God desires to dwell with us and to express His nature. That is why Moses had to build a dwelling place for God, the tabernacle. Today, God no longer dwells in a tent, nor in a temple built with man’s hands (cf. Acts 17:24). Rather, we – the born-again believers – are the house of God. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).
Just as God’s glory was visible in His tabernacle at the time of the old covenant, God wants to express His glory today through us and through His church. So God’s house must correspond exactly to His blueprint.
Separation Between God’s House and the World
First of all, we see that the tabernacle and its outer court are separated from the outside world by a special enclosure. There is a distinct separation between God’s house and the essence of this world. Outside is the world, which is under the dominion of the wicked one: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). The nature or essence of this world stands in stark contrast to the kingdom of God. In the gospel of John, Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world (cf. John 18:36). As believers, God has saved us out of this world: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). Furthermore, the Word shows us that this world is perishing, and that God will judge it: “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31). But God’s house will remain forever: “The world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
With such much contrast, there cannot be any mixture. God will not accept worldly elements entering His house. That is why there is a clear separation, for “what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Cor. 6:16a).
Our Body Should Express God’s Nature
The outer court of the tabernacle is a picture for our body, the holy place a picture for our soul, and the Most Holy a picture for our human spirit. Just as the outward enclosure separates the tabernacle from the world, so also our body and the deeds we perform with it should display a clear separation from the world. God wants us to give our body for Him and thereby glorify Him: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service [for God]” (Romans 12:1). “You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20).
The White Linen – the Righteous Acts of the Saints
The main feature of the outer separation is the white linen. This linen shows God’s righteousness, holiness, and purity. God’s righteousness must also be visible to this world in our conduct as Christians. We cannot conform ourselves to this world to practice the same sinful, useless deeds as those who are without God. Jesus said that we are the light of this world (cf. Matt. 5:14). Revelation shows us that the white linen is the righteous acts of the saints (cf. Rev. 19:8). The first thing you notice about a person is his conduct – for example, his speech. Therefore, it is important for us to present a clear contrast to the people in this world.
More about the outer separation of the tabernacle and how we can be such people in Part 2.