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A Living Temple
by Alon Ronk
In Exodus 25:1-9 God commanded Moses to build a tabernacle. "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it."
The purpose of the Tabernacle is stated in verse 8, "That I may dwell among them." It was a place where God would interact with His people. It was a place to meet with God and a place to worship Him. Ex.29:42-46, "This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God."
As a temporary structure it was portable. The Tabernacle was for Israel's journeyings and would be replaced by the Temple once Israel settled in the land. In Deuteronomy 12:10-11 there is the prophecy of the coming Temple. " But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:" It was King Solomon who eventually built the Temple. You can read about that in 1 Kings, chapters 6, 7, and 8.
In 1 Kings chapter 8, King Solomon dedicates the Temple to the Lord. 1 Kings 8:22-30 reads, " And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart: Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. Therefore now, LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me. And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. But wi ll God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive."
As Solomon dedicates this beautiful and magnificent Temple he begins to realize just how insignificant it is compared to God Himself. In 1 Ki.8:27 he asks, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" Read also the following verses. 2 Chronicles 2:6, " But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?" Isaiah 66:1, "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?" Jeremiah 23:24, "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD."
Now, returning to 1 Kings 8, let's look also at verse 30. "And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive." This is why Jews prayed, and still pray, facing toward Jerusalem. Psalm 5:7 says, "But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." Ps.138:2, "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." Even Jonah, in his situation with the great whale, was conscious of this. Jonah 2:4, "Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple."
The Temple was the center of Jewish life. It was the House of God's presence, a House of worship, and even a house of prayer to ALL people, Isaiah 56:7, "Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people." Nevertheless, there is still the question that is repeated again in the New Covenant in Acts 7:46-49, "Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?"
Indeed, "what house will ye build me?" Would God, perhaps, build Himself a house? There is a hint for us found in John 4:20-23, " Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Jesus spoke of a time when "true worshippers" a distinct class of people, would worship in Spirit and Truth, a distinct form of worship. Jesus ruled out a certain geographical location when He said, "ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem worship..." Jesus spoke of no distinc t building when He said, " the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth." We also see that these worshippers have been sought out by God, "for the Father seeketh such to worship him."
In Leviticus 26:11-12, God told Israel, " And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people." This tabernacle would: 1, be made by God; 2, be placed by God; 3, would house the presence of God; and 4, be a place from which God would personally interact with His people.
These four things were certainly fulfilled in John 1:1 and 14. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." The greek word for "Dwelt" is skenos. It is twice translated "Tabernacle" and in the same sense as God, the Word, taking on a tabernacle of human flesh. 2 Cor 5:1, "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 2 Cor 5:4, "For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life."
The apostle Peter also used similar language when he wrote in 2 Peter 1:13-15, " Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance." Peter clearly speaks of putting off his tabernacle as being synonomous with his decease. Again, Jesus spoke of His body as being a "Temple"; John 2:18-21, " Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body." Jesus earthly body was indeed made by God in the virgin conception, placed by God in the inc arnation, housed the presence of God in that the Word was God, and interacted with His people personally. Jesus, in His body, literally died, was buried, resurrected, and ascended into heaven. This means that right now Jesus is in heaven bodily. When He returns to this earth He will return bodily, physically, literally, and visibly.
But where is His Temple here on earth? For almost 20 centuries there has been no Temple in Jerusalem. Yet there is a Holy Temple of another kind built by God Himself. It is a spiritual Temple but made with very real materials. The building blocks are not rock, wood, or stone but human beings like you and me. We are both individually, and corporately the Temple of God on earth. It is not a Temple of one denomination or religion, but a Temple of sought out redeemed believers. Consider the following verses. 1 Cor.3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Cor.6:19, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 2 Cor.6:16, " And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
But not only as individuals do we function as a Temple for God, but together; all believers as one. Each of us are a living stone in the Temple that God is still building for stones are still being added daily. 1 Peter 2:5-7, "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner."
As we look at this spiritual Temple we see Jesus the Messiah Himself being the chief corner stone upon which all the other stones are fitly framed together representing our unity in Him Ephesians2:20-22, "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." We also see that Jesus Himself is the one and only foundation for this Temple upon which we all are laid, 1 Cor.3:11, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." But just as the Temple of old was consecrated unto God let us also consecrate ourselves unto Him as His people unto the praise of His glory.