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Bible Insights

King Hiram’s Testimony

Psalm 169 from Beyond Psalm 150

David’s son Solomon replaces his father as king and prepares to build the temple for God. In addition to the materials David had already stockpiled, Solomon requests cedar logs, other resources, and a skilled artist from Hiram (Huram), king of Tyre.

King Hiram is pleased to assist and responds in a letter to King Solomon. His correspondence opens with his own psalm of praise to God.

Because Yahweh loves his people, he has made you king over them . . .

Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, who has given to David the king a wise son, endowed with discretion and understanding, who would build a house for Yahweh, and a house for his kingdom.

2 Chronicles 2:11–12 (WEB)

Reflection on King Hiram’s Testimony

We don’t know about King Hiram’s standing with Yahweh. Not being one of God’s chosen people, it’s easy to assume that Hiram doesn’t have a relationship with the Almighty.

Yet his words praise Yahweh as Creator. This may be a result of personal belief or his assumption based on what he witnessed in King David’s life.

When we hear someone praise God or make a surprising declaration, do we dismiss it because they’re not from our group? Or do we embrace their words and worship God without judging the source?

May we see others as God sees them and refrain from dismissing them.

Explore the other psalms—sacred songs of praise, petition, and lament—scattered throughout the Bible in Peter’s book Beyond Psalm 150.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

The Eighth Day

Baby Jesus in the Temple

Luke 2:21–24

He was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. (Luke 2:21)

The shepherds arrived shortly after Jesus’s birth to see the child the angel had told them about. Our story picks up eight days later, when it’s time to circumcise him.

We’re left to consider what happened in the days between these two events. Is this a private time for Mary and Joseph to spend adapting to the needs of a newborn and learning to care for him?

Do they spend time in awe, marveling at baby Jesus, contemplating who he will become, and considering what he will do?

I suspect they do, but they may also have some unexpected guests show up too.

Remember, when the shepherds leave, they tell others about their experience, spreading the news of Jesus’s arrival around town. Based on their testimony, I wonder how many curious people stop by to see baby Jesus.

As a result, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus could have seen a steady stream of visitors. Did any of these guests show up with food or gifts for the family?

Since they’re away from home and staying with farm animals, Mary and Joseph could certainly use any help they might receive.

When their baby is eight days old, it’s time to circumcise him. They name him Jesus. This is what the angel told Joseph in his dream, and it aligns with what Gabriel told Mary when he appeared to her.

It’s significant that God independently told both Mary and Joseph the same thing: to name their son Jesus. This fact helps confirm for them that they both heard from God.

They go to the temple for the purification ceremony prescribed by Moses. There they consecrate the baby to God (Exodus 13:2) and offer a sacrifice (Exodus 13:12 and Leviticus 12:8).

Though this seems most appropriate for Jesus, this isn’t unique to him. This ceremony is prescribed for everyone by the law of Moses.

Since the temple is in Jerusalem and they’re in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph must travel there. The Bible doesn’t say how long this journey takes them, but modern maps show these two towns to be about 5.5 miles (9 km) apart.

Under normal conditions, this trip would take about two hours by foot. But remember, Mary has just given birth, so they will certainly go at a slower pace.

Again, we don’t know if they travel by foot or if Mary has a donkey to ride. Regardless, she (or Joseph) holds baby Jesus the entire trip.

Imagine clutching an eight-day-old baby, trying to keep him comfortable and not jostle him along the way. Traveling to the temple, as commanded by God, is not just a simple walk.

How can we model Mary and Joseph’s obedience to God?

What is God telling us to do right now?

Who can we help today by delivering a meal, offering a gift, or providing encouragement?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we celebrate Jesus’s first few days on earth, may we be mindful of what he came to do and who we are through him.

[This devotional is taken from the December 27 reading from The Advent of Jesus.]

Celebrate Christmas in a fresh way with The Advent of Jesus. It’s a forty-day devotional that prepares our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in an engaging read. Begin your Advent journey now and gain a greater sense of wonder for the season.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Learning from Jesus’s First Words

When Christ Speaks, We Should Be Ready to Listen

What Jesus says is important to us as his followers. The passages in the Bible that we need to pay the most attention to are the words of Jesus. Some Bibles even highlight Jesus’s words by putting them in red.

We call these red-letter editions. People often focus on the final words of Jesus. But what about Jesus’s first words?

Let’s look at what the Bible records as Jesus’s first words. This doesn’t occur when he first learns to talk, and it’s not the first words he speaks when he begins his ministry. Jesus’s first words recorded in the Bible happen between these two times.

