THE PROGRESS OF THE ENLARGEMENT OF GOD’S BUILDING
In conclusion, let us briefly look at the progress in the enlargement of God’s building throughout Scripture. In the first stage there was something very small, as a building in miniature: there were the tents of Noah and Abraham with an altar. The tents of Noah and Abraham were exceedingly small, and their altars were very elementary. The altars at which Noah and Abraham worshipped were undoubtedly crude, being composed probably of just a few stones put together. That was the first stage of God’s building; it was but a miniature shadow. In the second stage there was the tabernacle with the brazen altar. This was quite an enlargement over the tent and altar. Then, in the third stage, there was Solomon’s temple with its brass altar (2 Chron. 4:1). Both this temple and the altar were more solid and of greater increase and enlargement. In Ezekiel’s vision there was an even more greatly enlarged temple with a wonderful altar (Ezek. 43:13-17) at the very center of the premises of the temple (Ezek. 40:47). However, the New Jerusalem will be the ultimate manifestation of God’s building and the greatest enlargement of all.
It is interesting to note that when Abraham was living in his small tent, he was living in the first stage of God’s building, but he was looking for its last stage, the city which had foundations (Heb. 11:10). Do you see this vision of the continual increase in the enlargement of God’s building? Oh, the entire Scriptures are a record of building. God’s building is nothing but man mingled with God and God mingled with man. It began with a little tent and altar, then throughout history it came more and more into shape, until eventually and ultimately it will become the New Jerusalem, for which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all looking!
GOD’S BUILDING PORTRAYED IN THE PSALMS
Before closing the record of the Old Testament and proceeding to the New, let us consider three Psalms which show the appreciation some of the Old Testament saints had for God’s building.
First let us consider the very familiar twenty-third Psalm. The subject of this Psalm is in verse one: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Each of the five verses following reveal a successive stage of spiritual experience. The first stage is that of green pastures and still waters. We all enjoy being in the green pastures and drinking the still waters: both of these experiences are the different aspects of the experience of the riches of Christ. But the steps in this Psalm show that seeking Christians are those who go on after they have enjoyed the riches of the Lord. The green pastures and still waters are just the initial experiences of Christ; they are the stage of childhood. After enjoying the riches of Christ, the Psalmist goes on to the second stage, where he is led through the paths of righteousness for the sake of the Lord’s name. Then we come to the third stage, the valley of the shadow of death. While we are walking in the paths of righteousness, we will pass through the valley of the shadow of death; but we will fear no evil, for the Lord is with us. His rod and His staff will comfort us. In the fourth stage the Lord prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. This stage involves a battlefield; but even in the place of battle, we will enjoy something of the Lord as a feast in a more complete way. Our enjoyment of the Lord in the first stage, in the green pastures and still waters, is very elementary and rather rough. In the fourth stage our enjoyment is more rich and full. Our enjoyment here becomes a table, where the Lord anoints our head with oil and our cup overflows. Yet this is not the ultimate. In the final stage goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life, and we dwell in the house of the Lord forever! The house of the Lord is clearly set forth as the fifth and ultimate stage in our experience of the Lord.
In this Psalm we have seen five kinds of environment: firstly, the green pastures with still waters; secondly, the paths of righteousness; thirdly, the valley of the shadow of death; fourthly, the battlefield; and fifthly, the house of the Lord. Oh, we must go on to hit this mark and attain this goal; we must go on until one day we remain in the house of the Lord forever. This experience of the building of God is the ultimate and fullest of all spiritual experiences. May we continue on until we fully realize this stage of God’s building!
Now look briefly at Psalm 27. In verse 4 the Psalmist said, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” The temple of God is the only thing the Old Testament seeking ones were after. Their feelings, their affections, and their appreciation were for God’s house.
Finally, we come to Psalm 84, which says, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!” (v. 1). Verse 4 continues, “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee.” And verse 10 says, “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.” If we would really redeem the time, it is best to dwell in the house of God, for one day there will redeem a thousand days elsewhere. The Psalmist continues, “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” If he could not dwell in the house of God, the Psalmist would be satisfied to be even a doorkeeper of that house. This reveals the appreciation the Old Testament saints had for the Lord’s building, and we have looked at only a few psalms. Again, this proves that the building of God is the central thought of the Old Testament.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)