Going Deeper 12.16.2020

The first reading for Advent 4...  2 Samuel 7:1-16

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” 3Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”  4But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 8Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. … 16Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

There is some interesting content here.  First, it's interesting to note God's initial reaction to the idea of a "house" or "temple" being built for Him.   He makes it pretty clear that He does not need nor want a temple... although He will allow David's son, Solomon, to build a magnificent structure.  As God anticipated, the temple ends up doing more harm than good, eventually being understood as a "God-in-a-box" kind of good luck charm, where a religion is practiced which becomes little more than rites and rituals.  The temple itself became an object of worship.  Jesus does not have a lot to do with the temple during His ministry, and it actually becomes more of a headquarters for His enemies.  

Lesson for us: our modern-day equivalent to the temple, our churches, are to facilitate life-changing worship and God-encounters and are not to be objects of worship themselves.

It is also important to ask the question: "Doesn't forever mean forever?"  The line of descendants of David ruling the kingdom concludes with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple are 597 B.C.  Or at least it seems to end there.  But the reason this text is read on the final Sunday of Advent is because we understand that the Christ-child is from "the house and lineage of David."  Jesus fulfills this prophecy/promise, and His is an eternal reign over the "New Israel/Kingdom"-- God's Church.

Lesson for us: God has always been, and will forever be, faithful to His promises.

With You in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"