Advent: December 21

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1–11, 16

After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”

Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.”

But that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying:

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.

“‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: [. . .] Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” (NIV)

Have you ever been so busy trying to accomplish something for God that you missed what God was doing? In 2 Samuel 7, David decides to build something great for God. He will upgrade the Lord’s mobile home (the tabernacle) to a more permanent residence (the temple). He quickly consults Nathan the prophet, who gives him an uninspired green light, saying, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.” In other words, as long as you are doing something for God, he will surely follow after with approval.

However, later that night, the Lord sends a different word to Nathan. Not only should David not build the temple, he also needs to be reminded that it is the Lord who is doing the building, not him. It is God who will build a household for David, a royal line that will produce the chief cornerstone of God’s great building project.

This story reminds me of a Baptist pastor who, when baptizing people, would ask them to each share their field of service. The candidates would respond, “I am a banker . . . a teacher . . . a car salesman . . . etc.” He would then continue on with the baptism, proclaiming, “You are no longer a car salesman. You are a car salesman for Jesus.”

I have always liked this practice of baptism and how it emphasizes that we are all called to ministry. However, as I continue to think more about it, I would make one small change. Rather than saying, “You are a car salesman for Jesus,” I would say, “You are to be a car salesman like Jesus.”

The shift might not seem significant, but I think it matters. It matters because I have seen Christians who are very eager to build and accomplish great things for Jesus while at the same time look nothing like Jesus. When our primary focus is to build and accomplish things for Jesus, we rarely consider how and what Jesus is building. In fact, if Christians are only to do things for Jesus, then we can keep doing what we have always done. For instance, an unbeliever who is rude and arrogant is “converted” into now being rude and arrogant for Jesus. But what if Jesus isn’t asking us to build for him but is inviting us to build like him?

The season of Advent is for Christians what Nathan’s prophecy was for Daniel: a reminder not to rush ahead of what the Lord is doing but to patiently trust and join in what he is up to. It is a time to examine whether we have been so busy building for God that we have neglected being built by God.

To go further into scripture on this, check out Psalm 127 and Ephesians 2:19–22.

Matt Styles – EYELET Team Member