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Achievement is of paramount importance among men. It takes on many, many forms and may be as simple and personal as making it to the bathroom on time, or remembering one’s keys prior to locking the door, or not burning dinner on the stove. It may be besting one’s own record for holding one’s breath underwater, or hiking a dangerous trail, or learning how to swim. It may be passing a test, or becoming a fighter pilot, or making loads of money in the stock market, or having enough money to buy your child a birthday gift, or put food on the table, or pay off that debt.
Achievement often requires comparisons with others, such as placing 3rd in a long distance foot race, or participating in the spelling bee or the vocal competition, or being a member of a sports team, or being considered for a raise at work.
The drive to achieve involves motion, in moving from here to there, with the objective being that of finding oneself in a better place there than one was in here. Men pride themselves in and honor one another for achievement, for to achieve is to succeed; not to fail. For some, the very avoidance of failure is their idea of achievement (think: participation awards) but for most, achievement involves actually gaining ground, not merely maintaining the ground one has already gained, and certainly not losing ground. To succeed is to win, not lose. And this idea of winning invokes a very base instinct in man, namely; rivalry.
Consider the rivalry at work between chess players vying for the world championship. Consider the rivalry at work between collegiate wrestlers who compete for the state championship. Consider the rivalry at work between two sisters who compete for the same boyfriend. Consider the rivalry at work between the salesmen at a car lot who compete for salesman of the year. Consider the rivalry at work between sports teams who compete for a national championship. Consider the rivalry at work between states who compete for a large corporation’s latest manufacturing facility. Consider the rivalry at work between nations who want to host the next Olympics, let alone nations who want the same piece of land. It is all the same rivalry, whether it be the race car driver rallying for position, or the tennis pro vying for the crown, or the politician campaigning for votes, or the employee seeking a raise, or siblings wanting dad’s attention, or soldiers taking a hill.
The need to achieve, the need to succeed, the need to compete, the need to win is commonplace among men. But this is not the way of the kingdom of God. Our LORD Jesus says,
He who desires to be be first among you, let him become servant of all. Mark 10:44
But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:30
Paul wrote the following to the Philippians:
Reason among yourselves as Messiah also reasoned Who, being in the form of God, equal with God, humbled Himself and became a man – even the servant of men… Philippians 2:5-7
Jesus said of Himself,
The Son of man came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
According to our Gospel, achievement is in hearing,
Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master. Matthew 25:23
Roles are distributed to those whom God appoints regardless of the determination or acceptance of men. The gift of salvation, the gift of the holy Spirit and His gifts to men are just that – gifts. They must never be confused with that which is earned. It is here that men make their greatest mistake: they wish to apply their own precepts to the kingdom of God and thus form the religions and denominations of men, each differing from the other in its own code of concepts and ordinances, yet all stem from the same seed.
Among the various religions where the name of our LORD Jesus is used, there is a striking similarity: the organizational structure. Each operates as a business having its corporate ladder set on a foundation only found among the kingdoms of this world. The rungs of the ladder are the merits of academics, though some rungs appear to be reachable through some combination of social position, generous donations and/or time served. The ladder reaches heaven-ward and men climb it as if they believe this is the way to God.
A worthwhile student acquires knowledge in an approved/accredited learning environment until some predetermined merit level is achieved. The newly qualified job seeker then applies for open positions within various organizations. Relying upon a winning combination of scholastic achievement, background, credibility, social standing and personality the employment candidate awaits a corporate decision. Hiring decisions may or may not be made for the same reasons the applicant believes in. Moving up and down the rungs of the ladder may occur within in a single organization or include multiple organizations. Across organizations, the tried and true process remains the same. From manual laborers to clergymen the world over, from generation to generation, this is the way of men.
Brethren, I say again, this is not the way of the kingdom of God. Using the analogy of the whole man, our LORD Jesus is the head of that man. His body is comprised of those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. His body does not consist of roles, positions, job openings, boards or committees. His body consists of men; living men. It is a spiritual man. There is only one body and, generation after generation, we are added to it until it is complete.
Using the analogy of the temple, our LORD Jesus is the chief cornerstone. Living stones are built into that temple It is is a spiritual temple. There is only one temple and, generation after generation, we are added to it until it is complete.
