The sweet psalmist of Israel wrote what is often called, the “Shepherd’s Psalm” (Psalm 23). He ends this psalm with the words, “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Psalm 23:6). David speaks often, eloquently and lovingly of the “house of the Lord”. Following the Egyptian exodus, the tabernacle was constructed and served as the house of the Lord throughout the wilderness wandering. Later, in the days of Solomon, the temple was built in Jerusalem and was referred to as “the house of the Lord”. However, neither then nor now, does God literally dwell in buildings made with hands (I Kings 8:27; Acts 7:48; 17:24).
In this last age, the Christian age, the church is the Lord’s house. Paul, writing to Timothy said, “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:14-15). Needless to say, the house of God is not the physical structures in which people assemble. The church is made up of people, not buildings.
On the coast of Caesarea Philippi, based upon the confession that Peter had just made that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God; Jesus said, “…I will build my church…” (Matt. 16:13-18). The church that Jesus built came into existence upon the first Pentecost following the ascension of the Lord as is recorded in the second chapter of the book of Acts. The final words of that chapter are, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). The church, which is the Lord’s house, is made up of all those who are saved. This makes it all important that one is in the house of the Lord. Solomon the wise said, “The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand” and, “The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish” (Proverbs 12:7 & 14:11). In the psalms, Solomon said, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1). Jesus, using the analogy of plants rather than houses said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13). We can see then how important it is to be, not in just any house, but the Lord’s house.
As with the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem, God has given instructions concerning the church. God stressed to Moses and the children of Israel the importance of all being done according to the pattern that He gave. “According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it” (Exo. 25:9). Some fifteen hundred years later, the writer of the book of Hebrews in the beautiful comparison and contrast of Judaism and Christianity brings up this same point. He says, “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount” (Heb. 8:5). Just as surely as God required that house of God in the wilderness to be built according to His pattern, so he requires the house of God in this Christian age to be according to the pattern.
The pattern for the tabernacle had been given to Moses on the mount. The pattern for the church can be found in God’s word that is given to us through His Son. God “hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:2). The New Testament is the last will and testament of Jesus Christ and came into effect upon His death (Heb. 9:15-17). This will be the pattern for the Lord’s house in this age and a perfect pattern it is. Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17). We will be judged in the last day by what is found in the New Testament. Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Paul told those of Athens that God “hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
An interesting study one might pursue is to go through the Bible and note how many times God has provided a specific place for those that would serve Him to be in order to find safety. Just a couple of examples are: Noah and his family had to be in the ark, on the night of the tenth plague in Egypt the Israelites were to stay in their houses and Rahab and her family had to be in the house with the scarlet thread. Today, safety is in the house of God, the church.
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