WHAT HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD ME?: ONE

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WHAT HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD ME?: ONECopyright Š 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

("What House Will You Build Me?: One" is taken from The Temple of God, copyright Š 2011 by Trumpet Ministries, found in the Kindle Library)

God's Sovereign Purpose

The Sovereignty of God's Working

The Divine Program

The Need for Victorious Christian Living

The History of the Plan

Adam

The Exodus from Egypt

The Tabernacle of the Congregation

The Seven Houses of God

"Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the Lord. (Isaiah 66:1,2)

"Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?" (Acts 7:49,50)

God's Sovereign Purpose

God's dealings with Christian believers always are based on a specific purpose. God has a definite plan in Christ that He is carrying out. If we are to enter the life of victory in Christ it is important that we recognize we are part of God's plan that is moving toward fulfillment according to His wisdom and unlimited power.

Central to God's plan is His desire to dwell in a living temple. The living temple of God is Christ—Head and Body. Christ is the House of God. The members of the Body of Christ are many rooms in the one House of God.

The construction of an eternal dwelling place for Himself is one of the principal purposes of God in the Christian Church. It is difficult for the Lord to come into a satisfying relationship with His creatures. The Body of Christ, which is the Temple of God, removes that difficulty by becoming the hand and heart of God extended to people everywhere.

It is God's will for us that we, by diligent and consistent faith in Christ, enter our individual role in the Divine plan and then rest with Christ as the Father brings all the enemies of Christ under His feet.

The purpose of our book, The Temple of God, is to portray the destiny of the Christian Church. Because Christians have not understood what the Olive Tree, the Seed of Abraham is, they have not been able to relate the Hebrew prophecies to the role or future of the Church.

Once it has been determined who "Israel" is, that Israel is the elect of God from the time of Abraham regardless of Jewish or Gentile racial origin, then the believer can perceive the destiny of the Church, the Body of Christ, the eternal Temple of God.

The role and future of the Christian Church has been described in the Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments, all this time. But we have not had eyes to see.

Hopefully the devout reader will begin to understand that all prophecies related to the Kingdom of God, its past, its present, and its future, are referring to him. He (or she) is God's Israel, a saint, a member of the Body of Christ.

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews defines "faith" in terms of the response of Old Testament personages to God's commands and interventions. We are one with all of them. They and we shall be made perfect together.

There is only one Israel of God, one anointed of God. There is only one Christ, one Servant of the Lord. There is only one Church, one holy city, one new Jerusalem.

The Lord Jesus is Christ. God is adding to the Lord Jesus a Body. The Lord Jesus the Head, plus the Body, constitute the true Israel, the true Servant of the Lord.

The true Israel, the true Servant of the Lord, is one Olive Tree. There never has been and never shall be another olive tree, another place of anointing, another Christ that God will accept.

The true Olive Tree began with Abraham and Sarah. The Olive Tree continued with the promise to Isaac, to Jacob, and to the sons of Jacob. This is true Israel, the true Seed of Abraham.

The Olive Tree came in perfection in the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the Word of God from eternity, actually was before Abraham. The Olive Tree continued with all who have become part of Christ, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.

In the last days, the promise, the anointing, the Olive Tree, shall return to the physical land and people of Israel. Then the Redeemer shall come out of Zion and all Israel, all of the elect, all of the true Olive Tree, shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation.

God has had, and shall continue to have, a special role for the physical land and people of Israel. Physical Israel is the only nation that has been set apart as holy to the Lord.

The true Olive Tree is the Kingdom of God. In order to enter the Kingdom of God both Jew and Gentile must be born again. The Jew and the Gentile then become new creations in Christ. In this manner, that which began with Abraham becomes eternal.

The Olive Tree, Christ, the Servant of the Lord, is the eternal dwelling place of the most high God. The Olive Tree is the House of the Father. The first, and principal room in the Father's House is the Lord Jesus. But there are to be many rooms in the Father's House, the eternal Temple of God. This book is about our becoming a room in that eternal House, the everlasting Tabernacle of God.

Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (Exodus 15:17)

"In the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in."

The above passage is the beginning of the revelation of the eternal purpose of God.

