…Observe and seek after all the commandments of the Lord your God so that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever…Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. For the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be courageous and act. 1 Chronicles 28:8-10 NAS
The spiritual / national rule at the time these words were penned was the Law of Moses. That Law, with its priest system and sacrifices was the essence of the covenant through which Israel related to God. We who have been born anew are partakers of a newer and better covenant that is administered by the Spirit of grace (not law). As attractive as many of the old covenant promises may have been, they are conditional and pale in comparison to the ones we have in Christ as partakers of the New Covenant. The differences in these covenants are worth understanding. A primary one has to do with identity.
The old covenant established a national identity; “We are the children of Israel.” They were a nation established and sustained (at least in their thinking) through very particular rituals and the blood of animal sacrifice. Theirs was a corporate identity dependent on a priest class that served as mediator between God and his people. Contrastingly, the New Covenant establishes an individual’s identity as an offspring of God! Though they could not see it clearly, having personal communion with God, is what the ancients longed for. The New Covenant is not dependent on mediators and rituals. It is established and sustained by the very life of Christ. This a definite covenant upgrade! Solomon’s experience highlights it.
While the Lord told Solomon he had chosen him to build a house as his sanctuary and for him to be courageous and do it. God has told the partakers of the New Covenant they are His sanctuary. He is saying, in essence; “In Christ, courageously be my address on earth.” What a scandal that He chose willful man with his dismal track record instead of the more dependable compliance of bricks and mortar! Such is the risk and wager of God.
What is God thinking? Based on what new variable could man possibly succeed in knowing and serving God with a whole heart and a willing mind? The crux of this answer is that, with the New Covenant, came a new nature. As the Spirit has entered our lives, our natures have been altered. We no longer are governed by hearts of stone. We have been given softened hearts that thrive in grace and shrink in law.
We can live unburdened by the weight of compliance. Sin is still sin but it doesn’t affirm the saint as a sinner. Remember; We are new creations in Christ! The old things passed away! New things have come! Saints can still sin and we do, but we have a new provision, a once-and-for -all sacrifice, in Christ. The saint who sins does not overcome because they doubled down on their assumed depravity with holy resolve. The saint who overcomes recalls the reality of his new birth and his new nature. He orients himself to his place in a new creation which is underway. God never scrapped his original intentions. He has pursued them through various covenants. Do you recall the original one? To Adam and Eve he said;
I bless you; Go and be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
The common denominator of both testaments is God’s heart and his original intentions. These things have not changed. The old testament is simply the story of one of the covenants God implemented to re-establish communion with man, and in doing so, fulfill his original human-administrated kingdom of God. The New Covenant reveals God’s secret weapon in this battle – Jesus Christ, and Himself living in and through the interconnected community His children. I don’t believe I will ever tire of saying this; It is Christ in us, the hope of God’s original and ultimate glory. Given that so much is riding on our new hearts, he…
searches them, and understands every intent of the thoughts. For the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. 1 Chronicles 28:9 NAS
What he hopes to find in our hearts is not our doubled-down, dead-serious resolve. He is not applauding our holy convictions and compliance. He wants to establish us in simple rest and keen awareness of our altered identities and natures. One day the resurrected Christ will establish his government through the collective hearts of his chosen people. Our hearts, the temples of God, play heavily into the administration of God’s Kingdom. This is immeasurably more than just being save from hell isn’t it?
The foundation God is endeavoring to build his kingdom on is under repair just now. Some of that repair has to do with our identities. Only sons and friends can build in the kingdom. Fear-motivated slaves, laboring under the burden of performance religion, motivated by fear, working for God in the strength of their flesh will receive whatever rewards they have coming in this life – not in eternity. Things we do in our own strength are wood hay and stubble.
Since our hearts are God’s base of operations in the establishment of his kingdom, he endeavors to incinerate mere human motivation before we must stand before him and give account. The refining process of our fiery trials on earth, when they are necessary, are useful in exposing where our flesh is ruling instead of His Spirit.
The baton has been passed from the Old Testament saint to the New. It will also be passed from old wineskins to new wineskins. The new ones are not bound by conviction, rules and rituals. Through brokenness they are being weaned from the strength of human resolve and are becoming pliable and responsive to the Holy Spirit – God’s primary agent on earth and the Occupant of our hearts. He has hedged His bet with Himself.
If we can grasp this, we will be free to unbuckle our religious seat belts and move about the kingdom. We will possess this good kingdom real estate and we will bequeath it to all in our spiritual linage, all to the glory of Jesus Christ.
Father, in full view of our great cloud of witnesses and a skeptical and unbelieving world establish your throne in our hearts in wisdom and rest. May we go out and courageously be the kingdom agents who establish your reign in this earth. So be it.