The Temple: All That Is In Your Heart - Part II
“Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD remains under curtains. Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in your heart; for God is with you” (I Chron. 17:1-2).
We should take a lesson from this which Nathan said to David. Both were great men of God; however, Nathan was wrong in telling David to “do all that is in your heart.” Neither one had prayed about the matter. They were presuming this was what the Lord wanted; however, presumption is never the thing to do.
We must pray about everything, whether it’s little or large. God is omniscient, meaning that He knows all things, past, present, and future. We, as human beings, are very much limited. We know very little about the past, very little about the present, and very little, if anything, about the future. So, we need to pray about everything and ask the Lord’s leading and guidance, never presuming that we know what He wants and desires. The example given us here proclaims the fact that even the godliest cannot know what the Lord wants without ardently seeking His face. Let us say it again because it is so very, very important. We must never presume that we know what the Lord wants. We must seek His face about everything, and to be sure, He has a perfect will as it regards every single thing, whether it be small or large. God’s ways are right, and they are right not simply because they are His ways, but because they are right. He knows the way through the wilderness, but we don’t!
God’s Unconditional Covenant With Israel
And it came to pass 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 me an house to dwell in: For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another. Wheresoever I have walked with all Israel, spoke I a word to any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to feed My people, saying, Why have you not built Me an house of cedars? Now therefore thus shall you say unto My servant David, Thus says the LORD of Hosts, I took you from the sheepcote, even from following the sheep, that you should be ruler over My people Israel: And I have been with you wheresoever you have walked, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a name like the name of the great men who are in the earth. Also I will ordain a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, and they shall dwell in their place, and shall be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness waste them anymore, as at the beginning, And since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. Moreover I will subdue all your enemies. Furthermore I tell you that the LORD will build you an house (I Chron. 17:3-10).
The Blessing Of The Covenant
As to how the Lord spoke to Nathan, we aren’t told; however, the main thing is that Nathan was in such a spiritual condition that God could speak to him. Regrettably, that isn’t the case with most.
The Hebrew marks the personal pronoun you in verse 4 as emphatic; you shall not build.
In verse 5, the Lord reminds David how surely and faithfully he has shared the pilgrim lot and unsettledness of His people.
Verse 7 records the price of admission into this house. It is trust in the slain lamb by the route of humility. As well, David was a shepherd, and the Lord Jesus Christ also would be a shepherd (Heb. 13:20).
Verse 9 proclaims God’s unconditional covenant with Israel; however, it must be stated that this unconditional covenant is unconditional only in the sense that God will bring the promises to pass irrespective. The only thing that is unconditional is the covenant itself. To come into the blessing of the covenant, one must meet its conditions, which are faith in Christ and what Christ has done at the Cross. Those Jews who do this will definitely dwell in the place ordained for them, which is the land of Israel. This includes all Jews who have accepted Christ before death and all those who will accept Him at the second coming.
The more complete fulfillment of this great promise awaits the coming of the Messiah (Isa. 9:6-7; Rom. 11:25-27).
A Place For Israel
What did the Lord mean when He spoke to David saying, “I tell you that the LORD will build you an house?”
As we have already stated, while a house most definitely was to be built, David was not the one who would build it. Emphatically, the Lord stated, “… you shall not build Me an house to dwell in.”
The idea of verses 5 and 6 is that the Lord had suffered whatever dwelling He had. We speak of the time during the wilderness, as well as the time of the judges and through the reign of Saul.
The idea is that Israel was very unsettled during that time. They had little sense of purpose or direction, a time frame, incidentally, which lasted several hundreds of years. So, to epitomize Israel’s condition during that time, the ark of the covenant was moved “from tent to tent” and “from one tabernacle to another.” In other words, whatever it was, in which the ark of the covenant was placed, was indicative of what Israel was at that time. For most of that particular time, Israel was out of the will of God. In fact, the time frame of the judges is fraught with rebellion against the Lord. And then, they jumped the gun, demanding a king when it was not time, and the result was Saul. Basically, they treated the ark of God with disdain simply because they were not functioning correctly; they were not functioning in the will of God; and they were not functioning as believers should function.
