Ellet J. Waggoner
The Present Truth : October 14, 1897
In the third chapter of Hebrews we have noted Christ’s faithfulness in God’s house, “whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Hebrews 3.6. Let us devote a little further study to the nature of God’s house.
The house of God is a wonderful building - it grows. Of an ordinary building of brick or stone, we say that it grows from day to day under the hands of the workmen; but God’s house grows differently; it grows as a tree or a man grows, because it is alive. See: Christ is the foundation, for “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3.11. But He is a living foundation, “a living Stone,” with power to give life to all that come in contact with Him, so that although we are dead, when we come to Him we also “you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2.5. Christ is the foundation, the chief factor in the house, “in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2.12, 22
The Apostle Paul speaks of those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ as “rooted and built up in Him.” Colossians 2.7. Thus we see that the house partakes of the nature of the foundation, the dead material becomes living, and takes root and grows like a tree.
What is the object of God’s house? It is for “a habitation of God.” God builds a house in order that He may dwell in it. But when will He dwell in it? Will He wait until the house is completed before He takes possession?—Not by any means; for it is His presence “through the Spirit,” that gives life to the dead material, and makes it grow, and in Him it is complete and perfect all the time (Colossians 2.10), while all the time growing. Throughout eternity the house will be growing, for where there is life there must be growth. Now is the time when God dwells in His house. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3.16. “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 2 Corinthians 6.16
The Living Throne
We have now only to consider: “What are the characteristics of God’s own, real house?” There is one portion of Scripture that furnishes all that we need in this line. It is the first chapter of Ezekiel, a chapter which we may meditate on with profit for many a long day. That chapter gives a description, as well as human language can do such a thing, of the throne of God; and as is the nature of the throne of God, such must be the nature of the temple in which the throne is. Let us then read Ezekiel chapter 1: —
“Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was upon him there.
Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straightforward.
As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. And each one went straightforward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went.
As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.
Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel was on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went. As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them. When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When those went, these went; when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads. And under the firmament their wings spread out straight, one toward another. Each one had two, which covered one side, and each one had two which covered the other side of the body. When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings. A voice came from above the firmament that was over their heads; whenever they stood, they let down their wings.
And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.” Ezekiel 1
“The Lord is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting King.” Jeremiah 10.10. Nothing can be in His presence, and not live. His throne is a living throne; from the midst of it flows the river of water of life, and by it grows the tree of life. We have already seen that the temple of God is a living house, composed of living stones, and this description of the throne of God, who dwells in the house, is sufficient to show us the nature of the direction and control of the house.
Read what is said in the twentieth verse of the living creatures that compose the throne of God: “Whithersoever the Spirit was to go, they went;” “for the Spirit of life was in the wheels.” (Marginal reading). God is not confined to one place; He moves. He “has His way in the whirl¬wind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” Nahum 1.3. And wherever He goes, His throne goes with Him. It moves by the influence of His Spirit that pervades it. God thinks, and the thought at once results in action on the part of the living creatures about Him.
Notice that the creatures composing God’s throne are all different, as different one from the other as can be imagined; yet there is no disagreement. One does not start off in one direction, and another in another direction, so that there must be a little time lost in settling which way they shall go. That would necessarily be the way, even with the best of instructions, if they each had their own mind; but the mind of God and that alone, pervades each one, so that all move in unison. It is the perfection of organization.
The nearest earthly approach to that perfection of united action, is a well-disciplined army. See it in motion; the different divisions move like clockwork, and all the members of any division move as if they were but one man. What causes it? —The word of the commanding officer. He thinks what he wants them to do, and puts that thought into words. At once that thought is transferred to the minds of the men under him, and is transformed into action. Long drill has trained them to hold their minds vacant, so far as their own thoughts are concerned, and to be simply machines moved by the will of the commander. He thinks for them.
The Perfection of Unity to be seen in Christ’s Church
That is the nearest approach to God’s perfect organization that man can produce, and men have made the mistake of trying to model the church after the same pattern, and a very good machine they have often succeeded in producing; but it was after all only a human affair, and not the church of God. In the army, and also in the church when it is at the highest point of perfection that human government and regulation can produce we have uniformity; but in the church of God, the house of God, we have unity. All the members are different, with different capacities and different work to do, but all are united as the various members of the body. The Lord is the Head of the body,—His Spirit fills the house,—so that as He thinks, the members of the body, the parts of the house, act. His life is their life.
forgetting that the history of the true church has never been recorded on earth. All nature, even though marred by the curse of man’s sin, bears witness to God, because everything that God has made is completely subject to Him. Man alone is rebellious. But the witness must be just as complete through man as it is through the lower creation. “When human agents choose the will of God, and are conformed to the character of Christ, Jesus acts through their organs and faculties.” (Healthful Living 11) What a wonderful condition of things! How desirable, and how blessed the assurance that it is a possibility!
What power the church will have when each individual member is the habitation of God through the Spirit. It will be nothing less than infinite power. Then will speedily be fulfilled the petition, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” That time will come as soon as God’s Word, that living and powerful Word, is regarded as the supreme and final authority and is given free course. Then the house on earth, like the household in heaven, will “do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His Word.”