Exodus 25, I’m going to lay the backdrop to where we are and explain what God is doing in this section of scripture as it relates to our lives. When you get to this portion of scripture, if you remember the story of Exodus is about “an exit,” right? Israel is slaves in Egypt. They’ve been slaves in Egypt for some time. Some people, I think falsely assume that their slavery lasted about 400 years. And that is not true, and I’ll tell you why.
People assume that because scripture talks about being slaves to Egypt for 400 years. It does say that, but what scripture says that it’s talking about from the time of Abraham to the time of Moses. The time gap between Abraham and Moses is 400 years. Abraham started to get some persecution from Egyptians in his life or some things that were, I guess some challenges we should say in his life. And it was sought under the idea of being enslaved all the way to the time of Moses.
And that gap between the two of them is 400 years. But you have this timespan of people that are born Abraham from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and then you have Joseph and Joseph’s going down into Egypt. So you look at the time span of their lives. Joseph goes down into Egypt and there’s some period of time before Israel is brought into slavery. Some people estimate that Israel may have been slaves in Egypt for about 70 years, but it’s somewhere in between 70 and 400 we know for sure because from Abraham to Moses is that times that time period.
But nonetheless, slaves in Egypt, it’s never good to be one day a slave or 400 years of slave. Slaves in Egypt. God comes down, he hears their cry, he rescues them, calls them out, they go on this Exodus. Chapter 18 you finally get to the place out of the plagues. God leads them out to the Red Sea. He parts the sea, they go across the sea. God destroys Pharaoh’s army in the sea, and Israel walks free into the promises of God. And all that God’s going to call them too.
When you get to the other side of the Red Sea, now God brings them to a place of preparing their soul. And now that is the question want to answer today is, how do we meet with God for really soul care? God brings them, you can imagine that journey that they’ve gone through all the experiences they have, the place that they are at this need for rest in God. And for God to strengthen them for what is before them. Before God leads us on our journey, it’s good to meet with him, to find strength in him, to find rest in our soul and in the Lord to fill us up in our identity as it is connected to his identity because we’re created in his purposes. We go through this journey of life. We need the Lord. Immaturity impairs our ability. It impairs our opportunity. Our sinfulness will detract from our fruitfulness.
And God wants Israel in these moments, having cross the sea, having left Egypt, to strengthen their souls for the journey that he calls them too. And so when you get to Exodus 19, you find them camped at the bottom of Mount Sinai. And God gives to them the laws. If you read the book of Exodus, you see 19 to 24 is all about the giving of the law. And Israel in chapter 19 and in chapter 24 you have this story told twice, the beginning of the law, the end of the law, where Moses comes before the people and he says, do you want this covenant relationship with God? And Israel says yes in chapter 19 and in chapter 24:7 and in between that, God gives this law representing what this covenant relationship is about. And so Israel embraces that covenant relationship.
And then as soon as Israel affirms this idea of wanting to be in this covenant, God in chapter 25 then tells them, this is how you connect to me. And what God does in recognition of how to connect to him is he has them build this structure of which in chapter 25 is referred to as the tabernacle, but later on in scripture we see it built as as the temple, a physical structure. Tabernacle is this tent and then it becomes a physical structure in this temple.
And in Exodus chapter 25 it tells us why. What is God doing this for? Exodus 25:8, it says, “Let them construct a sanctuary for me that I may dwell among them according to all that I am going to show you as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all it’s furniture. Just so you shall construct it.” Chapter 25, God gives the big idea why tabernacle, wide temple? And the answer is, is because he wants his presence with his people.
God wants to meet us where we are in order to strengthen our soul with him and his presence among us helps us to experience this. And not only that, he gets to the idea of the significance of how this tabernacle, this temple is to be built. He says in verse nine, “Exactly the way I show you.” There is this particular area leading to the structure of God’s temple that is significant to our understanding as we worship him. God set up a way to meet with him.
When it comes to the idea of temple, the concept of temple is peppered throughout the Old and New Testament, so a healthy understanding of this becomes significant to our relationship with God because there is still relevance to us today as it relates to the idea of temple. And it’s different than what the Old Testament talks about. A church, we don’t build buildings anymore. It’s not about the concept of buildings, but certainly the idea of temple is still expressed in the New Testament as it relates to us. And it relates to eternity. So this is important idea for us to understand.
