Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Unsanctified Sanctuary

Hag 1:7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

Hag 1:8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.

Hag 1:9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.

God has been speaking, or more like yelling, to me about the defilement of His house. We understand that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. Yet, we also build and dedicate temples, or churches, to our Father for the purpose of fellowship, praise and worship. Too often, however, God’s people are defiling His house in order to build up their own. The motives behind ministry and service are tainted and unacceptable to our Father.

In the Old Testament and the New Testament church, we see numerous examples of temples and homes being dedicated to the Father as sanctuaries. These places, even when part of a private house, were set aside for fellowship, teaching and worship. They were NOT intended to be used by the “church folk” as a platform for political popularity, power or advertisement. God is angry with the egoistic monuments we are building. How dare we say they are dedicated to our God when 90% of what takes place on the grounds is not of the Father? God wants a home in which He can dwell – not a place where He is invited for 20-30 minutes once a week!

Mat 21:11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

Mat 21:12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

Mat 21:13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Mat 21:14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

Mat 21:15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,

Mat 21:16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Mat 21:17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

Mar 11:15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;

Mar 11:16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

Mar 11:17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Mar 11:18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.

I was convicted when the Father took me back to these Scriptures. Personally, I don’t believe in having fish fries and raffles to raise money for the church. The Bible says that tithes and offerings shall keep meat in the storehouse. Still, God showed me more. He dealt with me even about the vendor’s tables, the church anniversaries, the choir concerts, the birthday parties – everything that takes place for which He is not the center focus.

Let me be very real. The SANCTUARY SHOULD BE SANCTIFIED. That means it must be “set apart for a specific, reverent purpose.” When I was younger, children used be punished for stepping into the pulpit. It was considered to be holy ground, so we reverenced it as such. God is saying that His sanctuary is no longer reverenced. We allow everyone access to that which we dedicate to the Father, then we wonder why He refuses to dwell.

God began to remind me of all the things we allow to enter His sanctuary – concerts, fundraisers, choir contests, political speeches, fashion shows – so many things that are not of the Father. Have we really dedicated the sanctuary to our Father, or are we simply building entertainment halls for the church?

In the temple of God, only priests were able to enter into the Holy of Holies. The temple was sectioned off, and everyone knew they level of clearance. Most understood they could not enter beyond the outer courts, because of the reverence that was required. God began to show me that much of what we build as churches, does not glorify Him. Too many people are given access to the sanctuary. Too many worldly activities are carried out on what should be holy ground.

It was hard to swallow, but God showed me some things I really had to think about. He asked me, “How does a Pastor’s birthday party glorify me?” That one hit me like a brick. I told God, we honor our leaders because they are men and women of God. The Father explained to me that while such honor is valid, even that does not belong in a sanctuary dedicated to Him. Why? Nothing belongs on holy ground that does not have the Father as the primary focus and motive. God even showed me weddings where those carrying evil spirits are allowed to walk on ground that should be holy.

Of course, I thought this word was somewhat extreme at first, but God asked me again, “What are you willing to sacrifice? Is there one who would minister to Me?”

Lev 19:30 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

Have we forgotten the Word of God? Why honor the Sabbath, but dishonor the “house of God?” Many of us allow things in churches we won’t even allow in our own homes. So many mega-churches are being built with basketball courts and meeting rooms, yet they STILL allow sin in the sanctuary – that part of the building that should be dedicated to the worship of our Father by holy and sanctified people.

This is a prophetic word, particularly to those Pastors and Apostles who oversee churches and physical places of worship…

Num 3:31 And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the santuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof.

Num 3:32 And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be chief over the chief of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary.

Are you keeping charge of the sanctuary? Is the holy place set aside for the Father to dwell as He pleases? The Lord said He is overthrowing the tables of the money changers. No more selling books in the pulpit. No more vendor’s tables and sold dinners in the same place set aside for worship. No more fashion shows and concerts. They do NOT glorify the Father. They entertain the people. They stroke the flesh, and they bring in money and notoriety – not for the Father, but for YOU and YOUR MINISTRY. We are doing too many things that do not glorify God. We like to say they do, but the Father is calling us to a sober reality.

How do choir contests glorify the Father? They don’t. How can one dare use “praise and worship” to compete for a prize and say they are bringing honor to God? Choir members, if honoring God is the true motive, why all the fancy steps of the world? Why all the vocal runs and “You betta sang, girl!” comments. It’s time to get real. We do so many things that our Father has no interest in.

How do pastoral anniversaries please the Father? The service is called just commemorate a worldly event. Then, we try to force God to show up. I’m not saying birthday and anniversaries are bad, but the Bible says the day of a man’s death is better than the day of His birth. It’s a worldly celebration. God is not the focus. We often make him a by product rather than the source!

God is challenging us to a new level. Dig deep, dig deep! Is the sanctuary truly sanctified? How much do we honor our physical houses of worship? Does it really look and operate like a temple in which our Father would want to dwell? Selah.

1Ch 22:19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD.

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