The head of the man and the chief cornerstone of the temple are one and the same: our LORD Jesus. But each generation sees a refreshing of the parts/members of the body and the stones of the temple. God is making for Himself a holy habitation. We are added as He sees fit. There is order and structure – His order, His structure. The foundation stones of that one temple are apostles and prophets. Living men, not the memories of men, not even the teaching of such men, but the men themselves are these foundation stones. They are appointed by God, not man, with or without their consent, regardless of their so-called education, social standing or background.
God has not appointed the position of apostle to be filled by a qualified candidate. God appoints the man. He appoints the prophets, the teachers, the performers of miracles, the gifts of healings, the helpers, the leaders and the speakers in unknown languages. He equips them as He sees fit. He assigns them as He wills. Compare this to men’s notions of popes, cardinals, priests, elder boards, reverends, senior pastors, associate pastors, sunday school superintendents, youth pastors, choir directors, worship leaders, directors of christian administration, trustees, ushers, secretaries, missionaries, camp counselors, bus drivers, etc. Apply any titles you like, and use the terms any way you so desire. Name your organization anything you wish and you are still left with a house built upon sand.
The body of our LORD Jesus, the Messiah, is not an organization. There are no positions to go to school for. There are no job openings to apply for. There are no memberships to purchase. Being added as a member is equivalent to attaching a finger to a hand. It has nothing to do with joining a club, or being employed by a business. It is not based on wealth, influence, accomplishments, I.Q. or the fulfillment of ceremonial rites. We are baptized into one body by one spirit and made members one of another.
Fellowship (the state of being fellows/kindred) is then something you have, not something you do. We have fellowship with one another – not: “let’s go fellowship.”
Our LORD Jesus says,
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27
I beseech any who have heard His voice and yet continue to live according to the elementary principles of this world to come out from among them. Be taught of God. Grow in the knowledge of the will of God and of His Son. Receive the gift of the spirit of holiness as our LORD Jesus commanded and learn what this means:
The Most High does not dwell in a house made with human hands Acts 7:48
Thus says the LORD, ‘Heaven is My throne, and the Earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me?’ Isaiah 66:1
The LORD will build you a house. 2Samuel 7:11, 1Chronicles 17:10
May the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ, our Savior, God’s Messiah be upon you as you seek Him.
The first house, Beth-el, was not a building
At the tender age of 75, Abraham (who would live a total of 175 years) departed from Haran on his way to the land of Canaan, as instructed by God. God blessed him, saying:
…in you and in your seed all the generations of the Earth shall be blessed. Genesis 12:3, 28:14 (FCAB)
Along the way, he pitched a tent at a place known as Luz (that would later be named Beth-el by his grandson) and built an altar to the Lord. See Genesis 12:3,8
Approximately 250 years later, Abraham’s grandson Jacob was traveling in the region known as Luz. Having left Beersheba he was on his way to Haran, where his grandfather had dwelled. He stopped for the night, arranged a stone for a pillow and slept. In a dream he saw a staircase set up on the Earth, the top reaching to Heaven, and the Angels of God were going up and coming down on it. When he awoke from his dream he exclaimed:
How awesome is this place today! This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of Heaven! Genesis 28:17
Note that it was Jacob who decided to change the name of the place from Luz to Beth-el (“Bayth-Eil”) meaning, the house of God. He wasn’t commanded to do so. God did not call the place His own house! See Genesis 28:12,17,19
Approximately 100 years after Jacob introduced the name Beth-el to the place formerly known as Luz, Moses, after returning from his encounter with the Most High upon Mt. Sinai where he had received the Law, was told by God to construct the Tabernacle (or Tent) of Meeting. Its purpose:
There I will meet with you… Exodus 25:22
The design was not left up to Moses; he was not allowed to get creative. He didn’t hire an architect or modify pre-existing plans. God showed him the real thing and told him to copy it down to the last detail:
…And they will make to me a sanctuary and I shall dwell among them. Everything that I show to you, the likeness of the Tabernacle and of all its implements, in this way they shall do. Exodus 25:8-9 (KJV)
See that you make them after the pattern…which was shown to you on the mountain. Exodus 25:40
Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. Acts 7:44
IMPORTANT – Although specific skills would be required for making the Tent and everything inside including the Ark of the Testimony, the furniture, candlestick, altars, cloths of service, clothing for the priests, oils and incense, God did not instruct Moses to post job openings and conduct interviews in a hunt for qualified artisans. Instead, He filled select men with the spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship: metalworking, masonry, carpentry, embroidery, cloth dying, planners and every trade.