But here’s the most important concept as it relates to temple, that I want us to know, and I’m going to build this idea for us. But when we say temple, I think it’s important to not connect our idea with physical structure. Sometimes you’ll hear pastors going to hobby horses about this or ministers. “The church isn’t a building. The church is the people,” which is very important to know. The church is not a building. The church is people. They’ll go so far as to say things like, “This isn’t a cruise ship. This is a warship, preparing you for spiritual battle.”
So it’s important to understand that when we come to meet God, it’s not about the facility that makes it significant. It’s about what God does in us. And so this idea of temple, it’s important not to connect your thought to physical building, but rather God’s presence. Exodus 25:8, this is exactly what God is saying. I want you to build a dwelling place for me because my presence will be there. So we talk about Israel’s soul care, Israel being strengthened for what God calls them to into this journey of which he is brought them out of slavery. And now walking the freedom of the Lord, God wants to strengthen them in him for everything they called him to. Everything that they will be led to in him.
So this idea of temple being God’s presence is important. In fact, when you start in the beginning of the Bible, let me just show you how this lays out very quickly for you. But in the beginning of the story of Genesis, this idea of temple is presented to us. God doesn’t say the word temple in Genesis, but the concept of temple is certainly expressed. Look in verse eight he says, “The Lord God planted a garden toward the East and Eden,” hold onto to that word east for a minute. I’m gonna tell you about Eden in just a second. “And there he placed the man whom he had formed.” Look at what he says, verse eight God creates, he’s already created mankind, right? But notice before Eden existed, man exists. And then after man exists that God takes man and he puts them in this garden that he has created. So God makes all of creation. Then God forms garden. Then God puts man in garden. And this word Eden literally means delight. And so God creates man in this garden of Eden. And what does man experience in this garden? God’s presence.
Genesis 3:8 it says, Adam and Eve, “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden, the cool of the day. The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” So here we are in this story. If you remember Genesis 3, this is right after Adam and Eve have sinned. Now they’re running from God’s presence. God’s presence is in this garden of Eden. We talked a little bit about this when we started this series in Genesis 3:8. But when it describes God, it says this, they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden, the sound of the cool of the day.
And what this is giving us as the idea conceptually of the Holy Spirit’s presence moving in this garden, just like in the temple. And Israel’s temple that said to be where God’s spirit would dwell. And so this idea of walking is literally defined as moving in the cool of the day. This phrase, “cool of the day” be translated as wind or spirit. So God’s spirit is there and because of sin in their lives, their reaction is to run and hide from God. But something interesting also about this phrase, “cool of the day,” is there is a Hebrew pool of images in this statement
In Israel’s mindset during the coal of the day, this is exactly when sacrifices took place in the temple. In the morning, the cool of the day, Israel would sacrifice. In the evening as the sun would prepare to set, Israel would sacrifice. Genesis 3, right after man’s sins, God shows up in the garden. That’s why Adam and Eve hide. God grabs Adam and Eve. He brings them to him and he makes the first sacrifice in the cool of the day. You think about Israel’s temple. Why do they sacrifice in the evening? It’s a reflection of the garden of Eden. Genesis 3:24, after Adam and Eve sin and after God makes a sacrifice, it says this, “So he drove them out and at the east of the garden of Eden, he stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword, which turned every direction toward the guard, the way of the tree of life.” So he’s saying, while God wants us present because of sin, we’re distanced and he drives out of Eden, look at this word again. He says it drives them east and he places an angel there.
Interesting, when you study Israel’s temple when God tells him to build the temple, he always tells them to point the temple in the direction of east. Why? It’s a reflection back to the garden of Eden, when man enjoyed the presence of God. And when you study Israel’s temple, you’ll see that when God tells him to build a temple, he only tells them to build two rooms. He says, build this outer courtyard to separate the temple from the rest of Israel. And inside the courtyard make a tent in this tabernacle or this temple is only to be two rooms. And the first room is called the Holy room. And the second room is called the Holy of Holies. And the way they divided these two rooms was through a veil or a curtain. That veil or curtain tore when Jesus was crucified. And what’s interesting is God tells them when they put up this curtain, he wants them to draw, put images on this curtain. And the images he tells them to put on that curtain are angels, facing east. As a reflection of our relationship to the garden of Eden,
Israel, they build the temple. And in 1 Kings, when the first temple is erected, Moses builds the tabernacle, the tent. But Solomon comes in as the first king to build the temple. And the scripture describes this temple as glorious. It writes, beautiful temple. But in the middle of the dedication prayer of this temple, Solomon says something very interesting here. He says in 1 Kings 8:27, he says, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven in the highest heaven cannot contain you. How much less this house house, which I have built.”
