What was the role and place of the temple in ancient society? In many ways it served as the center point for Israel's life and worship. It was the place in which God took up residence, and the place out of which God's glory spilled into the lives of his people so that the surrounding cultures would see and recognize him as the one true God. It was also the "holy place," undefiled and the place of true purity. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
So, given that, some questions to ponder as we apply the metaphor of the original temple to our own lives/ bodies that probably are helpful if we think at all about how to enter more deeply into our relationship with God:
- The temple had something called the "most holy place". This was the holy of holies and was considered the dwelling place of God. Where is the most holy place in your temple? Where do you go to meet with God face to face?
- Outside the holy of holies was the holy place, and before that the vestibule, porch or entrance, and before that the court of the priests with the brazen sea and the altar of the burnt offering. Priests went through purification rights before entering and had different types of worship (sacrifices, offerings, washing, etc.) at different stages. What are the steps you need to go through to enter through to meet God face to face in the holy of holies? Is there preparatory work you do before meeting with God?
- Outside the temple proper and the inner court of the priests was the great court surrounding the whole temple from where the people worshipped. This was the place of public worship and gathering with God's people in unison and in community worship. Do you have a place where you gather with the community to worship the God who resides within the most holy place? How does what happens in the holy of holies impact what happens in the public place? How does what happens in the public space of worship impact what happens in the holy of holies?
- Outside the public worship place was the place where the surrounding cultures existed. These surrounding cultures and people would come into the worship of the people of God as observers as well as participants. The temple worship affected surrounding cultures and peoples, and surrounding peoples and cultures affected temple worship. What does "being the temple" imply our role in the surrounding culture is? How is God's glory shown from the holy of holies out to the public places and into the surrounding cultures of your life? What impact is your temple worship having on the surrounding culture, and what impact is the surrounding culture having your worship?
After you've reflected a bit on this, don't miss that in the past, God resided in temple and the surrounding peopels would come to him. People don't "go to the temple" now to meet God. Instead, God came to us to bring the temple to the people, to the world. If your body/ life is the temple of the Holy Spirit, what does that really mean?
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