Exodus 25: 8-9 to “thereof”
I use these verses as an appeal to us from the Lord of glory, despised and rejected by men. Here He is saying, “And they shall make me a sanctuary”. He is confident that they would do it. How gloriously they did! He counted on them having heard His voice. Are you willing tonight to make Him a sanctuary? The word is addressed to the very youngest. You have a heart and He wants to fill it. The song says,
Room for pleasure, room for business,
But for Christ the Crucified,
Not a place that He can enter,
In the heart for which He died?
That would not be anybody here, I am sure, but as Paul says to the Corinthians, “let your heart also expand itself”, 2 Cor 6: 13. That is what the Lord Jesus wants you to do. He does not want to come just as a visitor. The poet says,
Be not to me, my God,
As One who turns aside
To tarry for a night, and trod
His onward path. Abide
With me as light divine,
(J N Darby, Spiritual Songs)
Are you saying that, ‘Abide with me’? Well the Lord is concerned, and I believe He is urgent, to find a dwelling-place, not only as a Visitor, not just when you are at the meetings. ‘I want to dwell among them’. “According to all that I shall shew thee, the pattern of the tabernacle … even so shall ye make it”. It was only a matter of months since they were slaves in Egypt, very young converts, and He is asking them to make Him a sanctuary.
In chapter 19 God says, “Ye have seen what I have done to the Egyptians, and how I have borne you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. And now …”, vv 4, 5. Look at these two words. That is where we are tonight, dear brethren, “And now …” He has brought you, wonderful favour, into an area where He is going to make wonderful proposals. He says, ‘I have dealt with Egypt to bring you to Myself'. He did not bring you to a church, or bring you to make a resolve that you would do better tomorrow. He says, “I have … brought you to myself”. Wonderful grace! Glorious Saviour! “And now …”, that is tonight. “And now, if ye will hearken to my voice …”. Maybe there have been other voices because Satan would say, ‘Well, you have confessed the Lord Jesus but you do not need to be too devout. You will go to heaven when you die’. That is a common expression in Christendom, but I do not think it is scripture. If God wanted just to forgive your sins and take you to heaven He would have taken you that night, but He did not. He left you here, as we have been saying, for the testimony; to “hearken to my voice indeed and keep my covenant”. Normally a convert is taken to the inn, Luke 10: 34. For the man on the Jericho road, He did not just pour in oil and wine, He took him to the inn. He brings you into heaven’s society when He forgives you your sins. That is where the man was going to live. If he had just gone back to Jericho, he would have been wounded again. The younger son repents and is made suitable for the house. “And now, if ye will hearken to my voice indeed and keep my covenant”, listen to this proposal, “then shall ye be my own possession out of all the peoples - for all the earth is mine”. What a Saviour! What a God! That is what He had in mind in forgiving you your sins, not taking you to heaven but to make you a people for a possession, “and ye shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” v 6. Oh what a change from the slaves of Egypt, saying that to them three months on the journey. How often has He appealed to you, my friend? Many a time I am sure, and I have known it and I have seen it in others. You have said, ‘Well, that was a good word. I will try and do better’, and within a week you were as bad as ever. He says, “I have … brought you to myself”. If you have an impression of Christ as He touches your heart, look to the Holy Spirit of God who alone will give you power, so that you are not drawn back into the bondage of Egypt. That is what God does in bringing you to Himself. He gives you the power of the Holy Spirit within you to overcome the claims of the devil, and the weaknesses of the flesh, that you may be here in the joy of His salvation. Salvation does not just mean that you are saved from your sins but that you are here in a power that is superior to the workings of the flesh and the appeals of the devil and brought into the full joy of life in the house, as “my own possession”. Does He not have a claim over you above every other claim? Dear brother, dear sister, we owe it to Him. We are not debtors to live to the flesh, Rom 8: 12. Peter says that the time past is sufficient for all that and now but we have the rest of our time, 1 Peter 4: 2, 3. May these meetings help us, dear brethren, about the rest of the time. , God would like you to speak to Him about the time past. That is Laodicea, “I will come in unto him and sup with him”, Rev 3: 20. He is ready to hear about the problems you have. Then He says, ‘You will sup with me, and I will tell you the superiority of the gift of the Spirit, that will give you power to go against the stream, and even the pull of nature’, because it has been superseded. “I have … brought you to myself”. Well, that is what He does to these people.