God filled men with wisdom of heart to do His will. See Exodus 31:2-11
For 400 hundred years the portable Tent of Meeting, around which God had established the parameters whereby He would meet with men, traveled with the children of Israel wherever they went. God met with men where they were.
And that brings us to David. The time had arrived when King David was finally at rest from his enemies:
Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David with cedar trees, masons, and carpenters, to build a house for him. See 2Samuel 5:11, 1Chronicles 14:1
As a sidebar: 400 years later Ezekiel laments the king of Tyre (obviously no longer Hiram) in a rather well-known passage: Ezekiel 28:11-19. But that is another story. For more on this topic, see my article titled, “Lucifer”).
Thou shalt NOT build…
At ease in his new luxury abode, king David decided that God now needed a house and so informed Nathan, the prophet. See 2Samuel 7:2, 1Chronicles 17:1
Nathan responded to the king with a rather fascinating statement:
Do all that is in your heart; for God is with you! See 2Samuel 7:3, 1Chronicles 17:2
- The advice: Do all that is in your heart
- The reasoning:
- God is with you!
Neither David nor Nathan had the benefit of having the word of the Lord via the prophet Jeremiah, born 327 years after David died, to reference:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
In addition to NOT trusting your heart, it is never a good idea to say to another, ‘God is with you’ when He isn’t. If Nathan, a prophet of God, could be so accused, beware the religious system mouthpieces who prostitute themselves for riches and honor.
God intervened, visiting Nathan in a dream that same night. He commanded the prophet:
Go tell David ‘Thou SHALT NOT build me a house…’ See 2Samuel 7:-5, 1Chronicles 17:3-4
- The command: Don’t build me a house!
- The reasoning:
- I have never dwelled in a house
- I have traveled with you from tent to tent
- Did I ever ask anyone, ‘Why haven’t you built Me a house?’
God does not often explain Himself, so this must be a rather important issue… so much so that His reasoning is recorded in two separate accounts! See 2Samuel 7:6-7, 1Chronicles 17:5-6
God then laid it all out before David:
- I took you from chasing sheep and made you ruler over Israel
- I have been with you wherever you went
- I cut off all your enemies
- I made your name great
- I will appoint a place for my people
- They shall never be moved again
- The children of wickedness will not afflict them anymore
- I will build you the house
- After you are dead, I will raise up your Seed
- He will be the One who does the building
- I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever
- I will be His Father, He will be My Son
- Unto eternity
See 2Samuel 7:8-16, 1Chronicles 17:7-14
Impressively, David had interpreted God’s response to be, “Great idea, David! I have always wanted a Palace on the Earth to replace that tattered old tent. But we’ll have Solomon do the construction work, because you’re not good enough.” See 1Chronicles 28:2-7.
Indeed, it would appear that all of Judaism and Christianity have interpreted God’s words “Thou Shalt Not Build!” to mean, “How soon can you get that (next) building project started?”
David would one day provide his son Solomon with the only reasonable explanation as to why God would refuse to allow him, David the king, the one who came up with the idea in the first place, to personally go forward with such a grand plan. He told his son, “I was a bloody man of war. That is why I can’t build God a house. But son, you will carry on with my dream; you will be the one to carry out my plans!”
You may recall that David believed that God had authorized Shimei to curse him, calling him a “bloody man.” See 2Samuel 16:5-14
With David’s interpretation of what he thought God probably meant, derived from his own history and guilt (re: getting Bathsheba, a married woman, pregnant and then having her husband sent to the front lines where he was swiftly killed, all so David could legally marry the man’s wife), it is understandable why Solomon grew up to consider himself to be the object of such a grand prophecy. See 1Kings 5:5, 1Kings 8:19-20
The words God instructed Nathan the prophet to speak to king David are recorded in detail in not just one, but two separate passages, 2Samuel 7:1-17 and 1Chronicles 17:1-14. We do not find the slightest mention of blood or war in God’s words – the words God Himself spoke and preserved for us to hear.
