Monday, July 27, 2009

THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD


The question that is often asked me is:

Why Go to Jeremiah? (2 Timothy 3:15)

"Why would you study Jeremiah? It is SO depressing. Why not go to the New Testament where you can read all kinds of uplifting stories. If you want to preach about the Lord Jesus Christ, you need to preach Christ from the New Testament"

Now, is that really so?

If we look at the New Testament church in the first century AD, we see that they did not have the New Testament. They had only the Old Testament and perhaps one or two of the narrative Gospels and a few of the writings of the Apostle Paul. And yet, the New Testament church grew by leaps and bounds in the first three centuries AD. They had to struggle through Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and it did them a whole lot of good. God the Holy Spirit blessed the reading and studying of His Word.

Should we then not be blessed in studying the same text?

Is it not pleasing to God that we study the Old Testament?

Did not Holy men of God speak as God the Holy Spirit moved them?

And is it not true that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is PROFITABLE for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”?

Then where did the notion come from that we must study an easier text from the New Testament in order to be profitable?

Did it not come from the same people who believe that you should make the Bible easier to read?

And so they invented a Children's Bible, and an Adventure Bible, and a Student Bible, and a Life Application Bible, and a Good News Bible, and a Living Bible, and a NIV Bible, and so on.

The list is endless.

But have these people achieved their goal?

Has the Bible become easier to read now, and are people reading the Bible?

If they have achieved their goal, why are they continuing to produce more different Bible translations?

The answer is: "They have not achieved their goal". They have forgotten the most essential ingredient, which is God the Holy Spirit. People are not reading the Bible, because God the Holy Spirit must first produce a transformation within us to make us willing to study the Word of God. Whether the text is a difficult Old Testament text like Jeremiah, or an easier New Testament text, it will not be understood unless God the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds.

These days are very similar to the days that Jeremiah lived on this earth. Most people do not know what God said. They are swallowing what their pastors tell them, without checking them out in the Bible. These days people believe the slogans from their pastors more than they do the Bible.

That is why God sent the prophet Jeremiah with a message from God, that they should not believe those slogans. One such a slogan was: "This is the Temple of Jehovah, and therefore we will not be destroyed, because Jehovah will protect His Temple".

But God said:

Trust Ye Not in Lying Words (Jeremiah 7:1-4)

We read in Jeremiah 7:1-4 these words:

Jeremiah 7:1
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

Jeremiah 7:2
Stand in the gate of the LORD'S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.

Jeremiah 7:3
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.

Jeremiah 7:4
Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.

Jeremiah did not invent these words. It was the Word of God that came to Jeremiah, and commanding him to preach these words to the people in Jerusalem. People already knew that Jeremiah brought a message of condemnation. In the last verse of the previous chapter God said:

"Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them".

In fact, Jeremiah was commanded to proclaim these words in the gate of the Temple, to those who pass by who make some appearance of serving Jehovah. God is not fooled by their appearance of worshipping Him. God looked at the heart of these people and what God saw was not pretty. That is why God said: "Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place". This is what causes you to have some stability. This is what I like to see in this place: If you amend your ways and your doings, then I will cause you to stay in Jerusalem and Jerusalem will not be destroyed.

On the other hand, if you trust in slogans from your religious rulers, slogans like: This is the Temple of the Lord, God will not abandon His Temple, which is His dwelling place; Jehovah will protect us at any cost, then God will certainly take away the Temple and take away Jerusalem. If the Temple has become their "good luck charm", or if the church has become our "good luck charm", then God will take our "good luck charm" away from us. If God loves us then God will certainly perform this surgery and take away the limbs of the body that have been rotten by gangrene. In so doing God shows that He is a loving God, who will strengthen those who will survive the surgery.

There are those who take Matthew 16:18 out of context, where Jesus says: "Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".

Which church is Jesus talking about?

He is not talking about the visible external church, because the visible external church will be devastated by false gospels near the end of time. Jesus was speaking about the Eternal Church. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Eternal Church. But if you do not take all these verses into consideration, then the church will be to you like a "good luck charm", and God will take it away from you. So, let us examine our ways.

Do our ways need to be amended?

God says again in verse 5:

Amend Your Ways (Jeremiah 7:5-7)

Jeremiah 7:5
For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour;

Jeremiah 7:6
If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:

Jeremiah 7:7
Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, forever and ever.

In other words, God says, if you really mean it, if you really repent, and do not oppress people who cannot defend themselves, and do not worship other gods in your life, then will I cause you to dwell in the Kingdom of God forever and ever. That is a promise.

