Moses: A Man Bearing a Divine Commitment (5)
By Titus Chu
Becoming God’s Testimony
Moses brought Israelites out of Egypt, and after about three months travel, arrived at Mount Sinai. On this mountain God unveiled many things to Moses. We have already seen three of the major things: the law, the sabbath, which is included in the law, and the festivals. These three show us how God comes to man to give us Himself, His restfulness and fruitfulness, and a festival life.
Becoming Festival People
God’s intention with the festivals was not simply that we make a lot of noise and have a good time like an Independence Day celebration. Every year on the fourth of July people have picnics, watch fireworks, and go home. The next day is comparatively quiet as everyone goes about their normal business. There is nothing wrong with this, but such a celebration has no lasting effect and no one is changed. God’s festivals are meant to get into us, mature in us, and develop in us. We don’t just celebrate His festivals—we are changed into festival people. We don’t just go to festivals—we become the festivals. We don’t just enjoy festivals—festivals are our reality.
Young Christians often pray to be filled with the Spirit because they want a quick transformation into super-Christians. But God’s way is to enjoy the festivals and be filled with Christ. This is much slower. As we have seen, each week leading up to the Festival of Weeks is made up of 3 days plus 4 days. The number 3 represents the Triune God, and the number 4 represents man. The way to get to this festival is to enjoy a lot of 3+4, a lot of God plus man. The more interaction we have with God by doing things in, with, and through God, the more festival we have. We need to keep having 3+4, 3+4, 3+4, 3+4 experiences. Eventually we will be harvested and ingathered by God.
The festival of Ingathering was eventually called the festival of Tabernacles. In his vision concerning the New Jerusalem, John wrote: “I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among mean'” (Rev. 21:3). It has always been God’s desire to tabernacle with man. This experience is described by John in the rest of the verse: “He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.” We begin to get a foretaste of this as we have a lot of 3+4, 3+4, 3+4, 3+4 experiences. It is the accumulation of weeks that leads us to the enjoyment of the festival of Tabernacles.
Experiencing a lot of 3+4, God plus man, makes us festival people. But at times even good believers get moody and forget all about the 3. Sometimes they may fight with their spouse or get mad at a brother, and it seems the 3 has totally disappeared. If we visit them at such a time, we will sense there is no enjoyment of a festival with them. Even those who have been believers for many years can have days like this, so don’t be surprised.
What should we do? Tell them, “Let’s call on the name of the Lord. Your problem is not with 3. Your problem has never been with 3. God is always available. Your problem is with your stubborn 4! Your stubborn 4 needs to be joined to the always available 3!”
Once a brother told me, “I have suffered enough! I want to leave!” I had a lot of sympathy, but I knew the reason he suffered. He was short of 3 because he wanted to do his own thing. The best way to cut ourselves off from 3 and only have 4 is to insist on our own way. If we can rest in our sovereign Lord and take what comes from His hand, we will be strengthened to sit in His presence and receive more of Him.
When we to speak to the Lord and tell Him we are His, that we love Him, and ask for His presence, we become festival people. Sometimes the change can come really fast. We touch the Lord who is in our spirit and immediately 3 is added to our 4, and we gain some Christ.
Eating and Drinking Before God
After Moses came down from the mountain and reported what God had told him, he went back up the mountain, taking with him “Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank” (Exo. 24:9-11). To my sensation, these are the most enjoyable verses in the entire Old Testament.
What an amazing picture! They all sat in God’s presence close enough to see Him. What did they do there? They ate and drank! We would think that when they saw God they would all bow down and worship and dare not lift up their heads. When they finally did look up, God and Moses would both have disappeared. But no! They feasted before God!
They were close enough to God to see that under His feet was what looked like “a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.” God did not get offended by their watching Him as they ate. No one is supposed to see God and live, but God did not lay His hand on them.
This is a picture of the highest experience in the Christian life and the church life. Sitting in God’s presence, all doctrinal disputes disappeared. No one questioned Moses’ leadership. They just saw God, sat in His presence, and ate and drank.
Bringing Man to God
The first time Moses went up the mountain (Exo. 19), he went by himself and eventually came back with three precious things: the law, the sabbath, and the festivals (Exo. 20 and 23). These three things brought God to man to lead them into a festival life. Then God commanded Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel” (Exo. 24:1). The seventy elders of Israel represented all of Israel, so as they ate and drank in God’s presence, all of Israel was represented there.
After they feasted, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there’….Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain” (Exo. 24:12, 15). When Moses left the feast on the mountain to go into God’s presence, he represented all of them. He no longer went up as an individual, but as a representative of all the people corporately.
The first time Moses went up the mountain, the three items he brought back showed how God is brought to man. This time he came back with three more items which showed how man is brought to God. These items were the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the offerings. This was very different. What Moses brought back the first time was about God coming to man as grace. What he brought back this time was about God’s people coming to God to bear His testimony.
The picture of the tabernacle shows us that we are to grow into the corporate testimony of the Lord. It is full of details displaying the riches of Christ, our growth in life, and the church.
The picture of the priesthood shows that we are to be a body service. Individually we can each be a priest, but it takes all the priests together to form a priesthood. The church not only bears the name of the Lord as a testimony, it also serves as a priesthood.
In this body service, every individual priest offers Christ to God as the five offerings: the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering.
Together, these items give a complete picture of how every individual stands before God, lives in the church life, and serves in the body. They also show how we together become the tabernacle and the priesthood with all the offerings to become God’s testimony. May the Lord open our eyes and grant us understanding.