Hebrews 9; I want to set the tone for where we’re going in this. We want to see the supremacy of Christ in all things. It’s a beautiful book in the summer with all the chaos of everything that takes place. I really want us to grab hold of Jesus. There’s nothing more beautiful that you can do in your life than grab ahold of Christ and view life as He has created you to view it; Through Him. Hebrews 9 is a powerful text of scripture and the basis for it really began all the way back in Hebrews 1, but the author starts to highlight where he’s building into chapter nine all the way back in chapter five. He starts talking about the idea of priesthood, how Jesus is represented as a high priest by the order of Melchizedek. What in the world does that mean? We’ve talked about that together with the identity of priests comes law. With the identity of law comes temple. All of it culminates together. The priest came to live out the law as it was introduced to be performed in the context of the temple.
In Hebrews 9 we’re now going to deal with the topic of temple. What is temple? Are we supposed to be at one? How many are you supposed to have? All of these ideas on what the temple represents for us is being described in Hebrews 9 and relating it to Jesus and our relationship with Him. When you turn to Hebrews 9:1, when you kickoff this section of scripture, it really introduces to us what the context or the layout of the temple looked like as God prescribed it for the Jews. If you want to read about it in scripture; Exodus 20 you start to see God giving the law. By the time you get to chapter 25 He starts talking about the application to the temple, or the tabernacle as it was it was first called, and then the giving of the priesthood. You can really read about Leviticus 16, 17. It’s the most sacred performance by the priest in the temple on the day of atonement.
In Hebrews 9 the author is going to really fine tune what the temple is about just in the furniture that takes place there. This furniture that God tells us to place in the temple, the original temple and tabernacle that it was built, all of it has a greater picture for us to see our identity in Jesus. In verse five he says, if I just skip down to the bottom, he tells us that above it where the cherubim, I’m going to tell you what that is in a minute, of glory overshadowing the mercy seat, tell you what that is in a minute, he says this, “Of these things we can not speak in detail.” He’s really just saying in this chapter, I’m going to read all of it, but he’s saying what I’m describing the temple is just the nuts and bolts. I’m just skimming through this because he’s got a great purpose behind it. We’re not getting into big details as to everything within the context of the temple, but this is what he says, verse one, “Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.”
Now you remember in chapter eight we talked about the new covenant that was being taken place in Christ. Now he’s referring back to the first covenant, the old covenant, the Old Testament. He’s saying even that had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one. When he’s talking about the outer one he’s referring to the outer room in the temple. The temple only had two rooms. God told the people to only ever build two rooms in this tabernacle or temple. He’s talking about the outer room right now. The outer one in which were the lamp stand and the table and the sacred bread. That is called the Holy Place. He described really two articles of furniture in the outer temple. There’s really three. I’ll tell you why he’s not describing the third in a minute. He’s talking about this lamp stand and this sacred table where bread was placed on it.
Verse three. “Behind the second vail there was a tabernacle, which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the Arch of the Covenant covered on all sides with gold and which was a golden jar holding the mana, and Aaron’s rod, which was butted and the tables of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we can not speak in detail.” In verse three he starts to describe then this altar of incense and behind that the Arc of the Covenant. On the Arc of the Covenant was the mercy seat with cherubim. Inside of the arc, which really means it’s the word box, inside of this box there’s a few items; Mana, Aaron’s rod and the 10 Commandments and all these sacred to Israel, and the covenant which God has given them. The rod identified Aaron as the High Priest that was able to go into the temple. The mana which God provided for the people in the wilderness. Back to the altar of incense, as it’s describing it, it’s saying it’s in the Holy of Holies.
What’s actually interesting about the altar of incense is that it’s in the outer room. It’s not in the main room where the Arc of the Covenant is. It’s actually in the outer room. The reason why the author in this context is saying it’s in the inner room or the sacred room is because the altar of incense was intended to be a sweet aroma before God. The high priest, when he would enter into the Holy of Holies, which is the most sacred room, he would take smoke from the altar and he would use this smoke to cloud the mercy seat, the Arc of the Covenant where the cherubim were located, the angels over this mercy seat. As if to mask the glory of God. If someone were to look directly at the glory of God it would kill them. This altar of incense could actually be described in either room, because it had rolls in both rooms. The table itself sat in the outer room. When one were to gather at the temple all that took place in the temple was conducted by the priest.
