Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An Uncommon Building


“Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” ~2 Chronicles 5.14

When King David had been gathered to his fathers and his son Solomon had succeeded him as king, artisans and laborers from all over the land were conscripted to build the temple which was to house the ark of the covenant of God.

After thirteen long years, the temple was finally completed, and Solomon stood before the altar in front of the whole assembly of Israel. He spread out his hands toward heaven and issued a prayer of praise and supplication: “Not one word has failed of all the good promises [the Lord] gave through his servant Moses,” Solomon declared. (Not one word!) “May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us” (1 Kings 8.57-58).

When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and God’s glory filled the temple - that work of art which had, in a manner of speaking, been commissioned by God Himself as an acceptable place for His glory to dwell.

Speaking nearly a thousand years later, in a letter to Corinthian believers, the apostle Paul utters this remarkable phrase: “You are… God’s building. ...Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? ” (3.9,16).

The Spirit of the Living God has now, because of the propitious death of Christ, seen fit to dwell inside me. My body is His temple – a living temple, a living work of art! – which houses God’s Spirit. How wondrously far beyond my ability to grasp - and yet it is a truth worth pondering, especially in light of the apostle's fearsome warning: “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Cor. 3.17).

"God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple." If we have received Christ, we are a temple whose sacred doors and windows are ever flickering with the light and energy of Christ. God’s Spirit has not come to rest in a building made of stone, but of flesh – and in the same way that His Spirit has come to rest in me, He bids that I live always in a state of resting and abiding in Him.

But this does not mean that I am a static thing, like a forgotten painting hung up in a cobwebbed corner of a museum; or a statue, standing frozen on a rotating pedestal in a mirrored showroom – exhibiting the looks and features of God’s latest model. No, as Oswald Chambers says, “God never has museums.” Instead, His works of art are alive with action. What is more, we were created to perform the good works “which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2.10).

Thus each moment presents me with an opportunity -to reach out my hand and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit; to make the natural spiritual, and by my obedience manifest Christ to the world.

Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. I too, when once I begin to glimpse the barest bones of this truth, become like one of Solomon's priests – unable to perform my duties for sheer awe at the glorious thickness of the cloud.

For those who visit temples do so in the hope of encountering the Spirit of the god for whom the temple was erected. Lest I begin to think that I am 'all alone in the world' - that my battles are mine to fight in isolation, I must remember that, because my body is His temple, I have the opportunity of encountering His presence all the time – I am never alone and never forsaken, proving that Solomon’s words were indeed a foreshadowing of what was to come.

“…[B]ecause God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"(Hebrews 13.5-6).

*Photo by MommaLove*

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