Sunday, February 12, 2012

God's House?

Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.  Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.  (Exodus 25:8-9, NIV)

I had another one of those flashback moments while driving this week.  And before anybody gets the wrong idea, this was a good type of flashback.  Listening to Exodus, my mind was transported back about four decades to a scale model of the Tabernacle that could be found in the hall closets of a couple houses we lived in.  It was (I just found out) created by some of my siblings and their friends during a vacation Bible school “back in the dark ages”.  My father used it in a sermon series as an illustration.  I distinctly recall him doing it twice and I can easily picture this fairly large piece on its plywood backing.

But it wasn’t just my past memory that was jogged.  It also dawned on me that this was the only time in recorded Biblical history that God Himself called a structure His house and gave direction on building it.  Sure, He allowed David and Solomon to build the Temple.  And Jesus called the Temple “My house” when He drove away the merchants (though I really think that was more about the attitude being displayed than the actual building).  But the Tabernacle stands alone as I read it as the single structure God designed and specifically requested.

So that thinking about that lead, as it often does, to thinking about other aspects of what we so often call “God’s house”.  Given what I read and what we know about the state of the Temple veil immediately after the Resurrection, I think we’ve applied the term incorrectly all these years.  Those church building are no more “God’s house” than any other building.  They are places of worship, fellowship, healing, and communion to be sure - but they only become “God’s house” when we, the people whom God indwells by His Spirit come into them.  That’s the nature of the change God enacted when He completed that part of the Redemption.  And even that pales in comparison with what is still to come.

Revelation 21:3-5 tells us:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

It’s quite the picture of God’s final act and the way He intends to make His house with us and in us.  And I don’t say this to bash churches, but rather to put the focus on where it really ought to be.  It’s a communal, relational thing and the sooner we embrace that, the better off we will be.

As I travel the Crooked Path, I need to remember that I carry the image of God within me … I am His house!  He is pleased to dwell with and in me and He has something far greater still in mind for the future - both mine and yours.  The buildings and gathering places are great, but they aren’t His house.  He had one built for him a long time ago … and it was a transient tent that was meant to be a picture of what He was doing.  He was, as He is now, redeeming His people to Himself.

1 comment:

  1. When I was little (my dad also a pastor) I remember someone coming to visit us and maybe it was during VBS, but they brought a replica of the tabernacle with them. They set it up on a big table and we learned about it that week. I was so young I didn't grasp much of it. I remember some of what it looked like though. You're right though. Regardless of the structure today, God lives there and when His spirit indwells us we are changed.