Alternative Places of Worship

Alternative Places of Worship

You can’t beat the excitement of watching your future home being built. We had one house built when I was growing up in northern Virginia. Our family was riveted with every step of the process. We visited that house, always in awe of the transformation. Eventually, every detail became a tangible reality and we were ready to move in a little before Christmas.

Our excitement pails to that of Ezekiel. He measures the new Temple which will house the worship of God’s people. The move-in day is still a ways off, but they are excited about every nook and cranny. It may be easy to gloss over these chapters and write them off as boring, but you would share in the excitement a friend has over their new home being built. Shouldn’t we share in the excitement of a future and magnificent place of worship?

If it doesn’t excite you, then you might be like Jeroboam. You see, the place of worship was a problem for him. If everyone went to the Temple, then he may lose their devotion. Jeroboam decided to build his own places of worship. “Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan” (1 Kings 12:28–29).

You can find many points of application in this passage, but the most important observation is he built a substitute. What might your substitute be in your life? What other places of worship do you frequent instead of the unified gathering of God’s people at church? The psalmist declares, “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, That they are vanity” (Psalm 94:11). Paul recognized the vanity of his thoughts and pledged a single pursuit in Philippians 3: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:7–8).

Jeroboam did what all of us tend to do—build alternative places of worship. We see God’s desire and demands on our life as competition to our personal dreams, so we are not looking forward to that blessed hope. It’s obvious because we build other places of worship. Remember “our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Be fascinated with the place of worship God has prepared. For now, our gathering here is a shadow of our worship in glory, but be careful you do not have competitive places of worship in your heart.

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