The Foundation of God’s Government

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“The Foundation of God’s Government”

The Signs of the Times 12, 10.

E. J. Waggoner

There is one more argument that we would introduce right here. To do so, we shall have to refer to the Tabernacle built by Moses, and we shall try to do so as briefly as is consistent with perfect clearness.

In general, only references will be given; the reader can look them up at his leisure.

In Ex. 25:8 we read these words:

The Foundation of God's Government“And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

These words of the Lord follow a command to Moses to receive offerings of gold, silver, brass, acacia wood, fine linen, goat’s hair, etc. Of these, the tabernacle was to be built.

Chapters 25-30 contain the complete description of this structure, together with all the furniture and vessels connected with it. The framework was composed of boards standing upright. There were twenty on each side, and eight on the west end. These boards were ten cubits-fifteen feet long, and a cubit and a half wide, and were entirely covered with gold; each one had at the lower extremity two tenons, which were inserted into the sockets of silver, and this arrangement, together with bars that ran through rings on the sides of the boards, served to keep them in position. Ex. 26:15-30.

The east end was closed by a vail, or hanging, of fine linen of various colors, with figures of cherubim worked on it. This was called the door of the tabernacle. Ex. 26:36-37. Four curtains, made respectively of linen, goat’s hair, rams’ skins, and badgers’ skins, formed the covering of the tabernacle. Ex. 26:1- 4.

Besides the door, there was a second vail of the same material, which divided the tabernacle into two rooms; the first was called the “holy place,” and the second the “most holy place.” Ex. 26:31-33; Heb. 9:1-3.

So much for the tabernacle itself.

Within this tabernacle were various articles of furniture. Just within the holy place on the north side, was a table, upon which show-bread was placed. Ex. 30:27-29; 40:22-23.

On the south side there was a candlestick, or lamp-stand, having seven lamps, the whole beaten out of one solid piece of gold. These lamps were to be kept continually burning. Ex. 25:31, 39.

In the western extremity of the holy place, just before the second vail, was the golden altar of incense. Upon this the priest offered incense night and morning. Ex. 30:1-9.

This is all that was in the holy place.

In the most holy place there was but one article of furniture, the ark of the testimony (Ex. 25:10-22), and that is of so much importance in our investigation that we shall examine it more particularly.

By a careful examination of the scripture last referred to, we find that this ark was an oblong box of acacia wood, covered within and without with gold. On its sides were rings of gold, through which staves were passed for use in carrying it, so that it need never be touched by human hands. The cover to this ark was called the mercy-seat, and was of solid gold.

Upon the mercy-seat were the cherubim, one on each end, of solid gold, and of the same piece as the mercy-seat itself. The wings of these cherubim were extended so as to form an arch over the ark, and their faces looked toward each other, and downward to the ark. Within the ark was the “testimony” (Ex. 25:16), which was nothing other than the Ten Commandments which God spoke from Sinai, wrote on tables of stone, and delivered to Moses for safe deposit in the ark. Deut. 10:1-5.

This ark, as stated before, was in the most holy place (Heb. 9:3-5), into which no man could enter save the high priest, and he only once a year. Heb. 9:7. Even then he did not see the ark, because the cloud of incense arising from the censer which he held in his hand, entirely concealed it. Lev. 16:12, 13. Without this precaution, he would have died, and the reason why will presently appear.

Turning to Ex. 25:20-22, we read:

The Foundation of God's Government“And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”

Now we know why no one except the high priest could enter the most holy place, and why even he, in his yearly visit, could not behold the mercy-seat and live.

It was because the glory of God was there. In that place, the priest was in the immediate presence of God.

It is now time to inquire how Moses, after having been commanded to build the sanctuary, happened to light upon the special style that he did. For an answer, read Ex. 25:9, 40.

“According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount.”

Since it was to be God’s house, God Himself furnished the plan.

But by reading a little more, we shall find that this pattern was not something then for the first time conceived. In the 9th of Hebrews, Paul, after telling that Moses purified (in a figure) the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry, by sprinkling them with the blood of animals, says, verse 23:

“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the Heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”

This tells us plainly that the tabernacle and its furniture were copied after things in the Heavens.

