JESUS IS THE STOREHOUSE

   We often hear of the "storehouse" as being the church, but what is the origin of this word, "storehouse," and what does Jesus say about it? First of all, the English word translated as "storehouse," is only found once in the New Testament, in Luke 12:24, and it pertains to a storage place, or a cellar-type chamber. The same Greek word used by Jesus is "closet," or "private place." For the most part, the word means a barn, granary, or cellar, where crops would be stored. In a couple of places, it means an armory, or treasury. In all cases the inference is that it is a place for keeping something of value. Heaven itself could be such a place; we are told by Jesus to "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." (Matt. 6:20)

   The carryover into today's church comes from the scripture that reflects the meaning of treasury or armory. That is, Malachi 3:10, which speaks of tithing. I've written much about this in a teaching called, "Return Unto Me" which is the true topic of Malachi. This is the beginning of chapter three: "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, Whom you delight in: behold, He shall come, says the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire, and like a fuller's sope." (Mal. 3:1-2) He goes on to rebuke them for not serving Him from their hearts, which leads up to the often quoted, "Bring ye in all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house." (Mal. 3:10) The best example of this would be Jesus' commending the widow for putting in her two mites. The true measure is not the amount of the money but the size of the gratitude. Though they served God religiously, those pious men of Malachi's day "despised" God's name and "polluted" His altar, according to God. (See Malachi, chapter one.)

   So the connection of the Church being the storehouse, comes from this passage of scripture that shows that the Temple was considered the storehouse. The Temple is the place that God established for His people to meet with Him. It was first a Tent or Tabernacle. Very specific about its size, God gave explicit instructions as to how to build it, for this place represented the true Temple, Jesus Christ! It was the pattern, He is the fulfillment. When Jesus came to the Temple, He drove out the merchandisers; "And His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of Thine house has eaten Me up." (John 2:17) This is the very same attitude God has toward those in the time of Malachi. In both cases, they were tithing, sacrificing, and making offerings, yet God was not satisfied with the worship, so He purges out the hypocrisy with very unorthodox methods. Again, in both cases, the leaders of the day do not understand why He is doing what He is doing!

   Jesus drives the merchandisers out of the temple: "Then answered the Jews and said unto Him, What sign [can You show] unto us, seeing that You do these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this Temple, and in three day I will raise it up.... [They thought He meant the physical building.] But He spake of the Temple of His Body. When therefore He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said." (John 2:18-19, 21-22) Are we today just as guilty of such willful blindness as they were then? If only He had said "Destroy this Storehouse" we might see it more clearly. This "place" where you come to worship is a "place" of Spirit and Truth, not a location on a map or a building with a name on it. Even when Jesus spoke to Peter about building His church on this Rock, it was not upon Peter, but upon the Spirit and Revelation of God, that comes to a man that has an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the "churches." Even in this, some have interpreted it to mean (Peter) the physical person!

   When Jesus spoke in parables, or gave metaphors, He was teaching spiritual truths through symbolic examples. He is The Way, The Truth, The Life, The Bread of Heaven: all are symbolic of something. We are told to eat His body, drink His blood: these are not literal things we do, they are indicative of What and Who He is. Paul writes to the very charismatic Corinthians concerning their divisions, that deny the Body of Christ, of which they were all members. "For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men? For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal? ... For we are laborers together with God: you are God's husbandry, you are God's building. ...let every man take heed how he builds thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. ... Know you not that you are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:3-4, 9-11, 16) Paul is clearly telling them that if they keep looking at things in a carnal way, that they will lose sight of the way things truly are. I think we could make a very long list of ways that we today have done the very same thing.

   The valuable place that God has set apart to meet man, is in the Body of Christ. "And He is the Head of the Body, the Church.... For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.... And you, that were sometime alienated..., yet now hath He reconciled In the Body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: If you continue in the faith grounded and settled...." (Col. 1:18-19, 21-23) Paul goes on to write "of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister,... to fulfil the Word of God; Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, ... which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1: 24-27) Paul is clearly pointing us toward Jesus, Who said, "I am the true vine, and My father is the husbandman [gardener].... Abide in Me, and I in you.... If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you." (John 15: 1, 4, 7) Paul struggled to do the whole will of God, but Jesus did it! He not only sought the Father for direction, He submitted Himself to the afflictions and persecutions that came His way, knowing they could not happen without His Father's consent. "Though he were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered...." (Heb. 5:8) When we abide in Him, it is so that we can produce the same results, knowing that the Father is the "husbandman/gardener," Who does the work in us. To conclude the Colossians references, Paul boasts of God: "I also labor, striving according to HIS working, which works in me mightily." (Col. 1:29) This is not a statement of arrogance, it is one of faith!

