What Does God Want?
Then the LORD gave this message to Solomon: “Concerning this Temple you are building, if you keep all my laws and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David. I will live among the people of Israel and never forsake my people.” – 1 Kings 6:11-13 NLT
At some point along the way, while Solomon was constructing the Temple for God, he received a word from God. And God basically told him that obedience was still going to be the main criteria for assuring His abiding presence among the people of Israel. Building a house or dwelling place for God was NOT going to be enough to guarantee His presence. They were still going to be required to keep all of his laws and regulations – including those tied to the sacrificial system that was going to be linked to the Temple.
The Temple was an amazing structure, ornately furnished, covered in gold, meticulous in its details, and an incredible feat of construction. It took Solomon seven years to complete, and cost him a fortune to build. But as beautiful and impressive as it was, without the willing obedience of the people, it would become just another structure. God didn’t need a building in which to live. He wanted a people who were willing to live for Him. The Temple was to be a reminder of God’s presence. It was to be a focal point for the nation of Israel. It was there that all their religious activities culminated and came together. But without obedience, it became just a well-constructed combination of stone, wood, and precious metals. In Jesus’s day the Temple that Herod built to replace Solomon’s Temple was an equally beautiful structure. It was the pride of the Jewish nation. Even the disciples of Jesus admired it. One day while walking in the Temple grounds, Jesus and His disciples had an interesting and somewhat disturbing conversation about the Temple. “Some of his disciples began talking about the beautiful stonework of the Temple and the memorial decorations on the walls. But Jesus said, ‘The time is coming when all these things will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another'” (Luke 21:5-6 NLT). The disciples were admiring the beauty of the structure, but Jesus was aware of the hearts of the people. They had turned away from obeying God. They were no longer keeping the commands and decrees of God. Sure, they were going through the rituals and the religious duties associated with the Temple worship, but their hearts were not in it. And the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were the greatest offenders.
Over in the book of John, we read the words of Jesus: “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you do, because he lives with you now and later will be in you” (John 14:15-17 NLT). Paul reminds us, “For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: ‘I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18 NLT). We are the dwelling place of God. We are where He has chosen to place His presence among men in these days. But God calls us to a life of obedience. He calls us to a life of separateness, holiness. We are assured that He will never leave us or forsake us, but we can quench the Spirit of God living within us. We can stifle His efforts to guide and direct us through disobedience. Solomon’s Temple was going to be a magnificent structure, but it would not be enough to satisfy God and keep Him living among the people of Israel. He required obedience to His laws, submission to His will, and devotion to His way. Solomon’s Temple would end up being destroyed and the people sent into exile – all for their disobedience. Herod’s Temple would end up being destroyed and the people left without a place to make their sacrifices for sin – and it remains to to this day. Obedience is what God desires. Willing, submissive, joyful obedience, because we know that He loves us and has our best in mind. Listen to the words of Peter: “Obey God because you are his children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God — who chose you to be his children — is holy. For he himself has said, ;You must be holy because I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NLT).
Father, You have placed Your Spirit within me and given me all that I need to live an obedient life. I have the power to do so, but I must choose to do it. I must desire to obey You. All my sacrifices and efforts at doing good things mean nothing if I am not going to listen to what You say and do what You call me to do. Thank You for the assurance that You will never leave me, but never let me forget that I can lose out on all that You want to do in my life just through disobedience. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men