Temple Talk

Heaven isn’t some cloudy, golden paradise…we decided that two weeks ago.  Last week we imagined the possibility that we are searching for heaven in the wrong place…maybe heaven meets Earth in us?!? 

As nice as that sounds, we can’t just make a statement like that without any type background or support.  And if we’re going to understand how we got here, then we need to start at the beginning…The Beginning.

In Eden, wherever it was and whenever it was, the people of God were dwelling in the presence of God living in the perfect place of God (a special thanks to Dr. Sandra Richter for that trifecta of a phrase).  Perfection wasn’t good enough, so we chose to become like God…

 We chose to become like God and everything fell apart.  We lost the place and our identity as the people, and found ourselves separated from the presence of God by creatures with flaming swords.  Was there a sword or is this simply the writers attempt to describe what it means to be separated from God’s presence?  If it is the latter, then it would make sense that when God presents Godself in the OT, most of the time it is in some type of symbol:  fire, cloud, burning bush, dove, etc…Why?  Because there is a separation….until the time of the Tabernacle and then the Temple. 

In Exodus 25, we hear the echo of Eden where God longs to dwell with us again.  He tents with us when we are tenting people in the wilderness; and once we enter the Promised Land, the tent becomes a Temple.   But here’s the catch:  the presence is still guarded.  There are cherubim on top of the Ark behind the veil in the center of the Holy of Holies.  Cherubim are the angelic and terrifying creatures that always seem to stand between the glory of God and our brokenness.  It was still protected.

The Old Testament contains great ceremonies and procedures to protect the holiness of the thin place in the Temple.  Ropes were tied to priests in case they were found wanting or sinful.  If they fell dead in the presence of perfection then they could be retrieved without risk of another entering and having the same issue.  Certain things could or could not be eaten; sacrifices of great cost were made.  Why? 

Because they had great respect for the Thin Place known as the Temple…

Because they wanted nothing more than spending a moment in the thin place…

So they prepared themselves…they cared for themselves and each other…

Fast forward to Jesus and he makes the crazy claim that he would tear down their thin place and rebuild it in 3 days.  That didn’t sit well because they didn’t understand that what was being rebuilt was not a building but the possibility of every single body on this earth becoming the Temple Thin Place that they all cared for and so dearly loved. 

The cherubim are no more.  There is no more separation.  And if you read to the end of the book, you won’t find some Tim Lahaye ideology.  You’ll actually find Eden reimagined.  But until that day comes, our bodies have become the Thin Place, where the presence of God has chosen to dwell.  Do you respect your body?  Do you care for it?  How will you tend your Temple this week?

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  • TabMiller

    I love that line, when concluding why the priest would go to such lengths: “So they prepared themselves…they cared for themselves and each other…” That is so powerful. The word “preparation” brings so many ideas to mind, from discipline, making yourself ready for a task, and also sacrifice, making yourself ready to be given over to God and His good works. Good word!