When the Israelites made their way back to Jerusalem, they were moved with a mission. There mission was to go and rebuild the temple, right where Solomon had built it. It had been ransacked and destroyed and they were empowered by God to head back and get after it.
Think about the location of the temple. It was not placed in the middle of office buildings designed to blend in with the surrounding settings. It wasn’t placed out in the middle of the wilderness as some sort of retreat center for spiritual pilgrims. Right in the middle of the largest and most influential city in all of ancient Israel. An in Jerusalem, it was placed up high right in the middle of the city. Everyone could see it and it served as a constant reminder to everyone that God wanted to dwell in their midst. Unfortunately, it also carried a more sober reminder…
The temple proved to remind the people of their sin and the chasm that still existed between the average person and God himself. Not everyone had access into the most holy place within the temple. The sin of the people kept them at a distance. We know from the rest of the Upper Story, that this arrangement hints at the change that will be brought when Jesus comes. He would be the ultimate sacrifice and remove the need for a priest to moderate our relationship with God. With the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, we are given access to God in the most holy of all places – our hearts. The rebuilding of the physical temple in Jerusalem is a step toward that end.
How is your life different today because you have access to God yourself and you don’t have to rely on a priest to mediate your conversations? Are you comfortable with this truth or does it make you nervous? Did your religious heritage teach you something different?