By Titus Chu
The tabernacle was pretty small, considering it was to be a place of worship for two million Israelites. God had the whole wilderness, even the whole world, to work with, yet He designed something so stingy. Outside its walls was plenty of room for all kinds of so-called ministries and religious activities, but within was only God’s economy. It seems He did not want to stress the size. He was more interested in conveying the spiritual reality represented by all its items and through it to give a view of His heart’s desire.
Even the ark which was placed in the Holy of Holies, the meeting place of God with man, seems too small, but God was pleased to design it that way. He told Moses, “They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.” (Exo. 25:10). The ark represents God Himself, yet every dimension is a half measure. How can this be? God is all-sufficient, complete, and short of nothing. Yet when He comes to meet with man, He presents Himself as only half.
God seemed to be saying that something is missing, that without humanity He is somehow short. Yes, God is complete in Himself, but in the dimensions of the ark, He testified that He was two and a half cubits waiting to become five, and one and a half cubits waiting to become three. We think we need God, but we never consider how much God needs us. Without the church to fill out His dimensions, God feels incomplete and unsatisfied.
A young man may grow up feeling very self sufficient. He may be strong, talented, and well able to take care of himself. In many ways he seems quite whole. Yet when a certain young woman comes into his life, he suddenly discovers he is only half. Without her, he feels incomplete and will do anything to gain her heart. He will call her, take her out to dinner, and buy her flowers. He will drive hours to see her if necessary. If her smile drops, he will scramble to bring it back. He will do things for her that he would never have done before, just so he can spend a little time with her. This is exactly how God feels about us. The gospel is His declaration to the whole universe that He is half and needs another half. He is doing everything to win us.
Many do not understand God like this. They know Him as all-sufficient, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, but they do not know that He wants something more. God desires the church as His counterpart and bride. The apostle Paul wrote that “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). Only when He gains the church as His counterpart will He feel complete and satisfied. We should be very impressed with this.
The Reason for God’s Work
This is the reason for all of God’s work in our Christian lives. God is two and a half cubits and is doing everything to gain a matching two an a half cubits. This is why He loved us, was incarnated, lived as a man, and died for us. This is why He saved us and works with us even though we are stubborn and rebellious. This is why He never gives up on us.
It is God who initiated our salvation. It is God who gave us a heart to believe in him. It is God who turned us to love Jesus Christ. It is God who caused us to offer ourselves to Him. When we eventually enter eternity, we will have to thank and praise God. He does all things to prepare us as the church to be His counterpart, His bride, His matching two and a half cubits.
The apostle John wrote with full expectation, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John. 3:2). How did John have such boldness to say we will one day be like the returning Lord Jesus? He knew that God desires us to match Him, and that He is doing everything needed to work it out.
Likewise, the apostle Paul tells us that God causes “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:28–29). Paul was confident that God would use all things to conform us to the image of Christ, and that we are predestined to this end. Everything works for our full salvation and for the producing of God’s counterpart, the matching two and a half cubits. He concluded, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (v. 31). This conformation to God’s son is at the very heart of God’s work, and nothing can stop it.
God’s Ultimate Satisfaction
From the beginning to the end, God is the initiator, the provider, and the accomplisher. Everything begins and ends with God. This is why God’s revelation to Moses about the tabernacle began with the ark of testimony with its awkward half measure dimensions. God seems to be desperately trying to tell us how much He needs us. We foolishly try to ignore Him and say we don’t care, but God’s operation in us is too strong. We don’t care but He does. Paul wrote that he was “confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). God will finish what He has begun.
From Moses’ time to today, God has been working to produce another two and a half cubits to match Him. He will keep working until He has it, and then He will return. John wrote concerning that day, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). At that time God will have a bride that matches Him, and He will finally be satisfied.