This week marks the beginning of a three week period of mourning in the Jewish community over the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. Even though this time of mourning has been common in the Jewish community ever since the Temple’s destruction, it is a really unique phenomenon if you think about it. What other people group mourns the loss of a building, no matter how central to their culture, for hundreds, much less thousands of years? Yet here we are, nearly two thousand years after the destruction of the second Temple, entering a period of national mourning once again. But what purpose does this mourning serve? Wouldn’t it be better to move on with life instead of dwelling in the past? Or is there something deeper here, something we have overlooked as Christians? You see, the Temple in Jerusalem isn’t just a building, it isn’t just a house for God, it is His home here on earth. Psalm 132:13 says,
“For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem; He has desired it for His home.” (NLT)
I know this idea of a physical home for God can seem strange to us today as Christians with all of our theology and notions as to the character of God. But in reality, why is it strange? Why should God not have a home here on earth? God says in 2 Chronicles 6:16,
“For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” (NKJV)
God says His eyes and heart will be on the Temple Mount perpetually, forever. I know this makes little sense when we view Scripture through the fogged up lenses of replacement theology, but what if we take off those lenses for a few minutes and look at God’s word for what it truly says? What if we actually approach what God says as a little child might? After all, this concept of a home for God makes perfect sense to children. God is our Father, and fathers have a house they want to spend time in with their children. Houses are important for families to find security, shelter, and unity. With that in consideration, perhaps we have over-complicated things.
Matthew 18:3 says,
“Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (NKJV)
I’m going to make a bold statement. Home, an actual physical home here on earth, is important to God.
This is why when Jesus was lost in Jerusalem when 12 years old, “doing His Father’s business,” He was found in the Temple.
This is why a very significant part of Jesus’ ministry and teaching was based in the Temple.
This is why Jesus told His disciples He is preparing rooms for them in the Temple in John 14:2.
This is why the disciples were continually in the Temple after Jesus’ ascension to heaven according to Luke 24:53.
And this is why Jesus will be returning to the Temple when He comes again, according to many of the prophets.
Jesus even cleared out the courts of the soon to be destroyed Temple according to all four of the gospels, and re-emphasized a prophecy that is still yet to be fulfilled:
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations!” Mark 11:17 (NKJV)
This isn’t complicated. God has a house, and He wants us to dwell with Him in it. He wants us to have a desire to be with Him, to love the things He loves. Isaiah 56:6-7 says,
“Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants–everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast to my covenant–even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.” (NKJV)
And in Revelation 3:12,
“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.” (NKJV)
So as these three weeks of mourning by the nation of Israel progress, I would encourage us as Christians to take the opportunity to look into our own hearts, to see if we feel sadness over the loss of God’s home here on earth, to see if we desire to see its rebuilding.
On that note, I would like to invite you to check out a new book I recently completed called, Jesus Loves the Temple. The book addresses many of the concepts surrounding the Temple through the lens of the entirety of Scripture. It also addresses many of the common theological objections Christianity typically has with the idea.
All four gospels say about Jesus, “Zeal for the house consumed Him.” May the same be said for all of us as believers.