Move-In Day

1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. And you shall put in it the ark of the testimony, and you shall screen the ark with the veil. And you shall bring in the table and arrange it, and you shall bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. And you shall put the golden altar for incense before the ark of the testimony, and set up the screen for the door of the tabernacle. You shall set the altar of burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. And you shall set up the court all around, and hang up the screen for the gate of the court.

“Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it may become holy. 10 You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar may become most holy. 11 You shall also anoint the basin and its stand, and consecrate it. 12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water 13 and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. 14 You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, 15 and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”

16 This Moses did; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so he did. 17 In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. 18 Moses erected the tabernacle. He laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars. 19 And he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent over it, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 20 He took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark and set the mercy seat above on the ark. 21 And he brought the ark into the tabernacle and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 22 He put the table in the tent of meeting, on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the veil, 23 and arranged the bread on it before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 24 He put the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle, 25 and set up the lamps before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 26 He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil, 27 and burned fragrant incense on it, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 28 He put in place the screen for the door of the tabernacle. 29 And he set the altar of burnt offering at the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the grain offering, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 30 He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, 31 with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. 32 When they went into the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, as the Lord commanded Moses. 33 And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work. – Exodus 40:1-33 ESV

To say that the roughly nine months the Israelites spent at Mount Sinai had been eventful would be an understatement. During their stay in the shadow of Sinai’s peak, they received a divine visit from Yahweh, as He displayed His glory on the mountaintop. Lightning, thunder, smoke, and earthquakes accompanied His presence. And on multiple occasions, they watched as their intrepid leader, Moses, ascended the mountain to speak with God. During those encounters, he received the Decalogue and the Book of the Covenant. God gave him the plans for the Tabernacle and the sacrificial system.

But during one of his more lengthy sessions with the Almighty, the people became impatient and doubtful of his return. So, they demanded that Aaron, his brother and temporary proxy, take over leadership and begin by finding them a new god to worship. Sadly, Aaron had agreed with their demands. This led to a strong rebuke from Moses and the deaths of thousands of Israelites. But God continued to extend grace and mercy to the people of Israel, assuring them of His continued care and protection. But to guarantee His ongoing presence among them, they would have to build the Tabernacle He had designed.

Now, on the first day of the first month, almost exactly one year after the Israelites left Egypt, Moses oversaw the construction of God’s house. After months of laborious work and painstaking craftsmanship, the people were able to see the Tabernacle rise up from the valley floor.  This beautiful structure, designed by God Himself, gradually took form before their eyes. From its vantage point in the middle of the Israelite camp, the building site would have been hard to miss, and the people must have watched the project’s progress with eager anticipation. Slowly and with great care, the timber framework was erected. Then, the two heavy layers of the animal-skin outer covering were put in place. Next, the various pieces of furniture that Bezalel had crafted were moved into their proper positions within the inner recesses of the Tabernacle. The Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies. The Table of Shewbread, the Golden Candlestick, and the Altar of Incense were carefully situated in the Holy Place.  And everything was done according to the plan given to Moses by God.

This Moses did; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so he did. – Exodus 40:16 ESV

At this point, God was taking no chances. He provided Moses with detailed instructions that outlined the exact order of the entire construction and move-in process. There was a proper sequence for everything, and Moses followed God’s instructions to the letter. And his obedient fulfillment of God’s plan was key to ensuring God’s presence. The Tabernacle was intended to be God’s house and, therefore, it must be perfect and up to His exacting standards. Built by human hands, it was to be the earthly dwelling place of the God of the Universe.

One can only imagine the stress that Moses felt as he oversaw the build-out and move-in process. He must have second-guessed himself a thousand times and questioned whether he had left anything out. And during his inspections of all the various elements that made up the Tabernacle, he must have had a great deal of concern that everything would meet God’s expectations. There was a great deal riding on this project. If anything was unacceptable or incomplete, it could end up postponing or permanently canceling God’s move-in plans. And that would be catastrophic.

But Moses proved to be a worthy project manager. Eight different times the text states that Moses followed God’s instructions flawlessly, doing everything “just as the Lord had commanded him” (16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32). He took his responsibilities seriously because he knew that any failure to meet God’s expectations would be catastrophic. The Tabernacle was meant to illustrate the holiness of God. Everything about it was designed to reflect God’s glory and greatness. The flawless God of the universe required a residence worthy of His glorious status.

