Respect For That Which Is Sacred

April 20, 2013

Respect For That Which Is Sacred

                  Ezekiel says that God asked the priests to teach the people how to distinguish between the profane and the sacred.  “And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” (Ezekiel 44:23).  There is still a great need for that knowledge.  In case you aren’t aware, the words sacred and holy mean the same thing.  We should never forget that our God is holy.  I Peter 1:15 says, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.”  God wants to have a people “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).  If we, as God’s people, don’t have respect for that which is sacred, we are hindering God from having what he wants.

How can we know what is sacred?  We know the Bible is holy because it is often called “The Holy Bible.” By means of prayer, we enter into the holy presence of God.  When Moses was about to approach the burning bush in Exodus 3:1-5, God stopped him.  He told him to take off his shoes “For the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Not every bush is surrounded by holy ground, but that one was because God was there.

The word holy or sacred stands for something that is set apart.  It is set apart for a special purpose.  When Solomon finished building the temple, he and the people, dedicated it to the Lord.  “And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD” (I Kings 8:63).  When a new church building is finished, it is most often dedicated to the Lord in a special service.  In so doing, the people are saying, “This building is sacred.”

By means of this article, I want to kelp you to see that the church is sacred.  It’s not just the building that is sacred, but everything that has to do with it.  I Corinthians 15:9 says that the church is of God.  “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” In like manner I Timothy 3:15 says that the church belongs to the “Living God,” and that it is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” Since the church is of God, we should consider it sacred.

If we consider the church to be holy, then we ought to respect it.  That means that we will not permit in the church that which profanes it.  Our attitude toward the church should be similar to the attitude the Jews had toward the temple.  In Nehemiah we read of the struggle Nehemiah had when the captivity was over.  He was sent back to Jerusalem with the task of rededicating the city and the temple.  He had to confront two gentiles who were bitter because they had to surrender the city and the temple to the Jews.  Their names were Tobiah and Sanballat.  We read of their ridicule of the Jews in Nehemiah 4:2-3.  “And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?    Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.”  After rededicating the city and the temple, Nehemiah returned to Babylon to report to the king that he had completed his mission.

After a time he was sent back to Jerusalem.  When he returned he was appalled at what he found.  Eliashib, the high priest, had prepared an apartment in the temple and allowed Tobiah to dwell there.  Nehemiah 13:7-9 tells us what Nehemiah did about it. “And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.   And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.”

Shouldn’t we have the same respect for God’s house?  That’s why we are disturbed when we hear of churches that invite a profane rock music group to perform in the church in hopes they can persuade young people to come.  In so doing, they are permitting in the church that which blasphemes its sacred purpose.  Yes, the young people may come to hear the rock group, but they will turn a deaf ear to the preaching of the gospel.

We can’t honestly say we respect the sanctity of the church if we only attend occasionally.  By so doing we are saying that, for us, it isn’t very important.  The local church can’t accomplish its sacred mission for people who only attend occasionally.  If you are really a child of God, you need what your church has to offer you, and your church needs what you have to offer it.

If you aren’t saved, then it may be that you won’t have much respect for sacred things like the church.  I Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”  If you are among the perishing, I plead with you to seek God and the salvation that Jesus purchased for you when he died on the cross.  You need the transformation that II Corinthians 5:17 speaks of.  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When “all things become new” you will have respect for that which is sacred.

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