The Great War (post #2)

Series: “The Great War” (post #2)

Satan and God are at war. They have been since at least Genesis chapter 3. Despite the fact that this greatest of all wars is supernatural, the results it produces are the same as those produced by human wars. There are four of these results and with this post we’ll identify the first of them. That result is: Soldiers are enlisted for this war.

First, who are the soldiers who get enlisted to fight for God? They are the saved believers. To be clear, these people aren’t saved because they fight for God; they fight for God because they are saved. We refer to the saved believers from the Old Testament era as “Old Testament believers.” We refer to the saved believers from the New Testament era as “Christians.”

You see, Christian, you really need to get your mind wrapped around the fact that the moment you placed saving belief in Jesus, you got drafted into God’s army. You might as well have gone down to God’s local recruiting office and signed your name on an official document. Of course if your salvation experience was anything like mine, nobody told you that placing your belief in Jesus automatically enlisted you in God’s army. But trust me, it happened.

This metaphor of the Christian as a soldier was one of the apostle Paul’s favorite ways of describing the Christian life. He most prominently featured it in his writings to his protege, Timothy. In 2 Timothy 2:3-4, he tells Timothy:

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. (N.I.V.)

In 1 Timothy 1:18, he says:

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare (N.K.J.V.).

Finally, in 2 Timothy 4:7, he says of himself:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (N.I.V.)

Another passage where Paul evokes the imagery of the Christian as a soldier is 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. There he says to the church of Corinth:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (N.I.V.)

And so, Christian, when you stop thinking of your time in this world as a picnic, a vacation, or a trip to the mall, and starting thinking of it as a war, then you’ll start to understand this life a lot more clearly and accurately. No matter where you find yourself, you are on a battlefield. Even if everything around you is tranquil and peaceful, the fighting continues unceasingly in your own mind as you strive to take each of your thoughts captive and make it obedient to Jesus.

Second, who are the soldiers who get enlisted to fight for Satan? They are the lost unbelievers. No matter what the era is — Old Testament or New Testament — these people do Satan’s bidding. In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Paul describes them as being “in opposition” to God’s people and says they need to “escape from the snare of the devil” because they have “been taken captive by him to do his will.”

Likewise, Jesus once told a group of lost Jews:

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do…” (John 8:44, N.K.J.V.)

The apostle John hits this same vein in 1 John 3:10 when he describes two categories of people: “the children of God” and “the children of the devil.” He writes:

So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. (N.L.T.)

At this point, a good question to ask is, “How does a person get enlisted into Satan’s army?” The unfortunate answer is that all a person has to do to get enlisted into Satan’s army is be born into Adam’s sin-fallen race (Ephesians 2:1-3). That, by default, makes the person a child (a soldier) of the devil, and the person remains that way until he or she switches armies by making the decision to believe in Jesus as Savior.

So tell me, have you made that decision? You say, “But I don’t want to be a soldier in any army. I want to be neutral.” Friend, that’s not an option that is available to you. There is no Switzerland in the great war. You have to be in one army or the other. The only question is, which army will it be?

Posted in Belief, Change, God's Work, Righteousness, Salvation, Satan, Service, Spiritual Warfare, The Devil | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Great War (post #1)

Series: “The Great War” (post #1)

It is difficult to count the number of wars that have been fought throughout mankind’s history. The difficulty lies in the question of what gets classified as an actual war. There are skirmishes. There are clashes. There are battles. There are campaigns. And then there are actual wars.

In a New York Times article entitled What Every Person Should Know About War, a war was defined as “an active conflict that has claimed more than 1,000 lives.” The article also stated that over the past 3,400 years humans have been entirely at peace for only 268 of those years. That’s just 8% of the time. As for how many people have been killed in all the wars throughout human history, the article estimated that the death toll ranges from 150 million to 1 billion.

And just how big does warfare continue to be today? Right now there are well over 20 million soldiers serving in armies around the world. The largest current army is China’s, which has over 2 million soldiers. The United States army is second in size, with over 1 million soldiers. India, North Korea, and Russia also have armies consisting of over 1 million soldiers each. Needless to say, war continues to be a trademark of the human race. It reminds us of what Jesus said in His time some 2,000 years ago: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6).

