Furniture In God’s House
Robert Wurtz II
Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
Over the last several weeks I taught a series entitled “The Holy And The Profane.” It was an examination of the difference between what is sanctified to God and what is common place. We discussed how in the Old Testament God taught Israel that there was a difference between the holy and the profane and that holy things were to be handled in accordance with God’s specific instructions. When men took it upon themselves to violate this rule there were sometimes devastating consequences. For example, Nadab and Abihu died immediately for offering strange (common) fire before the Lord. They were innovating in the realm of perfection. They attempted to change or improve God’s method and suffered the consequences. Uzzah is another example as well as Uziah. Belshazzar is a more shocking story as his error cost not just his life, but the political power shifted from the Babylonians to the Persians. He was weighed in the balance and found wanting. That was the consequence of flagrantly disregarding and disrespecting God.
Nevertheless, our passage brings to our minds the fact that a husband and a wife are actually “vessels” in God’s House. Our Greek word for vessel is skeuos and it is an old and common word for vessel, furniture, utensil (Matthew 12:29; 2 Timothy 2:20). Here both husband and wife are termed vessels or “parts of the furniture of God’s house” (Bigg quoted in Robertson). This is the language of priesthood and I cannot help but reference the teachings of the Old Testament Levitical system where God made clear how holy things are to be treated. The difference under the New Covenant is that we have many different examples of how the people of God are now the Temple, living stones in the Temple, or in this case “furniture” and “utensils.”
I am struck by the fact that God seemed to always be watching over holy things in the Old Testament. The danger is that we think in terms of “things” in the New Testament, not realizing that the reality of the Old Testament is present in the New Testament. In other words, God is watching and concerned with how we behave in regards to the Temple, the Lord’s Body: that is to say, the members of the Church. How can we apply the lessons (written for our example and learning) of the behavior of Nadab and Abihu or Belshazzar to our present time and relationships?
God said through the mouth of Peter that the stronger vessel should “give honor…” to the weaker vessel. In effect, the preceding verses tell the “weaker vessel” to honor the “less weaker” vessel (as we are all weak in our own strength) and allow Him to rightfully lead. Peter uses words like “be in subjection” and “obey.” He uses the example of Abraham and Sarah, the first storybook marriage ever recorded. Here is a man married to a woman whose name in Hebrew meant princess or queen. Imagine for a moment a conversation, Abraham calls her name “Princess…” and she answers, “…yes my lord.” He was not an overlord, but rather it is one of the first pictures of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Paul said in Ephesians that this is a great mystery.
God has chosen, so it appears, that the marriage relationship would be a revelation of Christ and the church. For this reason (and others) Peter is careful to make sure that Christian spouses rightly reflect that relationship. If they refuse, their prayers will be hindered. What does that mean? My mind cross references to Revelation 2 where Jesus addresses, from the High Priest position, the church at Ephesus who had left their first love. He warned that He would remove their lamp stand unless they repented and turned back to that first love. God will not bless a church where love is not first and foremost and apparently He will not bless a marriage- an earthly expression of the mysterious relationship between Christ and the Church, either. That is very sobering. Apparently there is a direct connection between how we treat our spouses and how our prayers are answered. We could pray hours a day and negate them with bad behavior.
If a husband and wife are not honoring one another… God sees it. What hypocrisy would we be guilty of to honor as “holy” physical objects and then mistreat our spouse. To treat them as “profane.” We, the people, are the House of God. We are the stones, furniture, vessels and utensils. Are we Belshazzars or are we Abrahams? Are we Sarahs or are we Uzziahs? That is the great question. There is no sense in fooling ourselves. In the Middle Ages Christians built awesome Gothic Cathedrals that took a lifetime to construct, but how did they treat their spouses when they got home? What about when their loved ones were sick? What about when they were in pain or had a really bad day at work? Did they honor and love? Was their division and strife? Beloved, you are vessels in the House of God. God forbid that we would treat our fine china or silver cutlery with more respect and honor than the true vessels of God’s House. Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.