We are on the road for Christmas, and we worshipped on the last Sunday of Advent at the church where my son-in-law is the pastor. (As of now, our Advent Christmas embargo is over.) Rev. Ned Moerbe preached on the Old Testament text for the day, 2 Samuel 7, in which David had the idea of building God a house; that is, a permanent Temple to replace the Tabernacle tent that the children of Israel had used as the place of sacrifice since the Exodus. But God, through Nathan the prophet, tells David not to build Him a house; that He would build David a house, an eternal house, prophesying the perpetual reign of David’s descendant, the Christ.
In the course of the sermon, we were told that the custom in the ancient Biblical cultures was when a couple was betrothed, they waited to get married until the groom built his bride a house for them to live in, either a separate structure or an addition to a family home. This would probably have been the case with Joseph–whose profession as a carpenter, in the original languages, was not so much a builder of furniture but a builder of houses–and Mary, his betrothed. And this speaks to us of Advent. . . So when God promised to build David a house, among other things, He was establishing His role as the Divine bridegroom preparing for His bride, His covenant people. The same imagery also looms behind the promise of Jesus–who was “of the house and lineage of David”–to “prepare a place” for us:
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:2-3)
This speaks of the relationship of Christ, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His bride. At His return will be the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19). In the meantime, we live in the time of preparation–the great theme of Advent–in anticipation of Christ building us a House in which we will live with Him forever.