Have you ever been to your church building when nobody was there? No pastor, no worship team, nobody in the sanctuary worshiping and praising? Just quietness and stillness and emptiness? It feels lifeless, doesn’t it? It actually feels a little creepy.
During the Coronavirus crisis, many churches were shut down, if not all of them around the United States and across the world. People who were trying to go to church were doing so online or by a drive-in church service.
When it comes to places of worship, for Israel in the Old Testament, the Temple was their “church” building. King David was not allowed to build the physical temple. God promised David that his son, Solomon, would get to build the Temple. God in 1 Chronicles 17:11-15 promised:
“I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him.”
This prophecy was more than a prophecy about Solomon building a physical temple, but a prophecy about Jesus Christ who would one day sit on the throne of David forever.
God had a different purpose for David. David was not to build a physical temple, but a temple of praise. Psalm 45:17 reads, “I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.” And, Psalm 102:18 proclaims, “This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.” Folks, a people yet to be created — future generations from David — that’s you and me!
King David was tasked to teach us how to worship the Lord. After all, did you know that 36 of the 150 Psalms are dedicated to praise? We don’t need buildings to worship the Lord then, do we?
In the Old Testament, the Jewish people had a physical Tabernacle or Temple that the Lord would dwell in. But, since Christ’s sacrifice, we the Church have become the Temple of God. Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Each of us is now the Temple. As 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you.” So, we Christians do not need a physical building because we are the building.
Christians were created to praise God. We praise God for salvation, to silence Satan and God’s foes, to proclaim God’s wonders about what He has done, about how Jesus is worthy, that He saves us from our enemies, that His deeds are wonderful, that He answers our cries for mercy, that God shows love towards us, that daily He bears our burdens, that He gives power and strength to His people, that He created us, and that He’s given us promises. God has shown an enduring love, mercy, and kindness towards us. Psalm 117:2 should remind us, “For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever.”
Now, we look forward to a time when not just humans and angels will be praising the Lord together, but every creature will be praising the Lord. Revelation 5:13 says: “And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!'”
Christians can worship in so many different ways. We pray, we perform acts of service, we show forgiveness and love, and we worship from all of our inmost being. As King David said in Psalm 103:1, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!”
We proclaim the Lord from our mouths. We use musical instruments. We shout with joy. We lift up our hands. And, we share Christ among the thongs of people. Psalm 35:18 says, “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.” So, tied with the book of Hebrews, yes, the Lord wants Christians to congregate and gather in church buildings, but remember, as I hope we’re learning by having been pushed out of our church buildings, that Christians are the true Church of God.
So, when do we praise God then? I am looking forward to the day when we’ll be praising our Savior forever and ever. But, even right now, we can praise God all day long in our hearts. Not just one day, or a Saturday or a Sunday or a Sabbath, but every day throughout our lives. Psalm 44:8 says, “In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever.”
The Temple in Heaven — the New Jerusalem — that is the final temple in which all of God’s children will dwell. God’s very home is the Eternal Temple. One day all of God’s faithful will be living with God in that New Jerusalem.
For now, our church buildings may be empty, but remember, Christians are the living temples indwelled by the Holy Spirit Himself. The service is never over in our temples. The praise goes on all throughout our lives. Such praising affects how we think and act and feel. Praise is a part of us. And, one day, we will be given our new glorified bodies. We will be living in God’s eternal temple called the New Jerusalem. And, we will be praising God forever and ever.
While we wait to fully return to our church families and our church buildings, just remember that we are the Church. And, be looking forward joyously to that ultimate church service in Heaven with our Heavenly Father whom we’ll see face-to-face.