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 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.
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.
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.
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?’
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.
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.