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God's Old Street Address: Jerusalem

Mar 29, 2006

After the priesthood in Shiloh became corrupted, God moved out of Shiloh and never looked back. A child was born at the time, and he was named Ichabod, which means "the glory has departed" (1 Sam. 4:21). When God departs, He never goes back. He always does a new thing in a new place.

So we read in Psalm 78:67-69 that God rejected the tribe of Ephraim and chose Judah instead, in which to place His glory. King David moved the Ark to Jerusalem and put it in "David's Tabernacle" (tent). His son, Solomon, later built a beautiful and costly temple for the Ark. There God's presence returned  (2 Chron. 5:13, 14) to glorify that temple.

But after about two centuries, the priesthood in Jerusalem was at least as corrupted as it had been in Shiloh. So God sent the prophet Jeremiah to tell them what was wrong, so that they might possibly avoid another Shiloh situation. However, the priests apparently thought that God only required certain rituals to be performed, and that He did not care about their personal character. So they claimed to be innocent of all charges. In Jeremiah 2:35 the prophet says to them,

"Yet you said, 'I am innocent; surely His anger is turned away from me.' Behold, I will enter into judgment with you, because you say, 'I have not sinned'."

The vedict from the divine court is then read to them in Jeremiah 7. It reads, in part:

"Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, 'This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord' ... Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house and say, 'We are delivered!'--that you may do all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight?"

The people were trusting in the temple, rather than in God. They thought that God would surely defend His honor and His house, rather than allow it to be destroyed by a foreign army. They were wrong. God actually hired King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to destroy His own house! In Jer. 27:6, God calls him "My servant."

The temple had become a "den of robbers." That is, it had become a place where lawbreakers could hide from the law. The priests were teaching the traditions of men--their incorrect interpretations of the law--because they did not know the Lawgiver. They were destroying the law through these traditions (later called the Talmud).

And so Jeremiah continues in 7:12-16,

"But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord... therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim."

The prophet told the people and the priests that He was going to forsake Jerusalem and its temple even as He forsook Shiloh--and for the same reason. The prophet treated Shiloh as the precedent. It is obvious that God never returned to Shiloh once He moved away to a new address. So what gives people the idea that God is going to go back to Jerusalem, once He departed from that place?

In fact, Jeremiah went even further in 26:6, saying that if they persisted in their sin, "Then I will make this house like Shiloh, and this city I will make a CURSE to all the nations of the earth."

The biblical account shows that they did indeed persist in their sin and refused to hear Jeremiah. In fact, they threw Jeremiah into prison and nearly killed him (vs. 11). The Babylonians finally conquered the city and set him free!

All these prophecies came to pass as the prophet had said. The glory departed from that temple and the city of Jerusalem. The prophet Ezekiel recorded the departure of God's glory. Ezekiel 10:4 tells us how the glory lifted up to the threshold of the temple. Ezekiel 11:23 tells us how the glory departed ("Ichabod") and went outside the city on the east side to the top of the Mount of Olives.

The glory of God remained there until Jesus Christ ascended to heaven from that location. Jesus was the embodiment of the glory of God, and so the glory could not fully depart until Jesus came. After His resurrection, He appeared to His disciples for 40 days and then ascended, bringing the glory with Him back to heaven. After He ascended, we read in Acts 1:12,

"Then they [the disciples] returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away."

Note that the place where He ascended was not IN Jerusalem, but was "near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away." That means it was 2,000 cubits outside the eastern gate, which was at the summit of the mount.

Jesus finished the work of removing His presence from Jerusalem, as the prophet had said. Ten days later was the day of Pentecost, when the glory of God returned to earth to fulfill that feast day. That was the moment when God moved to His new location: THE NEW TEMPLE. Paul tells us its street address in 1 Cor. 16,

"Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"

Paul explains this further in Eph. 2:19-22,

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit."

As individuals, we are "a temple" of God. But God is building a collective temple, by which view we are each "living stones" in that temple, as 1 Peter 2:5 says,

"You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

God's new street address has thus moved from Jerusalem to a new home: OUR BODIES. Instead of dead stones in a corrupted temple, God has found a new temple made of living stones. This is much more marvelous than Solomon's temple. The purpose of Pentecost was for the Holy Spirit (the glory of God) to indwell human flesh!

This is the sign of Jonah as well. The name Jonah means "dove." He is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The fish is the symbol of the Christian Church. When Jonah was swallowed by the fish, it is an allegory of the Holy Spirit coming to indwell the Church--that is, Christian PEOPLE (not buildings made with hands or organizations made by governments).

At the present time, Pentecost is only an earnest of the Spirit. We await the feast of Tabernacles fufillment, at which time God will perfect that collective temple and fill it with His Fullness. Those who think Jesus is going to return to His old street address and inhabit a building made of dead stones will be disappointed. It simply will not happen. He will never again inhabit a city that He has made "a curse to all the nations of the earth" (Jer. 26:6).

His new Temple has a new and holy priesthood that will fulfill the calling of Abraham and be a blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:3).

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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones