In an account only written in the Gospel of Luke, the infant Jesus was brought into the temple by His parents Mary and Joseph to undergo both the purification of Mary after childbirth and the dedication of their first born, Jesus, as holy to the Lord. “You shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord’s” (Exodus 13:12).
The temple was a sacred place and the place where God was known to dwell. Only certain people would be allowed to enter it and, in some places within the temple, only certain priests would be allowed. Rituals, such as the one the baby Jesus went through, were held there because the temple was the most holy place.
When Solomon built the first temple around 830 BCE, he spared no expense because only the grandest temple would be good enough to house almighty God. Gold and jewels, silver and brass covered much of the interior including the many fixtures needed for proper worship. It was built to glorify God and to do that, it had to be breath-taking for its grandeur.
Ironically, it would be after the birth of Jesus Christ that the temple building would fall from prominence. After His arrival, the idea of the temple would change. God through Isaiah gave us a hint of what was to come in Isaiah 66:1-2, “Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”
After Christ, the idea of the temple would become much more personal to those who placed their hope and faith in Him. No longer would it be seen as something made by human hands. Now it would be defined as something made by God that dwells within the humble and contrite in spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 explains, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
Again, God explains through Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.”
The implications of this are immense. Now all believers serve as holy temples to the Lord, sacred places dedicated to the one true God. With that in mind, we then have to decide how that sacred temple will be presented. Will it be shown to others in holiness or will it be desecrated with unholiness? Will it be adorned with the jewels of faithfulness or will it be left to decay in the rubble of sinfulness.
The above depends on what you use as the foundation for your building. What people will see are the things you use to hold your structure together. From Ephesians 2:19-22, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
Our God is worthy of the best building materials, the finest workmanship and the most dedicated designer, in fact, only He can build a proper temple to Himself. Only the Holy Spirit Himself can complete the task of building a proper structure within us to house our almighty God.
For that to happen, we must be willing to let Him do His work within us. To do that we first trust in God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Then we show our willingness to be changed into a place worthy for the Lord to dwell. Finally, we aid in the process by filling ourselves with the materials needed through the intaking of God’s Word and through prayer. The Spirit will do the rest.
How is your temple holding up? Does it shine with righteousness and faith or is it crumbling due to neglect? The master builder waits for your assistance to make God’s temple within you something spectacular. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, we are humbled by your dwelling within us. Help us to make your temple worthy of You in every way. Amen.