1 Kings 8:1-21; Acts 8:1-13; Psalms 128:5-6; Proverbs 28:2
OT: “At that time Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, all the tribal heads and the ancestral leaders of the Israelites before him at Jerusalem in order to bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from the city of David, that is Zion… All the elders of Israel came, and the priests picked up the ark. The priests and the Levites brought the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and the holy utensils that were in the tent. King Solomon and the entire congregation of Israel, who had gathered around him and were with him in front of the ark, were sacrificing sheep, goats, and cattle that could not be counted or numbered, because there were so many. The priests brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the most holy place beneath the wings of the cherubim… When the priests came out of the holy place, the cloud filled the Lord’s temple, and because of the cloud, the priests were not able to continue ministering, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” (1 Kings 8:1, 3-6, 10-11 CSB)
After the construction of the Temple was complete, King Solomon made arrangements to move the Ark of the Covenant from the tent that King David had provided to the Holy of Holies inside the temple. Solomon was not about to make the same mistake his father made years before, so he made sure that the Ark was carried by the priests and the processional was consecrated with extravagant worship and sacrifice. One the Ark was in place and the priests had left the Holy of Holies, the glory of God filled the temple. The Bible teaches that this historical event was only a shadow of things to come. While David’s son built the temple, God’s Son came to build the temple that God truly desired to inhabit: men and women who were made alive in Christ and completely devoted to Him by faith. The filling of the Temple foreshadowed the day of Pentecost when God’s glory, through the Holy Spirit, filled the disciples and initiated the church… and continues to fill the church and its members today. The Bible teaches that we who are in Christ are now the temple of the Holy Spirit… and all of us who are made alive by the Spirit are individual living stones that are built together into the corporate inhabitation of the Glory of God, otherwise known as the church. What God did with the temple in the days of Solomon, He desires to with us: make us a living, breathing, mobile temple of the Glory of God.
NT: “…On that day a severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria… So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the word. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds were all paying attention to what Philip said, as they listened and saw the signs he was performing. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city… But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” (Acts 8:1, 4-8, 12 CSB)
Before the stoning of Stephen, the church was primarily located in Jerusalem. After the stoning of Stephen, the members of the church were forced to flee Jerusalem for their own safety. Although they were being persecuted for their faith and had to uproot their lives and seek safety, that didn’t prevent the Spirit-filled church from proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God wherever they went. Not only did they proclaim the good news, they demonstrated the truth of their good news with dynamic power. As the members of the church fled, they left in their path people who were delivered from demonic oppression and possession, people who were once paralyzed but were now freely walking around and able to earn a living, and people who were once enslaved to their sin but were now free from their sin and fully alive in Christ. Church didn’t have to happen in the temple… church didn’t have to happen in the synagogues… church didn’t have to happen in homes. Church happened anywhere a filled temple of the Holy Spirit went. Church isn’t a building. Church isn’t even limited to a corporate gathering of believers. Church happens whenever two or more spirit-filled, living stones, come together in the name of Jesus and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God through the crucified and resurrected Christ Jesus. That begs the question, ”Who are we?” Are we “Christians” who claim to believe in Jesus, or are we the church… filled with the glory of God and making an impact wherever we go?