Now read Heb. 8:1, 2:

“Now of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: we have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the Heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.”

Now we know that the tabernacle built by Moses as a dwelling- place for God, was only a temporary representation of God’s real, permanent dwelling-place in Heaven. That God does have a tangible structure in Heaven for His occupancy, where, to use a common expression, He holds court, is evident from the scriptures just quoted, and also from Ps. 11:4:

“The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in Heaven; his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.”

This temple, the place of God’s throne, has been seen in Heaven. John says:

“And the temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament.” Rev. 11:19.

If we should ask what portion of the earthly tabernacle especially represented God’s throne, the reader would almost at once answer: “The ark, with the cherubim on the mercy-seat above; because it was between these cherubim that his glory was manifested.” This would be correct. God’s actual dwelling-place is between the cherubim; when he moves from place to place, His throne (a living throne) and the cherubim accompany Him.

For proof of this read the following texts:-

“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth.” Ps. 80:1. “The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble; he sitteth between the cherubim; let the earth be moved.” Ps. 90:1.

Besides these, read Eze. 1 and 10; Isa. 6:1-3, and Eze. 28:14.

Remember now that everything in the earthly sanctuary was a representation of some corresponding thing in the heavenly sanctuary, as nearly exact as human hands could approach to a likeness of things not made with hands, and we shall of necessity conclude that the throne of God in Heaven is directly above the original law of Ten Commandments, of which the tables placed in the ark by Moses were only a copy. In other words, the Ten Commandments form the foundation of God’s throne.

In further pursuit of this thought, read Ps. 80:14:

“Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before thy face.”

Also the following:

“The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation [establishment] of his throne.” Ps. 97:1, 2.

We have already learned that the law is holy, just, and good, and that it is righteousness; it is perfect righteousness, and there is no righteousness outside of this law of Ten Commandments. Therefore when the psalmist says that righteousness is the establishment of God’s throne, it is equivalent to saying that God’s throne is established upon the Ten Commandments; that the Ten Commandments literally form the basis, or foundation, of the throne of God. This term “throne” is often applied to sovereign authority or royal dignity. The ruler of a country is the representative of that government, and by metonymy the place where the ruler dispenses justice is put for the ruler, and so for the government. We speak of “the throne of the universe,” meaning thereby the government of the universe. So, then, the fact that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of God’s throne, shows that they are the rule of His Government; that every act is in accordance with their just sanctions; and that all the creatures of His Government throughout the universe are required to obey them.

This is a conclusion which we are confident cannot be overthrown, nor can anyone who holds himself to a strict regard for the plain word of God, contradict it.

This being so, what a view it gives us of the perpetuity of God’s law! Leaving the eternity that is past, we look forward and ask, How long shall God’s moral law endure? And the answer comes, It will endure just as long as God’s throne endures, just as long as God rules the universe; for God’s throne could not remain firm if its foundations were destroyed. And this shows the unchanging nature of the law, as well as its perpetuity.

The moral law is composed of ten precepts. Since the law is the foundation of God’s throne, we may with propriety call the ten precepts the ten stones composing the foundation.

Indeed, Bishop E. O. Haven, of the M. E. Church, seemed to have a similar idea in his mind, when he wrote the little book, entitled, “The Pillars of Truth.” This work contains ten chapters, each chapter being the substance of a lecture before the students of Michigan University, the subject of the lectures being the Ten Commandments. These commandments, according to the bishop’s idea, are the ten pillars that uphold all truth. This being true, how can one of them be exchanged for another? What would support the throne of the universe while the transfer was being made? Such a question needs no answer.

When we realize the relation which the moral law sustains to God and His Government, the mind at once sees the absurdity of the idea that one jot or one tittle can pass from the law, or that the slightest change could ever be made in it. We must exclaim with the psalmist:

“Thy word is true from the beginning; and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.” Ps. 119:160.

E. J. W.

Download this edition of the Signs of the Times 1886.

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