I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.”–Psalm 122:1
The Dwelling Place of God
Naos (temple) was a word for a ‘dwelling’ that became ‘the dwelling place of a god’; a temple. For God’s chosen people, that dwelling place was the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and then, in the Temple.
Jesus showed his zeal for the Temple area, declaring, “Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise.” Yet, Jesus also told the Samaritan woman at the well that “the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.” And he foretold the destruction of the Temple to his disciples (Mark 13:2).
In Acts, Stephen echoed words of Jesus, saying that “the Most High God does not dwell in temples made with hands” (7:48). Paul, also, echoes those words, in Acts 17:24, before the citizens of Athens.
The wondrous development of the New Covenant is that, now, God’s people are God’s dwelling place. As it is written, “Do you [ye, i.e. plural, the congregation of believers] not know that you [pl.] are the temple [naos] of God…? (1 Cor. 3:16).
“…you are God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9).
“…you also, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5).
Thus, it makes us look backwards when we speak of going into the house of the LORD with reference to any building. The Quakers understood this and refused to call their buildings ‘churches.’ They understood that a church was a gathering of believers, the congregation. So, they would call their building, where they worshiped, a “meeting house.” [And rather than “going to church” they spoke of going to “meeting.”] Over the years, I have seen other churches with signs like, “The church of _____meets here.”
Because of what Scripture teaches us, we are glad that we gather together as the house of the LORD.