Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Temple

I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
-2 Chronicles 7:16

Its so easy to breeze through Old Testament readings without really taking the time to contemplate them. Its understandable, though, since they were written for and about a people so long ago, right? Certainly, there is very little relation between these thirty-nine books and our faith today. The Israelites may have served the same God we serve, but that was the Old Covenant. Christ came and did away with all that sacrificial stuff. We're part of the New Covenant. That all may be very well and true, but if today's Christians completely dismiss the value the Old Testament writings have, we're missing out on a beautiful picture of our relationship with Christ. The New Testament doesn't eliminate the need for the Old Testament, but instead becomes a companion to it, so that studying it leads to a deeper understanding.

In the Old Testament, the temple was the place where the glory of God resides. Immediately after being built and dedicated, Solomon's temple is overwhelmed by the presence of God:

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the could filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.
-1 Kings 8:10-11

(Did you catch that? The glory of God was so overwhelming, the priests couldn't even perform their duties... and the Levites were the MVPs of holiness amongst the Israelites, the only ones who were called to do God's work directly. Wow! Our God is just that marvelous!)

Fastforward a thousand years or so, and Paul is writing to encourage the church in Corinth. He strives to provide answers to their struggles to act as believers in the midst of the world that surrounds them and play out their faith as a unified body of believers. To illustrate his point, he draws a comparison from their former Jewish faith in order to create a picture they can more fully comprehend:

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?"
-1 Corinthians 3:16
God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
-1 Corinthians 3:17b
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you have received from God? You are not your own.
-1 Corinthians 6:19

It is here, where the Old and New Testament collide that we find a beautiful portrait of our faith. In the same way that the Temple bore God's name, we bear the name of Christ and represent Him to the world that we live in. As the Old Covenant declared the Temple to be chosen and consecrated, we are God's chosen people, and he has consecrated us, setting us apart from the world as something drastically different (John 15:19). And we have the beautiful promise that, like the Old Testament Temple, the eyes and heart of the Lord are always fixed upon us!
Such a captivating passage that provides so much elaboration of our faith, but would be hidden if we forget to regard the Old Testament for the value it has.

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