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Moses: The Raising Up of the Tabernacle (14)

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

The Boards of the Tabernacle

The boards of the tabernacle represent us. That is, spiritually speaking, each one of us is a board.

The total number of boards used in the tabernacle was forty-eight. Twenty were on the south side, twenty on the north side, and six on west side, the rear of the tabernacle, plus two special corner boards (Exo. 26:18-23).

Each board was ten cubits high and all but the corner boards were one and one half cubits wide (v. 16). Thus the tabernacle was thirty cubits long (20 x 1.5). The six back boards would add up to only nine cubits (6 x 1.5), so the two corner boards together added one more cubit to bring the rear up to ten cubits.

The back boards are crucial. Without them the tabernacle would be like a tunnel and things could pass right through. Many churches are like this. Whatever God sends them passes right through. Everyone genuinely enjoys the ministry they receive at conferences or in their local gatherings, but when it is all over nothing remains. Year after year nothing changes. They have beautiful boards on the south side and on the north side, but they are missing the six back boards and the two corner boards.

 

Ten Cubits High

In this picture, each of us is a board ten cubits high (Exo. 26:16). This ten does not mean we all have the same growth in life or even the same experiences. God is not in the business of stunting the growth of some and stretching out others. Rather this ten indicates that God is fully responsible for us. As long as we are a board in the tabernacle, He is completely and perfectly responsible for our spiritual development and our stand before Him. Each of us may develop differently, but that is up to God. We trust Him to do His work with us because He is responsible. He guarantees we will reach our ten cubits. We will never come up short.

Too often we try to force ourselves to grow faster. This is like a child who stands on a chair to make himself look bigger when in fact he is no taller at all. When we try to manufacture our own ten cubits, we forget who is responsible. We take it out of God’s hands. Yet we do need to grow to the spiritual height that God allows us to grow to, nothing less. For many, this a big challenge.

God is not a gardener trimming every shrub to exactly the same height. He is not making us all the same. The apostle Paul wrote, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly” (Rom. 12:6). We are given different measures of grace, resulting in different gifts, different exercises, and different levels of maturity. It is not right to require everyone to speak the same way in the meetings. Some have a greater portion for speaking and others find their portion elsewhere. While we are not all the same, we all have the God-given grace to grow our ten cubits.

If we have this view, we will value every brother and sister. We are all crucial because we can each reach our ten cubits and become a blessing to the church. Our greatest fear should be that for some reason we under-grow. None of us should look for a reason to not exercise our portion. If we do not exercise what God has given us, we will not grow and the church will suffer. Never withdraw. Beseech the Lord, “Don’t let me under-grow!”

Once I visited a congregation of a few hundred believers that surprised me. I have hardly ever seen Christians that were so short of life. I gave a message on treasuring the one beside you. I asked them to turn to the ones beside them, shake their hands, ask their names, and call them brother or sister. They asked me back and I shared on the meaning of the word “amen.” I told them, “‘Amen’ means ‘Yes.’ When I say, ‘Jesus loves you,’ can you say, ‘Yes!’? When I say ‘Jesus loves you,’ can you say ‘Amen!’? If Jesus really loves you, can you say ‘Amen!’ louder?” I spent the whole meeting on “Amen.” If I have an opportunity to go again, I will tell them, “If you have a Bible, please open it, turn to any page, and put your finger down somewhere. There is a verse. God is trying to speak to you through it. When God speaks, His word is Spirit and life. Read it a little bit out loud and enjoy that word.” This is what they need. They have been together for many years yet don’t know much. None among them has reached their ten cubits. God is not after spiritual giants, but He does want us to each reach our full potential.

 

Acacia Wood Covered with Gold

The boards of the tabernacle were made of strong, solid acacia wood, able to stand even through the winds of desert storms (Exo. 26:15). Wood represents humanity, and only the humanity of Christ is qualified to be such a board. When He walked this earth as a man bearing God’s testimony, all kinds of storms beat against Him, but He always stood strong. God’s testimony was never in danger. It is the same today. Only those who are regenerated, who have received Christ as their Savior with His perfect humanity, can become such boards. Yet even with such humanity, these boards must be covered with gold, representing divinity (v. 29).

Some waste their lives chasing things other than Christ, and so they never reach their intended height of ten cubits. Others develop their various talents such as ministering, leadership, serving, or showing love and mercy to the saints. All these are needed blessings to the church, but if they are not covered with gold, pride will set in and spoil them. If we intentionally draw attention to ourselves or our gift, there must be a serious lack of gold. The church can never be the church of someone’s ministry. It must be the church of God. The church is to display Christ, not our gifts. Oh, how we need the covering of gold!

 

One and One-Half Cubits Wide

Every board was one and one-half cubits wide (Exo. 26:16). This seems like an odd number until two boards are put together, making up three cubits. The number three in the Bible represents the triune God. This shows that one board by itself can never satisfy God. We each need another board to stand with us so we can be three full cubits.