There is, however, one war that is the longest running one on record, and it still rages today. No official records have ever been kept for this war, but it has covered more earthly territory than any other war and cost more lives than any other war. So what war is this? It is the great war between God and Satan.

This war began at some unspecified time way, way back when the angel Lucifer, who was one of God’s mightiest and most beautiful angels (Ezekiel 28:11-19), not only himself rebelled against God (Isaiah 14:12-14) but led one-third (Revelation 12:7-9) of all the other angels to join him in that rebellion. The rebellion ended in God casting Lucifer and all those other rebel angels out of His presence (Luke 10:18). And so Lucifer — who is better known as Satan or “the devil” — now walks the earth seeking whom he may devour (Job 1:7; 2:2; 1 Peter 5:8). That is how he showed up inside the serpent in the earth’s Garden of Eden to tempt Eve (Genesis 3:1-6). As for Satan’s fellow fallen angels — who are now better known as demons or “unclean spirits” — they too have free run of the earth (Ephesians 6:10-12).

So make no mistake, the ancient war between God and Satan is still raging today and we are all part of it. This brings me to the purpose of this short series, a series I’m calling “The Great War.” Over the course of the next few posts, we’re going to learn that the war between God and Satan produces the same results that human wars produce. There are four of these results, and we’ll devote one post to each result. This is a series that you should find interesting, and it’s one that I know will cause you to think in new ways about not only Satan but also God. So tune in next time as we look at the first result. And until then start thinking of our planet Earth as being the battlefield where The Great War rages every day and every night.

Posted in Adversity, Angels, Death, Demons, God's Work, Heaven, Persecution, Problems, Rebellion, Satan, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, The Devil, War | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Church Attendance Decline

A school teacher told her students to bring an item that represented their religious faith. The little Jewish boy brought a menorah. The little Catholic boy brought a crucifix. The little Baptist boy brought a casserole.

Speaking as a Baptist pastor, I have to admit that this joke hits way too close to home. Actually, it could be a true story! We Baptists do like our fellowship meals. As another joke says, “What do you call a Baptist preacher’s belt? A fence around a chicken graveyard.”

I don’t mean to imply that there is anything wrong with fellowship meals. The early churches held them each Sunday in conjunction with their observance of The Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34; Jude v.12). Likewise, the Old Testament provides the record of many different times of feasting, and in the New Testament we read about Christ’s last supper, not to mention the prodigal son’s father killing the fatted calf.

But what we must guard against is making fellowship meals our main reason for attending church. We mustn’t let our churches become community clubs or social clubs that have little more than a religious undercurrent running through them. Our primary feasting at church should always be on the living Word (Jesus) and the written word (the Bible), not the fried chicken.

What each church-goer should ask himself or herself is, “What is my motivation for going to church?” If the answer is something that can be just as easily gotten at a ball game, a concert, the local school, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Kiwanis club, the Ruritan club, the Optimist club, the Lions club, or the Rotary club, then something is very wrong with the motivation. And unfortunately this seems to be the case with far too many church-goers.

Studies are now consistently showing that church attendance is declining here in the United States. The theorized reasons for the decline are numerous: the country as a whole is shifting away from its Christian roots, today’s young people are a different breed who have little interest in attending church, the local church is no longer the focal point of community life, etc. While I certainly wouldn’t dismiss any of these reasons (or some others we could name), I would like to suggest one that I’ve never seen cited on a list. Maybe the reason why church attendance numbers are dwindling is the fact that we have gotten so far away from what church is supposed to be.

Imagine an oven that a housewife has begun using as a clothes dryer. As soon as she gets a load of clothes out of the washing machine, she opens the oven door, puts the clothes in the oven, sets the temperature for 350 degrees, and dries the clothes. She does this day after day, load after load. Then one day her husband buys a dryer and tells her to start using it to dry the clothes. The housewife does so and after just a few loads exclaims, “This dryer is so much better for drying clothes. I’ll never use that oven again. I don’t even need it anymore.” Would you say that housewife was being fair to her oven? Of course not. She wasn’t using it for what it was actually made to do.

The same can be said of our churches. If we don’t use them for what they are made to do, we shouldn’t be surprised when attendance declines. The hard, cold truth is that the world can do everything better than the church except those things for which the church is the specialist. This means that the church is never going to be able to outperform the world when it comes to meals, entertainment, community service, sports leagues, Christmas productions, Easter dramas, Independence Day celebrations, and a vast assortment of other activities, No matter how hard we try and how much time, effort, and money we spend, the world’s versions will always be more appealing (at least to average person).

That’s why we are crazy to try to stop the decline in church attendance by making our churches more like the world. What we need to do instead is make our churches less like the world and more like the church ideal that is described in the New Testament. Of course this isn’t something the so-called “church growth” movement cares to hear, but the numbers are beginning to prove that what that movement has pushed for decades as the way to grow a church doesn’t actually work in the long run. How could it when it is so shallow and superficial? And besides, even if it does draw a crowd, just having a crowd doesn’t automatically mean that you are having church, right?

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A Night in the Barn

One day a young boy committed a very serious offense. When the boy’s strict father heard about it, he said to the boy, “Son, no one can commit such an act and still sleep under my roof. You must spend the night in the barn.” The boy knew that arguing with his father was no use, and so he gathered up a few things to make a crude bed in the hayloft and went to the barn.

His crude bed proved to be plenty soft enough for the boy to get a good night’s rest, but he just couldn’t sleep. Over and over again he tossed and turned. His problem was the guilt he was feeling over not only committing the offense but also grieving his father so badly.

It was sometime along about midnight when the boy heard the sound of someone climbing up the ladder to the hayloft. He was frightened by the dark outline of the shadowy figure until he realized that the intruder was none other than his father. The father asked him, “Are you sleeping?” The boy answered, “No.” “Well, I can’t sleep either,” said the father, “so I thought I’d come out here and join you.” Then he added, “Now, don’t think I’m changing my mind about your punishment. As I said, anyone who does what you did can’t sleep under my roof. But I didn’t say that I couldn’t sleep with you. So, move over, son. Put your head on my arm, and let’s get some sleep.”

This story beautifully illustrates what God did for us. The human race had fallen into sin, and God couldn’t just ignore that fact. Punishment had to follow, and follow it did as Adam and Eve were banished from their home in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:22-24) and left to produce a race of descendants who would each be born spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). But God, in the form of Jesus Christ, left heaven, joined the human race by actually becoming human Himself, lived among humans in the “barn” of this world, and ultimately died on the cross as the potential payment for all the sins the human race had ever and would ever commit. So now anyone who places saving belief in Jesus does not have to suffer the eternal punishment that comes as the result of his or her sins (John 3:16-18).

Oh, and by the way, that story about the father who joined his boy in the barn is true. It was one of the stories that F.B. Meyer used to tell about his childhood. And who was F.B. Meyer? He was only one of the most legendary preachers who ever lived. He was an English Baptist pastor and evangelist in the late 1800s and early 1900s who pastored several churches in England, made successful ministry trips to the United States and Canada, wrote dozens of books and commentaries, and fought so hard against drunkenness and prostitution that he is purported to have been responsible for the closing of hundreds of saloons and brothels.

All that causes me to ask, “If we had more fathers who were strict enough to inflict punishment when it was deserved, but loving enough to join their children in the punishment, would we be producing more F.B. Meyers today?” Maybe. One thing is for sure: it definitely couldn’t hurt.

Posted in Belief, Children, Christ's Birth, Christ's Death, Discipline, Fatherhood, God's Holiness, God's Love, Guilt, Parenting, Salvation, Sin, Youth | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ministering to Lost People

And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. (Matthew 5:41, N.K.J.V.)

In its specific scriptural context, this verse has nothing to do with putting in the extra hours required to become a success in the business world. Neither does it have anything to do with outworking the competition in the realm of athletics or even fanatically devoting yourself to church work. No, “going the second mile” is all about one thing: the Christian rendering service to lost people.

In the empire of ancient Rome, a Roman official or soldier had the right to press a common citizen into compulsory service to carry a load or run an errand. This explains why the Roman soldiers who were in charge of Christ’s crucifixion were able to force a Cyrenian named Simon to carry Christ’s cross (Matthew 27:32). But the rule had a limit. The citizen could only be made to perform the task for one mile. Christ’s command to His followers, however, was that they should volunteer to perform the task for an extra mile.

