Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Temple Run Right

See what I did there with the title?  Little reference to get you interested, and hopefully you'll find some jewels in this little post.  (Okay, okay--sorry, that was bad.)
This is a simple concept in Scripture, but so profound!  It's something that impacts me deeply when I think of it, but I have found myself neglecting to retain it in my mind.  Here's the thing.  A lot of times when I pray, I think of it as if I'm praying "up" to God.  As in He's on His throne in heaven, way above the clouds, and might condescend to hear me.  But check this out.  This is something we all know, but I want to draw it out a little for us to think about more deeply.
2Corinthians 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. 
People talk about "Jesus living inside of us" in the realm of Christianity as if it's no big deal.  But do we really think about what that even means??  We were doing Romans 5 in a Bible study a few days ago, and I noticed that this seems to be Pauls, "And not only so, but," and "Much more" chapter.  He describes the benefits of being justified by the blood of Jesus, and it's so much more than we even realize!  Take a few minutes and read the chapter, noting all the places he says, "not only" and "much more", to see what I mean.  One verse says,
Rom 5:5  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 
This is just accepted by many Christians.  But there seems to be a great downplayal (yes, I realize I probably just made that word up...bear with me) about what the Holy Ghost is.  Or perhaps I should say about WHO the Holy Ghost is.  Think about that description for a second...the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit.  Those are descriptive words, and it is describing the One Spirit that is completely holy and pure!  We learn that God is a spirit (John 4:24), and is holy (Isaiah 6:3), and we can "casually" say that the Holy Spirit is given to us?!  That He dwells in us?!  To fully understand the significance of that, take a quick jog with me to the Old Testament to see what that really means!
God is so holy and powerful that the people are scared and want Moses to speak to Him on their behalf.  (Exodus 20)  God had Moses make a tabernacle or tent or house for Him to dwell in to be among His people, with the ark of the covenant being His central dwelling place, but it was still so holy that the high priest was the only one who could go in, and then only once a year, after cleansing himself and going through all these rituals and sacrifices.  (Hebrews 9:7-10)
The ark of the covenant is crazy too.  When the priests carried it the people had to separate themselves and walk like half a mile behind it, because the power of God was invested there.  (Joshua 3:3-4)  When the ark was taken by the Philistines it's power knocked over the false gods in their temple (1 Samuel 5), and when they sent it back and people looked inside of it, they were instantly killed!  (1 Samuel 6:19-20)
Then David wants to build a dwelling place for God...a permanent place in Jerusalem as a temple for God's glory.  Read through the dedication of the temple when Solomon dedicated it sometime soon...ridiculous stuff happened. The priests couldn't even minister because the glory of God was so thick! (1 Kings 8:11; 2 Chronicles 5:14) There are also a lot of requirements and details about exactly how the temple was supposed to be...which makes sense as this was God's dwelling place!  (1 Kings 5-8) But something really stood out to me about the list of what the temple was supposed to be according to Solomon's prayer when someone read through it the other day.  It was to be a place where God could hear, but He makes it clear that if they turn away from Him He will not hear, but if they humble themselves and pray and seek His face, He will.  (2 Chronicles 6-7)
God communicates His desire all throughout Scripture to dwell among His people.  Particularly in the book of Ezekiel, the phrase "I will be their God and they shall be my people" is used a lot, and the book ends with a long, somewhat boring, yet vital description of the exact measurements of this temple in Ezekiel's vision.  When you read through this book, or Exodus and Leviticus we see how holy and amazing God is, but also His desire to connect with His people...which is hindered because of sin.
I realize this is a lot of Bible references and "back story," if you will, but I really want to emphasize how incredible this gift is, and let the reader draw some of the implications because I think it's unfathomably important and overlooked.  We're talking about the dwelling place of the Almighty God!!!
God wants to dwell among His people but how can He do that?  This is what we see in the book of John...
John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14  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' in verse 14 carries the idea of a tent or a tabernacle,  just like in the Old Testament.  We beheld the glory of God, as the Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us! G4637 σκηνόω skēnoō skay-no'-o
From G4636; to tent or encamp, that is, (figuratively) to occupy (as a mansion) or (specifically) to reside (as God did in the Tabernacle of old, a symbol fo protection and communion): - dwell.
Is anybody getting a picture of this yet?  Do we see what this means?  God, Himself, in His full glory dwelt among men!  He came unto His own and His own received Him not!  What was the temple?  A dwelling place for God!  What was the body of the Son of God?  A dwelling place for God!  The man Christ Jesus is the temple of God here on earth.  John expounds on this even more later on.
Joh 2:19  Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Joh 2:20  Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? Joh 2:21  But he spake of the temple of his bodyJoh 2:22  When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. 
This is such a beautiful concept, but it doesn't even stop there!
We learn that when Jesus died on the cross, He became the propitiation for our sins and the perfect sacrifice that reconciles us to God.  (Romans 3:20-5:21; Hebrews)  When He dies, the vail of the temple that separates the Most Holy place where the presence of God dwelt from the people is ripped in two, which the gospel writers saw fit to record.  (Matthew 27:51)  This indicates to me that the separation between God and man is over, because we now have a mediator.  (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:2)  Jesus gave a little preview of what this would mean before He died.  I want so badly to copy the whole chapter in John 14 down for you, but go read it yourself and I'll try to pick out some highlights:

