God has an eternal purpose. Ephesians 3:11 makes this very clear. He has desired something for forever, is gaining what He is after today, and will have it to enjoy for all eternity.
A popular view in Christianity today is that God’s purpose is the redemption of man. However, when we look at Genesis 1 and 2 (before the fall) and Revelation 21 and 22 (after the completion of God’s salvation), there is a much larger purpose revealed. Man did not always need to be redeemed. Only after the fall did he need this. This is not to downplay the redemption of man and the judicial work of Christ on the cross. Yet, we must see that redemption is God’s means to gain man that he might fulfill His purpose. We must see what God’s purpose is, why God redeemed us, and how our salvation is for the fulfillment of this purpose.
In my last post I talked about this purpose from the lens of the divine romance. Now I want to view it from the angle of God’s building.
God reveals in His Word that He desires a building, a dwelling place, and a house to rest in.
“Thus says Jehovah, ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth the footstool for My feet. Where then is the house that you will build for Me, and where is the place of My rest?'” (Isaiah 66:1)
God is currently without a resting place. In fact, you could even call Him homeless. His throne is in heaven and the earth is His footstool, but where is the place of His rest? This is why we were created. God reveals to us throughout the Word that He calls out man for the building of His dwelling place.
As mentioned earlier, it is easiest to see God’s purpose at the beginning (Genesis 1-2) and the end (Revelation 21-22). These are commonly referred to as the “book-ends” of the Bible and they are very revealing concerning God’s desire.This is due to the fact that man hadn’t fallen and Satan had no influence before Genesis 3, and Satan is destroyed and God’s purpose is complete after Revelation 20. Just like with the divine romance, God’s building is revealed early on and will be completed in the end.
The Book-ends Picture
In Genesis 2, a seemingly insignificant portion speaks concerning a river and some rocks:
“And a river went forth from Eden to water the garden…and the gold of that land is good; bdellium (pearl) and onyx stone (precious stone) are there…and Jehovah God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:10-15)
After the full revelation of the New Testament, these materials are seen as the material for God’s building. God’s finished dwelling place is revealed in Revelation 21 and the materials here in Genesis are the same!
“the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every precious stone…and the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was, respectively, of one pearl” (Rev. 21:18-21).
The gold, representing God the Father with His divine nature (Job 22:25; 1 Cor. 3:12; Rev. 3:18), is the primary material with which this building is made. The bdellium, which is a pearl-like substance from a tree according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, is the entrance into this building, representing the redeeming death and life-giving resurrection of Christ (Num. 11:7; Jn. 6:51; Phil.3:10; 1 Cor. 15:45) The onyx, which is a precious stone, symbolizes the Spirit in His transforming work (Jn.1:42; Matt.16:18; 1Pet. 2:5 ;Isa.54:11-12;1 Cor.3:12;).
This desire for a dwelling place for God continues throughout the Old Testament and the New.
Old Testament Types
God called out Noah from the corruption of the age and violence of the earth, commanding him to build the ark.
“Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make rooms in the ark and shall cover it within and without with pitch” (Gen. 6:14)
God saved the Israelites from Egypt and brought them to mount Sinai, instructing them to build Him a dwelling place.
“And let them make a sanctuary for Me that I may dwell in their midst; according to all that I show you, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, even so shall you make it” (Ex. 25:8-9)
God brought the children of Israel into the good land and desired a building in their midst, which Solomon built for Him.
“Solomon began to build the house of Jehovah…and finished it” (1 Kings 6:1-14)
Even with the temple however, God was not satisfied. It only was a type of the building to come, who’s Architect and Builder is God Himself (Heb. 11:10).
Fulfillment in Christ
In John, God’s building undergoes a change in its identity, with Christ manifesting Himself as the new tabernacle or the place where God now dwells as His building. John 1:14 says that “the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.”
The fact that Christ is God’s dwelling place in His incarnation is further confirmed in John 2:
“And to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away from here; do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise.'” (John 2:16)
“‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Then the Jews said, ‘This temple was built in forty-six years, and You will raise it up in three days?’ But He spoke of the temple of His body” (John 2:19-20)
As the Church
The Father’s house, which was the temple in v. 16, became Christ’s body in v.20! This is incredible, especially after the revelation of the church and what we are to Christ. See if you are connecting what I see here:
“the church, which is His Body” (Eph. 1:22-23)
We are Christ’s Body! We are now the Father’s house! The reality of all the Old Testament types and figures of God’s house are now found in the church. In case you still don’t see how we are God’s house from these verses, I’ll give you the plain and obvious verses to prove it (though they aren’t as much fun as seeing it this way…):
“In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit” (Eph. 2:22).
“For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16)
“the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and base of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15)
“But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house, whose house we are” (Heb. 3:6)
“You yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5)
Fulfillment of Isaiah Prophecy
I hope you are now convinced that we are the house of God, His own building, His very dwelling place! In fact, this makes perfect sense that it is in man, specifically the believers, that God has chose to make His house and place of rest. This is what was spoken after the revelation of this desire mentioned earlier in Isaiah:
“Where is the house that you will build for Me, and where is the place of My rest? For all these things My hand has made, and so all these things have come into being, declares Jehovah. But to this kind of man will I look, to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:1-2)
So God’s desire to build His house was prophesied to be carried out in man, and by the time of the church, we begin to see the fulfillment of this prophesy. All of the buildings in the Old Testament typified Christ and the church to come.
The church will be completely built up in the end, as symbolized by the New Jerusalem. Some think this city is an actual material building and that God is planning on putting a big golden cube on earth for He and us to live in forever, but once we see God’s building, it makes more sense. See how John describes this city:
“And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2).
This shows that this isn’t a material building, but is rather the bride of Christ and the dwelling place of God! To confirm this, I’d just appeal to Revelation 1:1 that tell us the things made known in this book were “made known by signs”.
I know that I’ve rambled on here for quite some time, but I think this is an often missed fact in Christianity and we must see that we, as the corporate body of Christ, are God’s dwelling place (Eph. 1:22-23, 2:22). God is transforming us today through His Spirit into living stones, fitting us together into a spiritual house for Him. Hallelujah we are God’s house! And in fact, God is our dwelling place (Jn. 14:20-23, 15:4)! So we just need to mutually abide, God in us and us in God. And we must be built up with others that God could gain His corporate dwelling place in the church (Eph. 4:16; 1 Pet. 2:5).