The Church is Still the Church
“Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory” (Psa 63:2).
David wrote that while on the run in the wilderness. It was a terribly difficult time, but he was still able to take comfort in these thoughts. While the temple had not been built, David would have thought of the tabernacle and perhaps imagined what a future temple would look like. Thinking about the power and glory of God in His sanctuary helped David get through a very difficult time in his life.
In Psalm 27:4, David wrote,
“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.”
When David was delivered from his enemies, he could write:
“I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psa 18:1-2)
The dwelling of God is a powerful thought. This is about the presence of God, which provides comfort and a refuge in the time of storms.
“For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.” (Psa 27:5)
When we face trial and trouble, think on the presence of God as found in His sanctuary. Remember that “the Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5). Recall that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psa 46:1).
“But,” one might think, “we don’t have God’s temple today. That has long been destroyed.”
Oh, yes we do have God’s temple today, and the same sense of comfort and refuge can be found therein. This sanctuary, however, is not fabric and a tent. This sanctuary is not wood and gold. This sanctuary is far more precious, and it does indeed show forth the power and glory of God.
God’s people are the sanctuary of God now:
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Eph 2:19-22)
The church, the people of God, are the living stones being built up into His temple (1 Pet 2:5). The church shows the wisdom, power, and glory of God. God “created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph 3:9-10). Ephesians is all about this.
In a present distress, when saints cannot assemble as normal, or when they feel deep isolation, we need to remember that the church is still the church, and God’s people still show forth God’s wisdom. The people of God are still God’s sanctuary, and this never changes regardless of what the circumstances may be. We are blessed to live in a time that allows us to maintain contact and seek each other’s well-being even though apart. The church isn’t the building in which we normally meet. The temple is no longer stationed in Jerusalem. We are it. We are the living stones offering up the spiritual sacrifices. We still are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9).
Perhaps we are learning how much we might have taken for granted our assemblies. We are meant to come together in order to stir one another up to love and good works (Heb 10:23-25). Perhaps we are learning just how much we do rely on one another for strength. Perhaps we will come out of this present distress with a fresh, renewed outlook on the glory of God and God’s people. Every difficulty is an opportunity to reassess our attitudes and make needed adjustments. Let us learn to love another even more.
Whatever the outcome, the church is still the church, and God’s presence in still found within His people. Redeem the time. Pray for one another. Seek each other out for comfort. Build each other up. The temple of God will always stand.
“Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.”