A Physical Illustration, a Spiritual Experience, and an Eternal Reality

Everyone loves a story that has a good ending. We like the part that says, “And they lived happily ever after.” I’ve read a lot of books and I’ve learned that the ending is satisfying in direct proportion to the events of the story. The greater the conflict, the more gratifying the resolution.

I think that’s why I love the Old Testament, because it gives deeper meaning to the truths in the New Testament. For example, this morning I was reading 1 Chronicles 28-29, where David makes preparation for his son, Solomon, to build the first Temple. It was to be a massive project, with a high financial investment, an army of skilled labor, built to a very detailed blueprint that, according to David, “the LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern” (1 Chronicles 28:19).

This was a huge, tangible, physical undertaking. They were building a place where God’s presence would abide, where His people could enjoy worshipping Him. The children of Israel gave generously of their time and resources to accomplish this great task of building a Temple for God.

Besides the physical preparation, God spoke through David to give Solomon some very specific things to do to remain under the blessing of God’s favor, so that they could enjoy everything the temple represented.

1 Chronicles 28:8-9 – So now, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek after all the commandments of the Lord your God so that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to you sons after you forever. As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.

By following four specific commands, the people would enjoy God’s presence, their worship would be acceptable, their lives would be blessed, and they would pass on a godly heritage to their children.

* Observe all the commandments of God.

* Seek after all the commandments of God.

* Know God.

* Serve God with a whole heart and a willing mind.

Fast forward to the New Testament. We’re not chosen to build a physical Temple for God’s presence to dwell in; instead, we are, ourselves, the temple! The physical picture in the Old Testament becomes a spiritual experience in the New.

Ephesians 2:19-22 – So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

1 Peter 2:4-5 – And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by people, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 – Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

God’s Holy Spirit indwells us. When we repent of our sin and place our faith in Christ Jesus, He reconciles us to God and the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence. Together, with all believers, we are now the temple of God, as we abide in Him, and He abides in us.

Does God give us specific commands to enable us to enjoy His favor and blessing like He did the children of Israel? Yes – and they are startlingly similar to those same admonitions He spoke through David!

Colossians 1:9-12 – For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

That’s just one of many scriptures that admonish us to obey and seek after God’s commands, to know Him, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, just as He told the children of Israel thousands of years ago.

Is that the end of the story? Well, no. It’s not quite satisfying yet, is it? We know God in part, in Spirit, but not yet face to face. The end of the story comes later, and when it does, the physical illustration that became a spiritual experience will find its FINAL fulfillment in an eternal reality.

Revelation 21:22 – I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known.

David built a temporary, physical structure for God’s presence to visit; the Holy Spirit gives us a greater taste of His spiritual presence as He indwells us. But, oh! What will it be like when we are physically face to face, at home finally with God in all His glory?? For all who put their faith in Jesus, THAT is our “happily ever after.” And the best part? It’s not the end of the story … it’s just the beginning!

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