Jesus – not Solomon
God had decreed more than once Who, precisely, would do the building of His house, and it certainly wasn’t Solomon:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit…In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of Him shall the nations inquire, and His resting place shall be glorious. Isaiah 11:1,11
In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. Jeremiah 33:15
Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:7
Mary was told:
…You shall call His name Jesus. This One will be great and He will be called The Son of The Highest and the Lord Jehovah will give to Him the throne of David His father, and He will reign over the house of Jacob eternally and to His Kingdom there will not be an end.” Luke 1:31-33
And he …raised up for them David The King and testified of him and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man according to my heart. He shall do all my pleasure.’ From the seed of this man God raised up to Israel, according to what was promised, Jesus The Savior. Acts 13:22-23
In Jesus’s own words:
How are the Scribes saying that The Messiah is the son of David? For David himself said in The Spirit of Holiness: ‘THE LORD JEHOVAH said to my Lord, Sit at my right until I shall constitute your enemies as a footstool under your feet.’ David therefore called him, ‘My Lord’. How is He his son? Mark 12:35-37
Some 250 years after David, with the temple that Solomon had constructed still standing (it would be another 100+ years before it would be torn to the ground), the prophet Isaiah declared:
Thus says the LORD, ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being.’ Isaiah 66:1-2
God was perfectly aware of the existence of Solomon’s temple, and yet asked the rhetorical question, “Where is the house you could build for (to house) me, and where is the place that I may rest?” Do you recall our LORD Jesus saying:
Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58
In Hebrews 1:1-2 we read:
God spoke with our fathers by The Prophets, and in these last days he has spoken with us by his Son, whom he ordained The Heir of all things, and by him he made the world.
Hebrews 1:4-5 continues with:
…and this One is altogether greater than the Angels, according to how much more excellent than theirs is The Name which he possesses. For to which one of the Angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you’, and again, ‘I shall be to him the Father and he shall be to me the Son‘?
It wasn’t about Solomon! The Seed of David, the Seed of Isaac, the Seed of Abraham, the one Who God raised up after David had gone to sleep with his fathers, Whose throne is to eternity, of Whom God said, ‘I will be His father and He shall be my Son’ is none other than our Lord Jesus!
The LORD will build you a house. 2Samuel 7:11, 1Chronicles 17:10
When men complete the construction of their buildings dedicated to religious enterprise they often hold dedication ceremonies where they proudly cite:
…the glory of the LORD filled the house… 2Chronicles 5:14
Solomon had installed the ark of the covenant, taken from the Tabernacle, in the temple he had built. And the glory of the Lord filled the place.
The same had occurred in Exodus 40:35, where the glory of the LORD had filled the cloth-walled tabernacle, just as one would expect would occur when God met over the wings of the cherubim of the ark of the covenant.
Not surprisingly, men fail to realize this glory was a feature of the ark, not the tent in which it resided. Unfortunately for the temple worshipping crowd, it had nothing to do with Solomon’s temple, the temple that would later be razed to the ground. See 2Chronicles 5:13-14, Exodus 25:22, Leviticus 9:23, Numbers 16:42
After his own dedication ceremony to honor the building he had constructed, Solomon then dictated to The Most High his own terms for God’s recognition of the temple he had completed:
- I know you dwell in heaven, BUT…
- This is what you must have meant when you said, ‘My Name shall be there.’
- When people physically pray in the direction of this building, you need to hear them and forgive them.
See 1Kings 8:27-53
Praying while facing in the direction of a physical, earthly location in order to garner special treatment from God? I don’t think Solomon had any idea how popular that meaningless practice would become.
We are told that the Lord appeared to Solomon and said to him:
I have heard your prayer and your request…and you have hallowed to me this house that you have built to put My Name there… See 1Kings 9:3
God then dictated His terms to Solomon:
- IF you will walk before me perfectly, IF you will do what I commanded you, IF you will keep my statutes and judgements…
- THEN I will keep my promise to your father regarding an heir on his throne.
- HOWEVER, IF you turn away from me to serve other gods…
- I WILL DESTROY Israel!
See 1Kings 9:4-9
We all know how this turned out. God’s conditional terms had nothing to do with Solomon’s building project. Sadly, Solomon turned away from God and God took the kingdom away from him, just as He said He would do. See 1Kings 11:4-8, 11,31-33
After Solomon’s death the kingdom was split, with the northern kingdom of Israel being comprised of 10 of the 12 Tribes, and the southern kingdom of Judah consisting of Judah and Benjamin. In 721 BC the Assyrians invaded, conquered and destroyed Israel, just as God had promised, taking captive those who they didn’t kill. These would later be scattered throughout the Earth in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to make him the father of many nations. Later, the Babylonians took Judah and Benjamin into captivity, and Nebuchadnezzar, a mere man, tore the temple to the ground, the building that Solomon thought to be the very house of God!
