Having set the people of Israel free from slavery in Egypt, God led them to the land he promised to give Abraham’s descendants some 600 years earlier. While camped at Mount Sinai, God told Moses of his desire to dwell amongst them in a physical house (the Tabernacle), set in a physical location of his choosing (Ex. 29:44-46; Deu. 12:5).[perfectpullquote align=”right” size =”16″]Whilst disobedience doesn’t mean we lose our salvation, it does mean we lose the opportunity to participate in this special collective service as God’s people, robbing God of the joy of having a people who serve him in the way he desires.[/perfectpullquote]
Our homes are often places where we can rest and relax. It is God’s house that he describes as his place of rest later in scripture, giving us some idea of the joy God has in dwelling amongst his people. Their entry into, and subsequent conquest of, the land of Canaan about 50 years later marked not only the end of their wilderness journey, but the start of a fuller service of God in his chosen place of rest (Jos. 24:16-18).
God was keen to point out that this service could only take place on his terms. The Israelites did not own their land, it belonged to God (Lev. 25:23). To remain as his tenants they were obliged to obey his laws (Lev. 26:27-28, 31-33), much like a landlord-tenant relationship today. This was something God took very seriously. The Israelites’ disobedience had already prevented their entry into service within God’s place of rest once before, and future failures would see them temporarily removed from this place (2 Kings 25:8-11, 21). Eventually, God would permanently revoke the privilege Israel had as being the members of his house Matt. 23:37-39).
But this didn’t mean that all access into his rest was ended: we have the opportunity to serve God in his house today (Heb. 3:5-6). As with the Israelites’ freedom from slavery in Egypt, a believer’s salvation (our freedom from sin through Jesus’ death on the cross) does not mark the end of our spiritual journey. It instead marks the moment we become eligible to serve God in the way he desires (Eph. 2:11-13, 19). God views each believer as a living stone and, when we are baptised and added to a Church of God, he builds us into a house – a place where he desires to dwell and rest amongst us, his collective people (1 Peter 2:4-5; Eph. 2:19-22). It is all too easy to miss, or forget, this incredible truth as we serve in a Church of God![perfectpullquote size=”17″]Our homes are often places where we can rest and relax. It is God’s house that he describes as his place of rest later in scripture, giving us some idea of the joy God has in dwelling amongst his people.[/perfectpullquote]
We must remember that this is God’s house, therefore we must obey his commandments. Whilst disobedience doesn’t mean we lose our salvation, it does mean we lose the opportunity to participate in this special collective service as God’s people, robbing God of the joy of having a people who serve him in the way he desires. As the writer to the Hebrews says, let us ‘hold fast’ (Heb. 3:6) to these truths, making sure we don’t become complacent as we continue our journey with God.
Sam Jones, The Church of God in Aberkenfig