You’re trying to build a “home” for God by buying a church building? Are you serious? Does God really need a physical building to have a home? Isn’t the entire universe His home? Why does He need a building? And how does that building have anything to do with the Kingdom of God?
Those are some of the questions you might be asking as you hear about the BUILD YOUR KINGDOM campaign which kicked off last weekend at STSA.
And those are all fair questions. Does God really NEED a building? Does He even want one? Doesn’t God care about spiritual buildings more than physical ones? Who cares if there’s a building or not?
I’ll be honest and say I struggled with those same questions myself for quite some time. All summer long, I debated this issue back and forth in my mind and in my spirit.
But after months of searching the Scriptures and having God work clearly in my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that God absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt cares about physical buildings/places. They’re much more important to Him than you might think.
Go back to the very beginning – the story of creation in Genesis 1 & 2. What’s the very first thing God does after He finished creating everything? He made the sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the forests, the lakes, all the vegetation and all the animals and even man himself. Creation was complete; what happened next?
Genesis 2:7 wraps up the story of creation:
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
Genesis 2:8 shows what happens next.
“The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.”
He did what? He planted a garden? Why? What is the garden?
If you read the creation story carefully, you’ll see that this was the climax. Everything was leading up to this – the garden, the home that God would share with man. God’s goal wasn’t just to create man on earth and then go wait for him in heaven. His goal was to BUILD A HOME where they could live together…until Adam messed it up and got kicked out (see Genesis 3).
Now what? What does God do next? Learn from His mistakes and find a new roommate to live with?
Nope, He insists on trying to live with man once again.
Fast forward several thousand years and you have the Israelites (God’s people) enslaved in Egypt. They cry to God, God answers with the 10 plagues, they cross the Red Sea and they are now free to live with God once again.
In the wilderness, God gives them the Law and the Commandments. He makes it clear to them that they need to obey Him if they want to be His people.
“So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.”… Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” (Exodus 24:3, 7)
What’s the next thing that happens after they accept the Law and agree to abide by God’s rules?
“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8
Yep, that’s right. GOD TELLS THEM TO BUILD HIM A HOME.
And from the point, the next 13 chapters in the Bible are dedicated to the building of the tabernacle (the sanctuary). And if you look across the first five books of the Bible (aka, the Law or the Books of Moses or the Pentateuch), there are 50 chapters dedicated to the tabernacle alone!
50 chapters! The story of creation and the fall of mankind (which was also kind of a big deal) got only 3 chapters. The Tabernacle got 50!!! Are you still sure God doesn’t care about physical buildings?
Now fast forward a few more hundred years – to the time of King David. David was described by God as “a man after my own heart" – meaning, this guy is in tune with what’s important to me and he knows what I care about.
After accomplishing many great things for God and doing much for His people, King David decided that there was one more mission He wanted to accomplish before He died.
“Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” (2 Samuel 7:1-2)
David said I can’t stand knowing that I have a house and you have a house and God doesn’t have a house. God dwells in “tent curtains” (the tabernacle) instead of a permanent home. That just doesn’t feel right.
When David told this to the prophet Nathan – the man speaking on behalf of God at the time – Nathan responded by saying:
“Then Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Samuel 7:3)
In other words, God was saying: “Good job David. I want this house too. Go for it!”
Clearly God cares more about physical buildings than we might have originally thought.
The question I’ll leave you with today is WHY? Why does He care about buildings? Why was it so important for Him to make a garden for Adam to live in? Why was building a tabernacle the first thing God commanded His people to do after they accepted the Law? Why did God tell David to go for it and begin preparing for the building of the temple (which would eventually be finished by Solomon)?
For discussion: why does God care so much about having a home on earth?