From Glory to Glory

Scripture Reading: Exo. 24:1-18; 34:29; 40:34

From Glory to Glory

If we want to explore the tabernacle, we must first ask what it is. From the Old Testament we see that the tabernacle is a testimony of God’s glory. In the New Testament, Christ, the church, and each individual believer is referred to as God’s tabernacle (John 1:14; Heb. 9:11; 2 Cor. 5:4; Rev. 21:3). The tabernacle, however, is technically not the source of glory; the source of glory is God Himself!

From the Scriptures we see that the God of glory appeared to Moses, and that Moses stayed in God’s presence to the extent that his face bore the shining of that glory. Eventually, this was the same glory that filled the tabernacle!

The origination of the tabernacle was no small thing. Nothing in Scripture can compare with it. Nowhere else can you find God remaining on earth in His glory in face-to-face communication with a man. God had appeared to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and beforehand to Moses; but nowhere else did He remain in such a way with man in His glory. After seven days of being on earth in glory, He called to Moses. Why seven days of glory? It was because this particular appearing was for His entire economy, for His called people, and for His own testimony.

Moses remained with God for forty days and forty nights during which time God revealed to him all that was needed to produce the tabernacle. When Moses finally descended from the mountain, the skin of his face shone from that time with the Lord. We must realize that God builds up His tabernacle through His servant, and that His servant is someone who lives in the light. God is a God of glory, and His servant is an agent of glory. Eventually, when the tabernacle is raised up, the glory of God fills it.

In the pattern of the tabernacle revealed by God to Moses, the entire life story of one who is saved is revealed. The Christian life begins with glory. It is in glory that God appeared to us, and because of this divine glory, our life becomes a life in glory. In other words, the beginning is glory and the end is glory—from beginning to end, the Christian life is a life of glory! Furthermore, its process is a process of glory. Not only is it in glory, it is glory. Brothers and sisters, we need to realize that our God is the God of glory, and that our future is the City of glory. Today, we are undergoing a glorious process. We are not pitiful, nor are we poor, common, or purposeless; we are in glory, and we are going on from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18)!

From glory to glory—this is now our life. We Christians must see this. God is calling us to glory! Everything we go through is unto glory, and the process is a process of glory. What is revealed in the picture of the tabernacle is that our entire life is simply one of going from one degree of glory to another degree of glory!

The Most Wonderful and All-Inclusive Type: The Tabernacle

The Old Testament is filled with types. Adam typifies Christ; Abel typifies the death of Christ; Seth typifies the resurrection of Christ; Noah typifies the work of Christ; his ark typifies the redemption of Christ; Abraham typifies God the Father; Isaac typifies God the Son; Jacob typifies God the Spirit, and so on. However, particularly in the Old Testament, no type is as wonderful or as inclusive as that of the tabernacle. In the type of the tabernacle our entire Christian life—our regeneration, our consecration, our church life, our service, our growth, our enjoyment, our suffering, our work together with God, and our eventual manifestation in glory—all are portrayed.

Furthermore, the picture of the tabernacle also shows us who God is, what it is He desires, and how He operates to achieve that which He desires.

How we thank the Lord for this wonderful picture given to us by God in His Word! When you see the tabernacle you see God, you see God’s desire, and you see the means God uses to achieve what is in His heart. When you realize what is contained in this marvelous Old Testament type, you will see how it is that God works on man, and how this work issues in His testimony.

The Tabernacle Depicts Our Entire Christian Life

I have been saved for fifty years now. Looking back, I can testify how worthwhile each year has been. Why is it that I can say that my life has been full of meaning in God’s eyes? It is because of what is seen in the type of the tabernacle. The tabernacle tells us the story of our life in Christ. Fifty years ago, I entered the gate. Forty-nine years ago, I was put upon the altar. Over these years I have never graduated from the experience of the laver, the bread of the Presence, or the shining lampstand. Furthermore, I have been experiencing the operation of the altar of incense and the constituting work of the ark and its contents for more than forty years. There is not one aspect of the picture of the tabernacle that we outgrow, nor is there any aspect that we leave behind us! In fact, there is no way any believer can ultimately bypass the rich experiences portrayed in the picture of the tabernacle of glory! Hallelujah!

The Tabernacle Depicts God’s Leading, God’s Working, and God’s Constituting Work Within Man

Although I am approaching seventy years of age, I have a burden to preach the gospel throughout the entire earth. When passing through a city you have never been to before, what is your feeling? When I travel to this or that city, I feel that the people there need to hear the gospel of Christ, and that every place needs a church! Within each one of us there should be the desire to preach the gospel to the extent that all mankind is reached with its message.

