The Essential Jesus Day 14
Previews of a Savior: The New Temple
PRAY: Lord, the week is drawing to a close. It has been busy but productive. Help me to not be so distracted that I forget to notice your presence. Amen
READ: 1 Kings 8:1-21
REFLECT: In our last few readings, the Israelites were still traveling through the desert after God brought them out of Egypt. Now the Israelites have long since arrived in the Promised Land. After hundreds of years with God as king, they demanded a human king (1 Samuel 8:1-22). God grants them their request. Solomon is the third king of Israel.
Up to now, there had been no temple for God. Instead, God dwelt among the people in the Tabernacle which was basically a tent. King David wanted to build a temple worthy of God in Jerusalem. But God reserved the privilege for David’s son, Solomon.
It took Solomon 7 years to complete construction of the temple (1 Kings 6:38). Today’s reading is the ribbon cutting ceremony! The elders of Israel gather together. Speeches are given. Prayer are offered. They kill up so many animal sacrifices that they lose track!
The building was impressive. It was one of the great wonders of the ancient world and the crown of Solomon’s achievements. But its true glory was what was housed within. The Ark of the Covenant is moved from the Tabernacle into the newly completed Temple. The Ark of the Covenant held the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments and served as the “mercy seat” where God’s Shekhinah, or Holy Spirit, would rest. Once the Ark was in place, a cloud filled the temple to hide the glory of the Lord.
Then Solomon declares to God, “I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever” (1 Kings 8:13). So think about this. God of the entire universe with the earth as his footstool dwelling forever in a 900 square foot room? God who said “Let there be light” living in a stone edifice with no windows? And to think the temple would last forever? Is it just me or does Solomon sound a bit arrogant? As lovely as our sacred architecture may be. can it really compare to what God himself has made? Or more importantly, to God himself?
But maybe that is precisely what makes this so amazing! The God of the universe actually decides to make his presence known in the temple. God wants to dwell among his people, so they will know he cares for them, protects them and loves them. He is willing to leave the sacred heavens and hang out amongst mere mortals.
This is a preview of what God will do in Christ Jesus. Jesus empties himself and becomes humble (Philippians 2:5-11). He takes on human flesh and becomes a man (John 1:14).
The temple was rebuilt and destroyed several times over the next 1,000 years. During the time of Jesus, it was even more magnificent than when Solomon originally built it. The temple had become a market ( John 2:12-17). So Jesus drove the merchants and money changers away.
The religious leaders are indignant. Who do you think you are? Where do you get your authority? Give us a sign to prove you have the right to do this! Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days (John 2:18-19). The religious leaders were baffled not to mention downright angry. They assumed Jesus was talking about the Jerusalem temple. They did not understand nor could they comprehend that God himself dwelled in the person of Jesus Christ. God himself walks among his people. And of course, Jesus’ prophecy would prove true. They would put him to death and nail him to the cross. And three days later he would rise again.
And then something even more outrageous happens. Paul tells us, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Cor 3:16-17). You are the temple of God! God dwells in you.
APPLY: Who do you admire most in the world? If they offered to come to your house for dinner, what would you do? How would you prepare for their visit? Have you ever thought of yourself as God’s temple? How does that affect your view of yourself and the choices you make? What are the implications of God living in you?
PRAY: Gracious Lord, it is hard for me to imagine you living in me. I am unworthy. Please forgive me and help me to live a life worthy of you, so that all I do will glorify your holy name. Amen.