Summary: The house that God is building is a house where His power and Son are preeminent; His presence is pursued; and His purposes is practiced.
A couple of weeks ago were read were seven men were chose to look after the Greek widows, Stephen was one of them. He was a man full of grace and power. He did great signs and wonders But opposition against him arose. Members of the Synagogue of Freeman began arguing with Stephen and his ministry; but the Scripture says they couldn’t stand against the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. So they began spreading lies about him claiming he was blaspheming the Holy Temple of God. He was arrested and put on trial. Instead of being intimidated by the situation Stephen uses this occasion to deliver a scathing sermon of reproach to his objectors; but also in his message he recounts the history of Israel, culminating with the building of God’s houses. Each of the three temples built are a significant part of Israel’s and our history. Each house stands as a symbol of the different stages of God’s House as it has grown from the past, to present and the future.
Moses Tabernacle was a House of Promise and Presence, a period of beginnings. This was the ‘original recipe’ for the house called church. It was at the beginning of Israel’s journey with God to the land of Promise. During this period they learned to walk by faith. They learned the keys to warfare. They experienced God’s miraculous provision of manna and water.
During David time it was a Tabernacle, a House of Praise. It was a period of revival and renewal in God’s House. Physically, it amounted to little more than a tarp stretched over some tent poles to shield the ark from the burning sun. Yet God said, “I will rebuild this one.’ This represents the period of renewal in the life of the believer. God says, I will raise up that which has fallen. I will rebuild the ruins of your life.’ Oh how we love revival. It is spiritual party time!
The Temple of Solomon was a House of Prosperity and Prominence. It represented a period of stability, growth and prominence. Of all the structures that were built, this is the one that stands out in our minds as the temple. It was a glorious edifice. It was inlaid with ivory, and covered with gold on the outside. Kings from all over the world came to wonder at this great building that Solomon had erected. The temple represented God’s presence with his people, His stability, and His power. When Jesus said this temple would be destroyed the religious leaders were incensed.
Why? Because it was all they knew about God! Their thinking was, “This is it!”. It stood as a monument to the past glory of Israel. Everything that they believed and knew about God was contained within the safe walls of the temple. It spoke of history, power and prestige and tradition. They were safe and comfortable within the confines of the temple. They did not have to be stretched in their faith. In short, their faith did not go beyond the confines of the temple courts. In their minds ‘This is all there is for me. I do not need or want to do anything else when comes to God’. They thought they had to protect it, protect God from what others might do to his House. They had forgotten God’s power and presence is sufficient to protect it and lead it to where he wanted it to go just as he had lead them through the wilderness.
The religious leaders of the day had lost their focus on why the temple was built in the first place. They had allowed their history and traditions to get in the way of the purpose of God’s house. And they used it to exercise power over the people instead of using its influence to further God’s will. And so God allowed the temple to be destroyed. This scenario is still being repeated.
When Charles Haddon Spurgeon first went to Park Street church in London, he was nineteen years old. The church had a seating capacity of fifteen hundred but an average attendance of under two hundred. Nine years they had out grown the church and the Metropolitan Tabernacle was built to accommodate the crowds. Spurgeon’s sermons were published in newspapers around the world; a school was established to train pastors; and a colportage business was started to print evangelistic booklets. It was said that over 23,000 people had heard him preach during those years.
For 38 years Spurgeon was the pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. 14,000 members joined the church during his tenure. The Metropolitan Tabernacle was one of the most influential churches of the 19th century.
In 1972, however, seventy-five years after Spurgeon retired, there was only 87 worshippers in the morning service.
What happened to this once great church? How did they lose their influence? Many explanations could be given. London had changed. People had changed. The church did not keep up with the times. It should have moved to the suburbs; but those things are only the symptoms of the real problem. In simple terms the church somewhere along the way, lost its focus and became irrelevant in the battle for the Kingdom of God. We are all only one generation away from extinction unless we keep/maintain a intimate and committed relationship with God and His Will—not with the church building and its traditions and history.