I want to read further on in Exodus in chapter 35 where you see God speaking to them again. “And all the assembly of the children of Israel departed from before Moses. And they came, every one whose heart moved him”, v 20, 21. Is that yours today? I trust it is. I have often pondered what God says, “I remember for thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals”, Jer 2: 2. I see it here in these verses. Let me say this, dear brethren, your young years are most precious to God. You may think, ‘I will do it when I am older’. You will not. God values the espousals of youth. He does not say, ‘I remember about you’. He says, “I remember for thee”. You may fail later on. He says, “I remember for thee”. Exercises will come up that may disturb you. God says, ‘I remember that person, that young boy, young girl, confessed my name at school, a young person committed himself to me in the fellowship and sought to be faithful, and now some troubles have come into their life …’ He says, “I remember for thee the kindness of thy youth”. What an Advocate to have! He is on our side, He knows our best days, and, when we fail, He knows how to bring us back. Dear brethren, these are real things. “I remember for thee”. You maybe wonder why some older people are able to quote scriptures better than you. They learned it in their youth. There are things of His patient love and grace that beget confidence in Him and bring stability into your life. “And they came, every one whose heart moved him, and every one whose spirit prompted him”. In the verses I am reading here you will find four or five times that the heart is involved and the feet follow. Where your heart is your feet will soon take you whether it is the local meeting or the sports ground, or whatever it may be. And that is what is happening here. It says in verses 21 to 24, “whose heart moved him, and … whose spirit prompted him; they brought Jehovah’s heave-offering for the work of the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. And they came, both men and women; every one who was of willing heart brought nose rings, and earrings, and rings, and bracelets, all kinds of utensils of gold: every man that waved a wave-offering of gold to Jehovah. And every man with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and byssus, and goats’ hair and rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, brought them. All they that offered a heave-offering of silver and copper brought Jehovah’s heave-offering. And every one with whom was found acacia-wood for all manner of work of the service, brought it”. Where did they get it, just three months out of Egypt? God knew that they had it. He does not ask you for what you do not already have. He had already given them it. How did they get it? They got it because they moved out of Egypt, “Rise, my soul, thy God directs thee ... Egypt’s food no more to eat ... On to Canaan’s rest still wending” (hymn 76) - there they were in those three months. What substance they acquired. It came to me in the reading, “that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance”, Prov 8: 21. That is where you will get it, by loving Christ, and that is where we may say that they got it. They saw that blood on the lintel, they ate that lamb roast with fire (Exod 12); there they are getting substance that helped them to move, and that is the kind of stimulation we need, dear brethren, something that will put us in movement. Do not just say, ‘It was a good word’, but there needs to be movement, and that is what they are doing here at personal sacrifice with nose rings, earrings, bracelets, everything that would adorn them in Egypt, everything that would adorn the wrong man; they are prepared to cast it all aside for that Lamb once slain. You may say, ‘Well, if I do that I will not have much left’. There was that widow that we spoke about yesterday. It says that she cast in “the whole of her living”, Mark 12: 44. In a very broken day, God says, “Bring the whole tithe into the treasure-house...and prove me now herewith … if I open not to you the windows of the heavens, and pour you out a blessing, till there be no place for it”, Mal 3: 10. That widow found that. I am sure when she went back to her house that day the table was laid, there was everything she needed, and God, my friend, is no man’s debtor. She cast in “the whole of her living”. You know, we sang that hymn 272 today, and we sang it very well, and I am tested when I sing it; I trust you are too. It was written many, many years ago:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Lord of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride...
Were the whole realm of nature mine ...
“My richest gain” - that is more than the nose rings and the earrings! Dear brethren, we sing these words. The Lord today is looking for reality, I have been impressed with that in these meetings, and He has provided the wherewithal that it can be possible, without any loss to you, but with everything to gain.
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!
Did you sing that today? “Demands my soul, my life, my all!” That was the widow. I am sure she was one of those in the upper room enjoying the blessedness of the house when the Holy Spirit came down and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Well, these are the things that they bring. What I want to say about this is that it is at personal sacrifice, nose rings and earrings; then it speaks about them waving a wave-offering - it was not grudgingly drawn out.
Well, dear brethren, the rest of the time to God’s will! It says here, too, they brought “blue, and purple, and scarlet”. Oh, see what God will do with it! He will bring it all into His house and clothe it with glory.
It says they brought acacia-wood. That is one of the finest things in the sanctuary, the acacia-wood. You say, ‘How can I bring that?’ The ark was made of it, and yet here is God asking you to bring something that the ark is made of. You see the acacia-wood in Philippians 2. You say, ‘Oh, that is the Lord Jesus’. Let us just look at it for a minute. Paul wrote in Philippians 2 that that mind might be in them, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus; who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God; but emptied himself, taking a bondman’s form”, v 5-7. That is the acacia-wood, “a bondman’s form”. The acacia-wood is what the ark was made of, but it was also what the boards were made of, “let this mind be in you …. a bondman’s form”. This whole section of Exodus is illuminated through a bondman saying, “I love my master, my wife, and my children, I will not go free”, Ex 21: 5. Having heard that bondman, God says, ‘I will tell you now about my system where I can be among you and in my sanctuary’. It is a very wonderful wood.