It is not, however, that the Lord merely leads you somewhere for His gospel’s sake. The Lord also leads you to a new place so He can work Himself into you. Paul was sent out, but he wrote “I fear, lest perhaps having preached to others, I myself may become disapproved” (1 Cor. 9:27). Even one who preaches the gospel may become disapproved. Our going forth to preach the gospel should therefore constitute something of God Himself into us. We must understand that the Lord’s leading has our being brought into the process of glory in view. Eventually the Lord will not ask us how faithfully we have submitted to Him or how obedient we have been. How the Lord directs us in our Christian walk and service is not for the carrying out of those directions themselves, but that the Lord might work Himself into us. The Lord leads us so He may work on us; His work is to constitute Himself into us.

Therefore we should follow the Lord, work for Him, and propagate His gospel, yet even the more we should allow Him to work Himself into us and constitute us with Himself as we labor. Watchman Nee wrote, “Do my heart-strings need Thy stretching, songs divine to prove? Do I need for sweetest music, cruel treatment of Thy love?” (Hymns #626). In other words, His dealing yields a sweet constitution of Himself. Without it, our song to Him would be a dull, empty chant. If we would have the deeper experience of the Lord working in our lives, we need to allow Him to work upon us. Though there may be tears, there will also be a precious issue: the Lord will constitute us with Himself.

The Testimony of the Tabernacle

It is The Center of God’s Work and Testimony

The tabernacle is the center of God’s work and testimony, meaning that it is the center and consummation of His divine revelation; the focus of the living and growth-process of His people; and the description of the Lord’s constituting work within us; portraying the blueprint, content, and process by which His servants labor.

Therefore, as they labor, all of God’s servants, including the elders and those who serve in every local church, must have the tabernacle in view. All labor within and among the churches must be according to this blueprint. For instance, if you are going to help a brother experience consecration, you should have the brass altar and its significance in view. How do you perfect a brother to experience the washing of the water of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit? It is with the pattern of the tabernacle in view. This is how we should labor. Even as we stand with a brother undergoing severe dealings under the Lord’s hand, it should be with the cups, calyxes, and blossoming almond buds of the lampstand in view.

We should never labor on others without having this blueprint before us. We should not live our church life as though we possess no such heavenly pattern. For instance, do not consider others simply according to whether or not they prophesy; you must also ask, does their speaking issue in the experience of the bread of the Presence? In other words, have they been in the Lord’s presence, and are they able to impart the life-supply they received in His presence? All our experience and service must be examined in light of the tabernacle. If we are not judging ourselves against its pattern, we may eventually find ourselves holding something that is totally devoid of God.

Consider the matter of financial offering. There may be a brother who offers a large sum because of a certain need. On the one hand we should thank the Lord, for this meets a need, but on the other hand we must look at it in light of the pattern of the tabernacle—is the offering something inside the tabernacle, or something outside of it? If it is something according to the burnt offering altar overlaid with bronze, then it is something acceptable. If not, it cannot be accepted, regardless the sum. A real consecration is not that of a rich man considering the church out of pity and writing the elders a check; real consecration is that of the poor widow offering her two pennies (Mark 12:42).

If ten thousand dollars is something to us, does that mean that it is something to God? And, if two pennies is nothing to us, does that mean it is nothing to God? We must be spiritual! No servant of the Lord should be so natural or fleshly when serving the church. Rather, we must have the picture of the tabernacle in view. I often advise full-timers to stay away from those who are rich. Some may say this is unfair, for those who are rich are people also. My response would be, “Yes, they are people, but if you are a God-man, there will be no such thing as rich or poor in your sight. If, however, you see a person as being rich, then there may be problems.”

Furthermore, I would like to ask the brothers, has there been a time when we had a need that the Lord did not supply us with what was needed? Was there a time when we desired to move as the Lord directed, and He did not also prepare the way for us to move with Him? Has God ever demanded our money? No. We consecrate everything to Him simply because we are constrained by His love. Once we pass through the stage of consecration, money is no longer a temptation or an issue to us. Therefore, the Lord’s servants must labor according to the pattern revealed upon the mountain to Moses.

What the Tabernacle is and Where it is

The Tabernacle is a Place Where God Meets With Man and Man Meets With God

The tabernacle is a place where God meets with man and man meets with God. This takes place within the tabernacle upon the ark of testimony. God meets with man and man meets with God upon the ark of testimony.

The Tabernacle is Far Away From Egypt, Having Nothing to do With the World

In addition, the tabernacle is something that far from Egypt, which means it is something far from the world, for Egypt typifies the world.

Today, though we may participate in many things that are of the world, and even go sight-seeing, we can boldly declare that we have no part in it.

There is a brother who was studying at a particular university. On that campus there is a beautiful building that is somewhat of a tourist attraction, and some of his classes were held in it. He, however, never felt that he belonged to that university, nor was he connected with that building. Once he received his degree, he was done with it. To him, that famous building was part of the world, and he was only there because he had to be. The wealth and fame associated with it was a part of the world. All these things are far from the tabernacle. In fact, anything to do with fame or wealth (having it or not having it) are matters far off from the tabernacle.

