Irresistible Book Discussion: Chapter 3 - The Creator Doesn't Need a House


(SeanO) #1

This is a book discussion of Andy Stanley’s book ‘Irresistible’ prompted by @tabby68, @O_wretched_man, @Lakshmismehta and @andrew.bulin . There have been some accusations against the book and we would like to take the time to hear what Andy Stanley is really trying to say and to offer thoughtful, gracious critique. Below is a podcast interview with Andy Stanley you may find helpful as well as the original post that started the discussion.

To participate - read along with us and share your thoughts and opinions :slight_smile: My thoughts are here hopefully to prompt discussion - so please do join in with your observations / thoughts so that we can all benefit from your perspective. May the Lord Jesus guide our discussion.

Chapter III

Big Idea: God, as Creator, never needed a house to dwell in. Building a temple for God like the other nations had caused the Israelites to forget who God truly was and reduce God to temple rituals.

Summary

Once Israel had a King like the other nations, that King decided to build a temple for God - a house - just like the other nations had for their gods. But God did not need a temple - He is a mobile God. Because of the temple, people forgot how big their God really was and started to believe that the God of Israel was a domesticated god like the idols of the nations. They forgot God’s true identity - and as a result forsook the covenant God had made with their ancestors.

Good Things

This chapter reminded me of this passage from Acts.

Acts 7:45-50 - After receiving the tabernacle, our ancestors under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, 46 who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.

48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:

49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me?
says the Lord.
Or where will my resting place be?
50 Has not my hand made all these things?’

Critique

Not sure you could say with certainty that without a king there never would have been a temple. That’s not a major critique though.

Quotes

If there had been no king, there would have been no temple.

Just as Israel’s kings brought with them all the problems associated with kings, the temple led to the challenges associated with temples. Israel didn’t need a king. And Israel didn’t need a temple. Both of these were attempts to be like all the other nations.

God was fine living in a tent. He seemed to prefer it. Besides, he wasn’t home most of the time anyway.

You want to build me a house. But I’m going to establish your house!

But Solomon, if I catch you or my people misbehaving out there because you think I’m tucked away safely in here, I will tear this place apart!

The temple was more beautiful than it was important.

The differentiating characteristic of the Jewish temple was something it lacked that everybody else had. An image.

Israel’s God wasn’t put in his temple. Israel’s God inhabited his temple.

But the presence of the ark did not equate to the presence of God.

The on-his-own-terms presence of the Spirit God was the distinguishing characteristic of the Jewish temple.

Once Solomon moved God, so to speak, into his very own temple, he reduced God to the level of all the other pagan deities of all the nations of the earth. God had a location. A location similar to the locations Israel’s neighbors created for their gods. With the construction of the temple, Israel’s mobile God looked a bit more domesticated. Regional. Gone was the tent, the visual reminder that Israel’s God was a traveling God.


(Andrew Bulin) #2

I may have to agree. Considering how secularized the priests became (and how Aaron was willing to build a golden calf) it may have been the priests that could have planned a temple.

As it pertains to God being irresistible, this is a reflection of how Israel made God to look like all the other gods:

Once Solomon moved God, so to speak, into his very own temple, he reduced God to the level of all the other pagan deities of all the nations of the earth. God had a location. […] Gone was the reminder that he could pick up and go without notice.
(p. 44)

As a side note, I found it to be a fun exercise to think about how much of the Bible is related to the kings. But then again, not entirely surprising since the Bible is about God’s relation to humankind, told through the history of Israel. The narrative would then just be different.

Did anyone pick up on anything else from this chapter?


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #3

Overall I enjoyed this chapter. I loved this quote on page 43-44:

Their temple served as an awe-inspiring frame to draw attention to something that wasn’t there.

to be honest I was a bit surprised on how far Solomon strayed from God as I haven’t read that far into the OT yet. No critiques really stood out for me, but i did put a question mark in the margins by same sentence @SeanO highlighted.


(Tabitha Gallman) #4

Not many new thoughts to add here that hasn’t been already mentioned, but hadn’t thought about the conversation between God and David on p. 39 where Andy paraphrases (I like Andy Stanley’s sense of humor and light way of explaining things):

" Enough about building me a new house; let’s talk about your family, David. Enough about what’s temporary, let’s talk about the endgame. You want to build me a house. But I’m going to establish your house! I’m going to do something through your family that has forever written all over it."

When I read this I pictured a loving Father listening to David making all these plans for God’s temple because David must have had a lot of pride in his heart for his heavenly Father and wanted to elevate God (maybe), but God turns the focus around to David concerning God’s promise to David.

From this chapter (and reading 1 Kings ch 9) I did have a question about God’s character (but maybe this is for another thread). It was God’s permissive will to allow Solomon to build the temple since we know at this point that God neither wants nor needs the temple. I like the way Andy describes the lecture from God to Solomon after the dedication of the temple as “handing over the keys to the car”. In 1 Kings 9:6-9 God gives the warning that if the commands and decrees are not observed Israel will be cut off from the land and will become an object of ridicule and the temple will become rubble. This will all ultimately all point back to God giving Him the glory (which I believe is always due God).