The background of today’s blog is that the neighbour who I have been witnessing to, appeared at the door while I was playing golf on Tuesday and spent some time berating my daughter Leslie, for all sorts of things which I am supposed to have done wrong. My first reaction, on hearing this was indignation, then I decided to lay it at the Lord’s feet.
Horizon – the word came to me and I saw in my mind’s eye the western horizon with the sun setting and multitudes of little lights twinkling on, in the darkening city below. “Look up at the horizon – see the bigger picture – there is a huge unseen war going on at the spiritual level – the disagreement and attack from Geraldine is a mere skirmish in the larger battle, look up and see the multitude of skirmishes happening all over the country (at this I was reminded of all the little lights which seemed to represent just that). These are all part of the bigger war – the mass weapons of the devil are: Covid, corruption, violence, murder, dishonesty, greed, lust etc – but these are all played out in different ways in the lives of individual people. Ian – put on the breastplate of righteousness – behave honestly, kindly and purely – so that Satan cannot accuse you to other people. Take up the shield of faith – trust in Me for everything on all levels, so that the devil cannot shoot his fiery darts of doubt into your mind, filling it with ‘what if’s’ and remind yourself continually that you are in Me (Jesus) – I am your shield – remain close to me and My power and face the battle in My strength – the victory is assured”.
My reading to-day is Luke 19:45-48, just those 3 verses. Now it would have been easy to glance at them and remember the familiar picture and move on to something with more meat, but I stopped and meditated on these vv and asked Jesus to speak to me from them.
So firstly to the original meaning and teaching principle: The temple was the center point of the Israeli culture because it represented the very presence of their covenant God Yahweh. It was there and only there that the covenant people could meet with their covenant God. It was there where sacrifices were made for the people’s sins to clear the way for them to approach Yahweh and this alone through the appointed High Priest and it was there that the people could bring their prayers to Yahweh, only mediated through a priest, however. It was also there that the people were to reach out to foreigners (read Isaiah 56:1-8 where the quote; “My house will be a house of prayer”, comes from, in I 56:7). It was the most important place in the whole of Israel, in fact in the whole world. Yet the people had desecrated it, lost their awe at its meaning and function, because they had lost their awe of God. This represented far more than just action, it represented the very attitude the people had developed towards God. Rejecting Him at the deepest level.
So what had happened over time, was that the people had adulterated the temple’s chief function, turning this holy structure into a commercial venture, as it were, where any sins were sort of OK. Luke presents that moment graphically. (You can allow yourself to picture it in your mind). Luke is showing us that Jesus’ immediate and long term program was that a large part of His mission was to judge the misuse of the temple and to replace it with Himself and His own body would be the ultimate sacrifice. This judgement represented the judgement of Israel for turning away from God and would be graphically completed in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed, physically, completely. It is also through that sacrifice of Jesus that the lines of communication with God would be opened and we, ordinary people like you and me, could henceforth meet with our Father through Jesus, our new High Priest’s mediation.
So what is Jesus saying through this to me? This passage opens up a huge array of joy and appreciation for what He has done and the fact that we don’t need to go to a temple to worship anymore today. It also means I should examine myself deeply, with His help, as to how pure my relationship with him is, as expressed in my thought-life and my activities in serving Him. Does He remain the center of my whole life, my reference point, as it were? How much am I being motivated by the wrong desires? Hmmm – plenty to think about. It is so easy to pat oneself on the back and like the Pharisee in the temple, to say thank God I am not like all these other sinners around me. Notice also the much underplayed task of the Israeli’s was to represent God to the foreigners, which they failed hopelessly to do. So how am I doing on that front?
So my friends, sometimes the artist paints with a big brush and sometimes a tiny detailed brush called a rigger. In all this Jesus can still speak to you from His word, if you just use the correct tools and especially if you ask Him to open your mind and heart so that you really “hear” Him.