A MUTUAL ABODE
The tabernacle is God’s dwelling place. However, it is not adequate to say that the tabernacle is merely a dwelling for God. Actually the tabernacle is a universal dwelling place for both God and man. Consider the New Jerusalem. Will God be the only one dwelling in the New Jerusalem? No, God and all His redeemed people will be dwelling in the New Jerusalem. Hence, it will be a dwelling place for both God and man. This dwelling place is a mutual abode, a mutual dwelling place.
In John 14:23 the Lord Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.” Here the word “abode” is used. The abode here is actually a mutual abode. We abide in the Lord, and He abides in us.
For there to be a mutual abode, the Lord must first become our dwelling place. When we abide in Him, He surely is our abode. Then as He abides in us, we are His abode. The Lord speaks concerning this mutual abode when He says in 15:4, “Abide in Me and I in you.” Therefore, the Lord is our dwelling place, and we become His dwelling place. The New Jerusalem will be such a mutual dwelling place, a place where we shall abide in God and He will abide in us. Even today we may experience the mysterious fact of abiding in the Lord and the Lord abiding in us. Our real home is the Lord. The Lord is our dwelling place, and we dwell in Him.
THE WAY INTO THE TABERNACLE
The content or reality of the universe is this mutual abode, this mutual dwelling place for God and man. The word that describes this dwelling place is the tabernacle. But how can we, sinful human beings, dwell together with God and even dwell in God, who is holy and righteous? It is only by the offerings that we can dwell in the holy and righteous God.
It is helpful to consider the picture of the tabernacle and the offerings in the Old Testament. According to chapter forty of Exodus, when the tabernacle was erected, God’s glory descended upon it and filled it. What a glorious scene that was! In this scene God was camping among His people. Although He was in the heavens, He came down to dwell in a tent among the children of Israel. How could sinful people come into God’s tent? The only way they could enter the dwelling place of God was through the offerings. Therefore, before anyone could come into the tabernacle, he had to come to the altar and offer the sacrifices required by God’s righteousness, holiness, and glory.
As sinners, we cannot fulfill the requirements of God’s righteousness, holiness, and glory. But God has prepared the offerings. According to Leviticus, the main offerings are the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering. In addition, there are the wave offering, the heave offering, and the freewill offerings. By means of these offerings the problems between us and God can be solved. When the offering comes, the problem goes. Hence, by means of the offerings we may enter God’s dwelling place and meet with Him, eat with Him, converse with Him, and enjoy Him.
As we enjoy God, He enjoys us. We may use family life as an illustration. On the one hand, children enjoy the parents; on the other hand, parents enjoy the children. We may say that the children’s enjoyment of the parents becomes the parents’ enjoyment. Likewise, when we come into the tabernacle through the offerings, we enjoy God, and He enjoys us.
THE INCARNATED GOD
Now we can see that the reality of the universe is the tabernacle and the offerings. It is true to say that both the tabernacle and the offerings are Christ. However, we need to go on to speak in a more detailed way and say that the tabernacle is God incarnated, and Christ is the incarnated God. Furthermore, as the Lamb of God, Christ is all the offerings. God manifested in the flesh is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. The content, the reality, of the entire universe is God incarnate, God becoming a man. Jesus Christ, the God-man, is the tabernacle and the offerings.
Jesus Christ is both God and man. As the God-man, He is the tabernacle to be the dwelling place for God and man. He is also the offerings for man to enter into God. This One, who is both the tabernacle and the offerings, is the reality and content of the universe.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 22, by Witness Lee)