In the country where I live, every business, office, bank, and school has at least one security guard at the door to keep out “unauthorized persons” and examine everyone’s bags for weapons.
God’s Temple in Jerusalem also had gatekeepers and, judging from the space given to them in 1 Chronicles 26, this was an important responsibility. They guarded the five gates plus the storehouse and the courtyard. Their responsibilities included guarding the treasures kept inside the Temple and also keeping “unclean” things out of the Temple and its courts. In New Testament times, this would include Gentiles, who were only allowed into the outermost court. And even then, Jesus zealously expelled those who turned that area into a place to turn a profit. Other examples of defilement of the Temple were when Herod the Great affixed there the Roman eagle emblem and when Antiochus Epiphanes erected a statue of Zeus in the Temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar. Where were the temple guards at that time?
But when I read the Bible, I want to know how it might apply to me. Here are some thoughts:
–My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in me (I Cor. 3:16 & 6:19). Nothing unclean should be allowed to enter, nothing unworthy of sharing that space with God.
–The main “gates” into this temple are my eyes and ears. What am I looking at? Reading? Listening to? Thinking about? Are these things pure and worthy of the One who lives inside me?
A child’s song says “O be careful, little eyes what you see, for the Father up above is looking down in love” and “O be careful, little ears what you hear” for the same reason! Here’s a link to that song, by the way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwOzGC8Wr8k
I want my body to be a worthy dwelling for God. I don’t want to grieve Him by introducing disgusting or worthless things into the place reserved for Him.
The Jews (some of the survivors, that is) were back from their 70-year captivity and trying to rebuild their lives back in their own land. But it wasn’t the same. This land was now heavily under the influence of non-Jews who felt threatened by the return of its former occupants. In fact, their influence extended right into the highest rank of Jewish leadership, the high priest, Eliashib. Eliashib was closely connected with the very two, Tobiah and Sanballat, who had tried every trick in the book to put a stop to the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. (From the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament)
And now, thanks to this high priest, Tobiah had his own private quarters right inside God’s Temple! And Sanballat was now related to the high priest by marriage! Tolerance, right? Inclusivity? Well, God doesn’t tolerate this kind of tolerance. His standard is holiness, which is borne out in the three main points of the vow the people took after repenting from “”the three big sins they kept falling into: intermarriage with pagan neighbors, violation of the Sabbath laws, and neglect of Temple worship and its requirements.
So what’s the relevance of all this today? The common thread is God’s requirement that His people remain untainted by that “lowest common denominator” that our own lower nature and the world around us relentlessly suck us into.
God has much better things for us—things that lead upward to joy, peace, love, life, light!
I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13b-14 NLT)
Molech was a pagan idol god of Old Testament times. “Parents would sacrifice their children to this god and watch without showing emotion or care. A fire was lit inside of the idol which would turn its arms white from the heat. When they were at this level of heat, the parents would come with their children, lay them on the arms of the idol and watch while their child burned. The onlookers would beat drums as loud as they could so the child could not be heard and this would keep going until finally the child died.” (from Into the Light Ministries website)
God commanded that anyone who sacrificed their child to Molech should be killed by stoning. (Leviticus 20:2-5) But that wasn’t all—He also ordered that anyone who knew about this happening but “tolerated” it by not reporting and prosecuting the offenders would be just as guilty!
A modern-day equivalent of child sacrifice is abortion—destroying a precious life as an offering to the gods of Lust, Convenience, Pride, or Money. We may believe that is wrong, but are we guilty of looking the other way and tolerating it? God doesn’t tolerate that kind of tolerance! How many sins are committed under the guise of “tolerance”? God demands holiness from His people. (See the whole book of Leviticus.) That means being different from the crowds around us.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
The other day my daily reading brought me to the “ho-hum” part of Exodus. At least, that’s what I feared it would be—instructions about the construction of the Tabernacle and its furniture, details of the priests’ wardrobe and that sort of thing. So I asked God to give me new perspective on it. Here’s what He showed me:
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh—we all know where these fit in the Bible, right? Gifts brought to baby Jesus, acknowledging His Highness.
What I didn’t realize before was that these three precious items also appear prominently in the Tabernacle that God instructed Moses to build.
Gold—The cover of the Ark of the Covenant, where God would meet man, was made of solid gold. In Jesus, God has come to mankind to be with us. (Exodus 25:17-22)
Frankincense—This was a major ingredient of the special incense that was to be specially concocted and placed in front of the Ark of the Covenant. (Exodus 30:37)
Myrrh—The major ingredient of the holy anointing oil applied to the Ark of the Covenant and other parts of the Tabernacle as well as the priests themselves. (Exodus 30:23-33)
So what do you think? Is it mere coincidence? If not, what does this say about the meaning of the Tabernacle? What does it say about Jesus as He came to earth?
I’m always fascinated by those “before and after” pictures. Once I decided to submit myself for a free makeover at a well-known business that specializes in this. I went in looking like—well, myself. And came out looking like-–well, my husband says a witch! I had to agree. Finding the nearest restroom, I washed it all off. It was so not me!
I was reminded of this the other day when reading about the ultimate makeover in Colossians. Here’s the procedure God has performed and how He sees me:
Before: You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. (1:21)
After: Now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ …. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. (1:22)
And the perfect wardrobe to go with that makeover?
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.…Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-15
I wonder what others see when they look at me…? The “before,” the “after” or the “still becoming”?