The experiences that the people of Israel went through are a portrait and a type of our own Christian experience, and today we as believers in Christ and as the church of God have the same experience in the spiritual realm, all the way from being delivered from the world to being built up together as the priesthood, the building of God.
By means of these pictures shown in Exodus we can see that God has a heart’s desire: He doesn’t want to merely rescue us from the usurpation of Satan (typified by His saving of the people of Israel from under the usurpation of Pharaoh in Egypt), to change our diet from the worldly food to Christ Himself as our unique diet (typified by the children of Israel having their diet changed from Egyptian food to food from heaven from God in the wilderness), or to bring us into a place where He can reveal Himself and His heart’s desire to us (typified by Him bringing Israel to Mount Sinai to give them the law and the pattern of the tabernacle).
The goal of God’s salvation as the fulfilment of the desire of God’s heart is to obtain a habitation, a dwelling place on earth, which is composed of His built up people as the priesthood, those who compose and experience every aspect of the tabernacle to serve God and be His habitation.
God delivered His people Israel from Egypt, brought them across the Red Sea, gave them food from heaven and water from the cleft rock, brought them to the mountain of God to reveal Himself to them and open His heart’s desire to them, and gave them the pattern of the tabernacle on the mountain SO THAT they would be a priesthood, God’s building on earth, the dwelling place of God and man.
This is what God is after in this whole universe, and this is what He desires to gain even today.
What we see in Exodus in picture is what the Lord is hiddenly and spiritually working to gain today so that He may be satisfied and be at home in a built-up church, and we would find our home in God and experience God to the extent that we are built up to become His dwelling place.
God’s Building is the Desire of God’s Heart and the Goal of His Salvation
Why did God go through the trouble of delivering His people Israel from Egypt, only that He would bring them into the wilderness and then into the good land? Why didn’t He just deliver His people with His mighty hand and simply bring them into the good land, where they can dwell in pace…?
The desire of God’s heart is not primarily to deliver His people or to feed them; He desires to have a dwelling place, a corporate priesthood, a people among whom He can dwell. For this, He has to deliver His people from under the usurpation of Satan so that they may be sanctified unto Him and they may be reconstituted with Him.
We may be saved and have Christ as the Spirit in our spirit, but our mind still thinks in the way the world thinks, our emotions are not focused on the Lord but are rather all over the place, and our will does not choose God by default; our inward constitution is still worldly, so we need to go through a process of being reconstituted with God until we are fully one with Him and His heart’s desire becomes our heart’s desire.
When we are reconstituted with Christ, we will see His heart’s desire to have a dwelling place, and we will give ourselves to be part of His habitation, building up the church.
In the Old Testament the people of Israel did not serve God individually. Their service was corporate, involving all the people, and the center of their service was the tabernacle. Before the tabernacle was built, the Israelites did not have a corporate service. When the tabernacle was erected in Exodus 40, they became a coordinated unit of service. The Israelites were a priesthood serving God together, and the Tent of Meeting was the center of their service. This means that the corporate service, the coordinated unit of service, the priesthood among God’s people, was based on the building among them. (The Vision, Type, and Practice of the Building Up of the Church, p. 43, by Witness Lee)
Only when God gains a built-up people as the priesthood can He have a dwelling place, a building among man. The desire of God’s heart and the goal of God’s salvation is to gain a building; God’s building is His heart’s desire and the goal of His salvation (see Exo. 25:8-9; 40:1-38).
God’s ultimate desire is His building, His dwelling place; all throughout the book of Exodus we see that God provides for His people, deals with them, and brings them through certain experience so that they may become His dwelling place, His building.
God wanted the tabernacle to be His dwelling place; this was the desire of His heart (Exo. 25:8). The physical tabernacle erected in Exo. 40 was a symbol of a corporate people, the children of Israel as the house of God (Heb 3:6).
God doesn’t dwell in temples or houses built by men; He dwells in man, in man’s spirit and heart, and today our being is the temple of God, and the church is the place where God dwells.
