Empty Ritual in the Temple Full of God’s Glory.

Study Series Note: This study is the eighth in a series that examines the Bible’s sacred places (tabernacle, temple, etc.). Previous studies focused on the tabernacle, as well as creation and the Garden of Eden as a Temple.

Previous posts discussed how the tabernacle and temple mediated the presence of the holy God to his covenant people. The temple and its service allowed Yahweh to dwell in the midst of his people and allowed the people to maintain an exclusive covenant relationship with the God of the universe. Solomon built the Jerusalem temple at the height of Israelite national power around 960 b.c.e. For the next few centuries, the temple and its service continued. As time passed, the prophets increasingly warned Judah’s kings, priests, and people that true faithfulness to the Lord was more than a matter of following temple rituals. Solomon's_Temple_JerusalemThe Lord dwelt in the temple, but the temple did not contain him like some genie’s lamp. Yet, some Israelites treated the temple as a charm. They reasoned that if the Lord dwelt in the temple, then he would thwart any enemies that threatened his house and the city that surrounded it. The covenant relationship between God and his people (a relationship cultivated by Moses and King David) had given way to pagan superstition and a magical mindset that sought to manipulate God for human purposes. The temple rituals remained, but the true covenant faithfulness for which the temple existed was largely abandoned. Continue reading

Where Heaven and Earth Meet: Studies on the various “houses of God” described in the Christian Bible. Study 1.

Study Series Introtab modelOver the next several months I will be posting a series of group bible studies on the Bible’s sacred places. Each study focuses on what these sacred places reveal about the character of God and how these places point to God’s ultimate self revelation in Jesus Christ. Though supported with deep research, this work is written for the average adult and structured for use in a discussion group setting. Thought provoking material equally balances discussion questions to encourage readers to discover important theological concepts for themselves.

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Study 1. From Places to Place: God Draws near to His People.

 

Before diving into Hebrew ideas about sacred places, it is helpful to look at the ancient world in general. The ancient Near East was predominately polytheistic, and people generally considered sacred places as points of contact between heaven and earth, between a god and his/her earthly followers. Continue reading