Tag Archives: Temple

Straining at Gnats, Swallowing Camels

As Jesus spoke to His disciples and the multitude gathered in His last public discourse held in the Temple of Jerusalem before His crucifixion, He spoke of those who strain at gnats and swallow camels. He spoke of those who minor on the major, and major on the minor. He spoke of those who clean the outside of the cup while neglecting the filthiness inside the cup. He spoke of the scribes and Pharisees of the day, pronouncing woe upon them for their hypocrisy and iniquity.

In Matthew 23 Jesus’ words of guilt and punishment are recorded upon those in His presence who had laid heavy burdens upon the people but would not lift one finger to help them. He declared, “All their works they do for to be seen of men,” (vs4-5). In denouncing them, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (v13), Jesus proceeded to make clear the very nature of their sin.

Jesus rebuked them for promoting false doctrine contrary to the Scriptures (v13); devouring widows’ property and possessions by fraud (v14); making a pretence of long prayers (v14); compassing land and sea to make one false convert to their traditions (v15); giving more credence to an oath sworn on the gold of the Temple or a gift on the altar than by the God of Heaven Whose presence dwelt in the Temple (vs16-22); paying tithes with herbs of little value while omitting “the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, and faith” (v23).

As Jesus refers to the scribes and Pharisees as “blind guides” throughout the chapter for leading His people astray, He gives word pictures to their actions. He describes how they wipe clean the outside of the plate and cup, observing all the washings and cleansings of their tradition, while neglecting what matters most on the inside (vs25-26). He then turns their attention to the cemetery and the “whited sepulchres” found there, which appear beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones. He tells them of how they build and decorate the tombs of the prophets and righteous who were slain by their forefathers, all the while proclaiming “If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.” Knowing that it would be by their very hands they would call for His crucifixion, He tells them, “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers,” (vs27-32).

For such actions by the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus called them “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers,” for their pretending to be pious and devoted to God, but all the while being wicked on the inside with evil intentions. Jesus then asked them, “How can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (v33). If the scribes and Pharisees continued on their wicked path, their future punishment in eternity would be inescapable.

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JESUS, Our High Priest

In the wilderness God gave Moses detailed instructions on building the Tabernacle. Once settled in the Promised Land, King David desired to replace the Tabernacle tent with a permanent structure. God allowed David’s son, Solomon, to build the magnificent Temple high on a hill overlooking the City of Jerusalem. From the time of Moses until Jesus’ death on the cross, the blood of bulls and goats was what God required to cover sin, but upon the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross He became our High Priest, obtaining eternal redemption for us through His blood.

The Book of Leviticus outlines every aspect of God’s instructions to Moses, not only for the construction of the Tabernacle but also its furnishings and function. The high priest was to be appointed from the Levitical lineage of Moses’ brother, Aaron, and was tasked with entering once each year to seek forgiveness for himself and the sins of the people into the partitioned Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant resided hidden from the people. With the deaths of the high priests throughout the centuries, others were appointed to replace them, that is, until Jesus became the final and Eternal High Priest.

The Apostle Paul writes in the Book of Hebrews of Jesus becoming the Everlasting High Priest upon His death, burial and resurrection. In Hebrews 9:11-12 Paul explains, “But 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; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in ONCE into the holy place.” As the Eternal High Priest, He alone became the Mediator between God and man. At His death the veil in the Temple separating the Holy of Holies from the people was rent in two from top to bottom forever giving man access to the Father through Jesus, His Son, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us,” (Hebrews 9:24).

As the High Priest of our salvation, Jesus came into the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” breaking down the middle wall of partition between God and man, and “after He had offered ONE sacrifice for sins FOR EVER, sat down on the right hand of God,” ever making intercession for us (Hebrews 9:26; 10:12; Ephesians 2:13,14; Romans 8:34).

JESUS – The Perfect Lamb

“And there were in the same country

Shepherds abiding in the field,

Keeping watch over their flock by night.”

This familiar verse found in Luke 2:8 carries greater significance than realized in a casual reading of the events of the first Christmas. Referring back to the Old Testament one reads of Ruth gleaning in the fields of Boaz located near the little town of Bethlehem (Ruth 1:22-2:3). It was the location of those fields where the ancestral home of King David was established, for Ruth and Boaz were David’s great-grandparents, necessitating the return of Mary and Joseph to register in the City of David for census purposes. The genealogy of Jesus found both in Matthew chapter one and Luke chapter three contain the names of Jesus’ earthly ancestors, which include David the King, David’s father Jesse, David’s grandfather Obed, and David’s great-grandfather Boaz. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was not a coincidence, but planned by God the Father to fulfill His eternal purpose.

With Bethlehem situated just six miles southeast of Jerusalem, the shepherds keeping watch over the flock that night included priestly shepherds keeping watch from the two-story stone tower of Edar located midway between the two cities. The priestly shepherds’ sole task was to provide lambs for the Temple sacrifices. It was these lambs that were to be without spot or blemish (Deuteronomy 17:1), therefore upon birth the lambs were wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger within the tower to calm them and keep them from injuring themselves. After Rachel’s death and her burial in Bethlehem, Jacob “journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar,” (Genesis 35:19-21).

The Perfect Lamb of God was born on that holy night in a lowly stable, wrapped in nativityswaddling clothes, and laid in a manger, as were all the sacrificial lambs (Luke 2:1-20). It was JESUS who was sacrificed for the sins of the world, once for all time, the veil in the Temple renting from top to bottom negating any future sacrifices and giving man access into the Holy of Holies, to God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 27:50-51; Hebrews 10:1-12). The Prophet Micah wrote 700 years before the birth of Christ the announcement of the Promised Messiah would take place at the tower of Edar, known as the “tower of the flock” (Micah 4:8).

