God has made us, His people, His spiritual temple in Christ in His Spirit. Christ Jesus established the New Covenant and God our Father transferred us into the kingdom of His Son in His Spirit. By His Spirit, God dwells with us and in us as we look forward to life in the kingdom to come, where we will see God face to face.
During the Old Covenant, God’s people were not indwelt with the Holy Spirit. God dwelt with them externally through the outer man. His people saw the glory of His presence [Sh’kkinah/Hebrew, shekinah/English] through their natural senses. God’s shekinah caught the attention of Moses at the burning bush that didn’t burn up (Ex 3:2-6). When God delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, He led them with a Sh’kkinah cloud by day and flame by night for the next 40 years (Ex 13:20-22). When God called Moses to mount Sinai to give him the 10 Commandments of His Covenant and tell Moses how to have the people follow them, God’s glorious presence/shekinah terrified the people (Ex 19:16-20; Heb 12:18-21). Shekinah in the desert tabernacle (Exodus 40:33-34). Shekinah in Solomon’s Temple (Ex 1 Kings 8:1-10).
Sam Storms presents a similar pattern of God manifesting the glory of His presence to His Old Covenant people. Then presents Jesus, the manifestation of God’s glory.
It is against this preparatory backdrop that we read the stunning declaration of the Apostle John that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The word translated “dwelt” (skenoo) literally means “to pitch a tent” or “to live in a tabernacle” and unmistakably points back to the Old Testament when God’s glory took up residence in the tent of Moses the portable Tabernacle and eventually in Solomon’s Temple
John’s point is that God has now chosen to dwell with his people in yet a more personal way, in the Word who became flesh: in Jesus! The Word, Jesus of Nazareth, is the true and ultimate shekinah Glory of God, the complete and perfect manifestation of the presence of God among his people. The place of God’s glorious dwelling in the flesh of his Son. The glory which ones once shined in the tent/tabernacle/temple of old, veiled in the mysterious cloud, was simply a fore-glow, a mere anticipatory flicker, if you will, of that exceedingly excellent excelling glory now embodied in the incarnate Word Jesus Christ, (cf. Col.1:19).
God no longer lives in a tent or tabernacle built by human hands, nor will he ever. God’s glorious manifest presence is not to be found in an ornate temple of marble, gold, and precious stones, but rather in Jesus. Jesus is the glory of God in human flesh the one in whom God has finally and fully pitched his tent.
…But the story doesn’t end then we the church are the body of Christ and therefore constitute the temple in which God is pleased to dwell. The shekinah of Yahweh now abides permanently and powerfully in us through the Holy Spirit. When Paul describes this in his letter to the Ephesians he refers to Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone, “in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22). Simply put, God’s residence is “neither a literal temple in Jerusalem nor simply in heaven, but the Church, of which the Gentile Christian readers in Asia Minor were a part.” Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative, Sam Storms, pg. 17-19
In order to comprehend that, we need to dig into the Holy Spirit and understand it with kingdom perspective. We can because we have been born of the Spirit. God’s people of the Old Covenant were not.
After Jesus was baptized in the Spirit, He began proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. One of the very pertinent statements Jesus made regarded John the baptist. John was the last of the prophets of the old covenant. He came in the spirit of Elijah proclaiming Jesus as the promised Messiah. Yet, Jesus said of him: “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Mt 11:11 ISV). For, neither John the baptist or any born of a woman were born of the Spirit. None were in the kingdom of God. Until the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers, only Adam and Eve were born of the Spirit and they died spiritually when they sinned.
When Nicodemus asked Jesus how someone could be born again. Jesus answered. “Truly, I tell you emphatically, unless a person is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t be astonished that I told you, ‘All of you must be born from above.’The wind blows where it wants to. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. That’s the way it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:5-8 ISV).
Paul puts the revelation that we are a holy temple of the Lord in the kingdom terms he uses throughout Ephesians 1-3.
He begins his letter to the Ephesians and us, greeting us as God’s holy ones, God’s saints in the kingdom of His Son (Col 1:12-14). More kingdom terms: spiritual blessing, sons, children, inheritance, (cf. Ro 8:12-17) fellow citizens, members of God’s household, temple.
In Ephesians 2, Paul tells us we believe because, by His grace, God gave us His gift of faith in Christ Jesus and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places. The moment we believe, God creates us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:1-10 cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15).
In Christ Jesus, we Jews and Gentiles are made one. God has made us a new order of mankind, one new man in Christ, uniting two alienated sections of humanity in Himself so as to form one new man. Through Christ Jesus we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father. (Eph 2:11-19). And, the kingdom of God is in the Spirit (Ro 14:17-18).
11 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “uncircumcision” by that which is called “circumcision” (in the flesh, made by hands), 12 that you were at that time separate from Messiah, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Messiah Yeshua you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Messiah. 14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in his flesh the hostility, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man of the two, making peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the hostility through it. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far off and to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and of the household of God, 20 being built on the foundation of the emissaries/apostles [Rev 21:14] and prophets, Messiah Yeshua himself being the chief cornerstone [1Peter 2:6]; 21 in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit. Eph 2:11-22 WMB
Spiritually, we are joined together in this temple. The temple continues to grow as Jesus builds His church (Mt 16:18).
God’s temple each of us is joined in is prologue to the kingdom that is to come.
55 But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Yeshua standing on the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Acts 7:55-56 WMB cf. Acts 7
As God’s children, we are heirs destined to inherit the kingdom that is to come. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Mt 25:34 ASV).
And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. Rev 21:3
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof. Rev 21:22 ASV
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