THE TEN SIGNS IN CHAPTERS FOURTEEN THROUGH SEVENTEEN
The Sign of the Father’s House
Let us now go on to have an overview of the ten signs in chapters fourteen through seventeen. The first sign in these chapters is the sign of the Father’s house. Many Christians think that the Father’s house in John 14 refers to a heavenly mansion. This concept, however, is far off.
When we come to chapter fourteen, we shall consider the revelation concerning God’s dwelling place from the beginning in Genesis to the consummation in Revelation. We shall cover a number of items, the first of which will be Jacob’s dream at Bethel (Gen. 28). Bethel means the house of God. In previous messages on Bethel we pointed out that Bethel is the gate of heaven, and that at Bethel heaven is brought down to earth, and earth is joined to heaven. In Genesis 28:17 Jacob declared, “This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Furthermore, we are told in verse 12 that the ladder Jacob saw in his dream was “set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven.” The vital point, however, is that the Lord stood above the ladder (v. 13). This indicates that the ladder actually reached not to heaven but to God. This ladder brings God to earth and joins earth to God.
In Genesis Jacob saw Bethel, but in Exodus Jacob’s descendants built the tabernacle. We need to realize that the tabernacle actually was Bethel, the house of God, God’s dwelling place on earth. Moreover, the tabernacle was the gate of heaven. When the tabernacle was erected, the glory of God descended upon it, filled it, and overshadowed it.
Eventually, the tabernacle in Exodus became the temple. Here we see the progress from Bethel to the tabernacle and from the tabernacle to the temple. We may say that the Old Testament is a history of the tabernacle and the temple.
In the Old Testament God’s people enjoyed the house of God. According to Psalm 132, it was the place of God’s rest, the place that satisfied His desire. It was also a place of rich provision for God’s people.
If you know the Old Testament, you will realize that the enjoyment of God’s redeemed people was the temple. They longed, yearned, to dwell in the temple. The psalmist says that to dwell one day in the temple is better than dwelling a thousand days elsewhere (84:10). How God’s people appreciated His house! According to Psalm 27:4, it was there they could behold the beauty of the Lord. Psalm 36:8 indicates that they were bountifully, abundantly satisfied with the fatness of God’s house. There in His house they drank of the river of God’s pleasures. The Hebrew word translated “pleasures” is the plural of the word for Eden. This means that God’s people drank the river of Eden, the river of paradise. God’s people also longed to be planted in the house of God. They knew that they would grow in the house of God as a green olive tree full of sap and that even in old age they would continue to bear fruit (52:8; 92:13-14). All these verses in the Psalms indicate the enjoyment of the Old Testament saints in the house of God.
Apart from God’s dwelling place, the temple, the Old Testament saints did not have any enjoyment. The record in the Old Testament does not speak of entertainment or amusement enjoyed by God’s people. Rather, the Bible tells us only of the feasts at Mount Zion around the house of God. This was their real enjoyment. Their holy days, their holidays, were the feasts, and their weekend was the Sabbath, a day on which they enjoyed resting with God. Their enjoyment was altogether related to the house of God. This is a brief description of the Father’s house in the Old Testament.
In forthcoming messages we shall also consider the Father’s house in the New Testament. The first aspect of the Father’s house in the New Testament is Christ incarnated to be the tabernacle (John 1:14). The incarnated Christ was the Father’s house, the tabernacle. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, this tabernacle was enlarged and became the church, the house of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). Eventually, the church as God’s dwelling place will consummate in the New Jerusalem. Therefore, there are six matters related to the great sign of the Father’s house: Bethel, the tabernacle, the temple, Christ, the church, and the New Jerusalem.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 35, by Witness Lee)