Twelve-Year-Old Jesus

Jesus’s first recorded words occur when he’s twelve, and it’s the only story the Bible gives us about Jesus’s youth. In this account we see the balance between his divine side and his human side.

Jesus goes with his parents to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. When the festival ends, his parents head home, traveling with a group of others headed in that direction. They assume Jesus is with the caravan. He isn’t. He stays behind without their knowledge.

After traveling all day, Mary and Joseph discover that Jesus is missing. They’ve lost their son, one of a parent’s most dreaded nightmares. Yet for them it’s even worse. They also lost the Son of God.

Panicked they head back to Jerusalem. They search. And they search. After three days they finally find him.

He’s in the temple having a deep spiritual conversation with the religious teachers. He listens to what they say and asks insightful questions. The twelve-year-old amazes everyone with his depth of understanding.

His parents are astonished too. Yet they’re also irritated with him for causing them needless worry.

Jesus’s First Words

Young Jesus responds incredulously. “Why were you searching for me?” he asks. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, NIV).

These are the first recorded words of Jesus.

From the perspective of tween Jesus, his parents shouldn’t have spent three days looking for him. The temple should have been their first stop. In his mind, it was a given. In their mind, it was the last place they expected to find their twelve-year-old son.

Jesus doesn’t address the fact that he didn’t head home with them and caused them untold worry for three days. Like many who aren’t yet fully mature, he knew he was safe, so there was nothing for anyone to worry about.

The human side of Jesus missed spending time with his Father, Father God. The temple may have been where he best felt he could make a spiritual connection with Papa.

It was also an ideal place to find other like-minded Jews who could teach him about Scripture and guide him forward on his spiritual journey.

But Jesus’s parents don’t understand what he means. Regardless Jesus obediently returns home with them. He grows in wisdom and stature, enjoying the favor of both God and men. This prepares him for ministry, which he’ll start in eighteen years, when he’s thirty years old.

Where do we go to best connect with God and spend time with other like-minded believers? When our friends look for us, where will they find us?

Celebrate Christmas in a fresh way with The Advent of Jesus. It’s a forty-day devotional that prepares our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in an engaging read. Begin your Advent journey now and gain a greater sense of wonder for the season.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How Much Money Does the Church Need?

We Must Be Good Stewards of All That God Blesses Us With

The Old Testament church required a lot of financial support to keep it going. There was a tabernacle to build and transport. The temple later replaced the tabernacle, but it required regular maintenance. The priests and Levites received support too.

This huge need required the people to give their tithes and various offerings, some mandatory and others voluntary. In today’s church, facility costs and payroll expenses make up most of the church’s budget, sometimes all of it.

Yet if we were to do away with these two elements, there’s not so much need for money.

After building and staffing costs, what small amount remains in the budget falls into two categories. First is benevolence, that is, taking care of our own just like the early church did.

Second is outreach, sending missionaries out to tell others the good news about Jesus (Matthew 28:19–20, Mark 16:15–16, and Luke 14:23). Think of all the good a church could do with its money if it directed 100 percent of its funds on these two activities and not needing to pay for facility and staff.

New Testament Church Finances

In the New Testament church, people share what they have to help those within their spiritual community, that is, those within their church. They seldom take offerings and when they do it’s to help other Jesus followers who suffer in poverty.

The third thing they do with their money is to fund missionary efforts. Instead of building buildings and paying staff, they help people and tell others about Jesus. It’s that simple.

Rather than focusing on 10 percent as the Old Testament prescribes, we should reframe our thinking to embrace the reality that all we have, 100 percent, belongs to God.

We are to be his stewards to use the full amount wisely for his honor, his glory, and his kingdom—not our honor, glory, and kingdom.

Paul writes that the love of money is the source of all manner of evil. An unhealthy preoccupation with wealth is especially risky for followers of Jesus, as our pursuit of accumulating wealth can distract us from our faith and pile on all kinds of grief (1 Timothy 6:10).

Keep in mind that Paul is not condemning money. He warns against the love of money.

For anyone who has accumulated financial resources, this serves as a solemn warning to make sure we have a God-honoring understanding of wealth and what its purpose is.

When it comes to the pursuit of possessions—our love of money—we risk having it pull us away from God.

Three Uses of Money

We need money to live, but we shouldn’t live for the pursuit of wealth. We should use money to supply our needs, help others, and serve God. Consider these three areas:

First, we should use our financial resources to help fund the things that matter to God. This means we need to understand his perspective. With the wise use of our money, we can serve God and honor him. We must remember that we can’t serve two masters: God and money (Matthew 6:24).

