Many at times people who teach grace and reality of Jesus in us are accused for forgoing the Old Testament. I hope you don’t include me in that category. I love the Old Testament. I love the stories, the people and the honesty of the Old Testament. I mean where else can you find a woman like Tamar trapping a guy who had sex and had no money to pay?
There are many times when we read an incident in the Scripture in the New we look for lessons to learn and principles to follow. This is because we are gentiles. Unfortunately when we do that we miss something crucial. We should be asking a very crucial question: How is the Old Testament fulfilled here.
A very good example is jesus’s cleansing of the temple. We read it often as Jesus whipping people who try to make money from the temple. Let’s read:
King James Version (KJV)
12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Notice the words “It is written”, where was it written you may ask?
Well here goes,
New International Version (NIV)
7 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this message:
“‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. 3 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
9 “‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury,[a] burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.
So what is the message the Lord was trying to proclaim here?
That the Father was fed up with the temple worship. Dear friends, look at these words. “Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!””
Sadly many miss this important point, Jesus is NOT saying that the temple is being profane. He is actually saying the temple is no longer where God lives.
Here’s another passage of Scripture that comes to mind:
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
There is something very crucial which we so often missed out. The blaspheming here is not that Jesus was forgiving sins. The blasphemy here is that he was forgiving sins on earth.
You see the teachers of the law were saying they had the monopoly on the business of forgiveness of sins. You see forgiveness of sins was base on the law and it was only achievable via the temple. Forgiveness as such was only attainable through the law in the very sanctuary of God. The Holy of Holies, God’s throne on earth. It was there forgiveness is given. The Holy of Holies thus was heaven and forgiveness is from heaven. Heaven only. Only Heaven. Since they taught the Law, forgiveness had to go through them.
Jesus had the power to forgive sins. ON EARTH. Not heaven now. On earth. What Jesus was saying is most profound. He is actually saying this, I am the (wait for it…..) Holy of Holies. God no longer dwells in the temple. He dwells in … (wait for it) IN ME!
Woah Simon how can you make a leap like this, you say. Hold your horses. Follow me on this wonderful journey of discovery.
New International Version (NIV)
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body.
The temple dear friends, in HIS BODY now. God has left the Holy of Holies and dwells in him.
That is why when Jesus died people hurled insults at him and the insults was related to his body crucified.
29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,
You see he was destroying not the Temple physically but he was destroying the temple spiritually. That was why the temple’s veil was torn from top to the bottom. Then temple is now useless.
Many know when Jesus died the curtain was torn from top to bottom. Do you know why? It is not that, we can enter the earthly Holy of Holies. It is done, so the earthly Tabernacle is rendered completely useless. See Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning.
The reason the curtain was torn was because the Holy Spirit wanted to do away with the old tabernacle so that you can focus on the HEAVENLY TABERNACLE not made by humans hands. You see while Jesus died on the cross, something happened in heaven.
See Hebrews 9:
11But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
13For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Note the following:
a) Jesus’s blood was offered in a tabernacle not made by human hands;
b) It was offered in an eternal tabernacle;
c) It was offered thru the eternal Spirit. (Ever wondered why it is the Holy Spirit who is the one in the Trinity, who testify that, God does not remember your sins anymore? This is because the blood was offered through him when Jesus said “into Your hands, I commit my Spirit.” That was His work on the Cross)
d) It is done once and for all in eternity. Is the future, eternal?
e) The answer is obviously yes! Hence the writer now tells you that you now have ETERNAL REDEMPTION. Yes even your sins committed in your future is forgiven in eternity.
Lastly do you know since the veil was torn in the earthly tabernacle, there is a renovation in the Eternal Tabernacle? See this:
Hebrews 10:19-20 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh.
The Message puts it this way “ 19-21So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.”
Hold on… I thought God tore down the veil because He doesn’t want us to be separated from Him… why then put a new curtain up? Relax. Remember what Paul says.
Romans 4:26 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Dear friends, God carried out renovation works when Jesus died. He tore down the old veil. The old veil had cherubs (angels of judgment) on them. It was built to keep you out from the Holy of Holies. He replaced it with a new veil. The new veil is the body of Jesus. The perfect man. Our representative, our perfect High Priest, where we are hidden.
You see we became sinners because of one man’s disobedience. But we were made righteous because of one man’s obedience. (Romans 5:15) It was based on a MAN’s obedience. This righteousness is available to all. This man STILL in His body now sits in heaven as your testimony and mine. He sits there as my righteousness, my High Priest and me. This is because I am crucified with Him and I am in Him. Paul tells us we are hidden in Him. See Colossians 3:3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Paul tells us that this Man is his body was raised for our justification. When God sees this man he sees our justification (as we are hidden in Him). As such while the old veil was to keep out of from the Most Holy Place, this new curtain is to keep us IN the Most Holy Place. When God sees Jesus as our High Priest, He sees our justification. He sees me. I love this new piece of renovation work! It keeps me IN!
But that is not the end of the story.
Dear friends, Jesus did not die to destroy the Temple so that God lives in him as he ascended to heaven. He rested his head because God wanted to live in a home not built by human hands.
If you read your bibles correctly before Jesus’s baptism, the Spirit of God was on men, on the waters of creation. He never rested in a man except Jesus. Jesus said “He was on you but he will be in you.”
the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
I was preaching in a church one day on the parable of the prodigal son when suddenly the Lord asked me this question, “where was the father when the older son refused to walk into his house?”
I had always taught the father had gone in to celebrate. I was wrong.
8 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.” Luke 15:28
Did he go in? No he did not because the older son refused to go in.
When God banished Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden, where was God when Adam and Eve left? He went out with them. When Enoch walked, where was God? With him. When Noah builds the ark, where was he? He shut them in. When Nimrod built Babel where was He? He came down. When Moses and the people lived in tents, where was God? In a tent. When Israel lived in houses, God lived in a house.
Then these beautiful words appeared. “The word became flesh and dwelled among us.” You won’t see the beauty of these words until you read them in the King James: “He tabernacle with us”. You see, dear friends Jesus is the real tabernacle. He was the Way (the outer court), the Truth (the inner court) and the Life (the Holy of Holies). These 3 are no longer 3. They are now one. There is no more separation. The Holy of Holies is actually walking among men.
Jesus said there was no place to rest his head…until the cross. Isaiah 66 tells us that God will not let him rest until God’s righteousness is imputed on all who believe him. That happen when he died, he took our sins, righteousness is imputed to as many as received and believed him. You see just like the older father who refused to go back in until his older son goes in, God really is not interested in His own house. He wants to be where his sons are.
So where does God stay now? Take a look at a very familiar verse but this time in the Amplified Bible.
1 Corinthians 6:19
Amplified Bible (AMP)
19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own.
Brothers and sisters, there it is. The very sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. Not the outer court, not the inner court, but the very very Holy of Holies. You are that Holy place. For the first time, the Holy Spirit found a place to rest. Just like on Jesus. The Holy Spirit no longer hovers over you but rests in you. God is no longer with us. God is now in us.
The Father can finally go home. You are that home. Today is Saturday. It’s my favourite day among the 3 days. Saturday is the day he rested in his tomb. Today I celebrate the day he rested and found his home in me. Jesus loves you.
Good News Translation (GNT) God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands.