Sometimes it’s weird the way a particular Scripture passage can just jump out at you out of nowhere. This happened to me recently. I was at a special Saturday evening service where several different churches had gathered together for worship. No agenda. No distinctions. No denominations. No differences. We were there simply to worship together. I was flipping through my Bible on my way to finding a particular passage in the Gospels when I suddenly stopped in 1 Chronicles and started reading chapter 17. Yeah, it seems like a roundabout way to go. But I read there about King David’s desire to build a permanent temple – a house – for the Lord. Up until then the Ark of the Covenant was still in the cloth Tabernacle that Moses had used coming out of Egypt. So God delivers a message to David through the prophet Nathan.
It came about the same night that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, “Go and tell David My servant, `Thus says the LORD, “You shall not build a house for Me to dwell in; for I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up Israel to this day, but I have gone from tent to tent and from one dwelling place to another. “In all places where I have walked with all Israel, have I spoken a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people, saying, `Why have you not built for Me a house of cedar?’ “‘ …
Moreover, I tell you that the LORD will build a house for you. “When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom.”He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. “I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. “But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.””‘ According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David. (Emphasis mine)
A couple of thing struck me as I read this. First, God never asked for a permanent temple or house. He liked being in the tent and moving around with His people. God likes being with us instead of forcing us to go to one particular place to find Him. We can find Him among us, not “over there.” That is still true. He loves being with us, among us, moving in and around our lives. He is not difficult to find.
Second, God told David that someone else would build a house for Him, one of David’s sons. This is clearly a reference to the Messiah and we understand Him to be Jesus. So 3000 years ago, God the Father was looking forward to the day when Jesus would build a temple, a dwelling place for Him on earth. This was not a physical house of stone and wood, but a spiritual house made up of flesh and blood. This would be a house made up of His people, His church. And it continues to reflect God’s desire to be in and among His people, not distant and aloof.
As I sat in the Saturday night service and looked around at people from different “churches” and races and cultures and interests and practices, I realized that I was looking at the fulfillment of the promise to David. Christ was, in fact, building His house right here in this place. It was the kind of house He wanted. The kind of house He could live in and it looked different from anything we would have built. The thing is that He is building His house not just in my city, but all around the state, the country and the world. Jesus is building a house to live in – forever. David would be overjoyed to see this happening… and so am I.