The consummation of all God’s work in Exodus is the tabernacle, and in its spiritual significance we can see the type, the reality, and the consummation of the tabernacle, which reveal the goal of God’s economy to have a corporate people to be His dwelling place for His expression and representation in eternity.
The Passover, the crossing of the Red Sea, the journey through the wilderness, the eating of the manna and the drinking from the cleft rock, the giving of the law, and all of God’s provision for His people has been for the building of the tabernacle.
The tabernacle is what is on God’s heart, for in His tabernacle God gets a testimony on earth (it is called the tabernacle of testimony). Here He can speak with His people and here all the priests have their services in His presence.
In the tabernacle God’s people joy themselves, being in God’s presence, and here they find their highest joy.
In the Bible we see “three tabernacles”, which are not three separate tabernacles, but three stages or aspects of the same tabernacle. It is the same tabernacle in the aspect of type, reality, and consummation.
The three tabernacles in the Holy Scriptures – the type of the tabernacle in the Old Testament, the reality of the tabernacle in Christ and the church, and the consummation of the tabernacle in the New Jerusalem – reveal the goal of God’s economy, which is to have a corporate people to be His dwelling place for His expression and representation in eternity (see Gen. 1:26; Exo. 40:34; Rev. 21:2-3, 10-11; 22:1, 5).
The book of Exodus ends with the tabernacle; in Exo. 40:34, after the children of Israel erected the tabernacle, the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle. At the end of the Bible, similarly, we see that the tabernacle of God is with man; the eternal tabernacle – the New Jerusalem – is how the whole Bible ends.
The tabernacle is the goal of God’s economy to gain a corporate people as His dwelling place, and we see this tabernacle in type in Exodus, in its reality in the Gospels and Epistles, and in its consummation in Rev. 21-22.
The physical tabernacle (and later the temple) as God’s dwelling place in the Old Testament was actually a symbol of a corporate people, the children of Israel as the house of God (see footnote 1 on Heb. 3:6). At the beginning of the New Testament age the incarnated Christ as God’s embodiment was both the tabernacle and the temple of God (John 1:14; 2:19-21). Through His death and resurrection the individual Christ was enlarged to be the corporate Christ, the church composed of the New Testament believers as the temple, the house of God, and the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Cor. 12:12). Ultimately, the tabernacle and the temple will consummate in the New Jerusalem—the Triune God mingled with His redeemed people of both the Old Testament and the New Testament—as God’s eternal dwelling place (Rev. 21:3, 22). (Exo. 25:9, footnote 2, Recovery Version Bible)
The Type of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament: a Revelation of Christ and the Church
The type of the tabernacle in the Old Testament is a revelation of the individual Christ (the Head of the Body) and the corporate Christ (the Body of Christ, the church), including many details of the experience of Christ for the church life (see Exo. 25:9; 1 Kings 8:1-11; Heb. 9:4).
The Old Testament presents to us the type of the tabernacle, the place where God is being located.
God is in the heavens – and He is also on earth, living and dwelling among His people so that His people can come and meet with God, contact God, and have God’s speaking in the tabernacle.
The tabernacle in the Old Testament was a type of God’s dwelling place – the tabernacle and the temple were one – that is, a type of Christ.
Also, the tabernacle in the Old Testament is a type of the church, the corporate Christ, the collective Christ; it was built with many boards, which signify the many members of the Body of Christ, the many believers in Christ.
The tabernacle as a type of Christ and the church includes the many details of the experience of Christ for the church life.
The whole construction and furnishings of the tabernacle reveal all the aspects of Christ for us to experience for the church, from the altar of burnt offering, the laver, the table of the bread of the presence, the lampstand, the incense altar, the ark, and all the items in the ark.
What a wonderful and complete type of Christ – both the individual and the corporate Christ – we see in the tabernacle in the Old Testament!
The Reality of the Tabernacle in the New Testament: the Incarnated Christ and the Corporate Christ
When we come to the New Testament we see the reality of the tabernacle, first with the incarnated Christ Himself who was the word of God becoming flesh to tabernacle among us (John 1:14) and then with the Body of Christ, the corporate Christ, as the enlargement of Christ (see John 2:19-21; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Cor. 12:12).
In the stage of reality of the tabernacle, as seen in the New Testament, Christ came as the incarnation of God; the eternal Word of God became incarnated, and He tabernacled among us, full of grace and reality.
The individual Christ was the reality of the tabernacle, the fulfillment of the type of the tabernacle in Exodus. Christ brought God to man; He embodied God,a nd in Him God was located. Man could come to the Lord Jesus and meet God, for He was the embodiment of God, the reality of the tabernacle.
