From the baroque columns of Bernini’s altar at Saint Peter’s to the podium of the largest drive-in church in California, the church has actually been so identified with architecture that the majority of people provide no other meaning to the word “church.” Travelers therefore expect to find Christian shrines and sanctuaries at sacred websites in the holy land.
Christians have not always looked for these shrines as tourists. Once they came as pilgrims, and once again they came as Crusaders. The bitter vision of a Christian holy war still scars the memory of nations of the Near East. Today we can not conceive of making war to possess a Christian sanctuary. (Whether that measures a genuine gain in theology or only a loss of conviction might be difficult to determine!).
How are we to comprehend the Israeli struggle for independence and nationhood? From a furnace of condition an individuals with the ancient name of Israel has pertained to the ancient land of promise. Jerusalem is again their belongings.
The Old Testimony individuals of God were formed by God’s covenant as a theocracy. They were contacted us to holy war and to festive celebration at the sanctuary where God set his name. Is modern Israel called-at whatever cost in political relations with the Arab states-to clear the sacred rock and build a new temple?
Many Christians would address, “Yes.” They think that the brought back praise at such a temple has a central location in the prophetic future that is part of the Christian hope.
We must think about soberly and prayerfully what the Bible teaches on this question. We dare not trifle with the mysteries of God’s Word, and certainly the stress of a circumstance about which so few of us are knowledgeable require responsible discussion.
Distinctions may remain amongst us that will result in further study and discussion. However above all let us be discovered faithful in our witness to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the blessed hope of his return. With reverence, then, let us approach the theme of the temple in Scripture, looking for to be taught of God.
I. The Meaning of the Temple.
To look for the meaning of the temple, as the Old Testimony presents it, is to inquire not into the history of religions however into the history of redemption. It is frequently presumed that the vital reconstructions of the history of Israel’s praise may be made without prejudice to the faith material of Old Testimony faith. Really the demands of Scripture upon the interpreter are not so lightly averted. The Old Testament does not profess to be a complete history of the life and culture of ancient Israel. It claims to be the Word of the Lord; its unity remains in the Divine function. The effort is constantly with God. “Salvation is of the Lord!” cries the prophet (John 2:9). What God makes understood is not just his functions but himself.
The God of the Word is the Lord of history, who has set the seasons in his authority. Kings and empires, languages and cultures, institutions and rites, all exist in his time and serve his purpose. The present can not put chains on God’s future. The bright functions of God, like the treasure of a fortified city, are unattainable to the imagination of male (Jer 33:3 ); far less can any guy stay his hand or declare that the zeal of the Lord of Hosts can not achieve all his will. Under the rainbow of his promise God not just brings the brand-new out of the old, but prepares for and prefigures it. The prophets discover in the very first Exodus a model of the final deliverance of individuals of God (Hos 2:14 ff; Jer 23:7; Isa 40:3; 43:17; 52:12); they predict a brand-new David (Jer 23:5; Ezek 34:23; 37:24); they witness a new temple filled with splendor (Ezek 43:1 -5).
To seek the meaning of the temple, as the Old Testimony presents it, is to ask: What has God revealed through this symbolism he has instituted?
Temple significance, together with sacrifice, prevailed in ancient faith. The Egyptian temple provided a secluded shrine from which the image of the god may make a seasonal procession, the Babylonian sanctuary opened through marvelous gates to the court of a temple-palace where worshipers assembled.
The importance of the home and gate of God is completely transformed by the existence of the living God of Israel. Not the lack of an idol but the existence of the Lord sets Israel’s worship over versus heathenism. It has actually typically been mentioned that Old Testament religion is grounded in history. Unlike the seasonal events of the fertility cults, Israel’s banquets remembered a historic deliverance by God’s hand. We need to understand that it is not history as such however reality that makes the difference. The God who marched prior to his individuals through the desert now dwells with them in his holy hill. At the temple Israel worshiped the God who was there.