Second, we need God’s provisions to take care of ourselves (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We must focus on what we need, not what we want.

Third we should consider the needs of others. What do they need? How can we help them? Again, as with our own balancing of needs versus wants, we must guard against supplying someone with what they want, instead of focusing on what they truly need.

God especially desires that we help widows and orphans (James 1:27). He also has a heart for us to help foreigners and the poor (Zechariah 7:10).

Therefore, we should give to God first (Exodus 23:19). Then we should concern ourselves with our needs and helping others with theirs. God wants our best, not what’s left over. This applies to our possessions and our actions.

Where Does Giving to the Church Fit In?

Does this mean we need to give to the local church? Maybe. But it’s much more than that. We must direct our money as wise stewards to where it can have the most kingdom impact.

I question if this means supporting an organization where most—or all—of its budget goes to paying for buildings and staff.

We must reform our perspective on money, realizing that 100 percent of it belongs to God, and we are merely stewards of his gifts. We must use God’s financial provisions wisely in a way that will honor him and have the greatest kingdom impact.

Check out the next post in this series addressing the fallacy of church membership.

Read more about this in Peter’s thought-provoking book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

3 Ways Jesus Changes Our Perspectives about Church

Discover the Revolutionary Way Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament

When we consider that Jesus came to fulfill the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets, what’s important to understand is that we must see these passages in their proper perspective, informing our perspectives about church today.

This doesn’t mean to ignore what was just because Jesus fulfilled it. It means we should consider the Old Testament in its context. In addition to teaching the people how to worship God and the right way to live, the Law and the prophets also point them to the coming Savior, Jesus.

In Genesis through Malachi, we see repeated allusions to Jesus and the freedom he offers to us now. And if we read the Old Testament with care, we will also see that this future revelation about Jesus applies to all people, not just God’s chosen tribe.

Yes, Jesus comes to fulfill the Law and the writings of the prophets. We’re the benefactors of that. Now let’s apply this to the Old Testament ideas of temple, priests, and tithes. to better inform our perspectives about church.

1. New Temple: Living Stones

When Jesus overcomes death, the veil in the temple rips apart, exposing the inner sanctum of the most holy place. This supernatural rending of the veil symbolically allows everyone direct access to God. No longer is God separated from his people, distant and removed.

He is now approachable by everyone. God ceases living in the temple and begins living in us. Our bodies become the temple of God. No longer do we need a physical building. We are his temple.

Yet we cling to the Old Testament idea of a temple and forget how Jesus fulfills it. Jesus’s disciple Peter helps us understand this. He writes that we are living stones built into a spiritual temple (1 Peter 2:5; also see Ephesians 2:22).

Yes, this verse is confounding.

It challenges our perspective of needing to go to church to experience God. Peter’s words flip this practice, and that’s the point. Jesus turned the old ways upside down and made something new. We must embrace this. We must change our perspectives.

First, Peter says we are living stones. As living stones, we are alive—not inanimate rocks. Jesus may have had this in mind in his rebuff of the Pharisees who took offense by the praise offered by his followers.

Jesus tells them that if the crowd doesn’t celebrate his arrival, the stones will cry out to exalt him (Luke 19:39-40). To do this, the rocks would have to come alive.

As Jesus’s living stones, our actions matter. We live for Jesus. We exist to honor him, praise him, and glorify him. Our purpose is to tell others about him through our actions and—when needed—even through our words. Our faith is alive, and what we do must show it.

Next, as living stones, we are part of God’s holy temple, a spiritual house. We become part of the construction of his new worship space. If we are part of his temple, we don’t need to go to church to meet him.

This is because, as his temple, he’s already in our presence, and we’re already in his. This means we can experience him at anytime, anywhere. Through Jesus, God’s temple exists everywhere we go. This is the first of our three new perspectives about church.

2. New Priests: A Holy Priesthood

After saying we’re living rocks built into God’s spiritual shrine, Peter adds two more mind-blowing thoughts. He says these first two truths—that we’re breathing stones shoring up God’s temple—sets up two more spiritual concepts.

Through Jesus we become a holy priesthood so that we can offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus (1 Peter 2:5). If we are truly priests through what Jesus did for us, then we don’t need ministers to point us to God, explain him to us, or help us know him.

God wants us to do that for ourselves as his holy priests.

