FIRSTBORN SONSHIP OF CHRIST:
THE NEW BIRTH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Article 45 (continued)
In this article we will begin a study of the new birth as portrayed in the tabernacle. This will require at least a general review of the structure of the tabernacle, its typology, and its last will and testament application to Israel and covenant people of all ages.
THE TABERNACLE WAS A COVENANT PROVISION
4 "For if He (Christ) were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the Law (Covenant);
5 "Who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'
6 "But now He (Christ) has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
7 "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second," Heb 8:4-7.
The Law Covenant began with Moses and Israel at Mount Sinai, though it began to be phased in with the Passover in Egypt, which was a Law Covenant ordinance, Ex 12. The Law Covenant ended with the crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection of Christ.
Similarly, the New Covenant began being phased in with the baptism of John the Baptist, and fully replaced the Law Covenant with the resurrection of Christ. The phasing in of the New Covenant included the baptism of Christ, at which time He was ordained as High Priest of the New Covenant.
This phasing in of the New Covenant while still under the Law Covenant included generally 1) the virgin birth and sinless life of Christ, 2) the ministry and baptism of John the Baptist, though he belonged to the Law Covenant (Mt 16:16), 3) the ordination of Christ as the New Covenant High Priest when He was baptized by John and received the Holy Spirit as the New Covenant Administrator (2Co 3), 4) Christ establishing the church (Jn 1:29-51), 5) training and ordaining of the apostles (Lk 6:13-16), 6) committing the New Covenant body of doctrines and authority to the church (Mt 16:18-29; 18:15-18; 28:19-20), 7) enduring and overcoming covenant training (Heb 4:15; 5:7-9), 8) enduring God's wrath against the sins of all mankind (Jn 3:16; 1Jn 2:1-2), 9) dying, being buried, and removing Paradise from the heart of the earth, (Ps 16:7-11; 68:17-18; Eph 4:8-10), as He arose out of the grave, and 10) being born out of the grave into a divine human body, which embodies all the covenant people in divine bodies, metaphorically incorporated into His one deified body, Rom 12:1-5; 1Co 12:12-27; 2Co 6:15-17; Eph 4:13-16,22-24; et al.
A COVENANT PROVISION FOR A COVENANT PEOPLE
4 "Who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises," Rom 9:4.
25 "You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed," Act 3:25; Ex 19:4–6; Deu 26:16-19; Rom 2:28-39; 1Pe 2:5,9.
God ordained that the faithful in Israel be His special nation above all other nations, Ex 19:4-6; Deu 2:16-10. Also, the faithful in the church are grafted into Israel and will become one covenant nation with Israel above all other nations when Christ returns, Rom 11:11-32; Eph 2:11-22; 1Pe 2:9. As stated in Rom 9:4 above, the covenant adoption and birth into the firstborn sonship of Christ is promised only to the faithful overcomers of the covenant training. This covenant training is found only in a true local church; there alone we can make the covenant calling and election sure, Lk 7:29-30; Rom 6:3-6; Col 2:9-19; 2Jn 8-11. This divine firstborn sonship with its divine birthright is the inheritance promised in all the last will and testaments, Gen 25:5-6; 27:27-37; Rom 8:23-30; 11:11-22; 2Pe 1:4-10; et al.
A COVENANT PROVISION FOR WORSHIP
4 "One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: 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.
5 "For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
6 "And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD," Ps 27:4-6.
The tabernacle (temple, house of the Lord) is first and foremost the primary place of worship of God. The tabernacle was God's place of dwelling among His chosen people. The "cloud" in the wilderness, protecting Israel from the heat by day and giving light by night (Ex 13:21-22), was a glorious and physical symbol of God's all protective and nourishing presence over and among His special people. The cloud was uniquely associated with the tabernacle as God's dwelling place among His elect people, Ex 40:34-35; Num 9:15-16.
We worship God now in His house in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23), but how much more acceptable it will be when His people who constitute the house of God are conformed to His divine state of being. The tabernacle, in its prophetic application, reveals how the faithful last will and testament people qualify for divine oneness with God. This was done 1) by tenaciously pursuing the pattern of holy life prescribed by the Law Covenant in tabernacle worship (this included all activities of daily life), and 2) by the materials used and the design of construction of the tabernacle. Heb 8:5; 9:1-24; 10:1-20.
