Monday, 17 March 2014

Same fire, same story!

The big story of the Temple is another tale which spans the bible narrative from Eden to Revelation. Whispers of a temple, the unadulterated place of God's presence amongst his friends, can be found in the first garden before sin spoiled choices closed the gates. It reappears later in Moses' burning bush and dramatically in the Tent of Meeting where the face to face time with God was intimate friendship under canvas. Even as Solomon dedicated his permanent structure, he knew something of the inadequacy of a mere building to try to house God. You see, the promise from the beginning was that the presence of God in men and women made in his image would spread and fill the whole planet, not just inhabit a building!

Jesus, makes the story his own, personifying old prophetic yearnings of a more glorious house, and declaring that the more glorious temple is in fact a person. 'These stones will be torn down and rebuilt in three days', he told his slow to understand disciples. Only after his three day death and resurrection did it begin to dawn on them that a once and for all temple sacrifice had taken place. No wonder he had the nerve to say 'Come to me, don't go to the temple'. One greater than the temple had come - The word made flesh, the temple on the streets, a new kind of order, for which the old bricks and mortar temple is relegated to the role of signpost.

Pentecost becomes a new temple kind of moment. The same fire that Moses and Solomon saw, now breaking out from the confines of a building and filling ordinary men and women, who in turn fill the streets and fill the city.

Even the non Jews get to enter Gods temple as the goalposts appear to shift into line with the original Eden intent for the presence of God to be carried by men to the nations. Those who were not allowed in the temple, who could not come near to the inner courts, who were forever kept apart from a knowledge of God - now welcomed and received into his presence. Witness Peter at the house of Cornelius.

While Peter is still speaking the Holy Spirit falls on Gentiles in the same way as Jews. No difference. The same fire, the same cloud, the same anointing. Who said they couldn't join the temple club? Not Jesus. He opens the door, changes the entry requirements, dress code and the menu - he wants men everywhere to know his presence and no walls or boundaries will stop that plan. No wonder Paul declares later to the Ephesian church that in Jesus the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. That in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. This is temple language, worked out in our corporate flesh so vividly that Peter gasps, 'These stones have come alive!'

No more special places, special buildings, special cities or even special days of the week - this thinking is too limiting - The promise is here and spreading out until Spirit filled communities are alight in every far flung corner of the planet. This too is our story, living stones, living temples, living not for ourselves but for a greater prize - longing for the day when heaven comes down to earth and the whole redeemed planet becomes the eternal place of his presence.

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