God’s Great Temple: The Church #NextLap
Ps Vernon Quek
One of the pillars of my personal conviction in Jesus and His Gospel has always been Biblical Theology – that God has revealed Himself through one Big Story across the 66 books of the Bible. Even before I had heard of the term Biblical Theology, the way I first discovered that the whole Bible was one single cohesive Story was through seeing in Exodus God’s great desire to tabernacle (Hebrew: ‘to dwell’) with His People.
As we head deeper into the book of Zechariah, it is becoming apparent that the Lord is teaching us much about temple-building this season. In our current series, the completion of the 2nd temple is the main challenge that God’s People are facing. And God’s agenda hasn’t changed since Exodus: He still desires to dwell with His People (Zech 2:10-13), and so the temple-building must continue!
Why was the temple so crucial in the Old Testament? It is the place where sinners come into right relationship with Holy God. Everything about the tabernacle, from the High Priest that was its key leader, to the priesthood that attended it, to the sacrifices made in it, were all meant to bring sinners to God.
In our last sermon series, we learnt that we the Church are the ultimate glorious Temple that God gave all those Old Testament models to point towards (Ephesians 2:19-22). And like in the Old Testament, the Temple (the Church) is still the place where sinners come into right relationship with Holy God.
We heard last Sunday from Zechariah Chapter 3, where God removes Joshua’s filthy garments and sin, qualifying him to fulfill his duties in the Temple as the High Priest. We were shown how this vision is a foreshadowing of our sinless High Priest Jesus who perfectly represents us sinners and presents us sinless.
But Joshua is also a foreshadowing of us. Sinners cleansed and made fit for Temple duty as priests – a special group set apart who help other sinners come into right relationship with Holy God. This was God’s desire and plan all along from Sinai when He first gave the Law and plans for the tabernacle: a holy nation and kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:5-6).
God’s amazing Plan for a perfect and glorious final Temple, the very Body of His Son Jesus, shows His great love for us. His heart is for sinners to come to Himself. Do we at Zion Bishan share God’s heart for sinners? Are we a holy people where sinners can come into right relationship with our Holy God? This is what the Next Lap at Zion Bishan is all about – every aspect of this vision God has given us is meant to help us become the Holy Temple He’s called us to be.
Let’s pray unceasingly that God’s great power works in us to walk according to this glorious calling we have been called to!
P.S. If you would like to trace the importance of God’s glorious Temple-building project throughout the Bible, here are some key passages to look at:
- Genesis 1-3: The Garden of Eden is the place where God comes down to dwell (temporarily) with Adam & Eve. His dwelling with them is broken by sin at the Fall.
- Exodus 19: The scene at Mount Sinai sets the context and shows the great separation between Holy YAHWEH and the sinful people.
- Exodus 20-40: The 2nd half of Exodus mainly consists of the Law, blueprints and building of the Tabernacle (remember the High Priest and the Priesthood are part of the Tabernacle System) – culminating in the climax of Exodus 40: YAHWEH descending from Sinai to fill the tabernacle with His Glory and dwell in the midst of His People.
- 2 Samuel 7: God’s covenant with David, primarily concerned with David’s desire to build God’s House and God’s promise that a Davidic Son will be the One to do so.
- 1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5: Solomon builds the 1st Temple: symbolizing a permanent dwelling place for God among His People.
- Ezekiel 8-10: God’s glory leaves Solomon’s Temple due to sin of the people. This is a precursor to that temple’s destruction in 586BC by the Babylonians.
- Ezekiel 40-48: God gives the prophet Ezekiel a vision of a new, much greater Temple that is a whole City.
- Ezra 3:8-13: The Returnees from Exile rebuild the temple foundations, but old men who had seen the 1st Temple weep because it doesn’t look like God’s glorious Temple should.
- Ephesians 2:19-3:21
- Hebrews 9:1-10:25
- Revelation 21 & 22 (Especially 21:1-4, 21:22-27)
 Read P.S. note on Exodus 20-40