Joh 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me...Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?...the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Joh 14:11  Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake...He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. Joh 14:13  And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:14  If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."  (Sorry--real quick break from chapter...notice the connection between this and 2 Chronicles 7!  Compare the language used about God answering prayer!) Joh 14:15  "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (Notice again the holiness that parallels the temple!) Joh 14:16  "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for everJoh 14:17  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Joh 14:18  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Joh 14:19  Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. Joh 14:20  At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.  Joh 14:21  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Joh 14:22  Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Joh 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with himJoh 14:24  He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. Joh 14:25  These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. Joh 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
Okay, I kinda did copy the whole chapter...but that's because there was so little I could leave out!
This thing that Jesus describes what was going to happen...this promise from the Father...was exactly what happened on the day of Pentecost! (Acts 2) Peter told the people that this was what Joel had prophesied that God would pour out His Spirit on ALL flesh!  (Jeremiah 31; Joel 2:28-32; Ezekiel 36; Acts 2:16-21)
I want to make it clear, because this is the whole reason I posted...this is a BIG deal!  This is THE Spirit of the Almighty God coming to dwell in our fragile, finite human bodies!  Let that sink in for a moment.

No seriously...this about it for a moment.

Quit reading and think...just for a second!

Did you think about it?  That's amazing!  It's why Paul wrote that we are the temples of the Holy Ghost!
1Corinthians 3:16  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 
The temple of God is wherever His Spirit dwells!
Revelation 21:22  And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
God is building His church to be the new temple, made without hands, for His Spirit to dwell in in this world!
Ephesians 2:18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Eph 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; Eph 2:20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; Eph 2:21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: Eph 2:22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. 
Revelation 3:12  Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 
This is a very weighty thing!  It should be sobering to us in thinking of its application, as we see clearly in the contexts of which Paul writes!
1Corinthians 3:17  If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 
In Titus 2:3, the Greek word for 'behavior that becometh holiness', has to do with behaving in a way that is fitting for the temple!
The question is: are we behaving in a way that is fitting for a dwelling place of God?  Do we understand the magnitude of what that means to have God Himself living inside of us as Romans 8 describes?  Have we even had that experience the way it's outlined in the book of Acts?

There is so much more to this.  This is such a beauitful concept that I am inadequate to even express in any kind of words in any language.  I could write a lot of descriptive and hyperbolic fluff to try to capture the magnitude of this concept, but I don't think I will.  Mainly, I wanted to lay down some facts and connections in Scripture, and let you, as the reader, draw your own conclusions and interpretations and implications and applications.  Having this knowledge, however, I believe, should certainly change the way we view our lives! I'll leave you with this final Scripture:

1Corinthians 6:19-20 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.