And after careful oversight of the entire project, the day came when the last piece of the puzzle was put in place and the Tabernacle stood completed. Moses and the rest of the Israelites must have stood back and viewed their work with awe and admiration. They had put a great deal of time, effort, and personal resources into this project. Now, it stood complete, but there was still one thing missing: The presence of God. His house was done, but if He failed to move in, the Tabernacle would end up being just another tent in the wilderness. Moses knew that there was one more vital step for the entire process to be deemed a success. God must take up residence in the Tabernacle. But would He be satisfied with their work? Would He give His Good Housekeeping seal of approval?

As the Israelites prepared to begin their second year since leaving Egypt, they were forced to wait on pins and needles to see if God would grace the Tabernacle with His divine presence. But they wouldn’t have to wait long.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Dwelling Place of God

Then he measured the wall of the temple, six cubits thick, and the breadth of the side chambers, four cubits, all around the temple. And the side chambers were in three stories, one over another, thirty in each story. There were offsets all around the wall of the temple to serve as supports for the side chambers, so that they should not be supported by the wall of the temple. And it became broader as it wound upward to the side chambers, because the temple was enclosed upward all around the temple. Thus the temple had a broad area upward, and so one went up from the lowest story to the top story through the middle story. I saw also that the temple had a raised platform all around; the foundations of the side chambers measured a full reed of six long cubits. The thickness of the outer wall of the side chambers was five cubits. The free space between the side chambers of the temple and the 10 other chambers was a breadth of twenty cubits all around the temple on every side. 11 And the doors of the side chambers opened on the free space, one door toward the north, and another door toward the south. And the breadth of the free space was five cubits all around.

12 The building that was facing the separate yard on the west side was seventy cubits broad, and the wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length ninety cubits.

13 Then he measured the temple, a hundred cubits long; and the yard and the building with its walls, a hundred cubits long; 14 also the breadth of the east front of the temple and the yard, a hundred cubits.

15 Then he measured the length of the building facing the yard that was at the back and its galleries on either side, a hundred cubits.

The inside of the nave and the vestibules of the court, 16 the thresholds and the narrow windows and the galleries all around the three of them, opposite the threshold, were paneled with wood all around, from the floor up to the windows (now the windows were covered), 17 to the space above the door, even to the inner room, and on the outside. And on all the walls all around, inside and outside, was a measured pattern. 18 It was carved of cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Every cherub had two faces: 19 a human face toward the palm tree on the one side, and the face of a young lion toward the palm tree on the other side. They were carved on the whole temple all around. 20 From the floor to above the door, cherubim and palm trees were carved; similarly the wall of the nave.

21 The doorposts of the nave were squared, and in front of the Holy Place was something resembling 22 an altar of wood, three cubits high, two cubits long, and two cubits broad. Its corners, its base, and its walls were of wood. He said to me, “This is the table that is before the Lord.” 23 The nave and the Holy Place had each a double door. 24 The double doors had two leaves apiece, two swinging leaves for each door. 25 And on the doors of the nave were carved cherubim and palm trees, such as were carved on the walls. And there was a canopy[j] of wood in front of the vestibule outside. 26 And there were narrow windows and palm trees on either side, on the sidewalls of the vestibule, the side chambers of the temple, and the canopies. Ezekiel 41:5-26 ESV

The level of detail in Ezekiel’s vision is staggering. His guided tour of the Millennial Temple was conducted by “man whose face shone like bronze” (Ezekiel 40:3 NLT), who held “a linen measuring cord and a measuring rod” (Ezekiel 40:3 NLT) in his hand. Each time they entered a new area of the temple complex, “the man” provided detailed measurements to indicate the exact dimensions involved. The temple itself, which was the focal point of the entire compound, was an elaborate, multi-storied structure surrounded by three rows of antechambers. There were 90 of these small rooms stacked three stories high along three different sides of the temple. There is no information given regarding their purpose but they would have formed the outer wall of the temple itself. It seems that with each successive story, the rooms became slightly larger in size. 

To the west of the temple was another free-standing building that was roughly 116 feet deep and 150 feet wide. There is no indication as to the nature or purpose of this structure. But from all the details provided, it is clear that this future temple complex is far larger and more complex than any of the previous iterations of the temple. And its dimensions dwarf the original tabernacle used by the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings.

In verses 16-26, Ezekiel records the dimensions and decorative embellishments of the temple’s interior. The walls are paneled in wood and “decorated with carved cherubim and palm trees” (Ezekiel 41:25 NLT).  These images are meant to convey a powerful message regarding the temple’s occupant.

