It has always been in the mind of God to dwell in the midst of His people. In fact, He speaks of it all the way through the Bible. Even so, it is a concept that has not really taken root in the thinking of many Christians. Generally speaking, they tend to view the Lord as being in heaven, themselves on earth, and the Lord looking down on them. An awareness of His presence must be developed, for only then will He be able to accomplish His will through us. Developing an awareness of His presence is necessary for establishing within our thinking that God wants His dwelling place in the midst of His people.
Exodus 25:1-8 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering: of every man that gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.
3 And this is the offering which you shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,
4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,
5 And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood
6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,
7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.
8 And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
God gave Moses these instructions while he was on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights. During that time God also gave him the Ten Commandments, instructions for ordaining Aaron and his sons as priests, and instructions for building the tabernacle and all the furnishings within. The tabernacle was to be God’s dwelling place among His people. As such it was prophetic of Jesus Christ and the many-membered Body of Christ.
Everything concerning the Tabernacle reveals spiritual truths to us. How the tabernacle was constructed, its dimensions, kinds of materials used, the furniture, and precious stones – everything about it reveals some aspect of Christ’s nature, work of redemption, and the Body of Christ.
The tabernacle was in the center of the camp. The twelve tribes of Israel were divided into four groups of three – three tribes each were camped on the north, south, east, and west of the tabernacle. In this way, God was pictured as dwelling in the midst of Israel.
The tabernacle was also a prophetic picture of what God was going to do. Jesus Christ was the first fulfillment of the prophecy. He was the tabernacle of God, for the fulness of God dwelt in Him bodily (John 1:14; Colossians 2:9). Secondly, the Church will also become a fulfillment (Revelation 21:3).
The tabernacle in the wilderness is history; Jesus Christ as the tabernacle of God is history, too. Now, God’s people must become the tabernacle of God. How should we relate to this concept? Is it merely an ethereal religious concept or does the church really become God’s dwelling place? And, if so, how does it become that? How does the Church become the tabernacle of God?
How was the first tabernacle built? The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel that they bring Me an offering…And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. Exodus 25:1,2,8. The people built the tabernacle but not solely. God gave the anointing, the knowledge, and the wisdom on how to do it. The children of Israel did the work, but they could not have done it without God’s input. The tabernacle they built was a natural structure made of natural materials – wood, gold, silver, precious stones, skins, linen, etc. But the tabernacle that is being built today is made of people; it will be a living tabernacle.
The church becoming God’s sanctuary is not some ethereal religious concept that never really happens. It is literally becoming a dwelling place for Him – maybe only for a remnant at the present time but it will continue to increase. It is a death-life concept. As we die to our flesh-nature, His life comes forth in us. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. II Corinthians 4:11. It is quite obvious that we are yet in the beginning stages of this transformation; nevertheless, the process has begun and the Lord will finish it. Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6.
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
The Greek word for “bodies” is soma, which means the complete man – body, soul, and spirit. God wants the whole man as His sanctuary. The entire spirit, soul, and body must be given to Him for His dwelling. That is our reasonable service of worship.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The natural state of man is conformed to this world. After we become Christians there is to be a renewing of our minds; that is, we are to become conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. The transformation of the Church, making it the sanctuary of God, begins with the renewing of our minds. And that is the primary thing that Satan wars against. He doesn’t want us to become the sanctuary of the Lord God because that would mean his total defeat.
How does the devil work to keep Christians from becoming the sanctuary of the Lord? He hinders the renewing of their minds. How does he do that? He diverts their thinking. Many Christians only think in terms of going to heaven. They think mostly of the Lord suddenly appearing in the sky and taking them to heaven, rather than expecting Him to come forth in them. When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. II Thessalonians 1:10.
If the devil can get you to believe that because you are a Christian and your sins are forgiven that you are automatically a member of the Body of Christ and you are ready to go to heaven, then you are not likely to be intensely appropriating the work of the cross to your flesh nature so that the life of the Lord can come forth in you. You won’t be thinking about making God a sanctuary; you will be thinking about going to heaven one day, and as far as God’s ultimate plan is concerned, you are off course. God told Moses, “Tell the people to make Me a sanctuary.” God is speaking the same thing today – “Make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell in your midst.”
Copyright © 2003 by Henry DuBose