Oct 28, 2007

A Tale of Two Temples

Introduction: discuss--When I was in 5th grade, I would watch Nickelodeon after a long day of school. The Legends of the Hidden Temple was my favorite show, and on it, It [the temple] talked, and told stories. It was like a history lesson and game show all in one. But today I would like to discuss 2 vastly different temples.

1st temple-

The apostle Peter preached in Solomon’s Portico at the Second Temple in Jerusalem. It was there that the prophecies in Haggai were fulfilled. the Temple was so important. Temple worship was central to all of life because YHWH resided among the Hebrew people there. Sketched in the walls of God’s house was a story, but not just any story, but the God story of salvation history from the beginning. The word of the Lord came to Solomon instructing Israel’s wisest king on every detail from the rooftops to the doors. The sole reason why Solomon was permitted to even lay the foundation of the Lord’s house was because unlike his father David, Solomon had not engaged in warfare which requires the destruction of living breathing tabernacles. [Read 1st Kings 6:1-3 (NIV)]
In the four hundred eightieth year after the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord.
The house that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high.
The portico in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits wide, across the width of the house. Its depth was ten cubits in front of the house.

The sanctuary was made of the finest cedar with the inner most room containing the Ark of the Covenant. The whole house and alter was overlaid with the most refined gold. 2 angels (with their wings) guarded the sanctuary each from wall to wall. On the walls, engravings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers covered the outer and inner rooms of the house of God. The entrance way even had carvings of angels, open flowers, and palm trees while the inner court contained the best cedars of Lebanon. After all of this had happened, Solomon had everything that was in the tabernacle (from the dishes and cups to the burning menorah) into the innermost room of the Lord’s house. Why furnished this way (compared to 21st century churches?)?
King Solomon dedicated the temple, he prayed [1st Kings 8:27-30].
"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built!
Regard your servant's prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today;
that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, "My name shall be there,' that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place.
Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive.

King Solomon’s request was a return to the Garden of Eden. The flowers, the trees, the angels, on the walls in the sanctuary and on the doors refer back to the creation narratives, with the formation of God’s temple, the Earth, and His sanctuary, the Garden of Eden. God dwelled among us at Eden, in His Holy of Holies with his royal priesthood Adam and Eve.
(Scholar Scott Hahn) Parallels between Adam and Eve in Genesis and priests in Numbers and Leviticus:
a. Genesis 2:15, till (the garden) and keep it. Hebrew words—abodah and shamar---found also in commands to priests/tabernacle Numbers 3:7-8; 8:26; 18:5-6. Both Eden and the temple were entered from the East
b. God walks, the cherubim, menorah is the tree of life/ burning bush.
c. Lastly, God clothed Adam, just as Aaron was clothed. (Genesis 3:21; Exodus 28:42; Deuteronomy 23:13-14). High priests of humanity.
When the Enemy one day stole God’s treasured possessions and then returned them beyond the point of recognition; so much so that when God searched and called out for His priests, Adam and Eve, He asked, where are you? Who are you? Why don’t you know where you truly belong? Since the priests had failed to be holy anymore, God expelled them from His sanctuary, as a cherubim with a flaming sword was commanded to guard the tree of life. The events where God worked to get His priest hood back began with the election of and promises to Abraham and Sarah and realized after YHWH chose Moses at the burning bush as the liberator of the Hebrews from Pharoah. [Hebrews] celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem every year, reliving the Exodus event where God chose [their] forebears to be His royal priesthood. Centuries after King Solomon had dedicated the temple, God had expelled his priests from His sanctuary. Yet, the Lord of Hosts spoke to Haggai, promising a more glorious temple in which God would again dwell. [read Haggai 2:4-9].
Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts,
according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear.
For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land;
and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts.
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts.
The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.

--I find it strange that the God who is supposed to reside in the temple is referred to as the Lord of hosts. The Lord of Hosts, a God with an army chooses a king who had never been to battle as the person to build His temple. This tells me two things: first, God the Creator is Lord of creation; God is sovereign because God has created all nations. This means that no nation has the right to lord themselves over another nation. Second, by selecting Solomon as the builder of choice, God is telling us something about the people who God wants worshipping at His house: people who live peaceful lifestyle to worship the One True God in spirit and in truth.

2nd Temple 

That day, in Solomon’s Portico, the apostle Peter claimed that Solomon’s prayer had been answered, and that every word of Haggai’s prophecy had been fulfilled. He proclaimed the Good News, alongside his friend John, that YHWH tabernacled among us, as one of us [John 1:14— [14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.] [the Greek verb skenoo literally means God fixed a tabernacle among us]. This very person, Jesus Christ once told a Samaritan woman [read John 4:19-26].
The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you F30 say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem."
Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us."
Jesus said to her, "I am he, F31 the one who is speaking to you."

During the Passover one year, our Lord Jesus cleared the temple and made a promise to the crowd [John 2:16-19].

He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!"
His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me."
The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?"
Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

Throughout his life, Jesus talked about the kingdom of God in parables, about a stronger man plundering the strong man would take back his possessions. The opponents of Jesus accused him of wanting to destroy their temple while the Roman Empire accused the True King of the world of being a traitor and all had him crucified. At the crucifixion, the earth and heavens did shake as Haggai prophesied [Matthew 27:51-53].
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.
The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Yet, 3 days after the temple of God had been crushed and buried, God raised him from the dead. Christ had conquered death and sin, delivering us (his treasure), from the strong man we call Satan. I remember Peter telling us that silver and gold, he did not have, but he did have the Gospel, the power of God which gives life. Upon the cornerstone who was rejected, God has made a new priesthood, of Jew and Gentile, male and female, red brown, black or white, we are all precious in His sight.
And today, the stories from the 1st Temple and the 2nd Temple continues in the life of every member of the faithful who believes in Jesus Christ and who becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit. The enemy continues to try to take away Christ’s treasured priesthood—whether it be in Darfur, the western region of Sudan where the (Janjaweed) Devil Riders rape women and destroy villages; but even within the borders of the world’s lone super power, the USA,—in the abortion clinics and on death row where tabernacles of God’s breath (God’s ruach) are demolished in the name of free choice and capital punishment. [a favorite theologian, commentary] the apostle Paul, wrote to the Corinthians, however, [1st Corinthians 3:16-17].

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? F17
If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.

As Temples of the living God and as the chosen priesthood, the church must share the wealth of God’s Good news that Jesus lives & reigns, and that every person, old or young, from womb to tomb, is valued by our Lord. Clement of Alexandria once asked, “Without the body, how could the divine plan for us in the church achieve its end?” While the Enemies may try to steal us back, we know that he will fail. Because Christ became victorious over the world, his church will also---[in the words of the members in the Civil Rights Movement, who achieved victory in spite the bombings of churches and the abuse of their temples]-- We shall overcome; We shall overcome; We shall overcome some day; Oh, deep in my heart ; I do believe We shall overcome some day---We can overcome the destruction of God’s temple because His Son, Jesus Christ first did.

Life is sacred not because of my free choice or my flawed sense of justice but because of God's sovereign choice at the Incarnation and the justice of God we find at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In the words of John--[Read Revelation 21:22].

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.