Brothers and sisters, where is the tabernacle? It is in a place that is far from Egypt. It has nothing to do with the world. Hence, after we are saved, we should learn to declare, “Now that I have believed in Jesus, and am saved, and have the Lord, I have nothing to do with the world!”

Nevertheless, we still need to live our daily lives. We need to eat, just as those who served in the tabernacle as priests and Levites did. Neither wheat nor rice was grown in the tabernacle. Therefore, they needed to buy the necessities of life from somewhere else. In other words, we have to use things produced in the world, and yet have nothing to do with the world.

If we can say, “My clothes fit well and are attractive, yet I have nothing to do with this world; I wear these clothes for my Lord,” then we are healthy. Do not be a Christian who seeks to have it both ways—desiring both to be blessed by the Lord in His economy and to have a future in the world. We should learn to have nothing to do with this world.

The Tabernacle is For Those Who Wander in the Wilderness

The tabernacle is for those who wander in the wilderness and yet enjoy the Lord’s spiritual supply of food and drink as they are under the Lord’s leading.

To wander is to recognize that you do not belong. I may one day wander to another country, but when I arrive there, I would still be a wanderer, for that is not where I belong. I do not belong to Cleveland, Toronto, or Southern California. I do not belong to America or to China. I belong to no one but Christ. My existence is according to the tabernacle as God’s testimony. Although I am a wanderer in the wilderness, I live by God’s leading. I am content with the heavenly manna as my nourishment and the quenching spiritual water that springs out of my spiritual Rock. My hunger and thirst are satisfied.

The Tabernacle is For Those Who Have a Healthy Relationship With God’s Servants

The tabernacle is also for those who have a healthy relationship with God and, in particular, with those who serve Him. Therefore we have to know who it is that practically helps us see the blueprint.

It was through Moses that God unveiled the pattern of the tabernacle to the Israelites. Apart from Moses, there would have been no practical way for the children of Israel to see this blueprint, for Moses was the one who delivered it to them. Without Moses there could have been no building of the tabernacle nor any services carried out by the priests and Levites. Without Moses, the testimony produced through the tabernacle would not have been possible. If you wished to remain in a healthy relationship with God, it would have been very unwise to have a problem with Moses. In fact various individuals, such as Korah and his company, were judged by God just because of such a problem.

This was true during the days of the Old Testament dispensation, and it remains true today in the New Testament age. We must have a healthy relationship with those who serve us, particularly those who serve as fathers and nursing mothers among us. You may have no problem with some great spiritual man, but you may have problems with those who serve you. Yet it is through them that you must experience the tabernacle, for they serve within it. They are the ones who can help you to see Christ, the church, and grow into your service. Therefore, we must be careful not to have problems with them, for they are the ones who can help us to know the tabernacle.

The Tabernacle is For Those Who are Willing to Give Themselves to the Lord For What He Desires

The tabernacle is for those who consecrate everything to the Lord willingly to live for the corporate testimony that He desires.

Spiritually speaking, the tabernacle is for those who are consecrated. The moment you were saved, you entered into the tabernacle. However, in order to substantiate the experiences portrayed within it, you must be a consecrated person.

The Testimony of the Tabernacle

The Testimony Built Up in the Wilderness


What was there to see in the wilderness? Nothing but sand, rocks, and empty wasteland. There is no one in the wilderness to applaud you, neither is there any means to build up a reputation. The testimony of the tabernacle is established in the wilderness, indicating that few will be able to understand and appreciate it.

The Testimony is Among the Tribes

Although it exists in the wilderness far from what is popular, it is something that exists among the tribes of Israel. When the tabernacle was erected, the twelve tribes of the children of Israel encamped around it – three tribes on the north side, three on the east side, three on the south side and three on the west side. This signifies that the existence, service, and growth of every saint and every local church has to be carried out within the sphere of what God desires. This is where He finds rest.

The Testimony is For God’s People

In addition, the testimony is something that is for God’s people. It is the place where they enjoy God, experience God, worship God, and meet with God. Outside of the tabernacle is wilderness; around it are God’s people. Where are we? We are inside the tabernacle! We are in the wilderness with God’s people, testifying that the tabernacle is where we worship God and experience Him. It is here that we are able to meet with our God.

The Testimony Has a Structure

The testimony of the tabernacle is one that requires a certain structure. It is something that must be built up according to God’s blueprint. This means that our growth and service as believers must match its plan. We cannot go about things arbitrarily. Everything in the tabernacle is laid out just so, and everything has its particular design and measure. The bronze pillars have their height; the entrances have their height and width; the curtains have their measurements; and the utensils have their weights. We cannot modify God’s tabernacle according to our own design nor can we cast away God’s plan to build something entirely different.

The plan of the tabernacle depicts how God measures to us our growth and experience, how we are built up, and eventually reach maturity. What is portrayed in it, therefore, is the entire experience of those who have believed.

 

 

  Copyright 2006 T. Chu, The Church in Cleveland