On the outside of this two room temple there was the altar of sacrifice and the lever for washing. You would go there for your sins on behalf of your family as a man. Only a male could enter into this place. The priest would take the offering to the altar and would sacrifice it. The man would lay his head on the animal that would be sacrificed as if to say, “May the sins I have conducted against God be laid upon this animal.” The priest would sacrifice the animal. They would take the blood of the animal. There was different ways of which they would apply it. Sometimes they would apply the blood of the animal. We’ll talk more about this next week. On the corners of the altar where there were horns, as to be a representation of the sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, there would be washing that took place of hands and feet at the lever. They would go in. Only the priest could go in into the outer room. In the outer room there would be the lamp stand. There would be the table and there would be the altar of incense.
At the table there was 12 loaves of bread representing the 12 tribes of Israel symbolic of communion with God. This culture and this time period, and even if you go to Middle Eastern cultures today, being invited into someone’s home is to call you friend, family. It’s to bring you in. When you walk into God’s tabernacle, the word tabernacle literally means dwelling place, this is God’s dwelling place. When you walked into God’s dwelling place there was the table and at the table communion. At this communion table all 12 tribes were represented. They were to always keep this bread fresh. Every week they changed out the bread to show a relationship with God and communion with God that was to stay fresh. On the opposite side of the table, on the left hand side, was the candlestick. This was the only light provided in this temple, as God is light to us. This altar of incense was to be before this mercy seat. It raised this aroma before God. It was representation of the beauty of God’s people as they sacrificed before the Lord.
In fact, if you were to read Revelation 5:8, and 8:3 it talks about God’s people praying to Him. The prayers of the saints are this beautiful incense being lifted up before God. In this outer room, behind it was the inner room, the Holy of Holies. Interesting thing about this room is that only one person could enter this room one time a year, the most sacred place where God’s presence was said to dwell. When you went into this room it was to be clouded with smoke so that God’s presence would not strike them dead. They would go to the Mercy Seat, symbolic of the thrown of God. They would sprinkle blood on the day of atonement. In Leviticus 17 it’s described, “For the remission of sins for God’s people.” This idea of these two rooms, this furniture that existed, these six items that God prescribes for His people to altar it in any way, to add anything to it, was to be sacrilegious.
In fact, you can read in scripture where certain individuals attempt to do things in the temple and they shouldn’t. They attempt to take, what’s called the first priests Aaron’s sons, actually take unholy smoke into the temple. They’re struck dead because of it. To do anything different than what God prescribes here is sacrilegious. Each one of these pieces of furniture within the temple was symbolic of a greater picture for which God wanted us to understand in Him. In it all and through it all what we see in this tabernacle is God creating a space for us to meet Him, to draw near to Him and to know Him as he desires to make Himself known in our lives. As the author describes the temple in Hebrews 9:1-5, he then in verse six, starts to describe where it falls short. The people of Israel see the temple as an end in itself. We’ve studied together, as we looked even last week when we were talking about the law, that when God told Moses to build the tabernacle he gives the law at Mount Sinai, Exodus 20.
By the time we get to 25:40 and 26:30 when God is showing Moses how to build this tabernacle, God says to him that it’s merely a shadow, in 25:40. It’s just simply a plan outlaying the greater temple in which God dwells in the heaven, in 26:30. The temple and the tabernacle is not an end in itself, but a picture of something greater. In fact, if you were to flip to Hebrews 8:5, you’ll see in 10:1 as well, that the author wedged in between chapter nine and the author in chapter eight and the author in chapter ten refers to what’s taking place in the temple was a shadow of a greater thing. In 9:6 the author starts to describe it this way, he says this, “When these things have been so prepared the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship. Remember we contrasted this idea of Jesus being the greater priest, representing the greater law in the new covenant verses the old covenant, that the priest continually performing in this temple, there was never a place to sit down.
The priests were always working because there was never enough sacrifice that could take place. Ultimately none of these sacrifices could ever satisfy the demands of a holy God. The minute you walked into that temple you made a sacrifice, it wasn’t five minutes after you’re gone before you needed to return again because of some sin that you’ve conducted. These priests are constantly working but not Jesus. Chapter eight, the first two verses tells us that He sits down at the right hand of the Father ruling and reigning. As if to say his sacrifice is sufficient. In 9:6 here they are, these things that have been prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship. Into the second, only the high priest enters once a year. Not without taking blood, which he offers for himself, for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the Holy Place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing. Which is symbolic for the present time.