We may each love the Lord, the church, the Bible, and all the things of Christ to the fullest, but we can never be the church that satisfies God by ourselves. Being spiritually mature and loving the Lord is not enough. This is why the Lord told His disciples, “This I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17), and the apostle Paul wrote that we should “Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). By ourselves we are incomplete. We each need another one and one half cubits.

Too often we want to be superheroes who can do everything. We want to conduct youth camps, give messages, shepherd others, visit the saints, lead small groups, conduct the hymns, and teach the Bible. But the boards of the tabernacle show us that we must know our width. We are only one and one-half cubits wide. We need others to be with us. If we learn this we will be protected all our life. We will always seek fellowship and find those who can share our burden. This is God’s way.

 

Tenons and Silver Sockets

The Lord told Moses, “There shall be two tenons for each board, fitted to one another; thus you shall do for all the boards of the tabernacle….You shall make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards, two sockets under one board for its two tenons and two sockets under another board for its two tenons” (Exo. 26:17, 19).

It is hard to say exactly what this looked like, but each board had two tenons, or arms, and two silver sockets, one for each each tenon. We might think the tabernacle would be stronger if the boards had to share tenons and sockets, but this was not God’s design. While it is true that we each need another board to make a full three cubits, it is also true that “Each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load” (Gal. 6:4-5). We must each stand before God ourselves concerning our life and work.

Fortunately we do not stand in our success. If that were the case, we would all be condemned. Our stand is in the two sockets of silver. This means we stand in the redemption and salvation of Christ. We put one foot in the socket of redemption on the day we believed into Christ, and the other foot in the socket of salvation every day after that as we experience His continual saving. This salvation is very organic, because we are continually being saved by His life (Rom. 5:10).

Sometimes we may do terrible things, but we can still praise the Lord for His eternal redemption. Sometimes we realize we have not grown enough, but we can still praise Him for his daily, organic salvation. It is God’s wisdom that when we mess up, we stand before Him in His salvation by ourselves. But when we stand for His testimony, we must stand with others because we are each only one and one-half cubits.


Moses: The Raising Up of the Tabernacle (13)

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

The Coverings as God’s
Blessing to the Church

God’s View

The four coverings of the tabernacle picture who we are both as believers individually and as the church corporately. When men examine us they do it as though they are looking at the tabernacle from the outside, and see many problems. They see the ugliness of the badgers’ skin, the sin of the rams’ skin, and the problems of the goats’ hair. They are right to see these things because we are full of imperfections.

Fortunately, God has a lot of grace when He examines us. He looks at us as though He is inside the tabernacle, and sees the fine woven linen with the blue, purple, and scarlet material (‭Exo. 26:1). We may think we are a terrible piece of linen, but God is very happy. This linen is the work of Christ, and when God looks up from the ark in the holy of holies, it is the only covering He sees. It is the work of Christ, yet we are there partaking of it. To God, this is the unique covering of the tabernacle, and it is most precious.

While others look at us and see problems, God looks at us and sees those who are the result of His workmanship (Eph. 2:10), who bear the testimony of Christ. Even if we lack much spiritual maturity, there is something of Christ worked into each of us that God genuinely appreciates.

It is the same with the corporate church life. Men see all the problems, of which there are many. It seems all we can produce is goats’ hair. But the real layer that God sees is right below. To God, the fine linen, with its colors of blue, purple, and scarlet, and its skillfully made cherubim, is the first and only layer. He sees “the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (5:27).

 

The Blessing from Goats’ Hair

No matter how spiritual we are, we are still fallen people. We have all kinds of problems. If we think we have no problems, it is just a matter of time before our problems get exposed. At first we will try to excuse and justify ourselves, because we just can’t believe we are so bad. Then, once we realize that we have problems, we will try to fix ourselves. Eventually we will have to admit that we continually grow goats’ hair. It is God’s mercy that He can take our goats’ hair and use it for a covering for His testimony.

If any would examine me, they would find a lot of goats’ hair. I have a lot of problems. But instead of being disappointed, please realize that my problems are why I can still be here serving the churches. If I was problem free, only the angels would be qualified to receive from me. My problems qualify me to minister to those with problems. This is true of all of God’s servants.

Even our married life is full of goatishness. Any couple that claims they never argue must be so cold to one another. They are not human. How scary and exposing it would be to be married to a perfect person. A normal marriage is full of mistakes, problems, disappointments, hurt feelings, and quarrels. It is full of goats’ hair. Yet most couples find a way to cover, forgive, and accept one another with all their faults, and so their love for each other grows and matures. Such a loving marriage is the covering produced by God out of their messy goats’ hair.