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)

He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. (I Chronicles 17:12)

Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever. (Psalms 68:16)

When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. (Psalms 102:16)

For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. (Psalms 132:13,14)

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:56,57)

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)

Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? (Acts 7:49)

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12)

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)

In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22)

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12)

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Colossians 1:27)

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

God's work in Christian believers, individually and collectively, always is based on a specific purpose. God has a definite plan in Christ that He is carrying out. Paul states: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

If we are to enter the overcoming life of victory in Christ it is important that we recognize we are part of God's plan that is moving toward fulfillment according to His wisdom and unlimited power.

It is God's will for us that we, by diligent and consistent faith in Christ, enter our individual role in the Divine plan, and then rest with Christ as the Father brings all the enemies of Christ under His feet.

The Sovereignty of God's Working

God is the Creator and we are "his workmanship, created in Christ unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10). What God begins He also finishes (Hebrews 12:2). He is following a blueprint and a time schedule. He knows exactly what He is doing with every creature in Heaven and on the earth (Acts 15:18). God is God.

We recognize, certainly, that man is commanded to seek and to serve God faithfully. We recognize also God is God and that all people, things, and events are in His power.

The sovereign workings and initiative of God are illustrated in the manner in which he apprehended Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Saul was not on his way to church. He was not proceeding down an aisle in response to an altar call. He was on his way to arrest and torment Christian believers.

In complete command of the situation, as always, Jesus ordered Saul to "Arise and go into the city." Jesus then made known to him that God has a purpose concerning the Gentiles as well as the Jews, and that he, Saul, had an important part to play in this purpose.

God had laid out a design for Saul's life in which he would become the Apostle to the Gentiles. Saul was to have an understanding of the plan of salvation and of the way in which grace operates to redeem people. Christ gave all this to Saul at the moment of his becoming a Christian—in fact, while Saul was in the midst of putting Christians to death (Acts 26:11-18).

God's purpose, which He is pursuing in line with His sovereign will according to His own Divine counsel and foreknowledge, with people whom He has chosen (we are not in any way minimizing the role of our will in choosing to serve Christ), is to bring to full stature the Body of Christ.

Christ is God's anointed King and Deliverer. The Church of Christ is His Body, "the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:23). Christ is the Lampstand of God. The Body of Christ is the second "lampstand," of Revelation 11:4. The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal dwelling place of God Almighty and the chief Cornerstone of the habitation that God is building for Himself. We Christians, being members of His Body, are part of the same dwelling place. We are being "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22). We are "lively [living] stones" in God's Temple (I Peter 2:5).

The Divine Program

The eternal purpose of God is to dwell among the peoples of the earth, whom He has created. God did not create mankind with the idea that God would remain in Heaven and punish people continually because they are of the earth and behave in an earthly fashion; neither is it His will that human beings leave the earth and abide forever in Heaven, as though the creating of the earth were an unfortunate mistake.

This would be to suggest that God is not quite sure what He is doing, that He gets caught by surprise, that He does not work in a reliable manner.

God created the physical heaven and the earth. God formed angels, cherubim, seraphim, and other types of spiritual personalities in the spiritual Heaven. He formed man—male and female—in the image of God and placed him on the earth.

God created men as sons of God, in His image, intending to give them dominion, fruitfulness, and glory. More than that, God has designed each individual as male or female so each person is incomplete and can realize his or her eternal destiny only in union with Christ and other people. Man's highest motivation is love. This is true also of man's Creator, the Lord God.

If we were neither male nor female, would we find much meaning in the Song of Solomon? Isn't the Song of Solomon the key to our understanding of the relationship between Christ and His Bride, between the eternal Lord and His Temple, His Body?

Angels, cherubim, and seraphim are neither male nor female. Also, it is true that none of these ever can become a living stone in the Temple of God.

The Divine intention is not that man go to Heaven to live there forever; but, as we read in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation, that the Lord God of Heaven dwell forever among men on the earth.

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

Why, then, did the sovereign God permit the rebellion of Eden? What is the significance of the terror of Sinai? How could the great and terrible "Lord" of Moses permit Roman soldiers to spit on Him and place a mock crown of thorns on His head?

If we view the historical appearances of God among His creatures, and His dealings with mankind, as tragedies in which God unsuccessfully attempted to have fellowship with us, we fall short in our concept of the sovereignty of God. We do not grasp His Divine foreknowledge and absolute authority and power. How can God make mistakes when He is all-powerful?

