The foundation and base of the church is the redemption of Christ (as typified by the sockets of silver in which the boards of the tabernacle were standing), the materials for the building up of the church is the humanity of Jesus (typified by the acacia wood) and the divine nature with the divine life of Christ (typified by the gold overlaying the wood), and the church is covered by Christ Himself in a fourfold way (typified by the four layers of covering of the tabernacle).
As members of the Body of Christ, all believers in Christ need to experience and enjoy Christ in His humanity and His divinity, together with all the processes that He went through, so that the church may be built up with the Christ we enjoy and experience.
When we look at the tabernacle we see many aspects of our Christian life and church life in type; one of these aspects is that we need the saints to complete us just as the boards of the tabernacle were 1.5 cubits wide.
We need to be joined by others by the Holy Spirit and in the Holy Spirit, just as the bars joined the boards together and kept them firm and standing. What causes us to stand firm in the Lord is not anything of our character, strong disposition, or humanity; it is the Holy Spirit who anoints us, mingles Himself with us, and crosses us out that makes us one with the saints.
Actually, it is the Spirit of the Triune God Himself that takes full responsibility for God’s building by mingling Himself with us, by mingling His divine nature with the human nature. We simply need to remain in this process of mingling, and we will be made one!
We are made one in and by the Holy Spirit, and we are held into this oneness by the holding power of the divine nature. The more we partake of the divine nature and live according to the divine nature by daily feeding on the Lord’s word and allowing His word to speak to us, in us, and live in us, the more we are made one and we are kept in the oneness. Hallelujah!
Today we want to take a closer look at the covering of the tabernacle, which is both mysterious and amazing, pointing to our wonderful Christ who is everything to us in the church in a detailed and specific way.
God’s Building is Covered by Christ in His Humanity and Redemption for our Protection
The covering of the tabernacle was ordained by God to be made of specific materials and in a specific order; first there were ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet strands with a cherubim embroidered on it (Exo. 26:1), then eleven curtains of goats’ hair on top of it (v. 7), then the covering was made of rams skins dyed red and a covering of porpoise above it (v. 14).
We may have never considered what these coverings signify and how can we experience them in our church life today, but they are full of significance and have a rich application to our daily Christian life and church life.
1. The first and innermost layer of covering – which also formed the ceiling of the tabernacle – was made of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet strands with cherubim; this is the part that you could see, and when you look at it you see all these various colours together with the cherubim.
According to the typology in the Bible, fine twined linen signifies the fine living of Christ manifested through sufferings and trials. Fine twined linen is Christ Himself, our righteousness, with His glory and beauty that was expressed through many sufferings and trials.
This linen is twined: not just one strand but many strands, not something loose but finely and perfectly stranded together, with no looseness or defect, utterly controlled. Christ’s humanity is perfect, fine, thorough, and perfect. This layer was a protection for the standing boards and all the contents of the tabernacle, signifying that the glory and beauty of the Lord Jesus in His humanity cover, protect, and embrace all His believers as the church.
When we are in the church life serving the Lord, we are surrounded and enveloped by the beautiful and glorious humanity of Jesus. Furthermore, this Christ bears the heavenly character (signified by the color blue), the kingship – the authority of heaven (purple), the redemption (scarlet), and the glory of God (the cherubim).
We all have to experience this Christ and participate in His experiences so that we may even become a part of this covering. What a wonderful Jesus Christ we have in the church life, covering us and being displayed among us!
Lord Jesus, thank You for covering us in the church life with Your inward beauty and glory in your humanity. We love to see You in Your perfection, redemption, kingship, heavenly character, authority, and glory. May Your glory and Your beauty in Your humanity cover us, protect us, and embrace us in the church life today. We want to enjoy You and experience You as our covering until we are one with You to display You in Your humanity corporately as Jesus living again on earth.
2. The second layer of covering – the curtains made of goats’ hair (Exo. 26:7) – typifies Christ as the One who was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21) and who died on the cross for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18).
Goats in the Bible signify sinners (Matt. 25:33, 41), and goats’ hair signifies the sins of sinners.
As sinners we are goats in God’s eyes, and what comes out of us is “goats’ hair”, that is, sins; Christ came as God becoming man to become “a goat” for us – He who did not know sin was made sin on our behalf in His redemptive work (2 Cor. 5:21).