“In these figures aspirations of life and prosperity (palm) and security (cherubim) coalesce. In Israelite thought, the divine resident of this house was the source of both. – Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel

God is the giver of all life and the sole source of man’s prosperity and protection. God had already told Ezekiel that the day would come when He would restore His people to their land and take up residence among them once again.

“I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – Ezekiel 37:26-27 ESV

God’s house will be of immense proportions and feature beautifully ornate architectural embellishments designed to reflect His divine glory and greatness. Everything about the temple and its surrounding grounds will be striking and attention-getting. This beautiful building will be a showcase of God Almighty and serve as a permanent reminder of His presence and power.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

I Will Put My Temple Among Them

1 In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was struck down, on that very day, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me to the city. In visions of God he brought me to the land of Israel, and set me down on a very high mountain, on which was a structure like a city to the south. When he brought me there, behold, there was a man whose appearance was like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand. And he was standing in the gateway. And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart upon all that I shall show you, for you were brought here in order that I might show it to you. Declare all that you see to the house of Israel.”

And behold, there was a wall all around the outside of the temple area, and the length of the measuring reed in the man’s hand was six long cubits, each being a cubit and a handbreadth in length. So he measured the thickness of the wall, one reed; and the height, one reed. Then he went into the gateway facing east, going up its steps, and measured the threshold of the gate, one reed deep. And the side rooms, one reed long and one reed broad; and the space between the side rooms, five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the vestibule of the gate at the inner end, one reed. Then he measured the vestibule of the gateway, on the inside, one reed. Then he measured the vestibule of the gateway, eight cubits; and its jambs, two cubits; and the vestibule of the gate was at the inner end. 10 And there were three side rooms on either side of the east gate. The three were of the same size, and the jambs on either side were of the same size. 11 Then he measured the width of the opening of the gateway, ten cubits; and the length of the gateway, thirteen cubits. 12 There was a barrier before the side rooms, one cubit on either side. And the side rooms were six cubits on either side. 13 Then he measured the gate from the ceiling of the one side room to the ceiling of the other, a breadth of twenty-five cubits; the openings faced each other. 14 He measured also the vestibule, sixty cubits. And around the vestibule of the gateway was the court. 15 From the front of the gate at the entrance to the front of the inner vestibule of the gate was fifty cubits. 16 And the gateway had windows all around, narrowing inwards toward the side rooms and toward their jambs, and likewise the vestibule had windows all around inside, and on the jambs were palm trees. Ezekiel 40:1-16 ESV

Over the next nine chapters, Ezekiel is going to describe a vision given to him by God. The length of this vision rivals the one that the apostle John experienced and recorded in the book of Revelation. Ezekiel’s vision came not long after God’s declaration of His future plans to restore Israel to the land of Canaan and renew His covenant relationship with them. Part of that plan was to rebuild the temple and reintroduce the sacrificial system.

“…I will put my Temple among them forever. I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And when my Temple is among them forever, the nations will know that I am the Lord, who makes Israel holy.”– Ezekiel 37:26-28 NLT

Ezekiel was given a vision of that future temple in all its glory and majesty, and it would be nothing like the temple that the Babylonians had destroyed. According to Ezekiel’s dating, he was given this vision 12 years after having received news of the fall of Jerusalem and the original temple’s destruction.

In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, a fugitive from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has been struck down.”– Ezekiel 33:21 ESV

Now, more than a decade later, he records, “In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was struck down, on that very day, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me to the city” (Ezekiel 40:1 ESV).

But rather than finding the temple in a state of disrepair and decay, he sees “a structure like a city to the south” (Ezekiel 40:2 ESV). Before his eyes lay a massive complex of buildings and walls that appears more like a city than a temple. In his vision, Ezekiel receives a guided tour of the temple complex by a divine guide. And this is not the first time Ezekiel has met this individual. Back in chapter 8, he records a previous encounter with what appears to be the same “man whose appearance was like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand” (Ezekiel 40:3 ESV).

Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man. Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal.He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner court… – Ezekiel 8:2-3 ESV

But in Ezekiel’s prior vision, what he saw taking place in the temple was disturbing and disconcerting.

“Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations.” – Ezekiel 8:6 ESV

In that vision, Ezekiel was given a glimpse into the temple in Jerusalem where the priests and leaders of Judah were committing idolatry and apostasy. They had denigrated the name of God by worshiping false gods in the very temple that had been dedicated to Him alone.

But that vision had taken plan two decades earlier and now the temple was a pile of rubble. Nebuchadnezzar’s forces had completely destroyed the once-glorious house built by King Solomon for the glory of God. Yet, God provided Ezekiel with a telescopic view into the distant future so that He could see a rebuilt and more magnificent temple that far exceeded Solomon’s temple in glory and grandeur. And the whole purpose for this second visit to the temple in Jerusalem was so that Ezekiel might tell his fellow exiles what he saw.

