At the very beginning, the people of Israel enjoyed the lamb of the passover (Exo. 12), which we know was the type of Christ (1 Cor. 5:7). While they were still in the land of Egypt, they enjoyed Christ. Yet the land of Canaan is also a type of Christ. The lamb is Christ, and the land also is Christ. Seemingly, then, there are two Christs: a smaller Christ and a larger Christ, a Christ as small as the passover lamb and a Christ as great as the land of Canaan. It seems that while we are enjoying this little Christ, a greater Christ is still awaiting us, and we must press on to this goal to enjoy such a One. Is this not true? When I was young, it seemed like this. I had something already, for I had this Christ, but on the other hand, I still had to press on to obtain Him. Then are there two Christs or only one? It seems that I am asking a strange question. Do you have Christ already? I believe you do. Then why are you still endeavoring to obtain Him? If we say we have Him, yet we still must obtain Him; if we say we possess Him, yet He is still ahead of us. If we say we do not have Him, it follows that we can never press on further to obtain Him. These questions touch deeply the issue of these messages.
We need to realize that first of all we must enjoy Christ as a little lamb. Christ is the lamb for our redemption. We must firstly be redeemed by Him before we can ever obtain Him as the all-inclusive One. We must receive Him as the lamb of the passover. Thus, we are starting in this chapter from the first part of the book of Exodus. This is the place where we must begin in order to get into the land of Canaan. We must have the passover; we must experience Christ as the Lamb of God. Behold, the Lamb of God is at the beginning of John’s Gospel (1:29), but at the close of the book Christ is the unlimited One to be possessed by His disciples. At the beginning Christ is the lamb introduced to the people by John the Baptist, but at the end Christ is One who is unlimited by space and time. Nothing can limit that resurrected One, yet He is for our enjoyment. We must experience Christ as the limited lamb; then we may press on to obtain Him as the unlimited Christ.
Following the passover, our next experience of Christ is the manna. After we enjoy Him as the lamb, we go on to enjoy Him as our daily food. Is manna something of the vegetable life or of the animal life? Let us look at the Scripture:
Numbers 11:7-9: Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like the appearance of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it and ground it between two millstones or beat it in a mortar; then they boiled it in pots and made cakes of it; and its taste was like the taste of cakes baked in oil. And when the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.
Exodus 16:31: The house of Israel called its name manna, and it was like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like wafers made with honey.
We have read here that manna is like some sort of seed, and its taste is like fresh oil and honey. So here again two lives are mingled together. Notice also at this point that the appearance of manna is like bdellium. The proper meaning of bdellium is pearl. In Revelation 21 we see that pearl is one of the constituents of God’s building. Therefore, manna, as pearl, typifies something transformed as material for the building of God. Bdellium is the very word used in Genesis 2. In that passage the tree of life is introduced and then a river in whose flow are several precious materials, one of which is bdellium. This means that when we take the tree of life and drink the water of life, the pearl, the transformed material for God’s building, will be produced.
Manna then is a substance with all these natures: the nature of the vegetable life, the nature of the animal life, and the nature of the transformed life. We must enjoy this aspect of Christ. We must enjoy Him as the lamb of the passover with the unleavened bread and bitter herbs, and we must continue on to enjoy Him as the manna, including the vegetable life, the animal life, and the transformed nature. By partaking of Christ as our daily manna, we may be transformed into material for the building of God.
But is this sufficient? No, there is something more. The way to get into the land starts from the twelfth chapter of Exodus and continues on to the last chapter of Joshua. We must read all these parts thoroughly and understand them clearly; then we will have the way to possess the land.
To enjoy Christ, starting from the lamb of the passover and continuing day by day with the manna from heaven, is just the beginning. We must go on to experience Him as the Ark, the Ark embodied and covered with the tabernacle (Exo. 25:10-22). What is the Ark? The Ark is the testimony of God. The testimony of God is simply the manifestation of God, the expression of God. In the Ark were the tablets with the Ten Commandments. What are the Ten Commandments?
The Ark is clearly the type of Christ with two natures. It was made of wood overlaid with gold. Wood is the human nature, and gold is the divine nature. It is a picture of Christ in the flesh mingled with the divine nature. He has the nature of man, and at the same time He has the nature of God—the human nature and the divine. He is the Ark, but within Him is God Himself. Just as the Ten Commandments were put into the Ark, so all that God is was put into Christ. Just as the Ark was called “the Ark of the Testimony,” so Christ is the manifestation and testimony of God. This is something more, you see, than the lamb of the passover and the daily manna. This is something solid, perfect, and full. This is the manifestation of God, the expression of God, the testimony of God. By the lamb of the passover, can you realize what God is like? Yes, perhaps you may see a little. By the daily manna, can you be impressed with the nature of God? It is rather difficult. I do not say that you can see nothing, but that you cannot see much. Now come to the Ark. Consider it. Read it. Immediately you know something about God. God is jealous; God is love; God is holy; God is righteous; God is faithful. By the Ark you can immediately realize what the hidden God is like.
