AN ABSTRACT OF THE BIBLE AND ITS EXTRACTS
The Gospel of John is an abstract of the entire Bible. Whereas the Gospel of John is an abstract of the Bible, the fulfillment of the tabernacle and the offerings is an extract of this Gospel. Because the Bible is so long, we need an abstract of it in order to see a sketch of the whole. Then we need an extract of this abstract to see its essence. In these messages our concern is with the extract of each chapter.
As we have previously pointed out, an extract may be understood as a liquid extracted from a plant or other organic matter and that contains its essence in concentrated form. A synonym for extract is “spirit,” which is the essence of a substance extracted in liquid form. Wine, for example, may be regarded as an extract, or spirit, of grapes. Whenever you extract the essence of a particular substance, you get the spirit of that substance. The extracts of certain substances are sometimes used as medicine. We may say that the twenty-one chapters of the Gospel of John are a certain substance, and in these messages we are concerned with the extract of this substance. Likewise, this extract may cheer us, or, like medicine, it may heal us.
We have pointed out that the content and reality of the universe is God’s people as His dwelling place. The universe may be compared to a shell, and God’s people as His dwelling place, to the content of this shell. Today God is building His people together to become His dwelling place. This dwelling place is the tabernacle. According to the picture in the Old Testament, God’s serving ones, the priests, dwelt in the tabernacle; that is, they dwelt in God’s dwelling place. Hence, the tabernacle is a mutual dwelling place, a dwelling place for both God and man. This dwelling place is the center and reality of the universe and also the center and reality of the Bible.
THE TABERNACLE AND THE LAMB OF GOD
We have pointed out that the Gospel of John is an abstract of the entire Bible. In this book we have the fulfillment of the tabernacle and all the offerings. We have the tabernacle in the first chapter of John: “In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God.…And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” (1:1, 14). This is a literal translation of the Greek. However, some versions are not literal in rendering verse 14 and use the word “dwelt” instead of “tabernacled.” But writing this Gospel under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John selected the word “tabernacled” to indicate that Jesus, the very God incarnate, was a tabernacle. While the Lord Jesus was in the flesh dwelling among men, He was tabernacling among them. Therefore, John 1:14 indicates that Christ is the real tabernacle. First, He was God’s dwelling place, and now He has also become our dwelling place. This means that He is the mutual dwelling place of God and of God’s chosen people.
In the Old Testament we have the type of the tabernacle. But in the Gospel of John we have the fulfillment of the type. The type of the tabernacle in Exodus was a shadow or model; it was not the real tabernacle. The real tabernacle, the fulfillment of the type, is in the Gospel of John. God incarnate is this real tabernacle. As God in the flesh, Jesus is the real tabernacle in which God dwells and in which we also may dwell. By this we see that the fulfillment of the type of the tabernacle is in the Gospel of John.
In chapter one of the Gospel of John we have not only the tabernacle but also the Lamb of God: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (v. 29). What is the Lamb of God? Here in John 1 the Lamb of God is the aggregate of all the offerings, the totality of the offerings. In typology the offerings were a number of categories: the sin offering, the trespass offering, the burnt offering, the meal offering and the peace offering. In addition, there were the wave offering, the heave offering, the freewill offerings, and also the drink offering. But the basic offerings are the sin offering, the trespass offering, the burnt offering, the meal offering, and the peace offering. All these offerings are represented in John 1 by the Lamb of God. Therefore, in chapter one of John we have the tabernacle and the aggregate of all the offerings.
To say that in John 1 we have the tabernacle and the offerings means that in this chapter we have the tabernacle and the altar that is in front of the tabernacle. Of course, the word “altar” cannot be found in this chapter. Nevertheless, here we have the fact of the altar. Verse 29 tells us to behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Where did the Lamb of God take away our sin? He did this on the cross, and the cross is the altar. Hence, in John 1 we have the tabernacle and the cross, the altar.
The altar is for the entry into the tabernacle. Apart from the offerings, we do not have a way to enter into the tabernacle. The Lamb of God is the way for us to enter into the real tabernacle.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 36, by Witness Lee)