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To close my message this morning I need to just quickly review some of what I’ve said and then move on. As a matter of fact, I really don’t intend to much by way of review. I just want to point out that abundance is a blessing and poverty is a curse. It’s very important to see that. Some things in the spiritual life we can see in various different aspects but there are certain things we need to see very clearly in black and white. I believe that’s one of the things we need to be very clear about. Abundance is a blessing, poverty is a curse. Would you like to say that? Abundance is a blessing, poverty is a curse.
The good news of the gospel is in Galatians 3:13–14:
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that we might receive the blessing of Abraham through faith, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”
Another thing that we need to see clearly in black and white without any blurred edges is that on the cross, by divine arrangement, an exchange took place. Jesus took the evil that was due to us that we might receive the good that was due to him. You can view this exchange from many aspects. He was made sin that we might have righteousness. He died that we might have life. He was rejected that we might be accepted. He took our sicknesses and our pain that we might be healed. In him our old man died that the new man might come to life in us. The specific exchange we looked at in this series was the curse and the blessing. He was made the curse that we might receive the blessing. Specifically, he bore the poverty curse. When he hung on the cross he exhausted the poverty curse. God had told Israel that if they broke his law they would have to serve their enemies whom he would send against them in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness and in want of all things. When Jesus hung on the cross he exhausted that curse. He was hungry, he was thirsty, he was naked, he was in want of all things. He didn’t just take a little part of our poverty, he took total, absolute poverty. He owned nothing. He lost his clothes, he was buried in a borrowed tomb and in a borrowed burial robe. It was utterly complete. Before he died he said, “It is finished.” It is exhausted, there’s nothing more to do.
This is very specifically stated in regard to poverty in 2Corinthians 8 and 9. Bear in mind that the entire theme of these two chapters which contains 39 verses is money. Let no one ever tell you that it’s not spiritual to talk about money. If it’s not spiritual to talk about money then Paul was a very unspiritual man. I’d rather be unspiritual like Paul than spiritual like the people who don’t want to talk about money!
Let me also point out to you that Paul said to the people to whom he had ministered, the elders of the church at Ephesus, “I call you to witness that I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” And all the counsel of God includes money. I want to suggest to all of you leaders that we will not be pure from the blood of all men if we shun to declare to God’s people every part of his counsel. When Paul said, “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God,” the implication was there might be many pressures that would cause him to keep quiet about some aspects of God’s counsel. We know in fact that this is true. I think that’s a challenging statement for all of us who are in leadership and minister the word. Will we be able to say in due course to the people whom we have led “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Therefore, I am pure from the blood of all men.” It’s a very solemn challenge.
Turning to 2Corinthians 8:9, here the exchange is explicitly stated by Paul. We see that it’s grace and we know that grace comes only by Jesus Christ.
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
That’s the exchange. Jesus took our poverty that we might have his riches. I prefer to say his abundance.
And in the second part of the exchange it’s 2Corinthians 9:8. Paul states it that way. He uses the word abundance.
“And God is able to make all grace...”
Notice again it’s grace which comes by Jesus Christ.
“...all grace abound toward you; that you, in all ways having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to all good works.”
I put all at the end because in the Greek language it’s the same root word that’s used.
I think we’ll do it with the hands once more. I’ll use my right hand for the alls, my left hand for the abounds and the abundances. So, God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to all good works. Five alls and two abounds. That’s grace, it’s the result of the divine exchange.
I don’t believe any of us could ever exhaust the abundance of God. It’s inexhaustible. In a certain sense, God is profligate in some ways with his abundance. Out of all the millions of acorns that come down in a certain area even in the State of Michigan, maybe a hundred oak will emerge. God doesn’t consider the other million acorns wasted. He’s just profligate, he’s abundant. He’s not stingy. If there’s one thing that’s totally alien to the character of God, it’s stinginess.
I want to point out to you, and this is where we move on today, the purpose for abundance at the end of 2Corinthians 9:8. It says:
“...that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
The purpose for which God supplies abundance is not merely selfish indulgence. I believe God likes to see us enjoying his provisions. I believe that makes him happy. But, that’s not the ultimate purpose, merely our enjoyment. It’s that we will have enough to every good work that we will be able to do with complete sufficiency everything that God asks us to do.