We will speak about these boards. In chapter 36 verse 20, “And he made the boards for the tabernacle of acacia-wood, standing up; ten cubits the length of the boards, and one cubit and a half the breadth of one board”. He made them standing up. What does that mean? It means you are ready to bear responsibility. You are not there as a spectator in the house of God. The boards were the strength of the sanctuary. They were not bowed down. You see the boards being developed in Romans, “O wretched man that I am!”, Rom 7: 24. He is soon standing up, glorying in his Redeemer. At the end of Romans Paul looked at them. and says, “who were in Christ before me”, Rom 16: 7. There was a board standing up on two bases of silver. Oh, what a ground to stand on! There is the power to stand up, not on your work or anything of man, but it says, “And he made the boards for the tabernacle: twenty boards for the south side southward; and he made forty bases of silver under the twenty boards, two bases under one board, for its two tenons, and two bases under another board for its two tenons”, Ex 36: 23, 24. They were standing on the ground of redemption. Wonderful ground to stand on!
'On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand'.
That is what the board was standing on. Paul has to remind the brethren of the ground that they stand on, even to the Ephesians. He reminded them, “Ye ... once were afar off”, Eph 2: 13. Because of what we are, we very soon get proud. We begin to think that we are a little better than some others. Every board stood on the same two bases, the finished work of Jesus. Oh, what a ground to stand on, every one of them! No one board was more precious than the other. They all cost the same to Christ. Do you see that about your brethren? I want to apply these boards to our local meeting, because that is what they really were. They were not standing there independently. You look in the passages I am reading, and see it was that the tabernacle might become one whole, Ex 26: 6. That is one of the beauties of acacia-wood. It is easy to stand beside the brother next to you because he is of the same material. As I said, they came out of Egypt that was one thing. They had passed through the Red Sea and they sang a song to their Deliverer. “The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea”, Ex 15: 1. You see the boards being fashioned, all ready to be fitted one to another. Further on they are looking for some food, and what did they find? They found the manna, angels’ food, Ex 16: 13-36. It is a very interesting thing about that manna. It says that they ate of it “until they came into an inhabited land”, v 35. It covered the whole of the wilderness journey. It forms another character of man that is impressionable. These boards had to stand very close together; their power, their efficiency, depended on that, otherwise the winds of the wilderness, the subtle suggestions of Satan, would very soon get in and spoil the local meeting. Dear brethren, the power of it all stands in the boards standing together, “they were joined”. And then in verses 27 and 28, “And at the rear of the tabernacle, westward, he made six boards; and he made two boards for the corners of the tabernacle at the rear”. The enemy is ready to sow seed and very quickly he would bring in some suggestions to disturb. God anticipated these difficulties and He is giving the grace that is needed. Dear brethren, let us look for this. The corners need strengthening with special grace and power, and He has provided it. The boards are prepared to take on the responsibility when exercises arise, as brethren are ready to shoulder it. They do not say, ‘Oh well, we will leave that to so-and-so. We will wait and see.’ No, it says, “And at the rear of the tabernacle … he made two boards for the corners … and they were joined beneath”, v 29. They were not just standing next to one another, they were joined beneath. Can you shake a corner like that? It says more than that. It says, “and they were joined beneath, and were coupled together at the top thereof into one ring: thus he did to both of them in both the corners”. That is how things will be met, dear brethren, in our local exercises. The corners get strengthened beneath. Not only am I founded in the finished work of Jesus, but then there is a ring at the top; “Firm, immovable, abounding always in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor 15: 58) is said of some saints. There they are fortified against what the enemy may bring in. I think you will find that in the ministry meeting some nights. You get the boards being fortified at the corners. We may not know the dangers but the Lord knows and He is ready to fortify the corners, and will provide what is needed. As I said, these people were ready, were ready to do it. It says that they went away from Moses and they did what was said. Is that how we will go from these meetings? Then in verses 33 and 34 it says, “And he made the middle bar in the midst of the boards reach from one end to the other. And he overlaid the boards with gold”. Oh, what infinite detail He has put into things. You know, sometimes things are a bit shaky. At Corinth where a party spirit was coming in Paul is making these boards cleave to their sockets when he says, “For I did