1 Chronicles 21:18–22:1 (NRSV): 18 Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad (the prophet) to tell David that he should go up and erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite… 26 David built there an altar to the Lord and presented burnt offerings and offerings of well-being. He called upon the Lord, and he answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. 27 Then the Lord commanded the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath… 22 1 Then David said, “Here shall be the house of the Lord God and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”
There’s a lot to this story, but one thing in particular got my attention. We already know that David wanted to build a temple for the Lord, who had until that time been present in tents – what we call a “tabernacle”. It was mobile because, under Moses, the people wandered for 40 years before reaching the Promised Land. God did not have a fixed location from the time of Moses through the time of David. So – where to locate the temple?
If it were me and the congregation I lead we would probably call together a task force to assess different location options. What is the most attractive sight? Which site has greatest accessibility? Is it far enough from the road to avoid the noise? And so on. David didn’t work that way. David watched for where God showed up, then determined the location of the temple accordingly. In other words:
God was the one who decided where the temple would go rather than David or his people.
You and I aren’t likely to build a temple anytime soon, but we would do well to follow David’s lead. Where do we see God’s grace going ahead of us in life? Where is God showing up? Where is there supernatural fruitfulness? Lord Jesus, you are already at work in the world. Give us eyes to see where you are leading us. Free us from our preconceived ideas of how things should go. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.