Accordingly, both gifts and sacrifices are offered, which can not make the worshiper perfect in conscious, since they relate only to food and drink in various washings, regulations for the body imposed, until a time of reformation. What’s it say? Here you have the high priest continually in the outer room on and on. He goes into the second room, the Holy of Holies, but only one time of year. It’s never enough. In fact verse nine and ten tells us it’s symbolic. Verse 10 takes that idea of symbolism just a little bit further and says to us, “In reality it’s only outward performance. It’s only an outward display.” He’s beginning to recognize that while religiously we may perform all of these outward things, what we really need is a reformation. We need an absolute inner change in our lives.
While the tabernacle for us, while the temple for us, is a demonstration that God desires to be near, tabernacle meaning God’s dwelling place; The symbolism of the temple and tabernacle also says to us while God is so close we still remain distant, because it’s only the priest that can go into the sacred rooms. It’s only the high priest that can go into the most sacred room. He only does it one time a year. Could you imagine that, we gather here, we’re just going to hold church in the parking lot. One person walks in and we hope they come out alive. While God desires to be near He’s yet still distant. In Israel’s history God only ever told them to build just one temple. Even in having just one temple, ,again reminding God desires to be near, but the fact that there’s only one location for the presence of God to dwell in this form for His people, for the remission of their sins, it’s still showing a distance between us and God. The reality of the temple shows us this God that desires to connect.
The reality of the temple shows us a problem for man, because we can’t quite get near to that God that we’re created to belong to. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us, “God has set eternity in our hearts.” We know we’re created for more. I love, here in this valley, how frequent going on the tops of the mountains to look down at the valley below. Those are some of my favorite times of just praying for our valley. Just to see that beauty. I’ll often think, when I’m up there on the mountains, I’ve yet to be up there and just think how great I am. You look at the scope of the beauty and your heart begins to just worship at how great God is. You’re created for worship. Your heart is created to connect. Where we get off track as individuals is we take that heart that’s designed for worship and we choose to worship things rather than the creator of those things. We live like we’re God and those things created for our purposes. What we recognize in the heart of the human condition, that we’re set for eternity.
There is this battle that takes place for us to be connected to the very one that we’re created. This temple, through it’s beauty, and the symbolism of how God desires to be near, still reminds us of how distant we are. It makes me think back all the way to the beginning of creation when God created mankind. Theologians try to take the picture of the Garden of Eden and akin to it to that of the temple. This was the dwelling place of God where mankind and woman, man and woman, communed with God. Something real interesting happens in this story. In Genesis 2:25 it tells us that man and woman are naked and unashamed. That statement in scripture makes for a really awkward children’s Bible story, right? You think about you get this with your kids. This is such an important part in theology for them to understand. You just look at this and some Bibles make this really weird and reading it to your kids it’s like, “That is not Adam. That’s Tom and he’s peeping.” Here’s Adam and Eve and it tells us Genesis 2:25 they were naked and unashamed.
Then in 3:7 something strange happens to them. In 3:7 it says, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” You ever wonder what in the world is this talking about? You read this to your kids and then, “Daddy, why are they naked?” Let’s worry about this when you’re 30. Let’s move on though. I don’t want to talk about this. Two grown adults behind the bushes that’s weird. What’s He saying? He’s tapping into something here. He’s demonstrating our vulnerability. Our want to be accepted, to belong. None of us like to feel insecure and vulnerable. Maybe this has never happened to you, or maybe one or two of you, but you ever have that dream where all of a sudden you’re in grade school and you show up and you forgot to put your pants on? Everybody’s just laughing and you don’t like it. It’s the vulnerability. Maybe I’m the only one, but the vulnerability of insecurity, what do you do? I think we can even get that way religiously. You want to belong.
You get all dolled up and try to perform religiously to say to God, “God, am I acceptable?” As if 9:6-10 is to say to us, “While God created these symbolic pictures within the tabernacle and the temple they were merely symbolic.” They don’t cover you the way He desired to ultimately be covered. You’re still vulnerable and your soul needs more. No amount of religion that you could ever perform in this temple or anywhere could address what the heart needs. The question becomes for us, why did God make the temple if it were simply insufficient. If we’re naked and insufficient why the temple? The answer for us is the author is getting to this in this massage. It was a shadow of what would ultimately come in Jesus. Listen guys, in the Old Testament you didn’t go to the temple because you proved yourself worthy. You actually went to the temple for the exact opposite reason. You weren’t allowed in the temple because you were worthy. You went to the temple because you were unworthy. You never come to God because you have it all together. You come to Him because you don’t and you’re naked.
