Brief Notes

The Boards,
the Bars, &
the Oneness (5)

21 October 2023

The bars of the tabernacle
show us what we need
to keep “the unity of
the Spirit in the uniting
bond of peace”

In the tabernacle of the Old Testament, the ark, as well as the boards, are made of wood overlaid with gold. Wood, signifying the human nature, is something that grows up out of the earth; it can be quite useful, but is not something we would normally consider precious. In contrast, the gold, signifying the divine nature, is very much like God Himself: it simply exists, does not change, is so weighty and solid, and is of course exceedingly precious.

Thus, the combination of these two materials in the ark of the tabernacle signifies that Christ possesses both the human and divine natures; while in the boards, it shows us that now we also, as the believers in Christ, share in both the human and divine natures (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4).

But there is another item in the tabernacle that is also made of wood overlaid with gold: the connecting bars. The Lord told Moses:

“And you shall make bars of acacia wood: five for the boards on one side of the tabernacle, five bars for the boards on the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the far side westward. The middle bar shall pass through the midst of the boards from end to end. You shall overlay the boards with gold, make their rings of gold as holders for the bars, and overlay the bars with gold.”
— Exodus 26:26-29

It was these bars, together with the rings on the boards, that connected the boards to each other and caused them to support each other.

So, if the ark is a type of Christ, and the boards are a type of the believers, what do these connecting bars signify? The answer here is very clear: since the bars connect the boards, the believers, together, the bars can only signify “the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3 Darby), as Paul tells us in Ephesians.

Here is the full context of the Apostle Paul’s statement:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
— Ephesians 4:1-3

As we considered in a recent Note, these verses show us we can only keep the oneness with our fellow believers by exhibiting the divine virtues of Christ in His humanity, including “all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering” (cf. Matt. 11:29), loving the saints in a genuine way. (See “Walking in a Manner Worthy of Our Calling.”)

And that is what is pictured by the wood and gold of the connecting bars.

On the one hand, if the bars were made of solid gold, they would be far too heavy to be held by the rings; but on the other, if there was no gold overlaying the boards, and no gold rings upon the boards, there would be no way to connect the bars to the boards. However, because both the bars and the boards are made of wood overlaid with gold, the boards can hold up the bars, the bars can be connected to the boards, and the boards can be connected to each other by the bars.

Again this shows that, to have the genuine church life, we must have both the humanity and the divinity of Christ! If we are overly “spiritual” we may be too “heavy” for the saints to take; because we lack the manifestation of the divine virtues of Christ in His humanity, it will be easy for us to stumble the saints. However, if we are too common and natural, lacking in the experience of the divine nature, there will be no way for us to be one with each other to begin with.

May the Lord grant us the real experience of both His humanity and His divinity, so that we may have His testimony among us today!

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— 21 October 2023 —