A Biblical Worldview: Temple
David gave this talk at Woodside Church (Bedford) in 2010, as part of their "A Biblical Worldview" series. Click here to download it.
We're currently in a series on Biblical worldview, and will be looking at Genesis to establish a Biblical worldview on issues including:
- Blessings and Curses
- Marriage and Family
- Individual and Community
- Honour Guilt Shame Anxiety etc
Worldview is the deepest level of culture, it's our deepest beliefs about life. If you haven't already, do listen and catch up with the first part in the series, A Biblical Worldview: Culture & Worldview.
One of the truths we looked at was how Adam and Eve were excluded from the garden, Cain even further alienated to the land of Nod/wandering. We saw that this was like the temple – separation from God, right outside wandering. Today, we're going to look at this temple theme that starts in book of Genesis and goes right through to Revelation.
“Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin [a] and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:8-17)
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden”. (Genesis 3:8)
WHAT IS A TEMPLE?
The temple is nothing to do with buildings - the temple is where God meets with man. So the first temple was a garden where God met with Adam in the cool of the day. It was planted by God. It was beautiful, refreshing, full of fruit trees and flowers, rivers going out to bless the rest of the world. But, tragically, the temple got spoilt. After that, mankind had to enter God’s presence through sacrifices.
THE STORY OF MOSES
A people in bondage, led out to worship God on a mountain through sacrifice and power. Encounter with God’s presence – fire, smoke, fear, nobody could go there. Moses alone, and when he came down, the people had fallen into sin and worshipped a golden calf.
“The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" (Exodus 33:14-16)
The Israelites saw a demonstration of God’s presence in fire, cloud and a tent/tabernacle. This showed presence of God – Tabernacle was based upon God’s pattern and a bit like a garden – fruit trees, flowers, gold, perfume – just like in Eden. A curtain separating the holy place, a place of sacrifice with a tangible sense of God’s presence.
“Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34-35)
How did God show he was in his temple? Pillar of cloud by day - pillar of fire by night - when it lifted, they moved on and followed it.
THE STORY OF DAVID
The ark had come with the people into the promised land and was mainly kept at Shiloh (Samuel) but also in other temporary accommodation. David wanted to build a proper temple in Jerusalem. God said "No, your son will build the temple." A greater son would become a king who would reign forever.
David's son, Solomon built an amazing temple, again decorated with trees, flowers, animals etc – a garden. When the temple was dedicated again God’s presence came down.
“The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying,
"He is good;
his love endures forever." (2 Chron 7:2-3)
THE STORY OF THE PROPHETS
People sinned by falling into idolatry over many years. Taken into captivity in Babylon and Ezekiel, a young prophet, had a vision of the presence of God with them in Babylon and the same vision of the presence of God, leaving Jerusalem! Very challenging to their worldview. He later had another vision of a restored temple with impossible measurements – supernatural and an amazing river flowing from it which grew deeper and deeper for healing the dead places. Isaiah also had a vision of an end-time temple:
“In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.” (Isaiah 2:2)
Zechariah and Haggai helped encouraged people to rebuild the temple back in Jerusalem after a remnant of them returned. Herod the Great rebuilt the temple that was the magnificent building in Jesus’ day. The people thought, all we need now is the messiah to come and overthrow the Romans and all will be well.
JESUS AND THE TEMPLE
Now the presence of God – where God met with the people – was in Jesus. He kept challenging the official building in Jerusalem. The temple was now on the streets not in Jerusalem.
“Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." (John 2:19)
“Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem” (John 4:21)
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24)
“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2"Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." (Matt 24:1-2)
“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32)
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.” (Matthew 27:50-51)
Now the barriers of the first temple of Eden, the tabernacle, Solomon’s temple and Herod’s temple were torn – access to God is possible. One sacrifice has been offered – never anymore. Presence of God is open. We worship God through the new temple – Jesus Christ.
THE PRESENCE OF GOD AMONG HIS PEOPLE, HIS CHURCH
Pentecost – God came down, like in earlier temples, now with fire and a sign that it is for all nations.
We individually are a temple, God’s holy Spirit lives in us – so don’t sin! “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own”. (1 Cor 6:19)
We corporately are a temple. “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph 2:21-22)
We experience God’s presence. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good”. (1 Cor 12:7)
It is to be experienced all over the world – churches planted everywhere so the temple is everywhere. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)
Eden restored and more! “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Rev 21:1-3)
“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it.” (Rev 21:22-24)
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” (Rev 22:1-3)
Where is the temple now? The church.
We are to seek primarily the presence of God through:
- Anointed teaching
- Spiritual gifts
- Powerful mission
The temple is to be everywhere in anticipation of the final fulfilment when Jesus returns. Hence:
- Church planting
- World mission
- Contextualised worship
Finally, the fact that we are the temple is to cause us to live holy lives.