Remember that back in Exodus, God calls his people to be a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6). But they recoil from that and refuse to cooperate. Later, Isaiah looks forward to the time when the children of God will become the Lord’s priests, ministers of the Almighty (Isaiah 61:6).

At last, through Jesus we’re poised to do just that. And Peter confirms this. As followers of Jesus—his disciples—we’re a royal priesthood. This makes us his holy nation, an elite possession of God.

Our purpose is to praise him for what he did when he saved us from the darkness of sin and moved us into the light of his love (1 Peter 2:9).

But there’s one more thing in this first passage from Peter. As living stones and holy priests, serving our Lord as part of his temple, we offer to him a spiritual sacrifice (1 Peter 2:5).

Though Jesus is the ultimate sin sacrifice to end all sacrifices, we honor what he did by living lives as holy priests that serve as an ongoing tribute to him. This spiritual sacrifice (see Romans 12:1) replaces the animal sacrifices we read about throughout the Old Testament.

This thinking is so countercultural to how most Christians live today that it bears careful contemplation. Through Jesus we can do things in a new way. We are living stones built into his spiritual temple, serving as a holy priesthood to offer him spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5).

Read that again: We are living stones built into his spiritual temple, serving as a holy priesthood to offer him spiritual sacrifices. Wow!

This can change everything—and it should.

No longer do priests (ministers) need to serve as our liaison between the creator and the created. Instead, all who follow Jesus become his priests, a nation of priests, just as God wanted back in Exodus 19:6.

This means that the laity, serving as priests to each other, should minister to one another, not hire someone else to do it for them. No longer is there a need for paid staff to be the link between God and his people. Everyone can now approach God directly, hearing from him and acting on his behalf.

The Holy Spirit who Jesus sent to us sees to that—if we are but willing to listen, hear, and obey what he says.

This is the second of our three new perspectives about church.

3. New Finances: Generosity

Last is that pesky temple tax, which we call a tithe. Today, a church’s building and employees can make up 90 to 100 percent of its budget. But once we remove the facility and the paid staff from the equation, there’s no longer so much of a need for money.

Does that mean we can forget about tithing?

Yes . . . and no.

The Bible talks a lot about tithing. In the Old Testament, God instituted tithes to support the religious institution he mandated for his people. This sacred institution included the tabernacle/temple, the priests, and the Levites.

To extend the financial support of the Old Testament temple and its priests to the modern-day church and its ministers is a misapplication. When Jesus fulfilled the law, he replaced both, turning us—you and me—into priests and making us into his temple.

Instead of the old way of doing things, Jesus talked about helping those in need and being wise stewards (Matthew 25:14-29). The early church in Acts shared all they had with each other (Acts 4:32).

That’s 100 percent. And being a faithful steward of all God has blessed us with also implies 100 percent—all things (1 Corinthians 10:31). We are to use every penny in the best way possible (1 Corinthians 10:24).

Whenever the New Testament mentions tithing, it always refers to the Old Testament practice. Nowhere do New Testament writers tell us to give 10 percent to God. And they never command us to donate 10 percent to the local church. Yet this is precisely what many ministers preach.

Instead we see New Testament commands and examples to use the money God blesses us with to cover our needs—not our wants (Hebrews 13:5), help others (1 Corinthians 10:24), and advance God’s kingdom (1 Peter 4:10).

Rather than tithing to church, we see a principle where everything we have belongs to God. We are to be generous stewards of his blessings, in turn using them to bless others (Genesis 12:2). We must use our resources to help those in need and advance God’s kingdom, not to support and perpetuate a religious institution.

If you feel a responsible use of God’s money is to support your local church, then do so. However, if you think the money is better used somewhere else, then donate to that cause. But never let preachers mislead you—or rile up guilt—by insisting you do something the Bible doesn’t say to do.

This is the third of our three new perspectives about church.

Status Quo Perspectives about Church

Yes, it’s easy to do what we have always done. It’s comfortable to cling to the status quo, but Jesus offers us so much more—and he yearns for us to take hold of it.

In these new perspectives about church, we see a new way to worship God: to worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). And it doesn’t involve attending church each Sunday.

So stop following the Old Testament model of church: going to a building to meet God, revering the clergy, and tithing out of guilt or obligation. Instead, be God’s temple, act like priests, and share generously. This is the new model that Jesus gives us.

So why do we persist in following the Old Testament model of going to church to seek God, being served by a minister, and tithing when Jesus died to give us something new, something much better?

Jesus turned us into his temple, promoted us to priests, and changed the 10 percent temple tax into a principle of generosity.

Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament. He offered himself as the ultimate sin sacrifice and then overcame death by rising from the grave. In doing so, he turned us into his temple, promoted us to priests, and changed the 10 percent temple tax into a principle of generosity.

Read more about this in Peter’s thought-provoking book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Don’t Drive God Away

In Ezekiel’s Day the People Did What God Detested

In the eighth chapter of Ezekiel, God takes the prophet to Jerusalem to see the area around the temple. Each place God takes him, Ezekiel looks and sees the people doing things God abhors.

God says he’ll drive them from his sanctuary.

After several recurrences, the chapter ends with God’s response to the people’s vile actions. He says:

  • I will deal with them in anger.
  • I will not look on them with pity.
  • I will not spare them.
  • I will not listen to them, even though they shout.

The people did what the Holy one detested. Their actions served to drive God away from the sanctuary. They would get what they deserved.

I wonder if we do the same thing with some of our religious practices at church today? Do we do things God detests? Do we drive him away? I hope it isn’t so, but fear it is.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 5-8, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 8:6 and 18.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Living Stones: What the New Testament Says About Temples and Priests

Through Jesus We Become His Priests and His Temple, Which Should Change Everything

In the Old Testament the people go to the temple to encounter God. The priests help them in this. They act as a liaison between them and God.

In many ways we still do this today. We go to church to encounter God. We look for our ministers to help us in our quest, to act as a liaison between us and God.

But this is a wrong perspective. We cling to the Old Testament practice and largely forget how Jesus fulfilled it. Peter helps us understand this in his first letter.

He says we are living stones built into a spiritual temple, prepared for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus (1 Peter 2:5; also see Ephesians 2:22).

Yet from our perspective of going to church to encounter God, this verse is confounding. It turns what we do upside down, and that’s the point. Jesus came to turn the old ways upside down and make something new for us.

We need to embrace this. We need to change our perspectives.

Living Stones

As living stones our actions matter. We live for Jesus. We live to honor him, praise him, and glorify him. We live to tell others about him through our actions and even through our words. Our faith is alive, and our actions must show it.

Spiritual Temple

As living stones we become part of the construction of his spiritual temple. And if we are part of his temple, we don’t need to go to church to meet him because, as his temple, we are already there and can experience him at any time.

Holy Priesthood

As living stones we are being made into a holy priesthood. If we are truly priests through what Jesus did for us, then we don’t need ministers to point us to God, explain him to us, and assist us in encountering him.

God is preparing us to do that for ourselves as his holy priests.

Spiritual Sacrifices

As living stones and holy priests, serving God in his spiritual temple, we offer to him a spiritual sacrifice. This spiritual sacrifice negates the need for many of the animal sacrifices and offerings we read about in the Old Testament.

This thinking is so countercultural to the way most Christians live today that it bears careful contemplation. Through Jesus we can do things in a new way.

We are living stones built into a spiritual temple, being prepared for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices.

This can change everything—and it should.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 1 Peter 1-3, and today’s post is on 1 Peter 2:5.]

Read more about this in Peter’s thought-provoking book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Why Does God Sometimes Withhold His Blessings from Us?

We Must Put God First Before Worrying about Ourselves

In the short book of Haggai, the prophet has a message for the people and an application for us today. God, through Haggai, chastises his people. They live in nice homes, while God’s home—the temple—sits in shambles.

It isn’t that God wants us to build great monuments for him as much as he wants us to put him first. It’s an issue about our priorities.

God has attempted to get his people’s attention for years, but they miss it. “Consider your situation,” God says. Then he reels off a list of realities for them:

  • Each year you plant much but harvest little.
  • You eat but are never full.
  • You drink but are still thirsty.
  • You put on clothes but remain cold.
  • You earn money, but it doesn’t last until your next paycheck.

“Contemplate this,” he says. God wants his people to put him first and think about their own needs second. When they do this, he will give them plenty.

Specifically, God wants them to rebuild his temple. Though we could assume this means he wants us to embark on a building project for our church—making it our number one priority—this misses the modern-day application.

Remember, Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament, so the need for a physical temple ended because we became his temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 1 Peter 2:4-5).

It May Be About Our Priorities

Instead, we can receive this Old Testament prophecy as a call to put Jesus first. That’s an easy enough lesson for us.

However, it gets a bit dicey when we dig into this.

Based on the lesson from Haggai, we can assume that if things aren’t going our way and we aren’t receiving God’s blessings, it’s because we have our priorities out of whack, and we aren’t putting him first in all that we do.

