It is very significant that, after God gave Moses the specific instructions concerning the tabernacle and about the workers of the tabernacle, He reminded His people concerning keeping the Sabbath; keeping the Sabbath was a perpetual contract or covenant between God and His people, a sign showing everyone that they belong to Him (Exo. 31:13).
What is so special concerning the Sabbath, and how does this apply to us in the New Testament today? The Sabbath is something initiated by God; after He created the earth and all things in it, He created man in His own image and likeness to express Him and represent Him; then, after He created man, God rested and was refreshed (Gen. 1:31).
When God obtained a man that would express Him in His image and represent Him with His dominion to deal with His enemy, Satan, God was satisfied, and He rested. So on God’s side we have Him working for six days, and then on the seventh He rested; on man’s side, right after man was created by God he didn’t start “working for God” but he simply entered into God’s rest.
Man’s first day was a Sabbath – a day of rest and satisfaction with refreshment. Later, this day was commemorated as the Sabbath by His people as a covenant between them and Him (Exo. 20:8-11), and this rest develops throughout the Bible until the New Jerusalem, where we will rest with the Lord in mutual enjoyment and satisfaction, because God is fully expressed through the New Jerusalem, and He rules and reigns in and through man in the universe for ever and ever.
How does the Sabbath apply to us as believers today? We need to realize that we are created in God’s image and we have His likeness NOT to primarily work for God but to FIRST enjoy God, rest with Him, and enter into His rest and refreshment; then, we can work with the Lord by being one with Him in His work (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1).
It is easy and natural to DO something for God as soon as you see the need, but what God wants is that His people would firstly enjoy Him, rest with Him, come to Him with all their toils and labors, and then just be one with Him in what He is doing; this is to work for God and do God’s work. This is the principle of Sabbath which we must keep today in the church life.
Taking the Lord as our Real Sabbath Rest and Laboring with Him as our Strength and Energy
God first worked and then He rested, but we as His people first rest and then work; when we enjoy the Lord and rest in Him, the work we do with the Lord will be by being one with Him. When we take the Lord and enjoy Him as our real Sabbath rest, He will be our strength to work and our energy to labor.
Paul testified of this: I labored more abundantly than all of them, yet not I but the grace of God which was with me (1 Cor. 15:10, 58). As God’s people, we should bear a sign that we need God to be our strength, energy, and everything so that we may be able to work together with Him for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ; this honors and glorifies Him.
We want to honor and glory the Lord in everything we do in our service to Him, and we do this by not initiating anything or doing anything without first enjoying the Lord and taking Him as our strength, energy, and everything, so that we may be able to work together with Him for the building of the Body.
After God gave the revelation concerning the tabernacle and the furniture, and after God selected the builders and gave Moses a charge regarding them, He went on to speak again of the Sabbath. It seems as if God were saying, “Do not forget My Sabbath. Don’t…think that because you are working to build My dwelling place, you can work every day continually. No, even in doing My divine work, the work of building the tabernacle, you must still bear a sign to indicate that you are My people and you need Me. Therefore you need to enjoy Me first. Then you will be able to work not only for Me, but also with Me and by being one with Me. I will be your strength to work and your energy to labor. But if you work in yourself and by yourself, that will be an insult to Me. You must do the work of building My dwelling place with Me, by Me, and in oneness with Me….You are My people, and you should bear a sign that you need Me to be your enjoyment, strength, and energy. You need Me to be your everything so that you may be able to work for Me. By working in this way you honor Me and glorify Me.” (Witness Lee, life-study of Exodus, msg. 182)
Paul told the Corinthians that he was a fellow worker with them for their joy, for their enjoyment of Christ (2 Cor. 1:24). Later he told those in Philippi that he will continue with them for their progress and joy of the faith (Phil. 1:25); Paul was a channel of supply for the saints progress and joy of the faith.
When we take the Lord as our real Sabbath rest and enjoy Him, rest with Him, and take Him as our real strength and energy, we become a channel of supply to others for their growth in life and for their enjoyment of Christ; when people are around us, they will simply be brought into the enjoyment of Christ.
But if we work for God without enjoying Him and without being one with Him, that is, without taking the Lord as our real Sabbath rest, the result is spiritual death and the loss of the fellowship in the Body (Exo. 31:14).
God commands His people to keep the Sabbath, and if they would work during the Sabbath they would suffer death. Today we may be full of desire and zeal for the Lord to do this or that, but if we don’t first enjoy the Lord and take Him as our Sabbath rest, we will suffer spiritual death and we will be cut off from the fellowship of the Body. Oh Lord Jesus!
May we be those who bear the sign that we rest with God, we enjoy God, we are refreshed with God, and we are filled up with God first, and then we work together with the very One who fills us in oneness with Him! God is our rest, our refreshment, our energy, our strength, and our everything for ministering the word of God.