Now, let us look at these words carefully. The land that God gave to their fathers was the land of Canaan. But if God's promise meant that they would inherit the land forever and ever, then God must be referring to the New Heaven & New Earth, because this world, including the land of Canaan, will be burnt up on the Last Day. Therefore, it appears to say that we can do this, and we can do that, and if we really do things that are righteous in God's eyes, then God will take us into His glorious Kingdom where we will dwell with Him forever and ever.

Can we be saved by working for our salvation?

Not on your life!

Look at these words carefully.

Is repentance something that we do?

No! When I scan my concordance I can find at least 8 verses where God says that He gives repentance to whom He will.

It is not something that we can initiate. God has to give it as a gift.

Secondly, the Bible says that even our best works are tainted with sin.

Is there anything we can do that is in itself pleasing to God?

The answer is NO!

God says that there is NONE that doeth good, NO NOT ONE, (Romans 3). In our Adamic body we are inclined to oppress those who cannot defend themselves. That is our nature. And we are prone to hate God and worship other gods. That is our nature. To repent and to do works that are pleasing in God's sight are things that accompany salvation. When God saves us, we will dwell with Him forever. Jeremiah 7:1-7 is a call to salvation.

God focused on some of the errors that were prevalent in the days of Jeremiah. God saw that most of these people were unsaved. Then God sent Jeremiah to the gate of the Temple and proclaim: "Trust ye not in lying words, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord". The call of salvation goes out into the entire world. Those who remain unsaved harden their hearts; but they do that voluntarily. That is why they will stand for Judgment, because they sin voluntarily. God called them to repent.

But They Would Not (Jeremiah 7:8-10)

Jeremiah 7:8
Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.

Jeremiah 7:9
Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;

Jeremiah 7:10
And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?

In verse 9 God listed six violations of the Ten Commandments. Now, we know that we cannot keep the Ten Commandments perfectly, but that is no reason to deliberately steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, worship Baal and bear the Lord's name in vain. That does not reflect a repentant attitude, and that does not reflect our gratitude for what Christ has done. Therefore, we must not come to church and say: "We are delivered to do all these abominations".

God warns us in Revelation 3:15-16, "Thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit thee out of my mouth".

We cannot say: "O, that does not apply to me". This is a very serious warning.

Are we really so grateful that the Lord Jesus Christ gave all that He had, and that He endured on the cross in our place the equivalent of an eternity in Hell?

Does our whole life reflect that gratitude?

Does our whole Sunday reflect that gratitude?

In the Christian life such a thing as a slump. You know, a slump is a period of time when we are not so excited any more, and we become a little complacent in our walk with the Lord.

Is there such a thing as a slump? NO!

God says: "I would that thou wert cold or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, I will vomit thee out of my mouth".

Where is the enthusiasm that we had in the beginning?

Are we still as excited about learning the Bible as we were one year ago, or two years ago?

Or has it become old stuff?

Are we reading the Bible consistently every day?

Have we become satisfied with 1 and a half hours in the Sunday morning worship service?

Is that all we give to the Lord, 1 and a half hours on Sunday?

You know that we must live our life so that the Lord Jesus Christ may come any day, and He will find us working as a faithful servant?

Are we praying: "Lord, please work in me today to work and to do of Thy good pleasure"?

If we consider our church invincible, or treat it like a "good luck charm", then God will take away our church. If a congregation needs to be whipped in shape every now and then, then they are in the shoes of the church of Laodicea, to whom God says: "Because thou art lukewarm, I will vomit thee out of my mouth". Remember that after Apathy comes Apostasy.

Let us return to the Old Testament church in Jerusalem.

Why does God call them:

A Den of Robbers? (Jeremiah 7:11, Matthew 21:12-13)

Jeremiah 7:11
Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.

God's Temple was a holy place. When the Jews took on the attitude: "We are delivered to do all these abominations", they were giving protection to the most unholy persons.

That is why God responds to them: "This house, which is called by my name", this house which is a standing sign of God's Kingdom, are you making it a house of sin and Satan?

Has this house become a den of robbers in your eyes?

Do you think it was built to be a refuge for the vilest of sinners?

Yes, that is true!

But do you think that it was built to be a dwelling place for the vilest of sinners?

NO! It is not a dwelling place for robbers. Those who come to Christ, repenting of their sins, even though they were the vilest of sinners, have been washed from their sins through the Atonement of Christ on the cross. They have been born again. They no longer are the vilest of sinners.

God says: "Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God". (1 Corinthians 6:11)

But those who have not been washed from their sins are still the vilest of sinners. If they continue in sin that grace may abound, they do in fact make Christ the minister of sin (Galatians 2:17).

And then they do make God's house a den of thieves. This has always been a problem with the Old Testament Temple as well as with the New Testament church. Many people do not understand the relationship between the Law and grace. The Lord Jesus Christ encountered the same problem with the religious rulers of His days.

