In Chronicle number one of “The Church of God” series we saw
that believers are given two sets of instructions: one, concerning the
place they were in; and two, concerning the place where God lives. In
the OT, they were in the land of promise which was their gift from God,
and then they came to the temple at Jerusalem where God was. In the NT
believers are in Christ through the gift of the Spirit of promise, and
as God’s living temple of Christians come together in one place
where Jesus the Lord is: the local church.
We saw in chronicle #2 that God’s house was to be the gathering
center in His Name alone – the Lord Jesus Christ. His people were to
separate from all other names and only gather in His Name. The term
“Name” has to do with God’s presence and conveys authority, unity and
glory unto Him. Continuing to focus in chronicle #3 on the place where
God lives, we will see that at “the place” one learns the fear of
We have progressed to the third and fourth major purposes of
God’s house which are highlighted below.
God’s OT house (temple) was purposed to
A place of assembling for offering and sacrificing to God. Deu.
A place of separation from all other names. Deu. 12:11-18
A place for the whole family to learn to fear the Lord.
A place of sacrificing the best to God. Deu. 15:19-23
A place of remembrance. Deu. 16:1-8
A place of observing and obeying God’s statutes (religious
ordinances). Deu. 16:9-15
A place of judging matters among God’s people - God’s supreme
court on earth. Deu. 17:8-13
A place of liberty for all the priesthood tribe to
minister unto the Lord. Deu. 18:1-8
A place of worship. Deu. 26:1-11
A place of proclaiming God’s Word to the whole family. Deu.
Yes, the house of God has definite purpose to it.
A biblical ‘purpose-driven church’ is not just having organized
out-reaches, but one that understands God’s purposes in His house and is
content with doing them unto Him.
Understanding God’s purposes in His house will preserve the saints
from putting their energy and time into man’s ideas and ways.
Sometimes God’s purpose is so simple that we miss it, thinking man
must be and do more.
In Deuteronomy 14 God gave Israel instructions concerning where and
why they must come with their families to the place where God put His
Name. It was to “learn to fear the Lord thy God.”
And thou shalt eat before the
LORD thy God, in the
place which he shall choose
to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and
of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks;
that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy
God always. (Deu. 14:23)
God’s people were forbidden to just stay home and be thankful to God
in their houses for His goodness unto them. At special times they were
to tithe the increase of their seed unto the Lord at His place. They
were also to bring sacrifices of appreciation unto God.
If they lived too far from the place of God’s house they did not have
the option of staying home for convenience and quality family time. They
could not have a small offering and personal devotion within their
gates. Rather, they were to sell their animals locally and holding that
exact money travel to God’s place. There they could buy sacrifices to
fellowship with God by eating them at His house. Then and there they
could rejoice – “thou, and thy household.” (Deut. 14:22-27)
By this act God’s people would learn that worship has “feet” to it;
they had to go to the place. God is also worth sacrificing time and
They were further instructed that what they sacrificed to God must be
the best of their flocks. If they had animals with blemishes or were
lame or blind, they could not bring those to the Lord. They could eat
those secondary animals within their personal city and family gates –
but not bring them to God’s place. What brought the most value on the
market was to be given to God. It became a sacrifice in the true
essence of the word (Deut. 15:19-23).
What is acceptable
for normal use in one’s life is not always fit to bring unto
God in His house.
The fear of the Lord is the foundation of all true knowledge and
education (Pro. 1:7). In our technological age there is much information
but no wisdom of life. People are illiterate in the fear of the Lord.
Fear can be a very positive thing. It can preserve life and guide right
Example: You see a toddler ready to stick a fork into an
electrical outlet. You warn how he can be “fried to a crisp.” The
fear of harmful consequences can preserve his
Remember, it is “By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Pro.
16:6). It is at the house of God where a level of fear can be learned
that can’t be learned elsewhere. Because God’s presence is there, there
is an order and protocol present that will not be in a family or a
“Eat before the Lord thy God, in the place
... that thou mayest learn to fear”
|"Gather me the
people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they
may learn to fear me ...
||... all the days
that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach
their children" (deut.
It was by coming to the place that one would observe the chosen order
of the priests and learn separation from the common and unclean. At
God’s house one would learn what is holy (to be used for Him) and what
is unholy. It was at the house of God where they were to observe the
discipline of sinning believers so “all the people shall hear and fear”
(Deu. 17:8-11). It was at the place where men, women and children would
hear the Word in a formal and reverent way so that they “may learn, and
fear” (Deu 31:11-13).
In order to have a good family in tough times, is it possible we have
focused too much on the family? Have we have neglected the very thing
that leads to strong families – a higher dimension of fear learned only
in the house of God? Have we become so independent and family oriented
that we have neglected God’s place?
Psalm 77:13 teaches that “Thy way, O God, is in the
sanctuary.” Yes, the words of God can be learned at home but the “way”
of God will be found at His house. Psalm 68:24-26 shows that the
“goings” (procession or protocol) of God is found in the sanctuary of
Lessons from God's portable house
gave specific instructions concerning His sanctuary; His tabernacle.
