Tag Archives: Temple


Did you know there is a building code for how many inches there must be between the toilet and a bathroom cabinet?  Fact is, there’s codes for everything.  But if you think local building codes are fussy, have a look at the regulations God required for the tabernacle, the precursor to the temple.  You’ll find it in the book of Exodus, starting with this verse:

And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.  (Exodus 25:8-9)

Back then, you had to know what a cubit was.  And measure precisely.  But why?  Why would Almighty God give the impression that, if they used the wrong dimensions He couldn’t “dwell in their midst?”  God is sovereign; He can dwell anywhere He wants.  So what’s the deal?

Every detail of the design of the tabernacle nonverbally communicates some important truth.  It’s fascinating to consider each part and ask, “What is this teaching?”  But the overall specificity, the requirement that it be built exactly according to God’s instructions, teaches a lesson easily overlooked today.  If you want to connect to God, you do so on His terms, not your own.

God is Who He is, not who we think He ought to be.  His Name is, “I AM WHO I AM.”  We don’t get to decide how to approach God.   In those days, God taught that important lesson in a rudimentary way, using tabernacle dimensions, etc.  But the lesson still holds today:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6)


Buying God

A few days before Christmas, “[Pope] Francis issued a blistering indictment of the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, accusing the cardinals, bishops and priests who serve him of using their Vatican careers to grab power and wealth, of living “hypocritical” double lives and forgetting that they’re supposed to be joyful men of God.  “Vatican watchers said they had never heard such a powerful, violent speech from a pope…” (excerpts from Associated Press – 12/22/14)

The top leaders of the Roman Catholic church must have been pretty shocked.  What they expected to hear were some mild, innocuous, typical Christmas greetings.  But WHAM!  Stay tuned for how this plays out; it’s going to be very interesting.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem, receiving enthusiastic cheers and cries from a gathering crowd, most of whom expected Him to go into the city and begin setting up a kingdom in opposition to the Romans.  Those nasty, pagan, oppressive Romans were about to get their just desserts; Israel would become free at last.  But not so fast…   When Jesus entered the city, He turned against His own people, the leaders and bureaucrats in the Temple, not the Romans.

” Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’”” (Matthew 21:12-13)

The buying and selling at the Temple had gradually been put in place as a matter of convenience for traveling pilgrims.  Instead of bringing their livestock for the sacrifice, they could purchase an appropriate animal.  If they did not have the right currency for the Temple offering, they could exchange what they had when they got there.  All of this sounds reasonable, as does the need for those providing the service to make a profit.  So what was Jesus so worked up over?

There were a lot of problems represented there, including a form of racism.  But, the main problem was that the Temple was supposed to be a house of prayer (“for all nations,” according to this quote from Isaiah).  Not commerce.  Even so-called “religious” commerce transforms the mysterious and powerful process of communicating with God into a business transaction.  It is true that the “robbers” were charging exorbitant rates.  But the main problem was exchanging what was supposed to be a humble, personal interaction with God for an impersonal ritual involving money.

It’s as though the Temple leaders were encouraging the people to relate to God by saying, “Here, God, here’s a couple of bucks; go buy yourself something nice.”  Instead of reaching out to Him in heartfelt prayer.  Do we make the same mistake today?  To often, I think.  No doubt that’s part of what had the Pope so upset, too.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
AP quote: