The House of God.

(Notes of an address.)

In our Reading we have had before us in Hebrews 3 the subject of the House of God, and it might be helpful for us to consider the same subject from other portions of Scripture. The first mention of God's house is in Genesis 28, in connection with Jacob, when he journeyed front Beersheba towards Haran. The LORD revealed Himself to Jacob, in a dream by night; in which he saw a ladder reach from earth to heaven, with angels of God ascending and descending upon it: Jehovah standing above it. God was directing the thoughts of Jacob to heaven, showing him that the connection between heaven and earth was in angelic messengers, who carried out the will of Jehovah in relation to His saints. Now the angels are ministering spirits, sent out to serve the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14); those who form the House of God. Our thoughts are now directed to Him Who stands above, Who spoke to Jacob, even to the Lord Himself. We know Jesus as crowned with glory and honour, yea, as the One Who made the worlds, Who in the beginning founded the earth, the heavens being the work of His hands. This is something of the glory of the Person Who stood above Jacob's ladder, of Whom we read today that He is Son over God's house.

God reveals Himself to Jacob, as Jehovah, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, and renewed the promise of the inheritance, giving it to him and his seed. To us, God has been revealed as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as such He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, in the heavenly places, in Christ: and in Christ, He has given us an inheritance: so that we are heirs of God, Christ's joint-heirs. To Jacob, Jehovah unfolds His purpose for the earth; in the riches of His grace, God has given us to know the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself. God also undertook to preserve Jacob until His will for him was done.

Awaking from his sleep, Jacob feels that the Lord is there, and is afraid, saving, "This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." The holiness of God's house fills the heart of the sinner with dread, as also the saint with a bad conscience. But Jacob acts as he feels the circumstances demanded, setting up the stone that he had used for a pillow, to be a pillar, and he anointed it with oil, saving, "This stone shall be God's house." Jacob declares his determination to regulate his course in relation to the House of God. In due time we learn that the lessons of that night were not lost upon Jacob, for he returns thither, calling upon his house to put away all that was inconsistent with the holiness of God's house.

At a later day, Solomon purposes to build a house unto the name of Jehovah his God, according to the word of God spoken to David, which house was completed (1 Kings 5:4-6; 1 Kings 6:37-38). The structure was composed of costly stones, hewn stones; the foundations having also great stones. Are we not reminded by this of the building in Eph. 2:20-22? There the foundation is laid in the apostles and prophets; Jesus Christ Himself being the corner-stone, in Whom all the building fitted together, groweth to a holy temple in the Lord. It was a great moment in the history of Solomon when the house was dedicated to God, and filled with His glory. Here was a place where the name of Jehovah was honoured, where He would be worshipped, and where His people would receive His blessing and mind. But Solomon did not continue in the mind of the LORD, directly departing from the plain instructions, given for the king, in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. In almost every detail of these explicit, divine instructions, Solomon is found a transgressor, the sad consequences of his failure being manifested immediately after his death. Soon, the kingdom is divided; afterwards the house becomes defiled and desecrated; ultimately the house is stripped, the glory departs, and it is utterly ruined and destroyed.

When we come to 1 Timothy, we have from the Spirit of God, through the apostle Paul, instructions for behaviour in the house of God. Paul had left Timothy at Ephesus to charge some not to teach other doctrines; and told him that the end of what he enjoined was love out of a pure heart, the maintenance of a good conscience and unfeigned faith. The men were to be marked by prayer, indicating dependence and subjection to God's will; the women were to manifest in their dress and deportment true piety. The assembly is God's house, the pillar and base of the truth; that in which the truth of God is manifested in practical life and witness. Alas! how little witness and support there has been in the lives of the professing saints of God to the truth. And have we not to challenge our own hearts as to how we have answered to the mind of God in this?

In 2 Timothy, God's house is likened to a great house with vessels to honour and vessels to dishonour; and the question arises, How are we to act in such a state of things? God has given clear instructions for us: if we would be vessels unto honour we must be separate from the vessels to dishonour. Not otherwise can we answer to the mind of God. This is the way He has told us that we can be sanctified and meet for the Master's use. Walking thus we shall not be in isolation; we shall be able to follow righteousness, faith, love and peace with those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Paul knew what the path of separation was, for all those in Asia turned away from him. With the desertion of those who should have stood by him, he had the support of the Lord; and at the end could say, "I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

We see some of the principles of God's house in connection with Jacob; dreadful failure in regard to Solomon. So too in 1 Timothy, we learn something of the principles of the House, and in 2 Timothy, the ruin and failure connected with man in responsibility. May we be enabled, in these last days, to be faithful to the Lord and His truth; knowing that soon the day of our responsibility will be past, and we shall enter the rest of God, where we shall see His face, and dwell with Him for evermore.
J. Muckle.