Bible continually shows that the presence of God comes. God first exposes himself to the patriarchs and after that they develop altars; he appears at the bush and on the install before the tabernacle is constructed. This is the contrast between Babel and Bethel: the stairway of human temple-building and the staircase of God by which he boils down to reveal himself to Jacob.
Jacob’s amazed confession as he anoints his memorial stone attests to the initiative of God’s grace: “Surely the Lord is in this location; and I knew it not” (Gen 28:16). God’s existence makes Bethel your home of God and the gate of heaven.
When Stephen protects early Christian mentor against charges of blasphemy toward the temple he surveys the Scriptures to reveal this point: God’s living presence, not the temple, comes. The angel of God’s existence brought the living oracles of God to the assembly at Sinai; the tabernacle itself had a divine pattern. Even when the temple was developed according to God’s pledge, it was dedicated with the confession that God does not stay in a temple made with hands.
The priority of God’s existence over the place of his residence is wonderfully expressed in God’s election of Mount Zion. Throughout the Old Testament it is constantly confessed that God is the God of paradise. To be sure, it can be stated that God has actually set his name, or his magnificence there, however while this points to a mystical richness in God’s revelation of himself, it still verifies the truth of God’s presence in the sanctuary.
God’s option of Zion compares with his election of Israel. Rather, God has preferred Zion for his house; the high mountains dare not refuse God’s holy hill (Ps 68:16).
God’s election of Zion streams from his election of Israel. Israel is not called to serve the temple, but the temple is established as the meeting-place between God and his people.
Because God’s home with his individuals is figured out by his own purpose of grace we discover that the temple signifies not only the home of God but also eviction of God. Here the way is opened to go into the courts of the Lord and appear prior to his face. After the primitive sin eviction of the garden of God was barred by the flaming sword of the cherubim, the guardians of the throne. In the tabernacle and the temple the sword continues to keep eviction. The altar of sacrifice offers a victim for the knife so that the worshiper may come before God.
The peril and risk of God’s existence is significantly portrayed in Exodus after the sin of the golden calf (Exod 33, 34). The concern is presented: Shall the tabernacle be built? Can the holy God dwell in the midst of his people?
He will go before the people in the angel of his presence to drive out their enemies and give them the promised land. He will not go up in the midst of the camp lest he consume them in a moment (Exod 33:3, 5).
Here is formula for suburban externalism in religion: a qualified cleric ministers at a convenient distance to a God of national security. Here the longing for God that comes to such full expression in the Psalms furnishes a background for the tabernacle. In prayer Moses seeks the only possible assurance of God’s presence in the midst: the fresh revelation of his glory.
Yes, the tabernacle will be developed, and all its importance declares God’s name of mercy: “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious …” (Exod 33:19). The tabernacle is both a barrier and an opportunity. As God’s hand covered Moses in the cleft of the rock up until his magnificence gone by (Exod 33:22 f), so the veil covers God’s glory in the most sanctuary. The priesthood, too, provides a sort of barrier, a ministry of mediation so that guys appointed and cleansed might bear the horror of the sanctuary.
The presence of God is not hermetically sealed off. The shedding of sacrificial blood is indispensable in the tabernacle-temple symbolism, for only through the blood can there be atonement: “apart from the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb 9:22).
Archaeology has actually supported the Scriptural recommendations to some comparable sacrificial rituals amongst individuals of Canaan, but absolutely nothing has been found to compare to the fancy blood rituals of Leviticus. The blood from the altar cleans the entire path of method symbolized in the tabernacle; the laver, the curtains, the furniture of the sanctuary-all that spoke of communion and fellowship with God, and even the mercy seat in between the cherubim-all are sprayed and cleansed with blood. “The Lord is God, and he hath provided us light; bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar” (Ps 118:27).
Ancient Israel doubtless perceived better than modern scholars the personal involvement of sacrifice. The offerer was identified with his sacrifice: he lived before God as the animal died before God.
