Under the leadership of Titus, Roman soldiers destroyed the Jewish Temple in AD 70, fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy from a few decades earlier (Luke 21:5-6). Since that time, Jews have longed to rebuild the Temple. The Temple Institute was created and has been constructing many of the items used in in Temple ceremonies, including building the sacrificial altar (this is not the same one you’ve probably seen all over YouTube, which was constructed and dedicated by “Temple activist organizations”).
As we learn from Scripture, though (and taught by the Jew of Jews, Pharisee, and zealous defender of the Torah, Paul), the House of the Lord isn’t a temple built by human hands (Acts 17:24). Rather, God makes his home in the hearts and lives of every believer in Christ Jesus as the risen Savior (Eph 3:17; James 4:5).
We, the Church, are the House of the Lord. Yet, throughout history, we’ve found ways to tear the temple down.
The Church Often Tears Down the Temple
Over the centuries, the Church has persecuted and killed people they deemed heretics. If you dare deviate from what a priest thinks you should believe or do, then you faced torture and death. The Church even persecuted fellow believers for reading the Bible in their own language.
Supposed Christians decided to rescue Jerusalem from infidels (mostly Muslims), and attacked and slaughtered many during the Crusades. Of course, they also killed Jews and other Christians they considered heretics.
And all this in the name of Jesus.
Although some things may have changed over time, the Church still finds ways to tear down the true temple.
In America, self-proclaimed Christians have used the Bible and Jesus to justify racism, segregation, slavery, and other evils (cf. Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women, Herald Press, 1983). Today, many preachers continue to swindle people out of their money by making unbiblical promises of health and wealth. The Church spends much effort making sure the world knows everything we oppose and how sinful people are, while often neglecting our own faults and sins.
Christian leaders and local churches attack other Christians over small matters that don’t really affect the biblical gospel. If another Christian doesn’t hold to our opinions, interpretations, and personal tastes, then they are somehow lower than us, less holy, or outright non-Christian.
One need only look online at how Christians often behave toward each other and the world. Egotistical pride abounds and ad hominems are standard rhetorical practice. We cry victim anytime someone does something we don’t like or that we believe impedes our freedoms, yet often refuse to grant those same freedoms to those of other beliefs.
And all in Jesus’ name.
We Have Much to Rebuild
As the bride of Christ, and as the true House of God, we need to speak the truth in love rather than in judgment. We need to help the downtrodden and helpless (Gal 6:2; Jas 1:27). We need to preach and practice the gospel, letting love, mercy, and grace flow in and through us.
As God commands us through the prophet Isaiah,
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
– Isaiah 1:16-17
We need to show the world not merely what we oppose, but whom we love. We need to go out into the world rather than wonder why the world won’t come to us. We need to seek the lost, comfort the hurting, and care for the needy. Only then will we start to repair what we so often tear down.
We are the House of the Lord, and we have much to rebuild.