Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our readings of the Old and New Testaments speak of the temple, which means the Temple of Jerusalem. For us, the word temple means a place like that, a house of prayer and adoration to God, often with an altar. For the people of Israel, in the beginning, there was not a fixed place for the worship of God. We read in the book of Genesis that Abraham built an altar here (Genesis 13:18; 22: 9; 26:25), Jacob built an altar there (Genesis 35: 1), also in the book of Exodus, Moses built an altar in the desert. It was typical to build an altar in a place where the power and presence of God was shown. Example, Jacób's case and his dream of the stairway to heaven at Bethel.
From the beginning, the inspired authors of the Scriptures understood God as a spiritual being, without material form. In the literal sense, God does not have a mouth, eyes or hands. He does not have the same limitations as us; He can be everywhere at the same time. God does not need to live in a house. However, for us, spiritual beings, but also with bodies of flesh and blood too, the prophets explain the actions of God in terms that we can understand. There is that hich comes from the mouth of God; his strong right arm; the eyes of God see everything.
Likeise, God wants His people to gather in a place for worship. Of course, God has promised us to be with us everywhere, at all times. So, we can pray and worhip God at home. But, to give testimony to all the nations of our faith and the presence of God in this world; to receive the gifts of His Word and the sacraments in communion with other believers, God has commanded us to gather in a place at the appointed time.
We are the church, the body of Christ. The church is not a building, but the faithful themselves. But, when someone asks, where is the church of Christ? The answer in our Lutheran Confessions is the visible church is where the Word is publicly preached in its purity, and the sacraments administered in the way the Lord commanded us.
Because of our limits, we need a place dedicated to this purpose. A beautiful place, where we can focus on prayer and adoration, with images that remind us of the teachings of our Lord.
For this same purpose, God commanded the people of Israel, the Old Testament church, to build a temple. When God made His covenant with the people of Israel before Mount Sinai, He ordered the construction of a tabernacle, a mobile temple for their pilgrimage in the desert. Then, after entering the Promised Land, King David wanted to build a permanent temple set in the holy city, Jerusalem, on the holy mountain of Zion. But the Lord told him, "This task is not for you, but your son."
so, King Solomon built the first temple in Jerusalem a thousand years before Jesus Christ. This temple was the center of the people’s worship. The Israelites traveled three or four times a year to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and praises in the temple.
With the conquest of Judah by the rule of Babylon, Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed. However, when the Jews returned from their exile, they rebuilt the city and its temple. In addition, about 50 years before Christ, King Herod the Great began a project to renovate the temple and expand its complex. Therefore, at that time of Jesus, the Temple of Jerusalem was greater than ever.
However, as in the time of the prophet Jeremias, there was a problem. Our reading of the Old Testament (Jeremiah 7: 1-11) reads as follows: "The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, Stand at the door of the house of the LORD, and preach there this word, and say: Hear the word of Jehovah, all Judah, you who enter through these gates to worship Jehovah. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD is this. But if you fully improve your ways and your works; if you act justly between a man and his neighbor, and do not oppress a foreigner, an orphan, and a widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place, nor go after other gods to your hurt. "
The state of the country was very bad. Inside the temple, they fulfilled the rites commanded by God. Outside the temple, on the contrary, "stealing, killing, adultery, swearing falsely, and burning incense to Baal", a god of the Canaanites. In addition, they made the temple a "cave of thieves" by their hypocrisy. These things were not the fruits of a sincere and living faith. o, Jeremiah called people to repentance and true worship.
Also in Luke, "And when he came near the city, seeing it, (Jesus) wept over her, saying: Oh if you had known, even you, at least in this your day, what touches your peace! But now it is hidden from your eyes. "And Jesus prophesied the fall of Jerusalem and its temple again. "For days will come on you, your enemies will surround you with fences, and they will surround you, and from all sides they will put you in a strait. and they will bring you down to the ground, and your children inside you; and they will not leave in you stone upon stone; because you did not know the time of your visitation. "
This prophecy was fulfilled in the year 70 after the birth of Jesus Christ by the hands of the Romans. Many of the people reject the Messiah, the Promised One of Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David, and besides, the priests had corrupted the rites that God commanded the people to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah. The law of Moses demanded the sacrifices of animals, such as lambs and sheep, but for those who traveled from a long distance to Jerusalem, it was allowed to buy the animals in the city, but the priests had brought this business from the city market inside the temple to collect a part of the money.
To buy and sell is not a sin in itself, and God is an all places. But, inside the house of God, we must pay all our attention to the worship of God, not to the things of this world, that is why Jesus cast out all those who sold and bought in the temple, saying: "It is written: My house is a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves. "
It is a blessing for us to have a house of prayer, but we must not forget its purpose: God does not need a house, nor does he need to hear our prayers, but he wants to hear them. We do not need to offer sacrifices for the propitiation of sins, sacrifices in the Temple of Jerusalem only pointed to the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Because of his blood shed on the cross, Jesus paid the price of our sins forever. the blood and body of the Lord for the forgiveness of our sins and the nourishment of our faith, but, if there are no fruits of faith, this is not worthwhile either.
In our church, we keep the rites of the ancient church, to show our solidarity with the church everywhere and of all times, because the church of Christ is not just in one place or just one era either, but it is not worth it if we do not live the faith outside of church on Sundays, if we do not live in the joy of salvation everywhere, in all situations.
We can do this because of the Holy Spirit that we have received in baptism. As St. Paul says in our epistle (1 Corinthians 12: 1-11), "there are diversity of gifts; but it isthe same Spirit. And there are diversity of ministries; but it isthe Lord Himself. And there are diversity of operations; but it is the same God who does all things in all.”
We begin our week together in adoration with our brothers in the faith to give public testimony. During the week, in our homes and families, we also give testimony. Because Christ is with us everywhere forever. In this is the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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