Session #139 Temple Talk
Scripture Matthew 24:1-3
Summary Matthew 24:1-3 is about Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple, prompting the disciples’ question about His coming. Although His disciples marvelled at the temple buildings, Jesus was not impressed at all. Reduced to just religion and rituals, the temple sorely missed God’s original intent and the purposes of the kingdom. This teaching gets into some serious temple talk and ends with five key points for the Church as the God’s temple today.
Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And 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.” Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? Matthew 24:1-3
In our study of Matthew 21, 22 & 23, we have seen that the temple was the battleground of contention and confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders. Having exposed their hypocrisy, pride and rebellion, there is nothing else left to say or do, except to leave. To Jesus, the temple was already nothing but a religious system. By the end of that Passover week, Jesus would be crucified by those in charge of the temple and He would raise up a new temple of His body, made up of a new messianic community of believers, fulfilling John 2:19-22.
What was the temple about and for?
Jesus was merely done with the way the temple had become. What does it mean then for the Body of Christ to be the temple and what does that have to do with Jesus’ coming and the restoration of the kingdom? When we mention temple, we immediately think of religion and rituals but it is much more than that. The temple was fundamentally about residence and relationship – God’s residence and dwelling in close relationship with His people.
God walked with Adam and Eve in Eden, His earthly residence. The intent and plan was that God would have relationship with all of humanity through them as they multiply, filling the earth with His glory and presence. However, through deception and disobedience, sin entered the world, affecting both God’s residence and relationship with His creation. For this reason, the sacrificial system was put in place as a temporary measure, so that God could once again dwell with His people and have relationship (Exodus 25:8). When the first temple was dedicated, God’s presence and glory filled the temple. Unfortunately, over time, the temple became a religious system and an empty shell. Instead of a relationship with God, it became a restricted area for a select few. Even worse, the temple system and religion became cultic and superstitious, idolatrous even; leading to complacency. God’s people were given repeated warnings but did not repent and God left these religious systems when Israel was exiled (Jeremiah 7:1-4, Ezekiel 10:8).. They were given a second chance to rebuild the temple when they returned to Jerusalem after seventy years but very quickly returned to a ritualistic, legalistic system. Herod refurbished the temple but it was an impressive building without God’s presence. God cannot be contained in a physical establishment (Acts 7:48-50).
Although David had great intentions to build God a house, God was more interested in building David a different type of house. Through the Davidic line, the Messiah (the Christ) will come and God’s own house and family will be built, not a physical temple but a body of kingdom believers in Christ in whom He resides and has relationship with – a people who will carry His presence and reveal His glory (2 Samuel 7).
At the appointed time, God Himself came in the person of Jesus Christ, the Messiah (John 1:14). The coming of Jesus was to make a way for God and man to dwell together and have a relationship. That way was made open by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. In Christ, believers become God’s house, His temple.
God’s original intent never changed. He desires residence and relationship in and with His people. The restoration of the Kingdom back to Eden will be achieved when the spiritual temple of God, the body of Christ, spreads out across the whole world, carrying the presence of God and revealing His glory throughout the entire earth. In that day when Jesus returns, restores and establishes His kingdom fully, He will be worshipped by all – the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. There is no longer a need for any physical temple. God will dwell with His people – Emmanuel: God with us (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11:9, 7:14, Revelation 21:22).
What did we learn about being the temple?
After the temple talk, we would like to share five key points:
Jesus is not in religious systems
Jesus wants to make His home in us, to have a relationship with us, expressed through love and obedience (John 14:23).
Religion chokes out the life of the Kingdom
To experience the fullness of the kingdom, we need to recognise and realise the emptiness of religion. When religion is removed, the restoration of the kingdom begins.
Jesus is not impressed with big buildings
We are to note that not everything big and impressive is of the Lord. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Only that of the kingdom will remain.
Do not rebuild, replicate and revert to the temple system
The Church is the people of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Jesus saved us into residence and relationship; not religion and rituals. We need to be mindful not to go back to a religious order or system.
It is About Coverage Not Containment
The temple is no longer confined to a place or a building. We house the Most High in the Holy of Holies of our hearts. God’s glory is not to be confined or contained. We are travelling temples – Where God goes, we go and where we go, God goes. As His people spread out, God’s glory will cover the earth. This hope will be fully realised at the coming of Jesus. Until then, we live out Christ in us, the hope of glory!
We have been talking about the temple. What is the temple to you? Which have you subscribed to? Religion and rituals? Or God’s residence in you and your relationship with Him? While it is easier to follow a set of rituals and fulfil a religious duty, this is not what God intended. From the beginning, it has always been about God’s desire to dwell and be with His people: residence and relationship.