Christian Churches of God

No. CB35

 

 

 

Preparing the Temple of God

 

(Edition 2.0 20031025-20061220)

Each individual Christian is a spiritual Temple of God. The way in which the Levitical priesthood worshiped within the Temple of God and events that took place regarding the House of the Lord directly relate to the Church and to Christians.

 

 

 

 

Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369, WODEN ACT 2606, AUSTRALIA

E-mail: secretary@ccg.org

 

 

(Copyright ã 2003, 2006 Peter Donis, ed. Wade Cox)

 

This paper may be freely copied and distributed provided it is copied in total with no alterations or deletions. The publisherís name and address and the copyright notice must be included. No charge may be levied on recipients of distributed copies. Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and reviews without breaching copyright.

This paper is available from the World Wide Web page:
http://www.logon.org and http://www.ccg.org

 

 

Preparing the Temple of God

True Christians are the House of God. We are all living stones joined together as the Temple of God. We must be free from blemish and disease. The way the physical Temple was restored in the Old Testament has parallels for the way we build our spiritual Temple.

How we serve God

We are all in charge of a spiritual Temple.

1Corinthians 3:16-17 Donít you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 God will bring ruin upon anyone who ruins this temple. For Godís temple is holy, and you Christians are that temple.

(NLT)

We symbolise the physical Temple, which will be rebuilt in the Millennium. When the Temple lapsed into idolatry, it can be a reflection on the spiritual state that we are in.

In the restoration under King Josiah (the name means Yahweh heals), there are parallels to Messiah and his ministry. Through Christ, God heals us. Events that followed that restoration relate to the Passover of Messiah, the baptism of the elect, the gift of the Holy Spirit and our adoption as sons of God and spiritual Israelites.

2Chronicles 35:1-3 Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.2 And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the LORD, 3 And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the LORD, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders: serve now the LORD your God, and his people Israel. (KJV)

Christ portrays that Passover lamb. Once baptised, we are organised into the service of the House of the Lord our God. We become a holy priesthood (1Pet. 2:5). We partake of Godís Holy Spirit through Christ. Christ deals with us as a Church and as individuals. We are given gifts for the building up of each other and the Body of Christ, which is the Church (Eph. 4:12).

Josiah told the priests to put the Ark in the Temple Solomon built. The Ark was a wooden box carried by poles on the shoulders of the priests. The two tablets of the Ten Commandments (Testimony) were placed inside the Ark see (Ex. 25:1-22; Deut. 10:1-2). So we donít carry the Ark on our shoulders any more, for we carry it in our hearts. God places His Laws on our hearts and writes them in our minds (Heb. 8:10). The procedure is that as adults we repent, are baptised and have hands laid on us for the receipt of the Holy Spirit. We are then set apart and prepared to serve the Lord God and his people Israel, the nation and His Church, into which we are grafted (Gal. 6:16; Heb. 8:8). See the paper The Ten Commandments (No. CB17).

Beginning construction

It is our Father in Heaven that stirs our spirit, which leads us to repentance. We see that with each physical restoration in the Old Testament, it was God the Father who caused the people to return to Him (Ezra 1:5). God prepared the people in all cases, and it is done according to His timing (2Chro. 29:36).

We can make the analogy of building our faith to that of building a house. When we are obedient and faithful to the knowledge and understanding God reveals to us, we are then given the next set of instructions. So we could say the building permit is then granted (2Chro. 2:1).

 

We should have a desire to build our house to God. We should be determined in our hearts to obey God and enter into a covenant with Him.

2Chronicles 2:4-5 Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel. (KJV)

This means we are to construct a new foundation in the truth, and assemble the word of God correctly. God tells us how and when we are to worship Him. The Sabbaths, New Moons and solemn Feast days are set days of worship before the Lord our God. We are to open the doors of our hearts on these sacred days to honour and worship the One True God only. It is an ordinance forever to Israel, which we are (Gal. 6:16; Heb. 8:8).

These holy days are our foundations. We all should have the same plan, and we all should have the same foundations. If we overlook one step, it weakens the whole structure and cracks will appear. This may be due to Feasts not being kept. God is the Master Builder (Heb.11:10). We must prepare to do His will with a firm foundation in His truth.

The New Moons are mentioned with the Sabbaths and Feasts as days of sacrifice as it is written in the Law of God. See the paper The Holy Days of God (No. CB22).

2Chronicles 31:3 The contribution of the king from his own possessions was for the burnt offerings: the burnt offerings of morning and evening, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, the new moons, and the appointed festivals, as it is written in the law of the Lord. (NRSV)

So the New Moons make up part of the building code or practice we must observe. This foundation is necessary if our house (Temple) is to pass inspection.

Building a house with clean stones

The stones with which we build must be clean. We are to become living stones like that of Christ at our head (1Pet. 2:4). We present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1). Building our house with stones infected with faulty doctrines and wrong attitudes can be viewed as a house infected with spiritual leprosy.

The law concerning leprosy which affects a home can directly relate to an individual and the Church, because both are depicted as spiritual houses in the Bible.

