1 Kings 8:29
That your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which you have said, My name shall be there…
I. WHAT THE HOUSE OF GOD IS NOT.
1. In this place is no architectural type; it is no homage to the esthetics of form. Architecture is but a help and a convenience; it is not a religion.
2. "This place" is not reared in homage to any principle, so called, of Natural Religion; on the contrary, it is an admission that Natural Religion is not enough to satisfy the heart of the worshipper; it is true the groves were God s first temples; it is equally true that the early Persian made his peak an altar, and worshipped the Lord of nature from the tops of earths o'er-gazing mountains; it may be true that our Gothic architecture is an attempt to torture the stone to the grace and grandeur of the forest aisles, but it will not do, it will not do. "This place" is not reared to emulate "in the long-drawn aisle and the fretted vault," the mysteries of the groves and the trees; it is to point to one tree — the Cross; it is not to celebrate the mountain majesties of heaven, but to be a cleft of the rock, in which the people may hide themselves while the tempest and the wrath pass by.
3. "This place" is not an Ecclesiasticism; it is not the place for mere hierarchical assumption; it does not exist to symbolise any particular creed; it derives any value it may boast, not from man or men, but from God.
4. "This Place" is not built in homage to Intellectual Achievement, or to the consecrating efforts of Taste.
II. What the house of God is. — "This place" is the assertion that a new church has come to view. Hebraism was a church — the Jew was, in fact, a Christian. But he was so pictorially, and he must represent to us God as working the salvation over and independent of him. What, then, is suggested to us by "this place"?
1. It is Consecration. This is the stone for a memorial; and the prayers of the people and their dedication words are the holy oil poured upon the stone. This is the place of an almond-tree, beneath whose shade the weary Jacob rests, and beholds the vision of ascending and descending angels; and says, "Lo, God is in this place; this is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."
2. And with that idea goes this other of seclusion, seclusion even here. But it will be said, is not every place God's — is not every place equally Divine? To Him, Yes; to us, I must say, No, certainly not. Is not God equally diffused over all creation? To Himself, Yes; to us, No, certainly not. As well ask, Does magnetism reside equally in all substances? Is there not a loadstone, and a magnetic needle? The Sabbath is an answer to our necessities, by being a seclusion in time; the temple is an answer to our necessities by being a seclusion in space. Man needs, not only Sabbath hours, he needs Sabbath spots. Cannot man worship alone, it is said, in his own life and heart, and have there his own still Sabbath? What some may do, I will not say; but on the whole, I shall reply, Certainly not; man's true seclusion will be the temple; seclusion in such a place is very beautiful. As consecration is the act of setting apart, to and for God, so seclusion is that retiring into ourselves; we always enter into our closet when we retire into ourselves; but how large and mighty is the idea that in this place we retire not only into ourselves but into and with God.
3. But this place reveals the principle of association as surely as of seclusion or consecration. Here is revealed the unity of the Church — here is realised the image of the harmonious interworkings of countless spirits, who, though scattered over the whole globe, endowed with freedom, and possessing the power to strike off into every deviation to the right or to the left, yet preserving still their various peculiarities, constitute one great brotherhood for the advancement of each other s spiritual existence, representing one idea, that of the reconciliation of men with God, who, on that account, have been reconciled with one another, and have become one body.
4. But, again, this place is not merely emotional, it is conservative, it is the centre of doctrine, and therefore there is associated with it the idea of teaching it is the House of God; it is the home "of the chosen of the living God"; it is the depository of "the pillar and ground of the truth."
5. Another sentiment suitable to "this place" is, that it is perfectly in harmony with all that has gone before; it may be naturally described as the centre of conversion. "Repent and be converted, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" — this is the word which must often be uttered here, "and of this man it shall be said, he was born there." These buildings exist for the purpose for which the Gospels were written; they were built that believers "may have life," but they were built also that men "may believe." Lessons: To regenerated hearts this place is a memory. Here we pierce back into the night of time, and the eye surveys the splendid piles of ancient days. This place is an anticipation: it is a promise from God to man of his future home, and it is the declaration to man's heart, from the deeper instincts of his being, of the great, the hallowed, and all-hallowing truth that "there remaineth a rest for the people of God" — our rest in this place is the assurance of our rest yonder.
(B. P. Hood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.
WEB: that your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which you have said, 'My name shall be there;' to listen to the prayer which your servant shall pray toward this place.