Friday, February 12, 2010

Daily Bible Reading - February 12 - One Greater Than the Temple

The tabernacle (and later the temple) was a display of God's mercy, of His desire to condescend to man so that humanity could have a relationship with Him. It was there that Israel could come to offer sacrifices for their sins, and where the people could assemble to worship the Lord. It was the center of Israelite life.

And yet as you read the account of the blueprint for the tabernacle and its related furnishings and attendants, it is not the most welcoming of pictures. Yes, the Israelites could come and worship, but they came to a structure enveloped in a complex series of tents, curtains, and screens. Only one tribe could actually enter the tabernacle proper, and only one man could go into its deepest recess (once a year). Again, this was a wonderful gift from God to the people, and I don't mean to minimize it by pointing out these features. Nevertheless, it was a strictly regulated and highly restrictive place of worship.

The ultimate condescension of God to man took place in the incarnation, described by Paul in today's New Testament reading:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8).
Notice how Paul uses the word "form" to describe Jesus:
-He was in the form of God
-He took the form of a servant
-He was found in human form

Jesus was God; Jesus was a servant; Jesus was human. And unlike the tabernacle, which had strictly limited access, Jesus could be touched by anyone. Lepers, sinners, demoniacs, executioners. But He could not be defiled like the tabernacle could. When lepers touched Him they were cleansed; when sinners touched Him they were forgiven; when demoniacs touched Him they were delivered; when executioners touched Him He died - then rose from the dead.

"I tell you, something greater than the temple is here" (Matthew 12:6).

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