Advent Day Seventeen: The Temple Not Made With Hands

“My spirit abides among you; do not fear.  For thus says the LORD of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the LORD of hosts.  . . The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts and in this place I will give .” (Haggai 2:5-7)

When the twin towers were destroyed in New York City, the world watched in horror.  As the rubble was cleared, stories of heroism and sacrifice emerged that changed a building site into a monument.  Now, almost twenty years later, we see the ghost of the towers in movies and pictures taken before and after.  Even the memorial constructed at ground zero conjures memories of  “the former glory”, and some weep.

When the Jews returned to Jerusalem after seventy years of exile, they set to work rebuilding the walls and the temple.  For those born after the destruction of Jerusalem, it was a bittersweet moment.  While the youth rejoiced, the aged wept because they remembered how things “used to be” and the new temple paled in comparison.

God’s glory was never meant to be contained in a building.  Even the temple constructed by Ezra was rebuilt by Herod the Great just twenty years before the time of Jesus.  Jesus knew that it would ultimately be destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., never to be rebuilt again.  Only the “wailing wall” remains today of the former temple. He said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will build it up again” (John 2:19). The original site was destroyed, only to be reconstituted in the hearts of believers everywhere, unbounded by time or place.  In this case, the present glory exceeds the former things.

“LORD, we are stones in a living temple with Christ as our foundation.  Sometimes the old has to be torn down to make way for the new.  Help us to be open to areas of our life that need to be renewed by your Spirit.”  Amen.

Mindi Oaten’s painting “Restores Our Worship”is from God’s Garden of Grace collection.

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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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