After God appeared to Abraham, without God telling him to do anything like this, Abraham built an altar. The result and the issue of God appearing to us is that we build an altar and offer everything we have and are to the Lord for His purpose.
When we have God’s appearing, when we touch the Lord and are touched by Him, we spontaneously consecrate ourselves to Him, without anyone telling us to do this.
The issue of our consecration to the Lord is that we “live in a tent”, that is, we realize that we strangers and sojourners on this earth, and we belong to a better country, the New Jerusalem.
The Lord burns everything we are and have on the altar, but He gives us some things in resurrection to use for our daily life and walk on the earth. These things, our daily necessities, are “in the tent”, and we become a testimony for God on earth.
Living in a tent means that we are moveable – we are not set and settled in a certain place, and we are not occupied with the things of this world to the point that we can’t move to where the Lord wants us to move.
Everything we possess has to pass through the altar, and the Lord will give them back to us to meet our need in the world. However, when we use the things of this world for our daily living, we should not let them govern us or occupy us.
God desires to gain such a group of people, those who declare through their life and living, I am for the Lord, I live to God, and I belong to God! The New Jerusalem as the consummation of God’s desire is “the tabernacle of God with man” (Rev. 21:2-3), where God dwells with man and man dwells in God!
Bearing God’s Testimony by Living a Life of the Altar and the Tent
The issue of God’s appearing to Abraham was that he built an altar, and the issue of building an altar was that he lived in a tent. In the tent and with the altar Abraham bore the testimony that he didn’t belong to this world but rather, all he had and was is on the altar, and he lived a life of a sojourner on the earth.
The result of our consecration to the Lord is that we declare, We do not belong to this world: we are here for God and His testimony, and our home country is the New Jerusalem, a much better country (Heb. 11:9-10, 13-16).
As Moses testified, God has been our dwelling place through all generations (Psa. 90:1). As believers in Christ, we should not be set, settled and occupied; rather, we need to be moveable, and our real dwelling place is the Triune God.
When we consecrate ourselves to the Lord with all we have and are – as a result of His appearing – we spontaneously will live the life of the altar and the tent, and we will bear God’s testimony, God’s expression, as Abraham did (see Gen. 12:1-3; Exo. 25:22; 38:21).
This is not merely an outward matter; rather, we have Christ as the living portrait of God in us, and He makes us the testimony of God. As we fellowship with the Lord “in the tent” (as Abraham did), God has a place on earth where He can be manifested, He can meet with man, He can be testified and expressed, and He can open His heart to man.
Today, in our daily living, we need to seek to have God’s appearing by contacting Him every day, and we will live the life of the altar and the tent to be, together with the other believers, the testimony of God on the earth.
Living the “Tent of the Church Life” until we Become the New Jerusalem
We need to realize that all the things that we possess are not our own – God has provided for us, they come from Him, and they don’t belong to us.
All the things we possess must pass through the altar; after we give them to the Lord and they are no longer our own, some of them may be given back to us by the Lord to meet our need in the world. This is the principle of the tent: what is not consumed by the altar can be kept in the tent.
God gives back to us some of the things we consecrate to Him so that they may be useful to us in our living. However, we should not allow these things to govern us; rather, we need to rule over them. Put everything on the altar, and use only what God allows to be given to you.
If you look at the things you own, there are so many things that you don’t need and you don’t use, yet you hold on to them and treasure them. In many ways, without us knowing it, we allow the things we have to rule over us.
For God to gain us for His testimony to live the life of the altar and the tent, we need to put everything we have on the altar and use in the tent only what God gives us. God’s purpose in choosing us is NOT that we may be prosperous and wealthy in this world; He wants us to become His testimony, a great and holy nation, a people who declare, I belong to Jehovah; I am the Lord’s!
Today’s church life is a “tent”, and we live in “the tent of the church life” eagerly awaiting the coming New Jerusalem, our real country. Abraham’s tent was a miniature of the New Jerusalem, the ultimate tent, the ultimate tabernacle of God (Gen. 9:26-27; John 1:14; Rev. 21:2-3).
In the church life today we live in a tent, being moveable, not being set, settled, or occupied, and we are waiting for the ultimate consummation of the tabernacle – the ultimate tent of meeting, the New Jerusalem (see 1 Tim. 3:15; Lev. 1:1; Heb. 11:9-10, and Lev. 23:39-43).
In the tent of the church life today we have God’s visitation, God’s appearing, and we are produced as God’s testimony as we consecrate ourselves to the Lord and live the life of the altar and the tent.
Lord, everything we are and have is Yours. We put everything we are and own on the altar. We are not here for ourselves. We are not here for gaining material possessions. We are not even here for our daily necessities. Lord, we are here for You and for Your testimony. We are here for Christ and the church. We give ourselves to You, Lord, for Your purpose. We want to own and use only what goes through the altar and then can be used in the tent. May we be those who live the life of the altar and the tent today in the church life that we may become Your testimony on the earth.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my Christian experience, bro. Ed Marks’ speaking in the message for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Watchman Nee (vol. 35, ch. 3), as quoted in, the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Genesis (2), week 2 / msg 2, Living by Faith—Being Today’s River Crossers to Live the Life of the Altar and the Tent (you can buy this morning revival book here).
- Hymns on this topic:
# Consecrated is Thy temple, / Purged from every stain and sin; / May Thy flame of glory now be / Manifested from within. (Hymns #403)
# My heart longs for absolute surrender / That I’d wholly consecrated be, / Not in word alone but all my being / Would be fully given unto Thee. (New Hymn on, My Heart Longs for Absolute Surrender)
# He looked for a city and lived in a tent, / A pilgrim to glory right onward he went; / God’s promise his solace, so royal his birth, / No wonder he sought not the glories of earth. / City! O city fair! / God’s dwelling with man to eternity is there. (Hymns #974, by M.E.Barber)
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