One of the remarkable things if you read the New Testament is that they never said, “If we have enough money we’ll do this.” You just don’t ever find them talking about it like that. They just said, “We’ll go here, we’ll go there, we’ll do this.” Money really wasn’t a question. Though they had much to say about money and they were very practical in handling it, their plans didn’t depend on money. That’s very different from the contemporary church where so much of what is planned is dependent on money. I believe in being practical and I believe it’s very legitimate to make a budget. But, I do observe that some religious groups tie themselves down by their budgets. I don’t believe God is going to be tied down in that way. In fact, I’ve got one conviction about God, he’s not going to let us tie him down anywhere at all. The moment you try to tie God down he’ll slip out of your noose. That’s not by our rules, our systems, our theology, our finance. Nothing is ever going to tie God down. Don’t ever try because it’s a waste of your time.
I want to speak about one specific good work for which God provides abundance. I believe this is the primary good work. It is that we may provide him a dwelling place. I believe that’s been the purpose of God from creation onwards. God’s aim has been to dwell with man. We often talk as though the ultimate was to get to heaven but I find in reading the Bible the ultimate is to get heaven to earth. In the closing chapters of the Bible we don’t find earth going up to heaven, we find heaven coming down to earth. I believe that’s the ultimate thrust of God’s purpose from creation onwards, it’s to dwell with man.
There is a sense in which God lifts man up to his level but there’s another sense in which God comes down to man’s level. And God, ever since he began to plan and practice redemption has always purposed the result of redemption will be that God can dwell with man. I’m going to view just two historic examples of this out of areas that we might consider in the Bible. Two specific periods in history where God asked his people Israel to provide him with a dwelling place.
The first dwelling place we’re going to consider is the tabernacle of Moses. The second is the temple of Solomon. I want to point out to you that in each case God provided his people with abundance in advance that out of that abundance they might return to him all that would be needed to provide him with a dwelling place which would be suitable to his glory. He gave very precise specifications as to the kind of dwelling place he wanted. He didn’t leave one measure to chance, not one material. Everything was precisely specified and I want to say that everything was on the highest level. There was nothing cheap, nothing shoddy, nothing second hand in anything that God required in his dwelling place. I believe that agrees with the very nature of God.
Let’s then view, first of all, God’s provision for the tabernacle and the way it came about. Then, let’s view God’s provision for the temple of Solomon and the way it came about. Then we’ll give that an up to date application for you and me. Turn, first of all, to Genesis 15, I just want to read two verses there. In this chapter God makes a covenant with Abraham. He also gives him a preview of the captivity of Israel in Egypt. He gives him a kind of experience of a vision in which he goes through in his own personal experience the affliction of Israel in Egypt. We only need to read verses 13 and 14. Genesis 15:13–14:
“And the Lord said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them [shall be in slavery]; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve [that’s Egypt], will I judge: and afterward shall they [Israel] come out with great substance.”
The modern translations say “with great wealth.” Notice that when God predicted the captivity of Israel in Egypt and then their deliverance, one of the points he emphasized was when they were redeemed and delivered they would come out with great wealth. This is not an accident, it was part of God’s foreordained purpose.
And then we see this fulfilled if we turn to Exodus 12. This is the immediate result after the Passover night when the homes of the Israelites had been spared and every firstborn of the Egyptians had been killed. Verse 35:
“And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment...”
The word borrowed is not really quite right in modern day. It means “they asked for.” What does it say in the New American Standard? “They requested.” That’s right. Because, if you borrow a thing you’re morally obligated to return it. But there’s not that implication there at all.
“And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.”
The Living Bible says “they stripped the Egyptians.” They really took everything the Egyptians had. Gold, silver, raiment. Anything that they set their eyes on and asked for they got because the Egyptians were so frightened that all they wanted to do was get rid of these people no matter what is cost.
Now, you can say was that just? And you know, I find some people today are very concerned that God ought to be just. I just want to tell you, God is always just. He’s more just than we think he is. God had been keeping a record, reckoning. He reckoned that the Israelites were due about four hundred years of back pay! So, they collected in one night! That’s justice. A lot of people wouldn’t see it that way because they didn’t keep the same reckoning that God kept.
There’s a beautiful description of this in Psalm 105:37. Speaking about the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt it says:
“He brought them forth also with silver and gold...”
Whenever you read the word silver in the Old Testament, bear in mind it’s the modern Hebrew word for money. ?Kaseth.?
“...and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.”
That’s redemption. Please note. It covers every area: the soul, the body, the substance.
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, as thy soul prospereth.”
Redemption makes the total provision for the needs of the redeemed. It was all done through faith in the blood of the Passover lamb. And that faith released the supply of every need: spiritual, physical and material. Something like three million people marched out of Egypt. Not one of them limped, not one of them hobbled, not one of them used a cane or a crutch. I tell you, we have a long way to go to get to that standard. I believe it’s God’s standard. I believe redemption is complete, it covers every area of our lives.
It’s also very practical. How were they ever going to get through the wilderness if they were sick and crippled and lame? Bear in mind that they were underprivileged people. They’d been slaves. They hadn’t had the best of food, they hadn’t had proper medical care, they didn’t have a social security system. But, when God redeemed them he took care of everything in one act.
So, they came out wealthy, with abundance of gold and silver, everything that was precious. God had a purpose. Let’s turn back to the book of Exodus, chapter 35. God had given Moses the plan for the tabernacle, the tent, the place where he was going to dwell in the midst of his people. Then he said to Moses the people are going to provide the material and the labor to build the tabernacle. We read in Exodus 35:4:
“Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord: whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the Lord...”
I don’t want to make any kind of legalistic point out of this but in the Bible, buildings were never built out of tithes, they were always built out of offerings. Tithes took care of the ministers, offerings were used for the buildings. I think that’s a very practical principle. If we divert tithes to buildings then we’re not going to have the ministers to minister in those buildings. Whereas, if we use tithes for the ministry and the ministry produces fruit and blesses the people, then those blessed people will have plenty to give in offerings for the building. I wouldn’t ever make a law out of that but I think it’s a very useful principle. Today in many sections of the world we have churches, buildings, but we don’t have the people to minister. What good is a building without the people who can minister in it? So, you can just note this. It’s always out of offerings that buildings were constructed.
Nobody was obligated to offer. Tithing for Israel was totally different. Tithing was demanded. In fact, the tithe didn’t belong to Israel. God said, “All the tithe is mine. If you hold on to it you’re a thief.” You remember we read last night in the book of Malachi that 1,200 years later God said, “You’ve been robbing me.” You know, it frightens me to think that God keeps accounts for 1,200 years and then suddenly presents the bill. How would it be with some of us if God faces us with the bill even for the last 10 years?
“...let him bring an offering: gold, and silver, and brass, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, and oil for the light, and spices... onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod...”
And then in verse 10:
“And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the Lord hath commanded...”
And then the whole list of everything that’s going to be needed is given.
To me it’s very interesting, there’s only one man that I know of in the Old Testament of whom it is said specifically that he was filled with the Spirit of God. I believe it’s implicit in other language but the only man of whom it is actually said that he was filled with the Spirit of God was Bezaleel. Not to preach but to make jewelry and furniture and supervise the entire construction. That always blesses me because I have become so convinced that the Holy Spirit is practical. It delights me that a man had to be filled with the Holy Spirit to do the job right. I believe that somehow the inheritance of Bezaleel has stayed with the Jewish people—maybe in a diminished measure—because when he comes to jewelry and precious stones they’re still at the top of the list. As a matter of fact, in the last decade or two, Israel has become number one for diamond cutting in the world. It’s taken it from Holland. That’s a kind of inheritance that’s never departed from the Jewish people.
But that’s by the way. Notice they were to bring out of the abundance that God had provided for them through redemption, they were to bring back enough to make God the kind of dwelling place he required. He gave them no options about the dwelling place. There was not one significant option in this dwelling place. There was to be gold, there was to be silver, there was to be bronze, everything had to be made just the way he required. But, he was not unreasonable because he’d given them everything that they were going to need and he also breathed his Spirit into the men that were going to do the job.
Let me say in this context how much I enjoyed that play we just witnessed. I believe we all did. I used to be opposed to plays in church because I thought they weren’t spiritual. But the Lord has been showing me lately that when God’s people get it together and really become properly related with one another that he’s going to release tremendous creative ability in every area: drama, music, poetry and so on. And, it’s beginning to come. I see that redemption covers every area of our lives and has to be expressed in every area of our lives. I look forward to much more along that line. I believe God’s people should have a total life. They shouldn’t depend on the world for anything.
I’m quite serious when I say I feel sorry for people whose life is sucked out of a television tube. You know, I mean, what a thin measure of life they’ve got. How thin they’re spreading the butter. My life has been much more exciting than most television series, I have to say that. I believe any life in God should be exciting. I don’t believe it should be drab or humdrum, dull; but always stimulating. It’s creative. I see with joy God’s creative ability being released amongst his people once again. I don’t believe he releases it until we reach a certain point of maturity in our relationships. I notice the communities that have come to that point, God is releasing creative ability amongst them and through them.
Now, let’s go on to Exodus 36 and we’ll read a few verses there.
“Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the Lord put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the Lord had commanded.”
Let me point out that the ministry of God under the Old Covenant required skill. We can read about how they had to cut up all the sacrificial animals—the sheep and the oxen—but you put a person like me in front of a dead ox and tell me to get out the kidneys and all these other things, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Actually, it takes a lot of skill to be able to minister the sacrifices according to the requirements of the law of Moses.
Another interesting thing, by the way, is in the Hebrew university in Jerusalem they are giving courses in temple worship. It’s an acknowledged part of the curriculum in the Hebrew university. I think they’re aiming at something.
Going on, chapter 36, verse 2:
“And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it: and they received of Moses all the offering, which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the sanctuary, to make it withal. And they brought yet unto him free offerings every morning. And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made; and they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make anymore work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing.”
We don’t often see that in modern congregations, do we? The trouble wasn’t they didn’t have enough, the trouble was they were bringing so much they didn’t know what to do with it. That’s God’s abundance and the purpose for which it’s given. Redemption provides abundance but the goal of redemption is the dwelling place for God to dwell amongst his people. Out of what God gives us through redemption he asks us to give back to him that which will provide him with his dwelling place.
We can see the same again with the temple of Solomon. Just turn, for a moment, to 1 Samuel 16 and just read the beginning of the life of David. Samuel had come to Bethlehem to the home of Jesse to get the next king of Israel. And he’d seen all Jesse’s sons and the Lord said none of those is the one. In verse 11:
“Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep.”
He was so unimportant they didn’t even count him.
“And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.”
That’s a picture of David’s beginning. The youngest son in a not very wealthy family, out on the rather barren mountains of Judah looking after his father’s sheep. And yet, before the end of his life David had come to a place where he disposed of the equivalent of many millions of dollars. A fantastic sum of wealth which accrued to David in less than 70 years because he died at age 70. Yet, when he died he bequeathed to the house of God, to the temple that Solomon was to build, probably the equivalent of about a hundred million dollars of his own private fortune.
One thing we have to see, and it’s very significant, is during the reign of David there was a fantastic increase in the wealth of Israel. I don’t know of any way to calculate it but it must have been multiplied, I would think, hundreds of times over. What was a poor little struggling nation that made its living out of agriculture and husbandry and cattle and sheep, by the end of David’s reign was fantastically wealthy.
That was no accident. Partly it was the result of God’s blessing on David because whenever God finds a man after his own heart to lead his people, he will bless his people through that man. But apart from that it had a further purpose. At the end of David’s reign God wanted Israel to be ready for the construction of the temple that Solomon was to build. Again, God’s purpose was a dwelling place where he could be amongst his people. And again, every detail of that dwelling place was precisely defined. Nothing was left to the imagination of the builders.
Turn on to 1Chronicles 29 and look at the figures of what was given for the construction of Solomon’s temple. I really suggest that it would bless you to read 1 Chronicles 28 and 29 through by yourself. They contain some of the most glorious language found anywhere in writing. There’s a kind of wealth and a beauty about this language that is really staggering. I’ll read it in the King James Version beginning in verse 2. David said:
“Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God...”
One of the things I notice about David was whatever he did he did it with all his might. When he danced he danced with all his might. When he prepared the house of God he didn’t do it half-heartedly, he did it with all his might. I think God is turned off by halfhearted people. It grieves me to see people half-heartedly praising the Lord. Either praise him or don’t praise him. If you’re going to praise him, praise him with all your might.
“Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, the silver for things of silver, the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistening stones, and of divers colors, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.”
That may not be the most accurate translation but you’ll have to agree with me for language it’s beautiful. I read that and I just get blessed. “Onyx stones, stones to be set, glistening stones, and of divers colors, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.” Note the word abundance. God is not stingy.
Now that’s what David had prepared in general. Now he says moreover.
“...because I have set my affection to the house of my God...”
And again, that’s a key phrase. What you set your affection on is what you’re going to do properly.
“...I have of my own proper good [my own private fortune], of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir...”
Then he goes on to list the silver and so on. It’s difficult to find an accurate equivalent in modern monetary system for a talent. I would say that a talent of pure gold of Ophir was worth at least $25,000. Probably a good deal more because every time we turn around the dollar has gone down in value. So, David provided in gold the equivalent of 75 million dollars. That doesn’t include the silver. I suppose probably everything he gave out of his own private fortune, not out of the state treasury, out of his own private fortune probably amounted to a hundred million dollars.
Do you remember what he said earlier? Presumably when he was still a shepherd. He said, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” And God surely honored that confession!
Then in verse 6 we read what the chief of the fathers gave out of their own private possession.
“Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly [this is entirely a freewill offering], and gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents...”
According to my calculations that’s 125 million dollars worth of gold. David and the elders between them gave the equivalent of 200 million dollars of gold apart from silver and precious stones, wood, marble and all those little odds and ends. Out of their own private fortunes. That’s staggering! And remember, David started as a little shepherd boy on the barren hills of Judea. All that developed in less than 70 years. Practically, you could say, in one generation.
I want to suggest to you that something very similar is happening in our world today. You can talk about inflation and you can moan about prices but the fact of the matter is there has never been so much money available anywhere in the world, I would guess, as there is in modern America today. The amount of money in this nation I don’t believe anybody could count it. I live on a small little island in the center of Fort Lauderdale called Sunrise Key. It’s got about 50 houses on it. I just sometimes sit down and try to think what those houses and the property there is worth. There’s not a house on that island that would sell for less than $200,000. The man opposite me—this is good news for me—he refused $100,000 for a vacant lot. The man kitty-corner from me offered his house for $495,000 for quick sale! Did I ever do myself good when I moved there! I have to say that again. Did the Lord ever do me good when he moved me there!
I don’t want in any way to seem boastful or arrogant. I acknowledge it’s all the Lord’s doing. I find that across this nation God is beginning to prosper his people in a staggering way—if we’ve got the faith to plug in. If we’ve got the vision.
On my way back from the mission field in Kenya in l962 as a humble, poor missionary with my late wife Lydia, we stopped off in London. I was asked to give a talk to the students of a certain Pentecostal Bible college. I had just begun to read these scriptures and believe what they meant. I told those good, nice Pentecostal Bible students that I believed at the close of this age God was going to release unimaginable sums of money to his people on the basis of what he did for David. They looked at me in blank unbelief. I mean, it didn’t even register. I said to myself, “All right. If they won’t believe, I’m not going to waste my efforts on them. I’ll find people that will believe.” I believe I’ve found them! I believe that God is paralleling in our day what he did for Israel in the day of David. Because, God has got a purpose.
What’s the purpose? Well, we’ve always seen it never changes. It’s a dwelling place. God wants a dwelling place. He wants to dwell with man. And he’s very precise, he never varies in the specifications of his dwelling place. He’s not stingy. He wants everything of the highest quality. Relax, I’m not talking about building a super auditorium.
Incidentally, one of the brothers related to me out of sheer pressure because they have nowhere to put the people who were coming, a five or six thousand seat auditorium. They’re buying property all around as if it was going out of style. Every time you turn around they’ve bought a new house. They need several acres of parking and they reckon that it’s going to cost between five and six million dollars and they intend to do it cash. Praise God, I found a man!
It’s faith. Now, you can borrow that money. If you borrow five million dollars you’ll end up by paying ten million dollars in interest. Why do that? I mean, again I don’t want to be legalistic. Far from it. But the Bible says the borrower is servant to the lender. When we borrow we become servants. God said to Israel, “If you will obey me you’ll be the head and not the tail, you’ll lend and never borrow.” Please don’t run away and make a doctrine of that but I do believe that if God could find people that would believe him, we would be astonished at what he would do.
Now, I’m coming to the third and this is the closing section of my message. God’s provision for his dwelling place in our day. Turn to 1Corinthians 3:16–17:
“Know ye not...”
And almost every time Paul says “know ye not” the people didn’t know. Did you now that? And furthermore, most people still don’t know today! You can read “know ye not” maybe half a dozen times in Paul’s letters and almost always the people didn’t know what he said “know ye not.”
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
Notice the word dwell? This is God’s dwelling place. The Greek word is ?na-ous? which means a building built to be the dwelling place of a god. That’s the specific Greek word.
“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
You remember that Stephen made the religious Jews mad with rage when he reminded them that the most high does not dwell in temples made with hands. But Peter says God dwells in a temple built of living stones and we are the living stones. We are the temple. We’re talking now about God’s ultimate dwelling place which is not made even of gold or silver or any of the marvelously precious materials that God lavished on the temple of Solomon, but something infinitely more precious. Bear in mind people are always more precious than things. When God wants the most precious dwelling place of all, it’s made up of people, not materials. We are the people. This is God’s dwelling place.
If God was so particular and so lavish about the tabernacle of Moses and even more so about the temple of Solomon, both of which perished, were very temporary buildings, do you think that God will be less particular or less lavish about his ultimate, eternal dwelling place? Which is you and me. I personally believe that those examples are given in the Old Testament of the tabernacle and the temple because God wants us to understand, to make and complete his dwelling place it going to cost a lot. Can you accept that? We cannot pay for our redemption. The salvation of a soul cannot be measured in terms of finance. But when it comes to preaching the gospel to all nations, bringing people into a right relationship with God and one another, presenting them with the teaching that they need, doing all the work that’s involved, in terms of the modern situation in our world I believe it’s going to cost billions of dollars. I’m talking about literal dollars. I think that’s only practical. I think it’s utterly unrealistic to talk about getting the job done without finance.
I have a kind of friendship with Bill Bright of Campus Crusade, a man whom I love and respect. I wouldn’t necessarily do everything the way he does it but I have a deep respect for him. Bill Bright has set his sights to raise one billion dollars for Campus Crusade by l980. Do you know what I hope? I hope he gets it. It won’t leave any of the rest of us any poorer. I think when Bill Bright talks in those terms financially to get the gospel to every nation—which is his aim—he’s realistic. I think it’s going to cost in terms like that. I believe God has the money ready.
Let’s look at just two scriptures and I think you’ve got the message. Praise God we’re not taking an offering. We’ll give you time to digest this before we give the punch line! Turn to Haggai. Do you know what Haggai means? Haggai means “my peace.” That’s the meaning of that name. One of the things I believe is God is going to teach his people to enjoy his peace again. Really, I do believe that.
Furthermore, I’m inclined to think that our feasts are going to begin to coincide with the Jewish calendar. That’s just a thought that comes from somewhere. You don’t have to act on it but I think you’ll find it will work out.
We’re going to start in Haggai 2:6. For instance, at the season of the Passover or one of the Jewish feasts, when you greet people you say, ?Hag sameosh?. ?Hag haggai?. ?Hag? meaning the feast, ?sameosh? meaning happy. Have a happy feast. I’ll say that to you. ?Hag sameosh?, have a happy feast. Enjoy yourself. Haggai 2:6:
“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land.”
That is quoted in Hebrews 10. It is specifically applied to the close of this age. The writer of Hebrews says when God shakes the heavens, that’s the ultimate, that’s the close of the age. I want you to see we’re talking in terms of the close of this age. That sets the historical period.
“I will shake all nations...”
And I believe many of us will live to see that happen. God is going to shake all nations.
“...and the desire of all nations shall come...”
That’s a legitimate translation but I think in the modern translations it says something like “the precious things of all nations shall come, the treasures of all nations,” is that right? The wealth—that’s very down to earth, isn’t it?
What is the wealth of all nations coming to do?
“...I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord.”
What house? His dwelling place. He’s not talking about the temple that was built in the days of Haggai because that temple disintegrated, it was knocked to pieces 19 centuries ago. We’re talking about the close of this age. God’s dwelling place at this time. He says, “I’ll fill this house with glory.” But, he says in order to do that the wealth of the nations is going to come because it’s going to cost money to do it. How unspiritual!
And then God makes a very important statement, verse 8:
“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.”
He’s the Lord of armies. If anybody contests his claim he can fight them. That’s what it means. Bear in mind silver in modern Hebrew is money. God says the money is mine. The gold is mine. You realize that. The devil has no legitimate claim to any wealth at all. It all belongs to God. You say the devil’s got a lot. That’s right. And you remember what Jesus called him. A thief. That’s how he got it. He stole it. He has no legitimate claim to it. When Jesus died and rose from the dead all the treasures of this entire earth became legitimately his. He’s the heir of all things. We are co-heirs with him. Do you realize that? We share the inheritance.
So, in actual fact, we have a legitimate right to the silver and the gold through Jesus Christ. Then God returns to the theme of the glory.
“The glory of this latter house...”
The ultimate house of God. Or, the glory of this house. You can translate it either way.
“...shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place [in this house] I will give peace.”
It’s very obvious that that does not refer to the temple that was built in the days of Haggai because that perished in war. It’s perfectly clear that the reference is not to that temple. It is the dwelling place of God at the close of this age.
What is God’s dwelling place at the close of this age? You and I, his people, his completed church, his body. The Lord says for that purpose the wealth of the nations will come. God states any money that’s needed, bear in mind, I own it. You don’t have to go pleading to the devil for money. What you’ve got to do is pry it loose from his dirty fingers. He doesn’t have a claim to it. I believe every word I’m preaching. Maybe you think I’m being super-dramatic but I’m not. I actually believe what I’m saying. If I can convince you, things will happen.
One last picture and it’s very close. It’s in line with the one in Haggai. Isaiah 60:1–5. This is one of my favorite passages. This is spoken to God’s people again at the close of this age. It’s very clear.
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
This is a sovereign act of God. It’s nothing we’ve earned, it’s God’s program.
“For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people...”
That’s happening, that sets the scene.
“...but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.”
In nearly all the prophecies that relate to the close of this age the are two themes. Darkness and light. The darkness is getting darker, the light is getting brighter. And there is less and less possibility of confusing the two. Many interpreters of prophecy have focused almost exclusively on the darkness. They’ve spoken about the antichrist, the great tribulation and all that. All that is true but it’s not the whole truth. Just as the darkness is getting darker, so the light is getting brighter.
I want to remind you we were never commissioned to wait for the antichrist. We are commissioned to wait for the Christ. So many, I would have to say, preachers are almost advertising agents for the antichrist. He doesn’t need them. Our business it to proclaim the Christ. I want to tell you that Jesus is already reigning and he’s going to reign without ceasing until every enemy has been put under his feet. So, in the midst of the enveloping and surrounding darkness God says, “My light is going to come upon you in a way it’s never come before.”
Then he says in verse 3—and this is the Prince version which is slightly different from the King James but probably the same as the New American Standard:
“Nations shall come to thy light...”
I like that translation. I believe at the close of this age God is going to deal once again with whole nations. For a long period God has been dealing primarily with individuals. At the beginning of this dispensation or this period of God’s dealings, God dealt with Israel as a nation. The Messiah came to Israel, Israel as a nation rejected him. It says in John 1 he came unto his own people, his own people received him not. Then it becomes an individual matter. But as many as received him... After that it’s no longer national, it’s individual. Any individual in any nation who receives him. So it has been for maybe nearly 19 centuries. I believe at the close of this age the emphasis is going back to nations. God is going to deal with whole nations as collective units.
It says in Matthew 25 when Christ sits on the throne of his glory, all nations shall be gathered before him. And he will separate them as nations the sheep from the goat. Bear in mind the basis of his separation is how they have dealt with the Jews.
“Nations shall come to thy light, and their kings to the brightness of thy rising...”
I believe we have a message which many of earth’s rulers need. I think it’s a standing reproach to the church of Jesus Christ in America that presidents have had to seek to a fortune teller in Washington D.C. Why didn’t they come to the church? The answer is because weren’t ready for them. I believe God is going to raise up men like Joseph and Daniel who will have the counsel that’s needed by the rulers of earth’s greatest empires.
“Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. [verse 5] Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged...”
I believe that’s happening in our day. We are seeing what God is doing. Because we see we are flowing together. This meeting is a group of groups who have flowed together. Is that right? Our heart fears. I tell you, when you see what God is going to do it will cause a hold awe. God said that all nations would fear because of the prosperity he would procure for Israel. And then be enlarged. If there’s one thing that God’s people need in a spiritual and not physical sense is an enlarged heart. We’ve been so small minded and so narrow in our vision that we didn’t make room for what God intended to do.
“...because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee...”
That’s fascinating. I believe that’s a secret. This is my own private little theory. I believe there is great wealth in the sea which is yet to be recovered and made available to man.
Anyhow, the next part of the verse is perfectly clear.
“...the forces [or wealth] of the nations shall come unto thee.”
Do you believe that? I believe that. Why will it come to us? That we can complete the dwelling place of God which is made up of what? Living stones, people. Millions and millions of people, many of whom have never yet been reached even once with the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Nearly one billion people in China practically unreached. It’s going to cost a lot, it’s going to cost lives, it’s going to cost time, it’s going to cost everything we have. It’s going to cost money. I just want you to believe that God will make all abundance available to us for the work of completing his dwelling place. Amen.