Tag Archive for temple

Details Matter

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m reading through the Old Testament in the original Hebrew. But my Hebrew skills are rudimentary at best, so some portions of the Old Testament are quite challenging.

For example, I had trouble getting through 1 Kings 6 and 7. They describe in some detail Solomon’s construction of the temple and his own palace. The subject matter necessitates the use of numerous technical terms that I didn’t know. Add to that my own limitations: I barely know which end of a hammer to hold, and I can’t picture physical structures from verbal descriptions. I have to see them with my own two eyes. So for a zillion verses, I struggled through words I didn’t know to try to picture structures I just couldn’t picture. For me, it seemed an extended exercise in frustration and futility.

But such details matter. 1 Kings 6 and 7 remind me of Exodus, chapters 25 and following, which provide seemingly-endless detail about the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness. There God specifically warns Moses:

“See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40, NASB)

By the time I finished Exodus, I began to understand the importance of those details, even without the ability to accurately picture them in my mind. I could see that each of the details in the tabernacle were given by God to help the people know Him. Each of the furnishings – the candles, the incense, the bread, the curtains, the ark, and more – provided the worshipers with a sensory experience of God, however partial. In a sense, God was “incarnating” Himself in the tabernacle, making Himself physically knowable centuries before Christ. He was glorifying Himself, proclaiming His presence, His greatness, and His goodness in ways perceivable by our five senses.

Thus, details matter. They mattered in the building of the tabernacle. They mattered in the construction of the temple.

And they matter in my work as well. As a hymn writer, I can’t see God’s full purpose in the work I do. I can’t see the end from the beginning. But He can, so I carefully follow His lead. I am like Bezalel, who worked on the tabernacle (Exodus 31:1-11), and Hiram, who helped construct the temple (1 Kings 7:13-14). They were craftsmen, gifted, prepared, and called by God to perform specific tasks as a small part of God’s greater purpose.

That is my role as well. In ways I didn’t plan and can’t imagine, God is using me, in some small way, to glorify Himself through Jesus Christ.

And that is your role, too. Aren’t we blessed? Each of us is a tiny part of all the marvelous, eternal, creative work God is doing in Jesus Christ. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: God’s Mysterious Ways
Printed Music & Lyrics

Greater Than the Temple

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 2:14-22 

“Zeal for Your house will consume me.” (John 2:17, NASB)

Follow Jesus’ relationship with the temple, and you’ll glimpse the relationship of Father and Son with each other and with the people of God.

The temple was a building, designed as a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:7). It was a place of joy where people could talk with God, learn of Him, worship Him, and be assured of His care (Isaiah 2:2-5). In a sense, the temple made God’s presence tangible.

Jesus began coming to the temple when He had to be carried (Luke 2:21-39). There His parents presented the infant Jesus to His true Father and dedicated Him to His service.

Virtually all that we know about Jesus’ childhood is His devotion to His Father and to the temple (Luke 2:41-52). Even at age twelve, He thought of the temple as His Father’s house. His desire to be about His Father’s work drew Him there to a degree that confounded even His parents.

As an adult, Jesus continued to think of the temple as His Father’s house. Thus He came to it in a unique capacity, as the Son of God (Matthew 17:24-27). He seemed to come at every opportunity. There He spoke the Father’s words and did the Father’s works. People who came to Jesus in the temple met their God face-to-face. He spent time with them, rubbed shoulders with them, taught them, and healed them.

They also experienced the Son’s all-consuming zeal for His Father’s house. They sensed His passion as, with sovereign authority, He cleansed it of all that distracted from God Himself (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-16; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:14-22).

Yet Jesus also lifted people’s sights beyond the temple buildings. He taught the Samaritan woman that true worship transcended the temple. Life could be engulfed in worship that flowed directly from our spirits to His, unencumbered by time and place (John 4:20-24). Referring to Himself, He told the Pharisees that “something greater than the temple is here” (Matthew 12:6, NASB). He proclaimed His own body as the true temple of God. The magnificent temple structures, which had taken forty-six years to build, would soon be completely leveled (Matthew 24:2). But when His bodily temple was destroyed, it would rise again in only three days (John 2:19).

The Spirit of Christ drew the early Church to the temple almost continually (Luke 24:52-53; Acts 2:46). Through Paul, the Spirit taught the Church that they themselves were God’s living temple, His holy presence on earth (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Ephesians 2:19-22). The New Testament closes with the promise that soon, life will be so completely engulfed in God that a temple will be unnecessary (Revelation 21:22).

In Jesus’ zeal for the temple, we glimpse the Son’s deep love for His Father, and the Father’s burning desire to be forever one with His children.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: We Have Come, God’s Living Temple
Printed Music & Lyrics