The story of the Bible tells us that the presence of the Lord God in the midst of His people is the greatest of blessings. The presence of the Lord in the Garden with Adam and Eve, the presence of the Lord with the children of Israel (even after they sinned in the golden calf incident, Exodus 32-33), the presence of the Lord with them in the wilderness, in the tabernacle in the wilderness as they journeyed and wandered toward the Promised Land, and the presence of the Lord with them in the temple of Solomon—these were the greatest of blessings.
It is a blessing that was especially felt once they lost it. Because they rebelled against the Lord, His presence was taken away from them. The visions of Ezekiel regarding the Lord’s departure in the chariot/throne that left not only the city but also the temple highlight the need of God’s people for His presence and blessing (see especially Ezekiel 10-11).
The prophets declared that one day, after the punishment of the Exile, the Lord God, YAHWEH, according to the sacred name, would suddenly return to His temple (Malachi 3:1).
In the New Testament, Jesus re-interprets the temple prophecies and predicts the destruction of Herod’s temple, declaring that in His own body and presence God has, in fulfillment of the ancient prophecies, suddenly come to His temple. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again,” said Jesus regarding the temple of His body (John 2:19-22). He transformed the place and character of the temple by referring it to Himself. And with that transformation comes not a lessening of the temple presence of the Lord, but an intensification of it. It is the presence of Christ that we need in our midst.
HBU has been blessed by the presence of the Lord “in His temple”: that is, in our service, work, and worship, we have enjoyed the hand of God and the presence of Christ in our midst. As David prayed in 1 Chronicles 29:10-12, all of the greatness and power and glory in all of heaven and earth belong to the Lord. He rules over all and in His hand is power and might. And it lies within His hand “to make great and to strengthen everyone” (1 Chronicles 29:12).
We have been blessed at HBU. We were founded in 1960, began our first classes in 1963, graduated our first student 50 years ago in 1967, and in our commencement ceremonies of May 2017, graduated our 20,000th graduate.
Programs have been started, degrees granted, buildings built, and lives transformed. And there’s still much to do, because the work is never finished. Even though David himself wanted to build the temple, all he could do was plan for it and provide for it, and it was up to Solomon to build it.
By analogy, all of us are continuously in the place of BOTH David and Solomon. We plan for the future, we experience the blessings of standing on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before us, and, like David, we hand things off to others, who will be like Solomon to us, to accomplish greater things than we have done. And, like Solomon to the Davids who have gone before us, we have much to do.
So all of us have to be part of both the planning and the implementation. And the opening verses of 1 Chronicles 29 tell us that the people gave generously to support the plans for the implementation of the vision.
The Lord God has been with us all of our 57 years at HBU. It is now up to all of us to give to HBU, our school, to see not just success for our University, but to experience for the sake of others and for the sake of the kingdom of God the blessings of the presence of God on this great institution.
Would you be a part of the generous, sacrificial giving that can make this great University what it was created to be? The kind of university that Billy Graham prayed for when he was on our campus in October of 1963? One dedicated to the cause of Christ, the kind of university that is—unusually so now in the United States—committed BOTH to academic excellence and to moral and spiritual integrity? There are not many institutions like ours, and I truly believe God’s blessing is on all of those who support a university like this.
Thank you for your prayers for HBU. Thank you for recommending students to this great University, a university that can transform their lives by the grace of God. And thank you for every gift, small and great, that can be part of the kingdom of God working through higher education to do the work of Christ in the world.