Living in the House of the Lord
by Joseph Franks
As David meditated before God, he focused on the incredible opportunity Moses and Joshua had to experience the divine presence. Moses was alone when he temporarily communed with the Lord at the burning bush. Later, he and Joshua were allowed to climb the Lord’s holy mountain and temporarily commune with God atop Mt. Sinai. Then, when the Lord would come down and visit his people outside the camp, Moses and Joshua were the only two men privileged to temporarily commune with him in his sacred tent. In later Israelite history, as the Holy of Holies was constructed and the priesthood ordained, one priest each year was privileged to temporarily enter the Lord’s most holy dwelling place. It was an exciting opportunity, but it was exclusive and it was temporary.
David, the man after God’s own heart, he longed for such a communal experience with his Lord. So he asked the following question of his Heavenly Father:
“O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1)
He desired to know who would receive the privilege of temporarily dwelling in God’s sacred tent? Better than this, who would get the opportunity to permanently abide with God on his holy mountain?
David, in his season of inspired meditation, penned the following answer:
“He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.” (Psalm 15:2-5)
Anyone who kept the Covenant of Works, he could expect to temporarily sojourn in God’s holy tent and permanently dwell on God’s sacred mountain. However, there were strict requirements; mountain dwellers were men and women who:
- Walked blamelessly
- Thought righteously
- Spoke rightly
- Were good neighbors
- Were good friends
- Abhorred wickedness
- Honored the Lord
- Feared the Lord
- Were generous and charitable
- Were just
- Kept their word regardless of cost
However, after careful consideration, this was horrible news. For since Adam, there had not been a thoroughly righteous man who had walked on planet Earth. Frankly, there had not even been a mostly righteous man. As God reviewed the records of all his creatures, there was not a holy individual to be found, and this included David, the man after God’s own heart. All were sinners. All had fallen short of God’s holy expectations.
Yet, good news was coming, and David knew this. Every time the Psalmist read his scriptures and went to worship at the tabernacle, he was reminded of the merciful and gracious God. He knew there was a Sacrificial Son coming who would be stricken, smitten, and afflicted by the Father. He knew there would be one who would yell, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” (Psalm 22) He knew the actual lambs slaughtered at the altar represented the Lamb of God yet to come. David was confident he was a vile sinner who had not kept the Covenant of Works, but he still had confidence that one day he would dwell in the house of the Lord forever:
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6)
My friends, David was not mistaken. Fifteen hundred years later, the God of David who was holy and just, he proved to also be merciful and gracious. From his dwelling place on high, he came down to love sinful men and women. He added to himself a human soul and body and perfectly kept the Covenant of Works. Jesus Christ walked blamelessly, thought righteously, and spoke truthfully. Like the Good Samaritan, he loved his neighbor, and he proved to be a friend who stuck closer than a brother. With great passion and consistency he abhorred wickedness while honoring and fearing his Father. Jesus was just and fair. He was generous and charitable, and he kept his word regardless of the cost. Yes, for the first time since the creation of Adam, there was a man on earth who proved to be righteous through and through. He kept all of God’s commands. He fulfilled the totality of God’s Law. He was the one of whom and to whom the Father declared, “This is my Son, and in him I am well pleased!”
However, despite his righteousness, he became the subject of God’s wrath and was separated from the Father. The Father turned his face away and the perfectly righteous Son screamed, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” All became dark as he experienced divine excommunication.
Consider the tragedy! A perfectly righteous man finally walked upon the earth, and he was damned and distanced by the Father.
Consider the glory! A perfectly righteous man was excommunicated by the Father so that unrighteous men might sojourn in God’s tent and dwell on God’s holy hill. He was the substitute that made it possible for unrighteous men and women to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Therefore friends, be broken. See the entrance requirements of God and be emptied of all pride. Based upon our own merit, we cannot dwell in God’s tent, on God’s mountain, or in God’s eternal paradise. God is holy. He sees our iniquity. He is angry with the unrighteous everyday. Eternal separation from him is the judgment he has already declared.
Then, after being broken, be glad. The judge has secured a worthy substitute. We, who by faith come to Jesus as Savior and Lord, become living temples of God on this earth. The Spirit moves in and dwells within us here on this earth. And when we breathe our last breath, we are assured we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
However, it gets even better than this. For by grace we are saved, and by grace we are sanctified. All of us who find ourselves attached to Christ Jesus and filled with his Spirit, we will find assurance of our salvation by noticing our steady improvement keeping God’s great law. We are destined to look more and more like Jesus. All of us who are saved by grace, will progressively find ourselves:
- Walking more blamelessly
- Thinking more righteously
- Speaking more rightly
- Becoming good neighbors
- Becoming good friends
- Abhorring wickedness
- Honoring the Lord
- Fearing the Lord
- Becoming more generous and charitable
- Pursuing justice
- Keeping their word regardless of cost
So let us swim in the undeserved grace of God, while becoming more holy in our deeds, words, and thoughts.