You can imagine in this day of celebration, all of this sacrifice and giving and how long it took to build this structure, and how elaborate. King David had prepared in his life for the things that were necessary to build this temple. And now Solomon comes in and he completes the structure. All of this anticipation in Israel and the middle of Solomon’s prayer and dedication, sort of this killjoy moment of like, yeah, this is great, but it’s not that great God. Not in comparison to your glory because there’s no possible way for us to contain it.
And I think what Solomon is doing here is to get our eyes not to just get to get fixated on the idea of structure. Because when God talks about temple, he means more than just a building. Garden of Eden, it was about this presence. This King created all of creation to display his glory and invited you into his presence.
Adam and Eve sin and they’re banished from God. But here you see in this temple structure, God inviting them back in. God invites Israel back into his presence and Solomons still knows that it’s still not about a building. And so you see in John 1, when Jesus comes, it says this, and the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory.”
This idea for “dwell,” I think John is very intentionally. It’s actually the word for tabernacled. Temple. God’s presence comes before people. In fact, if you remember some of the stories within the gospels, the book of John and even Matthew, really it’s in all the gospels, but I think those two are the most prevalent, where it just peppers the idea of the significance of God’s arrival and his presence far and above any building.
To the point when Jesus meets the woman at the well, she comes before Jesus in John chapter four and says, as a Samaritan woman, she knew the Samaritans have built a temple. She knew that Jews had a temple and she asked Jesus, which temple is the right temple to worship in? And Jesus responds to her in John 4:23, “the time is coming and now is when you worship in spirit and in truth.” Jesus is like, I’m not taking the bait over building. Because there’s something more important coming. The time has arrived for us in our worship to do in spirit and truth.
In fact, when Jesus was going to be crucified and they brought accusations against him. One of the accusations of Matthew 26:61, they said up Jesus, we heard him say that destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it again. And so they use this as a means for persecuting Jesus to lead to his crucifixion. But when Jesus spoke about that, what Jesus was referring to was his own body and the representation of God’s presence in this world, that you can’t destroy it, that it will resurrect from the grave. And so God’s presence is made known and Jesus, as he hung on the cross, as he said “tetelestai” Matthew 27:51, it tells us the veil was torn, symbolizing that God’s presence no longer dwell in the building, but God’s presence has moved out of the building.
And 1 Corinthians 6:19, gives us an illustration of where God’s presence now is. It says, “And do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you. And you have from God, and that you are not your own.” You belong to the Lord. And God’s presence now dwells within his people. The Bible reflects that repeatedly. 1 Corinthians 3:16 also says that. Peter even says this in 1 Peter 2:5 that you are living stones being built up into a spiritual household.
The idea of temple was never intended to be fixated on structure. But the concept was about God’s presence among his people and how he would make his presence known. And for Israel, he taught them through a period of time, through a physical building until Jesus would give his life and and release his Spirit that his Spirit could dwell in His people, and we could experience God’s presence wherever we go, all the days of our lives.
To the point when you get to the book of Revelation, this is how it ends. This picture of God with his people. Revelation 21:23, and it says, I saw John saying this, I saw no temple, talking about the new heavens and the new earth and the new Jerusalem, I saw no temple in it for the Lord God, the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine on it. For the glory of God has illuminated it. And its lamp is the Lamb. And so it’s saying to us, look, it’s always been about God’s presence, just as the garden of Eden when God created us to belong and connect to him, that our soul should flourish in him. So at the end, in Revelation again it’s not about structure, but it’s about God’s presence as he has made his presence known in our lives.
So when you study, you study Exodus, the first 18 chapters, you see Israel called out. Chapter 19 to 24 you see the law given, teaching Israel how they’re to live. Some estimate that some 2 million people would have made this journey out of the Exodus of Egypt. You think 2 million people, how in the world are you going to govern? How are you going to structure? Well these people need to know and God gives them a law chapter 19 to 24. And then chapter 25 God tells them how to build the temple. All the way to chapter 31, this is what the temple should look like. God very particular in its structure.
