The Corona Virus has certainly changed American life. As we have quarantined, more people than ever are working from home, we are educating our kids at home, and we are even doing church at home. It’s been a tremendous season of transition and there are questions about how life will look going forward. Will quarantining and social distancing be the new normal? Will we all wear gloves and masks when we go out in public for years to come? When will we be able to mass gather and go to concerts, sporting events, and church again? Is online church the church of the future?
While I don’t have all the answers to how the future will look, I do want to address the question about what the future church will look like. God’s word answers that question. Look at Amos 9:
11 “On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old;
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” Says the Lord who does this thing.
The Bible says the church God is building – THE CHURCH OF THE FUTURE – will look like the tabernacle of David. So what was the tabernacle of David? And how does it relate to the church of the future?
The Tabernacle of David was the house of God that King David built that replaced its predecessor, the Tabernacle of Moses. The children of Israel built the Tabernacle of Moses after they left Egypt. This Tabernacle contained the ark of the covenant which housed the presence of God.
The Tabernacle of Moses symbolized separation as it had an outer court, inner court, and the holy place where the ark resided. ONLY the high priest could go into the holy place where God’s presence was and he could only do that once a year. When people entered the Tabernacle of Moses they saw a brazen alter where sin offerings were being made. Next they saw a laver where people had to wash and cleanse themselves. The whole theme of the Tabernacle of Moses was law, order, separation and a reminder of what you were not: worthy, righteous, and able to come to God just as you are.
The Tabernacle of David was completely different than the Tabernacle of Moses and had a completely different theme. Before I tell you what that theme was, I want to share the story of how David’s Tabernacle came into being.
In 1 Samuel 5, the Philistines defeated the Israelites in battle and captured the ark of the covenant. This was a significant event in Jewish history because it meant the presence of God had left Israel. Many years later, David became king and longed for the presence of God to return to Israel. He sent 30,000 men to retrieve the ark and bring it to its new home, the Tabernacle of David.
The Tabernacle of David was constructed very differently than the Tabernacle of Moses. It was a simple tent with no veil. The ark of the covenant was placed in this tent with no veil. There was no separation between the people and the presence of God. There wasn’t an inner court, outer court, or a holy place. There were no sin sacrifices to walk past or the need to wash at a laver. Everyone was able to come near to God just as they were!
Think about Amos 9 again. It said, the future house God would build would be like the Tabernacle of David. Verse 12 says the people who worshipped in the Tabernacle of David would posses the remnant of Edom and all the Gentiles. These were people who were far from God! The church of the future is a church that reaches out to everyone, not the select few holy people.
The prophecy in Amos was partially fulfilled in Acts 15:
16’After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up; 17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things.’
Acts 15 tells about how Gentiles began to believe in God. This caused the early church leaders to debate how to handle the situation. Did they need to put them under the strenuous religious requirements of the law of Moses or could they just continue in grace. As they sought the Lord, they decided to have the Gentiles (those who were far from God) continue in grace. They didn’t need to go back under legalism with its rules, focus on sin, and great effort to be holy! These Gentiles were a part of the church of the future which was one about God’s love and acceptance and coming into His presence with nothing separating you from Him; including sin.
A second important feature of the Tabernacle of David that must be emphasized was that is was a house of great worship! When the ark of the covenant was returned to Jerusalem and placed in the Tabernacle of David, David danced with all of his might before the Lord. He leaped, whirled, and danced so hard that the linen ephod he was wearing moved in such a way that he inadvertently uncovered himself in front the of the people.
David didn’t care though because he was so in love with God and so aware of His presence that he lost consciousness of the opinions of people. God wants the church of the future to be like that. He wants us so consumed with Him that we aren’t consumed with the opinions of others.
David was so overwhelmed with the goodness of God, that he ordered round the clock worship in the Tabernacle of David. He paid musicians and singers to worship before the Lord and he rotated worship teams in and out so worship never stopped! The Tabernacle of David was a new order of worship with musical instruments, singing, dancing, and shouting. None of this occurred in the Tabernacle of Moses because the focus was separation which led to sorrow and depression.
The church of the future will be a place of 24/7 worship that focuses more on God’s presence than religious rituals, form, and what we are not. This focus on God’s presence will free us to worship in a variety of ways: mass gatherings of thousands of people, small groups of 10 people, and people isolated in quarantine by themselves as they are enthralled with the goodness of God.
While none of us know all of the specifics of what the future of the church gathering will look like, we should all take heart that God’s presence will be there, however the gatherings occur. And we should worship with reckless abandon just like David did! David was the man after God’s on heart and He hungered for God’s presence above all else! God’s presence is all we need to truly have great church!
To learn more about the Tabernacle of David, check out this teaching I did at Grace Life Church.