Monday, September 8, 2014

"Devoted to building a 'house' for God ... "

Day #255:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - September 9th

Scripture Reading:  I Chronicles 25 - 29 ...

In cities all over our nation church buildings dot the landscape.  They have been an important part of our culture, as they were in Europe for centuries before.  In other parts of the world the buildings have been less magnificent to the eye, but just as significant, as the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached from the Bible and many have placed their faith in Him.  As we read our Scripture for today it could be said that the temple, for which David gathered the materials and made the plans and which Solomon would build, was the first permanent "church building."  It was here that the one true God would be worshiped for several hundred years.

As we read through the detailed preparations for the building of the temple and hear David's instructions to the people and to Solomon, you need to keep in mind that the temple in the Old Testament was a copy of the true sanctuary in heaven!  The writer of Hebrews explained, "The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  For Christ did not enter a manmade sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence" (Hebrews 9:22-24).

In some way, the tabernacle, and then the temple, specifically the Most Holy Place, was a copy of God's sanctuary in heaven.  It is impossible for us to go beyond what the Bible says and it does no good to speculate about these things.  What we do know is that God is worthy of worship, desires worship and calls those who believe in Him to worship HIM alone!!  The detailed preparations for the temple were detailed preparations for WORSHIP!!!  Throughout the history of God's chosen people the worship of God was at the center of their existence.  More important than all the wars they fought and all the things they accomplished was the worship of their God - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

David was not the perfect king, yet his heart was on the LORD his God and his heart's desire was to worship Him!  Though perhaps the most powerful man in the world at that time, David humbly realized that God had chosen him.  "The LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever.  He chose Judah as leader, and from the house of Judah He chose my family, and from my father's sons He was pleased to make me king over all Israel"  (28:4).  Like all true worshipers of God, David believed God had chosen him for a specific purpose and he wanted to fulfill that purpose to honor his God.

You and I should be like that ... devoted to the building of a house for God and to the worship of God ...  That's the very purpose for OUR existence, as it was the purpose of Israel's existence.  The Bible gives us guidance for every part of our lives, but the central point of the Bible is God's plan to establish His kingdom on a new earth.  All of human history is moving toward this point.  To read the Bible and miss this is to fail to understand what it means to be one of God's chosen people.  That's why so many today do not grasp these things, because they are being led to believe that WE choose God, rather than the other way around.  It all goes together!  Out of a fallen human race God chooses some to be His and calls them to worship Him ... to live their lives to proclaim His Name to the world!

Once you understand that, you see the incredible privilege of being part of God's chosen people through faith in Jesus Christ, the "Seed of Abraham," the "Son of David."  As David drew near to the end of his life there was nothing he wanted more than to build a house for God.  He devoted his treasuries to the task (29:3).  And when the people had given willingly to the work, David called them all together and prayed the prayer recorded in Chapter 29:

"Praise be to You, O LORD, God of our father Israel (Jacob), from everlasting to everlasting.  YOURS, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom ..." (29:10-11).  You cannot remove either the God of Israel, or Israel, from God's plans and still claim to believe the Bible to be the Word of God.  From beginning to end the Bible lays out the plan of a sovereign and Almighty God who controls the nations and the rulers of the nations.  That's why He can promise believers that He "works all things together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to HIS purpose" (Romans 8:28).

David, this powerful ruler, concludes his prayer by saying, "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?  Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand" (29:14).  And continues, "O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building You a temple for Your Holy Name, it comes from Your hand, and all of it belongs to You" (29:16).  And finally, "O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of Your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to You" (29:18).

David ruled for forty years ... and then he died.  But God's plan continued.  Solomon became King of Israel and the temple would be built.  The worship of the one true God would declare His majesty and power to the nations of the world.  Still, it all pointed to something far in the future.  Mankind in their sinful state cannot and will not acknowledge God, their Creator or worship Him.  We need a Savior!  We need the very Spirit of God to transform our rebellious hearts and minds and make us a new creation in Christ Jesus!  We can't do this ourselves!!  "LORD, help us!!"

And God heard the cry of those who, like David, were chosen and called to worship Him.  It was their duty to build the temple ... a house for God ... and today that task falls to us - to those who believe in Jesus.  Paul writes to the believers in Ephesus, "You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.  In HIM the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in Him you, too, are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22).

How amazing and how wonderful is it to realize that WE who believe today have been chosen and called to "build a house for God" through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?!  We have but one life to live and what better thing can you possibly be devoted to than this?  As freely and willingly as the people of Israel brought materials for the building of the temple, may we give all we have and all we are to the building of God's house ... a house that will be completed when Jesus returns and takes us home!!

"Heavenly Father, we know today that it is Your desire to gather a people for Yourself who will worship You through all eternity.  As we prepare for that day, continue Your work in us, that we may devote ourselves to the building of Your 'house,' the Church of the living God.  As You have chosen and called me by Your grace, so use me to proclaim the message that bears YOUR power for the salvation of those who are yet to believe.  Keep my heart loyal to You, O God, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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