I’ve been wrestling with the concept of the dwelling place of God and all the functions surrounding it. (There are the Tabernacle, the Temple (2 versions), the bodies of those joined with the Messiah, and during the reign of the Messiah.)
If the Temple and sacrifices are irrelevant now what purpose did they serve? Are they really irrelevant? I know it is not functioning now because of destruction, but is it some archaic institution or should they have relevance now in our lives?
If the Temple and its functions were going to become irrelevant once the Messiah paid the penalty for sin wouldn’t they have been irrelevant from the beginning….sin his death paid once for those who trusted both before and after? We know that people’s obedient faith was accredited to them as righteousness, so what’s the purpose of all this?
Why did God spend so much of his Word giving instructions for the building and function of his dwelling place if he knew ahead of time that it couldn’t sufficiently paid the debt? And that his Son would cover the sins?
What does this mean in relation to those of whom God says their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?
First, through the Law our sins are made known. (Romans 6:20) Without guidelines no one would have even known how they were missing the mark. Part of this Law deals with functions of the Temple…again very strict guidelines on how to worship God.
The thing that changed with the work of the Messiah was that he paid the sin penalty once and for all. (Because he was the perfect embodiment and example of following the Law) Was that the only function of the temple, to sacrifice for sin? No, there were all kinds of offerings to God which we never talk about. At least I for a long time thought that the sacrifices were all for sins. The Temple and the functions there served to provide a framework for worshiping God, part of which was the deep and even daily realization that our sin debt is too great for us to bear. So in part the purpose of the Temple was to show people the continual need for a Savior, to provide a way to express gratitude and worship and to display God’s holiness before us as a constant reminder.
The next thing I’ve realized about the temple is that it must still have significance for us today. Just as God’s commandments still today serve to be the measure of our sins (for which the Messiah has paid the debt, but we must not go on sinning-Rom 3:31) so his design of the Temple and the service to God must also have relevance. But what is it?
I think it should be meaningful for three reasons:
- As those who fear God and believe in Jesus as the Messiah our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Each of us, Jew and Gentile, are united and Jesus is the cornerstone of this new temple. (Eph 2:20-22) Instead of the Law written on tablets in the Holy of Holies, the Spirit wants to write them on our hearts (Heb 10:16). We are the temple, how then do we even know what that function is if we disregard the Word concerning God’s Temple?
- In the right time three will be a future dwelling of God where we, Jews and Gentiles that have joined themselves to the LORD, will worship him with sacrifices. (Isaiah 56:6-7) We will be celebrating Appointed Times (Biblical Festivals) with the Messiah. Should we not prepare to worship him by familiarizing ourselves with his Word concerning the Temple and these types of worship?
- I get a sense of awe and power, a holiness that we so easily forget, when our unperfected bodies are all the “temple” that we truly know. We trick ourselves into believing that God doesn’t really care about holiness because his Spirit dwells in me and I’m a mess. Or, he covers my sin so that is more important than strict laws on how I present myself as holy. YHWH is holy, above all else, above loving and faithful and just.
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay””
The Temple of God in the past most definitely serves as an illustration giving insight on how the King of Kings desires to be worshiped now and in the age to come. Let’s minister to YHWH and love his Name, let’s be his servants and keep the Sabbath and cling to the covenant so that we may be brought near to worship him according to his holy ways!
“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to hi
m, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Holy, holy, holy…YHWH is holy. We cannot begin to understand his ways, and yet, in humility and awe, we must worship by what pleases him, not by what is righteous in our own eyes.