In the Old Testament we have Bethel (Gen. 28:12-13a, 16-19a, 22a). What is the emphasis with Bethel? Bethel means the house of God. According to Genesis 28, at Bethel we see the stone with oil poured upon it. In this chapter Jacob poured oil upon the stone and called it Bethel. This indicates that Bethel, the house of God, is composed of stone and oil. Stone signifies God’s transformed people (John 1:42; Matt. 16:18; 1 Pet. 2:5), and the oil signifies God as the Spirit reaching His people. Here we see the mingling of God with His people.
With Bethel we also have the gate of heaven with the ladder set up on earth and reaching heaven (John 1:51). This ladder brings heaven to earth and joins earth to heaven. We experience this ladder in the church life. The church life is the gate of heaven, and in the church life we have the sense that heaven is brought down to earth and earth is joined to heaven. This is Bethel.
In Exodus 25 we have the tabernacle, a holy place for God’s dwelling (Exo. 25:8-9). The tabernacle was built of acacia wood overlaid with gold (Exo. 26:15, 29). Since acacia wood signifies proper humanity and gold signifies divinity, here we have humanity mingled with divinity.
Furthermore, the tabernacle was held by and covered with Christ’s redemption (Exo. 38:27; 26:14). The tabernacle rested on one hundred silver sockets. Each socket was a talent of silver weighing over a hundred pounds. These hundred sockets were the foundation of the tabernacle. By this we see that the tabernacle was actually held by these sockets. Silver signifies the redemption of Christ. Hence, the tabernacle was held by Christ’s redemption. Moreover, the tabernacle was also covered with the redemption of Christ, as signified by the rams’ skins dyed red.
With the tabernacle we also have Christ as the offerings for God’s redeemed to enter in and the riches of Christ for the ones who have entered in to enjoy within the tabernacle. Through Christ as the offerings, God’s redeemed people can enter the tabernacle. Then once inside the tabernacle they can enjoy the riches of Christ signified by the showbread table, the lampstand, the ark, and the incense altar.
In the Old Testament the temple was the house of God (1 Kings 6:1). As God’s house, the temple was the tabernacle enlarged (1 Kings 6:2, 20; see Exo. 26:15-16, 18, 20, 22). The temple was founded upon a foundation of stone (1 Kings 6:37), and it was built of stone, cedar, and fir overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:7, 9, 15-16, 18, 20-22). Stone signifies transformed humanity; cedar, humanity in resurrection; and fir, humanity through death. As we have seen with the tabernacle, gold signifies divinity. Therefore, with the temple we once again see the mingling of divinity with humanity through death and in resurrection and transformation.
The temple was God’s rest. It satisfied His desire forever. It also was a place of rich provision for His people (Psa. 132:13-16).
THE SAINTS’ ENJOYMENT OF THE HOUSE OF GOD
In addition to being God’s rest, the temple was also the saints’ enjoyment. This enjoyment is portrayed in the Psalms. The saints enjoyed God’s riches in the temple. This indicates that the house of God was not only God’s dwelling place, but was also the dwelling place of the saints. The saints longed and yearned to dwell in it (Psa. 84:1-2, 4, 10; 43:3; 122:1; 23:6). In the temple they found a home for themselves and also a nest for their young (Psa. 84:3). This indicates that in the church life we find a home for ourselves and also a nest for the young ones we bring in. Furthermore, in the temple the saints enjoyed the Lord as the sun and shield with grace and glory (Psa. 84:11). In the temple they beheld the beauty of the Lord and inquired in it (Psa. 27:4). They were also satisfied abundantly with the riches of God’s house, drinking of the river of God’s pleasures, enjoying the fountain of life, and receiving the divine light (Psa. 36:8-9). This is a picture of the divine riches we enjoy in the church life, the house of God.
In the temple the saints grow like a green olive tree, full of sap and fruit (Psa. 52:8; 92:13-14). In the temple they also receive God’s revelation concerning the destiny of the ungodly and the godly under His dealing (Psa. 73:13-25). This indicates that in the church life we receive God’s revelation concerning situations that we are not able to understand. If you enter into the church life, you will see God’s revelation concerning the godly and the ungodly.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 37, by Witness Lee)