We read in Matthew 21:12-13,

Matthew 21:12
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

Matthew 21:13
And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Because they thought that they were entitled to salvation, since they were sons of Abraham, and because they continued in their sins of extortion, they made it a den of thieves. God says:

Remember Shiloh (Jeremiah 7:12-15)

Jeremiah 7:12
But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.

Jeremiah 7:13
And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not;

Jeremiah 7:14
Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.

Jeremiah 7:15
And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.

For the first 360 years that the children of Israel were in the land of Canaan, the Tabernacle containing the Ark of the Covenant was set up in Shiloh. People flocked to Shiloh at the time of the Passover and at Pentecost and at the Feast of Tabernacles. Shiloh had become the capital of the nation of Israel. But through the wickedness of the two sons of the high priest, the Ark of the Covenant fell in the hands of the Philistines, and Shiloh was no more the place where God resides.

God forsook Shiloh, and Shiloh became the symbol of shame and contempt. In the days of Jeremiah Shiloh was a ruin. Now God says to the nation of Judah: "Look at Shiloh, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, I have sent to you my servants, the prophets, but you did not hear. And I called you, but ye answered not. Because I have spoken to you, it greatly aggravates your sin. Therefore, I will do to you as I have done to Shiloh. I will destroy this city and this Temple, and ruin it and lay it to waste."

God's message to the New Testament church is similar to God's message to the Old Testament church. God's message is: "This house, which is called by My name, and therefore you may think that I should protect it; it is the house in which you trust, and you think it will protect you; this city or this church is the place which I gave to you and your fathers and therefore you are secure that you continue in it and you think that nothing can turn you out of it. But the men of Shiloh flattered themselves the same way and all they did was deceive themselves".

The Ark of the Covenant was their god, and they have reduced their god to a "good luck charm". If we claim to worship God in church, but our service to Him is not from the heart, and our service to Him is only 1 and a half hours on Sunday, then God will take away His church. O, we may still come to this place, but the doctrines may be changed and you will not be worshipping the God of the Bible.

God says:

Pray Not for this People (Jeremiah 7:16-20)

Jeremiah 7:16
Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.

This is awful language.

Is God not infinitely patient with His people?

Yes, with His people God is patient, but He is not patient with those who are not His people.

Are we not guaranteed that we cannot lose our salvation?

That is true, but we cannot lose what we never possessed. God wrote the Bible to give us many examples of people who never became saved. For example, three times does God say in Romans 1 that God gave them up: "God gave them up to uncleanness, and God gave them up to vile affections, and God gave them over to a reprobate mind".

Jeremiah 7:17
Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

Jeremiah 7:18
The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

Jeremiah 7:19
Do they provoke me to anger? Saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?

Why does God specifically mention the Queen of Heaven?

Is it not because in our days again the Queen of Heaven is being adored and worshipped?

The Roman Catholic Church has elevated Mary, the mother of Jesus. They call her "The mother of God". They have an altar dedicated to Mary. They burn candles and incense to Mary. They have worship services dedicated to Mary. God says it is all an abomination. God alone must be worshipped, and He will not share His glory with another.

Jeremiah 7:20
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.

This is a double warning. Not only does God condemn the worship of idols. God made here a reference to Hell, the fire that shall not be quenched. But Hell will only be experienced on the Last Day, when all the unsaved people of the world stand before the Judgment throne of God, and will be cast into Hell. Therefore, God indicated here in Jeremiah 7:20 that the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem are a picture of the events leading up to the end of the world. But this is not where it ends. God Has more to say about the Temple of the LORD in John chapter 2.

There the Lord Jesus speaks about:

The Temple of His Body (John 2:18-21)

Two times in His ministry on earth did the Lord Jesus drive the moneychangers out of the Temple. Once at the end of His ministry, on the Monday before His crucifixion, and three years earlier just before the first Passover of His ministry. Jesus made a scourge of small cords, and he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables. Then we read in John 2:18,

John 2:18
Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

They asked Jesus to show them a sign. They asked the wrong person. The Lord Jesus said: "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign" (Matthew 12:39). This demand for a sign was an evidence of their blindness. It was evidence that they were an evil and adulterous generation. If Jesus had given them a sign, it would only have been to confirm them in their blindness. They would not be persuaded by a miracle or by a sign from heaven: "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead". They were blind as a bat.

Therefore the Lord Jesus treated them as spiritually blind people, and He said in verse 19,

John 2:19
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

He spoke in a language that was unintelligible to them.

Why would Jesus not speak in clearer terms?

Because by means of parables God has hidden the truth from those who have not been elected unto salvation. Then we read in verse 20,

John 2:20
Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

John 2:21
But he spake of the temple of his body.