That’s the point of the story of Adam and Eve when God says this to us. They were naked and unashamed. They had what they needed in life. They were sufficient in relationship with one another and with God. All of a sudden sin enters. They find themselves exposed and insecure and disconnected from God because of sin and facing death in that sin. They needed to belong. The first thing Adam and Eve do in that sin is they run and they cover themselves. They try to religiously perform to show God they’re worthy enough. It’s never going to be enough. The temple was never intended for you to go and perform the works to cover yourself. In fact, you couldn’t even go in. When you showed up to the outer courts to bring a sacrifice for the priest to go in for you it wasn’t because you were worthy. Rather, because God was. In verse 11 the author starts to build on this foundation for us.
Look what he says. He says, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands.” That is to say, not of this creation. “Not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood. He entered the Holy Place one for all having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of flesh, how much more the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without blemish to God cleanse your conscious from dead works to serve the living God.” What’s he saying here? He’s saying, in verse 11, this was all symbolic for you. Something more perfect was coming in Jesus and something greater that wouldn’t just be in the shadow of an earthly tabernacle or temple, but rather in the heavenly. He would go before the Father and He would offer Himself as a sacrifice for your sins. This earthly stuff is merely a shadow. It’s just a game in comparison to what Jesus has done for you.
He’s building this idea in us that the significance of everything the temple is, is represented fully in Jesus. The author has already laid the foundation for us. Exodus 25:40, shadow and 26:30 it was a plan of the heavenly temple. In fact, in the Old Testament Jeremiah 31:31, Ezekiel 36:26 told us old covenant wouldn’t be sufficient, that God was going to bring a new covenant and in the new covenant He would write his law on our hearts. He would transform us from the inside out. It was only a shadow. The story goes on from there. It tells us in verse 15, I want to skip a little ahead in this section, but don’t worry. I’m not skipping verses. We’re going to come back to the verses I’m not touching on this week. We’re going to come back next week, because next week we’re talking about sacrifice.
In verse 15 it says this, “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgression that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Verse 22, “According to the law one may also say all things are cleansed with blood. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Therefore, it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” Here’s what he’s saying, he’s saying old covenant law, things were cleansed. Things were cleansed with the blood. These things that were cleansed with the blood in verse 23 are merely copies in this cleansing of what God would ultimately do for us in the heavenlies. This is just a shadow. In verse 24, “For Christ to enter a Holy Place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
The author is saying you don’t really think that sacrificing animals in an earthy building is going to be sufficient for your sins do you? You think that’s enough? Now God in this passage is beginning to describe the greater sacrifice. He himself becoming flesh for your sins. Verse 25, it goes on from there. Verse 27 ends this way, “In as much as it’s a point in men to die at once and after this comes judgment.” When the Bible talks about death it’s not saying you go to the grave. That’s not what it means. When the Bible talks about death it means separation. You’re separated from this earthly life. Your body is separated from the Spirit and without Christ your soul is separated from God. That’s what happened. The wages of sin is death. When the Bible talks about the wages of sin is death it means separation. The concern is for your soul being separated from God because you were intended to belong to God. You were created for an eternal relationship in God to last forever. Jesus, who created all things is God and Lord of all things.
He gives us, in His death, an opportunity as King dying for your sins to make a decision. Do you want to belong to this King and His kingdom or not? If you choose a kingdom of your own accord without Him God will give it to you. God won’t force you to belong to him if you don’t desire to belong. God also gave his life for you that you could belong. It’s important for man to die once. After that comes the judgment. Judgment doesn’t always have to be a negative word. It goes an and says, “Christ also having been offered once to bear the sins of many will appear a second time for the salvation without reference to sin to those who eagerly await him.” Jesus understood the culmination of everything the temple was reflecting of him. That’s why when you read the gospels you see imagery proclaimed by Christ himself telling us symbolic representations of what took place within the temple now being fulfilled in him.
In John 1:14 it tells us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” That word dwelt literally means tabernacle. God was dwelling among people. It wasn’t the temple now. It was Jesus tabernacling. He was the tabernacle. John 1:29 the next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Thinking about in the temple when the sacrifice was made the lamb was sacrificed on the altar and John is proclaiming Jesus as that lamb. That’s why Jesus, when He gave His life, at the end of His life He takes His disciples in the upper room. In Matthew 26:28 He says, “For this is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Paul, in Titus 3:5, thinking about the lever, the wash basin that existed in the outer court of the temple he said, “He saved us. Not on the basis of deeds as we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration.”