A SYMBOLIC AND PROPHETIC WITNESS
15 "Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire," Num 9:15.
The tabernacle bore witness. It testified daily of God's special and immediate presence and working with Israel according to the Law Covenant. It was a blueprint of instructions which testified of God's redemption plan for the ages. The main thrust of the tabernacle witness was that the covenant people must serve God with all their heart day by day throughout life in order to inherit the last will and testament promise of future divine oneness with God, Deu 6; 6:5-9; 30.
The promise is that each overcomer of covenant discipline will be filled with all the fullness of God, Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; 5:31-32; Col 1:19; 2:9-17; 2Pe 1:4; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23. This means being filled with the full range of God's divine attributes, except infinity. The overcomers will receive the full range of God's divine attributes to the degree or extent of each one's faithfulness. And yet, many if not most of the covenant people will not be faithful enough to be counted faithful. God alone knows how faithful one must be to be counted faithful.
QUALIFYING FOR THE FIRSTBORN SONSHIP
4 "For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the Law;
5 "Who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'
6 "But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises," Heb 8:4-6.
11 "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation," Heb 9:11.
The purpose of the tabernacle was not merely to teach people how to be saved from hell; but served as a place of daily worship for the covenant people. More profoundly, the tabernacle with its associated priesthood, sacrifices, Sabbaths, feasts, and numerous ordinances portrayed the redemption cycle for the faithful of the covenant people into the divine image and likeness of God.
We will review this factor in detail as we proceed and especially when we come to the veil dividing the first holy place and the most holy place, which represented the flesh (now deified) body of Christ.
That veil was "rent" from top to bottom when Christ's human flesh body died: this rending of the veil must also be interpreted in the light of the resurrection new birth of Christ's human body into a divine body in His resurrection. The resurrected body of Christ is a divine body possessing all the divine attributes of God, Col 1:15; 2:9;Heb 1:3. Again, this is of major significance and will be developed as we proceed and when we come to the symbolic and prophetic significance of this inner veil separating the holy place from the most holy place.
Christ was God born of a virgin into a sinless human body Isa 7:14; 9:6-7; 2Co 5:21), and that human body was born of God out of the grave in His resurrection, Col 1:18; Rev 1:5 Act 13:29-33; Col 2:9; et al. The covenant people are required to give all diligence to live after the same godly manner throughout the current lifetime (1Co 9:23 thru 10:12; Heb 3), and only those who qualify, through the last will and testament training for the firstborn sonship of Christ, will be able to enter into God's presence, Heb 3; 4; 10; 11; 12.
THE STRAIT AND NARROW WAY
13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
14 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it," Mt 7:13-14.
1 "To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 "Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 "There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.
4 "Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun," Ps 19:1-4.
These two passages appear to contradict each other: the first passage emphasizes that the pathway leading go God is restricted and dangerous, while the second passage appears to say that God is manifest to all mankind and is easy to access. Other passages also reveal that God manifests Himself to all, is not far from any of us, and none will have an excuse for not being saved, Isa 45:22; Jn 1:9; 12:32; Act 14:1-17; 17:26-28; Rom 1:20.
However, only the firstborn sons will qualify to be conformed to the image and likeness of God and thereby have full and free access into the presence of God. This will be thoroughly demonstrated in our study of the tabernacle. The tabernacle, temple, and local church were and are houses of worship, each in its time for the worship and training of the covenant people.
The covenants (last will and testaments, the New Covenant in our day), require constant (daily, unceasing) and rigorous (precise, severe) training in godliness. As Christ consciously and righteously governed every thought, emotion, word, and deed of His daily life, so we must diligently strive to do in order to be overcomers and qualify for the firstborn sonship, 2Co 10:3-5.
The way into the firstborn sonship of Christ requires a strait and narrow lifestyle. Along with the so-called Christian world, we tend to make the Christian life easy. We mix the strait and narrow way with the world until it is no more a godly life. Hollywood, TV, sports, earthy entertainment: the highway is broad, and we are all going to make it – no need for hungering and thirsting after righteousness (Mt 5:6; 6:33; 25:31-45) – that is what Satan and our flesh nature want us to believe.
However, the way into the holiest of all is spiritually arduous and deathly dangerous to careless souls. The first two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, were killed immediately after their ordination when they dared to offer strange fire before the Lord. Perhaps God was merciful in His quick and harsh judgment on them, as He was and will be toward those in 1Co 11:29-32 who corrupted the Lord's Supper. It is better for God to judge us now, even to the extent of immediate death, rather than let us go on as He did the sons of Eli (1Sa 1 thru 4), and even the sons of Samuel (1Sa 8), though perhaps not as severely.
The judgment warning God gave the Laodiceans (Rev 3:14-17) was eternal death from Christ and from His firstborn sonship. It is better if God judges us quickly and stops us in our tracks, rather than let us go on in our careless ways to the point of eternal destruction from the body of Christ, and therefore from the firstborn sonship and its divine birthright of eternally sharing the divine image and glory of God.
Entering into the presence of God is a special privilege provided for the firstborn sons only (for the bride people only). The nations of saved people on the new earth will not be allowed to enter the New Jerusalem and into God's presence, Rev 21:23-26; 22:14. When the curtain dividing the holy of holies from the first holy place in the temple was rent, it opened the way to the throne of God only for the priests, who of course represented the whole elect nation. However, we still do not have direct and personal access into the presence of God in the third heaven. More on this later when we come to the rent veil.
THE COURT AROUND THE TABERNACLE
We will approach our study of the tabernacle by first considering the fence-like structure that surrounded the tabernacle and formed the court enclosing the tabernacle, the altar of burnt offering, and the laver; all of which serve as major items of typological and prophetic instruction. This enclosure had one gate only, speaking loudly that access into God's holy presence for sinful man is only through austere covenant training, the shedding of redemption blood, fiery judgment, death, burial, and a new birth resurrection into a divine body – a divine state of being.
The brazen altar stood inside the court gate straight in front of all worshipers as they entered the only gate of the enclosure, Ex 27 & 38. The brazen altar placarded God's fiery judgment against man's sins in the agonizing death of the Kinsman Redeemer to everyone entering the court gate.
The redeeming Seed of the woman must be God in human flesh, must live a sinless life, must bear man's death-dooming sins, endure God's fiery judgment against sin, die, be buried, rise again the third day in the divine life of the tree of life, and crush the head of the serpent, Gen 3:15. Everyone desiring to receive the promised and immeasurably desirable inheritance of the last will and testament must travel this strait and narrow way. Every desirable and treasurable gift of God is housed within the covenant promises. But the way is strait and the way is narrow, Mt 7:13-14. We must suffer with Christ if we would reign with him, 2Ti 2:10-13.
Many of the Old Testament faithful such as Enoch, Abraham, Job, and a host of others understood that the Seed of the woman Redeemer would indeed be the Son of God, who 1) would be the firstborn Lamb of the flock (Gen 4:4), 2) would live a sinless life (1Pe 1:18-20), 3) would bear our sins as the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29,33), 4) would be slain as the Lamb of God (Isa 53), 5) would be burned on the altar (endure God's wrath against our sins on the cross) (Ps 22:16; Zec 12:10; Jn 3:14 8:28; 12:32), 6) would die, be buried, and arise out of the grave (Job 19:25-27; Ps 16:7-11; Mt 12:40), and 7) would experience a divine birth in His resurrection into the life of the tree of life Gen 2:9; 3:22-24; Rev 2:7; Ps 8:7-11; 17:15; Isa 53:10-12), and crush the head of the serpent as the divine Seed of the woman, Gen 3:15; Job 19:25-27; Jn 8:56; Heb 11:8-16;Jud 14-15; Col 1:18; Rev 1:5; Act 13:29-33; 1Co 15:44-50.
THE COURT FENCE
The court fence was 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 7½ feet tall. No one was to crawl under or over the fence: the entrance was through the gate only. The fence announced to all that the way into God's presence was through the brazen altar, the laver, the first holy place, and through the inner curtain. A set of explicit laws governed and still governs entrance into God's presence: now we have the true local church in which one must walk the strait and narrow way throughout life in order to qualify to literally enter into God's presence after Christ returns, 2Jn 9-11; Rev 22:14.
The fence spoke boldly that sinful man cannot go freely lumbering into God's presence. There was only one gate and everyone entering that gate was immediately confronted with the brazen altar which demanded death at the very beginning of man's approach to God. The consuming fires of the brazen altar must destroy everyone who would draw near to God: the fiery death of every worshiper was inevitable. This will be addressed when we come to the study of the brazen altar, and is mentioned here because the fence was high with only one gate, restricting any approach to God except through death at the brazen altar.