Though sometimes this may be the case, other times we may struggle and suffer because God is using our circumstances to grow us into the person he wants us to become.

In this situation, we may very well have our priorities correct and, for a season, still not enjoy his blessing.

If we feel we aren’t receiving God’s blessings, it’s up to us to determine why. Do we need to reorder our priorities, or do we need to allow him to grow himself in us, preparing us for the future?

May we wisely discern the reason why.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Haggai 1-2, and today’s post is on Haggai 1:2-11.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Who Was Supposed to Build God’s Temple?

Nathan’s Prophetic Words May Carry a Double Meaning

Once King David has his kingdom established, he wants to build the temple for God and tells the prophet Nathan. Nathan gives him his blessing to proceed, but later God gives Nathan a different message.

Nathan returns to David and says, “You are not the one to build a house for God. Instead your offspring will build God’s temple.”

Then Nathan shares a prophecy about David’s legacy and his offspring who will build God’s house (1 Chronicles 17:11-14).

Solomon Builds a Physical Temple

In expectation that David’s son Solomon will erect the temple, David amasses resources for its construction. After Solomon assumes the kingship, he proceeds to build God’s temple in Jerusalem.

The finished temple is a stunning tribute to the Lord God. It’s a grand edifice that will serve as a center of Hebrew worship for centuries. It’s completion fulfills Nathan’s prophecy.

Or does it?

Jesus Establishes a Spiritual Temple

Read Nathan’s prophecy again—carefully. Consider every word. Is the prophet speaking of Solomon or about Jesus?

Nathan prophetically says that after David dies, God will raise up one of David’s offspring to succeed him, one of his own sons (Solomon succeeds him, but this happens before David dies, not after).

This king will build God’s temple (Solomon does), and God will establish his rule forever (Solomon’s rule ends, but Jesus rules forever).

God promises to be this future ruler’s father, who will be his son (Jesus, the Son of God, fits this perfectly).

Furthermore, God promises to never take his love away from this future ruler (though God strips the kingdom away from Solomon’s son, God’s love for Jesus is without question).

Last, God will establish this future king’s rule forever. His kingdom and his reign will never end (Solomon dies. Jesus rules eternal).

When Jesus becomes our perfect sacrifice in payment for all the wrong things we have done, he fulfills the Old Testament. This includes the practice of worship. There is now no more need to go to a physical place to worship God.

We become living stones used to build God’s temple, a spiritual house for him. We become his priests and offer spiritual sacrifices to him (1 Peter 2:5; also see Ephesians 2:22).

Who Fulfills Nathan’s Prophecy?

Who builds God’s temple, Solomon or Jesus? Who best fulfills Nathan’s foretelling? David certainly understood this prophecy to be speaking of his son, Solomon. Solomon acts accordingly and constructs the temple for God.

But I don’t think this is what God intended with Nathan’s prophecy. God was looking much farther into the future. He wasn’t speaking in literal terms about Solomon as much as speaking in figurative terms about Jesus, his son.

Though both Solomon and Jesus emerge as fulfilling Nathan’s prophecy to build God’s temple—albeit in different ways—Jesus accomplishes it more fully than Solomon.

Many prophecies are like this, carrying a double meaning. But we can best see Jesus as fulfilling this prophecy.

Thank you, Jesus!

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

All Progress Faces Opposition

Our Response to Resistance Determines the Outcomes We Realize

In the beginning of the book of Ezra we have the story of Zerubbabel, who under direction of King Cyrus, begins to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.

His job is a noble one and backed by the full support of the Persian Empire and all that it entails.

Yet things do not go smoothly for Zerubbabel. He faces opposition from his detractors who do not want to see him succeed. They don’t care what the king says, even though he could crush them.

The resistance to Zerubbabel’s temple restoration project starts by stirring up discouragement and trying to make the people afraid. Next they offer bribes to appointed officials in order to thwart the plans and frustrate the work.

To his credit Zerubbabel doesn’t back down. While the easy response would be to cease work, he doesn’t give up. He persists.

He leads his people to complete their work, despite much resistance from those around him and corruption from the government officials over him.

Any time we pursue something good, no matter how much backing we have, we will face opposition and encounter resistance. Sometimes the source of this opposition will surprise us, but it shouldn’t.

We need to accept that this will occur. In fact, we should prepare for it and be ready to rely on God to protect us and help us see our project through to completion.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezra 4-5, and today’s post is on Ezra 4:4-5.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

​Enter your info and receive the free Bible Reading Tip Sheet and be added to Peter’s email list.