Stewards of Privilege

Stewards of Privilege

Recently, it was my privilege to participate in the dedication of two churches within the Union territory. In both instances the services were quite impressive and revealing to the extent that I have been reminded of God’s plans for erecting sanctuaries. In this regard, I wish to make a few observations that have been riveted in my mind.

A Privilege to Construct God’s Church
In Exodus 25:8, God instructs His followers to erect a sanctuary so that He may dwell with them. Looking closely at the context, one will notice in verse 9 that the Israelites were instructed to build according the “pattern” given them. So God provided a pattern, but He does not appear to supply any funding. Wasn’t that asking too much? Given the apparent observation, can it really be argued that it is a privilege of church members to construct church buildings? When we fully understand the expressed wish of God to “dwell” with His people, we will recognize that it is an honor to have God "set up tent on a permanent basis." Though 1 Kings 8:27 clarifies that no earthly temple can contain God, yet He, God, chose to dwell with mankind.

A Privilege to Finance God’s Temple
Notwithstanding the rare privilege of having God dwell with His people, doesn't it seem to be a bit much to require a group of recently released slaves to construct a temple without providing the funding? From a surface reading of the passage, that would appear to be the case. However, within the context of Exodus 11:2, a clearer understanding is presented. In fact, it shows that in anticipation of the instruction to erect the temple, God made prior plans to fund the same. Before His people left Egypt, God directed them to ask their neighbors for “articles of silver and articles of gold.” Therefore, in Exodus 25:2, He requests that offerings be given willingly for the construction of His church. In a remarkable sense, the people responded readily, not with just articles of silver and gold but also with the use of their talents for the building of the temple. They gave so much that, according to Exodus 36:4-7, the supervisors had to request of Moses to have the people desist from giving any more offering. Now that is hard for some of us to imagine, as it seems just the opposite today, but folk saw it as their privilege to fund the construction of God’s temple; and therefore, they responded willingly and profusely.

When We Fail to Embrace the Privilege
When one fails to embrace the privilege and ignore God’s counsels, the cause of God suffers. To explain: churches take “forever” to build and ministries are limited because of a spirit of selfishness. In Malachi 3:8, God enjoins His people to give so “that there may be meat in mine house.” Additionally, when there is unwillingness to heed God's instructions, the church is prone to idolatry as the church represents God’s presence. As God's people assemble for worship each Sabbath, He meets with them, and they are reminded of His presence, love and salvation. Thereby there is not the inclination to engage in idolatry.

Also, when there is an avoidance of God’s plan, the church of God appears to be less
representing Him; and essentially, the world gets the wrong impression of God and His church. It would seem to some that Christians do not have a real and providing God.
It is our privilege to build but more so to dwell in the presence of God. The scriptures make it clear that God wants to be with us. In addition to Exodus 25:8, this is seen in John 1:14 and Revelations 21:1-4 where it states, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God." What a privilege!