THE REBUILT TABERNACLE
The overall subject of all the extracts in the Gospel of John is the fulfillment of the tabernacle and the offerings. This means that in the extracts we have the fulfillment of the tabernacle and the offerings. Chapter two of John, in particular, reveals the tabernacle. The building up of the destroyed temple is certainly related to the reality of the tabernacle. This rebuilt temple is the very tabernacle into which we must enter.
The first mention of the tabernacle in the Gospel of John is in 1:14: “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” Then in chapter two we again see the tabernacle. In chapter two this tabernacle was first the physical body of the Lord Jesus, God incarnate. The Lord said, “Destroy this temple” (2:19). “This temple” corresponds to the tabernacle in 1:14. We have seen that this tabernacle is the incarnated Christ. At a certain time, the temple of the Lord’s physical body was destroyed by the Jews. Following that, the divine life within the Lord Jesus rebuilt that destroyed temple. Now this rebuilt temple has become the real temple, the real tabernacle.
The tabernacle in 1:14 was real; however, it was not as real as the rebuilt temple in chapter two. The tabernacle in 1:14 was only in the flesh. But when it had been destroyed and rebuilt, it was in resurrection. To be in resurrection is to be in the Spirit. Therefore, the rebuilt tabernacle is the real tabernacle in the Spirit.
Furthermore, the tabernacle in 1:14 did not include us. But the rebuilt temple in chapter two not only includes us; it is also composed of us. The genuine entering into the tabernacle means that we are included in the composition of this tabernacle. Today the rebuilt tabernacle is the church. By what way do we enter the church as God’s tabernacle? We enter the tabernacle by being built into it, not by merely coming into it. If you only come into the tabernacle, you may go out after a period of time. The only thing that can keep you in the tabernacle is the fact that you are built into it and you thus become a part of its composition.
Let us use a church meeting hall as an illustration. We come into the hall for a meeting, but after the meeting is over we leave the hall. However, the materials that have been built into the meeting hall, especially the beams and the columns, never leave it. The only way to remove the beams and the columns from the meeting hall would be to demolish the building.
In the same principle, we all should be built into the church as today’s tabernacle of God (Rev. 3:12). I do not believe that anyone can take me out of the church life, because I have been built into the church and have become part of it. The only way to remove me from the church life would be to utterly destroy the whole church. If that were to happen, I would be destroyed along with the church. The point we are making is that the rebuilt temple in chapter two of John includes us all and is built with us all. This means that we are the temple, the tabernacle.
We need the types in Exodus and also the signs in the Gospel of John. If we did not have the Old Testament types, we would not have an adequate knowledge of the signs in John. Likewise, if we did not have the signs in the Gospel of John, we would not be able to have a deep understanding of the types in Exodus.
THE WAY TO BE BUILT INTO THE TEMPLE
Perhaps you are wondering how we can be built into the rebuilt temple. According to the signs in John 2, the way we are built into the temple is through the changing of death into life. The second sign in John 2, that of the rebuilt temple, depends on the first sign, that of changing water into wine. If water is not changed into wine, that is, if death is not changed into life, it will be impossible for the destroyed temple to be rebuilt.
Daily in the church life there may be some amount of destruction. Without the changing of water into wine, the changing of death into life, once the church has been destroyed, there would not be a way for it to be rebuilt. But the changing of death into life makes the rebuilding possible.
Because of the changing of death into life, we are not afraid of destruction. The church may be destroyed, but life will rebuild it. In the past we have experienced destruction. But we can praise the Lord that this destruction has brought in rebuilding by life. Through the changing of death into life we have experienced the rebuilding of the destroyed temple. Many of us can testify that years ago there was much death among us. Hallelujah, this death has been changed into life, and this life rebuilds the church!
Throughout the centuries, the mysteries and the signs in John have not been adequately seen by God’s people. How we thank the Lord that, in His mercy, He has removed the veils to show these things to us! Now we can see things that are even deeper, richer, and more significant than what we covered in the Life-study of this Gospel.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)