I love early morning, in fact I may love it so much that it hinders my sleep at times. There is something about those early conversations with God that begin with new thoughts and culminate with new insights (hoping against “spiritual prigness”, see 11/22).
This morning, with the constant backdrop of thought which I believe to be the ongoing download of my new book, came thoughts about temples. The “aha”, the insight, came around the three major areas of challenge in the life of a Christ follower: the enemy, the flesh and the Christ, all relating to temples.
The enemy of course is about stealing, killing and destroying. His work is to destroy temples, bodily through death and physically through war. The story of Satan’s mission is strewn throughout the Word of God. The great temples in Jerusalem were surely built through love and devotion, a demonstration of mankind’s recurring attempts to obey and glorify God. Yet each later, destroyed by the ravages of war. Man builds Satan tears down.
However, just as Satan is about temple destruction, we seem to be about temple building. There seems to be this need in mankind to physically build, both sinner and saint, whether the Tower of Babel or the task of Nehemiah. Something within us calls us to build. We honor men and women of vision, naming buildings after them or applauding them for the buildings they have built. Our land is full of iconic structures both secular and sacred.
Yet, when Christ comes, the temple concept is challenged; in fact it becomes a flash point for Him. He was about new temples, not made with hands. In Mark 14:58, one of his accusers rails, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’” (NIV). Both the man, whose interest was preservation of their icon, and the Christ who had outraged him were surely prophesying. Man, in his attempt to salvage the temple built with hands, would eventually destroy the earthly temple in which Christ had dwelt, but the God in Christ would in fact three days later raise it up!
Multiple messages here: Jesus was taking issue with man made temples, just as God had with David; temple building was unnecessary except for framing a concept which the Christ would later reveal, that being, “you yourselves are God’s temple…” (I Cor. 3:16 NIV). Could a mere mortal construct a temple sufficient to house God? How ludicrous, but we try! In fact, we now have one on almost every corner of America, not to speak of those museum-like spires that dot Eastern Europe…come to think of it, almost likened to a trail left where Christian’s passed?
I wonder sometimes if God doesn’t tire of working us through our perversion of His concepts. The tabernacle in the desert was a modular meeting place for God and man. The Temple in Jerusalem was man’s Cadillac model, which settled once and for all the fact that this land was the “promised land.” Yet, that very temple has been a place of constant warfare over the centuries as the enemy through mankind makes his statement against God.
Undistracted, Jesus (Emmanuel, God with us) was about something of a higher plane, He had come to right the concept of temple…one which we had made to be only a “den of thieves.” We were the only temples that held God’s interest; in fact God had even occupied one for His demonstration of this truth. A temple later raised up, just as Jesus had prophesied, but only after Satan through mankind had attempted its destruction on Golgotha’s Hill. On Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, God would have the last word, the first being in Genesis, that Satan would bruise His heel, the last on the cross, where God in Christ would bruise the skull of mankind’s last foe!
Today, we are the temples of God, the Body of Christ, and the Church triumphant. No longer is God in search of a better, more beautiful edifice, for to Him there is nothing more beautiful than the Bride (hear Him in the Song of Solomon). This is the day of His repossession, a day soon followed by our resurrection. A day when we will be free from the ruin of Satan’s plunder of this earthly temple; the frustration of war will be no more and in fact He has built for us a place of dwelling where neither tears nor sorrow will ever be known!