|Building Houses Of Worship |
GOD COMMANDS HIS people to build a temple in His name (Hag. 1:8 [8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD.]). In fact, since the time of God's ancient nation, Israel, the Temple otherwise called as the House of God, (Lk. 6:4 [4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."]) or House of prayer" (Mt. 21:13 [13 "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.' "]), has been a significant place for God's chosen people. It is here where God's people go to worship Him. King David said:
But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple." (Ps. 5:7, NKJV)
The temple was also the place where the ancient people of God asked for guidance from Him:
“I have asked the LORD for one thing; one thing only do I want: to live in the LORD’s house all my life, to marvel there at his goodness, and to ask for his guidance." (Ps. 27:4, TEV)
God commanded His ancient people to build His house
When the Israelites were still wandering in the desert on their way to Canaan, God commanded them through Moses to make a tabernacle for Him (Exo. 25:8-9). This tabernacle could be put up and be dismantled as they moved toward Canaan. God instructed them to use materials such as metals, textile fabrics, animal skins, wood, oil, and gems in making the tabernacle. God also gave the details of its measurements and appearance (Exo. 25:1-28, 35-40).
After the Israelites had finally settled in the land given to them by God, a permanent structure was built in His name. It was King David who first proposed the building of God's temple. But it was not until the reign of his son, Solomon that the temple was constructed (II Sam. 7:5, 12-13). For his part, King David prepared all the necessary materials in building the temple:
"Now for the house of my God I have prepared with all my might: gold for things to be made of gold, silver for things of silver, bronze for things of bronze, iron for things of iron, wood for things of wood, onyx stones, stones to be set, glistening stones of various colors, all kinds of precious stones, and marble slabs in abundance.
"Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver: Three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses; The gold for things of gold and the silver for things of silver, and of all kinds of work to be done by the hands of the craftsmen. Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the LORD? (I Chron. 29:2-5, NKJV)
The temple, which King David promised to build in God's name, was so magnificent because it was intended for God who is great (II Chron. 2:5). So, when it was time for King Solomon to build the temple, he ordered the builders to use only the finest materials that were prepared beforehand. It took seven years for Solomon to build the temple. Since then, the temple had become Israela permanent place for sacred serviced to God (II Chron. 2:4).
Reconstruction of the temple
Unfortunately, the temple, which Solomon built, was destroyed when Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, invaded Judah and later Jerusalem. The Babylonians took the treasures from the temple and brought them to the palace of Nebuchadnezzar in Babyon, while the Israelites were taken captives (II Chron. 36:5-8, 13-21). This took place in 586 B.C. (Smith's Bible Dictionary, p. 680).
However, at about 520 B.C., Cyrus, Emperor of Persia, ordered Zerubbabel, head of the tribe of Judah, to lead the Israelites in rebuilding the temple. The Book of Ezra, records how God touched the hearts of the Israelites that they were moved to reconstruct His temple.
When the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites?B>everyone whose heart God had moved prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and god, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god"(Ezra 1:5-7, NIV)
The temple in the Christian era
Apparently, the temple restored by the Israelites endured up to the time of Christ and His apostles. It was at this temple where Christ was presented by His parents in conformity with the Law of Moses (Lk. 2:22-24). It was also in this temple where Christ drove away people who sold their goods and made their money trade. He said to them, Take them out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" (Jn. 2:13-16, TEV). Inside the temple, the apostles were found teaching and preaching about the Lord Jesus Christ(Acts 5:42). The question that we should ask now is, does the temple still have relevance in our time? We should study this because there are those who oppose the building of houses of worship at present. They erroneously quote Acts 17:24, which states that God does not dwell in the temple built by man. They also claim that it is wrong to call the house of worship as the house of God by misquoting Cor. 6:16, which states that we are the temple of God.
Although in several occasions, the Iglesia ni Cristo or Church of Christ has made clarifications on this issue, we deem it necessary to present once again the stand of the Church in order to caution the unsuspecting who might be missed by false preachers.
First, the Church of Christ is not in error to call the house of worship built by God's people as the House of God.God, above all, declared that the temple is His house:
Now He said to me, It is your son Solomon who shall build My house and My courts" (I Chron.28:6, NKJV)
Furthermore, God called the temple “a house to dwell in" He said to Nathan, the prophet:
Go and tell my servant David, This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 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 with a tent as my dwelling" (II Sam. 7:5-6, NIV)
Aside from God, our Lord Jesus Christ also called the temple the “House of God" (Lk. 6:4). Certainly, God and the Lord Jesus Christ were not wrong to call the temple as the House of God or the house for Him to dwell in.
But why is it written in Acts 17:24 that God does not dwell in temples made by man’s hands? That God does not dwell in temples made by man’s hands means that the temple is not a place for Him to rest or dwell physically. God declared:
Thus says the Lord: Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest" (Is. 66:1, NKJV)
Which is it then that dwells in the house of worship or temple? It is the name of God that dwells there. God said:
“For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually."(II Chron. 7:16 NKJV)
In addition, God's glory dwells in His temple:
I love the house where you live, O LORD, the place where your glory dwells.? (Ps. 26:8, NIV)
Thus, it is biblical to call the temple or house of worship built by God's chosen people as the house of God, since His name and glory dwell in it. In a similar manner, it is also correct to teach that Christians are God's temple because God's spirit dwells in them (I Cor. 3:16).
We see no contradiction then if both man and house of worship were called temple of God by the Scriptures.
It is true that nowhere in the Bible did the apostles directly command the building of houses of worship, as our detractors argue. However, it is in the same way never stated in the Bible that the building of houses of worship in the Christian era is wrong. In fact, our Lord Jesus Christ, while referring to the building of the temple of God, prophesied that those who believe in Him will do even greater things. He said:
I am telling you the truth: whoever believes in me will do what I does, he will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father" (Jn. 14:12, TEV)
Certainly, building God's temple is a great task, as King David testified:
and the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods."(II Chron. 2:5, NKJV)
The building of houses of worship, therefore, is a great work that glorifies the Almighty.
The Church of Christ’s commitment to God’s house
Knowing the importance of building the house of God, the Church of Christ is fully committed in carrying out this commandment. At present, the Church has built thousands of houses of worship all over the world. The most prominent of which is the Central Temple along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City in the Philippines which was dedicated to God on July 27, 1984.
The continuing increase of Church membership all over the world creates the need for more houses of worship built by the Iglesia ni Cristo serve not only as significant landmarks indicating the presence of true Christians in every community but, most of all, serve as a clear manifestation of the Lord’s presence.
God's Message Magazine, Jan. 2003, 12-14
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