SPIRIT AND LIFE
Not many Christians have seen that the tabernacle and the offerings are fulfilled in the Gospel of John. However, in the last century certain of the Brethren teachers saw this. Approximately sixty years ago, when I was under the teaching of the Brethren, I was told that in the Gospel of John we can find the tabernacle and all the offerings. The Brethren teaching, however, did not place much emphasis on the Spirit and life. Their teaching presented the picture of the tabernacle and the altar in John as the fulfillment of the tabernacle and the offerings in the Old Testament, but it did not reveal the Spirit and life in this picture.
Two crucial matters in the Gospel of John are life and the Spirit. John is a book on eternal life, and eternal life is related to the Spirit. Without eternal life and the Spirit, we can have only a picture of the tabernacle and the offerings, but not the reality and practicality of the tabernacle and the offerings.
Recently we gave a series of messages entitled “The Central View of the Divine Dispensation.” Those messages were concerned with God’s dispensing. God’s dispensing is altogether a matter of eternal life and the Spirit. Furthermore, this dispensing is for the purpose of fulfilling the tabernacle and all the offerings. When we have the adequate dispensing of God into us as life, we eventually become the tabernacle; and when we become the tabernacle, we enjoy Christ in a practical way as all the offerings. Thus we have the fulfillment of the tabernacle and the offerings.
THE OFFERINGS IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
Perhaps you are wondering where in the Gospel of John we can find the sin offering, the trespass offering, the burnt offering, the meal offering, and the peace offering. We have the sin offering in chapter three, a chapter that describes the case of Nicodemus. Verse 14 says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” This verse speaks of Christ as the sin offering to deal with indwelling sin, that is, to deal with our serpentine nature.
In chapter four, which describes the case of an immoral Samaritan woman, we have the trespass offering. Nicodemus’ problem was the serpentine nature, but the Samaritan woman’s problem was her trespasses, for she had had five husbands and was living with someone who was not her husband. She needed Christ as her trespass offering.
In chapter seven we see that Christ is absolute for God’s glory and also absolute to do God’s will. This is Christ as the burnt offering for God’s satisfaction.
We find the meal offering in chapter six, a chapter that speaks of the bread of life. Here the bread of life is the meal offering.
Finally, in chapter twelve we see Christ as the peace offering. In a house in Bethany the Lord Jesus and some of the believers were feasting. Together they were enjoying the peace offering. Therefore, in chapters three, four, seven, six, and twelve we see Christ as the fulfillment of the five basic offerings in the Old Testament.
A FULL PICTURE OF THE TABERNACLE
Along with the altar and all the offerings, we need the laver. As we have pointed out, the laver is a place for washing. Chapter thirteen of the Gospel of John gives us the laver for foot-washing.
After the laver, we have the tabernacle. The laver is in chapter thirteen, and the tabernacle is in chapters fourteen through sixteen. In these chapters we have the tabernacle with the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Then in chapter seventeen we have the incense altar, for in this chapter we have Christ’s intercessory prayer. If we put all these matters together, we shall see that in the Gospel of John we have a full picture of the tabernacle.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 36, by Witness Lee)