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Temple, an Introduction
(c) Copyright 2008 Rev. Bill Versteeg
44 “Our forefathers
had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had
been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen.
45 Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it
with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before
them. It remained in the land until the time of David, 46 who enjoyed
God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place
for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built the house for
“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men.
As the prophet says:
“ ‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is
What kind of house
will you build for me?
says the Lord.
Or where will my
resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things?’
stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just
like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever
a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who
predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed
and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was
put into effect through angels but have not obeyed
Brothers and sisters in Christ:
Have you ever wondered where the idea of
a temple came from? Where did it start? Where did
the idea start? Where is it? Why is it?
Why was it built the way it was and why was its furniture in the Old
Testament so important? And why would that be of interest to
us? And where are we in relation to the temple? We
hope to spend the next year answering some of those
questions. This morning I can only introduce the series of
sermons in which we will be addressing the temple. And I want
to do that by asking the question - where do you think the temple
If we know our scriptures, most of us
would say - when God gave Moses the instructions on how to build the
temple. The idea comes from God and that is where it
started. There is however good evidence that the temple
To see that, please look at Genesis 2:15
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work
it and take care of it.
Notice these words - to work it and take
care of it.
These words are the very same
words that are used later in the scriptures to describe the work or
service of Israelites who served the Lord and priests who served in the
temple and keep is the word that was used to describe guarding the
gates of the temple. That combined with the fact that the
Garden of Eden was a place where God walked with Adam. The
very same word for walk was used to describe God’s presence
in the tabernacle. Not only that. When Adam and Eve
disobeyed God in the Garden, they were kicked out and cherubim with
flaming swords kept them out of the garden of Eden so that they could
no longer get access to the tree of life. The tabernacle and
the temple had the holy of holies separated from the rest of the temple
by curtains on which were embroidered cherubim. The picture
that we get from these first passages of Genesis is that the Garden of
Eden was like a temple and Adam was the priest serving God’s
command and guarding the temple so that nothing unclean would enter
it. And the fall into sin happened because Adam, in his
priestly role did not keep the foul snake out of the garden.(p.
87) The first Adam failed as a priest to God and the
consequence was that God restrained the expansion of his presence from
the garden throughout the rest of creation, he restrained his presence
to particular places like the tabernacle and the temple. The
temple in its design however always looked back to the garden, it
contained symbols of fruit bearing trees and a large basin of water
called the sea. The temple always pointed to more than a
tent, more than a building built out of carved stones and
So Stephen reminded his hearers who were
deeply attached to their temple building 48 the Most High does not live
in houses made by men. Stephen was reminding them that the temple had
for them become an idol, made by human hands. Stephen, along
with Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet, was looking forward
to a day when the earth would be filled with the glory of the Lord was
waters cover the sea (2:14).
Now to wet your taste buds a little
further, I invite you to read for your table devotions today Revelation
21. There John sees the vision of the New Jerusalem
descending from heaven incredible in size, cubic in shape, just like
the holy of holies in the temple. Inside the city there is no
temple. Now the new creation is filled with the presence and
glory of God, it does not need any sun. Rivers flow from
within this creation - the tree of life giving healing to the
nations. Eden has returned, the temple is no longer necessary
because the entire creation has become the temple, the place that holds
the presence and glory of God. And what is doubly amazing is
that Revelation tells us that (21:22) God Almighty and the Lamb are its
You see, as we study the temple, we will
discover in the end, Christ is the temple, not one built with human
hands, but one made by God. When he said to his disciples,
destroy this building and I will raise it up in three days (Jn 2:19),
he was telling them that in all eternity, he is the presence of God in
creation, the glory of God filling creation, and we the community of
those who believe are being built into him, a spiritual temple filling
all of creation with the glory of God because Christ has given his
glory to us (Jn 17). God’s desire is that his
temple spread throughout the world, throughout creation by his image
and Spirit bearing people.
So how does this all apply to
us? These among other themes....
First, we will look at the nature of the
temple because it is a visual display of how we, sinful people can be
in relationship with a Holy God. You see, unless we come the
right way, we do not have any access to God. There is a way
into his presence. The temple teaches us that.
Second, we will discover that God
intends his entire creation to be his temple, the place where he
dwells. That means that how we steward this creation and take
care of our environment is part of our worship to God.
Creation is not only the world around us, it includes our very own
Third, the temple is a community built
be the Word and the Spirit of the living God, it is not a church
building built by human hands. This building that we invest
in is and must always remain a servant to community. People
in history tend to build monuments, God builds ministry in
community. And so we will look at our participation in the
temple. We are being built into a spiritual temple, says
Peter. What does that mean? If we are
part of the temple, what is our purpose and function there?
This morning, we celebrate communion
together. In the temple there was the table of the bread of
the presence. In the ark of the Covenant was a Jar of
Manna. Both of them were there to symbolize God’s
presence and provision for our journey through life. This
morning we come to the table, as the temple, we come to eat the bread
and drink in remembrance of Jesus, our eternal temple, there receiving
from his presence the provision we need for our journey. This
morning, if you believe in Jesus as your Savior and your hearts desire
is to serve him as your Lord, failing though you may be, come to our
great high priest, take drink, remember and believe that he died for a
complete forgiveness of all your sin.
Next Sermons in the Temple Series:
worry about the Temple? Can't We live without God?"
"In Pursuit of
the Presence of God"
(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY
BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984
International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible
Sermon Index Page