THE TEMPLE WAS... For over 400 years, the Shekinah Glory of Almighty God was physically the center and spiritual foundation of Israel's national life. The people brought daily offerings to Him in Solomon’s Temple and gathered as a nation to worship Him during the 3 High Holy Days of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. But over the years, the faithful worshipers became prideful of their image as God's people, placing their faith in their abilities as a nation. All that remains of the magnificent temple is part of the physical foundation, known today as the "Wailing Wall".
Our lesson timeline in God's appointed 8th month, starting October 29 on our 2019 Gregorian calendar, begins with an historical accounting of the completion of Solomon's Temple on Mount Moriah. “In the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He (King Solomon) had spent seven years building it.” 1 Kings 6:38.
Yet, nothing remains today of this glorious temple. What happened? God Himself withdrew His presence, and Solomon’s Temple fell. Back in Deuteronomy 31:17-18 when God’s presence inhabited the Ark of the Covenant, God had warned of that very day. "Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, 'Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?'"
Not only had God protected and preserved Israel, Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple over and over, but He had been the foundation for its very existence. When the nation moved from their humble stance under the watch care of the Lord to the humanistic, proud notion that they could deliver themselves from their enemies on their own, they effectively separated themselves from their very foundation.
They were already literally teetering as a nation when Israel stood in national pride and arrogance following an attack from their enemy and vowed before the Almighty they world rebuild and replace what God had founded them upon with idols of their own making. Isaiah 9:8-10 delivers the context of Israel’s defiant stance and God's resounding judgment 2750 years ago. "The Lord sent a word against Jacob, and it has fallen on Israel. All the people will know—Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—who say in pride and arrogance of heart: ‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars’”
In response, God’s presence and nurture left them, and the whole nation fell to their enemies, not once, but twice. Following the second siege in 70 AD, the Roman army literally plowed Jerusalem with salt to make the ground sterile and fallow, directly fulfilling the prophecy of Micah 3:11-12. "Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.' Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.”
You’d think us folks who claim to base our lives on God’s Word would have learned our Bible lessons by now. God sends plenty of them every month, perfectly appointed on His calendar to remind us year after year. Last week, He told us that any leader He handpicks, must “walk in my ways and do what is right”, otherwise the leader’s reign will be cut short, and he, and those who followed in his footsteps, will be remembered in the most negative way possible. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2559287490818091
The lesson before that, beginning God's 8th month, announced in no uncertain terms that if we want Him to return to us, we must return to Him. Simple enough, but completely overlooked when we’re constantly pointing the blame at someone else instead of removing the log out of our own eye. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2519786238101550
But it seems we are always looking for the intrinsic “Wow” factor. Legend/history has the secret society of the Knight Templar springing up mere centuries after the Temple's destruction, claiming to have "found" vast spiritual "secrets" there, which literally launched a "holy" war. The truth is, even in his legendary wisdom, Solomon was humbled by the absurdity that God would even consider dwelling on earth. “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” 1 Kings 8:27
"But will God really dwell on earth?" We can answer Solomon today with a resounding "Yes, indeed He will." But not in the way any mere mortal could ever totally understand or possibly predict. "...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." John 1:14. It was in the rebuilt Second Temple, that this Word of God, Jesus the Christ, was dedicated as a babe by his parents in Luke 2:22-38. And in the same earthly Temple, during Passover, Jesus amazed the sages at the young age of 12 with his teachings, saying “I must be about my Father’s business…” Luke 2:49.
Many years later at the beginning of his three-year ministry, Jesus again caught the attention of the Jews near another Passover feast when He drove the money changers with their sacrifices from the Temple, in John 2:12-25. He announced to one and all, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days.”
Clearly, Jesus is announcing across the chasm of time to anyone who will listen the true identity of the Temple of the Almighty. But we Christians today would probably reply just like the religious folks in Jesus' day. “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”
We should keep reading in verse 21 for the eternal punchline. "But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."
Several years later, Jesus expressed His great love and profound grief for His people. He also predicted the demise of the very Temple and city they all stood in and clearly stated the reason it would all happen “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ Matthew 23:37-39.
When we pause now and take into account the fact that in response to the 9-11 attack on our nation, our leaders stood, not once, but numerous times and repeated, word for word, Israel's vow of defiance and pride as recorded in Isaiah 9:8-10, we begin to see the undeniable similarities between the mindset of America and the historic nation of Israel. We may be further convinced by the admonition of the prophet Micah: "Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, 'Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.'"
Is it possible that just like Israel, we in America have become focused on the things of this world to identify our "Christianity"? Have we become convinced that God wants us to build a grand and glorious national "temple" here on this earth, instead of receiving the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that all this will soon pass away, and WE as Christians are the only REAL temple that is destined to survive?
The Apostle Paul sums it all up perfectly. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16.
THE TEMPLE WAS...