II Samuel 7:11 “Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.”
King David wanted to build a temple, an earthly house, for God’s presence to dwell; but God responded by saying that He would build David a house, a dynasty, from which our Messiah would come. Where does God want to live?
After owning a house for over 30 years, it has been difficult for me to move, not once but four times in the past five years. Each move a lesson in letting go – separating self from friendly faces full of promise and breaking ties with coveted objects like the shattered ceramic pitcher completer of Grandma’s china set.
God allowed David to build His house, complete with detailed instructions to David and his son, Solomon, and that structure was glorious for the years that it stood before the temple’s total destruction. Glorious and yet a small thing compared to God’s promise for David’s offspring. I Chronicles 17:12-14 quotes God saying to David, “I will establish his throne…I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him…and I will establish him in my house and in my kingdom forever.”
What is the purpose of a house? A place where a man can hang his hat, a refuge from the storms in life, a labyrinth of secret cubby holes for giggling children to play hide and seek, an extension of a woman’s character and kindness? Houses are occupied and vacated, built and torn down, inherited or sold with barely a memory. Even the churches in which we worship are not our eternal dwellings.
We promise God that we will use our homes and our churches for His glory as if these wooden beams and nailed panel walls will hold His glory. Like David, we promise God “I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob” (Psalm 132:4,5). Do we really believe that these homes we cherish and that will perish with the last breath we take are exchanged for mansions in the heavens? I find this Hollywood image of a multi-million dollar open house viewing meaningless. Craning my neck at the end of a long, stately table to get a good look at Christ causes me anxiety. I fear that I am of no concern in the grand scheme of eternal life, so I do not find comfort and peace in my worldly view of the Big House in the Sky. I cannot think that I will find a dwelling place for Christ by walking or driving or flying. It seems too simple an assertion that I will see Christ in the next room or down the hall from where He sleeps.
David was humbled by God’s answer to his prayer. God basically said, yes, yes, David, go on and build me a house. But understand that what you see is not my home; My Holy One will dwell inside you, your descendants, and people of all nations to come. And when you die, you will still be with Me; no separation, no loss, no doors between Us, and no moving away. We are His temple; not just a flesh and bones house. Our spirit hears His voice when He calls us home – His home – His eternal dwelling untethered from this earthly tent.