What’s going on in the temple?

So this broke my heart this morning.

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. – Matthew 26:3-4

From what I can tell, while the Second Temple stood, until 70 AD, this hall of the high priest, where the Sanhedrin met, was located in the temple. I can’t be completely sure, but I think this is the place they met.

My heart was drawn back to the dedication of Solomon’s temple.

David had this great idea. I’m going to build a house for God. God liked the idea, but would not let David the warrior build it. David was a warrior from His youth, and God wanted His house built by a man of peace.

When Solomon finished the building of this house for God, He showed up. He filled the temple with His glory, and promises were made.

It’s a wonderful passage. It’s a few verses, but worth reading. The offer God makes to Solomon is staggering when you think about it.

Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

“Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. – 2 Chronicles 7:12-16 NASB

The passage goes on to make promises and layout conditions, but essentially, God promises Solomon and Israel, as long as you walk with Me, I’ll be your God, a Father to you, and care for you.

I know this temple was destroyed, and the temple we see in the Gospels was rebuilt in the days of Ezra. No such promises are made, no such glory is imparted, but God was in the rebuilding.

The ark of the covenant is in this temple. The holy of holies is considered the dwelling place of the Most High God. It’s in this temple that Zacheriah meets with Gabriel. It’s here the Messiah is dedicated as an infant.

But here in Matthew 26, these High Priests and elders of the people plan out the murder of God’s own Son.

David’s great temple, a place for God to dwell among His people has fallen so far from it’s place of glory. Rather than a house of prayer where God’s people could come and cry out for God’s mercy, and He would hear and answer and forgive, it’s been usurped by those who would cry out “No God for me,” and “We will not have this man to rule over us.”

It so saddens me.

And it warns my heart.

How easy it is to take our own temples, the heart we once dedicated as a dwelling place for the Most High, and allow it to house sedition and betrayal. We allow the unclean into the holy of holies. It comes in through the eye gates and ear gates and settles in the halls of the high priest.

The hall of the high priest–that place designed for intercession and worship–for righteous judgment–turned into a place of darkness and secrecy–a place hidden from the light of day. The secret place turned it a place of secrets.

Lord, clean the temple of my heart today. Bring the light of Your presence into the corners where I’ve let darkness prevail. Flood this dwelling place with your presence as You did when Solomon invited You into the temple he built centuries ago.

Have your way in me today.

BenSee you again soon,

Ben

Merciful and Faithful High Preist

Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. – Hebrews 2:17

Wally Fry, a blogging compadre, has nearly daily posts called “Just a Thought,” brief, pithy, pot stirrers. At least that’s the way it works for me.

Somehow, for the last few months, I’ve had my WordPress email notices have been switched off. I suspect it was when I had to recreate my site from scratch back in January. In any case, I got them turned back on yesterday, and I was happy to see the notice come through this afternoon – “Just a Thought.

Here’s his thought for today. (Please follow the link if you haven’t already been there, and encourage Wally personally.)

Notice that Jesus, while compassionate, did not hesitate to bring sin to light.

John 4:16-18

Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2019/05/08/just-a-thought-1250/

I did, as I am wont to do, leave him a comment about three times the length of his thought because this compassionate confrontation of sin struck me. This is exactly why Jesus needed to be like us in all things. So that He could become a MERCIFUL and FAITHFUL High Preist.

John tells us:

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

And David speaks of this union in Ps 85:

Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. – Psalm 85:10

The Pharisees and the priesthood of Jesus’ day used their priestly positions to wield power and lord it over the masses. They were heavy on truth, or what they accepted as truth,  and light on compassion.

It would be easy to let the pendulum swing the other way too. It would be easy for people to agree to a system where compassion was king, and standards had no seat at the table.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus’ stairway to heaven, He juxtaposes these two sides of the coin:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

”Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. – Matthew 5:6-7

A hunger and thirst after righteousness must be tempered by mercy, and mercy can only be offered in the light of righteousness.

Check out Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. – Matthew 23:23

Jesus actually corrects the Pharisees in their bad theology.

They held the tithe as more important than justice, mercy, and faith, which He acknowledges as law, in fact, weightier than the tithe. For that matter, justice, mercy, and faithfulness are written into every bit of the law.

If we see the law as how God wants us to behave, we end up with a HUGE to-do list and an even bigger not-to-do list. If we look at the law as a picture of who God is, and what’s important to Him, we’ll find that His heart is for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed.

And doesn’t it show when Jesus walks the earth? He’s not rubbing shoulders with the big wigs and hobnobbing with the in-crowd. He’s in the streets, in the pubs, in the bad neighborhoods, with THEM.

Jesus comes, and as Wally pointed out, doesn’t cut sin any slack, but He preaches His message of repentance from a platform of compassion. [Tweet this]

He drew the woman at the well out by exposing her sin and the failure it created.

He gave the woman caught in “the very act” a clarion call to “go and sin no more,” but only after affirming that He did not condemn her.

Aren’t you glad we have a Merciful and Faithful High Preist?

I know I am.

Glory to God.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping in.

Walk in the light.

Ben

If you want to catch up with our study in Hebrews, it’s all here.

In All Things

Hey guys! Welcome back to our cruise (crawl?) through Hebrews.

Today we reach a mile marker. We come to the end of chapter two, and to the statement of why we have been pushing this line of reasoning. All this time making a distinction between Jesus and the angels, followed by his herculean effort to demonstrate how Jesus so completely identifies with us.

For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.

Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. – Hebrews 2:16-18 

I didn’t want to break this in pieces, but it clearly holds way too much for one blog post.

These three verses summarize the writer’s argument thus far and set us up for the next big thing. (So exciting…)

The little bit I want to bring onto the light table for examination today is “He had to be made like His brethren in all things.”

The writer keeps coming back to this. Jesus did not come to earth and walk about as God in a man costume. He took on flesh and blood. He took on the weakness and frailty of the flesh. He not only took on these clumsy bodies and their gravity bound surounds. He took on a man-sized soul, able to be tempted, able to exercise a will that was out of synch the His Father’s, frankly able to sin.

Ben!!! (Shocked looks abound.) You can’t say Jesus could sin! He is God. How could God sin?

And there’s the rub. God could not sin, and so could not be tempted. How could God do something that was not the will of God? It’s an oxymoron.

But wait…

What if God stepped away from all that diety and became a man, a man IN ALL THINGS What if He had a sex drive and raging hormones. What if He lived with peer pressure. What if someone did something completely stupid right in front of Him, and He so wanted to tell all his friends, to gossip about the goofball. What if people took advantage of Him? What if one of His mates was stealing from Him. What if one of His best friends denied that he even knew Him. What would He do with all that indignation, anger, frustration, fear, desire?

You see, He was made like us IN ALL THINGS. The writer brings to light the fact that He was tempted like us so that He could with full confidence represent us before the Father. He took on the role of High Priest, not as one who grew up in an ivory tower, unaware of the struggles we face, but as one who slogged through the same stuff.

Man, I love Jesus!

Thanks for stopping by today. There are more implications to this IN ALL THINGS thing, and we’ll talk about some of them next time.

cropped-BenHeadshotSee you then.

Walk in the light of the Word.

Ben