Making Space for God's Presence
The Temple built in the time of king Solomon – the place signifying His presence among His people – was built on a very special location. Through exploring the history of that location, we are going to discover some powerful principles that will help you prepare yourself for God’s renewing work in you. We are active recipients of God’s grace and His presence in our lives. When we give God some space, His grace can flow freely. Through the way we live our lives, we can either swing the doors wide open for God’s presence to come in, or shut it and keep Him out.
Location, location, location
Remember the three laws of real estate?
Location. Location. Location.
In 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, we read about how the first Temple, which replaced the movable Tabernacle, was built. It was a mighty structure, and beautifully decorated with gold, the finest timber and material. No costs nor efforts were spared to build God a home among His people.
We’re going to reflect a bit on the location of this Temple. Because it wasn’t built at a random location, but a location loaded with history and meaning.
2 Chronicles 3:1-2 (NLT)
So Solomon began to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David, his father. The Temple was built on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the site that David had selected. The construction began in midspring, during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign.
On this very location, two prominent people in Israel’s history – Abraham and King David, had a profound encounter with God.
We’re going to explore these two stories briefly, and discover what they say about welcoming God’s work in your life today.
Abraham on Mount Moriah
In Genesis 22 we encounter a story that is very odd, but carries a wonderful prophetic meaning.
Genesis 22:1-2 (NLT)
Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”
Ok. Pause for a second. Take a deep breath.
This is weird, right? Yes. This is out of character for God, right? Yes, it is. We know that God wouldn’t ask anyone to do this. Child sacrifice is a horrible thing and God hates it. So why these instructions?
Well, what you and I know now about God’s character and the way we worship Him, Abraham didn’t know. At this moment in history, Abraham was one of the very few people with a revelation of who God really is. Abraham came from Mesopotamia – which would later be known as Babylon, and we know as Iraq today. God called him out of that country with the promise of a new land and a new people that would come out of Abraham – a people under God’s blessing, protection and purpose. In the land Abraham came from, child sacrifice was normal. Some of their gods – they had many – would demand things like this.
Now, what Abraham doesn’t know at this point, is that God is testing his obedience to Him, and that God will reveal Himself to Abraham as a God that would never ever ask something like this from people, but would one day, sacrifice His own Son – Jesus Christ – so that His grace and forgiveness could touch our lives.
So, Abraham takes Isaac – his miracle child that he had been waiting for all of his life – along to this Mount Moriah, but as he is lifting is knife, getting ready to do the unthinkable, God stops him and reveals that this was a test. God provides a ram that should be sacrificed instead. This is a powerful prophetic occasion that points forward to Jesus being the replacement sacrifice.
And then the angel of the Lord speaks to Abraham.
Genesis 22:15-18 (NLT)
Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”
In this story and on this location, two important things happened:
It was a location of obedience – God asks Abraham to bring the ultimate sacrifice and offer something up that embodied everything that was good in Abraham’s life. Isaac was the fulfilment of everything God had promised – but God wanted to know if Abraham could trust Him enough to give it all up.
It was a location of sacrifice – God provides an alternative sacrifice. It is a prophetic revelation of God’s grace and forgiveness that we would later receive because Jesus, God’s Only Son gave His life for us.
It was a location of worship – Abraham showed his readiness to subject every area of his life in worship to God.
David on the Threshing Floor
Ok, now on to the second story about this location. Quick warning: it’s equally odd and hard for us to understand, but also, equally powerful and prophetic.
One day, King David decides that he wants to know how many people are in his kingdom. He orders a census to be taken. Seems like a normal king-thing to do, right? Nothing special going on here. A king should know these things and get an understanding of their capacity for war…
Wrong. God had explicitly forbidden for rulers to take a census like this. Everyone around David is against it, even Joab, the commander of his armies. That should have been a clue for David, right?
The census is taken, but David realizes that he has sinned against the Lord and willingly disobeyed God’s command. As a result, a plague hits the land and many people die because of it. An angel of the Lord appears to David – on the threshing floor of Araunah, which is located on Mount Moriah - and there a prophet tells David that he needs to build an altar and bring a sacrifice and then the plague will stop.
David obeys and buys the threshing floor, builds an altar and sacrifices there, and the plague stopped. Araunah offered to give David the piece of land, but David refuses this, because he is guilt struck and knows in his heart that he needs to make a personal sacrifice.
2 Samuel 24: 22-25 (NLT)
“Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.”
But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver[f] for the threshing floor and the oxen. David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
So, this historic event gives addition meaning to this location:
It is a location of obedience – David realized how he has been disobedient and prideful. Through the events taking place, he is filled with fear and awe for God again and recommits to rely fully on God and worship Him.
It is a location of sacrifice – David specifically says that he wants to bring a sacrifice that really costs him something. This sacrifice stopped the punishment for his sin. For us, reading the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament, we realize that this also was a prophetic occasion, helping us to understand how a sacrifice takes away judgment, and gives room for grace and forgiveness.
It was a location of worship – along with guilt offerings, David also brought burnt offerings, which were typically offerings expressing worship and thankfulness.
A place of God’s presence
So, through this brief reflection on both of these profound events to key characters in the history of Israel and the genealogy of Jesus, we learned that the location of Solomon’s Temple was a place of obedience, sacrifice and worship.
Why is this important? Well, that Temple was God’s home among His people, the place of His rest and rule. For the people of God, the Temple was the center point of the whole universe. It symbolized that God was with His people and working among them.
I believe that, in the same way, God wants to erect new Temples of His presence on locations of our obedience, sacrifice and worship.
I believe that God longs to do a new work in your life today. Your life can become a place of His presence. You may experience His rest and His blessing. And through His presence in your life, others may encounter God as well.
Your life as a place of obedience, sacrifice and worship
If it is your longing to see God more at work in you. If you long for God to set up camp in your life, then consider how you can create space for Him through obedience, sacrifice, worship.
Every time we walk in obedience to God’s instructions – even if the road leads into the unknown – we are opening the door for God to bless us.
Blessing always follows obedience. God tested Abraham and He obeyed – and God blessed him abundantly for it.
Ask yourself: “am I walking in obedience to God? What areas of my life are not subjected to His lordship yet? Where am I withholding God from pouring out His blessing?”
When we give up something that is dear to us, but we know God is asking us to lay it down at His feet, trusting that He will provide whatever it gave us. Through that sacrifice, we are creating a holy space. That place of sacrifice, becomes a place of blessing and providence.
What has God been asking you to put on the altar? Control maybe? Or a financial commitment? Maybe some time and attention. Whatever it is, if you know that God is asking you to give it up, He will provide again in abundance whatever it is you thought the thing you’re sacrificing was giving you.
Every time we worship God we are welcoming His presence in our lives. It doesn’t matter where or how we worship. In the car, on your knees, with a loud voice or in the silence of prayer, alone or together with other. God loves to be in a location where He is worshiped.
We were created to worship. It’s in our DNA. And if it is not God that we worship, we will direct our worship somewhere else. But only God is worthy of our worship. Worship Him with your song and in the silence.
Worship Him with your whole life, every moment of every day. It will become a doorway for God’s presence in your life.
So, in closing, here are a few questions you can ask yourself that will help you to digest this message and apply it to your life.
Am I walking in obedience to God daily? What is an area of my life I have not subjected to His lordship yet?
What has God been asking me to put on the altar? Do I trust that He will provide again what I’m giving up?
How can I feel my life with worship? What would that look like?