The Holy Place

Day 316

Prayer for the day

To you I lift up my eyes, to you enthroned in the heavens. As the eyes of the servants look to the hand of their masters, and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, until he shows us his mercy.

Scripture for the day

Jeremiah 51-52, Hebrews 9

The destruction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem was the proverbial nail in the coffin of the Jewish homeland. It was the place where the people saw heaven and earth connected. The temple was the sign of God’s presence among the people of Israel, the place where they would have their sin atoned for, the place where they could gather to pray and to see the priest perform his acts of righteousness for the people.

When the Jews were carried away in exile to Babylon, the temple was destroyed, effectively removing the awareness of the presence of God from the people as well. It was the symbolic destruction of the faith of the people, a declaration that the gods of Babylon had forever defeated the God of Israel. Jeremiah, speaking the words of YHWH, says that one day this desecration will be redressed, but for now, hope is demolished.

It is not until much later that Jesus proclaims the temple (and tabernacle) beautiful, but only a shadow of the truth. The writer of Hebrews explains that temples and tabernacles show us signs of the kingdom, but are not truly the embodiment of God’s presence. That is only truly seen in the high priest Jesus Christ, who stands for us as the true priest, and who ministers in the true temple, that is, in heaven, interceding for his people.

The lesson of Hebrews is one not of rejection but of fulfillment: the true high priest, Jesus, fulfills the hope of the former priests, the true temple fulfills the hope of the earthly, and the true worship fulfills the hope of the old.

May we worship together in the true high priest.

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