I recently made my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Visiting the sites in Israel that I have spent so much of my life studying was a true blessing. The memories of being physically at the holy sites are treasures that I will not soon abandon. Of all the places where my feet tread, none was more impactful than standing atop the Holy Mountain of Zion, on the Temple Mount. The Temple of Jesus time was a sight to behold indeed. On, or at least very near, the place where the third most holy site in Islam currently stands, the Dome of Rock, stood the great Temple of King Herod. In the morning light it would have gleamed from atop the hill of Zion. No doubt pilgrims entering the city of Jerusalem would have been struck by the majesty of this massive temple dedicated to the One True God of Israel, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In 70 A.D. the great temple of God was destroyed by the Romans in response to a widespread Jewish uprising. Jesus had prophesied that the temple would be destroyed and indeed it was. This remains a source of great mourning for the Jewish people as they lament the loss of their holy place, where God was said to dwell in the inner court; the Holy of Holies. While standing atop the Temple Mount, I was struck by the words of the Apostle Paul, which are found in I Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” (NIV) the destruction of the temple was a great tragedy, but the great revolution of the message of Jesus Christ is that God does not dwell merely in temples which are built by human hands. He dwells in the hearts of His children; hearts which are built by His very hands!
While on the Temple Mount I covered my head with the traditional Yamaka of the Jewish people. I mourned with them over the loss of the Temple, as it has great meaning for Christians and Jews alike. The distinct difference, I would suggest, between my mourning and theirs, is that while we both long for the day when the temple may be rebuilt, I celebrate the reality that through faith in Jesus Christ, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit of God! Within us, through faith, the temple has already been rebuilt!
Dear Saints of God, if you have an ear to hear, won’t you listen to the word of the Lord today? If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ, the long promised Messiah of the Bible, the savior of the world; then you, dear friend, have become the very dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. We do not travel this pilgrim’s journey alone or unaided and neither must we journey to the ruins of the great temple in Jerusalem in order to find God’s presence. He is here within the hearts of His children. I implore you to join me, according to the biblical mandate, in praying for the peace of Jerusalem. I further beseech you to find new strength for today by a renewed awareness of the one who has taken up residence within your very heart!