NO WHERE TO LAY HIS HEAD
"You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?" declares the Lord of hosts, "Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house" ( Haggai 1:9).
I recently asked a group of Christians the following question:
"If you were shopping for a church today, what would you be looking for?"
The answers that were give were pretty much the typical list of features and benefits that believers look for in a church.
Good worship (singing and music)
Vibrant youth group
Strong preaching of the Word
Warm and loving people
Outreach to the lost
Helping the poor and disadvantaged
However, the problem with this list of features and benefits is that it is based upon a false assumption. It is based upon the assumption that the church is for you.
But the church is not for you. The church is for Jesus Christ!
So that He would have a house …
So that He would have a body …
So that He would have a bride …
This is the purpose of the Church. She is here to make Jesus Christ the Center, Radius, and Circumference of all things (Eph.1:9-12). The Church does not exist primary for people. The Church exists for God's eternal purpose - which is to express the fullness of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23).
Now, from that point of reference, what would you look for in a church? Simple. You would look for a group of people who were freely expressing the living Lord! You would look for a place (a people) where He feels comfortable. A place where He feels at home. A place where He can lay His head.
The House of the Lord
If there is one thread that is woven throughout the pages of scripture, it is the idea that God wants a house. You can see this everywhere you turn in both the Old and New Testaments.
In the garden of Eden we see a place where God wants to dwell with man. Noah's ark is another building project of God to rescue mankind from himself. Then, we see deeper pictures of God's desire to dwell in the Tabernacle of Moses. This is a clear prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. God wants a house where He can dwell.
Then we see the city of Jerusalem, a beautiful foreshadow of the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation. This is a city whose builder and maker is God. Abraham was searching for this city (Heb.11:10; 12:22,23; Gal. 4:26; Rev. 21:2).
This city is the place where the temple sits. The highest place in the city is Mt. Zion where the temple would be built. God gave David the plans and materials to build this house, but his son Solomon actually built it. The glory of God rested in this place and it became the center of all religious life for the nation of Israel. Is it obvious by now that God has always wanted a house? There is something that all of these shadows and types have in common; they were all on the earth! He wants to dwell on the earth. God wants to be Lord of both heaven and earth. However, Someone greater than the temple is here.
A House Not Made with Human Hands
In John chapter two Jesus went to the temple and turned over the tables of the money changers. The disciples remembered that it was written, "The zeal of your house shall devour Me", a quote from Ps. 69:9. He told the Jews that if the temple was destroyed He would raise it up in three days. But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
This is where everything changed. Jesus, in this one act and statement, was declaring that the physical temple was only a temporary shadow of the real house God wanted. No longer would the physical temple be the center. He would now be the Center and His body would be the temple. This is the real house of God. And, as Stephan preached, this house was not made with human hands (Acts 7:48-50).
The House in Bethany
One of the most beautiful examples of God's house in the New Testament is found in the town of Bethany, in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Here we see the One who had no where to lay His head, find comfort and rest. It was the closest to a physical home He found while here on earth.
Bethany was about two miles away from Jerusalem. And yet, our Lord never spent the night in Jerusalem. Even at times when he would spend the whole day in Jerusalem, he would return to Bethany at night to sleep. This shows us that a major shift had taken place. He no longer found rest in Jerusalem. Now, He found rest in a home in the little town of Bethany. He wanted to be with His friends. He wanted to be with those who loved Him.
This is a picture of the true house of God; His Church. He does not dwell in buildings made with human hands. He dwells in us! A place where he can relax and be comfortable. A place where he is free to express himself and be at rest. This is the kind of house He is looking for. He doesn't want a building and the religious system that goes along with it. He wants a home where He can be Himself. He wants to be received by his brothers and sisters and be expressed and loved in that kind of environment.
May God raise up little Bethanies all over this planet!