Brothers and sisters, permit me to repeat. I fear that some of you may not be able to follow. Are you enjoying Christ day by day as your daily manna? That is good, but that is not sufficient. We must have Him as our center. What is the center? The center is the expression, the manifestation, the testimony of God. Do we have such a center among us? Is this really the center of our meeting, our church life? When people come to us, can they realize that in our midst is the expression of God? If people come to us and just realize that we are those who are redeemed, that we are those who enjoy Christ as the lamb, it is entirely inadequate. If they just realize that we are those who feed on Christ day by day as the daily manna, even this misses the mark. We must be able to give them the impression that among us, in the midst of us, is the manifestation of the jealous God, the God of love, the God of holiness, the God of righteousness, the God of faithfulness. Do we have such a center among us or not? When people come to us, do they realize that here is the manifestation, the expression, the definition, the explanation, of God? Do they realize that we are the testimony of God, that we are testifying from the reality of our experience of Christ that God is a jealous God, a holy God, a God of love, a righteous God, and a faithful God? We must have this testimony as our center.
You see, it is not such a simple matter to possess the land. Do you think that immediately after enjoying the lamb and crossing the Red Sea we can enter the land? No. After Exodus 12, 13, and 14, after the passover and the crossing of the Red Sea, there are many more experiences to be gained. The remainder of Exodus and all of Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua still lie before us. There are many more things to be dealt with, many more things to experience, many more things to be possessed, before we can get into the land.
This Ark is embodied within the tabernacle. The Ten Commandments are embodied in the Ark, and the Ark is embodied within the tabernacle (Exo. 40:20-21). What then is the tabernacle? The tabernacle is the enlargement of the Ark, the increase of the Ark. The Ark was made with wood overlaid with gold, and the major part of the tabernacle was composed of the same materials—wood overlaid with gold (Exo. 26:15-30). The tabernacle, therefore, is the enlargement of the Ark. In other words, the Ark enlarged becomes the tabernacle. The tabernacle is made in the same shape and with the same materials, and it is constituted with and contains within it more of Christ.
Let us see something more of Christ in the tabernacle. We read that there were four layers of covering over it (Exo. 26:1-14). This means that Christ became one of the creatures, since four is the number signifying the creatures. What are these four layers of different kinds of coverings? The outermost one is seal skin, a strong protection against the wind, the rain, and the heat of the sun. Under the seal skin is the rams’ skin dyed red, signifying that Christ died and shed His blood for our sins, and under that is the covering of goats’ hair, signifying that Christ was made sin for us. The innermost covering is of linen, so beautiful, so fine, so full of glory, with the cherubim embroidered upon it. All these coverings are full of meaning and require much explanation. They all relate to Christ.
From within, you see His glory. Oh, Christ is so glorious from within! From without, you see His lowliness, His humility, His simplicity; you see His strength and His enduring power, but there is no beauty. This is Jesus, despised by others, a lowly man. But within He is the glorious Christ.
Praise the Lord, we are covered with such a Christ! According to the dimensions of the tabernacle, ten curtains were required to form the covering. The innermost covering of fine linen, therefore, was made of ten curtains. But the covering of goats’ hair was formed of eleven curtains. It was not five plus five, but five plus six, and six is not a good number. Six refers to man and involves sin. Thus, it signifies that Christ was made sin for us. The innermost layer is the glorious Christ; the second is the Christ who was made sin for us; the third is the Christ who died, shedding His blood; and the fourth, the outermost covering, is the Christ who humbled Himself to become a lowly man. This Christ, this fourfold Christ, covers us. What a covering, what a protection, what a safeguard!
In this tabernacle, Christ is joined with so many boards. We are the wooden boards, the human members: you are one board, and I am another. The Ark is embodied in such a tabernacle, which is Christ joined with us and uniting us all in the divine nature just as all the boards were united in the gold. There were at least forty-eight boards, all overlaid with gold, and joined together with golden rings and bars (Exo. 26:26-29). If we were to remove the gold, all forty-eight boards would fall apart; not one would be joined to another. We are not joined in the flesh, nor could we ever be joined in such a way. It is the divine nature that joins us. The gold is the joint; the gold is the unity among us. Without the gold, we will fall to pieces. I will not agree with you, and you will not agree with me. But, praise the Lord, the gold covers you, and the gold covers me. There are some golden rings on you, and there is a golden bar on me. It is impossible for us to be separated. Even if you like to run away, you cannot. You are bound. You and I are bound together and can never be separated. We are not bound by our natural dispositions—naturally speaking, I may never be able to get along with you. And even if we are naturally compatible, that is not a true or stable union. But, praise the Lord, we are bound in a real and indissoluble union by something divine, by the very nature of God Himself. We are not only bound by the gold, but we are covered by the gold, we are safeguarded by the gold. The gold is God Himself.
One day in my room I said to myself, “How unfortunate you are! You have been captured by the divine nature, and you can’t escape. You may try, but you can never get out of this team of gold!” This is the unity. Brothers and sisters, there must be such a unity among us. Then we will be strengthened and qualified to enter the land. If we can escape from each other, if we can be separated from one another, there is no way for us to go into the good land. We must have this tabernacle, this embodiment of the Ark. We must be bound together in this divine nature as the tabernacle to the Ark. The Ark, which is Christ, is within as our center, and we are the enlargement of this Christ as the tabernacle embodying the Ark.
We have seen how we must enjoy Christ as the lamb of the passover, as the daily manna, and as the Ark embodied within the tabernacle. All these are our qualifications to enter the land (The All-inclusive Christ, chapter 9).