devotional

02JUL
2012

The everlasting temple

 

     The temple of King Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians in the sixth century B.C. It was literally razed to the ground, and the people of Judah were taken captive into Babylon. This was a promised judgment of God against the people for their sin. Before it took place, God promised Israel through His prophets that afterward He would once again bring them home. That He would discipline them and then bring them back again.

     In the book of Ezra we see the first repatriation of the people of Israel in fulfillment of that promise. He literally begins his writing by saying that the things brought to pass in his own day were, “…In order that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled…” Ezra 1:1. It was not a very long time between those promises and their earthly fulfillment in Ezra’s time.

     Ezra’s short book sits near the chronological close of the Old Testament (circa 538-520 B.C.). In it the people return home in several waves. It’s a time both of rejoicing among them and opposition against them. After some delays, they begin rebuilding the temple, the central edifice of their culture. What they rebuilt was the same temple destroyed before by Babylon. On the day its foundations were laid there is the following account in Ezra 3:10-13:

 

“The builders finished laying the foundation for the LORD’S Temple. When the foundation was finished, the priests put on their special clothing. Then they got their trumpets, and the sons of Asaph got their cymbals. They all took their places to praise the LORD. This was done the way King David of Israel had ordered in the past. They sang songs of praise and thanksgiving, taking turns in singing each part. They sang,

 

“The LORD is good.
His faithful love will last forever.”

 

Then all the people cheered—they gave a loud shout and praised the LORD because the foundation of the LORD’S Temple had been laid. But many of the older priests, Levites, and family leaders, who could remember seeing the first Temple, began to cry aloud. They cried while the others there shouted for joy. The sound could be heard far away. All of them made so much noise that no one could tell the difference between the shouts of joy and the crying.” (ERV).

    

     That temple was rebuilt, but would not display its original glory. It never would again, would be destroyed twice more, and lies in ruin to this day. The temple stood as a symbol of God’s presence in Israel, and served as a visual reminder of His promises for many.

     God has promised many things to those that love Him today as well. In fact, Scripture says regarding the NT’s promises that they’re so great that, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him,” 1 Corinthians 2:9. Unlike the temple or tabernacle before it, the Christian community does not have a structure as its center. Instead, today, we have a Man. He is the head of our church, Ephesians 4:15; 5:23. It’s Jesus, The Christ who sustains His church. That foundation, unlike any earthly temple, has been laid and cannot be destroyed! Its gates withstand all gates, Matthew 16:18. God’s ultimate promise in the gospel to gather all of His sheep cannot fail. It’s a promise as sound and sure as its foundation. This foundation is laid with Christ as its capstone, Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 3:11. It is one faith delivered to us all, Jude 3. It is one table to which we are all called to dine, Hebrews 13:10. It’s not my faith, it’s our faith. It is not merely that “I” believe, but rather that “we” believe. We, the members of this temple are the temple, 1 Corinthians 6:19. We, “As living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 2:5.

     For their sin, the Jews mourned over the destruction of that holy place. We too should mourn when we consider what sin did to Jesus. God has done things in this world that no one can fathom, and His faithfulness dare never be questioned. He has built an untouchable church that is perfect. The temples we lay will all come and go, but His church universal will never fade. When men re-raise their temples they lack their former glory; when God again raised up His temple His glory increased. “Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” John 2:19. They did and He did.

     When Christ comes again we will all go home. There will be crying and rejoicing. Every promise has been or will be kept. Ezra saw the fulfillment of God’s promises in his own day; I will as well! Learn of His great promises made to you, Christian. Learn them well and store them in your heart. Teach them to your kids. Some of them we will not see. They'll be for our children or our children’s children. Whenever they are revealed they are always cause to rejoice.

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