God's Building

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My neighbor’s house was built out of straw bales. For a year, its progress through my kitchen window was my entertainment while I washed dishes. Watching a building rise up where there was none before is fascinating.

The Scriptures show me that I am not alone in that fascination. Jesus’s disciples marveled at the stones of the temple, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” Jesus’s reply shocked them: “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Peter would later use the imagery of a building to explain what God is doing in the church. Though the stones of Herod’s temple would indeed be thrown down, it was part of God’s plan:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
In the same Psalm where the people sang, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” they were also taught that “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118.26, 1 Peter 2.7).

The destruction of the temple would follow the rejection of God’s cornerstone, but it was part of God’s plan for an even greater building:
"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2.4-5)

We who are in Christ are the stones of God’s building, still under construction. We, like Christ, are rejected by men but selected by God. This imagery speaks volumes to believing Jew and Gentile alike. Jews no longer need priests and sacrifices to be acceptable to God, they form the temple itself. Gentile believers, new to this history, find their place in God’s eternal blueprint. They are no longer excluded. They, too, are precious stones in God’s spiritual house.

In Revelation we find a vision of the building in its ultimate fulfillment. God’s people, Jew and Gentile together, form “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb,” a new Jerusalem where “on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed” (21.12). “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (21.14).

May the biblical imagery of the stones of the temple awaken our imaginations to the vision of God’s eternal plan as we find our own appointed places as God’s chosen and precious stones in the building he is raising up for his eternal worship and glory.

(This article was originally published at www.chicogb.com.)


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