SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
The Temple Completed and Dedicated
“13 Then Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the River, Shethar-Boznai, and their companions diligently did according to what King Darius had sent. 14 So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. 16 Then the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites and the rest of the descendants of the captivity, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. 17 And they offered sacrifices at the dedication of this house of God, one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 They assigned the priests to their divisions and the Levites to their divisions, over the service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses” Ezra 6:13-18.
“DON’T YOU KNOW THAT YOU YOURSELVES ARE GOD’S TEMPLE AND THAT GOD’S SPIRIT LIVES IN YOU? IF ANYONE DESTROYS GOD’S TEMPLE, GOD WILL DESTROY HIM FOR GOD’S TEMPLE IS SACRED AND YOU ARE THAT TEMPLE” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NIV)
From the beginning of Ezra 1, we have been talking about the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Jews who went into exile in Babylon. We have so far seen the numerous challenges faced by the Jews from the time they started building the Temple. The Jews were stopped at a point in time during the time of King Artaxerxes. The project however resumed during the time of Darius and was completed successfully. In the previous edition we emphasized the point that whatever God starts in His children will be brought to a successful end. This can be possible if and only if the people of God will allow Him to direct their paths in every aspect of their lives. In this edition, we want to look at the similarity between the Temple built by the Jews in Jerusalem and the Temple built without human hand, that is, the body of the believer.
It is obvious from Scripture that the Temple of God as was built in the Old Testament was a symbol of God’s dwelling place. It was the place where God’s presence was experienced by His people. Because of this God expected it to be well-decorated with the highest quality building materials which were also very beautiful. No unholy substance or animal was permitted in the Temple of God. In addition no unclean persons were allowed to enter God’s Temple because it was regarded as the most holy place among God’s people. But God also made it clear in the Old Testament that he does not just dwell in the Temple built with human hands; He dwells in the hearts of men. In Ezekiel 36:27, God promised his people:
“AND I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT IN YOU AND MOVE YOU TO FOLLOW MY DECREES AND BE CAREFUL TO KEEP MY LAWS.”
What God said is that He will dwell in His people in the form of the Holy Spirit. If God will live in us then we must be as pure as the Temple in which he dwelt was. He put His Spirit in us in order we may become obedient to His word. This is in consonance with what Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that God’s Spirit lives in His Temple.
“DON’T YOU KNOW THAT YOU YOURSELVES ARE GOD’S TEMPLE AND THAT GOD’S SPIRIT LIVES IN YOU? IF ANYONE DESTROYS GOD’S TEMPLE, GOD WILL DESTROY HIM FOR GOD’S TEMPLE IS SACRED AND YOU ARE THAT TEMPLE.”
How awesome it is to know that God lives in us through His Spirit! What sort of persons therefore are we supposed to be when we look at the way the Temple was kept? We should not forget that nothing unclean was allowed to enter the Temple. We should therefore keep our bodies sanctified at all times to the glory of the LORD.
In the course of building the Temple in Jerusalem, the project faced several forms of opposition. It went through stops and pauses but was eventually completed. This is synonymous to the Christian life. We are the Temples of God being built till we grow into maturity. As we go through the process of building ourselves in the perfect faith, we are going to meet several stops and pauses. We may fall and rise from time to time. We may be discouraged in our walk with the LORD at certain times. Yet we should not give up or allow anything to divert our course. We need to remember that He who has started good works in us will complete it. If we remain strong in the LORD and live a life of purity as the Holy Spirit who dwells in us directs and aids us, we shall become perfect in the end. The trials and temptations we go through in life are not to destroy us but rather to refine us and make us better able to stand before our King on the Day of Judgment.
One important lesson to learn from the Jews after rebuilding the Temple is that they dedicated it to the LORD and several animals were killed and offered as sacrifices to the LORD. To dedicate something to God means to set it apart for sacred uses. The amount of animals used for the sacrifices can be found in Ezra 6:17. All the priests and Levites who entered the dedicated Temple also sanctified themselves according to verse 20. This means that you and I, being God’s Temple, should live in purity and disallow anything impure from entering our bodies. We should understand that allowing impure things to come into contact with us would destroy God’s Temple. As Temples of the Living God, we should dedicate our lives fully to the LORD by staying away from all acts of the sinful nature which make us unclean before the LORD. May the LORD grant us more of His grace to be able to stand against all the pauses and stops in this life and remain pure before Him at all times!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.