When I was young I used to dream of one day being like Jesus. I even sang hymns that had this thought. Now that I am older, I am afraid to sing such hymns because I know it is impossible. Instead I tell the Lord that I cannot be like Him because I am just a terrible goat who produces a lot of hair. I don’t mind confessing this because I know we are all alike. But somehow, God uses it. He takes our ugly, dirty, smelly goat hair, combs it out and makes a covering that is so useful for His testimony. He turns the curse into a blessing. We who are useless are thus made useful.

We should all be amazed by the Lord’s mercy. We have produced nothing but problems and failure in the church life, yet God is still able to produce a covering of fine linen woven with blue, purple, and scarlet. We can point to no victories or successes, yet God has His testimony. Those of us who are older can look back on our life of failure and really appreciate this mercy. Our failures have turned into a blessing to the body of Christ.

 

The Covering of Linen

Under the covering of goats’ hair is the covering of “fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet material” (Exo. 26:1). To God, this is the real covering, the only one that counts. The blue, purple, and scarlet material was most likely colored threads woven into the linen.

As we have seen, the process of producing this fine linen involves a lot of painful striking and beating work. This was literally true in the book of Exodus, and it is spiritually true as God works on us today. The process He takes us through can at times be very hard, but only through such hardship can He get the material He needs for His testimony. It may not seem to be God’s blessing as we pass through this process, but what comes out is a real blessing to the church.

The linen was made of both cotton and flax. The cotton represents life and the flax represents the dealings of the cross. How the church needs those constituted with life and those with the experiences of the cross. Without life, we cannot survive. Without the cross, nothing works.

Although we might think that life is good enough, the Lord needs some who experience the cross. If everyone is just cotton, no one will be able to stand when the church needs them. If no one has experienced the Lord’s dealing, the church will not have the backbone to withstand the winds of teaching that inevitably come. It will just be blown away. This has happened again and again in church history.

It is easy for some gifted ones to give good messages on life and gain a following. But can they take a stand when it is needed? Has God worked something solid into them so that they know what they stand for? It is not enough to speak from footnotes, cross references, and word studies. If the truth is not worked into us through the experiences of the cross, our messages will not help anyone when the test comes. Both the speaker and the hearer will withdraw.

Let me boast a little. Concerning life I really depend on the brothers’ support. But concerning our stand, I am very firm. I only care that what the Lord has committed to us concerning the church life be practiced, and that the church not change its nature. That is our vision and commitment. We have to pay a price for this, but we have no choice.

 

The Colored Threads

The blue, purple, and scarlet threads in the linen represent believers being woven together with other believers in the divine life. What a blessing it is to have these threads.

If we only have the linen experience of being stricken and beaten but are not woven together with other believers in life, we run the danger of becoming bitter. I have seen this happen to some. If in the end they do not see the result they thought they would, they feel cheated. It seems to them that their many years of sacrifice were for nothing. They blame God, the brothers, and the church. Such ones are short of a healthy relationship with others that could cover, strengthen, and nourish them at such a time.

Nobody cheated them. The problem was that their understanding was wrong and they were short of life. Therefore when something came along that bothered them, they quickly reacted as if everything was wrong. Yes, practices can be shallow and God’s ministers can fail, but truth is truth. There is never anything wrong with the truth. What God is doing stands and the ministry of Jesus Christ continues. If we hold up the wrong thing we are bound to be disappointed. But if we are properly woven with some blue, purple, and scarlet ones, we will be protected.

How crucial is the covering of fine linen. It pictures how the church stands and grows. First we need flax which has gone through the hardships of the cross to beat it and break it down. This will produce those who know how to fight for the interest of Christ. But we also need a lot of cotton to supply life. If we only have the flax without the cotton, the cross without the life, it would be too hard. If we have cotton without the flax, we cannot stand. Even more, we are woven together with the blue, purple, and scarlet threads for our protection. All this is God’s supply for the church.


The 2017-2018 Vision Week Information

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

(more…)


The 2017-2018 Winter Conference Information

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

(more…)


The 2017-2018
Winter Conference and Training,
Dec. 30, 2017 to Jan. 6, 2018

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

The leading brothers in Cleveland have announced the dates for the Winter Conference and Training with Brother Titus Chu. This will be held in two parts, beginning with a conference in Cleveland and continuing with a training in Ashland Woods. Full details on these gatherings will be provided as they become available; general information is given below.

The brothers in Cleveland state in their letter:

We are joyfully inviting the churches to both the Winter Conference and Winter Vision Week Training with our brother Titus Chu….During this last Summer Vision Week all of us were very much enlightened and helped by our brother’s sharing in Genesis concerning God’s creation of man, and the two lines of mankind’s development.

We sincerely pray and trust that the Lord will encourage many to participate in both the Conference and Training for our spiritual nourishment and advancement. This is needed for both ourselves individually and the churches as well.

Your Brothers in Christ….

Further information, including links to the details about these gatherings, is provided below.

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