23 ). The tabernacle was a prototype for the spiritual temple. Jesus Christ is the way for the Spiritual Man. Notice Hebrew 9:11 referring to Christ as the high priest, while the real believers are now referred to as such:
REVELATION 1:6 "And hath made us...priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
1 PETER 2:5 "Ye also...are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
The tabernacle was the dwelling place of God; so is the spiritual tabernacle, the real believer, the temple of God .
GOD DOES NOT LIVE IN TEMPLES MADE WITH HANDS
Just as the tabernacle was designed by God, and Jesus Christ the living model symbolized by it was conceived by the Holy Spirit, the real Christians are likewise "conceived and born of God" and made righteous by the Spirit that lives in them. When we say that God does not live in "temples made with hands, " it does not apply to physical structures like chapels, churches, and cathedrals. More importantly, this applies to the spiritual temples who are the so-called Christians. Spiritual temples are made "with hands" if they are made righteous on the basis of human precepts, human doctrines, and the condemned religious traditions. Our Lord showed the example. Everything came from the Father. Not even the things He said and the things He did, according to Him, came not from but from the Father. Jesus Christ was made perfect according to His Father’s standard - God’s standard of righteousness. "His brethren" should also be fashioned or "be made" following that standard - not man’s standard, not with "man’s hands." Just as the Holy Spirit and the Father are the architect and the builder of the model spiritual tabernacle, Jesus Christ, so are "His brethren," the real Christians be fashioned after that model - according to the standard of God, and not man’s standard of righteousness and goodness.
Man’s standard of goodness, if one will notice, is the "good and evil" that the Old Serpent enticed Eve with. This must indeed be very pleasing to man for he cannot resist "eating the fruit of his mind and the dictate of his feeling" to this day.
To think of chapels, churches, and cathedrals as the temples "made with hands" is too shallow for the real message. Some religious sects no longer think of these physical structures as the dwelling place of God. They openly profess that the members themselves are the spiritual temples. But can they escape the sharpness of the Word of God if the basis for righteousness of the members is only their respective religious tenets, and creeds, instead of the pure spiritual doctrines making up God’s standard of righteousness? Does not man "have a hand" in the "construction" of the spiritual temples in this case? Can he not accept God’s pure and perfect word?
PSALMS 127:1 "...Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it..."
God owns the "house" He builds. He does not accept "a house that He did not build." Paul realized this when he said in:
1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
This, in summary, is the deep spiritual meaning of "God does not dwell in temples made with hands."
THE PERMANENT HOUSE OF GOD
The Israelites reached Canaan after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. They settled there and David became king after Saul. Thought came to David concerning his residence and comparing it with that of God:
2 SAMUEL 7:1-3 "And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies; That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains..."
David was bothered seeing that he lived in a permanent and durable house made of cedar, while God "dwelleth" only in a temporary structure made of curtains. That night God spoke to Nathan about the construction of a more permanent house for God:
2 SAMUEL 7:4-7 "And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David , Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?"
Everything is now history, King Solomon, son of David , built a beautiful temple designed, and every detail of the construction specified, by God -- just like the construction of the tabernacle in the wilderness. Let us not go into the details of the spiritual meaning of the different parts and materials used in the temple. What needs to be emphasized is the temporary and permanent nature of the tabernacle in the wilderness and the beautiful temple, respectively. Do we realize that the tabernacle exactly matches the life of the real Christian in his earthly life? It is a temporary dwelling place of God! As exciting to see as the beautiful permanent temple is the glorified body of the real believers at the rapture. This is the great message of God’s longing for a permanent dwelling place - the ultimate likeness of the chosen people to His Son Jesus Christ, Who is the way and the model!
PHILIPPIANS 3:21 "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
JOHN 14:6 "I am the way," ROMANS 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow...to conform to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren," what a great message to God’s people! Jesus Christ in His human body was symbolized by the tabernacle in the wilderness. His "brethren" are to be fashioned after His image. That is the tent, the temporary dwelling place of God. But God wants a more permanent abode. This now is the glorified bodies of the real Christians which our Lord demonstrated. That is the beautiful temple! What a deep message for 1 CORINTHIANS 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God , and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
1 JOHN 3:2 "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him..."
Do we clearly see now why Jesus Christ and His apostles never constructed chapels, churches, and cathedrals? Instead, they zealously spent time, efforts, and everything in the "construction" of the living temples, who were the true and faithful followers of the Word. Just as our Lord condemned the Old Testament’s literal washing of the hands from the Bronze Laver practiced by the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 15:2-3) as a TRADITION, the literal building of physical temples has today degenerated into a simple religious tradition! No wonder, chapels, churches, and cathedrals had no place in the 1st century Christianity! Their construction has become a religious tradition originated by the first and the biggest religious sect, which was adopted by all religious denominations that compose Christianity Today.
God revealed the general view of the tabernacle depicting the picture of the spiritual man, who is the living tabernacle. In the eyes of God, and in truth, the natural man without the Spirit can never qualify as a living temple of God . This is what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus "to be born again." God has only uncovered the spiritual message for the tabernacle.
JEREMIAH 7:4 "Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these."
PSALMS 65:4 "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple."
We cannot find the real Christians in chapels, churches and cathedrals. Rather, we find them were the Word of God is abiding! Perhaps, any one can claim that. But, can people assert the Truth? Word of God and Truth should be distinguished. Let us remember that Satan is also claiming "to have" the word of God, as he cited verses in tempting our Lord. But Satan can never have the truth. Truth is belief supported by verses that finds no contradiction to what is written!
How great is God’s revelation of the living TEMPLE -- His dwelling place!