Temple 2: the Sequel
After 70 years in Babylon, Darius the Mede released the captives of Judah, and Cyrus the Persian supplied those who returned to the land with materials to build yet another temple, a project which would take 6 years to complete.
514 years later, in 70 AD, in keeping with the Messiah’s own words that ‘not one stone shall be left standing on another’ (See Matthew 24:2, Mark 13:2, Luke 19:44, Luke 21:6), the Roman emperor Vespasian along with Titus, his son, marched upon Jerusalem and tore the temple to the ground, the second building that some believed to be the very house of God!
God gave Moses the Tabernacle in 1446 BC.
David, king of Israel, wanted to build God a house but it was his son Solomon who, in his role as king, erected a temple in Jerusalem in 966 BC. It was torn down 380 years later in 586 BC under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
A second temple was (re)built in Jerusalem in 444 BC under the reign of Darius the Great, king of Persia. It was destroyed in 70 AD under the reign of Vespasian, emperor of Rome.
That’s twice, now, that a structure men claimed to be the very house of God, was destroyed. Two separate attempts to establish a house for God on Earth were dealt with by utterly destroying the buildings. Let that sink in…
The nations had kings and governments to rule over them, while God had given the children of Israel the law and the judges. That wasn’t sufficient for them so they pined for a king and thus joined the nations in the system of crown adulation. It is befitting that the rider of the White Horse of Revelation 6 is given a crown with which he goes forth conquering.
For more on this topic, see my article titled, “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”.
The nations constructed temples, while God had given the children of Israel the portable Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle). With this mobile outfit, God would meet with the people wherever the people went. But that wasn’t acceptable to them, so they joined the nations in the system of temple worship.
The House of God
The House of God is definitely made, just not with human hands. See Acts 7:48, Acts 17:24
Listen to the the words of Stephen, spoken just prior to being stoned to death by temple worshippers:
Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen. And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David.
And David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands…
…You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Acts 7:44-48,51
Stephen explained that the fathers had the tent just as God directed Moses to make it. David want to house God, but it would be David’s son Solomon who would construct the building. HOWEVER, God doesn’t live in buildings. He closed with, “You stiff necks, who are uncircumcised in their hearts and in their hearing, you always are opposing The Spirit of Holiness. As your fathers did, so do you!”
The whole temple fixation started with the forefathers of those who executed Stephen, including David, Solomon’s dad, and continues to this day. And yet even David spoke of something different…
More than two dozen times throughout the Psalms David had referenced the house of God (house of the Lord, Thy house, etc). This occurred long before his own death, let alone the construction of Solomon’s temple. What house, exactly, was David referring to?
The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. See Isaiah 118:22, Isaiah 28:16, Matthew 21:42, Mark 8:31, Mark 12:10, Luke 9:22, Luke 17:25, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:1 Ephesians 2:20, Romans 9:33, 1Peter 2:4-8
In defense of the construction of their religious enterprise architectural projects, men love to cite the passage from the Gospel of John where Jesus went up to Jerusalem. By the way, Jesus did not have His organizational headquarters in Jerusalem, there was no business office for His itinerant ministry, no broadcasting studio, not even a branch office. Men are just certain that, from this passage, they have positive proof Jesus had given His stamp of approval to a building being the House of God:
And he found in The Temple those that were selling lambs, sheep and doves, and there were money exchangers sitting.
And he made for himself a whip from rope and cast all of them out of The Temple, and the sheep, the lambs, and money exchangers, and he poured out their money and overturned their tables.
And to those who had been selling doves he said: ‘Take these things out of here, and do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ John 2:14-16
Not surprisingly, they all fail to cite the following verses from that same passage:
But the Judeans answered and said to him: ‘What sign are you showing us that you are doing these things?’
Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Tear down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’
The Jews were saying to him: ‘For forty six years this temple has been being built, and will you raise it in three days?’
But he said this concerning the temple of his body.