If we perceive the fall of Adam and Eve, the flood of Noah, the awful grandeur of Sinai, the carrying away of the Jews into Babylon, and the crucifixion of Christ as necessary aspects of a marvelous plan and purpose, we rest in the fact that God knows all His works from the creation of the world; that the Divine purpose has been accomplished from the beginning of time. We enter this rest of God—the rest based on the finished work (Hebrews 4:3).

What could God achieve by placing a forbidden tree in the middle of the garden, and then allowing Satan, a master deceiver of ancient experience, to persuade the first, innocent babes to sin against God?

Given God's high ambitions for His sons, it does not require extraordinary wisdom in order to understand the necessity for the rebellion of Eden.

At some point in prior eternity the governing lords of the spirit realm decided to usurp God's absolute rulership. Sin was conceived in Heaven, not on the earth. Sin is a spiritual reality. The flesh and blood of human beings provide a vehicle for the expression of spiritual personalities.

Sin is the defilement of God's holiness. Self-will, which is worse than sin, is the desire of a creature of God to seek its own purposes apart from submission to the Majesty of the everlasting Throne.

Sin proceeds from Satan. Sin is practiced by human beings who have been enslaved by Satan.

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifest, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8)

Self-will is demonstrated in Satan's behavior.

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13,14)

"I will. I will. I will. I will."

Self-will is the main problem of the human beings whom God has created in His image. Self-will is prominent among God's chosen people and resulted in the murder of Christ.

For two thousand years the Church of Christ has been characterized by self-will, by the desire to minister and build apart from the supervision of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Self-will and self-centeredness are found in the human baby and remain through adulthood.

Self-will is the basis of the Antichrist spirit. The true saint of God learns that he must be pressed ever more deeply into union with God through Christ, forsaking his self-will. It is the believer's cross that does the pressing.

No person can become a living stone in the eternal Temple of God until his will has been brought into oneness with the will of God in Christ.

When God decided to make man in His image, and then to assign to him authority and power over all the works of God's hands, He had to provide for the eventuality that man would turn against God.

For God to have created man in His image, to have given him authority over all the works of God's hands, and then not to have provided for the problems of sin and self-will would have been foolish indeed. God is not foolish.

A human being who is in slavery to Satan and who is unwilling to forsake his independence and enter union with God through Christ (submission to and union with Christ are the main issues), cannot be assigned authority and power over all the works of God's hands. He or she would be a monster. Do we not behold monstrous behavior on every hand today, within and outside the churches?

Therefore God allowed Adam and Eve to sin. God did not tempt them to sin or cause them to sin. God made it possible for them to sin and then permitted them to do so.

Why?

In order to make God's royal heirs immune to sin.

There is only one immunity to sin and self-will. The immunity is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dying physically does not provide immunity to sin and self-will. Dying physically brings us into the spirit realm, where we are judged and placed with spirits like ourselves.

Going to Heaven does not provide immunity to sin and self-will. Sin and self-will were born in Heaven around the Throne of God.

Where, then, can we find immunity to sin and self-will? We can find such immunity in the Personality of the Lord Jesus Christ. Complete union with Christ makes us eligible to be a living stone in the Temple of God. There is no immunity to sin and self-will other than by receiving the Person of Christ into ourselves.

We may think of God's dealing with mankind, from the time of Eden to the present hour, as a school. Eden was the kindergarten. The first lesson was, "The soul that sins shall die." God has given us six thousand years in which to reflect on the truth and wisdom of the first lesson.

Then the flood of Noah provided the heirs of the Kingdom, the sons of God, with a lesson concerning the sternness of God's Character. God was willing to slay every person on the earth, leaving the one human being (and his family) whom God had found to be righteous, to repopulate the earth.

The world of today needs to meditate on the flood of Noah because the Lord Jesus warned us that His return to earth would be "as it was in the days of Noah."

Abraham and Sarah were the beginning of the Church, the Temple of God. Abraham was given an opportunity to express faith, was admonished concerning the need to walk perfectly before God, and then was tested in the realm of self-will, of obedience to the Lord God of Heaven.

The faithfulness of Abraham in returning Isaac to God remains as one of the highest mountain peaks of human experience. We can find a greater denial of self only in the garden of Gethsemane.

Several hundred years after Abraham and Sarah, Mount Sinai blazed with a holy light never before revealed on the earth. The dreadful holiness of God was portrayed in the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are the Divine judgment on the god of the present world.