Therefore, today God needs to gain a group of people who undergo a certain set of experiences to be one with Him and fully open to Him for Him to make His home in them and among them, and to build them up to be His habitation on earth today.
God wants to gain us and give us the experiences we need, from delivering us from the usurpation of Satan to reconstituting us with Himself, providing us with heavenly food daily, delivering us from the flesh, working Himself into us, giving us a revelation of Himself, and unveiling His heart’s desire to us, so that we may be built up as His dwelling place on earth, the priesthood, the church.
Lord Jesus, cause us to see the desire of God’s heart and the goal of God’s salvation. Give us the experiences we need for us to build up the church as the house of God and to be built up into the church as the dwelling place of God. Lord, deliver us from any usurpation, reconstitute us with Christ as our heavenly diet, deliver us from the flesh, heal us from any bitterness, bring us fully into resurrection, reveal Yourself to us, and make Your heart’s desire be our heart’s desire so that we may be those who are fully for and in God’s building!
The Building of God’s House is Related to and Depends on the Priesthood
If God needs a building, a habitation, then what about the priesthood? How does the priesthood relate to God’s building, and how can the priests be the dwelling place of God? The building of God’s house is related to the priesthood and depends on the priesthood.
Both the enjoyment and the expression of God depend on the priesthood. Actually, the building of God as the dwelling place of God is the priesthood.
Where does God dwell today? He dwells among and in the priesthood, who is the building of God. What God desires to gain is a priesthood, a corporate built-up group of priests who minister to God and function in a normal way so that God may have a dwelling place.
What is a priest, then? A priest is a person who becomes a part of God’s dwelling, God’s house. Peter tells us that we are the house of God, the priesthood, a holy nation, and we are the living stones part of God’s building.
God’s building is a spiritual house composed of the priests of God, the believers in Christ who daily are infused with God by spending time with God and who minister Christ to others, bringing God to them.
Every priest is an item of the material for building up the house of God. Every believer in Christ is a priest, and the Lord desires that we all would function in a normal way, according to our measure, so that we may be mingled with God, be filled with God, and bring God to man and man to God.
When we are mingled with God, we are spontaneously becoming a part of the house of God.
The central thought of Exodus is that Christ is the redemption, salvation, and supply of God’s people and the means for them to worship and serve God so that in Him they may be built up with God together for them and God to meet, communicate, and dwell mutually. We see Christ throughout the book of Exodus. (Life-study of Exodus, p. 10, W. Lee)
Amen! Christ is everything to us for us to be mingled with Him and have Him wrought and constituted into us so that we may worship God, serve God, and built up with God together so that God may meet with us, dwell among us, and communicate with us as the house of God, the building of God.
Seeing that the building of God’s house is related to and even depends on the priesthood, we need to open to the Lord and tell Him,
Lord, recover the priesthood among us so that You may gain Your building! Mingle Yourself with us more today so that we may be built up in God and with the saints for the dwelling place of God. Reconstitute us with Yourself and be our moment-by-moment supply so that we may worship God and serve God so that in Him we may be built up with God together! Make us Your dwelling place so that You can come and meet with us, eat with us, speak with us, and dwell among us!
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 portions from, The Priesthood and God’s Building, chs. 1, 8-15 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (part 4, 2016 Summer Training), week 3 / msg. 3, Serving God.
- Hymns on this topic:
# I love, I love my Master, / I will not go out free, / For He is my Redeemer; / He paid the price for me. / I would not leave His service, / It is so sweet and blest; / And in the weariest moments / He gives the truest rest. (Hymns #463)
# Now the church is but the priesthood; / Thus the priesthood formed we need; / When the priests are knit together, / Then the church is built indeed. (Hymns #848)
# Grant us grace, O Lord, that we / Treasure dear the priestly call; / In the spirit serve and pray, / That Thy church be built withal. (Hymns #849)
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