If you could go back to the city of Jerusalem
in Bible times, the biggest thing you’d see, is the temple. This beautiful building was designed by King
David and built by King Solomon; and they believed it was the home of the God of
the universe. Wait, I thought God’s home was in heaven. Well, the whole point of this earthly temple,
is that it’s the place that overlaps with God’s
heavenly home. The temple is where God lives and rules all
creation as king. That’s cool. But even Solomon who built the temple didn’t
believe that his temple could contain the God of the universe. Right? Yeah, the building was just a symbol, that
pointed to the fact that all creation is God’s temple. And that is actually what the first page of
the Bible, Genesis, is all about. Really? It says that creation is God’s temple? Well, it doesn’t need to say it; the whole
story shows it. God creates an ordered world
out of a dark wasteland by speaking in series of seven days. Then on the seventh
day, God’s presence fills creation as he takes up his rest and rule. Similarly, the tabernacle–and later the
temple–were built and dedicated in a series of seven speeches
and seven days after which the priest or king could rest
and rule in God’s presence. Ah, so all of creation is where God intends
to dwell. It’s like his temple. Exactly. Now, Turn the page to Genesis 2, and we get
another portrait of creation. …This one focuses in on the land, and in
the center of the land is a region called “Eden” which in Hebrew means “delight”. And in the middle of “Delight” God plants
a garden in which God and humanity live together. And that’s why the temple was modeled after
the garden. Filled with imagery of gold and flowers, the
Menorah symbolized the tree of life. It’s the place where God dwells with his people. Oh, Got it! And check this out. In the temple, the Israelite priests and Levites
were to “to work and to keep” the temple in God’s presence. This is exactly the job description given
to humanity in the garden of Eden. So these humans were the first priests. But instead of ruling with God, they wanted
to rule on their own terms, and they’re exiled from the garden-temple. And, like Adam and Eve, Israel’s leaders
also wanted to rule on their own terms and they too were exiled. The Temple was destroyed, and this left them
wondering, did God give up on Israel? Will God bring about a new creation? Well, the biblical prophets anticipated the
day when God would create a new temple, with a new priesthood; that’s when God’s presence
would fill all of creation. And when the Israelites returned to the land,
they did rebuild the temple. But that temple didn’t turn out the way
the prophets hoped. In fact, later Israelite
prophets said that this temple was hopelessly corrupt. So they’re still waiting, for the ultimate
temple. And here we come to the story of Jesus. He said that through him God’s presence
and rule was coming to our world in a new way. And presented himself as a new kind of
priest. But Jesus wasn’t a priest, and he didn’t
work in the Temple. Right; Jesus said that God’s presence, his
rest and rule, was filling the world through his own life, death, and resurrection. Jesus was claiming that he was the true temple. And this new temple would expand out to include
all of creation. That is a really big claim! And it got bigger! After his resurrection, Jesus said that God’s
presence would come to dwell in and among his followers, so that
they could become mini-temples. Communities of people where God rests and
rules. Exactly. This is the Bible’s vision of the church,
which is described as a temple. Not a building, but people. Like when Peter says “you all are living
stones built up as a temple for God’s Spirit to
dwell”. So at the end of the biblical story, do we
ever get a new physical temple? Well, not exactly. What we see is a renewed cosmic temple, just
like in Genesis one. And this new creation doesn’t need a building
because through Jesus, all creation is now the place where God rests and rules the
world with his people.