Theme Study  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:56
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

God’s Temple

Good morning! I hope everyone is excited to be here this morning. Excited within reason, of course. Once there was a Junior High school with about 2000 students having an assembly in their gymnasium. For some reason, the teachers gave each kid a glow stick and turned out the lights. Unsurprisingly, the kids all got a little too excited and started throwing their glow sticks. In an attempt to stop the hysteria the principal turned on the lights and ran out into the middle of the gym yelling for the kids to stop.
Simultaneously, all of the kids graciously decided to return their glow sticks to the principal at that moment. One kid got so amped-up that he snapped his glow stick in half and drank the liquid from it, winning himself a trip to the nurses office. I hope you are excited, but not that excited.
Today we are looking at a bible study by “The Bible Project” about God’s Temple. A common subject that comes up often in the Old Testament is the temple and the tabernacle. When Jesus shows up on the scene, He presents Himself as the true temple. Jesus even taught that God’s presence would come dwell in His followers, which makes them His temple, not just sacred structures in scripture.
To me, it is fascinating to watch how God uses the theme of His temple to show His intent to dwell with His people. This theme begins on page 1 of the Bible as God structures His creation to show us that all of creation is His temple. When we think of God’s Temple, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is the temple that King Solomon built, or the tabernacle that Moses built. If you pay close attention to the design that God laid out for the temple and how it was commissioned, you will be able to notice many similarities to the creation story.
Think about God’s motive. We recently talked about Jesus saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” Then He taught the people to pray for God to continue to bring Heaven to earth, and for His will to be done here on earth as it is in Heaven. An overlapping of heaven and earth with divine purpose. That is where the temple comes in. God’s temple is the central point in which Heaven and earth meet.
Another way that this is evidenced in scripture is to think about God’s divine image. God told humanity not to make idols and images intended to represent Him or for them to worship. Why? Because God had already made humans in His image. Instead of a statue for the divine image, humanity is placed as the image of God in the temple. A living image of the divine creator and king. In “The Gospel of Genesis,” W. A. Gage states...
The Hebrew Bible is replete with descriptions of creation as a tabernacle which God has pitched, or a house that God has established. Consequently, the temple of Zion, as a sanctuary that God has established, becomes a microcosmic metaphor for creation itself.
To get started, let’s look at some similarities between the creation story and the temple stories.

1. Timeline

The creation story outlines the 7 days that God used to bring order out of chaos. He created an ordered world out of a dark wasteland. On the 7th day, God’s presence fills creation as he takes up His rest and rule. This can all be studied in chapter 1 of Genesis.
If you turn pages until you reach chapter 6 of 1 Kings you will come across the story of King Solomon building the Temple. In that chapter, you may notice that it took King Solomon 7 years to build the temple. It’s almost as if God planned the whole thing!

2. Tohu / Vohu (Wild and Waste)

God brought order to an unordered wilderness. The Hebrew word for wilderness is “tohu.” It is unordered. Chaotic. The first 3 days of the creation were dedicated to bringing order out of that chaos. God used that time to build.
When God told Moses to build the tabernacle, He gave him detailed blueprints. Then Moses got together all of the materials to build the tabernacle. To me, this is a great picture of ordering the unordered. God told them how to take a raw, wild piece of wood and carve it into something, overlay it with Gold, protect it with leather, and place each piece in it’s proper place.
Then there was the Vohu. That is the Hebrew word for waste, or uninhabited and empty. In the creation story, God spent days 4-6 filling the void. The earth now had order, next it was time to fill it. Fill it with light, creatures, and people.
In the temple stories, God told them to fill the temple with the incense, oils, fragrances, spices, and people.

3. Rest & Rule

On the seventh day God rested. That was the final step for the temple as well. After all of the other steps had been fulfilled, God’s presence entered the Holy place. This is what Exodus says happened after Moses finished the tabernacle.
Exodus 40:34–35 NLT
34 Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. 35 Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.

4. Seven Speeches

God kicked off each day of creation with a divine command. Our bibles say, “And God said...” Day one, for example, says, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light.’
In Exodus, God spoke to Moses and the speeches open with divine command, “And Yahweh spoke to Moses...”
In both sets of speeches there were also acts of obedience. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” In Exodus 40, each think God commanded Moses did. The statement in scripture say, “And Moses did… just as Yahweh commanded Moses.
In 1 Kings 8, after completing the Temple, King Solomon made 7 petitions to God saying, “Blessed be Yahweh who spoke to my father David.
These “7’s” culminate in completion. We have rest (or the Sabbath), the completion of the tabernacle, and Solomon even holds 2 seven-day feasts to dedicate the temple.

5. Repeated Words

There are several repeated words and phrases that also tie creation and temple themes into one cohesive idea. Some of the words are “completed, finished, work, rested, blessed, seven days.” After God finished the 6th day scripture says, “and God saw all that he had done, and behold...” That is repeated in regards to the work that Moses had done in Exodus.

6. Temptation and Fall

Then, of course, each story has a tragic disruption where people give in to temptation and abandon God. Fall from His glorious standard. If you want to read about each one, they are in Genesis 3, Exodus 32, Leviticus 10, 1 Kings 9:1-9 and 11:1-13.