In the eyes of God, Christ on the cross was made sin to bear all our sins. We need to remember this and appreciate the Lord for what He has done for us.
3. The third layer of covering – the rams’ skins dyed red (Exo. 26:14) – typifies Christ as the One who accomplished redemption by dying and shedding His blood to meet God’s need and our need (see Heb. 9:12-14; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Col. 1:14).
Rams are males, and they signifies Christ as a strong man who came to die for us, shed His blood for us (rams’ skins dyed red), and who now covers us before God.
How we thank the Lord that He shed His blood for our redemption, and now He covers us in His redemption!
The two inner layers of the four have to do with the Lord’s death for us and shedding His blood; this is important for the covering and protection of the church. We can now stand on the redemption of Christ and resist the enemy, put him to shame, and reject him with all his fiery darts.
Christ as our Redeemer is the overcoming One, and His blood is overcoming, speaking, and defending us, being our protection and defense. In the church today we need to rise up and claim the covering of Christ’s precious, overcoming, and Satan-defending blood, and we need to reject the enemy’s attacks.
Lord Jesus, we stand on the ground of Your redemption and ascension as members in the Body of Christ, putting on the whole armor of God, and we resist the devil. We reject him, and we bind him by standing in You and in the Body. Lord, cover us with Your speaking, overcoming, and devil-defeating blood. Cover the church with this prevailing blood, and teach us how to take Your redemption as our protection and defense!
4. The fourth layer – the porpoise skins (Exo. 26:14) – signifies that Christ is without outward comeliness or beauty (Isa. 53:2) but He covers the church against Satan and his attacks. Porpoise are aquatic marine mammals, and their skin color is not necessary the prettiest thing to cover a building; the porpoise skins signify that Christ is without outward beauty or comeliness.
The covering of porpoise skins protected the tabernacle from storms and rain, signifying that Christ as our covering enables us to stand against Satan and all his attacks.
If you look at the local churches outwardly, they are like a “porpoise”, not with too many beautiful things; we don’t have big beautiful sanctuaries, we don’t necessarily have beautiful people, we are even kind of plain or coarse, just like the Lord Jesus.
The Lord was like a root out of a dry ground, with no attractive form or majesty; we as His Body, the church, are no better than that – our beauty and glory is not without but within! We need to have a spiritual vision of the beauty of the Lord inside the church life, even though outwardly it may not be that pretty.
The skin of the porpoise shows us that our Christ is strong enough to endure all kinds of trials, suffer all kinds of temptation, and rebuff all kinds of attacks. The church today exists in an environment of high pressure, and what can help and cover us is such a Christ; we need to hide in this Christ in the church, and never have the thought of leaving this refuge and hiding place.
Without, the church may look worthless, but inside it is beautiful and glorious; even that worthless appearance is full of enduring strength for our covering and protection.
Lord, grant us spiritual eyes to see that the real beauty and glory of the church is not without but within. What a wonderful and glorious Christ we have enveloping us and covering us in the church life for us to enjoy and experience! Lord, we hide in You: You are our protection, our covering, our refuge, and our hiding place; only You can withstand the attacks of the enemy, and in You we are fully protected from any storm. Hallelujah for our Christ, our fourfold covering in the church life!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Minoru C. for this week, and Life-study of Exodus, msgs. 95-96 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (part 4, 2016 Summer Training), msg. 10 (week 46 in the HWMR), The Eightfold Significance of the Tabernacle.
- Hymns on this topic:
# The tent’s four-layered cover shows / The Christ of God in every phase; / God’s glory thus is signified, / Covering His holy dwelling-place. / Covered by such a glorious Christ, / All saints together knit may be; / Enjoying all He is for them, / In Him they’re builded gloriously. (Hymns #838)
# By the blood of Christ the Victor / Overcome the enemy; / By its virtue and its power / You will win the victory. (Hymns #889)
# Thou art a root from out dry ground, / Thou wast the Man of sorrows found, / Hated, despised by man around; / Lord, I remember Thee! … / Therefore hath God exalted Thee, / Given Thee glory, majesty, / Heaven and earth will bow the knee; / O Lord, I worship Thee! (Hymns #86)
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