Standing Firm In The Lord # 2
mention should be made of the uniform height of the boards, which was ten cubits. It seems that in the Scriptures the number Ten speaks of responsibility under test. We remember that the young Daniel, when first he stood up in the Lord's Name, asked fora test of ten days to prove the practical value of his abstemious life. In the New Testament we have the Ten Virgins, the Ten Pounds and the ten days of tribulation for the faithful church at Smyrna. So the phrase "standing up" has also this sense of those who can bear responsibility and stand the test of time. This is the kind of material which God uses for His building.
God's Call To Us
The challenge of this symbolism is very simple but it is also very searching. It means that I must face the question as to what would happen in my case if all coverings and all the supports were stripped away, if I were suddenly bereft of even the God-given aids to strength and unity, and I were left quite alone. I would be a solitary board. Yes, but would I still be standing up? This would be the ultimate test.
We are all being tested - there can be no question of that. God's people are passing through all sorts of strange and painful experiences, and the indications are that these will increase rather than otherwise. What does it all mean? It means that our own personal life with God is being exposed to every kind of test, and that if we are to be worthy elements in His building we are expected always to be found standing up, even if we seem to stand alone.
It is not enough to have been cut down and shaped correctly as a board. It is not even enough to be gold-covered and radiant with His glory. It is essential that we remain standing. satan's work is to shake us, to bring about our collapse, to confront the Lord with the sorry spectacle of prostrate boards, lying down in the face of wicked wiles and threats. Even an Elijah, able so boldly to declare that he was a man who stood before the Lord, was at one point so disheartened and discouraged, so stumbled by God's strange dealings with him, that he was found lying down under the juniper tree. He who had stood so boldly for so long, had now collapsed. And why? Largely because he looked around at the rest of the people who were all lying down in unbelief and fear. There were none who would rally to his support. He seems to have given way to self-pity, for he complained to the Lord, "I, even I only, am left" (1 Kings 19:10). This was not in fact true. It is seldom true that God's servants are as alone as they seem. But even if it had been true that was no reason why Elijah should lie down with the rest of them. And there is no reason why we should allow our difficulties and apparent lack of support from others to make us collapse. His House is made up of those who know how to stand - if necessary to stand alone.
It is quite true that in the normal experience of the Tabernacle boards they were all joined together by the supporting cross-bars. These bars gave solidity and strength to the structure, and it is generally thought that they typify the spiritual facts which bind God's children together in their life of faith. We need these divinely given helps, and we do well to make full use of them as we are able. Nevertheless, although it is essential that we learn to stand together, it must equally be true that in the Lord we can stand alone. Fellowship life is a divine provision, and it is almost impossible to exaggerate its importance in our spiritual life. We need one another, and the Lord needs that we recognize and maintain the unity which He has provided. But every spiritual blessing carries with it a corresponding spiritual peril, and it is a great peril of fellowship that we may misuse it and lean on one another instead of standing in the Lord. There is no substitute for a personal life with the Lord.
The truth is that fellowship life is only strong when individual components are themselves rooted and grounded in God. It would not be difficult to find in both Old and New Testament examples of those who made a great contribution to the corporate life of God's people just because they could stand alone. Israel was saved because at the critical moment Gideon and his men stood firmly in their places, undaunted by the great odds against them. The spiritual life of God's people was maintained by the faithful few who in the night watches stood before the Lord in the intercessory work of the sanctuary. What importance is attached to this simple fact that the individual boards contribute so much to the whole because they have been made to stand!
Standing In Redemption
A further look at the Tabernacle boards will show us that although they have been cut off from their previous natural roots, they are not rootless - far from it. The boards would not have stood up for long if they had just been balanced, especially as they would have been balanced in sand. No, they were not taken from their natural roots to be left in a precarious and unstable condition but were each given two sockets of solid silver. Silver remands us of redemption, and none of us can ever stand in the purposes of God unless we are firmly upheld by the redeeming power of Christ. The boards were shaped in such a way that each of them had its own means of penetrating into the sockets, and so, as it were, appropriating their strength. Each board had its own sockets. There was not along bar of silver with holes for each board but a separate block for each of the two "hands" or tenons of the board. Here, then, was the secret of the stability of each board, it had its own solid foundation and it had an individual rooting in that foundation.
Redemption means that we do not belong to ourselves, we are purchased ones. Let the hands of our faith reach down well into this glorious truth and let us know for ourselves the reality of being bought by God for Himself, and we shall find stability even in the midst of the desert sand. Let a group of Christians stand in the good of this same glorious truth and at the same time stand together, and God will have a dwelling place among them.