In the midst of a world that’s full of sin and evil, God has always had a specification for a house for him to dwell in. A place where God’s people could meet with him. In the Old Testament it first was in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple within Jerusalem. In the New Testament, his dwelling is his people, the true church.
In the Old Testament, when all things were properly set in order according to God’s direction, then, and only then, would God come down and meet with his people there. And when he would meet with them, he would always manifest his presence in the cloud.
As an example, when properly dedicated, God’s presence filled the Tabernacle. (See Exodus 40:17-35)
“And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” ~ Exodus 40:33-35
Additionally, the cloud appeared again at the time of the dedication of the new Temple in Jerusalem.
“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.” ~ 1 Kings 8:10-11
So in like manner did the Holy Spirit dedicate His New Testament house, the church, on the day of Pentecost. And on that day the Lord created his cloud of witnesses, so that his presence could be felt and realized by his people.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” ~ Acts 2:1-11
The cloud of witnesses not only included the 120 that were up in the upper room. But also the cloud instantly grew, as 3,000 souls were added in one day.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” ~ Acts 2:41
We are clearly instructed in the Word, that this is still the way that the Lord comes and meets with his people on Earth. It is through the cloud of witnesses of his New Testament church.
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” ~ Revelation 1:7
Hebrews the 11th chapter describes to us a historical cloud of witnesses, as it identifies many of the faithful throughout history. And then after describing this list of faithful saints, it specifically goes on in chapter 12 to further describe them part of this cloud of witnesses, and that “we also are compassed” by this cloud.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” ~ Hebrews 12:1
So the church today is supposed to be the house of God that witnesses to the powerful presence of God in the earth.
Jesus told the high priest that he personally would see this cloud of witnesses himself, in his own lifetime.
“But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” ~ Matthew 26:63-64
Jesus often spoke of his coming being in the clouds of heaven. And this is how he spoke of the house of God in the Earth.
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” ~ Matthew 24:30-34
It is very clear in this scripture, that this would start happening in the same generation that lived when Jesus was on Earth. And so this gathering of God’s people together would start happening through angel messengers. The word angel means messenger in the original language. And that includes human preachers and teachers in the definition of a messenger.
This account in Matthew chapter 24, is reflected almost word for word in two other gospels: Mark and Luke.
- Mark 13:26-30
- Luke 21:27-32
And also note, that when it speaks of “the clouds of heaven” it is speaking about the heavenly condition in the church. Because wherever Jesus is, it is heaven there. That means the will of the Father is done in his people, just as it is done in heaven. The heavenly condition in the church is a spiritual condition, because Jesus is loved and obeyed among his true people.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” ~ Ephesians 1:3-4
The church today is no longer a physical tabernacle made of stone and wood etc. But it is a spiritual house that is made up of people who have been saved and made holy. They are the dwelling place of God in the Earth, through the Spirit of God.
“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” ~ Ephesians 2:18-22
This is the divine order that God has specified for his New Testament Church.
“But Christ be come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say not of this building” ~ Hebrews 9:11
It is not a temporal physical house, but a spiritual house made up of all the saved.
“Ye also, as lively stones, are build up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. ” ~ 1 Peter 2:5
This order produces a holy people, living in unity, and under the direction of God’s holy word. Because Jesus Christ is the foundation of this church, and the true ministry are careful to only build according to God’s word.
“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” ~ 1 Timothy 3:15
This New Testament Tabernacle Is the true light for the world to be saved by.
“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” ~ Hebrews 8:1-2
The church is you and me living free from sin in this Earth. And being obedient to the Spirit, we are also called into unity and the fullness of the truth. To declare this bright and shining light of the true church, to a lost and dying world.
The Book of Revelation is designed to bring back the true vision of the church, as the spiritual house of God in the Earth. The true church is a spiritual house made by God. She, as a bride of Christ, came down from heaven to Earth, through Jesus Christ.
“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” ~ Revelation 21:9-10
And if we read further in Revelation chapter 21, we see clearly that God himself is that spiritual temple. It is the presence of God himself in the church, that makes the church who she is.
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” ~ Revelation 21:22-27
It is quite clear that only that which has been made holy, is allowed in the church. We are talking about the spiritual household of God in the Earth. There may be physical buildings in the Earth where the church will meet. Additionally, in the same building it is intended that sinners would come also. The purpose for the sinners to come, is so that they can hear the gospel and be changed. But no sin, nor sinners, are part of the spiritual house of God in the Earth, the church of God.