But when he had risen from the grave, his disciples were reminded that he had said this, and they believed the scriptures and the word that Jesus had spoken. John 2:18-22
Did you catch that? Jesus was not speaking of the same temple the Judahites were speaking of.
He said this concerning the temple of His body. John 2:21
Are you unaware that your bodies are the temple of God? See 1Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, 2Corinthians 6:16
Come as living stones and be built up as a spiritual house unto God. See 1Peter 2:5
You are built upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, Jesus being the chief cornerstone. The whole building is constructed by Him and grows into the temple of the Lord. You are being built together into the habitation of God. See Ephesians 2:20-22
There are many lodgings in my Father’s house, and if not, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you…
…Whoever loves me keeps my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and we will make our lodging with him.
The people of God are destined to be the abode of God – not cathedrals, not mosques, not synagogues, not so-called church buildings. His people, collectively, are the house of God, the temple of God. Note that this temple is comprised of living stones, not dead rocks.
For more on this topic, see my article titled, “Born Again“.
But just as a log pile is not a log house, even a pile of living stones does not a temple make. We are each fitted into place over the course of a lifetime. We are built into that glorious house by master builders. Living stones are added from each generation until God’s holy temple is complete.
At the same time, God refers to His people as His body, the Messiah being the head. There is one body and we are members of that body, as arms or legs or eyes or ears. We are each members, one of another. See Ephesians 1:22, Ephesians 5:23
We are His Assembly, His Congregation, His Church, His Flock. See Matthew 16:18, Acts 20:28, Galatians 1:13, 1Timothy 3:5
God had explained to David that the reason He never asked any man to build Him a house (besides the fact that it would be physically impossible, as the Earth is but His footstool!) was that He met with men where they were. The Tent of Meeting traveled with men and God met them where they congregated. This has never been about putting God in a box and scheduling trips to come visit him. See Acts 7:38
…If two of you will agree in the earth about any matter which they will request, it will be done for them from the presence of my Father who is in Heaven. For where two or three are assembled in my name, there am I in the midst of them. See Matthew 18:19-20
WHERE we gather is of absolutely NO significance!
Remember, the glory of the LORD was a feature of the ark. It was NOT a feature of the tent or building in which it resided.
WHO is gathering and in WHOSE NAME (with WHOM) is of every significance!
The Religious System
Mankind has a penchant for systematizing processes; for insisting upon formulae for repeat functionality. Systems built on the acquisition of power and wealth, such as government or industry, require strict adherence to organizational structure and stringent rules to ensure operational success.
The religious system and religious organizations/organized religion are no different with their facilities, hierarchies, rituals, requirements and traditions. “God comes on promptly at 1100 hours, so everyone take your seats. Sound check… OK, here we go… 3… 2… 1… Que music…”
- Question: Where do we read in the Scriptures that God ever instructed Moses to form an organization, to start up a new religion called Judaism, one that would include Pharisees, Sadducees, Rabbis, the Sanhedrin, the Talmud, the Kabbalah, synagogues, temples, etc?
- Answer: We don’t. Because He didn’t.
What we do read is that the leaders of the region’s predominant organized religion were soundly rebuked by John the Baptizer as well as by the LORD Jesus Himself for promoting their own teachings. See Matthew 3:7-12, Luke 3:7-11
- Question: Where do we read in the Scriptures that the Messiah came to correct some slight deviations from a religion that His Father had allegedly founded long, long ago?
- Answer: We don’t. Because He didn’t.
What we do read is that God had established His righteous requirements in the Earth; requirements that would/could only be fulfilled by His Son, the Seed to Whom the Promise was made. This He did, not for His own sake, but for ours. See Matthew 3:15, Matthew 5:17, Romans 8:4
While we are at it, “Christ” is not Jesus’s surname (last name). It is a transliteration (into English) of the Greek word Christos, which is how the Greeks referred to the Messiah. The word Messiah is itself a transliteration (into English) of the Aramaic word Meshika (also Hebrew Mashiach). Christ, Christos, Messiah, Meshika, Mashiach all mean the same thing, and refer to God’s Anointed. When we say Jesus Christ we can as easily say Jesus Messiah, or Yeshu Meshika, or Yeshua Mashiach.
- Question: Where do we read in the Scriptures that Jesus started up a brand new religion called Christianity intended to offer an alternative perspective of God, another path up the mountain, one that could include cathedrals, popes, priests, reverends, choirs, pews, altars, vestibules, rectories, parsonages, mission programs, Sunday services, tithing and so much more.
