This morning we are going to have a history lesson. Whoopi! This morning we are going to explore the history of... the Temple. In the Story this week we read about King Solomon building a temple. Solomon’s father, David, wanted to build a house for his God; YHWH. David’s love for his Shepherd longed to honor him with a temple, but God tells him...
2 Samuel 7:12-13 “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
David was told no, but Solomon was told yes... “Yes, build me a house.” So, Solomon did. I might add, he did a good job.
Listen to some of the details of Solomon’s Temple...
--Size...180 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 50 feet high. Just about twice the size of this room.
Basically, it was modeled after the Tabernacle... with a holy place and a most holy place
--There was lots of gold used to build it...
--7 years to build
--No sound of hammers at the sight where it was built.
I tried to find out how much the temple would cost in today’s dollars... the price of gold and labor costs were difficult to compare...the answer was in the billions. Let’s just say, it was quite the upgrade from a tent which had traveled across the wilderness and then moved around Israel... God was going to get a nice house.
Physically it was impressive. But, the most impressive thing, to me, was what happened after in was finished; at the end of the dedication ceremony...
2 Chronicles 5:12-14 All the Levitical singers... arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever," the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
The writer of 2 Chronicles continues with more detail on the cloud and glory part...
2 Chronicles 7:1-4 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."
Wow, God moved into the Temple with fire and smoke and GLORY! Wouldn’t you have loved to be there in that moment as the glory of God took up residence in the holy of holies above the Ark of the Covenant below the angels on the mercy seat!
You may remember this was a repeat of what happened when Moses’s Tabernacle was dedicated.
Exodus 40:33-35 So Moses finished the work on the Tabernacle. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
When God brought his people out of Egypt he commanded them to build him a tabernacle; a nice tent. God dwelt it the Tent until Solomon had finished the spectacular Temple. Then, God moved his glory from the Tent to the Temple with lots of fire and smoke!
“This history lesson is not so bad.” Let’s continue with the history.
Solomon’s temple stood for something like 370 years from 957 BC until 586 BC. There was lots of history and stuff happened. It went through periods of neglected. There were periods of renewal. But it stood as the dwelling place of God until Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon destroyed it. God’s people had turned to the false gods of the pagans. God abandoned his place and turned his people over to the Babylonians.
There was no temple in Jerusalem for 70ish years. But then a governor; Zerubbabel along with the help from the priests and prophets built a not as nice version of Solomon’s temple in 515 BC. Listen to this account.
Ezra 6:14-22 They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia; and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy... 22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the LORD had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
What is missing? There is no Ark of the covenant. There is no fire or smoke or no mention of the glory.
The prophet Haggai, who had helped in the rebuilding, offered this insight.
Haggai 2:3-7 Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.
Haggai recognizes that there is no smoke or glory, but he encourages them that in a little while there will be more smoke and glory. Someday, the LORD is going to fill this house with smoke and glory.
Tabernacle = Solomon’s Temple = The Second Temple... Our history lesson continues.
The Second Temple existed down through the centuries. It survived Alexander the Great and the Greeks. It survived the division of his empire and the Egyptians and Syrians. It was free for a brief period under the Maccabees. But it fell under the control of Romans around... 63 BC.
Around 20 BC, Herod the Great began rebuilding the Temple. This was the temple that Jesus predicted would be destroyed.
Mark 13:1-2 And as Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!" And Jesus said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down."
Herod’s temple was in the ballpark of spectacular with Solomon. Herod, although a terrible person, was a wonderful builder. Herod had brought the Second Temple back to wonderful.
The Second Temple lasted something like 585 years. But Herod’s remodel job was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans when the Jews rebelled against the Romans.
No temple existed in Jerusalem until the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in the 7th century, they constructed the Islamic shrine, the Dome of the Rock, on the Temple Mount. The shrine has stood in roughly the same place as Solomon’s Temple since 691 AD.
“Whew, that was a bit more history than I wanted. Are we done?” Not quite. YHWH’s dwelling place was fundamentally changed in 30 AD at the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus changed the Temple from stone to heart.
1 Corinthians 3:11,16-17 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
In 30 AD the stone temple became a community called... the church. God no longer dwells in Tents or Temples, but in a community of Jesus believers. The dwelling place for God is in the gathering of his people together. Wow, what if we actually thought like that? What if we could see the smoke and glory in each other?
Wait a second... that must have been what Haggai was talking about.
Haggai 2:7 “And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.”
The nations, even Americans, have filled his house, the glory is amongst us!
Haggai 2:9 “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.”
The glory of the temple, now, as it has spread across the globe to incorporate believers from all nations, is greater than the glory of the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, the Second Temple or Herod’s Temple. It is the glory of the body of Christ as the dwelling place of God! Bam! More than fire and smoke!
There is one more step in our history lesson. A step into the future.
John, the Revelator, sees a city coming down from heaven to this renewed earth... there is no temple... what?
Revelation 21:22-27 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and the city gates will never be shut by day- and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
One day, there will be no need for a temple, because the reality of YHWH and His Son will be with us. No need for a temple when you dwell in the light of His glory.
God has always wanted to dwell with his people. He filled the Tabernacle with his glory to be with the ancient Hebrews. YHWH filled Solomon’s Temple with smoke and glory to be with the nation of Israel. God was with the second temple, but no smoke. Then at the resurrection, the Spirit came upon his people to form a living temple. God wants to dwell with his people. One day there will be no need to have a temple because YHWH will walk with his people!
Revelation 21:1-3 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
April 15, 2017
Los Alamos Church of Christ