Pastor Dora Wang: Words from our Shepherd: The building of God’s Temple and His Heavenly Dwelling

Words from our Shepherd: The building of God’s Temple and His Heavenly Dwelling (by Dora Wang)

The Bible contains many teachings and scripture regarding the building of God’s kingdom, but it would  not be difficult for us to realize what really matters to God is not so much the physical making of the temple, but the formation of our spiritual lives – in other words, the building of the “spiritual temple.”

  1. The definition of temple building:  In the old testament, the tabernacle and temple symbolizes God’s presence.  God commanded Moses to have the people “ make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. “ (Exodus 25:8)  He also told David “ I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day, I have been moving from place to place as my dwelling.” (2 Samuel 7:6) When King Solomon built a dwelling for the Lord, God said “ I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever.  My eyes and my heart will always be there. “ ( I Kings 8:13, 9:3) God wants to live amongst His people, He wants to dwell and walk with them!

The New Testament teaches that in order for us to dwell with the Holy God, we need to focus on three aspects of our spiritual development: 1. To be holy: God asked us to “come out from them and be separate, touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)  This means we need to intentionally abandon behaviors and attitudes that are displeasing to the Lord. How are we to discern   that? This is why we also need 2. to be in the truth: because “ God’s  household is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 3. To be in prayer: “ My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Mark 11:17) In other words, building the church is also building our very lives-  our holy temple. Being holy is not just wearing clean and decent clothing to worship at church on Sundays. It means to live holy lives – to be honest in business dealings, to be faithful to your spouse, to not quarrel and argue.  Being in the truth is not just acquiring Bible knowledge, but discerning and living out the truth. Prayerful living is not just reciting memorized verses or praying in routine, but to have deep and meaningful dialogues with our living God. Since we are a house of prayer for all nations, we need to be united in prayer, and respect the different styles and traditions of prayers.

  1. The motivation of temple building: Since God is not concerned with the appearance but rather the building of our inner spiritual temple, why are we spending so much money constructing a large church? This concerns our motivation.  After God gave rest and peace to David,  David wanted to build a temple for the Lord, but He said”  I will raise up your offspring to succeed you…he will build a house for my name…your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me.” (2 Samuel 7: 12-16)

What is our primary motivation in building this church? Pastor Lam shared at the 20th anniversary celebration that God has given him the vision to enlarge His kingdom. “ Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. “ (Isaiah 54:2) In recent year, we have turned down kids who are interested in VBS and AWANA due to lack of space. How are we to “enlarge God’s kingdom” if we can’t even include them in these activities?

I have served and attended 6 different churches in North America. With the exception of college churches (with a high-turn over rate), each one has experienced a church expansion.  One of the churches acquired a commercial building and was planning on renting out the top floor, but even that was occupied in less than 5 year’s time! After 10 years they were mortgage free and was able to plant new churches. They even started another loan to purchase another church.  Church expansion is obviously God’s blessing and a great opportunity to enlarge His kingdom!

  1. The offering of temple building: However, in order to build His temple, the congregation must be willing to make offerings.  King David, in his provision to his son Solomon to build the temple, said “ But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are aliens and strangers in your sight…Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope…I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity….keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.” ( I Chronicles 29:14-19)

In this short prayer by King David, we see four principles in kingdom building: 1) cheerful giving ( a married couple must be on the same page). 2) recognize that all that we have comes from the Lord. This includes our work opportunities, talents and strength. 3) acknowledge that we are strangers and aliens on this earth, that our dwelling is temporary. 4) we need to be loyal towards God and be rooted in integrity. We need to evaluate our attitude towards money and towards God. Jesus said “ For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “ (Matthew 6:21)

God has given us numerous teachings about building his temple in the Bible. We are to experience inner cleansing through the external participation of kingdom expansion. May we prove to be good stewards of what God has given us. That our inner spiritual state is reflected in the way we handle this new building project. That God is given his rightful place in our lives, as the sovereign, glorious Lord and Savior!