The presence of the holy God that required symbolism of such deep severity also stimulated the profoundest appreciation. Who can check out the Psalms without marveling at the intensity of personal fellowship with God that they express? This is heightened by the Psalmist’s experience of suffering: delivered and restored again to your home of the Lord, he will witness the charm of the Lord forever and provide his thank offerings of praise.
From this exultation of worship flows the eschatology of the Psalter. As God’s name is applauded in redemption the nations are contacted us to participate in the hallelujahs. Paradise and earth join in Jerusalem’s spiritual feast, the trees of the wood clap their hands, and the Philistine, the Ethiopian, the Egyptian have a birthright in Zion, where brethren stay together in unity.
The spiritual reality of the temple meaning is exposed in a still more astonishing method the Old Testimony. For there is no long tranquil period in which the delight of temple fellowship can be checked out. Instead, from the minute of the devotion of Solomon’s temple there begins a long procedure of disobedience, apostasy and judgment that issues in the damage of the temple as the curses of the covenant fall upon an idolatrous nation. The meaning of God’s presence is revealed anew in the face of this catastrophe. Jeremiah stands in the gate of the temple to denounce the lying assurances of those who stated it inviolable (Jer 7:4). “The Lord hath abandoned his altar, he hath hated his sanctuary” (Lam 2:7). But this satisfies the covenant judgment God had long ago noticable (Lam 2:17).
God’s covenant faithfulness triumphs over the storm of destruction. All is swept away except God’s purpose of grace, but that purpose fills the horizon with the rainbow of his promise. God was not consumed in the flames of the temple, nor did his promises perish.
There the exiles, far from the ruins of Zion, are not without a sanctuary, for the God who spread them says, “Yet will I be to them a sanctuary for a little while in the countries where they are come” (Ezek 11:16).
Happy Israel was left a sanctuary without the Magnificence, but humbled Israel found a sanctuary in the Glory. Absolutely nothing in the more meaning of Ezekiel’s prediction exceeds the implica-tions of this discovery. The unbreakable temple is the presence of God in glory with his people.
In the presence of God himself lay the significance of the temple importance, and in the presence of God is the means and end of the terrific restoration in which all God’s promises are fulfilled. God himself will come to be the Hero, Therapist, Conservator of his individuals, and the remediation will be overall, for God will give them a new spirit, hearts of flesh for stone, “and they shall be my individuals, and I will be their God” (Ezek 11:20). God’s presence will raise Israel not just from the death of captivity however from the death of sin (Ezek 37:14). Instead of covenant renunciation “ye are not my people, and I will not be your God” (Hos 1:9), there will be new covenant true blessing, “Ye are sons of the living God” (Hos 1:10).
The reality of God’s presence is promised by the prophets in regards to restorative efficiency: the temple will be re-established (Isa 2:2 -4; Ezek 40:2), sacrifices will again be provided (Isa 56:7; Jer 33:18; 17:26; 31:14; Ezek 43), the priests and Levites will be restored (cf. Ezek 44:9 -31), the mediatorial position of Israel among the countries will be resumed (Mic 4:1 -3; Isa 66:23; 45:14; Zech 14:16 -19).
The fullness of blessing transforms the restoration. It is the heart of the covenant that must be developed; restoration becomes renewal. The old covenant, brought back by God’s own existence becomes a brand-new covenant.
It is not just the reunited remnant of both Israel and Judah that are to be redeemed (Hos 1:11; 3:5; Isa 11:13; Ezek 37:15 -22). The Gentiles are included (Isa 2:2 -4; Mic 4:1 -3). The outcasts of other nations are collected with the captivity of Israel (Isa 56:6 -8) and their sacrifices will be accepted on God’s altar (Zech 14:16 -19). From the ingathered Gentiles God will choose priests and Levites (Isa 66:21).
Unthinkably great will be God’s sanctifying blessing that God will be worshiped by sacrifice at an altar in Egypt; Assyrians will pilgrimage there to worship, and Egyptians to Assyria, so that Israel’s position as God’s covenant people will be shared by Egyptians and Assyrians, the former enemies (Isa 19:19 -25). The final delight in God’s mountain is for all peoples (Isa 25:6 -8). “Lots of countries will become his people, and he will dwell in the midst of them” (Zech 2:11; cf. Ps 47:9; 87:4, 6; Zeph 3:9; Amos 9:11, 12 LXX; Acts 15:16, 17).
