God builds things. He created, and there was lots of stuff. And He kept building. He used the people that He had created to have dominion over the earth, and He told them what He wanted them to do.
Here are two of many examples from the Old Testament:
God looked on the earth and saw how debased and degenerate it was, for all humanity had corrupted their way on the earth and lost their true direction. God said to Noah, “I intend to make an end of all that lives, for through men the land is filled with violence; and behold, I am about to destroy them together with the land. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make in it rooms (stalls, pens, coops, nests, cages, compartments) and coat it inside and out with pitch (bitumen). This is the way you are to make it: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits (450’x 75’ x 45’). You shall make a window [for light and ventilation] for the ark, and finish it to at least a cubit (eighteen inches) from the top – and set the [entry] door of the ark in its side; and you shall make it with lower, second and third decks. For behold, I, even I, will bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy all life under the heavens in which there is the breath and spirit of life; everything that is on the land shall die. But I will establish My covenant (solemn promise, formal agreement) with you; and you shall come into the ark – you and your [three] sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing [found] on land], you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of fowls and birds according to their kind, of animals according to their kind, of every crawling thing of the ground according to its kind shall come to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every kind of food that is edible, and you shall collect and store it; and it shall be food for you and for them. SO NOAH DID THIS; ACCORDING TO ALL THAT GOD COMMANDED HIM, THAT IS WHAT HE DID.Genesis 6:12-22
Beginning in Exodus 25 God speaks to Moses:
Tell the children of Israel to take an offering for Me. From every man whose heart moves him [to give willingly] you shall take My offering. This is the offering you are to receive from them; gold, silver, and bronze, blue, purple, and scarlet fabric, find twisted linen, goats’ hair, rams’ skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood [olive] oil for lighting, balsam for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones and setting stones for the [priest’s] ephod and for the breastpiece. Have them build a sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among them. You shall construct it in accordance with everything that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture.
From Exodus 25:10-30:38, God tells Moses exactly how the Tent of Meeting, all of its furnishings, who can come in, how they are to come, what they should wear; all of it should be made according to God’s instructions.
In Exodus 31:1-6,
Now the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom and skill in understanding and intelligence, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, to work in all kinds of craftsmanship. And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; to all who are wise-hearted I have given the skill and ability to make everything that I have commanded you…”
In Exodus 31:12-13:
And the Lord said to Moses, “But as for you, say to the Israelites, ‘You shall most certainly observe My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, so that you may know [without any doubt] and acknowledge that I am the Lord who sanctifies you and sets you apart for Myself]…”
During the time that God was speaking to Moses, these people were behaving horribly. They enlisted Aaron to build a golden calf for them to worship. They did worship it. They frolicked [shamefully – without moral restraint]. God was angry. Moses was angry when he came down and saw what had happened. Moses called the people to come to him if they were going to stand on the Lord’s side. Three thousand were executed that day, and then God sent a plague. God said that He would no longer travel with them on their journey. The people mourned and repented. God called Moses to come back up to Him and there was quite a conversation in Exodus 33-34. Then Moses calls the people together and exhorts them in Exodus 35:10, “Let every skilled and talented man among you come, and make everything that the Lord has commanded:…” And they did throughout the remaining chapters of Exodus. Even Aaron, after creating the calf, the false idol for the people to worship, and then lying about it to Moses, was still permitted to be washed, to don the priestly garments and worship in the completed Tent of Meeting. How amazing are God’s ways!
There is one more account of building that I want to focus on in the New Testament. The book of Ephesians tells of another building, and though I cannot quote the entire book which is worth re-reading in light of what God is doing, I would like to highlight some verses from it.
We were, by nature, children[under the sentence] of [God’s] wrath, just like the rest [of mankind]. But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace – His undeserved favor and mercy- you have been saved from God’s judgment). And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly]show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption].Ephesians 2:3b-7
For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].Ephesians 2:10
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord]. In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19-22
We get a glimpse into the purpose of what God is doing in Ephesians 3:10-11:
So now through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God [in all its countless aspects] might now be made known [revealing the mystery] to the [angelic] rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This is in accordance with [the terms of] the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,…
The first part of Ephesians 4 tells us how God plans for us to be equipped and is especially important. This section ends with Ephesians 4:16: From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love.
The remaining part of Ephesians 4-5 tells us what our walk should not and should look like. Part of chapter 5 are instructions to husbands and wives, but I want to focus on God’s purpose for them especially in Ephesians 5:25b-27:
… just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless.
We pick up another comparison in verses 29-32:
For no one ever hated his own body; but [instead nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members (parts) of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined [and faithfully devoted] to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery [of two becoming one] is great; but I am speaking with reference to [the relationship of] Christ and the church.
Chapter 6 goes into how believers should behave in a variety of relationships, including parents and children. The end of the chapter deals with the warfare and all that we need to proceed successfully.
The transition verse is important for us as we think about the building that God is doing through the bride of Christ, His body, the church in 6:18:
With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.
Given the specificity with which God gives His instructions, how foolish we would be to proceed without listening and obeying the instructions of the Master Builder!