In Exodus we see that the goal of God delivering His people from Egypt, bringing them across the Red Sea, giving them heavenly food and drink in the wilderness, leading them to the mountain of God, and revealing Himself and His heart’s desire to them was for them to build and become the tabernacle, a dwelling place of God, which is the priesthood.
God’s goal is His building; the goal of delivering us from the world, baptizing us, supplying us with Himself as our food and drink, caring for us, and revealing Himself and His heart’s desire to us is so that we may build up and be built up in the church as the spiritual house of God, which is the priesthood.
We are saved by God not merely to “go to heaven” or even only to “serve God” by doing the work of God the best way we know; we are saved by God, cared for by Him, and daily supplied with all that we need spiritually so that we may be built up into God’s house, His habitation, His dwelling place.
This house of God, as seen in Exodus, is both the tabernacle and the priesthood; the tabernacle is the place where God dwells, and the priesthood are the people among whom God dwells as they serve Him in coordination and one accord.
Today God wants to recover the priesthood, the serving of God in coordination and one accord, so that the building up of the church as the house of God would take place. God wants a group of priests to be built up together and coordinated for His building, so that He may live and dwell among them to be expressed through them.
He has imparted His life into us, He is constantly dispensing Himself into us, and He wants us to be built up together as priesthood, a “hood” of priests, for Him to have a habitation on earth, a dwelling place in man’s spirit, for His corporate expression.
The church is composed of God’s redeemed people who are being built up as a spiritual house and as a priesthood.
The Priesthood Requires the Building up of the Saints
As seen in Exo. 27-28 and 1 Pet. 2:5, and 9, the priesthood equals the house of God, and the house of God depends on the building; therefore, the priesthood requires the building up of the saints. As we come to Christ, a living stones, we also become living stones for the building of God; as living stones, we need to be built up together into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.
If you want to build a house and you have all the stones, merely piling them up doesn’t do the job; you have to build them together in a coordinated way so that the house would stand and the stones together would form a building.
No matter how pretty and strong the stones are, unless they are built up into a house, they are scattered or merely piled up.
It is the same with the priesthood: we are priests to God, having a priestly life and nature in us, and we need to be built up together into God’s house so that God would gain a building, a coordinated group of priests, who would express Him and represent Him.
In 1 Peter 2:5 Peter writes in a way to charge us and encourage us to be built into a spiritual house. As we have emphasized, this spiritual house is a holy priesthood. You may wonder why in this verse the house is mentioned first and then the priesthood. This sequence is based upon that in the book of Exodus, where we first have the tabernacle and then the priesthood. The priesthood must come after the tabernacle, the house. Why must the spiritual house also come first? Why must the church first be God’s dwelling place and then the priesthood? The answer is found in our need to be built up together. Because of the need of the building up, the church must be the house of God before it can be the priesthood. Witness Lee, Life-Study of Exodus
The question is, Have we been built up together to be God’s house? We are living stones and priests to God, but have we been built together with the saints into a coordinated and blended group of priests, the priesthood?
Even though we may have been built with some of the saints to a certain extent, deep within we may not have the assurance to say that we have truly been built into the local expression of the Body of Christ. We may be one in spirit with the saints, but are we one in soul, with the same mind, coordinated together into one priesthood?
We first need to be built up as the house of God, the dwelling place of God, and then we can function as a built-up priesthood.
Because of the need for building up, the church must be the house of God before it can be the priesthood; we first need to grow into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom we are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit (Eph. 2:21-22).
The first thing we need to take care of is being built together; we need to come together, pray ourselves into the Lord’s presence, have much fellowship of the Spirit, and be blended together; then, after we as saints are built together into a priesthood, all manner of services will issue forth.
Lord Jesus, save us from being merely a pile of living stones in the church life; show us our need to be built up and coordinated into a holy priesthood so that we may be Your house, Your building, Your dwelling place. We admit that we need more building, more coordination and building of the saints in the local expression of the church. Lord, we give ourselves to You to be built up as a priesthood, a coordinated body of priests, so that we may be the spiritual house of God, God’s building, who expresses Him!
Only when we are Built into and Coordinated into the Building can we Serve the Lord
To be built up doesn’t mean merely that you depend on the brothers and the sisters in everything you do, nor does it mean that we are filled with the Spirit and exercised in our spirit.
Building involves coordination; it is only when we are built into and coordinated into the building that we have the ground to serve the Lord. If we are not built in but are a “rolling stone” or a “renegade priest”, we don’t even have the ground to serve the Lord. This is a very serious matter.
We are materials for God’s building; we have been chosen by God, predestinated by Him, called, saved, forgiven, justified, reconciled, and regenerated, and now we are being transformed to be precious stones, materials for the building of God.
There’s no manual on “how to be built up into God’s house”; we need to learn that building involves coordination. Looking at the picture in the Old Testament, the priests didn’t serve in an individualistic or independent way; there was a coordination, an arrangement, and a way for the priests to serve together.
There’s a process of learning to coordinate in spirit with the saints for the building up of the church that we all need to go through. The building of God, His habitation, is the priesthood; God’s building and the priesthood are one and the same, and so we need to be built into and coordinated into the building.
In the Old Testament only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies to offer incense, but all the priests were qualified to light the lamps, minister with the showbread table, and offer the sacrifices.
On the day of Pentecost all a hundred and twenty saints were baptized with the Holy Spirit, and when Peter stood up, he spoke and the rest stood with him. Philip went to preach the gospel, but he was serving in a corporate entity.
When Paul was saved, it was Christ who revealed Himself to him directly, but then the Body of Christ coordinated to care for him and bring him into the fellowship.
We are not individuals who serve alone, doing our best according to what we see in the Bible; we are priests who need to be built up to serve in a corporate body, the priesthood, so that God would gain a building, a spiritual house.
Once we are built up as a priesthood, the building comes into being and God can have a dwelling place on earth.
We need to realize that building involves coordination, and we need to give ourselves to the Lord and to the Body to be built up into the Body and be coordinated into the building so that we may serve the Lord as a priesthood for Him to gain His building.
Lord Jesus, we give ourselves to You and to the Body to be built into and coordinated into the building so that we may serve You as a priesthood for Your building. Save us from trying to serve You by ourselves, independently or individualistically. Build us up with the saints in all our time of fellowship and coordination so that You may gain the priesthood, the built-up church as Your building. Lord, for Your building we give all, that You may be satisfied. Build us with our fellow priests into Your building!
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 The Priesthood and God’s Building, chs. 9, 11 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (part 4, 2016 Summer Training), week 41 / msg. 5, The Tabernacle and the Priesthood.
- Hymns on this topic:
# God would have a group of people / Built together in His plan, / Blended, knit, coordinated / As His vessel — one new man. (Hymns #1325)
# Not the person spiritual / In an individual way, / But the corporate life expressed / Will Thy heart’s desire display…. / Build me, Lord, with other saints, / Independence ne’er allow, / But according to Thy plan / Fitly frame and join me now. (Hymns #839)
# I long for fellowship in spirit, / Long thus to know authority; / Long for true fellowship in service, / Coordinated thus to be. (Hymns #847)
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