If we speak, we should speak as oracles of God, that is, having divine utterances that convey divine revelation coming from our Lord whom we enjoy and rest in (1 Pet. 4:10-11).
Even more, we need to be like Paul – not to adulterate the word of God but speak in Christ (2 Cor. 2:17), and let Christ speak in us (2 Cor. 13:3). On the one hand we speak in Christ, and on the other, we need to let Him speak in us.
Lord Jesus, we take You and enjoy You as our real Sabbath rest so that You may be our strength to work and our energy to labor for God and with God. Lord, may we be those who bear the sign that we need God to be our strength, energy, and everything so that we may be able to work together with Him for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ! You are our rest, our refreshment, our energy, our strength, and our everything for ministering the word of God. We simply want to take You as our rest so that we would speak in You and that You would speak in us!
Everything related to the Tabernacle Leads us to God’s Sabbath with its Rest and Refreshment
As the people of God, we are a special kind of people – we are those who keep the covenant, the eternal contract with God: we keep the Sabbath, that is, we first enjoy God and then work with Him, for Him, and in oneness with Him.
Keeping the Sabbath is an eternal covenant, an eternal contract with God (Exo. 31:16), assuring God that we will be one with Him by first enjoying Him and then working with Him, for Him, and in oneness with Him.
As God’s spiritual people today we have signed an agreement, a contract, that assures God that we will be one with Him in this way. This contract is not merely for one age or dispensation: it is an eternal agreement between us and God.
We have a covenant with God by which we shall enjoy Him and be filled with Him before we go to work for Him, with Him, and in oneness with Him. Based on this covenant, if we do things for God without first enjoying Him and resting with Him, we will suffer spiritual death and we are cut off from the fellowship of the Body.
But when we enjoy the Lord, depend on Him, and take Him as our strength and energy, we will bear the sign that we are the Lord’s – we are God’s particular people, a people in covenant with God! Hallelujah!
Because the matter of the keeping of the Sabbath is all the way at the end of the book of Exodus, after the revelation of the tabernacle, its furnishings, and the workers of the tabernacle, this means that everything related to God’s dwelling place leads us to the matter of the Sabbath with its rest and refreshment of the Lord. Hallelujah!
When we come to the tabernacle we come not first to serve God or work for Him but to enjoy Him, enter into His rest, and then work together with Him! Praise the Lord, today we are in the church life as the reality of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle leads us to rest, to the enjoyment of God’s purpose and of what He has done!
When we come to the bronze altar to enjoy Christ as the reality of all the sacrifices, He becomes our rest and enjoyment in satisfaction. When we come to the laver we experience Christ as the life-giving Spirit washing us and renewing us, and the result is rest and refreshment.
When we come the showbread table to eat Christ as the heavenly food for our serving supply, we enter into God’s rest and satisfaction with refreshment. When we come to the Lord as the light of life to be shined on and become His corporate shining expression, we enjoy rest and satisfaction.
When we come to the incense altar to be one with the interceding Christ and offer Him as our incense in ascension to God, we enjoy rest and satisfaction. When we see and experience the ark of the covenant with Christ as the hidden manna, budding rod, and the law of life, we enjoy rest and satisfaction with God.
Everything related to the tabernacle leads us to God’s Sabbath with its rest and refreshment, and this is all for God’s building, which is the corporate expression of the Triune God!
Lord, thank You for bringing us into a contract with You: a covenant by which we will first enjoy God and be refreshed with Him in satisfaction, and then we work together with Him, for Him, and in oneness with Him. We want to keep the Sabbath today by enjoying the Lord first, and then being one with Him to do the work of building up the church as the dwelling place of God. Amen, Lord, keep us in Your enjoyment. Remind us to enjoy You. Keep us in Your rest, satisfaction, and refreshment. Bring us fully into Your Sabbath rest!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Ed M. for this week, and Life-study of Exodus, msg. 182 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (part 4, 2016 Summer Training), msg. 11 (week 47 in the HWMR), The Workers of the Tabernacle and the Sabbath in Relation to the Building Work.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Thy glorious, radiant face / My heart delights to see; / Here I’d abide and ne’er depart, / Beholding constantly. / In such a fellowship / Thou, Lord, art grace to me; / My heart and spirit gladdened, filled, / I enter rest in Thee. (Hymns #812)
# We all can do so many things, / But first of all to Christ we’ll cling; / Enjoy Him, blessings then He’ll bring, / His life-supply means everything! / Enjoy Him—grace He will bestow, / And we’ll be led to join the flow; / Yes, we will do all things in Him. (Song on enjoying the Lord)
# Christ is our rest and enjoyment, / Here we have nothing to fear; / Here all the sheep dwell securely, / Kept by His presence so dear. / Glorious church life, / Feasting from such a rich store! / Here where we’re dwelling in oneness / God commands life evermore. (Hymns #1221)
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