The Beauty of the Sanctuary

The Beauty of the Sanctuary

Photo by Preston Goff on Unsplash

Psalms 961 O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the heathen,his wonders among all people.
4 For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised:he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols:but the LORD made the heavens.

6 Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7 Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people,give unto the LORD glory and strength. 8 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth:

the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved:he shall judge the people righteously. 11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. 12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein:then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice 13 Before the LORD: for he cometh,for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle sometimes during these days of crisis to find beauty in the world.  Someone once said that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  If that is true, then whenever I fail to find beauty it means that I must be looking at the wrong things.  So today let’s focus on the real beauty in life, that is the beauty of knowing God, and knowing that I am His child and in His kingdom.

Psalm 96 is an invitation to worship God.  This idea of worship is very relevant today because so many churches and ministries are attempting to find the right balance between worshiping God in a church setting, or worshiping God at home.  This dilemma is difficult enough, but where we worship has become political, and a source of division in our nation.  While some church leaders are truly looking for solutions, there are some who would use this crisis as a weapon to defend their religion or their political position.

There are enough problems in the world today without this unnecessary distraction.  But the good news is that God has already given us the answer. We will explore that answer in a moment, but first let’s worship God.

Psalm 96:1 admonishes us to sing a NEW song unto the Lord.  What does this mean?  The Psalm encourages us to sing, but it also encourages us to sing a song that is new, (in addition to the songs we have song in the past).

There are two meanings of the word ‘new’ here.  The first one means ‘fresh’.  The idea is that when we worship God, wherever we worship Him, our worship should not be stale, or contrived.  It is clear that God loves fresh things, fresh oil and fresh bread in the tabernacle for example.  God is the God of newness.  A new heaven, a new earth, a new life.  So God wants fresh, genuine praise from His people, and Psalm 96 reminds us that He is worthy of all of our praise.

The second definition for the world ‘new’ is ‘original’.  This means that our worship should include songs that we have written ourselves.  In other words, we should sing a song about what God has done for us personally, or for all of us in recent times.  This is very important because religious worship suggests that we sing songs that are programmed, and may have been written generations ago.  I like old songs as much as anybody, but I also know that my God is moving, changing, and just as relevant today as He was to my ancestors.   If I only choose to sing old songs, (and do old-fashioned things), I am really saying that God has not done anything lately, and that I have no expectation that He will do anything for me personally.  So our worship to God should be both fresh, and personal.

I want you to understand that I neither I nor the Psalmist are only being music critics here.  No, this is about all of our worship.  The Psalmist begins by discussing singing as a portion of our worship, but the newness aspect applies to every expression of our worship which includes declaring, praising, giving Him honor and majesty.  Worship also includes GIVING (verses 7 and 8), which includes giving God glory and strength, and BRINGING HIM AN OFFERING. And yes, it does include going into His house.

There is no question that God does wants to meet us in His house, and that we should have a desire and a passion to be there in His presence from time to time.  But remember that God also said that no house, no matter how elaborate or commonplace, can contain Him. (See 1 Kings 8:27),  It is also true that we can do everything we need to do outside of His house until such time that we can be in His presence in that manner.  Then the Psalmist give us this revelation:

6 Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

At first glance it might seem that all the beauty of God is in a temple, or a church.  But let’s examine the word sanctuary to get the right idea.  The Hebrew here that is translated ‘sanctuary’ is ‘miq-dash’.   This word means a consecrated thing or place. Sanctuary is something that is holy or hallowed.  It could be a temple, or a tabernacle.  But here is the revelation for us today, the sanctuary can also be in YOU!

God wants to be worshiped in the temple, and we will do this again soon.  But, He also wants us to know that we can worship Him anywhere, at any time because we are His temple.

Paul dealt with this concept in 1 Cor. Chapter 6.  He warned Christians against behaving badly by sinning with their bodies, but then he reminded them of the real reason why we should live differently from the rest of the world.  It is because our bodies are the temple of the Lord.  Here is the good news.  Because God lives in us, we can worship Him Him at all times.  And catch this; the real beauty is in his sanctuary. 

I believe that God’s house should be beautiful both inside and out.  However, it makes no sense for Christians worship in the finest building in the neighborhood, and then live the most ungodly lives after we leave it.  Could it be that we have spend too much time building churches and worship buildings at the expense of building sanctified live styles that bring glory to God everywhere we go?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Not only does our church building belong to God, so does our spirits and our bodies.  The real beauty is shown when God’s Spirit dwells in our hearts and can be seen wherever we go and in the things that we do.

This is why the Psalmist says that we show forth His salvation from day to day, and declare His glory to unbelievers, (Read Psa. 96: 3-4).

I think I am starting to see beauty again.  I have been looking in all the wrong places.  The real beauty is in our God, in what He has done, and in what He is still doing in all of us.

Psalm 96:4 For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.

Yes, our God is above all gods.  And He deserves all the glory we can give Him. He is worthy or our best praise, and our greatest worship.  But our God also deserves the everyday worship that we give Him by allowing Him to have dominion in our bodies, and through our actions.  When we do this then He becomes feared, or respected, throughout the world we live in.

This kind of beauty far outweighs a church or temple that is filled with gold, and other precious items to make the building look beautiful.  The real beauty is in us, and what we bring into the house with our presence, our praise and our lifestyle.

So don’t wait until we ‘worship in person’ to give God praise.  The real praise and worship is in you!  The real beauty is in what our God is doing in your life.  Can you see the beauty now?

Bishop Horace Ransom Jr.

Bishop Horace Ransom Jr.

Senior Pastor, Board of Directors

Bishop Horace Ransom Jr. is the Senior Pastor and Founder of New Covenant Church International in Detroit, Michigan. He is a Jurisdictional Bishop and serves on the Board of Presbytery for the Jabula International Network, North America. Bishop Ransom is an outstanding teacher of the Word of God with a passion for challenging believers to become the best that they can be. Faith, Purpose and the Kingdom of God are frequently the subject matter of his dissertation.