- Answer: We don’t. Because He didn’t.
Men fail to realize that God didn’t start their religious business enterprise. They did that all on their own.
God began His work before the foundation of the world, and is continuing it to this very day. But men love the world and all that is in it; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.
The flesh is so easily seduced by beauty, money (wealth) and title (honor, power). The kingdoms of men along with their enterprises are built entirely upon these elements. And mankind is determined in his thinking that it is somehow permissible, even possible, to conflate God’s Kingdom with any kingdom of men.
But the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the spirit of holiness. See Romans 14:7
- Question: But what about my religion?
- Answer: The English word “religion” appears to derive from the Latin religio/religo, meaning “to bind.” It infers a Roman oath sworn to the gods and any subsequent obligations of such an oath. As one contemplates one’s moral duties before God, consider this, first:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. Isaiah 1:27, 1Peter 1:16-17
Attending weekly services appears to have been left out of that passage. Hmm…
- Question: Where did the word “church” come from?
- Answer: (see below…)
When referencing The Almighty the Greeks, having no word or term for The Living God, used their general word kurios, meaning the person in charge; ruler, master, lord, sir, mister, etc. Kuriakos translates as that which belongs to the person in charge. A building is a doma. In Greek, the house belonging to the person in charge is a kuriakon doma.
Old German transliterated and shortened the Greek kuriakon doma into kirika. This word went through several iterations (kirich, khirch, kerrich, kersche, etc) before becoming kirche (pronounced: kirshuh).
English transliterated the German kirche to give us the word kirk. It appears that the Old High German pronunciation of the word (xi.rix.xa – chi.rich.a) influenced the iteration of kirk to churche. The “e” was eventually dropped the English word church was established.
These words (this word in its various forms) have referred to a building (“a house belonging to a lord”) from their (its) origins. By substituting “lord” with “the LORD”, a house where worship is said to occur is then claimed to be “the LORD’s house” and the word “church” is applied to it. Today, the English word church is recognized throughout the Earth to be synonymous with both a building dedicated to religious purposes as well as the religious organization or group that owns and/or operates it. According to this definition, there are countless such churches.
Our LORD Jesus was neither Greek nor German, nor was he English. It may come as a shock to some to discover that, nearly 2000 years ago, Shimeon Kaypha (Simon Peter) did not hear the Master say the tonal equivalent of: “…and upon this rock I will build my church…”
What our LORD did say to the disciple He referred to as The Stone sounded completely different from any derivation of the phrase “my church”:
לעדתי (pronounced: L’eeD’Tay)
The Aramaic word ēḏtā means company, congregation or assembly. No physical building is implied or inferred. The word quite specifically refers to a group of people, not a facility.
- Question: But didn’t Jesus start a church?
- Answer: No.
Not only did Jesus NEVER start a church, He didn’t start a ministry or run a business. He didn’t construct facilities or hire staff, either.
Jesus did not gather the people from across the lands to attend services at Herod’s temple in Jerusalem, nor did He conduct regularly scheduled events at any of the satellite facilities, the public meeting houses known as synagogues. Jesus NEVER instructed any man to build a facility to house His Father, Himself, or any of His followers.
Jesus didn’t file for 501(c)(3) tribute exemption as a Roman C Corporation, S Corp, LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Ltd or GmbH, either. And it wasn’t because Caesar didn’t make it all available. These provisions of the kingdom of men have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. These are the instruments of men… ONLY.
Hint: What is God’s IS God’s. It does not seek acknowledgement, let alone permission, from Caesar.
Our LORD Jesus met with people wherever they were, wherever He traveled. Large crowds of those who were actually interested would gather outside the city in fields, not coliseums or stadiums, to hear Him. No admission was charged. Small groups would meet in homes. Collections were not taken. Those who weren’t much interested in Jesus gathered at the public meeting houses and argument centers. Neither Jesus or any of His followers ever had much success at those places.
After His resurrection, the brothers and sisters continued to meet in homes… houses which they already had. Those assemblies of believers were referred to as the body of the Messiah (aka assembly, congregation, or “church” if you must) at so-and-so’s house. Several gatherings in a given locale would be referred to collectively as the church at such-and-such a city (town, village, etc).