Below is a graphic of family tents in relation to God’s tent. (Num. 1:50
The children of Israel had been redeemed by blood and were on a
pilgrimage moving through a wilderness toward their destiny of the
promised inheritance. In the wilderness, Israel would find themselves
encamped around the dwelling place of God: the tabernacle. 1Peter tells
believers that we are redeemed by blood, pilgrims in this world, and
part of God’s spiritual house on our way to our promised inheritance in
The large tent in the middle of the camp was the tabernacle (tent of
meeting). It was God’s dwelling place. This was where worship-sacrifices
and service occurred. The little tents were where individual families
The family tents only moved when the big tent moved. Wherever
the big tent rested the little tents encamped. The family tents would
only be anchored in relationship to where God’s tent was (Num. 9:15-23).
Thus, the glory of God was in the midst of all the families where they
could behold Him and His ways. The needs of the little tents did
not control the movement of the big tent; rather, the big tent
controlled the family’s movement. The family would learn the great
principle of life: God is to come first in all things!
The concept of fearing God is not confined to the Old Testament
alone. God is the same God in the New Testament.
Peter the apostle tells the Christians, “Fear God.” (1Pet. 2:17). The
word “fear” is the Greek word ‘phobeo’ used often in the New Testament
with the common meaning, to be afraid. It is the same word used when the
disciples were afraid in a storm. Christians are to understand that God
is still a holy God and to be feared because there are consequences for
Yet in the New Testament gospel, the word ‘fear’ must be qualified.
1John 4:18 teaches, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love
casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not
made perfect in love.” Here the context is having boldness in the day of
judgment. A believer will never face the wrath judgment of God for that
has been dealt with at the cross – Praise our Lord! (1Thess. 5:12). We
need not live in fear that we will be tormented for our sins.
However, that is not to say the Lord should not be feared in the
church. It is not to say there are no earthly consequences with a
heavenly loss of reward.
Penalty is the punishment
of sin against the future judgment day – Christ took that penalty
at the cross. Consequences are the results of sin here. These can
be experienced now
For example, one can drive a nail in a piece of expensive wooden
furniture. While the nail can be pulled out, the mark remains. One might
get in a drunken brawl and have his arm cut off. While he can be
forgiven, the arm doesn’t grow back.
- The Local Church -
a place of learning
the ways of God
It is the local New Testament assembly that is to demonstrate the
ways (order, wisdom and protocol) of the Lord. Here a dimension will be
seen that is not seen in the world or an individual life or even a
Christian family. The following are characteristics matchlessly
exhibited in the local church – found in the Word:
– Dependence on the Spirit of God to direct and meet every need
through the various body gifts - Eph. 4:11-16, 1Cor. 12
on the Scriptures of God to be all-sufficient to mature the man of God -
– Dependence on the Son of God to be the Head (authority
& wisdom) of His body - Col. 1-3
– Lord’s headship order - women
silent and men vocal - 1Cor. 14
– The visible symbol (submission) of
the headcovering for the sister - 1Cor. 11
– Priesthood of all
believers - all men able to use their gifts orally in an assembly
meeting - women in other areas - 1Cor. 14
– A God-given order to the
public meeting to which submission to Lord is required - 1Cor. 14
The Lord’s supper with its divine order and divine consequences of
misuse - 1Cor. 11
– The excommunication of sinning saints - 1Cor.
– The restoration of repentant believers - 2Cor. 2
limited to those saved (who have showed such by the obedience of water
baptism) Acts 2:41,42, 18:8
– The authority to judge personal
disputes between believers - Matt. 18:15-20, 1Cor. 6
– Specific holy
qualifications used to designate elder-shepherds or deacons - Titus 3,
– Submitting and learning from the experience and example of
the older - Titus 2, 1Pet. 5:1-5
– Qualifications as to who receives
aid - 1Tim. 5
– The owning only of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ
- 1Cor. 1
– Glory and titles of honor given only to the Lord and
never to man - 1Cor. 1-3, Matt. 23:8-12
If we have replaced the church meeting
with family time, the youth group, the Sunday school, the Christian
school, the Christian organization, and the counselors office, is it any
wonder why our young don’t know the ways of God nor have the fear of
- The Local Church -
a place of learning
the FEAR of God
Know ye not that ye [the church]
are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If
any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple
of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1Cor.
It is in the way of the local New Testament assembly that one can
learn a high level of the fear of God. The early church saw many
miracles and souls saved; the apostles had “great power” ... “And
great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). Yet it pleased the Lord to
carry out harsh discipline against sinning believers. This act provided
a balance, for then we read, “great fear came upon all the
church” (Acts 5:11). After, “believers were the more added to the
Young Timothy is given instruction “how thou oughtest to behave
thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the
pillar and ground of the truth” (1Tim. 3:15). He’s instructed in church
order and told that when there’s sin and it is investigated properly,
those that sin he should “rebuke before all” (5:20). Why? “That
others also may fear.” To see the negative consequences of sin
can also have a positive retarding effect on others as it creates a
The local assembly in Corinth was told to live a life of separation
from religious falseness and the unclean. Therefore, they were to
cleanse themselves “from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,
perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2Cor. 7:1).
The best for God. God will judge believers’ works. Thus, Peter
said to “Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.” Thus,
they were to use their gifts “as of the ability which God giveth.” Why?
That God may be glorified. (1Pet.1:17, 4:11). Don’t be afraid of fear.