And then in chapter 32 something interesting happens. Moses, after giving the instructions the law, after giving the instructions to the temple, he goes back up on Mount Sinai and to meet with God as soon as he’s gone, what does Israel do? They rebelled against God and they build a golden calf. And they bow down to that. They break the first two commandments, “have no graven images and worship no other god.” They break the first two commandments after God has just given them the covenant and they said, we want a covenant with God. We want that relationship. God says, okay, here comes a temple. Israel says, nevermind. They break the rules and Moses comes down from the mountain and God is furious and God says, I’m going to kill them. I’m going to kill them all. We’re going to start over with you Moses. And Moses pleads before God. I think God knew ultimately what would happen here, but Moses pleads before God.
And then in chapter 34:6 as the concept of temple has been taught, God then share something with Moses. Now it’s not going to be on the screen, but I want you to hear this. Got hears Moses and God relents on bringing punishment against Israel and it says this then, then the Lord, passed by in the front of him, Moses and proclaim the Lord the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness and truth. Who keeps loving kindness for thousands. Who forgives inequities, transgressions, and sin. Yet he will by no means leave the guilt unpunished. What does God do? Law, temple.
Israel rebels and God in his moments teaches Israel, teaches Moses about his character. We talk about giving ourselves to the Lord for him to care for our souls. I think it’s important for our hearts to rest in the character of who he is. Or at least answer the question, why should I ever want to do that? Who is this God? And what Israel learns through this moment in Exodus 34 is this identity of God as he represents himself to them, but also the temple works as a way of teaching Israel who he is. Why should we allow God to care for our souls? As you look through the idea of temple as is taught through scripture, you begin to learn a lot about the nature of God as it relates to our relationship with God. And I think the first thing that we learn about God, when we look at the temple is that God is holy.
And holiness is an important concept to learn. We see the idea of holiness really taught here in Numbers. It says, Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected, the cloud, covered the tabernacle and the tent of the testimony. In the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle until the morning. So it was continuous. The cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
So what does Israel see? They build this tabernacle and they see the presence of God right over the holiest of rooms. It’s two rooms and over the Holy of Holy rooms, this presence. This cloud by day, fire by night. And as far as the expression of God’s holiness, you remember it when Moses was called to go to Egypt, he saw this burning bush. He comes before this burning bush and God stops him. Don’t come any closer, Moses. Why? Because God’s holiness will consume him.
When you think about the idea of holiness, sometimes people just think holiness means perfect or sinless. But the idea of holiness is more encompassing than that. Holiness is sort of this idea of saying, God is beyond our comprehension. You take all the attributes of God and nothing else relates to it. And so how do you describe it? You just say it’s, it’s other. It’s separate. It’s holy. The best comparison that we can make to in this life is the idea of the sun. You know, the beauty of the sun, the radiating power of the sun, how it brings life to this earth. But when you try to get close to the sun, when you even look at the sun, what happens? It consumes you. It will ruin your eyes. It will burn them out of your socket. You can’t even think about flying a ship to that direction because it’ll incinerate you.
It’s not saying the sun is bad, it’s glorious. In fact, it is so glorious it will consume you. And that’s exactly what’s taught about the holiness of God. In fact, when you look at the book of Leviticus, that’s the giving of the law. Leviticus 1:1, it tells us that Moses in seeing the tent that was built, he couldn’t even go into the tent, he had to stand outside of the tent and get God’s instruction. But after the book of Leviticus, when they learn, Leviticus meaning law, they learn how to relate to God and their unholiness. When you get to the very next book in Numbers. Numbers 1:1, then it tells us that Moses is actually in the tent, in the presence of God. And so there’s a way to approach God’s holiness. God is holy, He is separate, He is powerful, He is other.
So when we talk about your soul care before the Lord, we see the magnitude of his capability, even as he’s rescued Israel out of Egypt. Sow when we lean into God, what we’re leaning into is one who cares this type of authority. And when we see his authority, not only do we recognize that it is radiating with holiness, but at the same time he is an ever present caring leader. Look what it says in this passage that as this glory cloud is over Israel, it’s not just there to say I’m holy. It’s there to direct Israel. This is the way for the next 40 years that God guides his people through the wilderness. When the cloud moves, they move with it.
