Thought for Thursday

Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, as saith the prophet. Acts 7:48

A good many years go, during a family tour of the north shore and Acadian peninsula of New Brunswick, we noticed the many quaint villages that we passed through. What stood out about those villages was that despite the obvious poverty of the little homes that were there, a large and ornate church building always occupied the centre of the community. Often made of stone and featuring white marble statues and high sweeping spires, these are impressive structures indeed! Visitors and tourists often wonder how such poor communities could ever afford to erect such grandiose churches. For a couple of hundred years and more, the Roman Catholic church has extracted from those villagers every bit of money it could to ensure that they could build a suitable house in which God would dwell. This organization’s approach is common worldwide, but Rome is not alone. Temples and shrines and cathedrals and basilicas and more adorn places throughout the world, all to provide God a house. And all for naught, according to our text today.

In his sermon to the Jewish leaders, Stephen is referring to Isaiah 66:1, a portion that those leaders knew well. But those Jews were occupied with the temple, and the tabernacle before it, in which God dwelt among His earthly people. But with the arrival of the Messiah, of whom those houses spoke, the need for a physical house or temple was no longer valid. There is instead a house for God in the hearts of His people, in the assembling of those who gather in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is where the Most High dwells today.

Our text brings before us the truth of Matthew 18:20. In humility, we accept the reality that our Lord has no interest in the great religious architecture of this world but has great interest in the simple and Scriptural gatherings of sinners who have been saved by His grace. Just as the Old Testament houses had plans that were given by God, plans that must be completed in perfect detail before God took up residence, so the New Testament house must also conform to God’s plan before His presence is possible. The great structures of religion have within their walls many unscriptural practices and unsaved people. As such, there is no possibility of God’s presence. In contrast, as God’s Assemblies practice only what the Word of God teaches and all of what the Word of God teaches, and as our company includes only those who know and appreciate Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, He will dwell among us.

Our twos and threes might not look like much to the world, in contrast to their magnificent structures, but they are so precious to our Lord that He delights to dwell among us. – Jim MacIntosh

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