“God said to Jacob, ‘Arise and go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’ So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel’” (Genesis 35:1-3, ESV).
Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel, had a history with the place called Bethel. It was there, on his way to Padan-Aram to seek a wife and to escape from the vengeful Esau, that he slept using a stone for a pillow. During the night he saw a vision of a ladder or stair case going into heaven, with angels ascending and descending and God at the top. When he awoke he declared the place to be “the House of God” (Genesis 28:16) and named it accordingly. In Hebrew the name was “Bethel” whose meaning is “House of God.” Continue reading “Preparing to go to God’s house”
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it because it had been well built” (Luke 6:46-48)
A life lived without Jesus’ words is like a house without a foundation (Luke 6:49). Jesus’ words, which came from the Father (John 12:49), are truth (John 17:17), and truth sets men free (John 8:32). Continue reading “A House built on the rock”
“And again he entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that he was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And he preached the word to them. Then they came to him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where he was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying” (Mark 2:1-4 NKJV).
Some years ago while visiting churches in the mountains of Nepal I fell from the steps leading into the house in which I was spending several days. The floor level was two or three feet above the ground and the steps were makeshift at best – a few rocks stacked loosely on each other without mortar and without much level matching surface. My fall was not serious and I was uninjured, but as I sat on the ground catching my breath I saw one of the Church’s leaders taking apart the steps and beginning to level and relay them to be more secure. I thought at the time, “This is not his house (he was not actually even a resident of that village); what is he doing working on someone else’s house?” Continue reading “Whose house is it?”
It was the worst of times. Through fifty-five years, Manasseh did what was evil in the sight of Jehovah. Not only did he rebuild the high places which were used to worship the Baals, he even “built altars in the house of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 33:4). The depravity of Manasseh was seen in that “he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom” (2 Chronicles 33:6).
Manasseh’s degradation infected the people of Israel, and he “led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:9). Though Manasseh humbled himself and repented at the end of his life, the damage of his fifty-five years was immense. Continue reading “Lost in the Lord’s house”
Humans like the concrete realities. A stone or metal idol is better than an invisible God. The more impressive the religious sanctuary, the better people are supposedly reminded of the greatness of God. Signs of stability and success are house, vehicle, boat, the biggest widescreen available, the best and latest cellphone. People want things they can see and touch.
This human desire enters the church of God. Even things that may not be wrong of themselves can be wrong if they appeal to sight, rather than faith, 2 Corinthians 5.7. It is a real problem and one that ought to be exposed and discussed among us. Denominations have given in to it almost whole-hog. For a long time, what they do winds up having an influence among us. (And that’s a whole ‘nother discussion worthy of having.) Continue reading “A spiritual house”
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Kajoli is a widow with two children, living in a village in southern Bangladesh, near the Bay of Bengal. She lives in the house left to her by her husband’s parents, both now deceased. This old, wooden home is severely damaged by termites and decay and is unsafe and inadequate for her family. At the request of the local church, Christian families in the U.S. have made it possible for her house to be rebuilt and made safe by giving funds with which to buy materials. Members of her congregation have volunteered to provide the necessary labor. Continue reading “A Building from God”