We recently wrapped up a series entitled ORIGINS, where we looked at some of the Old Testament prophets whose job it was to let people know that they were not living up to the expectations of God and He wasn’t happy with them.
And then they go on chapter after chapter describing God’s judgment and wrath being dumped on them. And if the story ended there, we’d be left with this sadness and distaste in our mouth because there’s just no hope and no glimmer of God’s goodness.
But in the midst of all of this judgment and devastation, a promise emerges . . . it’s the promise of God’s restoration and redemption.
It’s a promise that one day there would be a Messiah, an anointed one, who would usher in the Kingdom of God and makes things right again. But no one really knew what to expect.
- Some thought that it would a conquering king, who would come to destroy the enemies of God’s people and restore the nation of Israel.
- Others thought it would be a spiritual experience; the clouds would be pulled back and the heavens would burst forth with God’s warriors as they ushered in God’s king and his kingdom.
All these ideas. All the anticipation and expectation but then, nothing; No spiritual experience, no conquering king. For 400 years God was silent.
And what happened next, I don’t think anyone expected . . . a baby was born. VIDEO
Over this Advent season, as we wait patiently with anticipation, we’ll consider what scripture has to say about the birth of Jesus; born a man, born a son, born a savior, born a king.
Throughout the history of God’s people, they had good kings and they had bad kings. The first king was a guy named Saul, who started out good but like most politicians, things went downhill and God wasn’t happy with him, so He told a prophet named Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and anoint one of his sons as Saul’s successor.
When he arrived, he learned that Jesse had eight sons. Jesse brought the oldest ones out, hoping that one of them was the one Samuel was seeking. They were strong, good looking, and had a ton of wisdom – you know, the qualities you’re looking for in a great leader - but none of them would do.
So, Samuel starts wondering if he had gotten his assignment wrong, maybe he had made a mistake. Just to make sure, he asked if Jesse had any other sons. Sure enough he did. The youngest. A boy named David who was out tending sheep.
Jesse summoned David, and when he arrived, God said “That’s the one.” And so right there, David was anointed as Israel’s next king.
With this in mind, let’s listen to our text: 2 Samuel 7:1-7
David has come a long way since he was a boy, caring for the sheep at his father’s farm in Bethlehem.
- He has become king of Israel
- He’s whooped up on his enemies,
- He’s been able to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.
- He’s established a time of peace and prosperity for his people.
- And he’s got a pretty sweet palace made of limestone and cedar paneling.
- Everything about David says that he is a success and that God is with him.
But he’s not done yet.
One day, he stood at the widow of his palace, sipping on cocktails with his pastor Nathan, and he looks out over his kingdom and he starts dreaming about his next big project.
He was thinking that the house he lived in was amazing . . . it had everything that anyone would ever want . . . but God doesn’t have anything like it. The Ark of the Covenant . . . which represents God’s presence among his people . . . was kept in a tent.
And so he says to Nathan, “We should build a magnificent church . . . with spires and a bell tower that reach up to the heavens and an amazing sound system, lots of room for people to worship, huge screens to project on, and maybe we’ll even throw in new instruments for the band . . . and then we can show the entire world how great God is and how he has blessed me.”
Now, this kind of thinking isn’t all that uncommon.
You see, during David’s time, a king who had been blessed by his god would often embark on a major building project and erect a temple to honor his god and to ensure further blessings.
This is essentially what David’s doing.
But before he had time to start sketching his building design, Nathan is like, “That’s a great idea . . . God’s gonna love it. Let’s make it happen.”
The trouble is that neither David nor Nathan stopped to pray about it or wonder what God would think.
Well, that night, God let it be known. He gives Nathan as message to pass onto David, revealing a very different time line.
God says, “Why exactly do you think I need a house right now? Did I ask you for a house? I’ve been doing things just fine; bringing my people out of Egypt, taking you out of your dead-end job and being wherever you are and blessing you with all kinds of things . . .
So instead of worrying about building a house for me, let me build a home for you; not one made of brick and mortar but rather a family with an amazing legacy that will be marked by everlasting peace.
And when the time is right, I’ll have one of your offspring build a place for me but now is not the time.
You have to wonder why, when David was pumped and excited to build God a magnificent church that God said, “No.” . . . after all, isn’t an amazing church building what success looks like?
We’re never really told but my guess is that there are a couple of reasons . . .
- David had already done enough.
- He had brought together a kingdom, success of every kind, and just recently was the grand marshal of a parade that brought the ark into town.
- To add “builder of the Lord’s House” to David’s resume would have been too, too much. His head would have swollen up, his ego would have expanded and soon people would start to see him as a god.
- It’s not God’s agenda. God’s agenda is not building structures, but people.
We invest ourselves in big dreams and plans and buildings and monuments; the noble works of our imaginations, but God invests Himself in lives, hearts, and souls. He wants to be among those whose houses are not perfect, and neither are their lives.
God is always about building lives . . . not monuments.
God wanted a house, but had another kind of house in mind. God’s idea of a house was not a physical building. Rather God’s house was a dynasty built around David, the anointed one.
And so, He encourages David to sit back, relax, and enjoy the miracle of what they have accomplished together and to trust that at the right time, one of David’s kids will do the job.
David is free to squander or treasure his time. Perhaps learn golf, work out at the gym, spend more time on Facebook and Twitter or bake bread.
Sounds good to me, but I can’t help but detect a sense of sadness in this story. Basically, David is being told to deal with the reality that he will be long dead before his vision is fulfilled.
This is actually a common occurrence throughout the Bible.
Abraham and Sarah are told their family will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and will bless all the families of the world. But Sarah dies with having only given birth to one child, never to experience the joys of being the matriarch of a large extended family.
Moses was called to lead the people through the wilderness and into the Promised Land, but he himself never got to make it in.
Although they never got to experience it themselves, Abraham, Sarah and Moses played important roles in starting something big
Same with David; He wanted so much to be the one to build a Temple for God; instead he had to rest on the assurance that one of his children would do it . . . On God’s time.
That’s such a hard concept; a concept that can hit us right where it hurts, in our sense of mortality. That we want to get things done, we want to see them through.
But faith doesn’t always work that way.
Faith is . . .
- Doing what we do, knowing that we are only playing a part, trusting that God will finish the rest.
- Knowing that sometimes we will never see or be aware of the differences we have made in other’s livess
- Knowing that if what we are doing is truly for God and in the best interest of the Kingdom.
That’s an important thing to think about as we move forward with our church. We may never be big. We may not be able to accomplish all the mission projects we want to do. We may not reach as many people that we want to reach.
But just because God’s time doesn’t always fit into our concept of time it does not mean that we stop, or give up or lose all hope.
David didn’t. Sure, he never got to build the Temple, but his son Solomon did.
But there’s something even more important that happened. God did indeed build a new kind of kingdom through David’s family.
And you know how God did that? He sent his son. Through Jesus, born of Mary, raised by Jospeh, whose lineage could be traced back to David.
Sure, it took generations to happen, but it did.
Instead of a stationary temple made of cedar and expensive ornaments, Jesus became the everlasting, ever moving, ever present temple in which all the world would experience the presence of God.
And when you think about it, King David not only played a role in creating God’s house, but many, many houses.
Look around today and see the people in this room. Think about all the families who have been a part of our church over the years, and realize that this house, our church, is a direct result of King David’s passion and faith, even if he did not live long enough to see it.
And what a great house God has given us.
This Advent, as we patiently await the arrival of the Christ child . . . God’s son born . . . we are invited to experience God’s timing. His time may not always make sense, but we find peace in knowing that his time is right.