Through His death and resurrection, as promised in John 2:19-21, Christ as the temple of God was enlarged from the individual Christ to the corporate Christ, the church, composed of the New Testament believers as the temple of God, the house of God, and the Body of Christ.
Now we are the increase and multiplication and expansion of Christ as the temple of God; we are the enlarged Body of Christ, the church, to be the temple of God.
In the church we have God manifested in the flesh; if men today want to see God, they have to come to the church and they will see God manifested in the flesh, God living again in Christ in all the believers of Christ as the many members of the Body of Christ. This is the reality of the tabernacle in the New Testament.
Thank You Lord for coming as the incarnated word of God – You came as God tabernacling among us to express God and bring God to man. Praise You, Lord, that through Your death and resurrection You were enlarged to include us, the many believers of Christ, into the temple of God. Now we are the temple of God, and today we can see God being manifested in the flesh in the church! Hallelujah! Thank You Lord for bringing us into and making us a part of the corporate expression of the Triune God in the flesh!
The Consummation of the Tabernacle: the New Jerusalem, the great Corporate God-man!
The Bible is really and amazing book: in the Old Testament we have the seeds of the divine revelation, especially in type; in the New Testament we have the fulfillment and spiritual reality of what the Old Testament speaks, and in the book of Revelation we see the consummation of what the Old Testament speaks of in type and the New Testament speaks of in reality and fulfillment.
The consummation of the tabernacle as the conclusion of the complete Bible is the New Jerusalem, a great corporate God-man as the enlarged divine-human incorporation of God with man (see Rev. 21:3, 22; 22:17).
When we read Rev. 21-22 we are amazed to see how the tabernacle is consummated: God tabernacles with man, and God Himself is the temple in which man dwells.
In the New Jerusalem as the consummation of all that God is doing throughout the ages we see a great corporate God-man as the universal, eternal, enlarged divine-human incorporation of the processed and consummated Triune God with His regenerated, transformed, and glorified tripartite people. Wow!
As God’s habitation, the New Jerusalem will be the tabernacle of God with men for eternity. The tabernacle made by Moses was a type of this tabernacle (Exo. 25:8-9; Lev. 26:11). That type was first fulfilled in Christ as God’s tabernacle among men (John 1:14) and will eventually be fulfilled in the fullest way in the New Jerusalem, which will be the enlargement of Christ as God’s dwelling place. This tabernacle will also be the eternal dwelling place of God’s redeemed people. God will overshadow us with Christ….Hence, the New Jerusalem will be a mutual habitation for both God and us. (Rev. 21:3, footnote 1)
In the Old Testament we see how God wanted to dwell with man; even in Genesis we see that God came to be with Abraham, and where Abraham was with his tent and the altar, there God came to dwell.
Later in Exodus God revealed and obtained the tabernacle, the portable and movable dwelling place of God, and even later He obtained the temple – where the entire contents of the tabernacle were moved – as the enlargement of the tabernacle to be the fixed and solid dwelling place of God with man.
In the Gospels we see God tabernacling among man in Christ Jesus, in Acts and throughout the Epistles we see the enlarged and expanded expression of God in the church, and in Revelation we see the New Jerusalem, the mutual habitation of God and man. Hallelujah!
Lord, gain Your dwelling place among man – gain the reality of the tabernacle with the temple in the church life today! Amen, Lord it is the goal of Your economy to have a corporate people as Your dwelling place for Your expression and representation: gain this in the church today! Gain the corporate manifestation of God in the flesh in the church today. Lord, we are looking forward to the ultimate consummation of the tabernacle, the New Jerusalem, the eternal dwelling place of God and man!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother James L. for this week, and the footnotes on. Exo. 25:9, 1 Kings 8:4, Num. 1:50, Gen. 13:18, and Rev. 21:23 in the Recovery Version Bible, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (part 4, 2016 Summer Training), week 40 / msg. 4, The Three Tabernacles.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Lord, we are that tabernacle, / Thy rebuilding work on earth; / Lord, restore Thyself a dwelling / Where is seen Thy boundless worth. / Thus shall all of mankind seek Thee. / And the Gentiles call Thy name. / From Thy holy tabernacle / All the earth shall know Thy fame. (Hymns #1253)
# Oh mystery of mysteries— / Lord, Thou in me and I in Thee! / The church, Thy tabernacle, we; / Our temple, Thou eternally. (Song on God’s mystery)
# It’s the tabernacle of our God, His dwelling place with men; / In His holiness and glory He’s expressed through all of them. / “It is done!” O brothers, see it! See the New Jerusalem! / The victory is won! (Hymns #1101)
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