not judge it well to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”, 1 Cor 2: 2. He is strengthening the sockets, for that is where the weakness comes in and we begin to get shaky. What was preached to Corinth was the word of the cross, chap 1: 18. That is strengthening these boards in their sockets, removing every other man so that Christ, and Christ alone, may be glorified in the boards standing up in the sockets of silver. There were two sisters at Philippi. They were getting a bit shaky too. Paul says, “If then there be any comfort in Christ, if any consolation of love …” (Phil 2: 1), “I exhort Euodia, and exhort Syntyche, to be of the same mind in the Lord”, Phil 4: 2. That is the boards joined together. It was not very much, it was just that these boards became loose. These words would be read in the local meeting, I suppose. Oh what a place it is where divine speaking is heard and where the boards get strengthened, but now there is this one bar running right through. What is that? Paul says again, “using diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace”, Eph 4: 3. That is the bar that runs right through. There are the saints, every one with their own distinction, every one in their own glory and beauty, but there is a bar running right through. What binds us together, dear brethren? “If any fellowship of the Spirit”, Phil 2: 1. There is no true fellowship of any other kind. Our affinities, dear brethren, have to be in the Spirit. It is not a social circle that we are brought into. Although we enjoy the company of the saints, the bond that holds all firmly together is, “using diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace”. There is the local company in function. What is it all for? It is all part of “my sanctuary”: “And they shall make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them”. It says, “And he made the middle bar … reach from one end to the other. And he overlaid the boards with gold”, verse 34. It is the acacia-wood that bears the gold. There is a very fine remark, I cherish it, that morally the bondman of Exodus 21 was the high priest of Exodus 28. There is the acacia-wood with the gold. The man who said, “I love” morally is the same man who bore those garments of glory and beauty when he went into the holy presence of God. The board is standing up and the bar running right through, in the unity of the Spirit, means that that bar was touching every board. Did one of the boards say, ‘Oh no, I am not having that’ and stand a little bit back? No, that bar was running right through. It was touching every board that was standing up. There is no agreement to differ. That is something that tends to creep in. That is not the unity of the Spirit. These things are not too far away from us, but let us use diligence “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace”.
But now there is something else: I want to speak of the curtains. In Exodus 36 verse 10 and 11, “And he coupled five of the curtains one to another, and the other five curtains coupled he one to another. And he made loops of blue on the edge of one curtain at the edge of the coupling; he did likewise in the edge of the outermost curtain in the other coupling”, fifty loops of blue. Now what is the curtain? Well, we have spoken of the grace of these boards, but they had to be strong enough to hold the curtains. If there were no curtains, what would it be? It would be an open position, open to all that the devil could bring in. The curtains are divine principles and are borne on the boards. Sometimes we you may try to have the curtains without the boards. You cannot do that, dear brethren. The curtains and the boards are joined together. The boards of acacia-wood have no problem with the principles, because they see that without the curtains it will be an open position. There were fifty clasps or loops in every curtain, hence they were closely bound together making it an almost impregnable position. There are these people, willing-hearted, “joined in soul” Phil 2: 2. “And they shall make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them”. This is the structure, but it is the maintenance of the principles that make it “my sanctuary”. He could not come if they were not all together. He could not come if they were not all ready to receive Him. And there are these fifty loops in the curtains and then fifty clasps, verse 13. There was more than one set of curtains, there was blue on the inside, there were rams’ skins and then there were badgers’ skins. Oh, the beauty was all inside, dear brethren. People may look, and they see the badgers’ skins. They see a separate people and they say, ‘What a poor people?’. They have never been inside. What you see inside is the curtains of blue. The Galatians were missing the curtains of blue. They were trying to apply the principles, but forgetting the blue. Paul has to tell them, “Jerusalem above ... is our mother”, Gal 4: 26. Not those beggarly principles, but, “Jerusalem above … is our mother”. He was bringing them into the enjoyment of sonship. There was no problem with the badgers’ skins, “Wherefore come out from the midst of them, and be separated … and I will be to you for a Father” - that is inside - “and ye shall be to me for sons and daughters“, 2 Cor 6: 17, 18.
