“This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”
(Isaiah 66:1-2 NIV)
I was reading in Isaiah this morning and this jumped off the page at me! It resonated with me for a couple of reasons. First off, if we ever need a reminder of just how big and amazing God is, and how utterly small we are, this verse ought to do the trick. “…the earth is my footstool…” Just chewing on that for a moment blew my mind.
I get the visual picture of God, sitting on His throne kickin back, kickin his feet up and resting them on an earth shaped footstool, except it’s actually earth! That thought is sobering enough, but this part is what brought it home for me. He says, ” has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” THEN He asks, “where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?” Now after reading the bible for some time, I have discovered that anytime God is asking a question, it’s usually rhetorical. It’s to make a point, because He already knows the answer!
Side note: when He asks about the house being built, who is He addressing? And what house? An actual house or is it a temple? If I have read the commentary correctly, it is referencing a house of God. Or in that day, better known as a temple. But God also knew the temple was temporary! He knew it would be destroyed. So again the question remains, why is He asking who will build a temple when “his hands made all these things?” He obviously knows that since He created everything under his feet, that there isn’t a temple, or building that could be built that He couldn’t build better! So why is He asking who will build one? I will come back to this in a minute.
I think the clue to the answer comes next when He says “these are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at MY word.” As I sat here pondering this, this next scripture comes to mind.
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself…”
1 Corinthians 6:19
Now it starts to come together.
On one hand God is posing the question, “who is gonna build my house? (Knowing He can and has built everything). But then hundreds of years later( I am guessing) Paul gives us this nugget of truth. That WE are the temple and we really can’t build ourselves because God already did it. But if we really ponder this, we realize that He resides and dwells in those with a humble and contrite spirit and who tremble at My word.”
Does that mean that houses of worship are meaningless? No. There is purpose in them. But I have to ask myself how many houses of worship have been built with such careful detail and decorative things, and yet the people who inhabit these houses, are actually empty because of a lack of a “humble and contrite heart”. But to bring it even closer to home….How many times have I walked into a house of worship the same way? Knowing that I am a temple, how often do I concentrate on the outer appearance than I do what’s inside? I have been guilty of getting so consumed with my weight, or my skin and attributing value to the “walls” and completely missed the point of the foundation and inner workings of “the temple”.
On the flip side, I believe God wants us to take care of our bodies and to be healthy. As Paul said later in the verse, “you do not belong to yourself.” That’s right, our bodies are not our own.I read a quote the other day that said something to the effect of, what we have is not about ownership, it’s about stewardship! The bodies/temples God gave us are on earthly loan. As such, we were designed to steward our bodies, but ultimately we are to host the Holy Spirit. By hosting the Holy Spirit, we can carry out the purposes God has for us in bringing His perfect love to all! But like a building needs walls. A humble and contrite spirit are the walls in our temple. When we know how big HE is, and we offer Him The praise He deserves, He inhabits us. And when He is in our midst, really great things start to happen.
We are going through a book with our current church called “Humility and Absolute Surrender” by Andrew Murray. It’s a tough read and really chewy. I have to go back and re read it many times to absorb it all! It is worth the effort!! He points out that “humility is the root of all other virtue”. He talks about how humility is what releases the actual fruits of the spirit and that without it, we cannot operate in the fruits as we were intended. That’s a pretty sobering thought. We talk so often about “love, joy, peace, etc” but miss the basis from which we can exhibit those. Real LOVE for example, cannot work without humility because it has to be selfless. Jesus modeled that love on the cross. He had to humble himself to the lowest level to operate in Gods perfect love. If He who was sinless and perfect could humble himself, how much more should we? Without Him humbling himself and taking our place, HIS love wouldn’t mean as much to us.
In closing, I myself am challenged and humbled by the fact that a God who could use earth as a place to prop up His feet, would be willing to reside in THIS temple with all of its flaws. Beautiful houses of worship are awesome. But in the next 100 years, who knows if we will even be allowed to gather in such places? I predict the “church” at some point will either have to underground or be mobile, but that’s an entirely different subject for another day. So just like our bodies are earthly loans, our earthly houses of worship are the same. WE are the temple! We are the church without walls!
Thanks for reading my ponderings from this morning! Happy day to you!!