By Max Strange
We begin with God’s creative work of the heavens and the earth. God’s speaks and creates. There it stands, a newly created Universe without form and order and in steps Word and Spirit to conquer darkness void. In a pre-redemptive way, God saves the Universe from this dark chaos. His victory march began as soon as He spoke. From the opening creational conquest, God then moves in to create a habitation. He moves from triumph to house-building. He creates a garden-temple and places man within it as His “princely gardener and priestly guardian” (54). And when the seventh day arrived, God stepped into His own creation palace and enthroned Himself as Victor of His cosmic house with heaven as His throne and the earth as His footstool (Is. 66:1). On planet Earth, Eden had become the first physical house-building where man could freely worship His Creator in perfect peace, joy, security, and love with heaven as the invisible house-dwelling of God. Heaven and Earth were touching and a great kingdom plan had been launched. God’s glory would begin in Eden and fill the Earth with those who had the divine stamp of the imago de. This creational pattern of house-building continues on in redemptive history.
Because of the Fall of Adam, the door was shut from this garden-house and Adam and all his descendants were evicted from the original house-building project. Nonetheless, God began to reveal Himself and disclose that a new house-building was underway where people could come in through another “Door” and into a new House with new hearts.
In Genesis 28, we hear of Jacob’s vision of this house-building. In this vision, heaven and earth meet again by a curious ladder. This awesome place is said of by Jacob as “none other than the house of God…and the gate of heaven” (v. 10-22).
Tracing the house-building further, we notice that God gives another indication in Exodus 25:8, that a house-building sanctuary, like in Eden, was an upcoming attraction. It tells us that it will be in a sanctuary where He would once again “dwell in their midst.”
Next, Moses and the Israelites make a portable sanctuary soon after the Exodus victory. God’s glory filled this mobile home. God’s royal residence was back in the midst of His people by way of this transportable house. God moved back to the center of His chosen people (Ex. 40:34-38).
Continuing on, we find David’s desire to build a more settled home for God (1 Chron. 28:2). Instead of a portable sanctuary, David wished to build a fixed Temple. This grand house-building would be the citadel where God’s glory and Name would rest. As the LORD’s servant, David completes his conquest of the enemies and expands the kingdom. After victory, comes the desire to build a house. In God’s sovereign plan, He had already designed to establish a house through David, and that from him would emerge an everlasting kingdom. However, this house would not be the reality of all that God was bringing about. The great “Solomon’s Temple” was the very apex of Israel’s history and the glory of God filled its quarters, and yet it was still only a shadow for another house-building creation. A Greater Tabernacle would soon be fixed at the center of a people and that a kingdom of priests would bring God’s creational Word to the ends of the earth. God’s divine house-building was soon to come (2 Sam. 7:11-16; 1 Ki. 8:1-11).
In John 1:14, we are told that after thousands of years of house-building in various forms, the true tabernacle had arrived in a person. His name is Jesus Christ. Every echo and every foreshadow found its point of reference at Jesus Christ. He claimed that the entire Old Testament was about Him, even the temple itself (John 5; Luke 24; Jn. 2:19). Looking back, Eden was the place where God and man met. Like in Eden, God stepped into His creation and became, in His very nature, the place where God and man meet again. This all happens in Jesus Christ.
After the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, He is enthroned in heaven as victor over sin and death. With every triumphal conquest of the LORD, must come the house-building. God sends the Spirit of Christ to tabernacle within the people (Acts 2). The Spirit indwells God’s elect and brings them into a new people called the Church. The New Testament calls it a household, built on a foundation, having a cornerstone, structured, joined together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord, built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22). Its occupants are “like living stones…” “Being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5-9). The people of God are called “the temple of the living God” as was promised: “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. 6:16). Jesus has become the Savior King who now rules His loyal subjects. He governs this new house with His new treaty document of the Word of the New Covenant, made effective by the indwelling Spirit.
This new house-building, the people of God-called the Church, are now to usher in the Kingdom of God by the gospel message. This is done by God and through His New Covenant people until the return of Jesus Christ. As each person is saved, He becomes a temple individually where the Spirit dwells, and is brought into the One New Man corporately. Once again, it is a house within a house. All of this meets full realization when heaven and earth once again merge in a new creational way. God will live with mankind again. Earth will not be His footstool, but His dwelling and He will be with His people forever. No physical temple will be needed for Christ will be there. He is the True House and the True Door and all His people from all ages will be there.
House-building is found in the creation narrative and spills over and seeps into the Biblical accounts all the way to the end of the story, giving us strong evidence that the Old and New Testament treaty documents have continuity. It reveals God’s plan to incarnate Himself into the crux of His people individually and corporately. And ultimately, it reveals the true Tabernacle-King Jesus and His Kingdom come.