Thursday, August 24, 2006

You are the Temple of God

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16)

I've been thinking a lot this last week about the passage from Ephesians 2:20-22.
"...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."

What exactly does this mean to me? I suppose that I've been really thrilled with the possibilities that this passage raises.

I have always heard (known, assumed) that the Temple in Jerusalem would be rebuilt. This would signify the return of the Messiah to earth and be the beginning of the end of the world. There are rumors out there that Priests are being trained to serve in the Temple and that they have found Moses' staff and other articles to be returned to the Temple. The rumors continue that they are looking for a red heifer to sacrifice and consecrate the temple when it is built. (for more on this, you can find a bunch of links at This amazing feat would be the most glorious thing that ever happened on earth.

But, as I read the passage from Ephesians, I questioned the veracity of those statements and rumors. Do I really believe that God is planning to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem?

That temple was built 2 different times, those buildings were restored after exiles and prior to the original temple, the tabernacle was the home for the Lord God. What is the difference now? Why might God not rebuild that temple again in Jerusalem? As a Christian, the answer seems obvious. We are under a new covenant with Jesus Christ. (Luke 22:20 - "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.")

Moses established the original covenant with God on Mount Sinai. As the people camped in front of the mountain, Moses went up to meet with God. He received the Ten Commandments, the laws for God's people and commands for festivals. At this point, God gave Moses the instructions for the Tabernacle and it's furnishings. By the end of the book of Exodus, the tabernacle was erected, Moses finished the work and "the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." (Exodus 40:34).

This Tent of Meeting with God was portable, because God's people were still nomads. It existed under Joshua's leadership and through the time of the Judges. By the time David was king, the materials had probably worn out and had been retired. The people were living in the Promised Land and the time of the Kings was just beginning. David brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem and it was placed inside the tent that David had pitched for it. (2 Samuel 6:17).

When David came to the end of his life, he wanted to build a Temple to honor God. A permanent residence for God. He began gathering the provisions for this temple. However, because he was a man of war and had shed much blood, God did not allow him to build the temple. His son, Solomon, a man of peace, would be given that honor and responsibility. (I Chronicles 22). David commended his son to be king, gave him the plans for the temple and then donated great amounts of his personal wealth to be used to building the temple. (I Chr. 28)

The 2nd Temple was built by Zerubabbel (completed in 515 B.C.) and existed through the time of Christ until 70 A.D when it was destroyed by the Romans. Jesus spoke of this destruction in Matthew, Chapter 24: 2. '"Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."'

At various times throughout history, there have been attempts to rebuild the Temple. It has never happened. What does this mean? I'm not sure, and I'm definitely not a temple scholar. But, I do believe that God means to restore His Temple. Whether it be brick and mortar or in the hearts of His people, it will come about.

If you spend any time at all on the website you will see a lot of information about the Third Temple. There are many organizations that are involved with the planning and creation of this Temple. Orthodox Jews feel that it is imperative that a Temple be restored. As long as there is no place to honor God with sacrifice, they feel that they are being criminally negligent in their worship of Him.

Many different types of Evangelical Christians are encouraging and supplying funds to these groups to restore the Temple. They fully believe that the rebuilt Temple signifies the end of the age and until that happens, we won't see Jesus return to earth. (I find it a little disgusting that they justify their actions here, when in essence, they are trying to force God into Armageddon - who in the world do they think they are? And why in the world do they believe that God needs them to complete His actions on earth?)

As a Christian, I believe that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and eliminated the need for this Temple. That's why I also believe that Paul was telling us more about the spiritual temple than an actual, physical temple.

I Peter 2:4-5: "As you come to him, the living Stone - rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious to him - you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

We are the living stones, the rocks that have been cut by the master stonecutter. We are building the walls of the temple with our lives!

Acts 17:24. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands."

Now while we are the stones, and we are being assembled into God's dwelling place, we are not the construction foreman, or even the architect. We are simply stones. It is being done for us by Christ Jesus, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and by the plan of God which was laid down before the beginning of time.

2 Corinthians 6:16. "...For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.'"

A temple of the Living God. When we see God inhabiting the tabernacle and the first temple, (and the early days of the second temple), we see Him as a living God. The cloud, the fire, all of this was so great that the people could not approach the tabernacle. He was fully alive (as we perceive it) in their presence.

We are those living stones. With the sacrifice of Jesus, the elimination of the Temple in Jerusalem and the acceptance of Gentiles into the kingdom of God, we have been given a great responsibility. We are the vessels of the one, true God. When He settles on us, do others see a cloud or a pillar of fire? Do we move when He lifts up from us so that we always stay in His presence? Do we settle when He commands us to stop? How can we be the tabernacle (dwelling place) of God when we are no more than chipped clay pots?

God is calling us to be living stones. To be strong, knowing that our cornerstone is Jesus Christ, to know that we are inhabited by His living, Holy Spirit. To know that when His kingdom comes on earth, we are part of the living temple.

In the book of Revelation, we see the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. We do NOT see a new temple. In fact, John was very clear (Rev. 21:22) in that he didn't see a temple. Because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

We do not need to build a Third Temple on earth. While we are on earth, we are the representation of the Temple. We are the stones that are cut by a Master Craftsman to be the support of the Temple. The sacrifices that are done at the altar, have been taken care of by the blood of one man, Jesus Christ. WE are the temple. We are the home of the Living God.

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