Son of man, watch and listen. Pay close attention to everything I show you. You have been brought here so I can show you many things. Then you will return to the people of Israel and tell them everything you have seen.”– Ezekiel 40:4 NLT

In interpreting the meaning behind this vision, it is important to consider the audience to whom it was given. Ezekiel is specifically told to give this message to “the people of Israel.” Some have concluded that this vision is purely spiritual in nature and is not to be taken literally. They posit that everything Ezekiel saw was predicting the coming of the church after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Therefore, the images are figurative and not literal. But this view does not explain the great details found in the vision regarding the temple’s size and structure. It is impossible to spiritualize all that Ezekiel sees.

Another view is that this vision was fulfilled when the Israelites returned to the promised land under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. But the temple they rebuilt had no resemblance to what is described in Ezekiel’s vision. And the later expansions to the temple under King Herod would still lack any similarities to what Ezekiel saw in his vision.

The most logical explanation is that Ezekiel was given a view of a literal, eschatological temple that will exist during the millennial reign of Christ. God had already promised Ezekiel that the day was coming when He would put His temple among them forever. Therefore, it cannot be a temporary structure built with human hands. It must be of a supernatural design and built to last throughout eternity.

“Why did Ezekiel take so much space to describe the millennial temple? Here are two reasons: (1) The sanctuary was the visible symbol of God’s presence among His people. The prelude to Israel’s judgment began when God’s glory departed from Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem (Ezek. 8-11). The climax to her restoration as a nation will come when God’s glory reenters the new temple in Jerusalem (43:1-5). (2) The new temple will become the visible reminder of Israel’s relationship to God through His New Covenant. Since God gave detailed instructions for building the tabernacle to accompany His inauguration of the Mosaic Covenant (cf. Ez. 25-40), it is not unusual that He would also supply detailed plans for His new center of worship to accompany the implementation of the New Covenant. This temple will be the focal point for the visible manifestation of Israel’s new relationship with her God.” – Charles H. Dyer, Ezekiel

What Ezekiel receives is a literal blueprint for the millennial temple complex. When Noah received God’s blueprint instructions for the ark, God expected him to build it. But that is not the case here. Ezekiel was not expected to use these detailed measurements to construct this future temple. That would be the work of God. But God wanted Ezekiel to be able to describe in minute detail what he saw in the vision. It would have been next to impossible for Ezekiel to put into words what he saw. And it would have been difficult for his audience to grasp the glory of this eschatological temple without the measurements to provide some idea of its scope and size. And God left nothing out.

From the height of the surrounding wall to the threshold of each gate, God provided Ezekiel with precise measurements for each part of the temple complex. Guard rooms, alcoves, courtyards,  and gateways were all included in the guided tour. And the amount of emphasis on gates and guard rooms suggests that the future temple will have restricted access. God will prevent anyone who is unclean or unworthy from entering His holy temple. It will once again be a place of righteousness where God’s presence dwells and God’s people can gather to offer their sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Genesis 35-36, Matthew 18

House of God.

Genesis 35-36, Matthew 18

Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.  – Genesis 35:3 ESV

Israel has returned to the land that had been promised to Abraham and was destined to be his dwelling place. This was all part of God’s divine plan, not only for Israel, but for the future of mankind. There were three important elements to God’s promise to Abraham: a land, a seed, and a blessing. The land was just as critical to the equation as any of the other two. So it was essential that Israel return to the land because it was to play an important role in the fulfillment of God’s provision of the seed or offspring who would eventually bring the ultimate blessing to all mankind. And it was also going to be important that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Israel be a people set apart – the people of God. They were to be different and distinctive. They were to be followers of God and live in the land provided for them by God. They were to remain set apart from the people groups all around them, refusing to intermarry with them or worship their gods. This would be a lifelong challenge for Israel and his descendants.

What does this passage reveal about God?

