THE ARK SIGNIFYING CHRIST AS THE BUILDING OF GOD AND MAN
The first building of God in the Scriptures is Noah’s ark (Gen. 6:14-16). The ark is a type of Christ the Redeemer to be the Savior to us. With Him there is redemption, deliverance, salvation, safety, and refuge. Why then was the ark a building? We realize that Noah’s ark is a type of Christ, but we may not realize why it needed to be a building. Here is a divine thought which has been neglected by many people.
To make a building simply means to put different materials together. Christ the Redeemer and Savior is a building. Christ is not only God but a God-man; He is God built together with man. Originally, Christ was only God. John 1:1 says that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. However, verse 14 says that the Word became flesh. The Word as God mingled Himself with humanity. This was a building. Verse 14 says that when Christ as the Word of God was incarnated in the flesh, He tabernacled among us. The incarnated Lord is a tabernacle, a building of the divine material mingled together with the human material. In Christ is divinity and humanity. His two natures are the materials which are mingled together and built up as one. Christ as the Savior, who is God incarnated as a man, is the building, the mingling, of divinity with humanity, a building of God with man.
Before we were saved, we were only a creation and not a building. At most, we were part of the material for the building. However, now that we are saved, God has mingled Himself with us. He has mingled the divine nature with our human nature, making us a divine building.
The numbers three and five are often used in the building of the ark. The ark was three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. Moreover, it had three stories, not two or four, with one opening for light. Three is the number of the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—and five is the number of responsibility, just as we have five fingers on each hand for responsibility in doing things. Five is composed of four plus one. One signifies the one God, while four is the number of the creatures, such as the four living creatures in Revelation 4:6-8. Four plus one signifies the Creator added to the creatures to be a building. Christ is the very God mingled with creation, the “one” mingled with the “four.” As the real “five,” Christ is the God-man, God mingled with man, who bears the responsibility for us before God. Moreover, in Him as the ark there are the “three stories”—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
THE TABERNACLE AND THE TEMPLE SIGNIFYING THE MINGLING OF GOD WITH HIS CREATURES
The numbers three and five occur many times also in the building of the tabernacle in Exodus (25:8-9). Many items were measured by three and five. Just as the ark had three stories, the tabernacle had three parts—the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. The width of the boards of the tabernacle was one and a half cubits; two boards matched together equaled three cubits. The height of the boards was ten cubits, divided into an upper and lower part of five cubits each, just as the Ten Commandments were written on two tablets of five commandments each.
There were three furnishings in the Holy Place—the showbread table, the lampstand, and the altar of incense. Likewise, three items were hidden in the ark of the testimony. There are many other occurrences of three and five in the tabernacle. Again, three signifies the Triune God, and five signifies the adding of God to His creatures. Therefore, the building of God is the mingling of God Himself with His creatures.
There are also many things to say about the temple (1 Kings 6:1). The temple is a full picture of the mingling of God with His creatures. Again, in the temple there is the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. These signify the three “stories” of the Triune God. When the Lord Christ came in incarnation, He said that He was the temple. On the one hand, when He became flesh, He was the tabernacle, but in John 2:19 He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” His body was a temple, the house of God which the Jewish people destroyed, but the Lord rose up again after three days. This further indicates that the Lord Himself is a building.
THE CHURCH AS THE MINGLING OF GOD AND MAN
The principle of the Lord being a building is that God mingles Himself with humanity, and this is the principle of God’s building in general. Therefore, the church also is the divine mingling of God Himself with humanity. The church is not something of the old creation. It is God’s building composed of God Himself as the divine material mingled with man as the human material. In this sense, the church is a hybrid. A hybrid is a mingling of two lives and natures into one entity. The mingling of a plum and a peach, for example, is a plant hybrid. The church is a divine hybrid as the mingling of God with man.
We may speak much concerning the building of the church, but we must realize that the building is the mingling of God with man. The more we are mingled with God, the more we are built up together. It is impossible for us to be built up together without God. Even if we could be built in this way, that would not be the building of God; it would merely be a building of people. The church as the building of God is not a combination or composition of humans. Rather, it is a mingling of God with humanity.
(The Building of God, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)