Greater Glory 

Haggai 2:9
“‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

The sermons from Haggai and Zechariah stirred the people to return to the work of rebuilding the Temple. Because of their dedication, it did not take long before walls were erected and priestly ministry restored. The completed Temple had a dual affect upon the people. Some celebrated, while others wept. Those who wept did so because they remembered how glorious Solomon’s Temple had been, then they looked at the rudimentary structure they had built to replace it. Haggai’s message was directed to them. He declared,  this new Temple was actually more glorious than the one it replaced. It’s glory was not in the expense required to build it, or in its intrinsic value, but in what would take place within it.

Five hundred years after Zerubbabel completed the Temple, Jesus was born. It was this refurbished Temple upon whose steps Jesus taught. It was from here, he declared that anyone who comes to Him will have living water flow out of them,  like a spring of everlasting life. It was just outside this Temple where he would be arrested, beaten and crucified. And it was the veil of this Temple that was torn, giving us access to God when we receive Christ.

As glorious as the first Temple may have been, the glory of the second outshines it in every way. What a joy to know that we no longer need a building in order to access God. It is through the work of Christ, that we can have an intimate relationship with God.

Pastor Jim

 

Dedication Day

Ezekiel 43:5
“The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple.”

What a glorious sight this must have been, as Ezekiel watched the glory or radiance of God descend upon and fill the Temple. What had been a building made with men’s hands, now became the temple of the living God. The presence of the Lord within its walls transformed this building and set it apart from all others.

This is not the only time we read of the glory of God filling or transforming something. When Moses and his team first erected the Tabernacle, God’s glory rested upon it with such power that no one could even enter its gates (Exodus 40:34-35). Years later Solomon’s team completed the Temple and the glory of God once again rested upon it in a powerful and visible way (2 Chronicles 7:1-2). It is clear, when the glory of God fills a structure dedicated to God, it is visibly transformed.

The New Testament teaches us that God no longer dwells in temples made with men’s hand, but  those who have received Christ as Savior and Lord, actually become the dwelling place of God. When we receive Christ, the Spirit of God enters us, and like the Temple of old, we are visibly transformed, being filled with the Spirit of God. We are no longer just another building, we are now the dwelling place of the Living God. It is through this transformation that the world around us will begin to see the God of glory. Let’s seek to be people dedicated to revealing the glory of God, by dedicating ourselves completely to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

The Meeting Place 

Ezekiel 41:4
“…And he said to me, “This is the Most Holy Place.”

The deepest chamber within the temple housed the Ark of God and the the Mercy Seat. It was here, the high priest would enter only once a year to bring the blood of the sacrifice, and intercede on behalf of the Nation. It was here,  God had originally explained to Moses, they could meet with the Lord and talk to Him about anything.

Exodus 25:22 “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.”

I think it is worth noting,  this chamber is called the Holiest Place. It is only in holiness that we can meet with God. That is particularly concerning when we realize we are not holy. The prophet made it abundantly clear, even our best attempts ar doing good, lack true holiness in the sight of God.
Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind! Have taken us away.”

If God is holy, the meeting place between God and man is holy. We, at our best, are not holy;  we are in need of help. That is where the cross comes in. Under the old covenant, this was solved through sacrifice on the altar. The priest would confess his sins and that of the people, and would enter the holiest place. Now under the new covenant, this is solved by Christ. His sacrifice provides atonement for all our sins. We, like the priest, must accept the sacrifice, by accepting Christ and confessing our sin. When we do, we are forgiven, made holy, and have access to God.

If you have received Christ, there is nothing keeping you from the holy meeting place. You may attend there regularly, bringing yourself, your life and your needs before the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Ruins 

 

Ezekiel lived in Babylon as a prisoner of war. The nation of Judah had rebelled against Babylonian occupation and this rebellion cost them dearly. In 587 B.C. the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of God were burned to the ground. What had once been a glorious structure representing the majesty of God, was now nothing more than a pile of rubble.

One can only imagine the joy Ezekiel must have experienced when he was taken in a vision, back to the Promised Land. He watched as a new, even more glorious Temple was erected, to replace the one that had been leveled. This vision provided hope, against hope, of the future plans God had for His children.

After Ezekiel’s time had passed, a man named Zerubbabel would lead thousands of Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. The basic structure they built would still be standing five hundred years later when Christ arrived. As amazing as this was, the promise Ezekiel received was of yet a future Temple, one that would be erected after Christ returns to set up His kingdom on earth.

What a blessing it is to know, no matter how dark things may appear, we can trust that the purposes of God will be completed.

