I Love Your House, O Lord

August 6, 2017

When we respond to the call to seek the Lord, we always tend to seek him in his temple though we know that he is everywhere – in our homes, workplaces, schools, etc. We associate his presence with where his glory dwells. It is for this reason that we go to church to meet with him. Even King David had the same attitude as he uttered, “I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells” (Psalm 26:8). He was referring then to the tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was. It was the presence of God that made him love the tabernacle. He further expressed his longing for the presence of the Lord when he said, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). The beauty of the Lord is in his works – the signs, wonders and miracles that he performs day and night in the midst of the congregation. He does wonderful things and these draw us close to him.

But what does the House of the Lord truly signify? Firstly, it signifies the Gate of Heaven. When Jacob was running away from his brother Esau, he spent a night in a place where he dreamt of a stairway that went to heaven. When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:16-17). The House of the Lord is the gate of heaven in that it is where believers congregate to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord. The door is about to open and we need to wait patiently. This truth was well illustrated in the Parable of the Ten Virgins. The ten virgins were waiting at the gate but five of them were foolish and did not have enough oil for their lamps. After they left the gate to buy oil, the bridegroom suddenly came. The wise virgins went in and the door was shut. When the foolish ones came back and knocked at the door, the bridegroom said, “'I tell you the truth, I don't know you” (Matt. 25:12). Therefore, let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves, especially as the coming of the Lord draws near. Let us encourage one another as we wait at the House of the Lord.

Secondly, the House of the Lord signifies the House of Prayer. After cleansing the temple of merchants, Jesus said, "Is it not written:  'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers’"(Mark 11:17). Foremost, the House of the Lord is where believers congregate to pray. To do otherwise is to defile the temple of its holiness. The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector tells us the importance of going to church to pray. The Pharisee went to church not to pray to God for mercy but to praise himself. He said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” On the other hand, the tax collector prayed, “'God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:11-13). And Jesus said that the tax collector went home justified.

Thirdly, the House of the Lord is the Lord’s Storehouse. In Malachi 3:10, we are told that we need to bring our tithes and offerings to the storehouse of the Lord. If we obey this command, we can test the Lord and he will pour out such a blessing that there will be no room to contain it – i.e. the blessings will overflow and we shall then be a blessing to others. However, there is another storehouse that we can build but will not overflow. This was presented in the Parable of the Rich Fool. The man kept building storehouses to store his blessings, instead of letting them overflow to bless others. He said to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:19-20). Therefore, bring your tithes to the storehouse of the Lord and let the overflow of your blessings bless others – give and it will be given back to you in good measure.  

Therefore, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong” (Eccl. 5:1). Let us approach God in humility and offer the right sacrifices. Let us not be like the five foolish virgins who left the gate and missed the chance to enter when it opened, or the Pharisee who went into the temple to praise himself rather than praying for God’s mercy and grace, or even the rich fool who kept accumulating riches for himself instead of sharing the overflow of his blessings to others. Be expectant of God’s blessings when you come to the House of the Lord. In fact, better is one day in the House of God than a thousand elsewhere. Hallelujah!