On April 15, 2019, the world’s attention turned to the fire that was burning one of the most recognizable structures in the world, the Notre Dame Cathedral. Our divided world was united for those few moments as we held our breath and witnessed the cathedral’s iconic spire fall into the raging fire. Friends posted pictures of their travels in Paris and the famous cathedral on Facebook, as they reminisced about its beauty and splendor. They were hopeful that the cathedral would rise from the ashes of that day’s fire.
French President Emmanuel Macron committed to the restoration of the structure within five years. While this deadline seemed impossible at first glance, the world has responded by pledging nearly $1 billion dollars to assist in the cost of rebuilding the cathedral. This enormous amount of pledged money has drawn some scrutiny from both politicians and affiliates of various charities, but it demonstrates mankind’s ability to go above and beyond to assist one another in time of tragedy. The amount accumulated in these past few days for the cathedral’s rebuilding is inspiring, but it still pales in comparison to the great amount collected for the building of the tabernacle and Temple of the Old Testament.
When the Israelites were camped at Mount Sinai, Moses called for a collection of gold, silver, fabrics, skins, wood, etc., for the construction of the tabernacle. The Israelites responded by contributing so much that Moses had to send a proclamation throughout the camp – “‘Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contribution of the sanctuary.’ Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more” (Exodus 35:20-35; 36:6). How did the Israelites have so much to give? Where did all of the gold, silver, fabrics, skins, wood, etc. come from?
God had promised Abraham, hundreds of years prior, concerning his family being enslaved in Egypt, and had told Abraham – “But I will also judge the nation whom they serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions” (Genesis 15:12-16; emphasis mine, bcj). This promise was fulfilled just prior to the final plague, when Moses carried out the command of the Lord – “But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:22; 11:2-3a; emphasis mine, bcj). It was from this great plunder that the Israelites gave out of their abundance to the building of the tabernacle at Mount Sinai.
The Israelites were not done with large construction projects in their Old Testament history. The Temple was built during the reign of Israel’s third king, Solomon. In the preparations of building the Temple, David would amass enormous amounts of gold, silver, bronze, iron, etc. The Chronicler recorded - “Of the gold, the silver and the bronze and the iron there was no limit” (1 Chronicles 22:16a). The estimated cost of rebuilding Solomon’s Temple is well above the $1 billion dollars that has been recently pledged in the rebuilding of Notre Dame.
While the estimations and costs of these various buildings are mesmerizing and incomprehensible, there still remains one cost that far outweighs them all. Jesus told His disciple Peter - “I also say to you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus came to this earth to build His church, but this was no small task. The building of Jesus’ church did not require enormous amounts of gold, silver, bronze, etc., but rather it required the most precious gift of all – His life!
The Church is the collection of all who have been called out and obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. This redemption of mankind from the depravity of sin required the blood of the Lamb. Our redemption was not purchased by silver and gold, but rather the “precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Jesus purchased the Church with His own blood (Acts 20:28b). Our Savior is honored and given praise in heaven for His ultimate sacrifice –
9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
The cost of our salvation is beyond measure and truly incalculable. Praise God for Jesus and His great sacrifice to build His church!
Our world may continue to devote billions in the rebuilding of ancient cathedrals, but let us never forget the greatest cost ever paid was offered by Jesus on the cross. The buildings of this world may last a few lifetimes, but all of them will ultimately fall into disrepair or be destroyed on that final day. The Church is eternal and all who are found faithful will live eternally in heaven with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Our greatest investment on earth will be found in our service to our King, Savior, and Lord. May God bless us with strength and wisdom as we strive to honor Him as faithful members of His Son’s body, the Church.