the weblog of Alan Knox

Building a house

Posted by on Nov 7, 2007 in discipleship, edification | Comments Off

Beginning a couple of months ago, I taught through the book of Ruth. I began with an overview – teaching the entire book and how the book fits into the Old Testament and the whole of Scripture. Then, over the next four weeks, I taught chapter by chapter.

As I was studying this short book, I was amazed at the focus on “house” at the end of chapter 4:

Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman. (Ruth 4:11-12 ESV)

Since Ruth ends with David, this focus on “house” reminded me of the Davidic covenant in 2 Samuel 7. In 2 Samuel 7:1-17, David looks around at the house that he’s built for himself and decides that he should build a house for God. God, however, has other plans. God plans to build a house for David:

Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. (2 Samuel 7:11b ESV)

While this seems like a simple statement among a larger covenant, this is the point that causes David to be in awe and to praise God, which is recorded in the second half of this chapter. David says:

For you, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord GOD, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever. (2 Samuel 7:27-29 ESV)

David understands the distinction that God is making here. David knows that he already has a house – that is, a physical dwelling place – but God has now promised to build David an eternal house – that is, an eternal family. Furthermore, God promised that one of David’s descendants would rule his house for eternity.

While Solomon thought that he and the temple were the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy (1 Kings 8:11), the authors of the New Testament picked up on this theme and applied it to Jesus. They understood Jesus to be the seed of David who will rule the house of David for eternity. But, what is the house of David that God promised and that Jesus rules over?

This is how the author of Hebrews interprets this house:

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses- as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. (Hebrews 3:1-6 ESV)

Did you catch that last sentence? We are his house! When God promised David to build an eternal house, he was talking about us – his children. I think David understood that God’s people would be an eternal house, and this is what caused David to be in awe and to praise God.

But, have we lost the awe of the fact that God is building us into his house – his dwelling place? Do we understand that God dwells with us and in us (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19)? Do we understand that we are living stones being built into a house that offers spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5)? Do we know that we function as God’s house – God’s dwelling place – and grow when we work together with the abilities that God supplies to each one (Eph 2:19-22; 4:15-16)?

I know that in some ways I have lost the awe of understanding that God dwells in me. If I understood the magnitude of this, I think I would live differently. I would respond to other people and to situations differently. Worry and stress would be things of the past. Fear? How could I be afraid if God is WITH me? More than that, I think I would expect God to communicate with me and I would listen more for him to communicate with me.

God is building a house, and we are that house! What a blessed people we are!