Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Latter Shall Be Greater Than The Former

Ultimately One Made Without Hands

"The final glory of this house will be greater than the first," says the LORD of Hosts. "I will provide peace in this place"--this is the declaration of the LORD of Hosts." Haggai 2:9

I was reading devotionally recently when I saw the following verse.

"Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy,..." Ezra 3:12

This was not unfamiliar territory to me as I knew that it was referring to the building of the Second Temple after the return of the Jews from exile. The First or Solomon’s Temple had utterly been destroyed decades before.  Not only that, but it’s centerpiece or focus - the Ark of the Covenant - had disappeared. Without the Ark the Shekinah Presence of the Glory of God had also departed - Ichabod.

There were those standing there who had seen the glory of the First Temple and when they saw the dimensions of the foundation of the Second Temple they wept for they knew it could never approach the grandeur of the First. Yet those who had been born in captivity rejoiced greatly with the hope and expectation of that which was about to rise out of the desolation - a portent of resurrection.

As I perused commentary I read: “Not that this second temple was not a very grand and beautiful structure. But no matter how great its material splendor was, it was inferior in this respect to that of Solomon. Yet the glory of the second far outshone that of the first temple in another and more important point of view, namely, the receiving within its walls the incarnate Saviour.” Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary (1871)

Suddenly a panoramic vista of the purpose and intent of God opened within my spirit such as I had never contemplated before. Prophetically this Second Temple would see the Fullness of the Godhead bodily enter through its portals.  The Glory of God would once again be there - but in a way never anticipated on the day that its foundation was dedicated.

The prophet foretold this day: “For who has despised the day of small beginnings? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet (capstone) in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Zechariah 4:10 The majority of the Jews in Babylonian captivity chose not to return - only a remnant returned and they were a minority in their own land in comparison with the multitude of Samaritans who did not believe Jerusalem was the proper place of worship (John 4:20). “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few." 1 Samuel 14:6

In the First Temple - although the poles for carrying the Ark could be seen bulging in anticipation against the curtain - the Presence of God was static. In the times of the Messiah the Presence would go in and come out - it (He) was dynamic.  Yet, both were shadows of that which was to come.

Having served its purpose did the First Temple have to be destroyed?  “But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.” Ezra 5:12

What about the Second Temple? “And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, ‘As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.’”  Luke 21:5-6 

Did they have to make way for the Temple made without hands? "We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.'" Mark 14:58 (Hebrews 9:11)  “But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.” Matthew 12:6 This Temple would exist in perpetuity for a temple made without hands cannot be destroyed by the hands of men. “one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.” Hebrews 7:16

Both temples served their purpose in pointing toward the great and final temple - but they also revealed their inadequacy in establishing righteousness in the heart of the people. Thus they must be destroyed to make way for the house that would not receive a visitation, but would be a place of habitation for the Glory of God - throughout all eternity. “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Revelation 21:22 

The Temple of God - both present and future - is built up of living stones. “in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22 “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16 

May our expectations be energized by the hope that is from above - exchanging not the temporal for the eternal.  “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
Edward Mote - 1834