In a previous article, (July, 1995) we looked at the desire for service and for the Scriptures. Let us now look at the Desire for the Sanctuary, for Sanctified Living and then the Desire for Supremacy.
The Desire for the Sanctuary
David says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Psa 27:4). Can we ask David of his keen desire for the sanctuary and look for his answers within this Psalm? Then we can apply his thoughts to the House of God today (1 Tim 3:15).
David Desired it because of its Splendor
“To behold the beauty of the Lord.” This is his first reason. There was always a beauty and a splendor associated with the house. In the tabernacle, it was not seen outwardly but was within for at its completion, “The cloud covered the tent of the congregation and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Ex 40:34). Can we not see a beauty today associated with the local church, a beauty in its simplicity, in its order, in its worship? Is there not a beauty associated with being in His Presence when gathered in simplicity?
David Desired it because of its Supplication
He writes, “and to inquire in His temple.” The New Testament assembly is likewise to be characterized by supplication. We read of the early church praying together in the Acts, and indeed, one of the pillars on which the model church was built was that they persevered…in the prayers (Acts 2:41-42). We would say today that David loved the prayer meeting. He would have loved the public meetings where men lifted up holy hands without wrath and doubting (1 Tim 2:8). Do we feel like this about our local prayer meeting? Does it cause us to love local prayer meetings? Does it cause us to love the house and love the times when we draw near to pray collectively? Or do we often miss the prayer meeting of the assembly? And when we come, do the brethren pray with specific burdens for specific needs or do they “multiply words”, indeed the same words that they multiplied the previous week? In the prayer meeting, we should be like Jacob who said, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Gen 32:26).
David Desired it because of its Safety
“For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion.” God’s house is a place of protection. In it we should be protected from the changing winds of doctrine; we should find solace from persecution; we should be made aware of dangers posed by the world, the flesh and the devil. And there is safety because of the reality of assembly discipline, for we are told that others also will fear the possibility of sinning and of a public rebuke (1 Tim 5:20). Further, we are told, “if a man be overtaken in a fault … restore such a one” (Gal 6:1). Surely this loving, careful act of restoration will save the person from a deeper fall. And let us remember that it is the doctrine that preserves (Read Matt 22:29).
David Desired it because of its Sacrifices and Songs
In Hebrews 13:15-16, the author speaks of “the sacrifice of praise … the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.” David desired the house because it was there where he could offer the “sacrifices of joy .. and…sing praises unto the Lord.” Under the Hebrew law’ no person could appear before the Lord empty Each had to come with a basketful of the firstfruits and present it in the place which the Lord had chosen (Deut 16:17; 26:2). Is there a lesser responsibility for us when we come on the Lord’s Day to remember Him? Should we not ask ourselves before coming. What have I in my basket? Is it fresh? Is it new? When I stand to worship, will the believers recognize that I have been in His presence during the week and that He has expounded … in the scriptures the things concerning Himself? (Luke 24:27). See also Psalm 141:2, “Let my prayer be set forth thee as incense; and the lifting up my hands as the evening sacrifice.”
David Desired it because it was a School
He writes, “Teach me Thy way, O Lord.” Is this not one of the necessary characteristics of the house in this dispensation also? The local church should be the place where the Scriptures are taught, where souls are fed, where minds are instructed and hearts are stirred. For example, in Titus we read that the overseer must be “holding fast the faithful word that he may be able to exhort and to convince” (1:9). And in Titus 2:4-5. there is the private teaching ministry of the older women who are to “admonish the young women to be attached to their husbands, to be attached to their children, discreet, chaste, diligent in home work, good, subject to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be evil spoken of” (JND). And Paul writes in Titus 2:11-12 that the Grace of God is teaching us as to our manner of life.
In 1 Timothy 5:17, Paul tells his other protege that the elders, who labour to the point of weariness in the word and teaching are to be counted worthy of double honour. In the NT pattern, elders were to do this labouring within the local church. (See Acts 20:17,28). Today, so often elders have left their real responsibility of teaching and feeding to the visiting evangelist and teacher, while the elders busy themselves with the work of deacons.
And in 2 Timothy 1:13, Timothy is told to have a systematic exposition of sound words. See J.N.D.’s translation. In other words, he was to have an outline of the great foundation truths of the Scriptures. He could not be superficial in his knowledge for he was to be a steward of entrusted truth which was to be passed on to other stewards who would be competent to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2).
So the local church is a school. David would have loved the Bible Reading and the Ministry Meeting.
The Desire for Sanctified Living
In 1 Timothy 3:12 we read, “Yea, and all that will (desire to) live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” The “will” is not the “will” of futurity but rather of desire and shows us that godly living can only be a result of a burning desire to so live. Paul has outlined some of the characteristics of godly living in 3:10 and exhorts Timothy in 3:14 to “continue thou in the things which thou has learned.” He has warned Timothy of the cost of possessing and pursuing the desire for godly living, and has also appealed to him to be empowered in the grace that is in Christ (1 Tim 2:1).
We could connect with this thought of desire, Peter’s quotation from Psalm 34 in 1 Peter 3:10 where the sense is really, “He that desires to love life and good days.” Again the “will” is not one of futurity but of desire, that which is within us and which propels us forward.
So we see that godly living is a product of our desire. If desire should wane, then we will unconsciously drift down to a lower plane where we are perhaps living with the same goals as the unbelieving world.
The Desire for Supremacy
In Mark 9:35, the Lord Jesus in teaching His disciples, who just a short time earlier were disputing among themselves who should be the greater, and he says, “If any man desires to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all.” Here we have the desire to be first. The Lord shows them the only way to be first, the only way to reach that number one position, and that way is by becoming last of all and servant of all. Truly the way up is down.
Diotrophes loved to have the preeminence among the believers. In contrast, John the Baptist said, “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30). Paul wrote to the Colossians, “That in all things He might have the preeminence” (1:18). If we are preeminent, the Lord will not be having his rightful place. Paul’s desire was that “Christ should be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death” (Phil 1:20). He was so much like John the Baptist, wasn’t he?
The believer then must get victory over the desire for his own greatness, and have the burning desire of John the Baptist for the pre-eminence of the Christ.
How can we summarize our thoughts? We are a product of our desires. Our desires have made us what we are. Can we take our own spiritual temperature and thus test our desire level as we compare it with the verses on which we have meditated?