Christian tradition would have you believe that fear of persecution prohibited the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers of the first century from constructing proper facilities to house God and entertain His people. According to this false teaching these cowardly, timid folks, “primitive Christians” as they are often referred to as, had to suffer the tortuous embarrassment of meeting in mere houses, instead of attending scheduled services in the grand cathedrals we all know God wanted them to have.
If you are enamored with the word “church” then, by all means, use it. But use it properly. The “church” is the company, congregation, or assembly of the righteous across time, and thus also includes those who are being added in this current generation. This is the body of the Messiah, comprised of living stones being built into His Temple in which he dwells. It is not comprised of wood, rock or steel. It is not a building, place or location. It most certainly is not a business organization.
Lest any still be confused: believers assembling at a house do not make that house a “church.” Once again, contrary to popular usage, the term “house church” never appears in the Scriptures. In fact, the concept of a “house church” amounts to nothing more than a facility swap, where today’s abominable religious system, loaded with the teachings of the traditions of men, is temporarily relocated to an insufficient, but allowable facility and perhaps scaled down slightly to fit only until such time as governmental permission is granted to return the organization to its preferred temple or cathedral of choice.
The “church” of the LORD Jesus Christ is the assembly, not the facility.
- Question: Where do you go to church?
- Answer: A man can no more go to church than he can go to husband. He is a husband; he does not go to one.
This is not simply a matter of semantics, but of ignorance, deception and/or disobedience. Search the Scriptures. You will never find the phrase, “go to church.” If you are steeped in the religion of Christianity, there are a lot of phrases you may use and/or be familiar with that never appear in the Scriptures.
- Question: What about attending church services?
- Answer: Yet another religious system contrivance, so named to co-opt the service of God.
Joshua said to the tribes of Israel,
Choose this day whom you will serve… as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15
Jesus told His disciples,
You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:4, Luke 16:13
By showing up and participating in and/or enduring a religious system presentation, then somehow equating it with the service of God you deceive yourself. Just as a man cannot go to church anymore than he can go to husband, he does not serve God by attending so-called “services”.
- Question: What is the Church?
- Answer: (see below…)
God’s holy temple is made up of living stones. You must be born again, born of the spirit, to be a living stone, a live stone. Otherwise you are a dead rock, and dead rocks have no place in His temple.
For more on this topic, see my article titled, “Born Again“.
Living stones don’t fit themselves into God’s temple any more than logs fit themselves into lodges, nor does fitting occur as a result of group get-togethers, potlucks, bible studies, religious outings, etc. Living stones gathered together are simply a rock pile, not God’s holy temple. Master builders, raised up and appointed by God in each generation (not appointed by man, not even recognized by man, and certainly not honored by man) participate in the “fitting into place” of a given living stone.
I know this will frost some fritters out there, but so-called “pastors” are not master builders. Some guy attends a so-called Christian college, Bible school, or seminary to be indoctrinated in the religious traditions of men, gets honored for his effort with a diploma, joins or affiliates with a denomination or other funding group, gathers some taxpayers together, and they are off to the races with their new “local” church. But this has nothing to do with the kingdom of God.
Living stones are added locally, in their locale, to the one temple. But there is only one temple, and it spans all places and all time. Living stones avail themselves for fitting by assembling with one another. God introduces the master builder/builders, and the fitting begins.
- Do not equate any kingdom of man with the Kingdom of God.
- Do not equate any of the religious institutions of men with the assembly (church) of our LORD Jesus the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
- Do not equate club membership in some tax-exempt organization with being a member of His Body.
- Do not be deceived. God does not dwell in temples made with human hands.
Rather than restrict themselves to what God has declared regarding Himself and His creation, men prefer to make God more imaginable; more suitable and palatable; more believable. Generation after generation, men insist on putting God in a box and wrapping Him up in a marketable, appealing package. Thus they develop religions to organize their beliefs and teachings. Those organizations really love their altars, worship facilities, temples, cathedrals, services, buses, extra-curricular activities, etc. And money. And titles.
All of these organizations commingle light with darkness, the Kingdom of God with the kingdoms of men.
The Body of the Messiah is not an organization. It is not a business. It is not a religion. It is not a building. It never has been any of these things.
The Body of the Messiah is the House of God!
“…the house of God, which is the church of the living God…” 1Timothy 3:15