What Type Of House Does The Lord Have Now?
We should take a lesson from this. When you came to Christ, the Holy Spirit came into your heart and life to abide permanently (Jn. 14:16). Concerning this, Paul said: “Know you not that you are the temple of God (where the Holy Spirit abides), and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (I Cor. 3:16) (The Expositor’s Study Bible).
Is the temple in which He abides obedient? Is it subservient to the Lord? Is it, God forbid, filled with pollution?
The Lord didn’t leave Israel during those times of acute failure, and neither will He leave you; however, as is His dwelling place, so will you be!
It must be understood that the modern believer cannot make a fit house for the Lord without his faith being entirely in Christ and what Christ has done at the Cross. That sounds like a simple statement and, in fact, it is; however, that simple statement, faith in Christ and what He did for us at the Cross, exclusively lays waste all of man’s concoctions, schemes, efforts, and futile plans. Man doesn’t like that, so it is not easy for him to fully accept the Message of the Cross. However, if the believer is to have a proper house in which the Holy Spirit is to dwell, he can do so only by his faith in Christ and the Cross (Rom. 6:1-14; 8:1-11; I Cor. 1:17-18, 23; 2:2; Gal., Chpt. 5; 6:14; Eph. 2:13-18; Col. 2:14-15).
As we have stated, although David failed miserably at times, still, he was a type of Christ. Perhaps as a shepherd, his type did show greater than all. Jesus was and is the Great Shepherd—the Great Shepherd of the sheep. In fact, David learned how to be a “ruler over My people, over Israel” (II Sam. 7:8) by being a shepherd. The Lord made David a name by linking the name of Christ to David. In fact, our Lord would be referred to as the son of David, and there could be no higher honor shown to David, or any human being for that matter, than that of which we speak. Nothing is greater than being linked to Christ!
What kind of house would the Lord build David? This house would be his link to Christ. It will finally be realized in the coming kingdom age when Israel will at last accept Jesus as Saviour, Messiah, Lord, and Master. Then, this house of Israel will function under Christ as it was always intended to be. While the kingdom was offered to Israel at the first advent of Christ, as is obvious, they rejected it. They wanted the kingdom, but they didn’t want the king, i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, millions today want the kingdom, but they don’t want the king. Let the following be understood:
It is impossible to have the kingdom, or any part of the kingdom, unless one first of all has the king, and that king is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The truth is, we don’t build the Lord much of anything. He builds us a house.
The Building Of The House
The major problem with believers is that we try to build the house, which, in fact, we cannot do. Actually, it is impossible! And yet, the house must be built. Abraham tried to build the house through Ishmael. Jacob tried to build the house through his schemes. In fact, all of us have tried to build this house and found to our dismay that we were unable to do so. If the house is to be built, the Lord must build it. What do I mean by building the house?
I mean that we try to build righteousness and holiness within our hearts and lives. We try to effect our spiritual growth by our religious machinations. However, let it ever be understood that religious flesh is still flesh and is totally unacceptable to God (Rom. 8:8).
The believer cannot build his own house. In other words, he cannot make himself righteous or holy, no matter what he does. We cannot effect the growth of the fruit of the Spirit. Actually, as it regards living for God, i.e., building this house, we cannot do anything except provide to the Lord a willing mind and an obedient heart. The Lord alone can build the house.
How does He do such?
He does it by us placing our faith simply, clearly, and completely in Christ and the Cross, which then gives the Holy Spirit latitude to work within our lives, thereby, building the house (Rom. 8:1-11; Col. 2:10-15). Otherwise, it will be built on sand and will topple with the first difficulty that arises.
This article is an excerpt from the book 'The Temple' by Jimmy Swaggart.