thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one
side of the Tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the other side
of the Tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the
Tabernacle for the two sides westward. And the middle bar in the midst
of the boards shall reach from end to end" (vv. 26-28).
We have considered
the BOARDS fitly framed together, firmly fixed in the sockets of
silver, as typical of believers standing in redemption. We have now to
consider the BARS of shittim wood overlaid with gold - God's provision
for compacting together and securing the whole.
In the first six
verses of Eph. 4. the sevenfold unity of the Church is mentioned: One
body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God
and Father of all. From verses 7-11, the FIVE gifts given from an
ascended and glorified Saviour are noticed; apostles, prophets,
evangelists, pastors and teachers.
The object for
which they are given is stated from verses 12 to 16 : "For the
perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the
edifying of the body of Christ. Till we all come in the unity of the
faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto
the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. That we henceforth
be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every
wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love,
may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that
which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the
measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of
itself in love."
The FIVE BARS
answer strikingly to these FIVE GIFTS from a risen Christ, and the
object and the end is the same, both in the Tabernacle and the Church:
the "perfecting," "edifying," and "compacting of the whole together."
were to be of SHITTIM WOOD; reminding us that those who have received
gifts for service to the Lord and to His saints, are men of like
passions with others. They have this treasure in earthen vessels, that
the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of them. Not
sufficient of themselves to think anything as of themselves, their
sufficiency is of God.
THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE BARS.
arrangements and provisions for ministry are simple, perfect, and
uniform, adapted to the need of the Church of God throughout the whole
world. All believers everywhere have need of all the gifts of the
Spirit for their compacting and edifying; and according to God's
arrangements, whatever gifts there may be, are designed for all.
The leading of the
Spirit, or the providence of God, may place some in certain localities;
all believers have a title to their service, and they are debtors,
according to their ability and opportunity, to all. Two of the bars
were placed near the bottom of the boards; one in the centre extending
from end to end; and two near the top, thus
Pastors and Teachers.
Apostles and Prophets.
The two UNDER bars
may be taken to represent the gifts of the APOSTLES and PROPHETS.
These, as to doctrine and practice, according to the ability given them
of God, have laid the foundation. The Church is said to be "built upon
the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being
the chief corner stone." They laid the foundation by their labours,
example, and teaching in their lifetime; and in the inspired Scriptures
in the New Testament which they have left, the Church has still the
benefit of their gifts.
The MIDDLE bar in
the centre of the boards was entire, extending the whole length of the
Tabernacle, from end to end; beautifully suggestive of the widely
extended sphere of the labours of the EVANGELIST; whose commission is,
"Go ye into all the world, and ,reach the gospel to every creature."
two bars near the top, represent the ministry of PASTOR and TEACHER:
the PASTOR watching over souls of the converted, feeding the flock of
God; the TEACHER leading the children of God onward and upward into
further and higher acquaintance with 'divine truth, and of the love,
person, and ways of the Lord Jesus.
THE OVERLAYING OF THE BOARDS WITH GOLD.
thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold
for places for the bars; and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold" (v.
It is remarkable
that the direction for OVERLAYING the boards does not occur in the
portion which treats of the BOARDS (v15-25), but in connection with the
BARS; doubtless, this is significant. The boards were of shittim wood:
representing believers, IN THEMSELVES partakers of HUMAN NATURE in its
weakness and frailty. But overlaid with gold: signifying that, as one
in Spirit with Jesus, believers are also partakers of the DIVINE NATURE
(2 Peter 1. 4). As we are by the grace of God - as seen by Him in the
Son of His love - such we ought to be practically, experimentally, at
all times; especially when gathered in the Name of Jesus, under the
searching eye of Him with whom we have to do; that as builded together
for a habitation of God through the Spirit, there may be nothing to
grieve or quench that Holy Spirit of God, or hinder the full flow of
blessing from our God and Father. As the shittim wood in the Tabernacle
was nowhere to be seen, so the flesh, or that which is merely natural,
should never be manifest in the assembly of God's saints. But putting
off the old man, and putting on the new, as the elect of God, holy and
beloved, the divine nature should appear, and divine charity be ever in
full exercise. The distinctions which cannot be overlooked with
impunity in the outward walks of life, would disappear when believers
are assembled in the Church; and all as children of God, members of
Christ, dwelt in by the Spirit, would hold the faith of our Lord Jesus
Christ, the Lord of glory, without respect of persons (James 2. 1).
Whilst the gold glittered on the surface, the shittim wood existed
within. So it becomes us to remember that, notwithstanding all that
divine grace has made us in Christ, in ourselves we are nothing at all.
The true circumcision, worshipping God in the Spirit, rejoicing in
Christ Jesus, but having no confidence in the flesh. This is no excuse
for sin or failure; the grace of God is sufficient; His strength is
made perfect in weakness.
But why is this
direction inserted here with the instructions respecting the bars? Does
it not intimate a connection between the exercising of the gifts for
ministry, and the fuller realization and manifestation of the divine
nature? Thus holding the Head, "all the body, BY JOINTS AND BANDS,
having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth WITH THE
INCREASE OF GOD." Whilst God, according to His divine power, has given
unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, whereby are
given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, THAT BY THESE WE
MIGHT BE PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE - is it not through the
exercise of the gifts of the Spirit, in the ministry of the Word, that
individually and collectively these great and precious promises are
realized and this growth in grace is experienced? (2 Pet. 1. 3, 4).
THE GOLDEN RINGS.
of gold for places for the bars." There is a divinely given place for
ministry in the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit in the Church of
There is a place
appointed of God for each kind of ministry. A place for the APOSTLES
and PROPHETS, which none else can occupy: a place of authority and
A place for the
EVANGELIST, a work of vast importance and responsibility; having to do
with souls and eternity.
for the PASTOR and TEACHER, in watching over and instructing the souls
of the redeemed, with which the saints' well-being, and the honour of
the Lord Jesus is connected.
THE OVERLAYING OF THE BARS.
ministry is the exercise of a gift received from God through Jesus
Christ, in the power of the Holy Ghost, according to the ability which
God giveth, and for God's glory. "As every man hath received the gift,
even so minister the same one to another, as good A stewards of the
manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles
of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God
giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ"
(1 Peter. 4.10-11). To sum up these various figures of ministry. In the
CHERUBIM OF the mercy-seat in the holiest of all, we have set forth
MINISTRY IN ITS HEAVENLY ORIGIN AND SOURCE.
In the golden
LAMPSTAND in the holy place, over against the Table, by the Altar of
incense, MINISTRY IN THE ASSEMBLY, IN CONNECTION WITH COMMUNION AND
WORSHIP. In these BARS uniting the BOARDS, we see MINISTRY FOR THE
BUILDING UP AND COMPACTING of the Church of God.
thou shalt rear up the Tabernacle according to the fashion thereof,
which was showed thee in the Mount" (v30).
Whether as to
Church gathering and constitution, or as to ministry, God's pattern,
and that alone, is to be followed; a pattern not earthly and human, but
heavenly and divine.
condescended to arrange everything for us in His Word in type in the
Old Testament, in example in the Gospels and the Acts, and in express
directions in the inspired Epistles of the apostles. May we esteem all
God's commandments concerning all things to be right: and hating every
false way, be fully persuaded that His plans are the best, and that in
keeping His commandments there is great reward.
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