First of all, in raising Himself from the dead, the Lord Jesus would supply the final proof that He was God in the flesh, and since He was God He had the right to cleanse the defiled Temple, which bore His name. Secondly, when Jesus spoke of the Temple of His body, He used that expression in two meanings: One meaning is His literal body that was raised from the grave. The second meaning is the body of believers, which is also called the body of Christ.

Were we raised with Christ?

Absolutely yes!

The Bible says that we were in Christ, so that when He was crucified we were crucified with Him. That is why He could take our sins upon Him. We went through the Hell experience with Christ, we died with Christ, we were buried with Christ, and we were raised with Christ. God would never ask any of those who were in Christ to go to Hell again, because we have already gone through Hell with Christ, and have come out the other end of Hell. Therefore, the Temple of His body consists only of those who were chosen by the Father before the foundation of the world and were given to the Son.

When were we given to Christ?

Just like we were judicially in Adam when Adam was created, and thus we received our body from Adam, So we were judicially in Christ when Jesus was born, and thus our new souls were resurrected by Him when we were born again (Revelation 20 - The First Resurrection).

His Disciples Remembered (John 2:22)

John 2:22
When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

Only His disciples remembered.

What did His disciples remember?

Not much!

They did not even remember that He was going to rise from the dead. They were devastated when Jesus was crucified. All their hopes were dashed in. When the women went to tell the disciples that they had seen the risen Christ, they did not believe them. "Their words seemed to them as idle tales and they believed them not". (Luke 24:11)

How is it that they remembered these words from John 2, which Jesus spoke three years earlier?

Do you remember that the Lord Jesus said to them on the eve of the crucifixion:


John 14:26
"But the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you".

What else did they remember after the resurrection of Jesus?

It was not until Pentecost that they remembered the words of Jesus.

1. Then they remembered that Jesus said: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil". (John 3:19) All mankind comes into the world loving darkness rather than light.

2. Then they remembered that Jesus said: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain". (John 15:16) The only reason we can bring forth good fruit unto God is because He has chosen us; we did not choose Him.

3. Then they remembered that Jesus said: "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins". (Matthew 26:28) and "The Son of man came to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28) Christ shed His blood, and Christ suffered the wrath of God for many; not for all upon the earth, but for many.

4. Then they remembered that Jesus said: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day". (John 6:44) God alone does the saving, and His grace is irresistable.

5. Then they remembered that Jesus said: "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand". (John 10:28) When Christ gives us eternal life, it is life without end. We cannot lose our salvation.

6. Then in obedience to the command to remember His crucified body and His blood that was shed for many for the remission of sins, they did eat and drink the Lord's Supper many times.

7. There was one more thing that His disciples, the Temple of His body, remembered:

Not to Trust in Lying Words (Matthew 16:18)

They remembered to read and study the Old Testament and compare them with the words of Jesus. They remembered that salvation means that we have been made into a new creation. It implies a changed life. If we have been saved there is no return to the old life, and there is no slump back into the old life. You have no desire to go back to the old life. You have a new nature, and to live the life of a Christian will come naturally, because "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure". If it costs you too much effort to keep up this life of a Christian, then perhaps you were never saved to begin with.

They also remembered that Satan works in devious ways. Satan wants us to trust in lying words. Satan wants us to take each verse on its own merit. That is actually what they are teaching in many seminaries today. Satan is willing to compromise, and allows us to compare Scripture with Scripture, but please don't look at the context. Then you are going too deep.

This is how cults are born. One man wants to prove a certain idea coming out of his own depraved mind. This would not be an unknown man, but someone who has already earned a reputation of being a scholar of the Bible. He begins to take a verse here and a verse there, and he proves his point. Suddenly he will have many followers. Many will jump on his bandwagon, because he has proven to be so right for many years.

Why are they following one man?

It is because they do not read their Bibles. They have many "virgin verses" in their Bibles. These are verses they have never studied and now this Bible teacher suddenly is making sense out of all those verses they could not explain. And so they are following this man, and he claims: "If you are not following me you are going to Hell". Well, that is a works gospel. They are trusting in lying words. They have put their trust is someone else than the Lord Jesus Christ. It is similar to the Jews in Jeremiah's days claiming:

"The Temple of the LORD, The Temple of the LORD, The Temple of the LORD".

It is like they are claiming Matthew 16:18,

Matthew 16:18
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Which church?

We need to distinguish between the external church and the Eternal Church. There are unsaved people in every church. The Lord Jesus said to people who were in a church: "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity". Those are terrifying words.

Therefore, it is necessary not only to compare Scripture with Scripture, but also to know in what the contexts of these Scriptures are. A verse taken out of context is reduced to nothing more than a slogan.

Are you reading your Bibles?

I hope you do, because trusting in slogans is trusting in lying words.

By Alfred J. Chompff

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