Long ago God commanded something that was to reflect his desire to dwell in the midst of his people (Ex.25). He wouldn't just communicate periodically in speech, vision, or dream, but would abide among the tribes . However, it was to be in a limited way . No one could come near the tent or enter on his own. Only those whom he would choose, the priests, could do so. There was to be a separation between himself and the people. The Lord was holy and had shown himself holy in the midst of his people.
He appeared to them out of the pillar of cloud, pillar of fire (Deut. 31.15). He gave instructions for the tent, ark, lamp stand, and altar. We can't elaborate on this now, but theses were shadows of the heavenly realities ( Heb ).
In the tent he instructed that a lamp continually burn and there be a continual burnt offering, v-29.42 . The Lord said, " There I will meet, between the cherubim. ...." (Remember the garden from which man was excluded . The cherubim guarded the way.) Moses went to the tent and a cloud of glory appeared (Ex 33.7; Ex 40.39; Lev.9.23). When all the instructions were carried out according to the pattern, the Lord came down in glory fire. God showed his holiness at the tent. They could not enter because of the glory!
God cut off those offering unholy fire (Lev.17),(1 Sam 2). In like manner there was contempt for the Lords offering (2Sam. 7:6). God said he moved with them in the tent. David was about to build a house for God, but God chose Solomon to build the temple, a permanent dwelling to build a house for his Name, for His identity. Nathan gave the word from the Lord to David about the moving of tent.
In Num 9.15; 7:89 the Tabernacle is set up. The cloud like fire was over it. At this tent the Lord poured out his spirit to the seventy elders (11:24; 12:5). It was the outpouring of the spirit; a foreshadowing of what was to come !
The Lord gave instructions for the building of the temple (1 King.39; 1 Chron. 23.26.) The Levites who cared for the tent were to take part in the temple. It was to be a resting place for God (2Chron.28-10-12). They were to build the house of God (1 Sam 3:3). The lamp was to be set up (2 Chron. 5.2 -5). They brought the ark which had been in the tent into the temple, the most holy place. It was a transfer of His manifest presence! (v-13). The cloud of glory came like at its first appearance in the Tabernacle (6.5-7). His name was to dwell in Jerusalem. Though he dwelt in heaven v-21, he would be among them on earth. Also it was to be a house of sacrifice (v-16-20), a place to put his Name (7:1). Because of his glory they could not enter, just like the tent. There was also great worship and thanksgiving at this house.
His Dwelling Now
Solomon built a house (Acts 7:47-8), but God's true dwelling is not made by human hands . He now dwells among us in the dwelling that has come down from heaven, the new Jerusalem , his church . This house on earth is linked to his in heaven, "On earth as it is in heaven "(2Cor. 5.1). It is made according to the pattern, a divine one, not of human institution. The Church received his glory and spirit on the day of Pentecost, like the fire in the tent coming down . We are partakers of his glory .
The former was a copy (Heb.8:5); however, the true tabernacle is in the heavens (Hebrews 8:2; 9:11,24). It is the work of Him the builder, Christ. The heavenly tabernacle, like the temple, is meant to be on earth too (Rev. 15:5). The Lord is building his church, his dwelling of the Holy Spirit. It came with tongues of fire as a lamp stand. Remember 1 Chron. regarding His Name: " Where two or more are gathered ... there he is in the midst." It is not built of men. It is an organism. A body. A dwelling. A supernatural structure. Every Sunday millions gather, but much of this is a structure and pattern built by men . We can't make God's presence happen. It must be born of God .
We don't go to church , we are the church. It's foundation is a revelation of Jesus. It is those who are daily joined and knit together. We are gathered in his name into Christ's body - the temple - "in three days I will raise it up" ( Eph. 2). The structure is joined together. This scripture sums up the essence of what the temple signifies . His people, lives brought together for him, not living alone or independent. His purpose is beyond our personal satisfaction. We live for Him .
Just as the physical temple was, we are now a house to offer spiritual sacrifices as we lay down our lives (1Pet. 2.5). We are the priests that may draw near, a chosen race like the Levitical priests (Rev. chap-1-9). We are the temple of the living God (2Cor. 6:16). He inhabits the church like he did his Old Testamant people (Leviticus 26:11-12 ). The household of God is His church (1Tim. 3:15). The pillar of truth is Christ. He is faithful over the house he built (Heb. 3:6). He is Christ, one greater than Solomon.
Jesus spoke concerning the temple in his day: "behold your house is desolate !" This is Ichobad (the glory has departed; remember 1 Sam.). Since God's people had left him, God departed from the place he said he would dwell .
Jesus created and built something completely new - the church. It is very different from the old temple which was but only a type. Yet the problem is that many still try to follow the old pattern. Let's build an institution, a cathedral, a denomination . Christ created a new and living way, not special days , appointed feasts, etc. It is a greater fulfillment, a greater covenant than the old. We are partakers in this. The Lord said, "My heart will always be there," in the temple. How much more the true reality ? My "Father's House" is personal. God wanted to be among his people . Christ had zeal for God's house.
Yet if each one is busy with his own house, God's house will be in ruins. The church upbuilds itself in love. The nature of the church is laying down our lives for one another, like God's son. It is a continual gathering in one another's homes for encouragement . We are a family and our name and identity is this, " from whom every family is named" (Eph. 4). The body is composed of joints of supply and has organs . Most of what each does is for the rest of the body (John 17), " that they may be one ." How will that come about ? By upbuilding itself in love. By laying down our lives.
" Now through the Church (the Ekklesia)"
God's glory and wisdom is now made known . The past tense of scripture . We are made to sit with him . We've had glimpses and a taste and this stirs a hunger for a greater measure . We have tasted of the powers of the age to come, like the ultimate fulfillment (Rev. 22; Heb.12:22). We have come to the church of the firstborn and now are seeing it expand . May God's kingdom come through our lives for the old has passed away .