Some people believe, you may even notice that the way that God has described Israel to camp around this cloud, it’s in Numbers 2, that based on the size of the tribes, there were assigned certain places to camp around around this cloud and around the tabernacle. That if you were to have an aerial shot of the way that they camped, it would reflect the cross of Christ. God directing his people as an ever present, caring leader.
Now I want to tell you for some of us, the reason I’m kind of serving this idea of temple is because I don’t want to get so deep in the weeds that some of you just glaze over and I lose you forever. Some of you other Bible nerds like to get down real into the particulars of scripture. And want to understand every detail of the temple. You know what, I think that is an important thing to do it, because it told us in Exodus 25:9, that God was very specific in the way he designed it. Because everything in the temple reflected something about His glory. Everything was a teaching tool for us.
And one of the things that if just highlighted if just to tease you a little bit over examining this to see how specific this is, you saw it already with the idea of angels, the way it was painted on the veil. I shared that with you in the garden of Eden. That was very intentional. Something else is interesting is this concept of the high priest. When the high priest was given a design or his outfit, it was designed in a particular way to reflect the glory of God. And one of the things that the priest wore was this breastplate of righteousness.
It was this breastplate of judgment from the Lord. And it had these special jewels on it and it tells us in Exodus 28, when God’s giving the instructions for the temple, it says, “Make a breastplate of judgment. You shall mount on it four rows of stones, the first four, and he names the first four: Ruby, topaz, emerald, and the second row he names: turquoise, sapphire, diamond. The third round, I’m gonna read in verse 20. The fourth row, and he puts on the fourth row. And I want you to look at the last jewel here. It says it’s jasper. And the very last verse, the stone shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel. So high priest would go into the Holy place, the Holy of Holies. He would wear this breastplate. And every precious stone represented the 12 tribes of Israel.
Reflecting those names as always on the heart of God as he went to the Holy of Holies. What’s really interesting about this concept that Israel would carry is when you get to the book of Revelation, we’ve seen Revelation that the temple in Revelation is now simply the presence of God. It’s not about a building. But John, at the very beginning of Revelation 4 when he goes to heaven and he describes for us what he sees, he talks about the real throne of God. Not the shadow of the earthly temple, but the real throne of God. And he says in verse three, “Jesus who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a ruby, some translations translated that as sardius, in appearance. And there was a rainbow around the throne, like an Emerald in appearance.
And this is what John is saying, the first stone the high priest wore, ruby. The last stone, the high priest wore, jasper. Before the throne of God from beginning to end. God’s people are on his heart and on his mind. It radiates from his throne like a rainbow, an array of these jewels. Right now in eternity. God sits on that throne. He’s holy. He’s ever present. Not only is he holy and ever present, he’s also a sacrificial servant.
When you study the temple, there was only five pieces of furniture in the temple, excuse me, six, if you count the Ark of the covenant. Six pieces of furniture and every one of them reflected something about Jesus. When people went to the temple, they didn’t go to the temple because they were worthy and they have earned the right to go to the temple. In fact, the reason you went to the temple is the exact opposite. You weren’t worthy, but God was, and he was the one that made you worthy through the sacrificial system of the temple.
When Israel would go to the temple, they really only went for two reasons. I’ll share this with you in just a minute, but they go in this temple and you’d walk into the courtyard and there’d be the labor for the washing and the place of sacrifice. And you walk into the Holy of Holies, which only the priests could do. There was a table shewbread, there was the candlestick and there was the altar of incense. And then behind the curtain where only the high priests could go was the Ark of the covenant. Every one of these were a picture of Jesus. And so they would go there and they would make sacrifice of animals. But ultimately it was a foreshadowing of the one who would become the sacrifice for all of us.
In fact, Hebrews 8, 9 a beautiful picture describing Jesus relates to the temple and what we get through him. But look what it says. Hebrews 9:26 but now, once the consummation of the ages. What he’s saying here is he’s just described the temple. He’s saying, look, we had this temple, we had this elaborate system of worship God set up. But then it was coming down to this one point, this whole thing, all of this system of worship God set up, was driving them to look forward to this one point. And so at the consummation of the ages, he has been manifest, talking about Jesus, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And then he goes on in verse 19 and gives us concluding thought. He says, therefore brethren, since we have confidence to enter the Holy place by the blood of Jesus.
Not only is the temple about sacrifice, but it became the illustration that God himself would become the sacrificial servant that would bring us freedom and access into him.