Can you see in these Divine dealings the curriculum of a school, a progressive course in the knowledge of the Lord God of Heaven?

The Law of Moses made us see our need of God's help. Adam and Eve, at the time of their creation, possessed no deep realization in themselves that they were in need of immunity to sin and self-will. Adam and Eve were formed in the image of God but they knew very little of God's Person and ways.

The first two people did not understand that apart from union with God they posed a danger to themselves and to the remainder of the creation of God. It has required thousands of years of human experience in order to bring a tiny remnant of people to the profound conviction that apart from God we always fall into sin and enslave ourselves and our neighbors with our self-will, self-seeking, self-love, self-centeredness.

Only a small minority of earth's billions has any concept at all of how utterly dependent on God each person is. Most human beings, believers and nonbelievers alike, journey on in slavery to sin and self-will.

In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of Mary, to live perfectly under the righteous requirements of the Law of Moses.

Here is the Redemption for every human being. Here is the Immunity to sin and self-will. Here is the Vine of God, apart from whom we cannot bear the right kind of fruit. Here is the Divine Lord, apart from whom we cannot exercise dominion over the works of God's hands.

If it had not been for the rebellion of Eden we would not have been brought to the place of willingness to seek forgiveness through the blood of the cross, deliverance through the power of the Holy Spirit, and finally, release from the bondage of self-will and disobedience through our fellowship with the suffering of the cross.

No human being can please God apart from the righteousness of Christ and the sacrifice of Calvary. No human being can be trusted with the glory assigned to the sons of God apart from a crucified self-life and the formation of a new creation in which his personality and the Personality of Christ have been made one.

No human being can find perfect joy and fulfillment until Christ is abiding in him and the love of Christ is flowing through him to other people.

All of our inheritance as sons of God can be possessed only as we press into abiding in Christ, into God's rest. The history of the wretched circumstances of human beings without God is a principal reason why thoughtful people are willing and desirous to press into the Lamb of God whom God has given to us.

All things of life and history work together for good to those who love God, to those who have been called according to God's purpose.

Every painful episode has as its purpose the driving of us into Christ because it is only in Christ that our high destiny as sons of God can be achieved.

From the beginning the Lord God of Heaven has determined to find rest on earth among the peoples whom He has created from the dust of the ground. Therefore He is forming a living temple. Christ is the chief Cornerstone of God's Temple. We, in whom Christ is being created and is dwelling through the Spirit, are the living stones of the Temple.

God has a plan and is proceeding to carry it out. He knows what He is doing. Nothing catches Him by surprise. God is sovereign in His foreknowledge, His power, His wisdom.

God is building a tabernacle for Himself. When the tabernacle has been completed He will enter it in His Fullness.

The Tabernacle of God will be situated eternally on a high mountain of the new earth. It is called the Bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

The Need for Victorious Christian Living

The goal of the Christian disciple who has set himself to be an overcomer, a victorious saint, is to attain to the place of abiding in God's temple to which the Father has called him. It is not always comfortable and easy (although God's wisdom and power make it possible and restful) to match the upward calling of God with a diligent seeking of His will.

Such diligence is necessary because only the victorious saints—those who conquer through the Holy Spirit their fleshly nature, the world, and Satan—will receive the fullness of the inheritance (Revelation 21:7).

The Book of Revelation emphasizes the fact that the fullness of the inheritance goes to the conquerors. The relationship of leading an overcoming life to receiving the inheritance needs to be stressed at this time in the Church of Christ.

There is not enough being said today about the need for living the victorious Christian discipleship, the life of triumphant faith in the Spirit. Therefore the believers do not always address themselves with knowledge, purpose, and dedication to laying hold on the fullness of the inheritance.

The believers, in many instances, make a few commitments to Christ and then settle back to wait for His coming. This is a most unscriptural attitude (Philippians 3:8-15). It may be recalled that the Israelites, God's chosen people, failed to enter their inheritance because of their hardness of heart and unbelief (Hebrews, Chapter Three; Jude 1:5).

If we set our hope on becoming a living stone in God's Temple we must give ourselves wholly to attaining the place of abiding in Christ in which we come to rest in Him and He comes to rest in us. Every day of our Christian pilgrimage our determination to dwell in the "secret place of the most High" will be tested in one manner or another.

