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Exactly

"Unless a sanctuary was constructed exactly according to a pattern furnished by Himself, though He was their Saviour and their King, yet in their midst He could not, would not dwell". This statement, which first appeared in the pages of Needed Truth in 1888 (Volume 1, page 30), expresses accurately an important principle regarding God's dwelling place among His gathered people. Those whose hearts were exercised at that time were impressed by its primary importance.

With the passing of time it is well to bring these things to the minds of all. Firstly, there is a need for all God's children today to be reminded that God's house must always be constructed according to a divine pattern. Doing what is right in our own eyes will not produce anything in which a holy God may take pleasure and find His rest. There is also a need for those who are gathered together in churches of God to grasp afresh this truth which so vigorously exercised the minds of early brethren. They lived amid the confusion and frustrations of those things which fell short of the divine standard and therefore they wrote with feeling and concern, which we today may not experience to the same degree. There is a real danger that we lose the awareness that everything in God's house must be according to the pattern. Some may regard the insistence on exactness as pedantic. We are thankful far men in past days who meticulously adhered to the word of God. Of such men was Moses, of whom it is written, "even as Moses is warned of God when he is about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern that was shewed thee in the mount" (Heb. 8:5). Thus, it is also written, "Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were afterward to be spoken" (Heb. 3:5).

Men find exactness necessary in many fields, measuring even to thousandths of an inch or of a second. But in the things of God many contend that there should be "freedom", "discretion"," a moving with the times" and "liberty", so that accommodation can be made for things both short of and contrary to the word of God. As we consider the beauty of the types embodied in the tabernacle, how thankful we are that Moses did not allow either his own or the workers' thoughts to intrude into its construction.

It should be observed that God gave no instruction concerning the tabernacle until the people had twice declared: "All that the LORD hath spoken we will do" (Exod. 19:8; 24:3). On the first occasion Moses reported the words of the people unto the LORD and on the second occasion he wrote all the words of the LORD. Then when the covenant between the LORD and the people was ratified they declared for the third time: "All that the LORD hath spoken will we do, and be obedient" (Exod. 24:7). Let us lay it to heart that it was upon this declaration of obedience to all that God had spoken (not to part or even most of His words) that God then said: "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Exod. 25:8). Likewise, therefore, when the Lord Jesus was about to leave His disciples He, having all authority, commanded them to teach the baptized disciples all things whatsoever He had commanded them (Matt. 28:20). These were the things concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

God having indicated His desire for a dwelling place, then immediately told Moses: "According to all that I shew thee, the pattern of the dwelling, and the pattern of all the furniture thereof, even so shall ye make it" (Exod. 25:9, RVM). Moses was given no discretion in the building but was directed, "And see that thou make them after their pattern, which hath been shewed thee in the mount" (25:40).

Let it be carefully noted that the~ pattern of God's house has always been given in writing. Thirteen chapters of Exodus are devoted to the pattern and service of the tabernacle. In the case of the temple, David said to Solomon, "All this ... have I been made to understand in writing from the hand of the LORD, even all the works of this pattern" (1 Chron. 28.19, but read the whole chapter). The future temple is described in writing in Ezekiel commencing with chapter 40, and the house of Israel is commanded, "Let them measure the pattern" (43:10). Likewise, the pattern for God's dwelling place in our day is found in the New Testament writings, May it be said of us, as it was said of Moses, that we were "indeed faithful in all God's house". God said to Ezekiel, "Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary" (Ezek. 44:5).

It is not our purpose in this article to set forth in detail the doctrine of the house of God. This has already been set forth in other writings which are obtainable from the address shown on the back of this magazine. Suffice it now to say that the house of God in this age is not a material building. Nor does the term apply to a congregation gathered together in some place consisting of both saved and unsaved persons; or even to a company of persons who are all saved, and even baptized. Let the reader be exercised to inquire what the New Testament teaches concerning the house of God. We confine ourselves

in this article to the great scriptural stress laid upon exactness in regard to it.

Many times in the instructions concerning the tabernacle reference is made to doing the work in accordance with the pattern. Particularly we refer to chapters 39 and 40 of Exodus, where no less than seventeen times wards such as these are used: "As the LORD commanded Moses". Exodus 39:43 is worthy of note: "And Moses saw all the work, and, behold, they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it; and Moses blessed them". Blessing is associated with faithfulness. If we lack blessing let us, look again at the pattern to see whether we conform thereto, and not seek for blessing by lowering the divine requirements in respect to God's house. Blessing does not consist in numbers but in the presence of God. If He takes pleasure in His house blessing will overflow. But Gad cannot take pleasure in that which seeks to alter His divine requirements. Let it be remembered: "The palace is not far man but far the LORD God" (1 Chron. 29:1).

Some may ask: Is there not liberty today for the Spirit of God to bless this and that, so that we may allow ~his and that? The Spirit of Truth will not lead to error. His work is not to lead the saints to do what they think best and then to impart His power. The liberty that the Holy Spirit gives is known only when there is obedience to the will of God. This is seen in the case of Bezalel and Oholiab (Exod. 31:1-11). These men were filled with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, understanding, knowledge and all manner of workmanship. To what end? That they might devise things out of their own heads? No. Rather, to do well what their natural ability could not have done. For in the hearts of the wise-hearted God put wisdom (Exod. 31:6) that "they may make all that I have commanded thee"; and again, "according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do" (v.11). These men were filled to teach others how they too must work (Exod. 35:34). The Holy Spirit will impart wisdom and understanding "to know how to work all the work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD hath commanded" (Exod. 36:1).

We earnestly say to fellow-believers who are wandering what to do as Christendom moves toward the darkness of ecumenicism - measure the pattern, and be sure that God will not accept less. To those who are numbered in churches of God we say, We cannot lower the standards and enjoy divine favour. We cannot disobey the Word, or treat any of it as less important, and have the assurance of God's presence. The responsibility lies upon all, but especially upon those who are overseers, shepherds of the little Flock. If overseers seek to accommodate a lower standard, they will have not only themselves to answer for, but also the souls of the saints weakened in their faith and service. Overseers should never forget the warning of the apostle that "from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Wherefore watch ye" (Acts 20:30-31). It must be the constant prayer of the leaders that they neither diminish from, add to, nor alter the divine pattern.

We live in the closing days of this age of grace, looking for the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we say from our hearts: "LORD, I love the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth" (Psa. 26:8). Let us lay hold upon that by faith, and yearn within our own hearts that we may be found numbered therein in faithfulness and diligence when the Lord comes again for His own. The visible manifestation of the glory of God's house may not be as evident as in the days of the apostles, but the truth that thrills our hearts is that it is God's dwelling place. God's ward to us is still: "Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house: and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD" (Haggai 1:8).

We refer to the rebuilt temple' because although its glory seemed less than that of the temple built by Solomon, the requirement for exactness was the same. When Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, wrote to Ezra, he understood the value placed by the God of heaven upon His house and he feared for the wrath of God if the house was not according to the divine mind. Indeed, as we read his words we see this Gentile king with more understanding and more fear of the Lord than is to be found in many of God's children today. These words are among those which he wrote:

"Whatsoever is commanded by the Gad of heaven, let it be done EXACTLY for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?" (Ezra 7:23).

The whole of the king's letter may be read to profit, and for our instruction. And when the mind of the king was thus expressed, it drew forth the following response in the heart of Ezra, that ready scribe in the law of Moses, who had set his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgements: "Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem" (Ezra 7:27).

Let all who fear God and love His dwelling place grasp the ever-present connexion between beautifying the house of God and doing things pertaining thereto EXACTLY.