The Trouble with the Temple

Malachi 1:10: “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.”

In the spiritual universe of the Old Testament, the gravitational center around which everyone and everything orbited was the Temple. At the Temple, people met with God, heaven touched earth, sin was forgiven, holidays were celebrated, and life was given meaning. The Temple was God’s way of providing a home for His people to find hope, help, and healing.

Without the Temple, virtually nothing mandated by God in the Old Testament was possible. Without the Temple, there was no priesthood, no sacrificial system to deal with human sin, and nowhere that served as the center for world mission to get the message of God out to the nations.

The Temple was destroyed and, for a season, there was no Temple. Eventually, at great cost, labor, and risk, the Temple was rebuilt. The entire point of the Temple was for the Kingdom of God to rule over His people, preparing them for eternity and providing a prototype for how His people were supposed to live holy lives different than the nations surrounding them. God did not need a Temple or worship. God’s people needed the Temple so that they could worship.

In what would have been a shocking statement, God Himself said that He wanted to have His Temple shut down. Why? Because both the priests, who were leaders, and the people, who were followers, were not worshipping in the way that God wanted. The big idea is that true worship is not what works for us but rather what works for God. Godly worship is about service, sacrifice, and surrender. Their ungodly worship was about selfishness, stealing, and sinning. It seems that this form of “church” was very popular. The ministry leaders got high approval ratings from the people and the people had a “church” that made them feel very comfortable as it worked for them. But, God was unhappy with the priests and the people. In this discount religious business it seems that everyone forgets that they, and all they have and do, belongs to Him.

Thankfully, Jesus Christ came to the earth. His body was the Temple where God’s presence was to be found on the earth and the connection between heaven and earth. Today, we no longer have a Temple since it was destroyed in 70 A.D. We do not go to the Temple, but rather we go to Jesus Christ who has made our bodies and churches the place where His Spirit dwells and God can be worshipped. This is what Paul means saying in 2 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

What do you consider “good worship” or a “good church”? One that works for you or one that works for God? One that gives you what you want or one that gives you what God wants?

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