Month 12:26, Week 4:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year:Day 5936:341 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 18 March 2012
Temple for His Name
I. Old Covenant Building Blocks
The Temple of Zeus in Athens
Throughout history pagans have built temples for their idol-gods to live in, some of them massive in size such as the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens built in the 6th century BC. It was renowned as the largest temple in ancient Greece with columns 17 meters high, and contained one of the biggest cult statues in the ancient world made of gold and ivory. It was considered one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Presumably the Greeks thought that the chief of their gods needed a huge temple since he was himself supposedly so huge. Certainly such size was consistent with the vanity and pride of Satan one of whose names is Zeus.
"Solomon determined to build a temple for the Shem (Name) of Yahweh" (2 Chron 2:1, NKJV).
The mindset that wishes to build temples in which to contain Deity does not impress Yahweh at all. Indeed, doubtless responding to the carnal way of viewing temples that inspired the construction of such edifices as the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Yahweh said:
Here the Most High quickly dispells the notion that He can be contained in a building since He spans both heaven and earth. He is not so much interested in grand building projects as He is in a humble lev (heart) and deep respect for His Torah (Teaching/Law), written, spoken and (later) incarnated as Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus).
"'Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,' says Yahweh. 'But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My Davar (Word)" (Isa.66:1-2, NKJV).
You cannot put Yahweh in a building as you might put a man in a building:
So why, the sceptics demand, did He demand the creation of a temple 'like the pagan religions'? And the answer is: He didn't. There was to be no idol or statue in it, for one - we all know what the Bible has to says about them, and indeed Paul, disturbed by all the idols when visiting Athens, boldly affirmed that Yahweh did not live in man-made buildings! (Acts 17:16-31) No, the Temple of Yahweh was not to be constructed for Him - His whole Being - to live in it but rather for His NAME!
"'Am I an Elohim (God) near at hand,' says Yahweh, 'and not an Elohim (God) afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?' says Yahweh; 'Do I not fill heaven and earth?' says Yahweh" (Jer.23:23-24, NKJV).
One of David's worries was that Yahweh's ark was living in a tiny tent and deserved something better:
"Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and Yahweh had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, 'See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of Elohim (God) dwells inside tent curtains.' Then Nathan said to the king, 'Go, do all that is in your lev (heart), for Yahweh is with you.'
"But it happened that night that the word of Yahweh came to Nathan, saying, 'Go and tell My servant David, 'Thus says Yahweh: 'Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, 'Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?'' Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, 'Thus says Yahweh of hosts: 'I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great shem (name), like the name of the great men who are on the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also Yahweh tells you that He will make you a house.
"When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My Shem (Name), and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever [in his descendant Yah'shua/Jesus]" (2 Sam.7:1-13, NKJV).
Yahweh does not care about physical size but about what things represent and the lev (heart) behind anything that is done in His Shem (Name) and for His Shem (Name). Solomon was entrusted with the task of building the first stone temple in Israel, tiny compared with the pagan monstrosity in Athens to Zeus but given the small scale of Israelite civilisation, a great feat nonetheless. The project took seven years to accomplish and employed some 30,000 workmen. That Yahweh was pleased with Solomon's lev (heart) in this matter is evidenced by the spectacular manifestation of His Presence at the temple's dedication:
In addition to saying that His Shem or Name would be at or in the temple, Yahweh also promised that His eyes and His lev (heart) would be there too. In other words, in this specially consecrated space and spiritual centre of national life, Yahweh's Character (Name) would be present, He would see the needs of His people (eyes) and His ahavah (love) (heart) for His people would be manifested. This never meant that all of these things could not be manifested anywhere else on the earth where righteous men were to be found seeking His face but it did mean that this particular location, as the centre of the covenant nation, would enjoy a special favour so long as the people lived their religion in emet (truth) and set-apartness (holiness).
"When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of Yahweh filled the temple. And the cohenim (priests) could not enter the house of Yahweh, because the glory of Yahweh had filled Yahweh's house. When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of Yahweh on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised Yahweh, saying:
"Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before Yahweh. King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of Elohim (God). And the cohenim (priests) attended to their services; the Levites also with instruments of the music of Yahweh, which King David had made to praise Yahweh, saying, 'For His mercy endures forever,' whenever David offered praise by their ministry. The cohenim (priests) sounded trumpets opposite them, while all Israel stood.
