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 (NASB)
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 called Beth-el (translated: the house of God) and built an altar to the Lord. See Genesis 12:3,8
Approximately 250 years later, Abraham’s grandson Jacob was traveling in a 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 (NASB)
He called the place Beth-el (translated: the house of God). See Genesis 28:12,17,19
Approximately 100 years later, after returning from his encounter with the Most High upon Mt. Sinai where he had received the Law, Moses was told by God to construct the Tabernacle (or Tent) of Meeting. It’s purpose?
“There I will meet with you…” Exodus 25:22 (NASB)
The design was not left up to Moses; he was not allowed to get creative. He didn’t hire an architect or use 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, 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 of qualified candidates. 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.
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 not Hiram) in a rather well-known passage: Ezekiel 28:11-19. But that is another story (see Satan Was Never Named 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
It is never a good idea to say, ‘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. See 2Samuel 7:4, 1Chronicles 17:3
God commanded the prophet:
“Go tell David ‘Thou SHALT NOT build me a house…'” See 2Samuel 7:5, 1Chronicles 17:4
The command: Don’t build me a house!
- 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 it is recorded in two places!)
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
David had interpreted God’s response to be, “Great idea, David! I have always wanted a Palace on the Earth. But we’ll have Solomon do the construction work, not you.” 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: “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!”
After all, 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 God’s words, 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, so David could legally marry his 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, where we do not find the slightest mention of blood or war in His words.
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.” See 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.” See 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.” See 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.” See 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.” See Acts 13:22-23
What did Jesus say?
“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?” See Mark 12:35-37
Some 250 years after David, 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
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‘?”
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.
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 tabernacle, just as one would expect would occur when God met over the wings of the cherubim of the ark of the covenant.
Men fail to realize this glory was a feature of the ark, not of the tabernacle and certainly not of Solomon’s temple. 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
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. The Assyrians invaded, conquered and destroyed Israel, 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, 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.
500 plus 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 men believed to be the very house of God!
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 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, see my article, Four Horsemen are Riding in 2020).
The nations constructed temples, while God had given the children of Israel the portable Tent of Meeting. 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
David, Solomon’s dad, had referenced the house of God (house of the Lord, Thy house, etc) more than two dozen times throughout the Psalms – long before his own death, let alone the construction of Solomon’s temple. What house, exactly, was he 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 their religious enterprise architectural projects, men love to cite the passage from John 2:14-16 where Jesus went up to Jerusalem (no, he was not headquartered there, there was no business office for His ministry, no broadcasting studio, not even a branch office). But men are just certain Jesus was giving 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.'”
Not surprisingly, they all fail to cite the following verses from that same passage (verses 18-22):
“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.”
“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
The people of God are destined to be the abode of God; we are the house of God, the temple of God. This temple is comprised of living stones, not dead rocks. But a pile of living stones does not a temple make (just as a log pile is not a log house). 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 then added from each generation until the 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 not physically ever be possible, 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. 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(s)
Mankind has a penchant for systematizing processes; for insisting upon formulae for repeat functionality. The 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 systems are no different with their facilities, hierarchies, rituals, requirements and traditions. Many of these systems are quite complex and navigating their waters is overwhelming for the commoner. Taxes, fees, donations, subscriptions and/or contributions go a long way toward providing someone else with the motivation necessary to manage the complexities on your behalf. Show up, pay up, participate or don’t – just make sure you leave the thinking to the eminently qualified arbiters of the institution.
Operational authority for most (if not all) religious organizations stems predominantly from that organization’s Charter. Some will say that their organization is based on Biblical Principles, as though that means something special to God. Other organizations actually claim they are His Assembly, His Church, just like we read about in the Bible.
We know how readily the flesh is impressed with beauty, money (wealth) and title (power). The kingdoms of men are built entirely upon these elements. But the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Spirit of holiness. See Romans 14:7
Business models of the kingdoms of men are used to organize these so-called religious operations. Religious organizations and their real estate holdings are big business. Business means revenue and revenue means budgeting, financial reporting, insurance coverage, employment and tax compliance.
Where do we read in the Scriptures that God ever instructed Moses to form an organization, to start up a new religion, one that would include Pharisees, Sadducees, Rabbis, the Sanhedrin, the Talmud, the Kabbalah, synagogues, temples, etc?
What we do read is that the offspring of those who had been taken into captivity in Babylon 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
We do not read that the Messiah came to correct some slight deviations from a religion that His Father had allegedly founded long, long ago.
Nor do we read that Jesus started up a brand new religion intended to offer an alternative perspective of God, another path up the mountain.
“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.” (see Isaiah 1:27, 1Peter 1:16-17
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; to put God in a box; to wrap God up in a marketable package. Thus they develop religions to organize their beliefs and teachings. Those organizations really love their altars, worship facilities, temples, cathedrals, etc.
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.
The Body of the Messiah is the House of God!