Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? (Isaiah 66:1)
Every single aspect of our Christian lives has two perspectives – our perspective and God’s perspective. With all the distractions, pressures, trials and temptations we encounter on a daily basis, it’s easy to limit the view to our perspective. We remind ourself constantly of ‘Christ in us,’ and this is entirely correct. It is only Christ in us that is our ‘hope of glory.’ It is the truth that helps us through, provides strength, faith, wisdom and courage. Christ in us is indeed the very source of life in both the little things and the large.
In the midst of this, while holding fast to a wonderful truth as we ought to do, we may lose sight of another equally wonderful and challenging truth. ‘Christ in us’ has another purpose, one established from the very beginning of eternity. The oneness we have with God through His indwelling presence transforms us from our fleshly human condition into a holy temple for a holy God.
Consider the Lord’s prayer for a moment. It is one we all know well, and we pray it many times. But let’s pause on that one phrase: ‘Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.’ In praying this we are, in essence, looking to the day that the Kingdom of God will be finally established on earth with Christ as our glorious King. There can be no doubt as to the validity of this prayer, and it is the hope and encouragement of every believer that we shall one day see the Kingdom of God come in glory.
But today’s verse highlights a critical truth to every believer. Our God first reminds us of His indisputable power and glory. He establishes His sovereignty and puts both the lofty heights of heaven and the entire creation in proper perspective. But then He issues a startling challenge: ‘Where is the house that you will build Me?’ Think for a moment of 1Peter 2:5 where he tells us that ‘you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house.’ When we pray ‘Your kingdom come on earth,’ we are essentially praying in agreement with this verse.
The purpose of Christ in us is not only to be the anchor and source of our life, but to be the cornerstone of God’s holy temple – the temple He intends us to be, a dwelling place for Him on earth. We see the types of this in both the wilderness tabernacle and in the earthly temple, which created a place for the presence of God to dwell among His people. From the intricate and detailed instructions given in the building of these holy places, we can deduce that God is very particular as to the nature and form of His dwelling place, His place of rest.
We can also clearly see that He desires to have a permanent place on earth, a precursor to the full revelation of the Kingdom of God in the future. While it is absolute truth that this glorious event is future, the startling truth is that our God desires that His Kingdom come to earth now. To do that, He requires a dwelling place, a holy temple. Each and every single believer is exactly that. Obviously, we are far from holy. It is only Christ in us that affords us any chance at the righteousness and holiness God demands. Just as clearly, we’re all ‘under construction.’ The temple is far from finished, but in His grace, He presences Himself in us in order to do the work Himself.
This is a startling and challenging truth. We often glibly pray things without considering their full implications. The Lord’s prayer, as we know it, is a familiar and comforting prayer and we are absolutely right to pray it. But we should do so with a full awareness of what we are praying for. When we say ‘let Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’ we are essentially giving Him full permission to do whatever He wishes in us and in our lives in order to shape us into His temple. That’s pretty much like giving Him carte blanche.
We would do well to remember the detailed and absolute instructions issued for the building of the Old Testament dwelling places of God. Nothing could be changed, amended, altered or even slightly compromised. The materials had to be exactly as He commanded. Every single detail was provided in advance. Shape, design, colour, texture and materials were pre-ordained. The workmen were allowed absolutely no say as to what and how, where or when. It was all God, from beginning to end.
The parallel is abundantly clear. In the ‘building’ of His temple, He alone has the right to prescribe every detail of it. He determines what is needed where and when, how best to shape it and mold it according to His final purpose. I don’t doubt that any of us would dispute this sovereign right. It is, after all, His temple. But are we really willing to lay down everything, to set aside our desires, hopes, dreams, weaknesses – and even our strengths, skills, talents and experiences – and simply ‘let God?’
He takes our prayers very literally, and we should be thankful that He does. How else could we have faith in the answers? But literal applies to everything, not only to the things we need or desire. Jesus Himself warned that we should carefully count the cost lest we find ourselves unable to meet the obligations. God desires that His Kingdom come on earth – not just in the future, but right now, in His people, His temple. It is a desire so strong that He sent His Son to redeem us, to transform us into living stones.
So, with all this in mind, when we pray ‘let Your Kingdom come’ we can be absolutely sure that God will take us at our word. I don’t suggest that we cease praying this. Rather, we should pray it fervently, daily, moment by moment, because this is the will of God in and through and for us. But we should do so knowing the full implications. When we say ‘let Your will be done’ we must know and expect that this does not only apply to our single need. It applies to us. It applies to everything. We cannot say ‘let Your will be done, but only in this and that, I’m keeping the rest aside for myself.’
I’m sure that all of us have prayed along these lines, and then wondered why ‘all hell breaks loose.’ I use the expression deliberately, because that is often exactly what happens, though there isn’t space in this devotional to examine all that entails. The reason is because we’ve essentially said ‘whatever’ and God has taken us at our word. He has taken our prayer literally, and will do whatever it takes to answer it fully. We rejoice in the fact that God never does anything by halves. His work is complete and perfect, and this one of the reasons for our faith. We can be sure, then, that He will also move to accomplish His desire the moment we ask Him to do so.
This is the ultimate challenge to every believer – where is the house that we will build Him? Are we willing to lay aside all, to offer ourselves as the living stones? Are we willing to surrender and yield, whatever trials and difficulties that may bring? Are we willing to allow God to do whatever it takes to build the house? These are not easy questions, an they may well highlight the areas in our lives where we have not given God permission to shine His light. Are we building the house as we think it should be?
Psalm 127 says: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;’ The building of it is God’s right alone. Our part is to weigh the cost, and then to yield in joy and thanksgiving that the holy God of heaven has determined to make us His forever dwelling place.
Lord God, creator and sustainer of all, forgive us for holding back. Forgive us for praying without thought and then complaining when You answer as You must. Help us to see the full truth of Your Word, to pray according to Your will with joyful hearts. Draw us to that place where we yield to Your grace and perfect will, where Your Kingdom may come in us as You desire for Your eternal glory and the revelation of You as You really are.