   This is the same faith in God to produce the impossible, that Jesus exhibited throughout His walk, epitomized when Jesus said, "Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit." (Luke 23: 46) Peter writes of Jesus about this moment: "Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously." (1 Pet. 2:23) David said of Messiah, "For You will not leave My soul in hell; neither will You suffer [allow] Your Holy One to see corruption." (Psalm 16:10, also quoted in Acts 2:27) Both Peter and David point to Jesus, as does all scripture, which is given by inspiration of God. Men may say that men wrote the Bible. Why? Because they are carnal and cannot understand the things of God, that are revealed only by the Spirit of God. We that have received this free gift unto salvation should not neglect it. How is it that we neglect it? By resorting to the human reasonings of Spiritual Truths! We substitute polished brass for gold, falsely representing the beauty of Christ with cosmetics that appear spiritual. Like clouds without rain, they look promising, but don't produce the very thing that is needed.

   Scripture, all scripture, points us to Christ, God's Tabernacle, the building not made with hands, where God makes His abode. It is the secret place of the Most High. Who would want to keep us out of there? Only the enemy of our souls, very subtle, creating heavy burdens of religion that appear holy while they shut the open door of holy communion that God made available to all creation. While in bondage to this deception we go about making converts to join us. It's not new, it was done in the Old Testament, right up to Jesus' day, and sadly, even though the Spirit of God is with us, we lose sight of the very reason God sent His Son to die for us. The communion, fellowship, abiding relationship is a restored condition that does not require what I call "fig leaf religion" that hides from God. Like Adam once was prior to sin, we now are IN Christ! No longer having to hide in fear because of our shame we are given the confidence to draw near to God. Not so with the fig leaf religion that "bind heavy burdens...and lay them on men's shoulders." (Matt. 23: 4)

   As God delivered the Hebrews out from under the burdens of slavery He delivers us out from under the bondage of sin. Not to place us under another oppressive bondage that separates us from Him and keeps us in darkness! Jesus said, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy. and My burden is light. (Matt. 11: 28-30) Interestingly, the word burden and laden (heavy) are the same. From it we get the description of a "bill of lading" for cargo carried on a ship. From Jesus, in the above quote, we see that God's intent for us is to receive rest, rest for our souls, a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light. This does not sound like the religion I grew up with. Religion speaks to the old man who was bound in guilt and shame. It promises him a false security in the familiarity of the rituals he observes, much like a convict navigates his days in prison. There is no rest for your souls in this, only more fear and guilt as you switch from one slave yoke to another, bearing burdens you are not meant to carry.

   The rest comes from knowing you are right with God. The wretchedness of sin rightly convicts you that you are not right with God. The free gift of faith, which is "the righteousness of faith" makes us right with God! Israel did not see this, and sadly, much of Christianity has been blinded to it. Paul writes of Israel, "that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Rom. 10: 6, 2 & 3) Submission is the strange requirement that cannot be ignored by any of us. Religion, though appearing as a form of submission, is an act of defiance that rejects the free gift and substitutes another atonement. That atonement is of the flesh, the old man who seeks to establish his own righteousness with God. He may enter the church, but he has no right to enter the Tabernacle not made with hands, because he is still guilt-ridden. The "new man" is guilt free!

   Jesus, on His way back to the Father, went through the Cross, so that we might be restored to God. He said, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:2-3) Please, laying aside the thoughts of mansions and streets of gold, what is that place He has made available to us? It is the Presence of His Father, His abode, His residence. The Oneness of the Father and the Son is shared with us, because of the love of the Father, Who sent the Son as an Atonement for our sin. We enter that place ONLY by faith, the righteousness of faith. This most valuable place (hence, the word "mansions" to dwell in) is what we are to seek. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matt. 6:21)

   Religion covers corruption. Exposure, while painful, leads to freedom. After Jesus spoke with the woman at the well she went and declared "Come, see a man, which told me all the things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" (John 4:29) Jesus had just revealed all the hidden things of her guilt and shame, yet she was rejoicing about it. She called Him "a man," yet knew Him as "the Christ." Were He just "a man," her exposure would have caused her to run from him and everyone else, yet she received the rebuke and obviously received the love of God in the midst of it. God is very aware of all our sin. His eyes are open to all of our doings, yet we (thank God) see the compassion of God in the face of Christ. When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Sadduces for their hypocrisy they did not receive it, they hardened themselves against Him, and remained bound in their sin. Just before Jesus cast out the moneychangers, He wept over Jerusalem, because they would not receive their deliverance. "And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, if you had known, ... at least in this your day, the things which belong unto your peace!" (Luke 19:41-42) Wow! "The things which belong unto your peace:" God give us wisdom to understand this. To paraphrase an old hymn, "Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear: all because we do not carry everything to our Storehouse in prayer. Jesus IS the Storehouse, the Temple, the Tabernacle or Tent where God meets man. They were representations of HIM!

with much love, Joe (with Mercy)