The Temple - The Great Downpayment

Today's illustration contains a bit of science fiction.

In the year 2317, a team of scientists from the Buffalo nation discovered how to generate darklight- a stream of photons which could travel billions of times the speed of normal light. This proved invaluable for establishing real-time comunication with colonies on Mars, Enceladus and Titan. But something very odd happened. During a chat session between Earth and a spaceship heading for Mimas, an unknown voice interrupted. "We are the Washte." it said in a voice almost too quiet to be understood.

The Washte, it was soon discovered, were extremely friendly and highly inventive aliens. They transmitted plans to Earth for a long-range darklight transmitter/receiver which would allow them to communicate more clearly, with the request that it be run by the Buffalo who had created the first darklight radio. For many years, people could come to the Buffalo nation to make friends with someone on the Washte homeworld.

The Washte fell in love with Earth and everything on it, from our great works of art, literature and music to the campiest of our television shows. A large number of washte set out on starships bound for our world with the goal of eventually living among us as friends and neighbors, kindred in spirit if not in flesh.

In 2436, the Venusian Plague hit Earth. People died by the thousands, and life was tormentuous for the survivors. A Washte scientist sought to help, but he knew that there was little he could do from thousands of lightyears away. But he had an idea- he made an arrangement with one of the Buffalo. They each hooked a mind-transfer device to the darklight radio and sent their minds across the vastness of space into one another's bodies. The washte scientist, now in the Buffalo's body, developed a cure for the plague. Once the deadly menace had been stopped, this scientist went on to cure other diseases, but he also served as a living link between Earthers and Washte.

In 2547, the Washte starships completed their journey. During their flight, they had been working nonstop on Earther medical science and discovered means of extending Earther lives amost indefinitely. Together, Earthers and Washte went on to accomplish wondrous things throughout the galaxy as partners and brothers.

When you love someone, you want to be with them. This was certainly true of the Washte. They loved the people of Earth and wanted to be with them, but could not, at least for a century or two. Thus, they created a means of communication so that there could at least be conversation between the two peoples. They would arrive at Earth someday, but in the meantime, the jumbo darklight radio was a sort of downpayment on their own arrival.

God loves us. He cherishes each of His children, but He also loves the human race, including all of its variants. It is His desire to be here personally, enjoying a personal fellowship with all who will accept Him. Unfortunately, he cannot do so now. It is not that He is incapable of coming to Earth. It is because there is a timetable to be kept, and a great deal of history which still must unfold before His arrival. But God still wants fellowship with us, so He gave us a wonderful gift millenia ago. Here's what He did:

The first thing God did was to select a special people to be His representatives. He chose Abraham, his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob as the progenitors of a race of his own engineering. He gave us the nation of Israel to be his conduit to the people of the Earth. Not only this, but He made Aaron the first of a line of priests who would speak to Him on behalf of the people. He also appointed Moses a prophet to speak the the people on HIS behalf. He also ordered the costruction of the Ark of the Covenant, a physical object which would act as His resting place on Earth. He asked for a sanctuary (Exodus 25:8,9) but He didn't ask for a big, fancy temple. He asked for a linen tent.

I say this to point out that God is not a megalomaniac. He does wish to be glorified, but because of love, not ego. when God is glorified, it is to our benefit because we see just how good He is and we understand how much we need Him. But He does not grab glory for Himself. In fact, none of the members of the Godhead do. The Holy Ghost glorifies Jesus. Jesus glorifies Yaweh. Yaweh accepts our praises and honor with love, then uses them to bring us closer to Him.

This brings us to the temple. It was not God's idea to have a temple built for himself, but He was eager for it to be done because it would be a place where people could come and worship him in love and joy, from all over the world. It would stand as a testament of God's desire for a personal relationship with the people of the Earth. Thus, when King David expressed a desire to build God a temple, God was pleased. sadly, David was unfit to do such a thing, since his hands had spilled blood, but God commended David for wanting to do this for Him, and allowed David to have a part in the creation of this gift by allowing him to stockpile the materials which his son, Solomon would use to build the temple.

But the temple was more than just a meeting place. It was also where the people of Israel presented their sacrifices. This was an important practice because the action was considered an acceptable atonement for Sin. Really, it is a picture at that which TRULY cleanses us from sin. It is not the blood of sheep and cows which makes us clean in God's sight. Rather, it is the blood of Jesus. The sacrificial system was a picture of the self-sacrifice of Christ. It causes us to understand that sin results in death, and only death can atone for it. But the only acceptable sacrifice is one which is perfect and without blemish. Because only Jesus is sinless, it was necessary for Him to die.

Just as the one washte scientist came to save the Earth, becoming the firstfruits of his people, so Jesus came to save mankind, and in so doing, became the firstfruits of God. In Him, we have a sampling of what it is like to be with God in person. Not only that, but He became a man in order to dwell among us. Jesus was the living temple, as well as prophet and priest. Where the temple stood as a testimony to God's love, Jesus was living proof of that love, giving is own blood for our salvation.

In our scripture reading, Jesus cleans out the temple courtyard because it angers Him that people are prevented from coming to worship God in peace. He then refers to His own body as the temple. What does that tell us? Well, first of all, it tells us that Jesus is the one way to God. It also tells us that Jesus wants us to come to Him and hates anything that would prevent us from drawing near to Him.

Neither did Jesus leave us empty-pawed when He returned to Heaven. He left us the Holy Spirit, who dwells inside of us, transforming each of us who believe into the living temple of God. While it was me who referred to the temple as a downpayment of God's presence, the bible itself refers to the Holy Ghost as downpayment of our inherritance (Ephesians 1:13,14). So if Christians are temples, what are we to do? We are to be the "place" where people can come to know God. It is our sacred duty to tell people about God and to give them an opportunity to come to Him by sharing the message of salvation.

Still, it is Jesus who provides the way to God the Father. When the temple that is Jesus' body was broken, so the veil in the temple building was ripped in two, signifying that God, who had remained hidden from us, unable to look upon our sinful selves, was no longer unapproachable. Jesus, the living temple, had bridged the gap between God and humankind.

My challenge to the unsaved is to come to the living temple and know God. Let one of us whose duty it is to provide a meeting place introduce you to Jesus, the one true bridge between God and mankind.

To my fellow Christians, my challenge is first to give thanks for our living temple, Jesus the messiah. And second, fulfill your duty as a temple of the Holy Spirit and help those who are still searching and in need to know our wonderful Lord.

Pastor Oren Otter
October 29, 2005