Friday, February 2, 2018

Isaiah Post 45 - The Temple and Our Hearts (Chapter 66A)

We have reached Isaiah chapter 66. Prepare for high drama. 

The LORD opens the chapter with a metaphor and a question in verse 1:

“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?

The metaphor shows just how big and how absolutely sovereign God is.

Even though God is everywhere, His temple has been and will be physically rebuilt.  God doesn’t NEED a  temple, but He has man build them anyway.  His temple is a focal point for the world that points to Him.

In 1 Kings 8, we see King Solomon dedicating the temple that he built for the LORD.  Here are some excerpts from that passage:

And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

Then Solomon spoke: “The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud. I have surely built You an exalted house, And a place for You to dwell in forever.”

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O LORD my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.

Here is one of my favorite parts:

“Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.

Whenever Israel came back to the land, a temple was built.  The first temple was built under Solomon, the second temple under Ezra following the return from Babylon, and today there is a huge push for the third temple to be rebuilt.  Israel has had Jerusalem since 1967.  It’s time!  All the turmoil in Jerusalem hinges on this subject.  There was turmoil in Ezra’s time, too.  The locals fought tooth and nail to see that the temple would not be rebuilt  (You can read about it in Ezra 4).

I have orthodox Jewish friends who cut a chunk out of the walls in their main living space, about a cubit by a cubit (18"x18"). They do this because of Haggai 1:4, which says, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” (The context of that scripture is the rebuilding of the second temple under Zerubbabel)

A quick story about that:  Two Gentile friends of mine, twin brothers as a matter of fact, have cut the holes in their living spaces as well.  One of the twins asked an orthodox Jewish friend of his, "How many Christians do this?"  The friend looked them both in the eye and said he knew of two.  I wish I were brave enough to cut a hole in my living room wall.  One of these days...

In the New Covenant scriptures, Stephen quotes Isaiah 66:1 when speaking to the Sanhedrin.  What is this about?

Acts 6 beginning at verse 8 sets up the context.  The high priest and other Jewish leaders were triggered because they thought Stephen was changing their customs, and speaking blasphemy against Moses and God.  Here is the passage:

Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.  And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law;  for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.

(Don’t be messing with our customs!  That makes people mad.)

Stephen goes on to give a very thorough history of the Jewish people – the call of Abraham, the patriarchs in Egypt, the deliverance via Moses, and Israel’s rebellion.  Stephen knew the scriptures well.

We pick back up in Acts 7:44-49:

Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen,  which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,  who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob.  But Solomon built Him a house.  “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord,  Or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?’

The high priest and all the rest of his cronies were enraged with Stephen.  They accused him of blasphemy and proceeded to stone him to death.  They also didn’t like him messing with their traditions.

Stoning of Stephen
Stoning of Stephen

They didn't like the truth that Stephen was trying to tell them:  In our current age, there is no physical temple because God Himself indwells believers through His Holy Spirit, which was poured out at Shavuot (Pentecost).

But that does not mean that there is no future place for a physical temple, because a new era is coming upon us soon.  God allowed the second temple to be destroyed toward the beginning of this current age we are living in - the era of the gospel going to the ends of the earth.  The destruction of the second temple happened in 70 AD; about 40 years after the Messiah was crucified and risen.

But guess what?  Israel is back in the land today.  And the scriptures say that when the Messiah comes again, there will be a temple in Jerusalem.

Ok, all that and we have covered one verse.  

Verse 2 continues:
For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,” Says the LORD.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.

The LORD confirms that He is LORD of all.  However, He esteems those who is poor in spirit, contrite, humble, and revere the Word of the Lord.  How does someone THAT BIG esteem us?  In Hebrew it actually says, who I will look at or turn My face to

His holy presence with us is simply mind boggling. Is He foreshadowing the day when our hearts would be the home and temple of His Holy Spirit in this present age?

Verses 3-4 then show us a contrast, demonstrating exactly what the LORD does NOT esteem:

Just as they have chosen their own ways, 
And their soul delights in their abominations,
So will I choose their delusions, 
And bring their fears on them; 
Because, when I called, no one answered, 
When I spoke they did not hear; 
But they did evil before My eyes, 
And chose that in which I do not delight.

Idolatry.  The Lord hates it.  It is the backbone of the first commandment.  He really hates idolatry.

Verse 5 then tells us,

Hear the word of the LORD, 
You who tremble at His word(Is that you?)
“Your brethren who hated you, 
Who cast you out for My name’s sake, said,
‘Let the LORD be glorified, 
That we may see your joy.’ 
But they shall be ashamed.”

You will be hated if you love the Lord, love His word, and if you support Israel.  Be prepared, and stick to His Word.  Press in, cling to the Lord, and don’t give up.  God haters also hate God’s people.  But as this verse promises. they will someday proclaim the Lord’s glory, and they will be ashamed.

To read the next post on this chapter, click here.

To begin at the first post on the book of Isaiah, click here.

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