If you are at all familiar with the Old Testament, you know that God chose a people, the children of Israel, to be His own people. He led them into Egypt and 400 years later He rescued them from the bondage of slavery. He led them to the Promised Land, but they were prevented from entering because of the sin of unbelief, then were made to wander in the desert for forty years until that unbelieving generation passed away. While wandering in the wilderness, God gave Moses clear instructions for building a tabernacle - a tent of meeting - a place where He would meet with His people.
The tabernacle was a foreshadowing of a greater place to worship - the temple. After they'd settled in the land the people demanded a king so they could be like the nations around them. The first king, Saul, was tall and good-looking, but his heart was far from God. The second king, David, was a man after God's own heart, but he was a man of war. God refused to give David permission to build the temple. Instead, he promised David that his son Solomon would have that privilege.
The temple of Solomon was a grand and glorious building. 1 Kings 5 tells us about the preparations, and 1 Kings 6 describes the building of the temple, which took seven years. Much of it was overlaid in gold; the articles of the temple were made of gold or bronze. It was absolutely stunning!
It's hard to fathom that this glorious, beautiful building was completely destroyed.
The Temple Burned
12 In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard, who served the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem. 13And he burned the house of the LORD, and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down.
It's so sad to think about it. The temple was burned and destroyed, and the articles of the temple were carried off. When you take the time to read about the care and skill that went into building and decorating the temple and making all of the utensils and objects to be used in worship, it's a marvel. Yet God allowed it to be obliterated.
So, what can we learn from this?
God does not live in a temple made with hands. God reminded Solomon with these words:
1 Kings 6:11 Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon, 12 “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. 13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel.”God was looking for a people to walk with Him, to delight in Him, to obey Him and love Him. The temple was a tool to point them to His glory, but it was a mere speck compared to God. God still want to dwell with His people - in fact, in this New Covenant He INDWELLS us. You can't get closer than that. You don't need a temple to know the presence of God. The Holy Spirit has been given as a down payment, a guarantee of future glory and dwelling with God.
This world is full of beauty, reflecting the glory of God on a daily basis. We see it in the sky, in the clouds, in the lightning, in the setting sun. We see it in the variety of flora and fauna that surrounds us. Yet even though it is brilliant, and glorious, one day this earth will be burned up.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then a the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
This should not make us sad, any more than the destroyed temple should make us sad.
The important thing to remember is that we dwell with the Living God. The world He created reflects His glory, but it is a mere reflection. The person we desire to be with, to live with, to walk with is God Almighty, and He is the One we long for.
Let this truth be a comfort to you. If something you enjoy breaks down, so what? It's going to be burned up some day. If you lose a precious item, so what? It's going to melt with fervent heat. None of it matters much. The only thing that really matters is our relationship with the Living God.
That will never end.