Leviticus 14:40-42  the priest shall command that the stones in which the disease appears be taken out and thrown into an unclean place outside the city. 41 He shall have the inside of the house scraped thoroughly, and the plaster that is scraped off shall be dumped in an unclean place outside the city. 42 They shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and take other plaster and plaster the house. (NRSV)

These stones can represent our beliefs. We build our faith with these stones. The disease that appears on them is faulty doctrine. This must be removed and thrown out; not used again. No matter how hard we try to scrub over faulty stones of doctrines, they are still unclean. There will be no stones of false doctrine allowed in the City of God.

Our thoughts and how we act on what we know could be viewed as the plaster. The inside of the house is thoroughly cleaned and the plaster that falls off is dumped outside the city. God removes the stones of faulty doctrine and replaces them with stones of truth. Through Christís sacrifice we are cleansed, re-plastered, and guided by the Holy Spirit in how to live by the Laws of God. But we are still susceptible to an outbreak of disease, namely false theology and wrong thinking.

We are not necessarily re-plastered every time we sin. This is not the same as a blemish or stain when we sin and we are able to repent and be cleansed. It is when we allow ourselves to return to our former lives, living contrary to the expressed will of God. If we are not prepared to change our former habits when we were slaves to sin, then they will ultimately infect our thinking and our actions. Today we see attitudes of racism, hate and greed passed down to children. This sort of leprosy can cling to families for generations (2Kgs. 5:27).

Unless sin is removed it will find its way into every room of our house. It is important to remember that we are not made perfect once we are baptised. On the contrary, God reveals our spiritual decay through Christ. The inside of our heart and mind is scraped thoroughly. We are then refashioned into a new person. We are re-plastered with Godís Holy Spirit. Old beliefs with no foundation in the truth are removed.

The plaster of pride

In Daniel, chapter 4, we read that King Nebuchadnezzar was removed from the kingship because he allowed his heart to be Ďplastered with prideí. The king said, "Babylon the great! Was it not l, with my great strength, who built it?" (Dan.4:30). He did not acknowledge what God had done for him. When we compare this with the Law in Leviticus 14:40, we see he was literally thrown in an unclean place. This was symbolised by the fact that his dwelling was with the beasts of the field, outside the city, picturing his removal from kingship.

God restored King Nebuchadnezzar and rebuilt his royal palace with new stones because he learnt that the Most High rules over the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He wills (Dan. 4:26-34). The king said, "My understanding returned to me, and I blessed the Most High" (Dan. 4:34).

In chapter 5 of Daniel we see the consequences when leprosy returns to the same house.

Leviticus 14:43-45 If the disease breaks out again in the house, after he has taken out the stones and scraped the house and plastered it, 44 the priest shall go and make inspection; if the disease has spread in the house, it is a spreading leprous disease in the house; it is unclean. 45 He shall have the house torn down, its stones and timber and all the plaster of the house, and taken outside the city to an unclean place. (NRSV)

Belshazzar, who took over the royal palace, was aware of what happened to his father (Dan. 5:22), yet he did not humble his heart. He was measured on what he knew and how he acted on the knowledge he was given. The disease had returned and was spreading. He sinned through his disobedience and pride. He drank from the sacred vessels and let others drink from them also. He was guilty of polluting what he knew to be holy and sacred. He praised idols and did not honour God (Dan. 5:1-5).

Belshazzar was judged according to the Law, which required that the house be torn down. None of the stones, timber and plaster was to remain (Dan. 5:30-31). He and his kingdom were dealt with at the same time. The house of Belshazzar was not allowed to continue. Likewise we will be removed from the Kingdom of God, if we donít set our mind on His will and, in everything, give thanks. This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning all of us (1Thes. 5:18).

Pride in the Temple

God looks on the heart of an individual and not on the outward appearance. An example of this is King Uzziah. He was given great success, until he lifted his heart up against God (2Chro. 26:5).

2Chronicles 26:16-18 But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 So Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him were eighty priests of the Lordóvaliant men. 18 And they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the Lord God." (NKJV)

As a royal priesthood, we must approach God in a worthy manner. We see Uzziah approached the Temple of God with the wrong attitude. When our hearts are full of pride and vanity we are more likely to do things our own way and not follow Godís way. Just like Uzziah, we can let our hearts be filled with pride. The blessings God the Father gives us should humble us, otherwise they will bring us to ruin (Pro.11:2, 16:18).

2Chronicles 26:19-21 Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the Lord, beside the incense altar. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he was leprous; so they thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the Lord had struck him. (NKJV)

Uzziah was doing a job that wasnít assigned to him, and he was not worshiping God as he should have been doing. His pride led to anger towards the priests who were correcting him. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to murder. He should have repented. We cannot come before God unless our heart is right. Neither can we remain angry with our brother. We can easily become angry with those who correct us, when we believe what we are doing is right.

Vanity puffs us up. What we think is correct is not always approved of in the eyes of God. We cannot remain angry against our brethren and still go before God. God places people in His Church for the responsibility and well-being of all concerned. We must be able to accept correction from those in authority.

We should also act on what we know to be true. Not obeying God is a form of pride and idolatry. We must be able to humble our hearts so that God may continue to teach us His will.

2Chronicles 26:21 King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord. (NKJV)

We may conclude that Uzziah did not repent of his sin. The Law states concerning one who has leprosy that all the days he has the sore he shall be unclean and he shall dwell alone outside the camp. God sets a spiritual mark of leprosy on those who worship Him contrary to His Law. We will be cut off from the House of God unless we repent of our sins.

The unclean are not permitted entry

2Chronicles 23:16-19 Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king that they should be the Lordís people. 17 Then all the people went to the house of Baal, and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, in front of the altars. 18 Jehoiada assigned the care of the house of the Lord to the levitical priests whom David had organized to be in charge of the house of the Lord, to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, according to the order of David. 19 He stationed the gatekeepers at the gates of the house of the Lord so that no one should enter who was in any way unclean. (NRSV)

All of us were unclean before we were baptised into the Body of Christ. When we return to God, we must tear down the false idols we had before our conversion. None of us is perfect, but the Church has to take care that no one enters who is not willing to have his/her robe cleansed by the sacrifice of Christ, or who continues wilfully to disobey Godís Commandments.

God requires that there be gatekeepers at the doors of His Temple (2Chro. 23:19). We must understand that the Church has a responsibility to ensure that those wanting to join are willing to obey the Laws God has established for His House. This may be in the form of written consent to abide by Church protocol and its Constitution.

The Lord God will not allow Himself to be contaminated. The Church has the responsibility to ensure that those who are uncircumcised in heart do not continue to pollute His Sanctuary. God makes it quite clear. No stranger, that is, one who does not know that God is One (Deut. 6:4) shall enter His sanctuary; nor those uncircumcised in heart, that is, those who do not consider repentance and baptism into the body of Christ as the means of salvation; nor those uncircumcised in flesh, representing those who donít keep of the Laws of God, His covenant (Ezek. 44:5-9). The House of God is not a social club.

Clean animals portray the elect

That which could be eaten or sacrificed fell into categories of clean and unclean. Land animals considered clean can be found in Leviticus 11:1-4. Only clean animals were allowed because they represented Christís sacrifice, which was without blemish or spot (1Pet. 1:19).

The eating of clean food to nourish our physical bodies parallels the taking in of spiritual food, which feeds our mind. Science today is now realising that food deemed unclean in the Bible is harmful to our health. In the same way, anyone who eats of spiritual food which of itself is unclean, places his spiritual well being in danger. God makes the distinction of what is clean and unclean through the observance of His Word.

Land animals that are clean are those that chew the cud and have a divided hoof (Lev. 11:1-4). Some of us may be familiar with the term "to chew the cud". It is a figurative expression meaning to meditate on a matter. Thatís what we do concerning the word of God (Ps. 1:2). See the paper The Biblical Food Laws (No. CB19).

We are to focus on reading the Scriptures, encouraging and teaching one another (1Tim. 4:12-16). We meditate on the word of God so we may be examples of godly living.

Divided hoof

We come to understand that the divided hoof of a clean animal represents a number of points. The hoof symbolises our feet, and the way in which we walk in the truth and conduct our lives. We are to walk before the Almighty God and be perfect (Gen. 17:1; 48:15). We are to walk in Godís Law (Ex. 16:4). The divided hoof depicts those who rightly divide the word of God and keep His Commandments. We are to live a life worthy of the calling we have received (Eph. 4:1). We are called to be separate in our conduct (Ezra 10:11) and to come out of this world (Rev. 18:4).

The swine

The swine has a divided hoof but does not chew the cud. This too is reflected in individuals. Some people have separated themselves, but they do not meditate on the food they are digesting. Others detach themselves and replace Godís Holy Bible with their own book of instruction instead. Their eating habits, that is, what they accept as the Word of God, are not tested against Scripture. How does one examine spiritual food?

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them.

Cleansing the Temple

When Christ returns as King Messiah, to restore the Temple, what state will he find our Temple in? Will he find the doors of our hearts opened on commanded days of assembly on the Sabbaths, New Moons and set Feast days? Will he find us keeping the Passover Feast or will he find us offering sacrifices to the god Ishtar, and keeping Easter instead? When Christ returns to clear the Temple, will we be one of those he whips out of his Fatherís Temple, for trading in the lives of men, blinding people from the truth and spiritually crippling them? Or will we be one of those that he will heal? (Mat. 21:12-14).

The cleansing of the Temple is required under the Law. Messiah cleansed the Temple from the New Year in the year of his sacrifice to show us what is required. We do this on a yearly basis from the New Year to the Feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread just as Christ did. We must cleanse ourselves to partake of the Lordís Supper and to enable us to go through another year free of the sins we accumulated in the previous year. Our cleansing is a spiritual one of prayer and fasting for ourselves, and then for other sinners of the Church and the nation who are still weak or ignorant in the faith. It is our responsibility as a Church and as individuals because we are the Temple of God.

q