The Foundation of God’s Government

Ellet J. Waggoner

The Signs of the Times : March 11, 1886

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 Exodus 25:8 we read these words: “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. Exodus 25-30 contains 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 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. Exodus 26:15-30.
The east end was closed by a veil, or hanging, of fine linen of various colors, with figures of cherubim worked on it. This was called the door of the tabernacle. Exodus 26:36, 37. Four curtains, made respectively of linen, goat’s hair, rams’ skins, and badgers’ skins, formed the covering of the tabernacle. Exodus 26:1-14. Besides the door, there was a second veil 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.” Exodus 26:31-33; Hebrews 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. Exodus 25:23-30; 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. Exodus 25:31, 39. In the western extremity of the holy place, just before the second veil, was the golden altar of incense. Upon this the priest offered incense night and morning. Exodus 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 (Exodus 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” (Exodus 25:16), which was nothing other than the Ten Commandments which God spoke from Sinai, wrote on tablets of stone, and delivered to Moses for safe deposit in the ark. Deuteronomy 10:1-5. This ark, as stated before, was in the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 9:3-5), into which no man could enter save the high priest, and he only once a year. Hebrews 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 Exodus 25:20-22, we read: “And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to 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 Exodus 25:9, 40. “According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” 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 Hebrews 9, 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: “Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the 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 Hebrews 8:1, 2: “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at 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 erected, 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 Psalm 11:4: “The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.” This temple, the place of God’s throne, has been seen in Heaven. John says: “Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.” Revelation 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, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!” Psalm 80:1
The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; Let the earth be moved!Psalm 99:1. Besides these, read Ezekiel 1 and 10; Isaiah 6:1-3, and Ezekiel 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 tablets 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 Psalm 89:14: “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” Also the following: “The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad! Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” Psalm 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 any one 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: “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” Psalm 119:160