After Israel’s own sons brutally murdered every male in the city of Shechem as payback for the rape of their sister, Dinah, Israel feared for the well-being of his family and possessions. He knew that news of this event would get out and they would be a target for every other people group occupying the land of Canaan. The sheer magnitude of what his sons had done was going to give Israel and his descendants a less-than-flattering reputation among their neighbors. But God was there, and He met with Israel in order to assure him once again of His presence and His promise. God called Israel to return to Bethel, the place where He had visited him just prior to his flight to Paddan-aram. God had some unfinished business to conduct with Israel, and Israel had a vow that needed to be kept. So as they traveled, God sovereignly protected Isaac and his family, causing a supernatural fear to fall on the nations through whose territories they had to pass. No one would lay a hand on them. In spite of what Levi and Simeon had done and the damage their actions had done to Israel’s reputation, God was with them. And God would reaffirm His covenant promise to Israel. “I am God Almighty:be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.  The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you” (Genesis 35:11-12 ESV). God was not done yet. His promises would be fulfilled. His plan would be completed, just as He had promised. He was going to make of the descendants of Israel, this sin-prone people, a great house – the house of God.

What does this passage reveal about man?

The world was a dangerous, sin-saturated place, even in the days of Israel. Chapter 36 provides a detailed lineage of the descendants of Esau, Israel’s brother. This man, a son of Isaac who had sold his birthright, was going to be prolific, filling the land with his descendants, just as Israel would. But his children would end up being in constant conflict with those of his brother. The Edomites, the descendants of Esau, would prove to be a thorn in the side of the nation of Israel for generations to come.

But this passage reveals a slow, but steady change taking place in Israel’s life. Ever since his wrestling match with God, he has been a changed man. He seems to have a new nature and outlook to go with his new name. When God calls him to return to Bethel, he immediately obeys, telling his household, “put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments” (Genesis 35:2 ESV). He realized that they were going to have to live differently as a people. Their love affair with the world was going to have to end. He was headed back to Bethel, the very place where he was going to have to fulfill the vow he had made all those years ago. It was at Bethel that God had told Israel, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15 ESV). And God had kept His end of the bargain. Now it was Israel’s turn. Because he had also made a vow that day. “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you’” (Genesis 28:20-22 ESV). It was put-up or shut-up time for Israel. God had fulfilled His part. Now it was Israel’s turn.

He was going to have to make God his God. He was going to have to worship God and Him alone. His covenant was a commitment to obedience, allegiance, faithfulness, and unwavering loyalty as God’s possession.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

I don’t know that Israel fully understood the significance of what he did that day in changing the name of the place called Luz to Bethel. He had met God face to face and received a promise from Him, so he called the place House of God. But there was far more significance to that decision than he could have ever imagined. While the place was important to Israel, it was the people who were important to God. From this flawed, faith-challenged man would come the Savior of the world. God would end up blessing the nations through Abraham through his “seed,” through the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the son of David and the Son of God. And through Jesus, God would produce a people who would be His own possession. But not only that, they would be His house.

Peter tells us, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV). The apostle Paul echoes that them when he writes, “Do you not know that youare God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ESV). As those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, acknowledging Him as the Son of God and the only solution to their sin problem, we have been made into a house for God. We are His dwelling, where He has chosen to place His Spirit. For Israel, the house of God was a place. For God, His house is His people. He dwells among us. He protects and empowers us. He fights on behalf of us. He extends His grace, mercy and love to us. And while it is true that God dwells among all men, He has chosen to make His home within those who have placed their faith in His Son as their sin sacrifice. Jesus Christ was Immanuel, God with us. He came to dwell among us, but offered His life so that His Spirit might live in us, setting us apart as His own, imparting to us His power, and imputing to us His own righteousness so that we might be acceptable to God. We are His house. We are his people.

In Jesus’ discourse recorded in Matthew 18, we get a glimpse into His view of the Kingdom of God. It is a place marked by humility, not pride. It is a place of reconciliation and restitution, but also a place of repentance and rejection of sin. Jesus paints a picture of a new age occupied by a new kind of people, the people of God who have been transformed by the Spirit of God so that they might live in obedience to God. The church represents a place of forgiveness, restoration, repentance, grace, mercy, holiness, distinctiveness, and love. We are God’s dwelling place among men in these days. He has chosen to place His Spirit among us and in us so that we might reflect His glory and be testimonies of the life-changing reality of the Good News. We are the house of God, a spiritual house where God lives, works, ministers, and manifests His presence and power among men in our day.

Father, it is hard for me to fathom that we are Your dwelling place. I still tend to think of the church building as the house of God. But You live among and within men. You have chosen to place Your Spirit in the hearts of men, not houses made of bricks and mortar. You sent Your Son to be God among us. He lived among us and died on behalf of us, so that we might be made right with You. And He has made His home in our hearts, setting us apart as His own. Show us how to live as His possession. Give us the strength to live lives that are truly set apart and honoring as His dwelling place. Help us live as His holy temple, where His Spirit dwells. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men