Updated: Feb 21, 2019
Uzzah, King Saul, Moses, Ananias & Sapphira, the church in Corinth.
What do these have in common with each other?
Uzzah was killed because he tried to keep the ark of the covenant from falling off of an ox cart (2 Samuel 6) when Numbers 4:15 plainly says that touching it was punishable by death.
King Saul didn’t follow God’s instructions for offering a sacrifice. He grew impatient with the prophet Samuel because he was late in arriving. It cost him his kingdom (1 Samuel 13).
Moses disobeyed a direct word from God by striking the rock instead of speaking to it so God could provide water for the people of Israel (Numbers 20). Because of that, he wasn’t allowed to enter the promise land with the rest of Israel.
Ananias and Sapphira conspired against the church and the Holy Spirit to lie about how much money they had received from a land sale (Acts 5). They said they gave it all when they only gave a portion.
"Then, in the New Testament, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that many of them were sick and some had even died because they celebrated Communion in a manner that was unworthy" 1 Corinthians 11:30
Why do we feel that these punishments are far too harsh and don’t match the mistakes or crimes the people committed?
“While the whole world focuses on their personal rights, we give little thought to the rights God deserves as God.”
These events are given to teach us that God considers some things as very much more important than how we have come to view them. There are things and principles that belong to God-they are sacred.
God considers these things His:
· His ark of the covenant
· His command to Moses
· His sacrifices
· His Holy Spirit
· His Holy Communion
· His sacred Church
“In all the above situations, people rushed into something sacred and paid the price. We shouldn’t be surprised; we should be humbled. We have all done things more irreverent than those mentioned above. Let’s thank God for His mercy and tread more carefully into sacred matters.”
We need to be aware and careful of how we treat what God considers sacred.
Sacred literally means dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of God.
GOD’S SACRED CHURCH
“There is no greater honor on earth than to be part of God’s Church.”
Have you stopped to consider lately how big a deal it is that you are part of the Church, which the Apostle Paul calls ‘Christ’s body’?
“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” Ephesians 5: 29 – 30
Not only that, but Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:5 that we are “living stones” that God is using to build the temple that He lives in.
The temple that Solomon built for God to dwell in was a magnificent structure. 1 Chronicles 22:14 (NLT) says they used 40,000 tons of silver and 4,000 tons of gold, not to mention all the marble, exotic woods, brass and other materials in its construction. Never before or since has anything been built to rival this temple.
In the New Testament, though, we see something that is even greater in God’s eyes.
“So, then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19–22
Solomon’s temple was made of earthly materials and God came to live there (2 Chronicles 7:1-4).
God’s temple on earth now is made up of every believer in Jesus Christ that has ever lived. We were made worthy by the blood of Jesus to be joined with all other believers to be the dwelling place of God!
Paul also wrote to the Corinthians about this and added a severe warning.
"Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3: 16 – 17
Francis Chan used the example of a man taking a sledge hammer to the walls of Solomon’s temple. What would be your reaction if you saw that happening?
The Church of Jesus Christ, as the stones used to build his temple today, are much more sacred than the stones used in Solomon’s temple. You and I and every other member of Christ’s Body are dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of God. Are we acting like a man with a sledge hammer when we tear down, reject, refuse to forgive, ignore or disrespect any other member of Christ’s body?
The dedication of the temple in 2 Chronicles 7 is not the only time that fire fell from heaven signifying that God had taken residence there. It also occurred in Acts 2 when the Church was born. Fire came from heaven and the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit; God came to live in them.
You are hugely important and part of something that is tremendously bigger than we have ever dreamed. We are part of the sacred, holy temple of God. What an honor! What joy should come as we stand shoulder to shoulder with other members of His body, other living stones in His temple. We are privileged to join in this mass number of believers to worship God together, to serve each other and to get caught up in being part of what God is doing as a whole, not just what is happening to you and me individually.
“It’s not about you. And you are glad it’s not about you. Because this is something far greater than you. It is sacred.”
* The content of this article is largely taken from the book Letters to the Church by Francis Chan-chapter 2, Sacred. Quotations are marked.