Some days the battle is heavy; other days are quieter. It is a moment by moment, day by day, pressing into the will of God as He leads us and gives us the wisdom and strength to overcome every enemy.

Christians who are looking for a worldly life in which some of their attention can be given to the pursuit of their own desires and some of their attention can be given to the seeking of Christ, will never be able to attain the fullness of abiding in God and Christ that they could have obtained by following Christ with singleness of purpose.

The penalty for not giving full attention to God is illustrated by the Israelites who compromised with the inhabitants of Canaan, the result being that they faced (and still face) continual warfare. They had to endure seeing their sons and daughters take up the abominable Canaanite religions. There is little rest for the Christian outside the bosom of the Father (John 1:18).

The Temple of God is in the process of being constructed now. It has been the plan of God from the creation of the world to make for Himself a habitation composed of human beings who have been transformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-30).

God will dwell only in Christ—nowhere else. God in Christ will dwell in His fullness only in the believer who has been re-created completely—spirit, soul, and body. "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).

If God is to dwell in us we must "come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing" (II Corinthians 6:17). It is not possible that we can find rest in God, or He can find rest in us, until every particle of our animal nature has been dealt with.

The "wood" must be covered with "gold" (Exodus 25:11). We are being made the "Ark of the Covenant," and the "wood" of our personality must be enclosed in the "gold" of the Divine Nature.

The History of the Plan

Adam

Over the past several thousand years the plan for the Temple of God has been unfolding and the necessary preparations, sketches, and measurements have been made. The foundation was poured in Christ. The details of God's plan for a dwelling place were not revealed to us at the time of the creation of man nor are they all clear to us in the present hour.

Although it was said of Adam that he was a son of God and that he was in the image of God, yet it was not stated that Adam was created to be the eternal dwelling place of the Godhead.

Adam was a living soul with the breath of life in his nostrils. He was made in God's likeness and image. God walked with Adam, not in him. We understand now that God intends to dwell not only with the Body of Christ but also in the Body of Christ. The "mystery" of the Gospel is that Christ is in us (Colossians 1:27).

In God's mind while He was having fellowship with Adam in the Garden of Eden was a temple built on the Cornerstone, Christ, and constructed in accordance with exact specification. In the incomprehensible wisdom of God, Adam was given a few rules to obey.

Because Adam disobeyed, just as God who knows the hearts of all men knew he would, all mankind came under the power of Satan, the originator of rebellion against God.

God did not cause Adam to sin. God knew Adam would sin because God was aware of the forces that were ready to invade the Garden of Eden. Every act brought about by evil powers, from the sin of Adam and Eve through the crucifixion of Christ to the present day, serves only to further the plan of God. Such is the wisdom and power of God.

In all that happened in the garden God had a master plan that would, in the maturity of time, furnish Him with a holy, perfect, living temple in which to dwell. Through His living temple God will be able to judge all unrighteousness—the unrighteousness in the heavens and the unrighteousness in the earth.

The Exodus from Egypt

As the course of mankind proceeded after Adam was driven from the Garden of Eden, the Holy Spirit began to give glimpses of the idea God has in mind concerning the building of a holy habitation for Himself.

Notice these words from the prophecy sung by Moses and the children of Israel on the occasion of their passing successfully through the Red Sea:

Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (Exodus 15:17)

"In the place, O Lord, that You have made for Yourself to dwell in." "In the Sanctuary, O Lord, that Your hands have established."

It is an extraordinary fact of world history that two or three million slaves from Egypt, led by a shepherd, having been directed through a deep and broad river that parted until they had passed through and then had closed on their enemies who had dared to follow them into the holy pathway, should suddenly lift up their voices in song—the entire multitude—and begin to sing in prophecy the purposes of God.

The whole Gospel story is revealed in this episode, if one adds to it the Lord's Passover that the Israelites had just celebrated.

How the wild animals must have crouched and listened and stared in curiosity as they heard a congregation of people begin to sing in the Spirit of revelation, keeping in harmony, standing out in the desert under the cloud—the Angel of God who went before them for forty years. The acacia trees and wild shrubs rejoiced and in their own way sang with Israel the high praises of God.

