Articles and Sermons
We invite you to consider these articles and sermons in light of God's word, that you be considered "noble-minded" by Him.
(1) Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
The first part of this verse seems to contradict itself as it talks about the LORD building the house but then talking about people building the house. So who builds these houses in question?
We understand that God needs to be behind whatever venture we engage in:
(4) For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.
The word 'vain' is the Hebrew word 'shaw' it means something that is insubstantial or worthless, either materially or morally. We are in effect wasting our time unless God approves of what we’re doing.
It may seem a good idea to us to do something, but we need to ensure that it something God would 'back'. We can be very wrong about what is the right course of action (Proverbs 16:25).
The Jews recognised that they could engage in the works of God:
(28) Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
(29) Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
Why are some things called the works of God, yet they are carried out by humans? We can answer this by looking at an earthly analogy. A builder might be a person who physically constructs the house himself, or he might be someone who designs houses and instructs others to follow the plans he has devised. God is like both of these examples, as he made the whole world and all its constituent parts and he also lays down a pattern of how we should live our lives to be pleasing to Him. He is often, accordingly called by many people, the "Great Architect".
A guiding principle for anyone wanting to please God should be to seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). The apostle John adds:
(27) Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
We can spend a long time focusing on the here and now, on the pleasures and even the needs and neglect the important things.
(1) If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
(2) Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
We can set our minds on gaining huge wealth and neglect the important things, those things which will not be separated from us in death.
(16) Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.
(17) And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’
(18) So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.
(19) And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’
(20) But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
(21) “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Being rich towards God is something that is quite clearly desirable. We see the man here relying on himself, not recognising the need to acknowledge God. The scriptures show our need to rely on and acknowledge God in our lives:
(6) In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
The problem with the man in the parable was not that he was successful, but that he did not store up treasures in heaven. All his treasures were earthly and thus temporary as the following passage shows:
II Corinthians 4:16-18
(16) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
(17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
(18) while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
We should not take this to mean that we can cease from our labours on the earth. In fact, we are taught that we should earn a living:
II Thessalonians 3:10-12
(10) For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
(11) For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.
(12) Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
Nevertheless, the pursuit of wealth to the exclusion of pursuing God is vain:
(2) “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
(3) What profit has a man from all his labor,
In which he toils under the sun?
(4) One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever.
Ecclesiastes often looks at things from a physical perspective and if we look at the history of humanity it is full of toil. People live their lives and die, children are born and the cycle continues. If life on the Earth was all we had then the rich man in the Luke 12 parable was perfectly wise. There is more to life than just this life.
(19) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
(20) but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Returning to the theme that God is the builder, we should pause to ask, what is it that He builds?
(18) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Jesus built his church on the foundational truth that he was the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). It is therefore important to not only in our own, individual lives seek to please him, but we must seek to be a part of his church.
II Corinthians 6:16
(16) And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
Once again we return to the phrase, "Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it": this verse tells us of the importance of seeking the church Jesus built, for if we are part of something Jesus did not built, what we do is vain. The church that Jesus built is described further in the following passage:
(19) Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
(20) having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone,
(21) in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
(22) in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, but what does this mean? It is not referring to the people themselves, so much as their roles: apostles and prophets were responsible for delivering the New Testament to the world and it is these words that form the foundation of the church.
The Apostle Paul has this to say to Timothy:
I Timothy 3:15
(15) but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
The church is called the house of God and as such, it stands to reason that it is approved by him. The church is also called the ‘pillar and ground of the truth’. This does not mean that the church creates the truth, but rather that it holds it up. The word is “supported” by the church and the church rests on the foundation of the word delivered through the Apostles and prophets.
So individually, we must ensure that God is the architect of our lives: we must follow His plan as laid out in His word the Bible. We must also seek to be a part and help build up the temple of God, God's household, also known as the church. We must ensure that we are a part of the temple of God and not some other temple.
Any temple made by man without God's backing has a demolition order on it and will be removed by God at a time he sees fit.