'For He is good, For His mercy endures forever.'
"Furthermore Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of Yahweh; for there he offered burnt offerings and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the fat.
"At that time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt. And on the eighth day they held a sacred assembly, for they observed the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the good that Yahweh had done for David, for Solomon, and for His people Israel. Thus Solomon finished the house of Yahweh and the king's house; and Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart to make in the house of Yahweh and in his own house.
Then Yahweh appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: 'I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My Shem (Name) may be there forever; and My eyes and My lev (heart) will be there perpetually" (2 Chron.7:1-16, NKJV).
This first temple for all 12 Tribes was destroyed by the Babylonians and a second, smaller one was erected after the exiles returned, which was a great disappointment for the people who remembered the splendor of Solomon's House of Yahweh. What they did not realise at the time was both that this second temple would later be expanded and enlarged and that the Messiah would appear in it and that the latter glory would be greater than the former one!
Malachi also prophesied that Messiah would suddenly come to this second temple:
"In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of Yahweh came by Haggai the prophet, saying: 'Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the Cohen Gadol (High Priest), and to the remnant of the people, saying: 'Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,' says Yahweh; 'and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the Cohen Gadol (High Priest); and be strong, all you people of the land,' says Yahweh, 'and work; for I am with you,' says Yahweh of hosts. According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Ruach (Spirit) remains among you; do not fear!'
"For thus says Yahweh of hosts: 'Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,' says Yahweh of hosts.
"'The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,' says Yahweh of hosts. The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,' says Yahweh of hosts. 'And in this place I will give shalom (peace),' says Yahweh of hosts" (Hagg.2:1-9, NKJV).
Yah'shua (Jesus) first appeared in the temple when He was dedicated by His parents aged one month (Lk.2:22-38). He is next mentioned there during the Passover Feast aged 12 where He would have been dedicated again in a kind of Bar Mitzvah and it is quite possible that at this age of accountability He became fully aware that He was the promised Messiah with a specific mission and calling (Lk.2:39-52). He would have to wait until He was 20 before becoming a man and another 10 years, aged 30, to begin His 3-year ministry (Jn.2:13-17). Not until the end of His ministry did He cleanse the temple of the money-changers (Mt.21:12-13) and again when He would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple (Mk.11:15-16), stopping temple sacrifices temporarily and in so doing giving notice that they were no longer required and had been set aside by Yahweh. Yah'shua (Jesus), as both the Final Cohen Gadol (High Priest) and the Paschal Lamb of Elohim (God) was about to offer Himself as the once-for-all-time perfect sacrifice for sin. Once completed, the temple (house) would be of no further use - it would be desolate - and indeed would be later destroyed by the Romans:
"'Behold, I send My messenger (John the Baptist), and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Master (Elohim/God incarnate as Yah'shua/Jesus), whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,' says Yahweh of hosts.
"But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to Yahweh an offering in righteousness.
"Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to Yahweh, as in the days of old, as in former years. And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien -- because they do not fear Me,' says Yahweh of hosts.
"For I am Yahweh, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,' says Yahweh of hosts" (Mal.3:1-7, NKJV).
He made sure that the apostles understood that the Temple of Yahweh would be gone forever when He made this prophecy:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house (on one level, the temple) is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of Yahweh!'" (Matt.23:37-39, NKJV).
Titus destroyed the temple in AD 70, down to the very last stone, along with the whole of Jerusalem, turned the city into a mound and built the pagan city of Aelia Capitolinum on top of it, so that there would be no doubt that the covenant that included temple worship was permanently concluded.
"Then Yah'shua (Jesus) went out and departed from the temple, and His talmidim (disciples) came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Yah'shua (Jesus) said to them, 'Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down'" (Matt.24:1-2, NKJV).
Tomorrow we are going to see what Yahweh's final temple is supposed to look like and what it actually means to build a temple for a Name.
Continued in Part 2