The unfaithful saved will never enter God's presence; they will never pass through the gates into the city, but are the nations outside the city (Rev 21:23-26). The kings of the nations will not be of the unfaithful, but rather the faithful who endure and overcome the prescribed covenant training, Rev 2:26-27. We must daily bear about in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Christ can be manifest in us; all by the constant "grace through faith" working of the Holy Spirit in us.
The expression that the overcomers will be made pillars in the temple of God, and will go no more out (or go out no more), means that they will be made permanent pillars in the temple of God: sinless, deified pillars, without liability of sinning and losing their standing in the temple and in the holy city. Currently, those who are pillars in the church may falter to the extent of becoming a castaway (1Co 9:25 thru 10:12), cut off from the vine (Jn 15:1-6), and fail to make their calling and election sure, 2Pe 1:5-10. Again, none of the unfaithful will rule as kings and none enter the city.
The word "pillar" signifies strong and firm support, as the local church is the pillar and ground of the truth, (1Ti 3:15), and as James, Peter, and John were pillars in the church in Jerusalem, Gal 2:9.
Every member of every church should be well taught and be a pillar and ground of the truth in every jot and tittle of the Gospel as they go into all the world with that message and example, Mt 28:18-20.
THE MATERIALS OF THE COURT FENCE
The materials for the court fence are found in Ex 27:9-18 and 38:9-20. The fine linen of the fence represents the righteousness of God in the person of Christ, in the person of the Holy Spirit, and in the person of the faithful last will and testament people in a "divine oneness." Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6), and where Christ is the Holy Spirit is; and where Christ and the Holy Spirit are the faithful covenant people are.
5 "Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus," Eph 2:5-6,10-22.
Metaphorically, this means the faithful covenant people (found now only in true local churches) are the body of Christ, and are seated together in the body of Christ at the right hand of the Father. Christ organized His church before he was crucified, and referred to His church as His body when He instituted the Lord's Supper, Mt 26:26.
In this metaphor, we were crucified together with Christ as His body, died together with Him as His body, were buried together with Him as His body, were raised (born again) from the dead together with Him as His body, and were seated at the right hand of the Father together with Him as His body, Rom 4:17; 6:3-6. God is speaking of things which be not as though they were, Rom 4:17. Metaphorically, as deified members of the deified body of Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit as God's pledge that as long as we yield to the Holy Spirit's working in us we are assured of being born again into that deified state of being as stated and promised in Col 2:9-17.
This was God's purpose when He created man in the beginning: that man should be fully conformed to God's image and likeness through His preordained redemption cycle, Gen 1:26-27. God is thus showing mercy on the vessels prepared beforehand for glory, Rom 9:22-23. The tabernacle, from the fence to the mercy seat, is still bearing testimony of this grand finale. As we study the tabernacle, we will point out this symbolic and prophetic "oneness" in God's "image" and "likeness."
THE FENCE CURTAINS
9 "You shall also make the court of the tabernacle. For the south side there shall be hangings for the court made of fine woven linen, one hundred cubits long for one side," Ex 27:9.
The "fine linen" is generally and properly understood to represent God's righteousness. Jesus told John the Baptist "thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness;" Mt 3:15. This statement pointed to the whole redemption cycle, portrayed generally in John's baptism (Mt 3:13-17; Jn 1:19-36): 1) God, as the Seed of the woman, was born into the human race through a virgin birth, 2) lived a sinless life, 3) performed His personal ministry, 4) died for the sins of the world, 5) was buried and descended into the heart of the earth and removed Paradise from there, 6) arose out of the grave (was born again) into a divine body, and 7) His covenant people are therefore counted as being His divine "born again" body – born again together with Him out of the grave.
In that metaphor of being the body of Christ, the last will and testament people now possess the righteousness of Christ and all the divine fulness of God, Eph 3:19; 5:31-32; Jn 17:21-23. God is speaking of things which be not, as though they were, Rom 4:17; 6:2-6. In the figure, the church is the body of Christ and possesses the divine righteousness of God. They are seen as one with Christ in the fine linen of the court fence.