We can just imagine the first time a rough, rugged Roman soldier brutally drafted a follower of Christ into action. “You there, get over here and carry this load for your required mile.” At the end of the mile, though, the follower of Christ kept going. Perhaps the soldier said, “That’s enough, you’ve done your duty” only to have the follower of Christ say, “I know, but my Lord says that I should go with you a second mile.”

What kind of influence do you think such an encounter would have had on a spiritually lost Roman soldier? I suppose that some of the soldiers mocked Christ’s followers and took even greater advantage of them. Others, however, must have been touched by the encounters and their hearts softened toward Jesus and His people.

Of course going the extra mile was just one of the ways in which Jesus commanded His followers to act differently than the rest of the world. He also said, “Rather than seek the revenge of an eye for an eye, if an evil person slaps you on your right cheek, take the brunt of the blow and present your left cheek for the person to strike as well” (Matthew 5:38-39). “And if someone threatens to file a lawsuit to take away your tunic, go ahead and let the person have not only your tunic but also your outer cloak” (Matthew 5:40).

To get the full depth of these commands, we mustn’t miss the fact that each of them deals with a cruel injustice that is perpetrated by an evil person. As Jesus put it, “But I tell you not to resist an evil person” (Matthew 5:39, N.K.J.V.). This means that the follower of Christ should perform these difficult tasks as nothing less than acts of service to lost people.

You might be asking, “Russell, are you saying that the only people who do evil acts are lost people?” No, I’m not saying that. I know full well that professing Christians do sometimes commit evil acts. As we study the Bible, though, we understand the assumption that the follower of Christ is expected to live in a manner that is holy rather than evil. Therefore, the “evil person” of whom Jesus speaks must be a lost person. You see, when the Christian serves a lost person in this way, the Christian evidences the difference that being a follower of Jesus has made in his or her life and (ideally) creates a thirst for Jesus within that lost person.

Because of this it is unfortunate that most Christians take an adversarial approach to lost people rather than a service approach to them. I know that I myself tend to say of lost people who do me wrong turns, “How can I get even with them?” rather than, “How can I serve them?” I mean, let’s admit it, these commands from Jesus are pretty hard to swallow and even harder to live out.

And yet here they stand, right where they have stood for 2,000 years. So tell me, Christian, are you obedient enough to put the commands into action? The next time a lost person treats you badly, will you force yourself to think, “What good thing can I do for this person in return?” Again, that’s a difficult assignment. No doubt about that. But if you complete the assignment, you might be amazed at how Jesus uses your actions. Who knows? You might even play a major role in winning that lost person to Christ.

Posted in Adversity, Anger, Attitude, Complaining, Discipleship, Doing Good, Evangelism, God's Work, Good Works, Humility, Influence, Ministry, Persecution, Revenge, Service, Suffering, The Sermon On The Mount, Witnessing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Mirror

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. (James 1:22-24, N.K.J.V.)

A trader from India once asked a European trader to get him a European Bible. Knowing that the Indian trader couldn’t read English, the European asked, “What for? You wouldn’t be able to read it.” “That’s true,” said the Indian trader, “but I still want a European Bible.”

The European asked again, “Why do you want a European Bible?” This time the Indian trader answered, “When a ship brings a trader who is unknown to me and wishes to trade with me, I place my language’s translation of the Bible in front of him. If he opens it and reads it, I know that I can trust him. But if he sneers at it or throws it aside, I will have nothing to do with him because I know that I cannot trust him. So, I want to be able to use this same test for the Europeans who come to me to trade.”

Sadly, most of us know that the trader’s simple litmus test doesn’t always ring true. Some of the most devious, crooked, deceptive people in the world claim the title “Christian” and are quick to sing the praises of the Bible when it serves their purposes. Nevertheless, even with this admitted, this is not to say that the trader’s test shouldn’t ring true. What the Indian trader correctly understood was that the Bible ought to make a profound moral difference in the life of anyone who reads it.

James 1:22 commands us to be doers of the word and not hearers only. James then illustrates that command by describing a person who merely glances in a mirror and then goes about his business unchanged by what he saw (James 1:23-24). That’s the relationship some people have with the Bible. They read a few verses and then rush off to continue living the way they’ve been living rather than let what they read have a positive moral effect upon their behavior.

