Psalm 84; 2 Chronicles 29:1–11, 16–19; Hebrews 9:23–28
A few days ago, we read about Jesus cleansing the Temple. As noted, then, prophets doing “over-the-top” things weren’t totally unexpected. Generally, it was uncomfortable, but God’s true prophets weren’t known to bring comfort without discomfort.
Sometimes amid human depravity, a person bursts out of the decay and does something unexpected. Hezekiah was one of those. Hezekiah may be one of the few (yet significant) proof-texts for why the church and the government should not be as separated as much as it seems to be called for in these modern days.
Of course, Hezekiah it not the norm. The only time this really would work would be if the church and the government actually respected each other’s place, honored it, and behaved honorably themselves. Neither government nor church has a sterling record. They don’t even have a tin record.
Hezekiah shaped up the Levites and called them to remember their heritage and duty. He directed them to get back Temple life. As the king, this would also call the populace to also refocus on the Temple. However, part of Hezekiah’s speech isn’t about the Temple. The important part of Hezekiah’s speech is about God and the place that God should be having in the life of Israel.
The filth and disrepair of the Temple were symbolic of the place God had in the life of the Israelites. God didn’t really have a place in their lives. The Temple and its rituals had cultural relevance, but there wasn’t much in the way of spiritual relevance. It was also a work of process.
First, there had to be desire. Then the doors had to be repaired. Then the doors had to be opened. Then the filth had to be removed. Then the artifacts of practice (fire grates, bowls for washing, and so on) had to be made. Then the work began.
Sometimes it can be easy to dismiss much of the Temple talk. The writer of Hebrews saw the Temple as the foreshadowing of Jesus and the believers becoming the living temples of God. The author, along with Paul (1 Corinthians 3:10–23), sees God not doing a new work (as in unknown or unforeseen).
They saw God as fulfilling what the Temple was promising.
However, both understood from a historical and experiential view that the temple could be damaged, emptied, and/or corrupted. This is the beauty of a God of redemption. God is at work in the Temple, even when we aren’t.
Where do you see yourself on the Christian walk in regard to getting the Temple ready (the list of things having been or to be done)? Are you at the point of the real work? If so, what does that look like for you?
Lord, we are called to be workers not just in the church. We are also called to be workers in the temples of believers. Help us to continue to work on ourselves and be ready to build each other up as we work. Amen.