Houses vs. palaces...

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In Exodus 20:23-25 God tells Moses to warn the people of Israel that they are not to fashion gods of silver or gold for themselves. He then immediately goes on to say that altars to Him should be made of earth, or if of stone, uncut stone because by wielding their tools on His altar they will profane it.

Can we miss the relevance of this passage for our church houses today--and for our methods of preaching the Word? The danger of mistaking human craft and opulence with the glory of God is no smaller today than in the days of Moses. And lest we forget, God commanded that the place of His worship be a tabernacle rather than a cathedral, a house rather than a palace.

Consider God's response in 1 Chronicles 17:1-15 after Nathan prematurely assured David that God was pleased with his desire to build Him a house:

It came about the same night that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, “Go and tell David My servant, ‘Thus says the LORD, “You shall not build a house for Me to dwell in; for I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up Israel to this day, but I have gone from tent to tent and from one dwelling place to another. “In all places where I have walked with all Israel, have I spoken a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people, saying, ‘Why have you not built for Me a house of cedar?’ ” ’ 

God goes on to say, in essence, "Who do you think you are to build a house for Me, David? I'm the builder of your house. I give to you. You can't give to me in the measure that I give to you. Don't even try. "

The Puritans were on to something when they constructed their church homes in the wood-framed vernacular of the house rather than the dressed stone vernacular of the palace. Despite the professions of adoration for God that accompany the building of cathedrals, man is more elevated in cathedrals than God.

Simple rather than ornate. Child-like rather than sophisticated. Parables rather than philosophies. The foolishness of Christ crucified rather than the wisdom of man. These are the ways of God among men which our ways should reflect as His children.

Of course, opulence and artifice in the preaching of the Word are equally repugnant to God. Men who think they glorify God by replacing preaching to the Church in the unedited flesh with the exalted medium of video are building with dressed stone and will bear their reproach.

(DB)