He’s holy. He’s an ever present, caring leader. He’s a sacrificial servant. And last I would just say this, why should we trust in him? He a loving father for his people. When you see a God that would sacrifice to this degree, it’s reflective of that. A loving father that cares for his people. Now I’m gonna elaborate on this in just a moment, but let me just say this. The nature of God becomes important for our soul because it becomes the basis for the tilling of our lives and trust in him, right? Let me explain that.
When you go to plant a garden, you know the better the soil, the better the plant takes root. When I say something like God brings Israel out of the Exodus and God’s going to lead them somewhere, but their souls in these moments need strengthened in him for what God has called them to.
What they need in their lives is to lean to the character of God because it tills the soil of their soul in trust in this God. It produces what they need within them to bear the fruit of which God has called them. And to miss that they miss the opportunity.
Unfortunately for Israel, they’re going to spend the next 40 years in disobedience to God. But here we are today. Same God. Same character. With the opportunity for our lives to trust in him. So how do we meet with this God? How does our soul find the care that it needs? I think the temple had two prominent functions for Israel to carry out. Two prominent things that took place here that I think is illustrated in scripture. They didn’t go to the temple for marriages. There was no such things as baptisms or anything like that. This temple was a structure built for two really primary purposes, and the first is this. They would go for sacrifice.
They would go for sacrifice. They would take a lamb and recognition of their sin, and they would lay it down before the Lord to experience relationship with him. They would let that lamb become their substitute of all the sin that they had done in order that that sin could be forgiven. They could experience relational wholeness with God. But here’s what the Bible tells us that animals really can’t take away sin. It’s an illustration of the one lamb that would. Hebrews 9. Jesus. Jesus becomes that lamb.
Now, here’s what’s interesting when you get into the New Testament, Jesus does become the sacrifice. But the New Testament continues to carry the idea of sacrifice for us. And why does it do that? Well, it’s our way of responding back to God that we do love him and we want that relationship with him. It’s not about letting go of things because God is this needy God, and if you don’t give to him, he can’t make it.
It’s really about letting go of certain things because what you need in your life is Jesus. Jesus is the answer. And so you see that in the life of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3, he says, I count everything as dung that I may know Christ. And so in our lives, the idea of sacrifice continues forward. It can have a physical manifestation. The things of this world that we let go of, but in certainly more than just a physical manifestation. There is a heart attitude that drives it, which is to say this God, I am relinquishing myself before you that you may fill me up because what I need in my life is not me. It is you.
And so there’s this idea of sacrifice and we demonstrate this through the way that we display our lives. James talks about it, right? Faith without works is dead. It’s the way you demonstrate it. But here’s a reality. Sometimes we can do things in this world that look godly but really aren’t driven by a heart that cares for God. Sort of a mask. Like a monotonous religious performance. Like you could show up to church today and you really, really don’t want to connect to God. You just want to say you are in church so it makes you feel good, like you are giving God some sort of favor as if he needs you to be here.
Reality is he doesn’t need you, you need him. And so the things that we do can oftentimes be masked through this facade that really doesn’t reflect a heart that’s turned over to him. But I think there is another way or a second way that we can examine our lives to stop and say, okay, how do I know if God is that source for my soul? How do I know that I’m really leaning into him? How do I know that I’m not Israel wandering through the wilderness? They’re going through these temple sacrifices just like God told them to, but the reason is because they don’t want to get punished. Or the reason is just because they want something from God. They really just don’t want God. They just want something from God. Or they don’t want something that’s given to them by God.
How do I really know that I’m connecting to him? I think it’s the other reason or the other expression that took place in the temple that we can discover this. And I think that reason or that means is prayer. How do I know if my soul genuinely seeks for God? Jesus said in Matthew 21:13. Towards the end of his life, he goes into the temple. He is infuriated because they’ve turned the Court of the Gentiles into a place of trading money and selling goods. They turn it into a marketplace. And that’s when Jesus comes in all bat crazy with a whip, and he runs people out of the temple, right? He moves them out of the temple and he just gives this statement, you’ve turned my house into a den of robbers, but my house is to be a house of prayer.