7. Temple Structure

The seventh similarity that stands out is the structure of the temple and the structure of the earth after creation. God actually compresses His temple theme into the ancient world’s understanding of the cosmos. To understand what I mean by that, we need to first understand how the ancient world viewed the cosmos. If I asked you to draw a picture of Earth, what would it look like?
*Pic1* Most of you would probably draw something similar to this...
*Pic2* I think someone in here would surprise us with something like this...
*Pic3* If you are like me, yours might look more like this...
Regardless of talent, we would probably draw something similar in perspective. Probably resembling a satellite image of Earth. However, if you asked someone in the ancient world to draw earth, they would show you something completely different.
*Pic4* When you read the Old Testament you will find that they saw the earth as constructed in 3 different tiers. At the top was the sky. When people in the ancient world looked up to the blue sky, they believed there was water behind a dome. Within the dome, God had placed the sun, moon, and stars. Above the earth, they envisioned God enthroned in His heavenly temple.
In the second tier of the ancient world’s concept of the cosmos was the land. They believed land was supported by pillars, and floating on and surrounded by the sea. They also thought that mountains served as a support to the sky dome and created a sort of portal to Heaven and Earth.
They believed the third tier was the waters, or the underworld. In scripture, this tier is often associated with imagery of the grave or a pit.
This isn’t something that only biblical authors believed. Egypt believed something very similar and in this ancient depiction they are portraying their God traversing the heavens in an invisible boat. The sixth century B.C. Babylonian Sippar Map shows a circular earth bordered by a circumferential sea. The solid dome of the heavens ends at the horizon and is supported by seven pillars. A boundary stone from Susa depicts and upper heavenly sphere, an earthly realm, and the underworld.
With that information in mind, let’s think about the temple structure again. We have Tier 1: Skies, Tier 2: Land (Trees, Animals, Humans), Tier 3: Sea. In the tabernacle and the temple we also have a sort of tiered structure. In Tier 1, where God is, you have the Holy of holies. In Tier 2, the Holy place, there are also trees, animals, and humans. That is where you would find the Menorah, Cherubim, and Priests. Tier 3 is where the Courtyard is. That is where a huge bronze bronze basin was that could hold about 11,000 gallons of water. Guess what it was called? “The Sea.”
The Garden of Eden builds on this concept. It depicts God ordering the world out of a chaotic wilderness and placing humans atop a cosmic mountain-garden as God’s royal priestly representatives. Eden is essentially a prototype of the tabernacle and temple. It is a preview of the priesthood and the holy of holies in the tabernacle and temple. Eden shows us the true nature of God’s creation. That God’s intended purpose for creation is to be the place where humans are united with God’s beauty and presence for eternity.
We can also see the tiered structure of Eden when we stack it up next to the temple and the tabernacle… If you want to read and study it for yourself, check out Genesis 2:4-18 & Numbers 18:1-8.
The temple is where heaven and earth unite. If we were intended to see the garden as a temple, then it’s pretty obvious that Adam and Eve were to be seen as priests. That means that humanity serves as God’s royal representatives or priests. There are several passages in scripture that describe humanities work by using priestly vocabulary. Adam and Eve were to tend and watch over the Garden (Genesis 2:15). When God was explaining Aaron’s responsibilities He used more words to describe the same job they would have as priests. (Numbers 18:1-8)
The menorah in the tabernacle and temple are symbols of the trees of knowledge and of life.
The danger in the middle of the garden is like the danger of the holy ground for God’s people.
The tree of knowing good and evil in the middle of the garden that is not to be approached is like the tablets of the Torah placed in the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies.

What similarities and differences stand out to you?

I am curious about what you all think. If anything stands out to you, feel free to share. There are many ways that the creation story, Eden, the tabernacle, and the temple all connect to each other within this temple theme and ultimately tie together to tell God’s story that leads us to Jesus. The tabernacle pointing to creation, the creation pointing to the tabernacle. All with the common thread of God’s temple.
Thinking of Adam and Eve in their roles as priests makes their rebellion all the more tragic. Instead of spreading Eden to the whole world, they take and eat from the tree and spread mistrust, violence, and death. After they get kicked out of the temple into the wilderness, the rest of the biblical story is about the hope for humanity to be reunited with God’s realm of order and life. A new humanity restored to working, serving, and ruling as God’s image in the temple.
The theme of the temple, from construction to fall, continues on repeat as people turn to violence and then return to God with the hope of a new priest who eventually fails as the people return to violence. Until Jesus.

Jesus: The Temple Reality

Through Jesus, God’s presence and rule came into our world in a new way. He is a new kind of priest. He wasn’t a technical priest who worked in a physical temple. In fact, He declared that the Jerusalem temple was corrupt. Once, Jesus started clearing out the temple in Jerusalem and the Jewish leaders were freaking out, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! What are you doing? If you have authority to do this, show us a miracle to prove who you are.” So Jesus responded...
John 2:19–22 NLT
19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” 21 But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.
If it took them 46 years to build the Temple, it clearly wasn’t God’s. Remember, it only took God 7 days to complete His temples. 7 years for Solomon. In fact, just to build the creation temple only took God 3 days. Jesus said He could do it in 3 days too. What they didn’t realize was that Jesus wasn’t even talking about the temple made of wood and stone. Jesus was talking about God’s true temple. Jesus himself.
Jesus’ body was the real place where Heaven and Earth unite. He was the reality that the temple was supposed to point to all along. Not only that, but through Jesus God would dwell in His people too. They would become minitemples.

Christ Followers Become the Temple

This was a promise that Jesus made to His followers. This promise came true and during Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to dwell amongst the first believers.
Acts 1:8 NLT
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 2:1–4 NLT
1 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
The temple was no longer a building. It is people. Because of Jesus, God can come in to His temple and rest and rule like He intended all along.
Ephesians 2:19–22 NLT
19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
1 Peter 2:4–5 NLT
4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. 5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
If there is any time left, would anyone like to share any thoughts or ideas about today’s study? Did anything stand out? Was there anything that you noticed today that you haven’t realized or noticed in the past?
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more