Well, let us have a look inside for a minute. I want to look at Numbers 7 verse 89, “And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, then he heard the voice speaking to him from off the mercy-seat which was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubim; and he spoke to Him”. There is the inside. Moses went in to speak with Him, and “he heard the voice speaking to him”. Have you ever done that? He maybe went in with his problems. I will tell you about a man who did. He was a wonderful singer. During exercises in his history, his tone was not so good as it used to be, he began to look around and he said, ‘Lord I am spending a lot of time practising my singing, but I can see persons who do not practise and they seem to get on as well as I do’. He went in to speak to God about it. It will tell you about him in Psalm 73. He says, “my feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipped ... Until I went into the sanctuaries of God; then understood I their end … Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden my right hand; Thou wilt guide me by thy counsel, and after the glory, thou wilt receive me”, v 2, 17, 23, 24. I would like to have heard him singing the next night he came out! Would it not have been sweeter? That was Asaph. He went into the sanctuary. He was going to tell God about all his problems, and he heard a voice speaking to him, ‘Asaph, I know about all that’. Daniel knew that too. He bore many burdens. God put His hand on him one night when he was praying in his room. I would like to make it as simple and practical as I can. It is a very simple thing to do, to go into your closet with your problems. Daniel, as he was praying, he heard a voice saying, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved”, Dan 10: 11. He says, ‘ I will take care of it. It is more than you can handle. You go your way. You will stand in your lot at the end of the day’, Dan 12: 13.
May I just tell you about another man who received a letter saying he was going to be killed? What was he going to do with that? He went into his closet, and he took the letter and spread it before God and said, ‘Lord, look at this’. His name was Hezekiah, 2 Kings 19: 14. These are practical things, dear brethren, practical things where we learn, and thus acquire substance in the knowledge of God.
Well, here Moses went in, and he heard a voice speaking to him. It says, “then he heard the voice speaking to him from off the mercy-seat which was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubim; and he spoke to Him”. God spoke first. He spoke from the most advantageous position. That is what is inside. “And there will I meet with thee, and will speak with thee from above the mercy-seat”, Exod 25: 22. God is looking on you, but He is not looking for anything from you. He is supplying everything in Christ. He is speaking from off the mercy-seat. Oh, you wonder how long Moses spent there. He spent his life there, my friend. He says, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations”, Ps 90: 1. I often think of him, with far bigger problems than anybody here will ever have. He says, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations”.
Well, dear brethren, the inside is beautiful. Is it not worth while putting up those badgers’ skins when you have to go out into the world? The circumstances may be testing. But you will never do that unless you have known those curtains of blue and God speaking from off the mercy-seat. ‘Oh’, you may say, ‘this is all in the Old Testament’. No, my friends! I only quote from Matthew 18, “For where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them”, v 20. “Where two or three are gathered together”, that is the boards of the tabernacle; “unto my name” is the boards with the curtains on them. “Unto my name” - we are not to be gathering on any other ground. It comes even closer, “If any one love me, he will keep my word ... and we will come to him and make our abode with him”, John 14: 23. Oh how precious these things are! It comes down to the broken day that we are in, “If any one love me”. I do not say this in any way disparagingly, dear brethren, but it is true. You often hear people say how much they love the Lord. I do not think you need to tell Him too much: He knows. When people say, ‘Lord, we tell thee how much we love thee”, do not be surprised if one day He says to you, “He that has my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me”, John 14: 21. There is the proof of it. You have the boards with the badgers’ skins, but you are enjoying the blue, the heavenly colour inside. Oh, my friend, what a place to be! That is in the New Testament. In broken days, difficult exercises to be resolved, they are resolved by the boards of acacia-wood and the curtains being held closer together. The principles are not to be divorced from a priestly state. They lose their power if they are. The principles are held in the Spirit of Christ.
Well, another verse I would call attention to is Hebrews 10, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness for entering into the holy of holies by the blood of Jesus, the new and living way which he has dedicated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, and having a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart”, v 19-22. Your name is on the breast of that great Priest. Did you know that? If you are inside, that is what you will see. You will see the Man, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the great Priest, your name on His breast, and there He is standing, waiting to receive you and embrace you as He goes in. Beautiful touch! “A great priest over the house of God” - is your name on His breast? - ready to impart to you the joy of the house. You may have some doubts, “sprinkled as to our hearts from a wicked conscience, and washed as to our body with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of the hope unwavering, (for he is faithful who has promised;) and let us consider one another for provoking to love and good works” - there are the boards in function - “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom is with some; but encouraging one another, and by so much the more as ye see the day drawing near”, “so much the more”, Heb 10: 22-25.
I want to close with a reference to David, which largely led me to these scriptures. David spoke of what he had prepared in his affliction (1 Chron 22: 14), for the house of his God and in his affection, 1 Chron 29: 3. That is what the Lord is looking for there, “make me a sanctuary”. At the close of that he says, “And who is willing to offer to Jehovah this day?”, 1 Chron 29: 5. May we say, my friend, every one of us, ‘I am!’ For Christ’s Name’s sake.
20th October 2007