Israel’s Great Failure

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Some believe this psalm was written when David had the Ark brought to Jerusalem. Others believe it was when Solomon brought the Ark into the temple. Still others believe it was written much later and simply a memorial of these trips. Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this fight at all. The bigger point that we should see is not about the Ark of the Covenant at all. The bigger point is about the King of glory! And who is the King of glory? Jesus, of course! Certainly, when He was first brought to the temple there were a couple of people who tried to point out the reception He should receive (think Anna and Simeon). And the second time He came to the temple, teachers were astonished. However, when Jesus grew up, He should have been hoisted on the shoulders of the people, brought into the temple this song being sung. When He cleansed the temple of the money changers, He should have been lauded and applauded. He should have been asked, “What else shall we do to serve You, King of Glory?” He should have been praised and worshiped universally. The people should have realized He was actually too big to be housed in that temple. But, instead, the Jews believed they were defending the temple by keeping Jesus out of it. Instead of marching Him up Zion’s hill and letting Him take His rightful place on the throne of God in the Holy of Holies, they marched Him up Golgotha’s hill outside the gate and nailed Him to a cross. He was and is the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, strong and mighty, mighty in battle. And Israel failed. Their hands were defiled with the blood of Jesus. Their hearts were divided against their true King. They did lift up their souls to what was false. They did swear deceitfully. And they did not receive their blessing. But as many as did receive Him and believed in His name were given the right to become children of God and subjects of the one, true King of Glory, Jesus Christ. Which choice have you made?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

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Focus on God, Not Places

Today’s reading is Acts 7.

In Acts 6, the Jews had accused Stephen of speaking against the temple in Jerusalem. You would think that they could start getting creative with their misleading accusations, but they were essentially making the same accusation against Stephen they had against Jesus (see Matthew 26:61). The interesting thing is this accusation actually may not be completely off base. Stephen may well have been saying Jesus would destroy the temple. After all, that is exactly what Jesus did in 70 AD. In his sermon, Stephen does not make a defense saying, “No, you’ve completely misunderstood me. I would never say the temple is going to be destroyed.” Instead, just as he was weaving together stories that showed we should focus on God and not men, he wove together stories that explained we should not focus on holy places, but on the God who made them holy. As Stephen told the stories of the men God used, he also told stories of the places God met them. The God of glory (don’t forget that the glory of the Lord dwelt in the temple) met Abraham not in Jerusalem but Mesopotamia. God was with Joseph, of all places, in Egypt. God first met Moses, not at the temple in Jerusalem, but on Mt. Sinai. Further, God told him to take off his shoes because it was holy ground. There is a subtle reminder that even when they got into the Promised Land it wasn’t until David that the tabernacle was brought to Jerusalem. We know it had been in Bethel, in Shiloh, and in Kiriath-Jearim. Finally, it wasn’t until Solomon that the temple was built. The point behind all of these stories is simple. As important as the temple was, it really wasn’t the temple that was important, but the God who dwelt there–the God who made the temple Holy. Because the Jews had focused too much on the temple, they had missed God when He came into their midst in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ. We must not make that mistake. The focus is not on holy places, but on the Holy God. Hang on to Him no matter where He leads.

Today’s reading is Acts 7.

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