God’s coming heightens the symbolism of the city and temple to an apocalyptic degree. So holy will the city become that the inscription of the high priest’s tiarra will be on the bells of the horses and the wash pots will be as temple vessels (Zech 14:20). The ark of the covenant, on the other hand, will not be missed out on, due to the fact that all Jerusalem will be God’s throne to which the countries are gathered (Jer 3:17).
Ezekiel’s vision of the brand-new temple belongs to this prophetic pattern of a repair so overall that it sublimates the ceremonial structure in glory. Ezekiel’s restoration returns David to the throne, and sees a temple that is a sanctuary of Paradise where the river of life streams from God’s throne past trees whose leaves are for the healing of the nations (Ezek 47:1 -12). Consummation magnificence burns in the name of the city, “The Lord exists” (Ezek 48:35). God’s coming produces a brand-new heaven and earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22). Peace will dominate (Hos 2:18; Isa 9:4 -7; Mic 4:3, 4), even among the animals (Isa 11:6 -9; 35:9); the heavenly bodies will have their light increased (Isa 30:26), there will be no longer day and night (Isa 60:20) however only God’s magnificence.
If all this results from God’s coming, we can not explain the glory of that coming itself, when the Lord appears, in the middle of the rejoicing of his development, to dwell in Zion and rule over all, filling the city with his glory.
The coming of God is identified with the coming of the Messiah. God’s existence in Jerusalem was linked with the rule of God’s Anointed there, for God selected the city of David as the place of his throne. When David would construct God a house, God promised to develop David a home.
When God happens the Shepherd of his scattered flock, David too will be raised up as Shepherd (Ezek 34:11, 23; cf. Isa 40:9 -11 with 42:1 -9).
The heightening of the pledges does not make the Lord’s Anointed unneeded, like the ark of the covenant, but more marvelous. He bears magnificent rule over the nations (Zech 9:10; Dan 7:14; Isa 11:1 -6; cf. Ps 45, 2, 110, 72), for his name is the mighty God, the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6).
Just as the restoration of the temple by the returning exiles still points to a more wonderful future, so the blessings on Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest in Zechariah anticipate the coming of the King who will speak peace to the countries (Zech 4:9; 6:12; 9:9, 10).
The coming Lord is likewise the coming Servant in whom Israel’s sonship is satisfied. He is the Seed of the pledge, the Seed of the lady (Gen 3:15), of Abraham (Gen 13:15; 17:8), of David (Ps 89:35, 36), who enters through suffering into the triumph of eternal rule (Isa 53; Ps 110). His guideline is at God’s right-hand man (Ps 110:1, 2), he is blessed with God’s Spirit (Isa 11:2 ff; 61:1 -3), and if in the day of glory the weak of God’s individuals will be as David, then the Prince of your house of David, shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them (Zech 12:8)
II. The Satisfaction of the Temple in Christ.
” The Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple” guaranteed the last of the prophets (Mal 3:1). The witness of the New Testament is to the coming of the Lord.
Luke’s Gospel starts in the temple: his nativity stories center on Jesus’ discussion in the temple as a baby and his being discovered there as a boy of twelve. The days are satisfied from the going forth of the word from Gabriel; the infant Rescuer is blessed by Simeon, who announces not only that he has actually seen the Lord’s greasy, but that the holy kid is the splendor of Israel (Luke 2:32). As God’s magnificence filled the temple of old, so now Simeon sees the light revealed to the Gentiles.
The Savior in Simeon’s arms brings not only the divine glory but the divine offense. “This child is set for the falling and increasing of numerous in Israel …” (v. 34). In Isaiah God is said to be “for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both your houses of Israel, … and many shall stumble thereon, and fall …” (Isa 8:14, 15).