The contrast to such a person is the one who doesn’t just read the Bible but lives it out in everyday situations. Going back to the mirror illustration, this person is like someone who spends quality time in front of the mirror, allows the mirror to do its work of revealing any areas that need work, and then puts in the work to fix the problem areas. In this way, the Bible becomes an effective tool by which God helps us clean up our conduct. It’s one thing for you to read the Bible; it’s something else entirely for the Bible to read you.

With this in mind, I ask you, have you read something in the Bible lately that spoke to a problem area in your life? Well, if you have, did you apply what you read? You say, “No, I can’t say that I did.” Then what you are telling me is that you glanced in God’s mirror, the mirror showed you your defect, but you didn’t fix the defect. Friend, that’s not making proper use of God’s mirror, and it makes it impossible for you to bring your life in line with God’s will. Therefore, I would encourage you to revisit whatever passage you read, spend some serious time pondering it, and then apply its teachings to your situation. By doing this, you’ll make yourself a doer of God’s word rather than just a hearer of it, and you’ll let God help you make the appearance of your life better.

Posted in Bible Study, Change, Character, Discernment, God's Will, God's Word, Obedience, Personal Holiness, Scripture, The Bible | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Shekinah Glory of God

In my previous post, I dealt with the name/word “Ichabod” and how it means “the glory has departed” or “there is no glory.” The “glory” in question is God’s glory, but it’s a specific type of God’s glory. The theological term for it is shekinah.

Don’t bother looking for the word shekinah in either the Old Testament’s original Hebrew of the New Testament’s original Greek because it isn’t there. It’s found in the post-Biblical writings of Jewish rabbis. They use the word to refer to God’s dwelling or abiding. Any place that God chooses to grace with His abiding presence showcases His shekinah glory.

It is fascinating to trace God’s shekinah glory throughout the pages of scripture. The first mention of God’s glory abiding within a place is found in the book of Exodus, which tells us that God’s glory was in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night by which God guided the course of the Israelites as they traveled (Exodus 13:21-22; 16:10). Since God Himself was always in the pillar — whether it was a pillar of cloud or a pillar fire — it makes sense that His glory was in there.

The second mention of God’s shekinah glory is also found in the book of Exodus. In Exodus 24:16-17, we read that the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai. Again, this makes perfect sense because God personally came down to the top of the mountain to meet with Moses and impart to Him the law.

Third, once Moses and the Israelites built the Tabernacle per God’s instructions, God’s shekinah glory moved into it and filled it (Exodus 29:42-46; 40:34-35). The Tabernacle was the portable tent-like complex that served as Israel’s first site of centralized national worship. It was where Israel’s priests offered up Israel’s sacrifices to God.

The Tabernacle complex was completely surrounded by a fence of white linen curtains and consisted of three distinct sections: The Outer Court, The Holy Place, and The Most Holy Place (The Holy of Holies). The Outer Court was where the bronze altar stood, the altar upon which Israel’s sacrifices were offered. The Holy Place was exclusively for the priests. The Most Holy Place (The Holy of Holies) was where The Ark of the Covenant was kept. Only the High Priest could enter that section, and even he could only do so once a year on the Day of Atonement.

Fourth, God’s shekinah glory remained in the Tabernacle until the time of the story that served as the text for my previous post. For those who didn’t read the post, that story is the one about how the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines during the days when Eli was serving as Israel’s High Priest and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were serving as priests (1 Samuel chapters 2 through 4). Once the Ark of the Covenant was no longer resting inside the Tabernacle’s Holy of Holies, God’s shekinah glory left the Tabernacle.

Phinehas’ widow, as she was dying in childbirth, named her newborn son “Ichabod” (the glory has departed). That name symbolized the Tabernacle’s loss of God’s shekinah glory. Even when the Philistines soon returned the Ark of the Covenant to Israel (1 Samuel chapters 5 and 6), there is no mention of God’s shekinah glory returning to the Tabernacle and filling it. Perhaps it did, but perhaps it didn’t.

Fifth, the next time God’s shekinah glory is mentioned in scripture came when Solomon built the Temple to replace the Tabernacle as Israel’s site of centralized national worship. As soon as the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Temple and placed inside the Holy of Holes, God’s shekinah filled the Temple (1 Kings 8:1-13). At this point, all was right with Israel’s worship, just as it had once been at the Tabernacle. Unfortunately, over the centuries that followed, Israel’s spiritual state again sunk to a low ebb as idolatry and sin came between the nation and God. This set the stage for the next movement of God’s shekinah glory.