A Desire to Hear

As Jesus began to preach in the synagogues of Galilee following His Temptation by the Devil in the wilderness, “the people pressed upon Him to hear the Word of God” as He stood along the banks of Lake Gennesaret. It was then He climbed into Simon Peter’s boat, asked Peter to “thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship,” (Luke 5:1-3). The people desired to hear God’s Word.

King Herod wanted the opportunity to hear Jesus, for he had “heard of all that was done by Him.” Having put John the Baptist to death at the request of his wife, “Herod said, John have I beheaded: but Who is this of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see Him,” (Luke 9:7-9).

Following Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He could be found daily teaching in the Temple. The chief priests, scribes, “and the chief of the people” were plotting and planning how they might destroy Him, jealous of the attention He was receiving from those who formally looked to them for spiritual and political leadership. They “could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear Him,” (Luke 19:28-48).

Luke records during the week of Jesus’ crucifixion, “in the day time He was teaching in the Temple; and at night He went out, and abode in the mount that is called the Mount of Olives.” It was there Jesus delivered the Olivet discourse to His disciples concerning His second coming and the end of the world (Matthew 24). Luke continues to write of this time, “And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the Temple, for to hear Him,” (Luke 21:37-38).

The Apostle John writes of the time just prior to Jesus’ crucifixion of “certain Greeks,” not Jews, who came to Philip, “and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.” Philip, along with Andrew, presented the Greeks’ request to Jesus, “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified,” (John 12:20-23). Although Jesus’ earthly ministry was drawing to a close with His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension back to Heaven, just as those who pressed upon Him, desired to see Him, were attentive to hear Him, rose up early in the morning to hear Him, may we today have the same desire as those who lived during Jesus’ time. May we fill our hearts and minds hearing His Word written within the pages of Scripture.

“This is My Beloved Son: hear Him.”

Luke 9:35

The Path to Revival

The Temple in Jerusalem was once again in great need of repair because of neglect. One hundred years earlier King Hezekiah had ordered the priests and Levites to sanctify themselves, sanctify the Temple, “and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.” Revival took place during Hezekiah’s day as worship was once again restored and the people consecrated themselves to the LORD and His commands (2 Chronicles 29-31).

King Josiah was just eight years old when he began to reign in Jerusalem following the reign of Hezekiah’s son Manasseh, followed by the reign of his grandson, Amon. As Hezekiah’s great-grandson, King Josiah at the age of sixteen began to seek after God and call for the destruction of idol worship prevalent throughout the land. The high places and groves where idol worship took place, along with their altars to Baal, their carved images and molten images used in their idolatrous worship “he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.” King Josiah was very serious about destroying the sin in the land.

In the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign at the age of twenty-six, after purging the land of idolatry, he called for the repairing of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. As the workmen set about doing their work, the High Priest Hilkiah “found a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses.” The nation had strayed so far from God that even God’s Word had been set aside and eventually lost within the Temple confines. As Shaphan the scribe read the Book of the Law to King Josiah, the King “rent” his clothes as was custom during times of great grief, and called for all the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem to gather at the Temple where the King “read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD.”

At the conclusion of his reading King Josiah made a covenant before the LORD and all gathered that he would keep God’s commandments, His testimonies and statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, and would perform all the words written within the Book. He encouraged all that were present to do the same in their lives, to which they covenanted together with him to do likewise. “Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the Children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the LORD their God. And all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers,” (2 Chronicles 34).

The path to revival follows the path King Josiah took with the people who were alive during his reign. Upon repenting of sin, returning to the Word of God and remaining faithful to Him, revival will come as a nation, a people, a church return to the God of the Bible and His Word. Instead of brokenness, filthiness, and uselessness, His blood cleanses from all unrighteousness and brings restoration and revival (1 John 1:7).

EZRA – Book of “The Return to Jerusalem”

Key Verse:  Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”

Cyrus’ Decree to Rebuild the Temple – Chapter 1

People Return to Jerusalem – Chapter 2

Altar Set-Up & Worship Restored – Chapter 3

Work on the Temple Stopped – Chapter 4

Work on the Temple Begins Again – Chapter 5

Temple is Finished – Chapter 6

Ezra Sent to Jerusalem – Chapter 7

Those Who Returned with Ezra – Chapter 8

The People Sin; Ezra Prays – Chapter 9

The People Repent & Return to God – Chapter 10

2 CHRONICLES – Book of “The Temple’s Rise & Fall”

Key Verse:   2 Chronicles 6:14, “O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in the heaven, nor in the earth;  which keepeth covenant, and sheweth mercy unto Thy servants,                      that walk before Thee with all their hearts.” 

Solomon’s Kingdom Established – Chapter 1 

Solomon Prepares to Build the Temple – Chapter 2 

Solomon Builds the Temple – Chapters 3-4

Ark Brought to the Temple – Chapter 5

Solomon Dedicates Temple – Chapter 6

God Accepts the Temple – Chapter 7

Solomon’s Fame Spreads – Chapters 8-9

Kingdom Divides into Judah & Israel – Chapters 10-12

Southern Kingdom’s Loyalty to Temple – Chapters 13-36

People of Judah Taken Captive to Babylon – Chapter 36

Cyrus’ Decree to Rebuild the Temple – Chapter 36