So when Israel would come with the sacrifice of these animals, it was followed by prayer. They would, in prayer to God, offer it before the Lord. And in this concept of temple, now you being a temple and connecting to God this way is exactly what’s driven into the New Testament. In fact, in Romans 8 I just want you to see this. The way of examining our soul. If God is the place to care for my soul and if my soul is really connected to him, how do I measure this? Well, I would say it starts with the leaning of your heart into God, but the way that we really see that demonstrate in the heart of hearts is as you seek God in prayer. And this is more of an intimate way of measuring. How often do you pray,
Romans 8, knowing what God’s brought to us in Romans 8:1 it starts, there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus. In 8:4-5, he talks about the Spirit of God now dwelling in you because you are the temple of God.
And then he says this in verse 14. For all who are being led by the spirit of God, those that are God’s people, God’s temple, these are the sons of God saying you belong to him. Verse 15, for you have not received a spirit of slavery leading into fear. Do you see this play and the Israel and the Exodus, they were slaves and he’s saying, look, that’s not you anymore. God’s leading you into something new. God’s going to prepare your life for where he’s calling you in him. You’ve not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you’ve received a spirit of adoptions as son by which we cry out Abba father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God, so here they are as slaves. God rescues them. God adopts them so that they can call him Abba, father, it testifies with our spirit that we are his children. Verse 17 and if children, heirs, also heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him in the same way. Verse 26, skipping a little further ahead, in the same way the spirit also helps our weakness. Look at this for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
He connects the idea of you being temple to the thought of connecting with the Lord in prayer, and I love the illustration he gives to us in relationship to God. He uses this phrase that was scandalous at the time. He says, Abba father. Look religiously, most religions in the world do not view God this way.
He is separate. He is distant, he is other. But in Christianity you see that God comes near in pursuit of your soul to adopt you and call you his own. In religion, people perform all day long, have no idea where they stand with God. I hope it’s good enough. But in Christianity, there is no condemnation in Christ. God has come near so that you could be near to him. He has adopted you by his strength, his power, his sacrifice to call you his own so that you could be at a place to call him Abba father.
I listened to Tim Keller described this word once, he said this about the father. He said Abba father literally best translates, not just simply as daddy, as some people often say, but he says it’s better translated as “dada.” It’s the most primal word that you could use to describe God. It’s sort of like maybe you have grandparents today and you refer to them all by all kinds of weird names that other people just won’t call them. You know, like me, Mema, Papa, or Nana, Nina, whatever you might say. This intimate name, related to your relationship to them. But you think about what this means about God.
I have a 18 month old. I have a few older kids, but I know as I’m in that last stage with my last kid, please let this be my last kid, where when I walk in the door, there’s this period of time where to him, not to the rest of my family, but to him, I am the most important person to come in that room. And you know how I know that? As soon as I opened the door, what do I hear? No one else screamed my name, but the little one. And what does he say? Dada. And what does that mean? Your presence. I just want your presence. I know as a dad, I’m savoring these moments because pretty soon I’m gonna walk through the door and there’s going to be “meh, Dad’s home.” But doesn’t that make you, if parents, you’re the most important person, that room for that moment. You don’t care whatever this kid wants at this point because he’s just looking for your presence with such delight. You’re there. Dada.
When it comes to relationship with God and you think about prayer, how many of us come before the Lord simply because we want something. Not him, we just want something from him. This idea of dada, this primal thought of what it represents is way more than just God, I’m only talking to you because I want something from you. What it’s saying is, God, I’m here because I just want you. You’re the solution to what my soul needs. And whatever the path has before me, whatever my needs might be in prayer, God, right now I’m not even going to consider that, because right now my soul, what I want, what I need is you. And if I get you all of this is going to be cared for.
When’s the last time you just sought after God? Because what you wanted in your soul was just God. When is he enough? Dada. Father. I’ve been praying about all these things that I need in life, but man, I need my soul to recognize that you are that source. You are that everything. You are the place that my life is filled up. It’s not about the substance of things in this world. It is you itself.
When we think about what this temple represents. God and his presence. If our greatest need, I love this quote, was information God would’ve sent an educator. If our greatest need was was technology, God would’ve sent a scientist. If our greatest need was money, God would have sent an economist. If our greatest need was pleasure, God would’ve sent an entertainer. But you know what God sent? Himself, because your greatest need is him.
In order to go where God leads, in order to fill your soul, it’s not about the substance of the things of this earth, but it’s about his presence. And the joy of temple for us represents that goodness so that we can delight in him and find our soul filled.