(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version)
John 4:21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The Temple of God is where God’s presence is made manifest among men, where men can expect to meet with God in worship and supplication. In the Old Testament, we find God’s presence dwelling among his people in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, all built to divine specifications. In the Tabernacle/Temple, men had the opportunity to offer sacrifices for sin, worship God and pray to him. Thus, the Tabernacle/Temple was a hallowed and revered place, because of God’s abiding presence.
Exodus 25:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.
Exodus 25:8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
Exodus 25:9 According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.
Deuteronomy 12:10 But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety,
Deuteronomy 12:11 then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord.
Deuteronomy 12:12 And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you.
Deuteronomy 12:13 Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see;
Deuteronomy 12:14 but in the place which the Lord chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.
Because the Tabernacle/Temple was the only accepted meeting place with God (as the place where God’s presence dwelt), no resource was spared in its construction and beautification. Precious stones and all manner of costly pearls were lavishly used to decorate and garnish the Tabernacle/Temple, according to divine instructions. Solomon’s Temple, for instance, was considered the most magnificent and the most expensive in his time. It was built with expensive stones and woods imported from foreign lands, and was decked inside and outside with gold and other precious stones. King Solomon spared no cost and no effort in building the best house he could for God (1Kings Chapters 5, 6 and 7).
Even in those times when God chose to reveal his presence in a physical Tabernacle/Temple, Scripture made it abundantly clear that no man could build any befitting house for God, simply because even the heaven of heavens cannot contain God! How then can men build a dwelling place for God? Solomon too acknowledged this truth while building the most magnificent Temple for the worship of God. He confessed that no house any man built could be adequate for God, and pleaded rather for God to have respect towards prayers made in the house that was built to bear his name.
1 Kings 8:12 Then Solomon spoke:
“The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud.
1 Kings 8:13 I have surely built You an exalted house,
And a place for You to dwell in forever.”
1 Kings 8:14 Then the king turned around and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing.
1 Kings 8:15 And he said: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David, and with His hand has fulfilled it, saying,
1 Kings 8:16 ‘Since the day that I brought My people Israel out of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there; but I chose David to be over My people Israel.’
1 Kings 8:17 Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a temple for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
1 Kings 8:18 But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.
1 Kings 8:19 Nevertheless you shall not build the temple, but your son who will come from your body, he shall build the temple for My name.’
1 Kings 8:20 So the Lord has fulfilled His word which He spoke; and I have filled the position of my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised; and I have built a temple for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
1 Kings 8:21 And there I have made a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord which He made with our fathers, when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.”
1 Kings 8:22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven;
1 Kings 8:23 and he said: “Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.
1 Kings 8:24 You have kept what You promised Your servant David my father; You have both spoken with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day.
1 Kings 8:25 Therefore, Lord God of Israel, now keep what You promised Your servant David my father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man sit before Me on the throne of Israel, only if your sons take heed to their way, that they walk before Me as you have walked before Me.’
1 Kings 8:26 And now I pray, O God of Israel, let Your word come true, which You have spoken to Your servant David my father.
1 Kings 8:27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!
1 Kings 8:28 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today:
1 Kings 8:29 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place.
1 Kings 8:30 And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.
The Acts 7:44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen,
The Acts 7:45 which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,
The Acts 7:46 who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob.
The Acts 7:47 But Solomon built Him a house.
The Acts 7:48 “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:
The Acts 7:49 ‘Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
What house will you build for Me? says the Lord,
Or what is the place of My rest?
The Acts 7:50 Has My hand not made all these things?’
Gradually, God moved from having his presence dwell in physical temples to having humans as his dwelling place. He started by dwelling in his fullness in Christ, who was Emmanuel (God with us) on earth. Christ was the full embodiment of God and the perfect Temple of God. He was the perfect dwelling place of God. While the people kept adoring and magnifying the magnificent Temple Herod built for the Jews at the time of Christ, God had moved from Herod’s Temple to the perfect One! When the disciples drew the Lord’s attention to the magnificence of Herod’s Temple, the Lord could only see one thing in that Temple- its imminent destruction! While others looked and saw a magnificent structure that housed God, Christ saw a shifting shadow that had fulfilled its purpose and should now give way to the real Temple! The substance was here now, and the shadow had become irrelevant! How ironic that while the true Temple of God was ignored, insulted and blasphemed by the religious people, the shadow was venerated and deified! How typical of humans, to be more concerned about shadows while ignoring the substance!
Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
Matthew 1:20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
John 2:18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”
John 2:19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
John 2:20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
John 2:21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
Colossians 2:7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Colossians 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
Colossians 2:10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
Mark 13:1 Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”
Mark 13:2 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
From Christ as the Temple of God, God moved further to dwell on the inside of believers in Christ who have been saved and sanctified by his redeeming blood. God has now made every believer in Christ his dwelling place through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thus, God’s ultimate purpose to dwell among men has been fulfilled- not in houses made by men’s hands, but in the very hearts of men! Now, wherever two or three of God’s people are gathered in his name, he’s there in their midst! It doesn’t matter where the gathering takes place. It could be in a cave, a desert, in the forest, in the open or in an uncompleted building. As long as two or more Spirit-filled believers gather together in those places, God is there in their midst, because each of them is a carrier of the divine presence! Each is a temple of the living God!
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
1 Corinthians 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!
1 Corinthians 6:16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”
1 Corinthians 6:17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
1 Corinthians 6:20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Despite the overwhelming evidence of the temple of God having moved from physical buildings to the hearts of men, a lot of churches today still lay emphasis on physical buildings as the temple of God. We see churches spending exhorbitant amounts of money to raise and decorate mighty cathedrals which they celebrate as God’s dwelling place! We see churches competing to outperform one another in building the biggest, the most expensive and the most lavishly decorated “temples” for God, all the while ignoring and paying little attention to the welfare and the wellbeing of the men and women (the true temple of God) who worship in these mighty edifices. The garnishing and decoration of these cathedrals are put above the needs of the congregants who must deny themselves even their basic needs in order to build a befitting “tabernacle” or “dwelling place” for God. And so, unwittingly, we’ve returned back to the Old Testament where the physical building has more significance and glory than the worshippers!
In failing to realise that the neglected men and women who worship in the buildings that are held in such esteem are the true temples of God, we neglect the temple of God while glorifying empty buildings! By not recognising every believer as the true temple of God, we dishonour God and his temple! We trample upon the true temples of God and ignore their needs, while we ignorantly spend time and waste resources to decorate buildings that God does not dwell in and has no delight in. If only we can realise that whatever building we gather in to worship is just for our comfort and has nothing to do with God’s glory! If only we can understand that God doesn’t give a damn about our places of worship! If only our eyes can be opened to the fact that God’s concern is with the state of our souls, his true temple, and not the magnificence of our buildings which we erroneously call his house! God doesn’t care a hoot about where we gather to worship, but he cares a lot about the state of our souls and how we care for one another, for we all (as believers in Christ) make up his true temple. How will God feel that we neglect his temples to waste resources and care on buildings that will ultimately decay, collapse or be destroyed? Isn’t it foolishness to place more value on ephemeral and temporal things to the detriment of eternal things? Think it about this!
2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
Ephesians 2:18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Ephesians 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Ephesians 2:20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
Ephesians 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
Ephesians 2:22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
1 Peter 2:4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,
1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, the temple of God has moved from physical buildings constructed according to divine instructions, to the hearts of converted and sanctified believers in Christ Jesus. Thus, God’s emphasis has shifted from magnificent buildings men erect in his honour, to Spirit-filled men and women in whom he dwells by his Spirit. In response, people of God too should move from adoring and deifying cathedrals and buildings (which are actually sanctified by the presence of Spirit-filled men and women who bring God’s presence into these buildings). Emphasis should shift accordingly from building befitting cathedrals for God, to building up men and women into a holy habitation for God’s dwelling. Whatever building we gather in to worship now has nothing to do with God’s glory, for we are the glory of God as believers in Christ. The buildings are just for our comfort and nothing else. God dwells in us now and no longer in buildings made with human hands! Let us then stop venerating empty buildings and making them more important than the Spirit-filled temples that gather in those buildings!
Revelation 21:3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:
Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them
and be their God (HCSB).
God bless you, and thanks for visiting the blog!