GOD’S WORK OF BUILDING IN THE NEW CREATION
Here we must review the difference between the old creation of God and His new creation. The old creation was an empty vessel as a container to contain God. It was created by God, but it had nothing of God. The new creation, on the other hand, is the old creation transformed by God by receiving God as its content. The old creation as an empty vessel has no content of God, but the new creation as a corporate vessel is filled with God as its content. Because it is no longer empty but filled with God, it has been transformed from its old shape, form, and nature into a new one. In this way it has become new. Before you were saved, you were an empty vessel, like an empty cup or bottle. You were made by God to contain Him, but you were corrupted and ruined by Satan. Since the time you received the Lord and acknowledged Him as the Redeemer, His blood has cleansed you from all defilement and filth, and at the same time, the Lord has entered into you to fill you up and be your content. Hence, you are no more an empty vessel. Rather, you have become a vessel filled with the Lord. From that time on, due to the filling of the Lord, a change has taken place in you and is still taking place all the time. Do you realize that you are changing day by day, even moment by moment? As an empty vessel, you were the old man and you were a part of the old creation. As a filled vessel with Christ, you are a part of the new man, a part of the new creation.
TWO LINES OF BUILDING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
After God’s work of creation, He began to do a work of building. The new creation is a building work. After God created everything, He began to build up a Body, a corporate vessel, a city, to contain Himself. In the first two chapters of the Bible God finished His work of creation, and from Genesis 3 to the end of the Scriptures what God has been doing has been a building work. God is building Himself and man to be a corporate Body to express Himself. Genesis 3 to the end of the Scriptures is a long record of stage after stage of the building.
Throughout all the Scriptures, the enemy has always tried to discover God’s plan and do something before God does. God had an intention to build up a city, but before God did this, the enemy of God did something first. Cain was the second generation of the human race, the first son of Adam. After Cain’s separation from God, he built up a city, which he called after the name of his son Enoch (Gen. 4:17). This city of Enoch, built by Cain, became the center of civilization before the flood. All the corruption during that age before the flood was centered in that city. As a sinful city full of sins it was a container of Satan. Therefore, God destroyed that city by the flood. After the flood, God obtained a new world, but something happened again. The descendants of Noah were very much used by the enemy to build up another city, the city of Babel with the tower of Babel (11:4-9). Babel was the original name of Babylon. That was a city of Satan.
In that situation, God called out a person by the name of Abraham (12:1-3). God brought him to an elevated land, signifying the place of resurrection. God put him there and promised him that He would build a city for him. Later on, God did build a city on the elevated land, which was Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, Babylon always opposed Jerusalem. These two cities were always against one another. Eventually, Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon, and all the utensils for the worship in the temple in Jerusalem were captured and brought by the Babylonians to Babylon and put in the temples of idols there. When Daniel, a faithful servant of God, was captured and remained in Babylon, day by day he opened his windows and looked toward Jerusalem, remembering Jerusalem before God (Dan. 6:10). He never forgot Jerusalem, because he knew the divine thought of God. Later, there was the return of the captives, the recovery, and in that recovery Nehemiah built up the destroyed wall of Jerusalem, which required much fighting (Neh. 4:16-21; 6:15-16).
Earlier, when the people of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, they were forced by the Egyptians to build two cities for Pharaoh with bricks of clay and straw. They had to labor to gather straw and burn the clay into bricks for the building (Exo. 1:11, 14; 5:15-19). This is a picture, typifying that people of God have been captured, kept, and retained under the hand of Satan in the world to labor for Satan in order to build up the world as a container for him. While you are working in the world on your job, you must be careful. Do not do anything to help Pharaoh to build up his two cities as a container to contain Satan and all his corruption. The Lord delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt and brought them through the Red Sea. Then at a certain point the Lord came to them and told them to build a tabernacle for Him, not with straw, mud, clay, or dust, but with gold, silver, and precious stones. That was the building of the tabernacle with the priesthood, full of precious stones and gold, as God’s dwelling place. There is a contrast between the building of the cities in Egypt and the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness. The cities built in Egypt were the containers of Satan with all his corruption, while the tabernacle built in the wilderness was a container for God with His holiness.
The foregoing history helps us to understand that the whole Old Testament is a history of building. People were either utilized by Satan, the enemy of God, to build up cities to contain Satan with all his corruption, or they were used by God to build up a city to contain God with His holiness.
(The Central Thought of God, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)