Pastor Jim

 

Temple Of God 

2 Corinthians 6:16
“For you are the temple of the living God.”

Although this verse is tucked away in a passage not well trodden, this portion of the text is fairly well-known. It is not uncommon to hear this verse quoted, even among those who have not chosen to surrender their lives to Christ. When donuts are on the table and we are about to indulge, we might hear someone say, “You know our bodies are the temple of the living God, we should not defile the temple.” While it is true, what we eat can have an effect upon how we feel, and thus distracts from what we are capable of accomplishing, that is not the primary message of this passage. Paul is talking about the danger of establishing relationships that will lead us astray. He wrote,

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

Then he went on to quote from Isaiah,

“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” Isaiah 52:11

The greatest pitfall for the children of Israel, was establishing relationships with those who did not follow the ways of God. Once those relationships were started, it was not long before the people of God were departing from the Word of God, and practicing the ways of the ungodly. While this is a danger in any type of relationship, it is especially deadly with romantic relationships. Too often, Christians who are single, will settle for someone who is not really committed to the Lord, rather than being lonely and alone.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

When it comes to relationships, this verse is especially critical. Instead of making a relationship our goal, and seeking to find someone, we should spend our energies seeking the Lord and trusting His promises to provide all that we need. I remember hearing Pastor Jon Courson sharing on the idea of trusting the Lord, when it comes to finding the right person. He used Adam and Eve as an example. When it came time for Adam to find his mate, the Lord had him go to sleep. There, as he rested, the Lord brought along the only person designed especially by God, just for him. Jon went on to say, “had Adam not rested, and ran around looking, he would have ended up with an ape.” Some are seeking a relationship, instead of seeking the Lord. Loneliness is pushing them to seek in places where they are only going to find the wrong person, and ultimately get hurt. Remember, you are the temple of the living God, and there are places where your feet should not take you, and relationships that should never start.

Paul is not suggesting Christians all huddle together and avoid contact with anyone who is not a follower of Jesus. In fact, Paul spent his life making relationships where he could share Christ with others. The difference is influence. We should establish relationships with those who don’t know Christ, and seek to win them to Christ (dating is not the way to do that.) At the same time, we should establish relationships with those who have committed themselves to Jesus, and seek to pattern our lives after them. Paul said, “follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Be careful!

Pastor Jim

 

Is That Possible? 

Ezra 1:3
“Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.”

There are times when the promises of God seem unlikely, and other times when they seem impossible. The scene in which Ezra is set is one of those, “it looks impossible”, kind of times. Judah had been defeated, the city of Jerusalem destroyed, and the people scattered throughout Babylonia. To complicate matters, the Babylonians were defeated by the combined forces of the Medes and Persians, led by King Cyrus. Set against these conditions, was a remote and seemingly impossible promise. Years earlier, Jeremiah the prophet, predicted a king named Cyrus would rise to power, and give a decree, allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild their city. I am sure, for the average Jew this promise seemed remote at best. I love that we read “in the first year of Cyrus.” God wasted no time in bringing His promise to fruition.

I wonder what you are facing. Perhaps it is something that causes you to question everything you think you know about God. Allow me to encourage you to look into the Word at His great and precious promises. I think you will discover truths that will stand up against whatever you are facing. Those truths will give you comfort, strength and hope, as you come to discover that no matter what the obstacle, the Word of God cannot fail.

Writing to the Romans Paul “. . .  let God be true and every man a liar. . .”  (Romans 3:4). Paul had learned that no matter what, God always keeps His promises.

Pastor Jim

 

The Cross 

2 Chronicles 6:29-30
“Whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways…”

Once the Temple was erected and the altar and priesthood put in place, Solomon explained the purpose of the Temple. It was designed as a means for sinful men to have relationship with a holy God. As Solomon prayed, he revealed the great benefits of the Temple. We might say, 2Chronicles 6 gives us the doctrine of the Temple. It became clear, no matter what the cause, turning to the Lord was the cure. If the people were suffering loss, pain, sorrow, sickness, or defeat, they could turn toward the Temple, pray, and find restoration with the Lord. Since the Temple provided access to God, it was the means to receiving mercy from the Lord.

The Temple no longer exists, but the mercies of God are still accessible to sinful men. Instead of looking to a building where sacrifice is offered, we now look toward the cross. It was at the cross two thousand years ago, God expressed His mercy, love and grace by sending His Son as a sacrifice for sin. The cross is now the way to access the mercy of God. Whatever suffering sin has caused in your life, the cross can cure. No matter how often or how far you have fallen, when you look to the cross and confess your sin, you will find His mercy in the form of pardon and restoration.

Whatever you are facing today, the cure is at the cross. Take time this morning to sit at the foot of the cross and call upon the mercy of God.

Pastor Jim