In the Scriptures, this equates justification: God credits His righteousness to the faithful covenant people. Under the covenant with Adam, Abel was credited with the righteousness of God, Heb 11:4. God credited His divine righteousness to Abraham, beginning with the phasing in of His covenant with Abraham when He initially called Abraham to leave his homeland and go to a promised land, Act 7:1-4; Heb 11:8-16. Abraham continued to be credited with God's righteousness throughout his life, Gen 15:6; Rom 4:1-25; Ja 2:23.
Justification is a covenant provision to the faithful covenant people, Rom 4. As portrayed in John's baptism, Christ would bring His faithful bride people out of the grave into the divine life proffered in the fruit of the tree of life, Gen 2 & 3. Divine righteousness, divine life, and all the attributes of the divine nature are credited to the covenant people within the framework of last will and testaments, Rom 9:4; Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; 5:31-32; Col 1:19; 2:9-17; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23.
Thus, the fine linen of the court fence represented God's divine righteousness exemplified by Christ in the redemption cycle, and is shared by His bride people as "one" together with Him. We will continue to emphasize this divine "oneness" witness of the tabernacle throughout our tabernacle study. The fine linen of the tabernacle court fence represents the righteousness of the saints, which is the righteousness of Christ and of God. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, Isa 64:6. God's divine righteousness is only credited to us now, therefore we are still waiting for it in the new birth resurrection, Mt 5:6; 6:33; Mt 25:31-46; Gal 5:5; 2Co 9:10; 1Ti 6:11; 2Ti 2:22; 4:8; Rev 19:7-8.
THE PILLARS, SOCKETS, AND PEGS WERE OF BRASS
See Ex 27:9-19 and 28:9-20. These items were made of brass. The brass or bronze represented "judgment." Divine righteousness and divine judgment always go together. Divine judgment has a double application: 1) divine judgment by God directly, as at the judgment seat of Christ at the beginning of the Millennium (2Co 5:10) and the white throne judgment at the end of the Millennium (Rev 20:11-15), and 2) God's judgment through His covenant people: this was exemplified by Christ as a human vicariously for whole human race -- Christ learned and lived as a human as He was taught and directed by the Holy Spirit according to the written Word. In this way He was constantly being confronted with judgment making decisions.
Now, as the body of Christ, and with the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit, we are likewise being confronted with decisions or judgments of right and wrong in all we do and in what we see and hear all around us. The bronze materials used in the fence, and otherwise in the tabernacle, represent both God's fiery training we are put through, and also our submission to God in overcoming His righteous judgments by His grace (by the working of the Holy Spirit withint us).
HOOKS, BANDS, AND CAPITAL OVERLAY OF SILVER
17 "The sockets for the pillars were bronze, the hooks of the pillars and their bands were silver, and the overlay of their capitals was silver; and all the pillars of the court had bands of silver," Ex 38:17 (9-20).
Silver was used in Israel to redeem a kinsman and his property, Num 3:49-51; Lev 27. This was symbolic of God becoming human in order to redeem a special and faithful last will and testament people and their property, Gen 3:15,21; Ex 19:4-6; 1Pe 2:9; Isa 9:6-7; Phi 2:2-11; 1Pe 1:18-20.
18 "Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
19 "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
20 "He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you," 1Pe 1:18-20.
This redemption of a faithful last will and testament people into a "divine oneness" with God (Jn 17:21-23) was in the divine blueprint before man was created. This grand blueprint was not only symbolized in the death of lambs, the skins of which clothed Adam and Eve, but was explained in sufficient detail for Abel to offer precisely the right sacrifice and be credited with God's divine likeness, Gen 4:4; Heb 11:4. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of the Lamb coming with myriads of bride saints clothed in fine linen, clean and white, Jud 14-15. We can be assured that Enoch knew about the lamb skins which the Redeemer made for Adam and Eve (Gen 3:21), which represent being clothed with the righteousness of God exemplified in the life of Christ. Jer 23:5-6; 33:15-16.
The court fence witnessed, with its fine linen, of the righteous acts of the Groom and the bride, Rev 19:7-8. The court fence also witnessed with its brass pillars, sockets, and pegs of the righteous judgment of God exemplified in the lives of Christ and the saints who walk and live and give urgent attention to God's righteous judgments, Ps 119:102-108; 2Ti 3:15-17. The court fence also witnesses of the "oneness" of the redemption work of both Christ and His redeemed bride people more on this as we proceed.