Here occurred one of the most remarkable incidents in the history of mankind. God some day may provide us with a playback of this scene so we can see and hear Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and the rest of Israel singing in prophecy as the Church of God began its pilgrimage through the wilderness.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation

Notice, in Exodus 15:17, the mention of the "Sanctuary" that the Lord has established and in which he intends to dwell.

In the twenty-fifth chapter of Exodus there is another early reference to God's desire to have a dwelling place in the earth.

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)

Heaven is the Throne of God and the earth is the footstool of God. God desires a house in which he can live and move and have His Being. He is seeking a fellowship of persons who are in His image and who can serve as His dwelling place—a house through which He can extend Himself to all His creation; a resting place in which the throne and footstool are brought together.

To illustrate and emphasize His desire for a holy dwelling place, God directed Moses to build a tabernacle according to precise specifications. "See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount" (Hebrews 8:5).

Did God Almighty actually dwell between the cherubim in that tent? He did indeed and His Glory could be seen. Moses went in to the Most Holy Place and talked to God as a friend; not as a prophet who sees visions and proclaims the burden of the Word of the Lord, but as a personal friend—face to face.

Although at a later date God came down in glory during the dedication of the Temple of Solomon, it is possible that His continuing Presence was manifest more powerfully in the Tabernacle of the Congregation than was true of the larger, more impressive Temple of Solomon.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation was the house of God until the two wicked sons of Eli carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle and it was captured by the Philistines. This occurred after Israel had settled in the land of promise.

All the time that Israel was wandering around in the desert between Kadesh-barnea and Elath, the Glory of God dwelled between the wings of the golden cherubim in the Most Holy Place.

As difficult as it is for us to understand, God actually dwelled in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The term "house of God" was no mere figure of speech as is true of church buildings today.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation was God's House, and if you dared to go through the entrances and approach the holy vessels you would breathe your last breath quickly, even though God's throne was termed the "Mercy Seat" (literally, Atonement Lid or Lid of Reconciliation).

The Seven Houses of God

Throughout history the house of God has appeared in six different forms. The seventh form, which is the fulfillment and fullness of all that have gone before, has not been completed and perfected as yet.

The first form in which the house of God appeared was Moses' tent, which was pitched far off from the camp (Exodus 33:7-11). Moses' tent was termed "the tabernacle of the congregation," but perhaps was not the actual Tabernacle of the Congregation or Tent of Meeting that was set up later (Exodus 40:17).

The tent of Moses served until God was ready to show Moses the pattern for the structure that the King James translation of the Bible refers to as the "Tabernacle of the Congregation."

The second form in which the house of God appeared was the actual Tent of Meeting, referred to as the Tabernacle of the Congregation or Tabernacle in the wilderness. It is the one with which we are familiar, having the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Lampstand, the Ark of the Covenant, and the remainder of the seven holy furnishings.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation would be better termed the Tabernacle of God because it was a dwelling place for the Lord God, not for the Israelites. It truly was the House of God.

The third form in which the house of God appeared was the Tabernacle of David. The Tabernacle of David was a tent that David set up in Zion, a city located in the area of Jerusalem.

Inside the tent of David was placed the Ark of the Covenant, which had become separated from the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Ark of the Covenant was brought to Zion by King David amid much rejoicing (II Samuel, Chapter Six). The remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation remained at Gibeon, at the high place—a site that had been used by the Gibeonites for the worship of their gods.

The fourth form in which the house of God appeared was the Temple of Solomon. The Temple of Solomon followed the same general design as the Tabernacle of the Congregation but was greatly enlarged and made more elaborate with costly ornamentation and additions.

The destruction of the Temple of Solomon was carried out by the Babylonians about six hundred years before Christ (II Kings 25:9). The Temple was rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 6:15), and again by King Herod in the first century B.C. It was Herod's Temple that was standing during the ministry of Jesus and the early apostles. Herod's Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.

The fifth form in which the house of God has been revealed is Ezekiel's Temple (Ezekiel, Chapters 40 through 48). Our point of view is, in spite of the details concerning sacrifice, that Ezekiel's Temple represents the eternal Temple of God, the Body of Christ.

The Scripture does not teach in detail the exact relationship between the spirit realm and the material realm during the Millennium (thousand-year Kingdom Age). We do not know whether the saints of God will rule in bodies on the earth or through the Holy Spirit as Jesus does today or in some combination of these two forms. The description of the Temple of God in Ezekiel appears to have this half-physical, half-spiritual quality.

