THE BREADTH OF THE BOARDS
Each board is one and one-half cubits wide (Exo. 26:15-16). This is exceedingly significant. The numbers three and five are the main numbers in God’s building, and one and one-half is half of three. This means that neither you nor I are a whole unit; we are just a half of a unit. We need another half to match us. When the Lord Jesus sent out His disciples, He sent them two by two: Peter was one and one-half, and John was one and one-half. When they were put together, they equaled three cubits, or a whole unit. We can never be independent; we must have someone else to match us. Many times when we observe a husband and wife, they look just like two halves of one whole. In the home, a husband needs his dear wife, but in the church he needs someone else to match him. The sending forth of the New Testament disciples two by two clearly reveals that they were not individualistic persons, but members one of another. Not one individual Christian is a whole body. We are but members, and we need other members to match us. The primary factor in the church life is that regardless of what kind of person I am, I am still only one and one-half cubits wide. Someone may be as big as the Apostle Paul, but he must still remember that he is only one and one-half cubits. Most of us believe that the Apostle Paul wrote the book of 1 Corinthians alone. However, if we look closely, we will see that someone else, one who is unknown by most Christians, was his other half writing with him (1 Cor. 1:1). The Apostle Paul was not independent; he did not write in an individualistic and uncoordinated way.
We must be definitely and practically related with other Christians. This is why there were forty-eight rather than forty-seven or forty-five boards in the tabernacle. There was an even number, not an odd number. We cannot have any odd brothers or sisters in the church; we must all constitute an even number. Thus, we must constantly realize that we in ourselves are not complete; we are just half a unit. We must always be related to someone else. For many years I have never dared to act in an individualistic way. Praise the Lord, under His authority I have always had some brother or sister to match me. We must be matched with others.
Every board has two tenons (Exo. 26:17). This is quite interesting. Why do we have two feet rather than one? It is because with only one foot a person would be unbalanced, unstable, and without confirmation. Likewise, a board may easily turn on just one tenon, but with two tenons it is fixed. Many brothers are indeed precious, but they turn so easily. They are constantly turning. Last week they were so positive toward the Lord, but this week they have changed, they have turned. Oh, there is no turning with God! (James 1:17). The reason many dear Christians are continually turning is because they have one tenon instead of two. With two tenons we are always balanced and fixed.
If you are such a turning brother, you had better find another brother to be a tenon to you. You are short of one tenon; so you must borrow a tenon from someone else. Whenever you begin to turn, you must seek fellowship and confirmation from your brother. Go to him and ask whether or not he agrees with what you are doing. If he does not, then you must not turn. Learn to have another tenon and be confirmed by others.
The two tenons are fixed in two sockets (Exo. 26:19, 21, 25). Each board, therefore, has two tenons fixed in two sockets. Each socket weighs one talent of silver, or approximately one hundred pounds. That means that under each board there is a base of two hundred pounds. It is impossible for a board to turn or fall with such a base. Thus, each board is exceedingly stable and fixed. Yet there is something more.
THE RINGS AND BARS
Upon the gold overlay of each board there are rings, and through the rings are bars joining all the boards together (Exo. 26:26-29). There are five bars on each side connecting the twenty boards. It is indeed interesting. Note how these five bars on each side of the twenty boards are arranged. A single bar extends from one end of the twenty boards to the other and is the middle bar of the five bars. The other four bars are divided into two broken rows of two bars each, with one row above and the other row beneath the middle bar. Thus the five bars are arranged in three rows. Again we see the numbers three and five. Three signifies the Triune God, and five is the number of the creature plus the Creator to bear responsibility. Therefore, the uniting power of the church is the Triune God mingled with the creature. The bars, which signify the uniting Holy Spirit, are made of wood overlaid with gold. Not only is there wood within the boards, but there is also wood within the bars. This signifies that in the Holy Spirit, who unites us together, there is also the human element. This is very meaningful.
In chapter five of Andrew Murray’s book, The Spirit of Christ, there is a statement concerning the Spirit of the glorified Jesus. He says there that the Holy Spirit is not only of the divine nature, but also with the human nature. Hence, wood is used in the type of the uniting Holy Spirit, because He is not only the Spirit of God, but also the Spirit of the glorified man, Jesus. Included in the Spirit of Jesus today are the divine nature and the human nature. Today, the Holy Spirit of Christ is such an all-inclusive Spirit! It is this Holy Spirit, the Spirit with both the divine and human nature, that unites the saints together.
The boards of the tabernacle are not united by the wood, but by the gold. If the element of gold were removed, all the boards would fall apart. In the boards alone, there is no oneness. The unity is in the gold, in the divine nature. The rings typify the Holy Spirit in regeneration, the very initial experience of the Holy Spirit. The bars are the uniting Holy Spirit, with both the divine and human natures. The bars unite all the parts together as one body. When we remain in the divine nature, in Christ, in God, then we are one. The unity of the church is in the divine nature, in God and Christ as the Spirit.
There are three groups of bars: one on the north side, another on the south side, and the last on the west side, at the rear of the tabernacle. Again, this typifies the three persons of the Godhead. The expression of the Triune God is continually seen in the tabernacle, God’s building.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)