Sixth, the prophet Ezekiel, in a vision, watched God’s shekinah glory depart from Solomon’s Temple in a step-by-step route (Ezekiel 10:1-22). Ezekiel first watched as God’s glory lifted up from between two literal cherub angels (Ezekiel 10:4). The symbolism of this lifting up centers around the fact that on each end of the Ark of the Covenant’s lid (which was called The Mercy Seat) were two fashioned cherub angels whose wings were spread out to cover the lid. Between the wings of those two fashioned angels was where God met with Israel (Exodus 25:17-22; 2 Kings 19:15; Isaiah 37:16). Therefore, what Ezekiel saw in his vision symbolized God’s glory lifting up from off the lid of The Ark of the Covenant.

Ezekiel watched as God’s shekinah glory lifted up from between the cherub angels and then paused over the threshold of the Temple for a while, as if God was waiting to see if the people would repent and return to Him (Ezekiel 10:4). Then the shekinah glory departed from the Temple’s threshold and was lifted up, along with the literal cherub angels, out of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 10:18-19; 11:22-23). The obvious symbolism is that God’s shekinah glory had now departed from Solomon’s Temple and the city of Jerusalem. This departing took place during the lead up to the Babylonians conquering Jerusalem and destroying the Temple.

After the Babylonian’s destruction of Solomon’s Temple, the people of Israel ultimately built another Temple to replace Solomon’s original (Ezra chapters 1 through 6). Despite the fact that this second Temple was not nearly as grand or beautiful as Solomon’s had been (Ezra 3:12), God was pleased with it and accepted the worship that took place there. It is significant, however, that the Bible never mentions the shekinah glory of God abiding within or filling that second Temple. Not coincidentally, the Bible never mentions The Ark of the Covenant being inside that Temple. The whereabouts of the Ark have remained unknown since the Babylonian destruction of the Temple.

Israel’s second Temple actually stood longer than Solomon’s had and remained unchanged for centuries until the Romans conquered Jerusalem and installed Herod the Great as the ruler of the city and the surrounding territories. Herod was a great builder and he oversaw a major expansion and renovation of the second Temple in an effort to make it as impressive as Solomon’s had been. This Temple, often referred to as Herod’s Temple, is the one that is spoken of in the New Testament. Again, though, there is never any mention in scripture of God’s shekinah glory abiding within or filling that second Temple either before or after Herod’s renovation work.

Still, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that God didn’t honor that Temple. Jesus actually called that Temple “My Father’s house” (John 2:16) and “My house” (Matthew 21:13). Therefore, the point is not that the second Temple was illegitimate in the eyes of God. It wasn’t. The point is that the Bible makes no specific reference to either The Ark of the Covenant or the shekinah glory of God ever being inside that Temple.

Seventh, where the shekinah (abiding) presence of God first shows up in New Testament is found in Matthew 1:23. There, the angel Gabriel quotes a Messianic prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 in saying of Jesus, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” The verse then points out that Immanuel means “God with us.” You see, as long as Jesus was with us on planet earth, there was no need for the shekinah glory of God in the Jewish Temple. As John 1:14 describes the situation:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (N.K.J.V.)

And now, with all this in mind, we come to the question of where God’s shekinah glory currently abides in this world. Is there such a place? Absolutely!

After Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back to heaven, He kept His promise to send God the Holy Spirit to indwell the body of each saved believer (John 14:26-27; Acts 1:4-8; Romans 8:9-11; Ephesians 1:13-14). What this means is that each Christian’s body is now God’s “temple,” the place in which God dwells and abides in this world (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:14-16). Because of this the Christian should honor God with what he does with his body, puts in his body, or puts on his body. To do anything less is to defile God’s temple. Remember Christian, with every breath you take you are carrying on an ancient tradition of God’s abiding presence. That is an awesome responsibility, and it’s one that you dare not take lightly.

Posted in Angels, Bible Study, Christ's Birth, God's Holiness, Holiness, Scripture, The Ark of the Covenant, The Bible, Worship | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment