The Temple of the Lord

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: II Corinthians 6:14-7:1


I.         What is a temple?

            A.        In warning Christians not to bind themselves with unbelievers, Paul reminds us that we are the temple of God - II Corinthians 6:16

                        1.         It is the place where God dwells - I Corinthians 3:16

                        2.         Both on an individual scale as well as the church - Ephesians 2:19-22

            B.        This is not to say that God is contained within us - I Kings 8:27-29

                        1.         God’s name is there

                        2.         It is something that belongs to God - I Corinthians 6:19

            C.        It is the place where worship is brought before God

                        1.         In the Old Testament it was a single physical place

                        2.         But in the New Testament it changed - John 4:21-24

            D.        God’s temple today is the church because

                        1.         God is there - Matthew 18:20

                        2.         God’s name is there. We belong to God

                        3.         God is worshiped there

            E.        God’s temple is also each individual Christian

                        1.         Because God is there

                        2.         God’s name is there

                        3.         God is worshiped there

II.        God told us to learn from the Old Testament - I Corinthians 10:11

            A.        The idea of a temple was borrowed from the Old Law, so what can we learn

            B.        As Israel slid into decay and the Babylonian empire began taking captives, the prophet Ezekiel was invited to see what was going on at God’s temple

III.       The corruption of God’s Temple

            A.        The idol of jealousy - Ezekiel 8:3-6

                        1.         The temple was composed several U-shaped courtyards. Ezekiel is deposited in the inner court, next to the temple, by the north gate.

                        2.         Being told to look north, through the gate, he sees the idol of jealousy – an idol that provokes God to jealousy

                        3.         Consider the position

                                    a.         As people come to worship at the altar, it is the first thing seen.

                                    b.         As people leave it is the last thing seen.

                                    c.         Those looking toward the temple, don’t see God, they see the idol because it blocks the view of God’s dwelling.

                        4.         God declares that its presence makes Him want to leave, but He forebears for the moment.

                        5.         The application:

                                    a.         Though we are the temple of the living God, we erect idols of jealous before our temple

                                    b.         Things that come before God. Things that dominate our lives, on which we place greater importance.

                                    c.         Notice that the idol is not named. It isn’t just one particular thing that comes between the believer and his God.

                                    d.         Our work can provoke God to jealousy. It can be a higher priority in our lives. Instead of making work fit around more important things, we try to fit what should be more important around our work.

                                    e.         It can be school, sports, social activities

                                    f.         It can be addictive substances

                                    g.         It can be personal wants and desires

                                    h.         We’re supposed to belong to God, but we give our residence over to other things, provoking God to jealousy

            B.        Hidden idols - Ezekiel 8:7-12

                        1.         Remember this is a vision. God tells Ezekiel to dig through the wall of the courtyard and there he discovers more idolatry.

                        2.         It might be hidden from others, but God sees - Isaiah 29:15; Jeremiah 23:24

                        3.         As shocking as the idolatry is, more shocking is who is involved – the elders of Israel

                                    a.         The very leaders of Israel are involved in idolatry, thinking they can hide it.

                                    b.         They are convinced that God doesn’t see it or He doesn’t care because they decided that God has abandoned them

                        4.         Yet it is their sins that are driving a wedge between them and God

                                    a.         Psalms 10:4, 11 - It is a mistake of judging time from man’s view

                                    b.         Psalms 94:7-11 - But God does know

                                    c.         People just think God is like them - Psalms 50:21-22

                        5.         The application

                                    a.         Secret idols are widespread - pornography, sex, drugs, drinking

                                    b.         We somehow are convinced that no one else sees

                                    c.         And because we apparently get away with them, then God doesn’t care either

                                    d.         And thus the temple of God is corrupted.

            C.        Heart elsewhere - Ezekiel 8:14-15

                        1.         Ezekiel is then led to the north gate where he looks on the women’s court.

                        2.         The women are there in temple, but they are weeping for Tammuz.

                                    a.         Tammuz was a Syrian god who was believed to die during the winter months and came back from the grave at spring time to reign during the summer months.

                                    b.         While it was winter, Tammuz was worshiped by mourning.

                        3.         Thus we have worshipers coming before God, but they aren’t really there. Their minds are elsewhere.

                        4.         We have that today

                                    a.         People who come to worship, but they are texting or browsing the Internet on their smart phones.

                                    b.         For others, they are physically here, but their minds are elsewhere, thinking about matters which are more important to them.

                                    c.         They are here, but they aren’t really here.

            D.        Deliberate denial - Ezekiel 8:16-17

                        1.         Returning to the inner court, Ezekiel watches as 25 priests turn their backs on the temple and bow to the rising sun.

                                    a.         The priests had 24 division, plus the high priest, so this represents all the members of the priesthood

                                    b.         “Putting the twig to the nose” – we would say “thumbing their noses at God

                        2.         These people knew they were doing wrong. They were the religious leader of Israel, but they were defying God for their own religion.

                                    a.         II Chronicles 29:6 - Turning their backs on God

                                    b.         Jeremiah 2:27-28 - Reminds me of evolution

                                    c.         Jeremiah 32:33 - Refusing to listen to God

IV.      How God dealt with those who corrupted His Temple

            A.        God brought in executioners and a man to record those who should be spared - Ezekiel 9:1-2

                        1.         Only those who were upset at the corruption would be spared - Ezekiel 9:4-5

                        2.         The destruction would start in the temple. God would not spare, even in His own temple. It was already defiled, so He would defile it further - Ezekiel 9:6-7

            B.        Ezekiel knew how widespread the problem was. He feared he would be the only one left - Ezekiel 9:8

            C.        God’s answer is basically, “If that is what it takes ...” - Ezekiel 9:9-10

            D.        The saddest point is that it doesn’t take long for the one marking the righteous to return - Ezekiel 9:11

V.        What will it take for you and I to give up our sins?

            A.        God’ temple will be kept pure. God is not beyond destroying His temple if it is corrupted.

            B.        We should not be so foolish, as the Israelites were, to think that because God’s temple is with us that we are safe - Micah 3:11; Jeremiah 7:4

            C.        Read again II Corinthians 6:14-7:1

                        1.         You are the temple of God

                        2.         Don’t bring idols into the temple, don’t compromise with the world

                        3.         Don’t think you can hide your sins from God

                        4.         Don’t offer insincere worship

                        5.         Don’t reject God

Based on a lesson by Glenn Hamilton

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