In John 8:12 then Jesus again spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but have the light of life.” The only light that existed in the temple was the lamp stand. In this moment in John 8 Jesus is standing in the middle of the temple. They’re performing a ceremony where they take lights from the temple and they light up the outside to display that God is the light of the world. Jesus is standing in this midst declaring Himself to be that light. In John 6:51 he says, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever and the bread also, which I will give for the life of the world in my flesh.” Jesus is pointing to us as being that communion to God, that bread that will sustain forever as He thinks about the table of bread within the context of the temple. In John 2:19 Jesus answered and said this, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Jesus saw Himself as the temple.
In fact, in Mark 15:38 the Bible tells us that between the outer courtroom and the inner courtroom, the Holy of Holies, there was a veil that existed, some say up to three inches thick that horses couldn’t even pull apart. When Jesus is hanging on the cross, in Mark 15:38 it says this; “And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Demonstrating now our ability to connect to God. No longer is His temple in that building, but now His presence made known in the world. You ever read about Jesus getting angry in the temple and cracking out whips? The reason Jesus did that is around the temple there was what’s called the outer courtyards. In the outer courtyards was a place for the nations to come. It was an actual place for the nations to get near to God.
What happened in Jewish culture is they started to use this outer courtyard area for the buying, selling and trading of goods, so that when people went to the temple they didn’t have to take their lamb on the journey 20 miles to the temple to make a sacrifice. When they got to the temple they could just purchase the unblemished lamb and go in and make the sacrifice. The problem was they started taking advantage of one another doing it and they hiked the prices sky high. Truthfully it got so bad that the priests would only allow those lambs into the temple because they said that they were the only ones proven without blemish. It got to a place where they wouldn’t accept outside sheep coming in. They were generating revenue. They were being very dirty in their dealings with the temple. Jesus gets angry and Jesus starts whipping through the temple and flipping over tables, getting rid of the money changers. He said, “My house is to be a house of prayer for the nations. You’ve turned it into a den of thieves.”
What Jesus is saying to His people is, “I want to invite the nations in to see what I’m about. You guys are the most unwelcoming bunch of I’ve ever been around.” That’s important for us to recognize. God’s desire remains the same for the nations. Jesus very much sees himself as the representation of what the temple entailed. In fact, the woman at the well came to Jesus at one point . she was a Samaritan. The Samaritan’s had built their own temple. She said to Jesus, “Jesus, our people worship here. Your people worship down there. Where is the correct temple?” Jesus says, “There’s coming a time where it’s not going to matter where you worship. Rather, you’re to worship in spirit and truth.” What Jesus is demonstrating for her is this idea that the idea of the temple is about to transform. It’s no longer about this specific place. It’s no longer about gathering in this building. By the way there were no other sacred things done in this temple.
What you saw with those elements, those six symbols of furniture that were in the temple, that was what’s took there. There were no baptisms that took place there. There were no weddings that took place there. There were no other sacred practices. Those six elements represented everything that Jesus would fulfill. Why did God pick a temple if he knew it was insufficient? I think first it shows us and demonstrates to us everything that Jesus would fulfill for us. At the same time I want you to remember who the Hebrew people were before the tabernacle. They were slaves with no identity. They were under a leader known as Pharaoh. The Pharaoh and the Egyptians worshiped false gods. They worshiped many gods. In fact the Egyptians looked at Pharaoh like he was a God. When God tells Moses to go back before Pharaoh to proclaim let his people go God uses 10 plagues to do so. God didn’t just randomly pick 10 plagues.
He picked 10 plagues that were a front to every God that Egypt worshiped as if to say that the one true God has shown up for His people and your gods have nothing on the one true God. God then, and separating the Hebrew people out of Egypt through those 10 plagues, God then tells them to build a temple or tabernacle. Temples and tabernacles were not foreign to the Hebrew people. In fact, this is in a place called Timna. It’s right outside of copper mines. This was a tabernacle built for slaves. They believe it would have had a tent that went over top of it that was dedicated to a false God on which they would gather to worship. They had all sorts of these temples built throughout Egypt. One of the things that they would often do is they would build temples to worship Pharaoh. As they’ve uncovered different temples and tabernacles that have been built for worshiping of Pharaoh, one of the things they’ve discovered as they’ve uncovered these is that … and this drawing is in a temple dedicated to Ramesses.
Inside of this temple wall there is a drawing. On the drawing of this wall is a sketch of how Ramesses would travel with his army. You see in this drawing, on the top left and the bottom right, they’re the same drawing highlighted in different ways for you to be able to see it. There’s this outer courtyard where all of the army would gather together inside of these walls for protection. Then inside of that courtyard there was this tent that was erected and it had two rooms. In the first room you can kind of see, I think in both pictures there, you see the priest that would go in. They’re bowing down to this seat of where this authority figure would reign. That was Pharaoh. He would reign from the seat of power. It’s as if this model … Ray Vander Laan teaches this, this is a Bible scholar who does archeological digs, but Ray Vander Laan shows this symbolically of how God pulls his people out of slavery that have been taught to bow down to Pharaoh.
Now rather than bow down to these false gods, rather than bowing down to Pharaoh God now in His theocracy shows and demonstrates Himself as the one true King of kings for his people and he has them build a temple. In the temple there are two rooms. In those two rooms the priest would go in they would bow down to the mercy seat, which God would dwell, the one true God and one singular temple. What I’m saying is that God met His people where they were. He used their cultural context to demonstrate the significance of Him in their lives. Rather than being under the bondage of Pharaoh they were now free under the authority of their King. Guys, if I were to take this picture of what the tabernacle, the temple, means for us today the Old Testament and New Testament shows it like this; He takes people that were naked and ashamed, that became slaves, sets them free, has them build a tabernacle to symbolically represent a foreshadowing of what would ultimately come and a King who would redeem them. That King shows up and He plainly declares that He is that redemption.
Now on the cross the veil is torn and His presence goes forth into this world. When you read the New Testament now it says things like this; 1 Peter 2, “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” What Peter is saying is the building is not the church. The people are the church. We represent living stones that are coming together to display the glory of who God is in our lives as he transforms us from the inside out. In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul said it like this, “Do you no know that you are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you?” The reason the church doesn’t build temples today is because God already built that in you. You no longer have to go to buildings that only symbolically represent everything that God would fulfill, because God has fulfilled it. Now at any given moment the Bible calls you priests able to come before that King.
Whether we gather together or we scatter in this world we’re an influence of the light of Christ being made known in the lives of people around us. God’s desire for you in the New Testament, as you read it then, is to go forth into this world and let that light shine through you. What does that look like? I like to always close on this series with just a picture of church history, so let me give you this. As you were called to influence, and one of the influential historical figures that we really don’t teach about or really know much about today in American history, is a man by the name of William Tennent. William Tennent was born in Ireland. He studied to become a minister. He came to America in 1718. He had four sons and his desire became, as he came to America, he wanted land, he wanted freedom. He was actually a little bit reluctant.
He lived in Pennsylvania, but he was the only one really educated to be a minister in that area. He was a little bit reluctant to take on a position of a minister, but nonetheless he had became a pastor of a church there. His desire, as he was ministering, was to educate his sons, to educate young men. He actually ends up building a log cabin and creating a college. In the first year that college 13 young men joined. As they graduated they went on to establish other colleges. His concern in building this college was Christian higher education. How he could prepare young men for ministry and educate them to go further in their life. When those 13 men graduated they went on, they created higher education platforms in this world. That Log Cabin College became a place that sends out dozens and dozens of people for ministry and higher education. In fact, if you were to go to the location of Log Cabin College today there is a monument established there that says over 50 colleges were born out of Log Cabin College, 50 colleges in America.
If you study the idea of universities and colleges in America, of the first 108 created, 106 of those were designed to create ministers for ministry. Education was driven by Christianity influencing the world around it. In 1746 William Tennent died. His mark on history, in American history, we have overlooked and not given him credit. In the early 1700s, as William Tennent is preaching and teaching and preparing young men for ministry and seeing colleges born, England is writing about him. They’re actually saying that the heart of what began the Revolutionary War was birthed out of the influence of this man. William Tennent had strong influence in our culture. In fact, Log Cabin College still exists today. You would better know it as Princeton University. Here was the mark of a man that looked at a generation of young people more concerned for them, for the country he was now becoming a part of, wasn’t born yet, but wanting to have influence.
When I say to you this morning guys, as you consider the beauty of what the temple is, the most beautiful thing that could have ever been conducted with temple, and while you may think about elaborate buildings and all the things that people could erect in life can I tell you the most beautiful thing that could ever be accomplished is what Jesus desires to do in you. The way you can take the beauty of what He does in you and allow that to demonstrate itself in the world. You think about the power and the presence of God dwelling in this temple for Israel can I remind you that, that same power and presence dwells within you this morning as you know Christ. For us we may feel naked and vulnerable, but with the power of God in you greater is He that is in you than he that’s in the world.