We do know that Christ and His servants will rule the earth for a period of time denoted in Scripture as one thousand years (whether literally or symbolically), and then over the new earth for eternity. It is possible that Ezekiel's Temple outlines some of the aspects that will be true during the thousand-year Kingdom Age in which there may be situations involving flesh and blood people who are being ruled by saints who themselves are living in glorified bodies.

It seems more likely to us, however, that the representation of Christ in the first chapter of Ezekiel reveals to us the final form of glorified man, the ruler of God's universe, and the description of the temple portrays the development of the inner character of the saint. Finally the member of Christ's Body, having passed through the four levels of water, becomes a tree of life, planted on the banks of the River of Life, bringing life and healing to the saved peoples of the earth.

The sixth form in which the house of God has appeared is our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the eternal dwelling place of God. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. God the Father has His eternal rest in Christ.

All of the houses of God prior to Christ were greatly reduced in significance as soon as the Lord Jesus appeared. The Temple of Herod changed from the house of God into nothing more than an elaborate building the instant Christ came into view.

The God of the house of God stood in the streets of Jerusalem and beheld His handiwork. The supremacy of Moses, Aaron, and the Levites passed away like the dew before the morning sun. Behold, a greater than Moses was here.

The seventh form in which the house of God will appear is the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the glorified Christian Church (Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22).

When every member of the Body of Christ has come to personal maturity, has been created in union with the Head, Christ, and is one with every other member, then the Head and the Body will be the eternal House of God, the Temple of God, the dwelling place of God and the Lamb forever.

Today we refer to buildings constructed by various groups, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Pentecostal, and so forth as "houses of God." But the buildings are not houses of God.

After the people go home on Sunday at noon you can desecrate the altar, the platform, the pews, and the choir loft. You can play any secular song on the organ or piano. You can clear the area and hold a dance, gamble, smoke, curse, use God's name in vain or do anything else. No holy fire will issue forth and slay you. No voice will proclaim, holy, holy, holy. You will not be afflicted with leprosy.

Our natural environment, living and inanimate, is affected by the Glory and Presence of God who dwells in God's people. His Glory is revealed when the Church assembles and enters worship. Nevertheless, except for unusual instances, it is true that after the people leave, the church building, no matter how ornate, is void of the Presence of God. He has left with the saints.

(When there has been much prayer in one location one can feel the holiness of God there. But this is not the "house of God" in the same sense as the Tabernacle of the Congregation.)

It was altogether different with the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Imagine what would have happened if an Israelite went into the Holy Place, began to sing and dance in honor of a heathen god, or cursed, using God's name in a blasphemous manner. Of course, we know that this could not have happened because if an Israelite even approached the Courtyard of the Tabernacle with such a thought in his heart he would have been struck dead instantly.

God Almighty, in all His holiness and glory, truly lived in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. It reminds us of the fact that in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead. God Almighty in all His holiness and glory truly lives in the bodily form of Jesus of Nazareth.

The term church can never refer to a building. The building in which Christians worship, no matter what kind of design and furnishings it has, can never be more than a meeting hall for the Church of Christ, the true and eternal Temple of God. As the Holy Spirit announced through Stephen, God never again will dwell in a temple made with hands.

We are the Temple of God. The term church is the English translation of a Greek word that means "called out." We are "called out" from the world to be a holy people, peculiarly God's own.

A building can never be "called out" from the world. Therefore the term church, technically speaking, cannot be applied to a physical structure. Such usage of the word, although a long-standing tradition, tends to steer people away from the fact that God intends that every Christian leave the spirit of this age and follow Christ with an undivided heart so God may abide in him. The Christian is God's house.

Although God lived in the Tabernacle of the Congregation and accompanied the Israelites through all their wilderness wandering (just as He accompanies you and me through all our wilderness wandering), nevertheless, the chief purpose of the Tabernacle of the Congregation is to point us toward the eternal Temple of God that is being built on the proven Cornerstone, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The burden concerning the house of God appears many times throughout the Old Testament. The idea of the house of God being constructed from God's called-out people did not appear clearly until after the Lord Jesus rose from the dead. In Old Testament times the Israelites understood the house of God to be a physical structure, such as the Temple of Solomon or the Temple of Herod.