In the last two sermons of Pastor Steves we have been learning about the miracle path. We see that God has a plan for each of us, unique and wonderful. When we choose to follow His plan we witness a miracle of provision and protection and guidance. Today we will take a look at one of the plans God has for each of us in the book of Ephesians. Paul wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus while he was in prison in Rome. The main theme of this letter is the unity of the church and the importance of reconciliation of people to God. Today we will focus on his reference to our role as a temple of the Lord. Many people in todays society tend to equate the temple with a structure or building. The temple then becomes the focus of the religion and our understanding of it is reduced to maintenance and care of the facility. The Temple was meant to draw men to God. This illustrates another way that an incomprehensible God chooses to reveal Himself to mankind. As we study the full extent of the role of the Temple and its construction, it exposes us to a deeper meaning in regard to our bodies as a temple. While taking care of our bodies is important and shows respect for Gods temple, understanding its purpose and design will lead us and others into a closer relationship with God.
The purpose of the Temple is to:
1) Draw people to God (Ex 25:1-8; 2Sa 7:12-17; 1Ch 21:27): The tent of meeting was put in place so the people could bring sacrifices to God. The Temples later on also provided a place for us to gain access to the Almighty God.
2) Be a house of prayer (Isa 56:7; Mk 11:15-18; Mt 21:13; Lk 19:45-46): Jesus is upset when He sees the way the Temple is being treated and drives out the money changers and overturns the tables. He then quotes from Isaiah reminding the people of Gods promise that His house will be a house of prayer. This is mentioned in three of the four Gospels showing that this was a significant event.
3) Bring a reward for obedience (Lev 26:11; Isa 56:1-7): In both these passages there are great promises of protection and blessing for those who are obedient. The circumstances surrounding the obedient seem ideal and rich. If we look closely, all this goodness is a result of the presence of God. It is clear that the most precious reward is God dwelling with us.
The design of the Temple
1) Gods design and plan for the Temple (Ex 25:9; 1Ch 22:6-10): God takes great care in His detailed instruction to His people. The design of the structure and its furnishings is exhaustive. There is a specific purpose for each detail. God makes sure to guide us every step of the way. We are very fortunate that His ways are not our ways and His plans are not our plans.
2) Our plans pale in comparison to the Lords (Lk 19:41-44): The Temple history can be seen in three phases: The first beginning with David and Solomon; then the restoration of the Temple by the return of the exiles from Babylon; finally what is known as Herods Temple. The first two Temple projects really reflect Gods plan and were truly guided by His instructions to His people. These Temples lasted for over a millennia. Herods Temple project was more of a plan for Herod to ingratiate his leadership over the Jewish people. It took 46 years to build (Jn 2:19-21) and was destroyed according Jesus prediction, never to be rebuilt. It lasted approximately 70 years.
3) The design of the Temple was to glorify God and to point to the coming sacrifice for our salvation (Ex 25:10-22; 1Ch 22:13-19): God took great care in the construction plans for the Temple. He instructed some of the finest products be used and every detail be followed. To the people in those times it glorified their God to the nations. We, however, have the benefit of hindsight and can see the testimony to Jesus and His great sacrifice ahead.
God has a design and plan for us as a temple
1) God makes it very clear that we are a temple (1Co 3:16; 6:19; Eph 2:21-22; Jn 2:19): In Pauls writings he tells the people that they are a temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells. The words used here mean that we are a place set apart for the Glory of God, intended to fulfill His purposes and bring many to the Kingdom of God. God wants our ministries to be fruitful, not in the material things of this world but for treasures stored up in heaven. Jesus in referring to Himself and His resurrection said, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
2) God has a purpose and plan for us (1Ti 6:11-12; Mt 28:18-20, Eph 2:21-22): God has chosen to spread the Gospel through His people. This is a wonderful privilege to be an instrument in the ministry of reconciliation. Like a temple drawing people to God, the witness of our walk can bear much fruit. Gods heart is to dwell with His people, but sin has separated us from Him. Through the sacrifice of Jesus we are made righteous and become a part of His plan to restore His people.
3) God designed the best temple ever (Ge 2:7; Ps 139:13; Rev 21:3-5): As we saw earlier the benefit of building the Temple according to Gods plans, we can then appreciate the design of our bodies. Gods design for our bodies is eternal. He paid great attention to your development and loves what He created. We are not only meant to be spiritual beings but we receive a restored body. God will dwell with His people and they will reign with Him forever.
1) Guard our hearts from the lies of the enemy.
2) Ask: Does my walk draw people toward the Lord?
3) Take care of our bodies as temples unto the Lord.
4) Give thanks to the Lord for such a wonderful gift.